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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Caroline & Gerald Buster: The Cottage Restaurant

It was quite a risk to open a French-inspired restaurant in Calumet City in 1974, but Carolyn Buster Welbon and her then-husband, Gerald (Jerry) Buster, created a phenomenon. For about 20 years, The Cottage restaurant was the premier fine-dining restaurant in the south suburbs. It was so good that the one-story stucco building -- inspired by a French inn the couple had visited -- became a destination for Chicago residents.

"Calumet City was in the middle of nowhere," said Nancy Harris, Caroline's friend and colleague. "About half-way there, you wondered why you were going but when you arrived you knew why. The food was so good."

Caroline, 66, died Thursday, June 12, in an assisted living facility in Albuquerque.  She had been in a coma since April 4 when she hit her head after apparently falling down the stairs at her home in Santa Fe, said police, who have ruled out foul play. She had moved into the house just a couple days before the fall, said her sister, Gladys Baker of Munster, Ind.

Caroline first received attention in the Chicago area when she worked at The Bakery in Chicago, under the legendary chef Louis Szathmary. She had no formal culinary training, save a 10-week gourmet cooking course offered by Sears, Roebuck and Co., before she started at the Bakery. Her previous job was in the office of a steel plant in Hammond. At The Bakery, she ran the test kitchen to assist with Szathmary's cookbook. She also worked in the dining room and the kitchen to learn the intricacies of the restaurant business -- always with the intention of opening her own place, colleagues said.

"Jerry" Buster
"She was like a sponge," said Gerald Buster, Caroline's ex-husband. "When you get a mentor like this guy, it was phenomenal for her."

The couple met while working at the Hammond steel plant. They married in 1965 and opened the Cottage Restaurant in 1974. They had planned a low-key opening, but the buzz about a Szathmary apprentice drew 103 patrons on the first day. "There was no way we were prepared for that," Gerald said. "People thought we were a spin-off of The Bakery. It wasn't at all. We didn't copy any of his recipes at all; she had her own ideas of what she wanted to do."

The Cottage became well-known for its schnitzel, tasty soups, full-flavored game and autumnal setting. In a 1992 Tribune restaurant review, the touted dishes included smoked quail and wild mushrooms, venison with a stone-ground mustard sauce, roasted duck and swordfish with pomegranate-pistachio sauce.

When the couple divorced in 1993, Gerald Buster brought in another chef. The restaurant closed in 1996. Caroline Buster never worked in restaurants again. She lived in Rhode Island and southern Indiana briefly and married Paul Welbon. The couple moved to New Mexico, where Paul died in 1999.  Gerald, born in 1936, is still living.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Brody Buster: Celebrated Blues Artist


Brody Buster is only in his early 30s, but he is already a music industry veteran, one preparing to give success a second chance. “I started so young,” he told The Star recently. “I played ‘The Tonight Show,’ I played with B.B. King a bunch of times. But I was just a kid. And then I didn’t want to do it for a while. When I was a teenager, I wanted to play rock ’n’ roll. I wanted to skateboard and party. And then I had kids.”

These days, Buster, 32, is the father of a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old. He’s also trying to revive a career that started when he was 9 and a blues-harp prodigy from Paola, Kan. His career included several moments of celebrity and fame, with guest appearances on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” the TV shows “Full House” and “Baywatch,” and an endorsement from King, who called the young Buster “one of the greatest harmonica players of our time, despite his age.” Music remained a consistent component of his life, but not the primary focus. “I’ve always played music, but I wasn’t really pursuing it,” he said.

He is now, and at the 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., this month, his pursuit received a significant boost after Buster placed second in the solo/duo category and won best harmonica player. “It has already kick-started my career,” he said. “My email and phone have been flooded with too many offers to get back to. I’m looking for an agent to help me get through it all. I’ve had offers all over the U.S. and Canada to play blues festivals.”

Buster advanced to Memphis after winning a spot through the Kansas City Blues Society’s local competition. Fellow Kansas Citians Amanda Fish and the trio the Old No. 5s also competed in Memphis. Neither made it past the semifinals. It was Buster’s second attempt at the IBC. The first attempt inspired him to change his approach from working in a trio to performing as a one-man band (drums, guitar, harmonica, vocals). “I entered the challenge two years ago as a full band but didn’t make it out of Kansas City,” he said. “All the judges said, ‘You’re really good, you’re just too much rock.’ So I started this one-man-band thing Monday nights at the Westport Saloon. And I built it there. It’s pretty much the same music, but it’s toned down, not so loud and in-the-face. It’s a lot bluesier.”

Buster has released an album on Mudstomp Records as Brody Buster’s One Man Band, and he performs regularly around Kansas City beyond his regular Monday night gig at the Westport Saloon. He also has a weekly Wednesday night gig at the Oak Bar in the InterContinental Kansas City at the Plaza.

reprint from LA Times

A Harmonica Prodigy : Brody Buster, 10, has seen his star soar since B.B. King praised his talent.

