Friday, May 30, 2008

Golf Camp

Wicked Slice, MS> Golf Camp is this weekend! Trent, Dad, Guy Dale Shaw, Joe (Hack) Black, Barry (Whiff) Weeks and a few others are heading down to the fabulous resort known as Christmas Place National Golf Club.
We will play the Silver City course near Belzoni and the Benton Country Club near Yazoo City.
There is sure to be plenty of drinking, gambling, oogling those women at the pool and smoking big cigars. There will be whiffs, shanks, long drives and snakey birdie putts made. We plan to have a great time and hopefully I will return with all the money.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Confederate Map Pt. 6

Lt. Christmas had taken the map from the dead soldier and started his way across the broken battlefield, carrying his now twisted and useless rifle, trying to escape under cover of night and regain the Confederate lines. He wrote that he does not know if it was the Yankees or his own side that shot him as he made his escape. All he notes in the diary is that rain finally woke him and he was helped to a doctor and a hospital soon after. He was injured enough that he was relieved of duty. He spent many months recuperating and moving from hospital to hospital, to avoid capture, until he was finally sent home. He was on the road when he finally heard that General Lee had given his surrender on April 9, 1865. Most of the men he was with realized the war was over in everything but final surrender and they were all anxious to return home and forget the killing and madness of war. He took his muzzle loader with the twisted and split barrel that he had held onto and made a crutch out of it and during his recovery carved a small cubbyhole in the stock.
He put the map and two $10 gold pieces that had been in the packet inside and finally left the hospital for the long walk home. This is as much as I could figure from his faded handwriting.
Time was moving and now, Mr.Christmas, wrote about his thoughts for his family and a dawning that the sickness he could not shake was getting the best of him. He mentioned the few time he had made day trips to look for the markers on the treasure map but his strength would not let him spend any time searching. He made mention of the fact that if anyone found out about the map it might be the death of his family during the terrible Reconstruction Era they were in and he had to protect them and make sure that if he died, that his son would get the map and be able to locate the hidden cannon barrel. He decided to hide the map and unfortunately his journal does not say exactly where. He ended that part of the journal with this cryptic last paragraph.

“The key beginning is a stone at the start of our dream
The answer to our hope is carved in the heart of the wood.
To find the first, you must find the second,
and your future will depend on ancient rock to guide you.”

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Deer Vane

I have got to get me one of these!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Howell Surveying Strikes Out

Hmmmm, I did not know there were so many trees in the woods.
Guess I had better do some more studying before
I get too far.
Of course, this is also not mentioning the bugs, giant mosquitos, ticks, snakes, yellow jackets, snakes, biting flies and did I mention snakes?
This, plus all manner of other creatures that live in the woods that just love to eat surveyors.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Monster Feet

A version of this was printed on Jodys' site.

This is usually told to the younger kids around the campfire for fun at the famous Christmas Place.
Years ago, Trent and Dad came into the camp and told about some very large foot tracks they had found near their deer stands. We went to look at them and sure enough they were huge with big sharp claws for it’s toes. We knew that some strange and horrible creature had entered our woods and that we had to be careful.
Soon after that, the hunters started finding these tracks all over our place. They found them along old roads, in the mud on the edge of the lake and anyplace you might imagine that you could find foot tracks.
Everyone but the very bravest hunters were scared of the horrible creature and everyone was now afraid to go in the woods by themselves. Uncle Paul would just hide under his bed when he came to camp. They even found the giant tracks around the camp house where the monster had been watching them at night.
The terrifying apelike monster with it’s long fangs seemed to be waiting for just the right victim!
Trent said he was not afraid like Uncle Paul and vowed that he would get to the bottom of this mystery and put the beast on the hanging pole!
Trent started traveling around the property looking for signs of the creature.
One day he was easing along a narrow creek and he suddenly heard footsteps heading his way. He moved over, hid in the bushes and peeped out.
In the clearing in front of him he saw Rex come out of the woods and step down into the sandy creek bottom.
Rex stopped right in front of him, carefully looked all around and opened up his backpack. He took out the biggest set of monster shoes you can imagine, slipped them over his boots and started walking up and down in the soft sand while laughing the whole time. Uncle Trent was really mad that Uncle Rex had made up the dirty trick and was wearing the fake monster feet and making the tracks the whole time.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Howell Surveying?

Does anyone know of a fast track way to become a registered land surveyor?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

An Indie Weekend

This weekend the long awaited sequel of Indiana Jones comes to the big screen in Oxford, MS. Denise, Sarah, Spencer, Camo, Erin, Thunderhoof and I are all going to see it.
We hope to give it a great 2 hoofs up in our review.

