Saturday, August 29, 2009

Some Questions: Some Answers

Terry Thornton, August 22, 2009


Hill Country is written and published by Terry Thornton, a native of eastern Monroe County, Mississippi. Terry was born in Amory and grew up at Parham. A graduate of Hatley School, he attended Itawamba Junior College and the University of Mississippi. After completing his bachelor's degree at Ole Miss in 1961, Terry was accepted into the National Science Foundation Institute at Ole Miss where he completed a master's degree in 1965. He was selected as a NDEA Fellow in Science Education at Ole Miss where he received his doctorate in 1970.

Terry was a public school science teacher in Brookhaven, Tupelo, and Amory, Mississippi, and was the first educational television instructor of elementary school science in the state. He taught at Troy State College (now Troy University) in Troy, Alabama, and at Troy State University at Dothan where he also served at various times as Department Chairman, Director of Graduate Studies, and as Dean of Students. While working on his doctorate, Terry served also as Principal of the Amory Middle School.

Terry is married and will soon celebrate his 48th wedding anniversary. He has two sons, two lovely daughters-in-law, and two grandchildren. He and Sweetie live in Fulton, Mississippi.

A practicing and newly fledged curmudgeon, Terry is 70 years old and is learning new tricks every day. Says Terry, "Now that I'm old enough, I want to learn curmudgeonship as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Once I learn it, I'll be proud to be good at something again."

Terry writes a Hill Country column for the Monroe Journal, publishes several websites including the Monroe County Book of the Dead where he eventually hopes to inventory most of the burials in the county, and researches family lore and history from the hills of eastern Monroe County. Terry is an active member of the Monroe County Discussion Group. A member of the Association For Gravestone Studies, Terry also serves on the Board of Directors for the Itawamba Historical Society. He is working with a newly formed group, Preserving Itawamba County's Heritage, attempting to relocate and preserve the historic Gaither House on Main Street in Fulton, Mississippi. Terry founded the Association of Graveyard Rabbits. He is the original member and founder of the HOGS Bloggers.


Terry believes that his approach to writing family and local history is neither genealogy nor history --- but a combination of History, Observations, Genealogy, and Stories (HOGS). When the HOGS format is combined with photographs (as is often the case in the work Terry publishes), he calls it the pHOGS approach. The digital age makes family genealogy so much more than a mere listing of names and dates and marriages and children and burials places --- and the pHOGS format seems most appropriate for works which go beyond old-fashioned genealogy. Past generations deserve more than just a mere listing of names and dates.

Ellen Goodman, to whom Terry gave honorary HOGS membership, said it best: "What we really want from the generations past are not just the facts . . . We want the stories. Love, passion, success, disappointment, humanity." (from Miss Goodman's essay The Secrets Buried Under a Family Tree, The Boston Globe, April 18, 2008).

HOGS BLOG banner designed by Terry Thornton is displayed at dozens of blogs
across the blogosphere
to indicate that the
writer/publisher uses the H.O.G.S. approach.


In 2009 a series of health issues forced Terry to rethink his approach to writing and researching. Eye surgery stopped his plans to complete several research projects. As he returned to writing in the summer of 2009 a series of unfortunate events beyond his control disgusted Terry so completely with the online social-networking approaches to blogging that he removed almost all of the 1,200+ articles he had online and resigned from all blogging associations.

Terry does not belong to GeneaBloggers, GenealogyWise, FaceBook,Twitter, or any other networking group because (1) he believes strongly that these activities get in the way of research and writing --- certainly they take time away from his primary task: the presentation of information about the history and the people of the Hill Country; and (2) he believes that the flurry of activities promoted by the networking groups creates a false sense of purpose, importance, and worth --- in short, the networking cliques of bloggers are just that --- cliques which serve no useful purpose except to create more cliques and more hands applauding and to generate ad revenue for those pushing such endeavors.

Besides, says Terry, "Hill Country was found and read by family researchers all over the world before GeneaBloggers, FaceBook or Twitter or GenealogyWise. The search engines are what drives traffic to Hill Country --- and all the rest seems a waste of time and effort. At my age I have neither time nor effort to indulge in cliques. Besides, when the self-appointed head of the GeneaBloggers told me that perhaps blogging wasn't the venue for my writing, I knew then that my membership in such a group was worthless."

As a result, HC2, unlike HC1, will not participate in memes, carnivals, and writing activities generated by the various social networking groups of bloggers affiliated with the above named groups or others. Says Terry, "Writing, for me, is not a social activity --- it is hard work of a solitary nature. The constant fun and games approach to family writing which seems to be rampant on the social networking groups of geneabloggers is a distraction I don't want."


The primary purpose of this website is to provide information about the history, legends, families, places, and events of eastern Monroe County Mississippi --- the Hill Country. Secondary purposes of this website include preserving the heritage of the Hill Country, having a laugh or two, as well as to providing occasional observations on current happenings in the region (after all, today's news will be tomorrow's history). HC2 will continue the work begun in HC1 and will focus on anecdotal history and oral traditions and families from the Hill Country of Monroe County --- the lands east of the Tombigbee River --- the old "Mother Monroe of the Hills." Areas of interest include Parham, Walls Tanyard, Electra, Hatley, Adley, Splunge, Greenwood Springs, Sipsey Bottom, Lackey, Athens, Hamilton, Beeks, Bethlehem, Oak Hill, Quincy, Temperance Hill, Buttahatchie, Morman Springs, Jonesboro, Greenwright, Becker, Cotton Gin Port, Good's Tanyard, Amory, Smithville, Gattman, and points in between and beyond.

Readers are invited to come on this journey into the Hill Country and are invited to submit documents, photographs, and family information which will help to tell the story of the hills. Further, readers are invited to post comments to the articles presented here (no anonymous comments accepted; provide your name, city and state please). Guest columns are welcomed; please contact Terry for specific details prior to submitting manuscripts, documents, or photographs.

The archival articles from Terry's earlier writing and cemetery research are now available for purchase on CDs. Nine-hundred forty-seven articles selected from HC1 are presented on the CD Terry Thornton's Hill Country of Monroe County Mississippi Volume One. Several of the cemetery transcriptions are also available on CD. Check for ordering information and prices in the left sidebar at this link

Terry Thornton may be reached by email:


R. Sherman said...

Hi, Terry.

I'm glad you're back and I appreciate your comments regarding social networking sites. You're right that they do tend to promote sycophancy among the chosen few. Further, they tend to be a distraction and impediment to cogent, well-organized thought, functioning rather as "vomitoria" for whatever inanities come to mind. Alas, it's easy to fall into that trap, as the the narcissist in all of us thrives on the "attaboy" comments.

Bottom line: I wish you well and will return.


R. Sherman
Mapaville, MO

Terry Thornton said...

Thanks RANDALL. I always enjoy your "on point" comments. And it always helps to find someone with whom I agree! Thank you for being a loyal reader of HILL COUNTRY.

Terry Thornton
Fulton, MS