by Terry Thornton
Regular readers know how special I think Hill Country to be. So it does my heart good to find other writers whose words indicate that they, too, think the Hill Country of Monroe County is "God's country."
One such writer was Horace Baker, Monroe County educator and historian. His short essay written about 1935 about the view from Ashcraft School (locals called it Brock School) on the high ridge between Weavers Creek and Splunge Creek describes only part of the beauty of the hills. Here is Baker's "What Autumn Hath Joined Together" as printed in the Aberdeen News Herald, January 30, 1975, Section Two, Page 6.
"There is no lovelier view in the county than from Ashcraft School. A beautiful green valley nestles between stalwart, friendly hills. And hill rises beyond hill to the blue haze of Alabama in the distance with a completely enclosed valley suggesting the contentment of Arcadia. In fall it is an ocean of color. Billows of gold and crimson rise and fall within the valley and tree lined roads are lit with autumn flame-like blue and yellow flickerings of fire, like great green waves upon yellow sands they dash upon the scene. Purple and crimson and scarlet, like the curtains of God's tabernacle, the rejoicing trees sank into the valley, every leaf, as it turned to transmit the sunbeam, becoming first a torch and then an emerald. In all that radiance of autumnal splendor the Presence of God is very near."
Thank you, Horace Baker, for recognizing the truth about the Hill Country. One does not have to see the hills in autumn, however, to know they are stalwart and friendly --- even lightly covered in snow as they've been this week, the view, seen from the high ridges, shows hill rising beyond hill fading into the blue haze that is Alabama (if looking east) or hill stacked against hill higher and higher that is Itawamba (if looking north). Even the view towards the flatlands of western Monroe is beautiful squinting into the afternoon sun bouncing brightly off the patches of snow and casting dark long shadows across the ice. And looking south over valley after valley separated by low undulating ridges covered with patches of old snow causes the soul to soar that the Hand of God is so visible and so colorful. Even in winter, the hills are an ocean of color --- greens of various stages and shades, tans, browns, and lovely grays with the promise of new buds yet to burst to washed-out used-up grays on newly formed bark --- the valleys and ridges rejoice in the knowledge that, yes, the Presence of God is very near.
See Ashcraft School: Part 1 (click here to read) for information about the school and the Ashcraft Family.
See Ashcraft School: Part 2 for information about the individuals named in the Aberdeen News Herald article, Ashcraft - Last of the one teacher schools. (to be posted soon)
Baker, Horace. What Autumn Hath Joined Together, Aberdeen News Herald, January 30, 1975, Section Two, Page 6. Newspaper clipping sent by Dane Brasfield, Aberdeen, Mississippi.