This reminds me of a spooky thing that happened to me one day at the famous Christmas Place. Did I ever tell you about the Crystal Skull I found?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Confederate Map Pt. 5

As Julian Christmas wrote of the strange twist of fate that led to the map of a buried treasure, I could envision him sitting in a hole with the wounded Corporal Paulson and speaking in low whispers by the light of several burning wagons around them. I could see him checking the wound and trying to keep the feverish man alive as they quietly talked.
The strange tale of how the treasure was buried in secrecy was written here before me, but many things were left out as the handwriting continued with the story of the map.
Lt. Christmas gave the man water and prayed that they could escape back to their lines before the daylight that promised renewed fighting directly on top of their position.
The burning wagons around them gave light for Union sharpshooters and he had seen at least two men shot down while trying to move through the light from the fires. He only hoped that the fires would die down within a few hours so that he could escape in the darkness.
Lt. Christmas did not explain how he got there or the strange coincidence of how the Corporal had ended in that spot either, but I tried to piece it together in my mind.
Strange things happen in war. Remember that a simple rest stop and the finding of a small packet with three cigars changed the course of history at Antietam; and there are multitudes of stories of brother meeting brother or kin on several of the great battlefields of the Civil War. Maybe meetings like this are not merely coincidence, but fate. I had spent many late night hours trying to decipher the stilted handwriting and as the two men talked of the hidden treasure and how they could all start over after the war; finally the story of the map came out.
General Forrest and his cavalry were ordered to disrupt the supply lines that kept the Federals moving eastward toward Atlanta. The Union troops outnumbered him at least 3 to 1 and the Confederates were really no match as they found themselves out-gunned and out-manned.
The General had to split his forces and the Corporal found himself under the orders of Major Bryan. The overwhelming forces they faced soon had them cut-off and late in the afternoon, the Major was mortally wounded. Corporal Paulson had been wounded and left unconscious. When he awoke, the battle had moved on and he found himself lying next to the Major. He checked him for signs of life and found none. He remembered that the map had been carried inside the Major’s tunic at all times and after a quick check, he slipped the leather case inside his own shirt and started working himself across the bloody landscape to get back to his lines even though he was badly injured and bleeding.
Darkness, loss of blood and exhaustion had put him in the foxhole, and the circling battle had led to Lt. Christmas tumbling into the hole with him after his horse was killed. A strange coincidence had thrown these two men together in the midst of a bloody and epic battle that would end the war. The fires burned lower as Corporal Paulson pulled the leather dispatch folder from his shirt and offered to split the treasure so they could start anew in the rich Mississippi Delta after the war. Julian shook hands with him to seal the deal. Just before dawn Lt. Christmas checked on the sleeping man and Corporal Paulson had died of his wounds. Lt. Christmas took the leather packet and made his escape in the still darkness before day.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Secret Portrait

I received a letter from Mrs. Susan Richards about my blog and we quickly became friends. Her blog is Dragons Whispers and her art work is featured at Susan's Soul, and at Susan Richards Artwork. She is an artist drawing scenes around Mississippi and wanted to know all about that pesky Thunderhoof. Said she wanted to paint a picture of him. We took off to the camp soon after and I took her and her easel out in the woods to paint his picture. She wondered how we were going to find him out there, but I said don't worry and took a large chunk of cheese out of my pocket and put it on a stump. I told her I was going fishing and left. It wasn't long 'till that big galoot showed up and below is the portrait she painted.
Please go by and visit her sites. Hey, buy one of her paintings before the Hog Guy gets them all.

Friday, May 16, 2008


My mother died January last and I have never written about it. How can you? The pain was so great and still hurts today. You can't pick up the phone and call or run by to see what's going on. You also remember the details of all the things she did, from running you to all the games or just being a shoulder to cry on.
My mother was not a deer hunter, but if we got one she loved to see them and we would proudly show them off to her. She loved the camp and went every weekend. I miss her every day. Peggy Jean Howell.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Paul's Pleasant Dream

My evil brother Paul, deer murderer and crooked lawyer, called yesterday and told me about this great dream he had. He was a buffalo hunter with millions of them milling around in front of him as he shot his Sharps rifle until the barrel melted down.
The only bad part of the dream was that his gun misfired on the very last buffalo and he got away. The best part of the dream was that he found himself standing on a mountain of buffalo skulls laughing....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Coffeeville Mural

