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Out On The Mudline

‘No Fit Book’ Provides Link To Historical Figure

by W. P. Sissell

From Whence We Came

Nannette and I are members of the Friends of the Library, the Batesville Library, a branch of the First Regional Library in Hernando. One of our fund raising activities is an annual sale of used books.  This year’s sale will begin on the day after the coming election, November 5th, in the Extension Building on Highway 51 South in Batesville. Although many of these books come from the library collection many are brought to members of The Friends and then carried to a storeroom at the library to await the sale date.

Several month ago one of our neighbors, Barbara, who often gets me straight on this computer, called to say she was cleaning up around her house and wanted to bring several boxes of books by for our annual sale. 

Most of the contents of the several boxes were great children’s books.  After sorting, we carried only one box to the storeroom.  The remainder we carried to one of our local dentist’s office. Dr. Stewart usually comes by and selects many books for use in his office library.  He sent us a hearty thanks and a great donation as usual. 

The “No Fit Book”

As we sorted, one oversized book was laid aside because it just didn’t fit anywhere in any box.  When we finished the sorting I picked up that unplaced book.  Reading the title, Through Indian Eyes, The Untold Story of Native American People—I mused—that might be interesting, as I remembered being corrected at a roadside “Stone Shop” owner over in Arkansas.“Sir, Indians live in and come from India, I am a Native American!” he said.

I, casually, opened the book to page 57—that was just the page my thumb caught—and there was a color picture of—I thought—George Washington in conversation with a group of Indians, oops, Native Americans.  When I finally located the caption for the picture, I found that the gentleman in the picture was Benjamin Hawkins. I immediately gave Nannette twice the usual price that we charge for hard-back books in our sale ($1). 

Why Benjamin Hawkins

My first knowledge of Benjamin came while I was teaching at Northwest.  Someone asked me a question about the man and I just picked up the phone and called the librarian, Mrs. Margaret Rogers.  In a few minutes the lady showed up at my office with several books.  Mrs. Rogers first question was, “Bill do you know anything in particular about that man?”  I answered, “There is a story about him being a student at the College of New Jersey (Princeton now) who was fluent in French so George Washington “drafted” him as his personal French interpreter.”   Mrs. Rogers reply was, “I’ve got the right one.” 

And Now

Virginia Hawkins Carr, Benjamin’s daughter, was the wife of W. A. Carr. President James K. Polk, on a visit to his plantation on the Yalobusha River, spent the night in W. A. s’ and Virginia’s home on the night their daughter, Lucy Polk Carr, was born.  My maternal grandmother was Nina Earl, Lucy Polk Carr Parks’ daughter. Did you ever wonder why my middle name is Parks?

This all means that I now have an action picture of my great-great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Hawkins.  After the revolutionary war he became the first full term senator from North Carolina.  When he was defeated in his bid for re-election George Wash-ington took advantage of Hawkins great interest in the Indian culture by appointing him Indian Agent for the area between the Ohio River and the Mississippi.  The appointment changed his life for he became so involved with the several tribes in the area he  moved to a central part of the area so that he could teach the Indians how to produce their own food on the land.  He brought leaders from his plantation back in North Carolina to assist him in this endeavor.

Do have a great week.  That’s what I’m going to try to do.  That’s not hard for me at this time of the year for I love the fall. Thank you for your plaudits. Maybe I’ll see you at the book sale.  You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, 662-563-9879 or

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