It was exciting to bear witness to the vibrancy at a ballpark surrounded by thousands of spectators watching a duel between two pitchers, as was the experience of men’s fastpitch softball at its highest level, the Class “AA” Majors. The game was fast paced as the short base paths and the closeness of the pitcher, caused the action to be compressed and hurried. The outfield fences were moved up because a 12” softball didn’t carry as far as a tightly wound baseball, causing the seasoned professional baseball players who enlisted, difficulty to assimilate.
Fastpitch softball originated during the Great Depression and quickly spread across the country, forming teams like the Fox Hill Hillian’s, the greatest fastpitch softball team to emerge out of Virginia, and players like; “Big” John Caynor, one of its finest pitchers of their 1973 “miracle year.” This story documents the history of fastpitch softball’s emergence, to its disintegration, while chronicling “Big” John’s remarkable life and career as the Fox Hill club chased the dream of a lifetime; to win the world championship. Fox Hill’s 1973 season was their best finish in 54 years as Caynor’s courage and mind pushed him further than his damaged body could go.
“Big” John Caynor’s eight-pitch cache, including a signature 100 mph fastball, gave rise to the nickname “The Fireballer.”
NOTE: “Big John” was inducted into the Tidewater Virginia Softball Hall of Fame in 1990 as one of 22 members of the Fox Hill All-Stars.
This is a historical portrayal of the Caynor family and the ancestors that intertwined through marriage. The Caynor family paralleled American history and began in Virginia’s colonial period with indentured servant Mathew Caynor. Mathew earned his freedom and joined the Continental Army in 1777 and fought for our nation’s independence. His service included the harsh Valley Forge winter of 1777-78. Eighty-three years later, Mathew’s descendants enlisted in both armies in the War and Rebellion. His grandson, dressed in gray, faced General George Armstrong Custer and future presidents, Hayes and McKinley, on the battlefield. Where he clashed to gain independence, while others fought to preserve a nation or to emancipate the enslaved.
The Caynor’s emigrated from England and settled in the Fauquier and Culpeper’s county regions of Virginia in the eighteenth century. However, two descendants left the state and began a family lineage that reached several hundred in number. One of these ancestors migrated to western Virginia in 1843, while another joined a wagon caravan to Missouri during the Gold Rush migration of 1849. By the turn of the twentieth century, almost all the Caynor’s in the United States had descended from these two families.
Take a journey through history as this family embarks on the fears and apprehension of life in the New World, while America defines herself. These adventurers settle western Virginia and the frontier of the west and encounter triumphs and tragedy.
"Without a Scratch"
Unbelievably, a complete Civil War diary of Corporal William H. Morse was unearthed fifteen odd years ago. Morse’s rendition of the war sparked a tireless research commitment to record his amazing saga. Morse had a superb view of many pivotal battles in the eastern theater, including Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Rappahannock Station, Winchester, Cedar Creek, Petersburg, Spotsylvania, and Sailor’s Creek. He was also present at General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. His involvement became paramount to publish as his observations during this turbulent time in American history afforded eyewitness testimony of battle and daily soldier life.
Morse recorded 42 months of service with the 5th Maine Regiment. After being discharged in 1865, he could have returned home, but he chose to enlist in the 1st Maine Veteran Regiment to continue the fight. His diary gives an excellent portrayal of daily life as a soldier in the Army of the Potomac, and his written observations of battle are visionary depictions that allow one to see the action as if being present on hallowed ground.
The astonishing part of Morse’s story is that he was selected as the regimental color bearer, putting him in the front line of fire where he was showered with bullets and shells but astonishingly deprived of a fragment hitting its intended target and thus he escaped “Without a Scratch.” His narrative is a masterpiece of Civil War history as Morse wrote in his diary almost daily, giving little room for the misperception of the soldier’s experience, and thus it’s a realistic portrayal of the life of these resilient and heroic men.
"Patriotic Resolutions of a Lost Cause"
During the great Civil War that defined us, there was a gathering of thoughts and attitudes vocalized and printed, for and against secession, emancipation, and the reasoning of division that culminated to bloodshed.
As the war progressed the validation for what was proposed to be a skirmish was silenced, and the reality of a long war was realized, government officials created partisan arguments to fuel the fire of war. These divided United States endeavored to bolster patriotic opinion in one’s state, town, city, or brigade, through declarations, proclamations, and resolutions of inspiration and justification. In order to build a strong army, one must build a strong mind of unity through morale.
The primary questions were slavery and the right of secession. The first question was addressed through the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation two years into the war (1863), which is termed as the cause of the war today. The second question led to bloodshed. The north wouldn't have invaded the south if it were not for secession and the south's capture of the federal fortifications in those southern states.