Painted on the side of a building in downtown Coffeeville, MS

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nice Bass

Burney caught one
super nice Bass

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Confederate Map Pt. 4

Julian Christmas was putting as much detail as he could remember into the tiny, faded pages of the diary and in my mind I could see how the tale unfolded. In the strangest of coincidences he sat in a foxhole on a battlefield near Atlanta with a man that had recently been to his plantation, knew his name and held the key to a buried treasure. Sometimes I had to use a magnifying glass to make out the words as now, Lt. Christmas continued writing about his night meeting with the wounded Corporal Paulson and how the treasure was buried.
The Corporal told him that his squad of 10 men were blindfolded and put in a wagon with General Forrest’s second in command, Major Jon Bryan and the cannon barrel. Only the Generals most trusted aides left with them and they traveled a couple of miles with many twist and turns. In the pitch dark they could not have seen where they were or even tell exactly where they were going. The Chief of Staff and the General led the way with one small lantern to guide them. After about an hour they stopped and Major Bryan helped them unload from the wagon. The Major helped them down and then the ordeal started. The men grabbed the heavy cannon and blindfolded they walked for at least 45 minutes fighting the roots and trees every step of the way as they wandered through the thick woods. Several officers helped guide them and they finally came to the spot where the treasure was to be buried. Most of the squad was bruised and battered by the walk and were grateful to lower the cannon and have the blindfolds removed.

It was a small clearing in a creek bottom. It was a dark moonless night and their only light was the one small lantern that the General held. He could not tell where he was but he could hear the trickle of a small creek near him.
In the center of the small clearing was a slight, low mound that he knew was the remnants of an old Indian Mound. The top of the little mound had picks and shovels already arranged and after a few minutes rest, he and his men started to dig. The hole was not big enough for all of them and after his turn digging he watched the General and Major Bryan conferring as they added to the details of their map. Finally the two men were satisfied and the map was folded and put into a leather map case. Major Bryan slipped it inside his tunic for safekeeping.
The hole soon reached a depth of about 6 feet through the mound and he had seen several Indian artifacts thrown out of the hole as they dug.
Meanwhile he and several others had wrapped the barrel in canvas, tied it tight with rope and got ready to lay it in the hole. The men were cleared out as they worked the wrapped bundle down into the dirt and started covering it over. Soon the hole was filled in and after about 10 minutes of talk amongst the officers; the men were all blindfolded again and led back through the woods to the wagon. They made it back to camp and early the next morning the cavalry troop was on the road back to Greenwood.

prologue, Pt.1 Pt.2 Pt.3

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Mothers' Day Gift

I got this for Denise for Mothers' Day

As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven deer.....

Friday, May 09, 2008

Graduation Time

Gulfport, MS> May brings Senior Graduation and young Miss Hillary Howell is graduating with honors from her senior class at Gulfport High.
Hillary is planning on attending the University of Mississippi and majoring in medicine. Dr. Howell! Good luck to you and will see you soon!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Confederate Map Pt. 3

The dates on the faded writing in the old diary were sporadic, and as the next couple of years went by, Julian Christmas found himself with a farm to rebuild. He wrote about finally being able to close the large camp of displaced people and gaining on his former life.
He had to build barns, mend fences, and figure out a way to grow food crops along with the cash crop of cotton. Family members returning from the war had taken over old slave quarters and these all needed repair. He bought more land for timber use and started a sawmill. The old map was not mentioned again until the summer of 1868.
He had developed chills to go with his lingering illness. (I think he may have contracted yellow fever) That summer he spent a lot of time at home in bed fighting for his life.
During this time he started writing in the diary on a nightly basis and finally gave the background on what and how the map came into his possession.
Mr. Christmas was in the cavalry of General Hoods division near Atlanta and they had received very simple orders. Defend Atlanta to the last man. Some of the bloodiest fighting of the Civil War was done as Sherman crept closer and closer to the city. General Hood obliged by sending waves of his Army against him in a desperate and futile endeavor.
Julian found himself in a foxhole, next to his dead horse, nursing a fellow wounded soldier named Kevin Paulson during one of those dead still nights that always seemed a prelude to a major battle. He wrote about the horrible moaning of men in the darkness and the knowledge that he could not help any of them, much less himself.
As the two men sat there, they began to talk and the Corporal was very interested in his name of Christmas. He seemed to ask questions until he was satisfied and then a very strange story started to emerge.
The man had been with General Forrest early and as the war spread, he found himself taking the last of the Bank of Greenwoods gold and silver coin toward Vicksburg to keep it from being looted by the Union Army. After several days of fighting and some stealthy maneuvers they found themselves taking a few days rest at the Christmas Place Plantation. They were well taken care of by the mistress which was Julian’s’ wife and the men relaxed there till they could find out any enemy movement in the area. This was fine till General Forrest received an afternoon dispatch. Union soldiers were moving up the Yazoo river toward Greenwood to attack and destroy the shipyard that held the newly constructed ironclad, the C.S.S. Arkansas. He was urged to return to that position immediately.
Late that night Corporal Paulsen was called to the smithy with 9 other of his men to meet with the General. Once gathered together they saw that the largest of their cannons was being worked on. It was loosened from it’s catch and the fuse hole was welded shut. Then all of the gold and silver that they were transporting was poured into the barrel.Wadding was crammed into the end and hot lead was poured in to seal the barrel tight.
Corporal Paulson knew that they were about to bury the treasure but did not know how they would ever find it again if they buried it in an unknown place during the night.
General Forrest laughed and told them that he was making a detailed map.

