A couple of summers ago I came across by chance an old Bible that had survived through time and remained in one piece while tucked away in an old rail travel bag in the attic of my fathers house. Inside the back cover of this relic I discovered an old and faded passage, a crude warning of sorts written in pencil so long ago that I had to tilt the page to gain better light in order to read it. The words bore on my mind greatly for some time before I submerged myself into the research necessary to discover their meaning. This passage was apparently written by my great grandmother shortly before her death in 1939. She was 82. I suppose it was directed towards her immediate family. My fathers family was descended from a line of people that had been deeply embedded in the mountain areas of Kentucky over and around where the boarders of Kentucky and Virginia and West Virginia intersect. It was a community called Macklinsville. It no longer exists. Here is what I read:
Dec. 28, 1938
"A skift of snow fell this morning and Bud prepared the balm from the balm-a-gully buds and the Jerusalem oil poltice and let all holds go. He cut a big figure hisself for a while but this neumony fever will not break and I think I'm headed for the shuck bin. Acrost the water they argy all day and all night . I fear darlins thut it will come over har and we'll hat to go back to the castin of lots and the sicklethrones. More chilrin will perish. Not jest yourn."
Well I hardly knew what to make of this but I was determined to learn something about it. First off, there was hardly anyone left to speak of it from first-hand knowledge and those who might have, wouldn't speak of it. I did eventually claw my way to some truth, and in this case the truth didn't set me free. It was actually a sad and grizzly tale. You see after the War for Southern Independence , there was a noticeable shortage of men not just here, but every where, and the effect on every day life in these mountains was especially devastating. This was a brutal country even in the best of times. In order to survive the harsh and barren winters the locals arrived at the solution that at a certain time of each year lots would be cast to reduce the population, ease the burden so to speak. Included would be all those under six years of age and all those over sixty. In effect, the sacrifice would be taken from those too young to have a life or those that had already lived one. The number involved would depend on how many had been born that year and how many had died. This took on sort of a noble connotation in the community, a necessary part of life. It was even sanctioned in the local pulpits. The word "Cyclethrone" referred to the time each year that the event was to take place thus "cycle" referring to the time of year (fall) and "throne" referring to going to your heavenly throne. In writings from that era and place one will sometimes see "cyclethrones" used as a time marker such as "it happened right after the cyclethrones" or "my youngest was born just a few years after the last cyclethrone". In the dialect of that time and place it might come across as sounding more like "sickle-thrones".
There is not really more to add to this story. I stumbled across it, I wondered about it, and now I know. Does it effect me? Not really. My family broke the links to that time and place a long time ago. I guess really it could have been anyones ancesters. I hope that's true. Anyway I'm just going top go on thinking it. That's all I can do.
I am a Mississippi native and now live in Jackson,Tennessee. I write about everyday life and events from the perspective of how they effect my own thoughts and feelings.