During the war, citizen's rights to habeas corpus, the implementation of conscription, and personal and property taxes to pay for the war effort fostered further debate and protest.
One of the most noticeable displays of public patriotic rhetoric in the south occurred after the Hampton Roads Peace Conference in 1865, when an outpouring of southern patriotic sentiments was displayed from soldiers and citizens around the Confederacy. For the last time in their war for independence, these men described their struggle on a national level and voiced their resolve to continue, to the death, if need be.
Six weeks later, southern legislators authorized the enlistment of black soldiers into the southern arm forces, altering the aims of southern ideology. However, it was too late, as emancipation had occurred and many of these African Americans were supporting the war’s end, with a Federal weapon in hand.
This narrative is a thought provoked dissection of hundreds of resolutions identified that depict the philosophies and logic behind the sacrifices and fortitude for the victor and the defeated, which would assist the modern reader to better understand why there was a war that led eleven states to secede from our Union.
Independence or Annihilation
"The Gallant Sixtieth"
Campaigns of the 60th Virginia Regiment of Infantry
This 2.25 lb., 6" x 9" softback is the second and final edition of Independence or Annihilation "The Gallant Sixtieth," published in 2017. The contents have been reedited and reformatted, to include an abundance of new information, stories related to the participants, and minute details, with the addition of over fifty newly identified Sixtieth Virginia members to assist in telling the story of these men. The book's title, "Independence or Annihilation,” was the regiment’s motto, while its storyline follows the trials and tribulations of the soldiers of the 60th Virginia Regiment of Infantry before, during, and after America’s great Civil War. A regimental roster, biographies, statistics, weapons, uniforms, and regimental campsite locations are just a few of the many bits of material included. This book was compiled to find the slightest nugget to better understand these men who elected to secede from their Union, and some of these so-called nuggets are boulders. Anyone interested in the Civil War, the Confederacy, the 60th Virginia regiment, the battles they participated in, or the relationships with who was fighting and why; age, social class, education, immigrant status, and occupation, will be fascinated by this momentous work. There are no Confederate regimental books that address slavery or illustrate who in the regiment was associated with the institution like this one. The recognition of slavery should not be excluded as it is one of the primary reasons for the Civil War. Most within the regiment never owned a slave and served with a premise of gaining sovereignty and independence for Virginia, others, primarily in leadership and higher social standing, most probably had other motivations in mind. The 60th Virginia Regiment fought in some of the most grievous battles occupying American soil. Externally, the regiment appeared like any other, but internally, they were unique as on many occasions they were directed to the most crucial segment of the battlefield where the onslaught and overwhelming pressure was applied by their adversary. On a few of these occasions, their line broke, and the battle was lost. The question is why would an ordinary regiment be placed in such vital and strategic points on the battlefield on so many occasions? The answer is simple, it’s because their commanders had faith that they could do the unthinkable. That this regiment was the best. That these few battle-hardened veterans could succeed where others couldn’t. The truth is that these men were asked to do what no mortal man could do, which is to overcome the primary focal point and assault of a battle with a regiment that never amounted to more than 600 men on the field. This well-researched publication has loads of information with an additional focus on slavery within the members of the regiment. You will be able to easily identify the difference in the social classes within these men as well as the number of first-generation immigrants serving alongside third or fourth generation men. It is not difficult to envision the youth of America as a country, which survived this bloody conflict only eighty odd years after their grandfathers fought for its creation, but this war, would define us. This 798 page published work contains 2,066 soldiers and biographies, with 63 more pages of information and 55 additional soldiers than the 2017 publication, and 168 more soldiers than J. L. Scott's 1997 contribution to the H.E. Howard Virginia regimental history series.
“Independence or Annihilation” is the definitive resource for the 60th Virginia Regiment.
Through the Eyes of an Electric Cooperative CEO
“The Rite of Passage from Lineman to Management”
Although electric cooperatives serve 42M Americans and maintain 42% of the distribution lines that span 48 states, many urban residents little know of their existence, as some rural residents don’t recognize they are cooperative owners. This publication dissects the non-profit’s model and principles, and the daily challenges facing the environment. Follow the author when he expounds on more than three decades of experience from apprentice lineman to Chief Executive Officer, from Virginia to Alaska, and cooperatives in-between, in order to further his knowledge and understanding of himself and the industry. Learn the history, and differences and complexities between systems, utilities, non-profits, and the cooperative model. Read about the different professions and what they do within the organization and how a cooperative operates. See a transformation of perspective as the author advances from lineman to CEO. There are many concentrations to include: linework, leadership, management, collective bargaining, and our place in management to lead, collaborate, or follow. The key to success in a cooperative environment is ingrained in one's knowledge, understanding and implementation of the duties and responsibilities of their position with positive, unifying ideology and values. Leaders operate as mere facilitators in the wheel of the electric grid.