Prologue, Part 1, Part 2

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Mule Barn

This is Sarah and her friend in front of the Mule Barn behind the old house on the property. It is well over 100 years old and the timbers underneath are all hand-hewn. It is still in good shape even though a piece of tin has blown off the roof and it is now getting water inside. Look closely and remember this pic. There is part of a mystery hidden here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Coming Attractions

As you can see, I have been blogging for over two years and still seem to have an endless supply of new info to put into my site. With two evil lawyer brothers, weird friends, a strange dog, Daniel Boone for a father and a wonderful hunting spot, there is always something to write about. Some stories to finish up are listed.
1. The confederate map story is being done every couple of weeks. The next chapter should be about how the treasure was hidden at the Christmas Place.
2. The beginning of the Legend of Thunderhoof and how he came to the camp. Yes, he is over 10,000 years old. The story will include his mate Breea.
3. More creepy stories that I have held back. Thank goodness this place is so haunted!
4. Summer fun with fishing. We have to get The Othmar back in the water!
5. Denise and I are going to Ireland. hope I can let you know the details so I can blog from yon castle.
6. Summer exploring! Metal detecting, looking for interesting things and tearing down the Witch's House.
7. going visiting around the state. Vicksburg look out! Marian will regret the day!
8. There is plenty still going on and hopefully Matt will get a Bright Idea and come see me this summer with his family.

Monday, May 05, 2008

An Appraisal Problem

Doing real estate appraisal in rural Mississippi has been good for learning how to figure values on the fly. I envy those guys that do appraisals with 3 comps on the same street that are exactly alike, but the rural appraiser has to do it differently. This is Oddball appraising at its best.
Lots of appraisers I meet use books and websites to get cost square foot values etc., but basically I threw mine away a long time ago. Yesterday I had a problem that stuck in my head and I decided to figure it out for the future in case it was ever brought up and I could show everyone how smart I thought I was.
Here is the problem.
A piece of land I am appraising has a small family cemetery on it that has been abandoned for about 50 years. The headstones show that the people were buried here up to a little over one hundred years ago.
Now on cattle land or timber land this is not a real problem to appraise. Trees can grow up around the headstones and no one really cares. Cattle can eat grass there as well as anywhere else. The cemetery is a negative to the property. You can't develop that parcel and Arsenic was used for embalming which is an environmental hazard. Usually after I get a value, I take the price per acre and subtract an acres value to get the total. This shows basically that the area with the cemetery has no value.
The cemetery is an encroachment that is a negative to the property.
The property in this case is commercial, which is a whole new ball of wax.
This made me think of growing cities that face moving these graves as an everyday thing and what it would entail. I figured there were probably 15 graves here.
Off the top of my head I guessed the cost to move them would be $1000 to $2000 per grave. This is what I found out.
1. Get permit/ permission from county coroner. Many coroners in rural Mississippi do that job part time and have no clue about dealing with this.
2. Apply with Sec. of State (another permit)
3. Contact Health Dept. and Dept of History/Archives? This is for any historical info and for disease related issues from the time that the people died. (more permits)
4. Research/ post notices to any member of that family that may survive and get written authorization from them to remove the bodies.
5. Contact local funeral home to transport each coffin or bag of dust/dirt/bones
6. Arrange for removal and setting of the old headstones and for markers if they are gone.
7. Contract with burial service to dig the graves out. ($700-$1000 per grave here)
8. Purchase plots in another cemetery for the bodies to be reburied.
9. These are just some of the hurdles and with a little luck the cost could be kept down. I am sure there are a few more permits to be purchased and the funeral home will need to be paid too.
10. Final Cost is probably around $1500-$2000 per grave.
11. cost-to-cure on 15 graves is around +/- ($20,000-$25,000 with a max of $30,000

Friday, May 02, 2008

Not a Typical Memphis Hunter

My cousin Dean got a nice gobbler!

A Rainy Weekend

Wet Feathers, MS> The last weekend of turkey season at the famous Christmas Place was wet as several big thundershowers moved in. On Saturday, the rain started just before daylight and lasted, off and on, the rest of the day. We managed to get a little work done in between showers but all the turkey hunters did was get wet.
Paul brought his friend, Stewart Allen, to the camp and he was a great guy to hang out with. Here is Paul in his pajamas telling lies that morning as we waited for either the rain to stop or for noon so we could have a drink and really tell lies.

Thursday, May 01, 2008