The book captured my imagination, it was Teddy Roosevelts darkest journey.

President Roosevelt had suffered a defeat in 1912 and set off for South America.

He was still filled with a devil-may-care attitude and wanted to repay Brazil by helping map the Amazon’s darkest reaches.

He also wanted to make sure it wasn’t just another “Victorian Picnic”.

He hire accomplished scientists and people from noted geographic institutions that were world renown.

Roosevelt set off into the unknown and the story de evolves it goes from bad to worse.   His life changed.

This is where my family story comes into play.

My earliest recollections of my childhood happen to be my Great Uncle Jim Blackburn.

He was a Judge in Posey County Indiana.

He reminded me just a bit of Col. Sanders.

I knew so little of him that I set off trying to understand his life and history.

My father has past on,  so there is not direct connection anymore.

All that is left is a letter from Teddy Roosevelt expressing remorse that he cannot attend the party that my Uncle Jim has extended an invitation.

He states “that he is not physically able to attend.

This starts my journey into the distant past of Teddy Roosevelt and my Uncle Jim Blackburn.

Why was my Uncle Jim a one term judge when many judges served decades?

Why did Teddy even respond with a type written letter?
I’ve pondered this for years.

(All of this is purely speculation)

My Uncle Jim served as a County Judge in Southern Indiana, in a county that was a bastion of the Republican Party.

It was the 150th Centennial of the State of Indiana and they were throwing a party in Mt. Vernon, Ind. like no party before or after.

Alas, Roosevelt was not able to attend because of his journeys to South America and his harrowing and life threatening experience in the Amazon.

The letter was written from his NYC address and within 30 months of his death.

As a child, my father told me that the Mason Dixon line was just across the Ohio River.

He recalled that his parents would not allow the family to go on picnic’s        ( like the neighbors), and to cross the river and spend Saturday’s in Kentucky to watch a public hanging.

I have always suspected that they were not hanging white people?

My father also told me of watching parades of the KKK and they would try to guess the hooded marchers by their shoes.

I can find very little information on my Uncle Jim the Judge of Posey County.

All he had left me from his estate was an amazing bird book from his expansive library “BIRDS OF AMERICA” with color plates by famed “Louis Agassiz Furetes”.

It has been a treasured book in my own library.

He also left me what might have been a HINT in his life.

Why was he a one term judge in Southern Indiana, just across the river from the Mason Dixon line.  It was a political position and I suspect there would have been some obsequious behavior that was expected.  What were his political leanings?

The other item that he bequeathed me was a life sized bust of Abraham Lincoln, emancipator of the African slaves in America.

Maybe the question has come full circle and he speaks to me through his generosity of gifts?

This may be why he served just one term as judge?


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