Call to Order:
President Gilbert Mathis called the meeting to order at 10:30 a.m. at the Weldon Public Library in Martin, Tennessee with approximately 21 members and guests in attendance. The meeting was preceded by 30 minutes of coffee and donuts, an innovation initiated by President Mathis whom we thank.
Business: The 2010-2011 Secretary Melissa Earnest and current Treasurer Marvin Downing had prepared the minutes and treasurer’s report and distributed copies to those in attendance. Marion Claybrook moved, Bob Lochte seconded, and JPHS approved both sets of information. Membership dues remain the same as in 2010-2011 and are payable to Downing for the 2011-2012 year.
Journal Editor’s Report: Editor Melissa Earnest is elated to have three articles already! Though a good start, she readily welcomes other items prior to the May 1, 2012 submission deadline.
Publications Committee: Vice President Bob Lochte reported Kate Reeves and Bill Wells have agreed to serve, a situation that left one vacancy. Shortly Dieter Ullrich volunteered for duty without saluting.
Program Committee: Chair Bob Lochte announced the January program will be at the Wrather West Kentucky Museum in Murray, and it features author Judy Shearer talking about her book All Bones Be White, a creative nonfiction narrative, a biography, of Cassy, a woman who was a slave in Kentucky and who was tried for murder in 1833.
Bill Evans, Vice President of News for Paxton Communications, has been working on a history of WPSD, channel 6, Paducah, for some time now. He will give an illustrated presentation about this in a location in Paducah TBD at either the April or the July meeting.
Dwayne McIntosh, retired journalist and PR man, will give a presentation about high school basketball in the Jackson Purchase in the 1940’s and 1950’s, when local teams were the best in Kentucky. I spoke with him about November back at the WratherMuseum, but the date is not firm. Kate Reeves is interested in doing a museum exhibit about high school basketball in conjunction with Dwayne’s talk.
Bill Wells is looking into some program possibilities in Mayfield with no specific date yet.
JPHS officers proposed to amend the bylaws in order to clarify meeting procedures. They offered separate motions for JPHS and the Board of Directors of JPHS. Members decided to vote on the two motions separately.
The first one acted on was: “Motion is made to change the by-laws of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society to allow for Executive Committee meetings to be conducted either in person or by any electronic/telephonic means convenient for the purpose and available to the public.” Claybrook moved, Lochte seconded, and the motion carried.
The second one acted on was: “Motion is made to change the by-laws of the Board of Directors of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society to allow for Board meetings to be conducted either in person or by any electronic/telephonic means convenient for the purpose and available to the public.” Lochte moved, Claybrook seconded, and the motion carried.
West Tennessee Historical Society.
President Mathis asked WTHS President if it had business to conduct. According to WTHS members, there was not a WTHS quorum, so no business could be conducted. They did indicate availability of back issues of the WTHS Papers had been digitized. They can be accessed by going to the Shelby County [Tennessee] Register of Deeds website under “Exhibits” and clicking on the WTHS Papers. Those WTHS records have been digitized. They can be key word searched and downloaded and/or printed out. They also encouraged attendees to sign a WTHS form as a part of its procedures.
Mathis then called on Downing to introduce our speaker. He expressed appreciation for Dr. Michael Gibson filling in for the previously scheduled Dr. Stan Dunagan whose family had an important gathering related to a sibling’s medical crisis. Dr. Gibson graduated from the College of William and Mary with a B.S. degree before earning an M.S. at Auburn University and then a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He is thoroughly professional in the classroom, in field work, and research publication. Within the past month he was the keynote speaker at the Tennessee Academy of Sciences in Jackson, Tennessee. For many years his wife Edie has been Executive Assistant to the UT Martin Chancellor. The Gibsons have a daughter Kesley who will soon graduate from UTM and enter a graduate program in Marine Biology. Their son Brandt is also a UTM student dual majoring in Biology and Geology.
Gibson first related Dunagan’s regrets at missing the meeting. He had looked forward to an exchange of ideas. Perhaps there can be a future session.
Gibson launched into the geological background of the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes, the strongest in U.S. history. As a pre-people geologist, he quickly took us back millions of years to explain the circumstances that ultimately lead to the formation of ReelfootLake from deep fault and rifts in the Mississippi River valley generally and more specifically in the Gardner and Dresden communities only a few miles away. He elaborated on how old geological features were being impacted by more recent forces.
Actually Reelfoot Lake precedes the 1811-1812 quakes as evidenced by the old cypress trees in that water. Though the core of some trees are rotten, rings indicate some are over 600 years old.
The 1811-1812 quakes were the most recent large shakes. Between December 16, 1811 and February 11, 1812, there were over 200 tremors/incidents but few were felt. Six events exceeded 7.0 on the Richter scale with 2 events around 8.0. Some 2,000 landslides resulted. Church bells rang in Canada and Mexico, according to newspaper accounts. Due to those conditions tree growth was slowed for several years. Those events produced “earthquake Christians,” as people suddenly and relatively briefly became quite religious.
How bad were those 1811-1812 quakes? Gibson described conditions in a relatively sparsely populated area and compared predicated impacts in the 21st Century. He switched to a relatively new damage evaluation model and explained damages at various levels.
Like other geologist, Gibson warned that it is not a question of if a large New Madrid earthquake will happen but when. He counseled everyone to become prepared for such. A level V shake on an XI point scale of relatively little damage might be good to alert us to potential damages and dangers. He advised everyone to have a minimum of 2 weeks supply of food and water. The upside of his comments is that government agencies and individuals are now much better prepared than 5 years ago. In fact, Dr. Gibson will be one of the first responders, an ambivalent situation for him and his family. His point in part is that a large quake has great social implications, too!