April 21, 1995|STEVE APPLEFORD
UNIVERSAL CITY — Janet Buster understood things would somehow never be the same for her son after that night last fall at the Universal Amphitheatre.
She and 9-year-old Brody had been given backstage passes to a concert by blues guitar master B. B. King, and the two found a spot at the side of the stage, hoping for a chance to say hello again to King when the show ended.
That's when King saw the boy, raised his hand to stop the concert, and directed the spotlight to suddenly fall on young Brody. "Ladies and gentlemen," King announced, "I'd like to introduce to you one of the greatest harmonica players of our time, despite his age, believe it or not."
A stunning pronouncement, and from a man who should know what he's talking about. Here was the great B. B. King, who has led the charge on more than one blues revival, landing this tow-headed child squarely within some esteemed company. Howlin' Wolf. Sonny Boy Williamson. Shakey Horton. Brody Buster?
This surely has not been some passing fancy, either, since Brody Buster and his band, the Bluesbusters, perform every other weekend at B. B. King's Blues Club on the Universal CityWalk. At the club's grand opening in June, young Brody was even invited on stage to blow his harp alongside King himself.
"You see your 9-year-old stand up there and play with B. B. King and the crowd goes wild, you take notice," his mother says now. "I could never have dreamed of such a thing happening."
This career of Brody's has been an unexpected detour in the life of the Buster family of rural Paola, Kan. What began as a nice hobby for the boy has within two years exploded with unexpected consequences. There was his appearance on ABC-TV's sitcom "Full House." And this week, Brody began filming a guest spot on the syndicated hit television series "Baywatch."
Six months after arriving in Los Angeles, Brody is represented by the same management firm (Morra, Brezner, Steinberg and Tennenbaum) that handles the massive careers of Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.
But Brody, who is now 10, seems the least surprised of anyone. Even before he first picked up a harmonica, Brody would watch the Grammy Awards with his parents and practice his own acceptance speeches, thank ing Mom and Dad.
"He can actually play," says guitarist Vincent Labauve, 37, musical director of the Bluesbusters. The veteran sideman for such artists as Ike Turner, Solomon Burke, Barry White and the Coasters, adds, "We're not lacking musically. I wouldn't care if he was 2. The musical content is what I go for. I go for the talent.
"I don't feel any kind of stigma because we've got a 10-year-old kid in front of us. That doesn't bother me in the least. I'm more relaxed on this gig than I am on the big professional gigs that I've done."
On one recent Friday night, the self-taught Brody stomped to the stage in a purple double-breasted suit and with a case full of harmonicas, ready to blow through the standard blues repertoire. Among those songs was Willie Dixon's "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man," where the boy was most convincing as both player and singer, actually finding a grinding edge in his voice, and blowing his harp with real force.
"It's a novelty to a lot of people," says Labauve. "But what's so cool about it is that he delivers. He's not just 'Oh, how cute!' He's actually playing. That puts a whole other slant on things."
After his shows at B. B. King's Blues Club, Brody and his band stroll over to Lucille's, King's sports bar next door, where the young musician plays another three sets that last half an hour or so.
While waiting for his band to set up, he's asked who his favorite musician is. Brody does not hesitate. "B. B. King," says Brody, his blond hair neatly combed. "I also like Eric Clapton."
But it was his mother's collection of old blues, country, and rhythm and blues records that first fascinated Brody. His father, Curtis, one day brought home an acoustic guitar from a garage sale. Then his mother brought out her old harmonicas for Brody to try.
Suddenly, Brody, who was then 7, was playing the thing everywhere: in the car, in the grocery store, on the porch, in the treehouse.
"I quit playing," remembers his mother. "Brody put me to shame. In a couple of months he could do everything I could do.
"He has the music in him. He's always banging on something, in a rhythm or a pattern, making music somehow. And when he's not making music he's drawing designs for stages. He says that relaxes him."
Brody's guitar teacher soon recommended that Brody try out his blues harp chops at the various jam sessions and talent contests in nearby Kansas City.
"He never had any stage fright," says Janet Buster, 40. "I didn't know what would happen the first time he got up. I didn't know if he would start crying and run and sit down. I was really nervous about it. I didn't want him to have a bad experience. But he just really enjoyed it."
The family eventually decided to spend last year's spring vacation in Memphis, where Brody could find audiences amid the euphoric atmosphere of Beale Street. There, he blew his harp on street corners and in the occasional club, while other kids danced.
Spring break ultimately stretched into summer, with Brody's father commuting on weekends--which he continues to do--from his car dealership back in Paola. Fans were throwing money at Brody, who earned a couple hundred dollars a night, enough to buy himself a fine electric guitar at the end of the summer.
The family's extended vacation away from their old life finally led late last year to Los Angeles, where Brody was soon booked at B. B. King's club. He prepares for his late-night schedule by taking afternoon naps. Along with his 9-year-old sister, Brody attends fourth grade at a public elementary school in Burbank and insists, "I get straight A's and Bs," which his parents make clear is a prerequisite for his music career.
His parents say they have also been careful to have Brody perform only in the least rowdy of clubs. (So far, the most unpleasant experience has been Brody's arm growing tired from too many autographs.) Only venues that serve food--as opposed to bars that just serve alcohol--are considered.
"I think it holds no glamour for him," says Janet Brody. "When he's 16 and his peers are cruising and out drinking, I don't think that will hold any attraction for him because he's seen what it really does. We always point out the artists who ended their careers sadly and too soon by overdosing or drinking too much."
To that end, the Busters were determined to form a backing group for their son, free of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. The Bluesbusters--which also includes bassist Jerry Chambers and drummer Cheron Moore--are determined to "shield him from the crap that goes on, the negative part of the show business world," says Labauve, the father of three. "We definitely want to shield him from that, because it's really not necessary to expose the kid to that."
For now, Brody Buster and the Bluesbusters continue to play their mix of blues classics and blues-rock covers from the 1960s. Brody today says he's only interested in the blues, while the more modern rock sounds of MTV have so far failed to impress him.
But Brody is still only 10, and Labauve, for one, is expecting some changes in the coming years. "You know when Brody hits his teens, he's going to want to rock a lot more," he says with a laugh. "That's just something that happens to you."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bobette Buster: Hollywood's Secret

Bobette Buster was born on September 4,1953 in Ohio, but was raised in a small town of Leitchfield, Kentucky. Growing up there, she would collect stories in her youth about the older generation, which included her own family members, and has the oral histories preserved at the Kentucky Museum. She graduated Northwestern University with a B.S. in Speech and USC Film School with an M.F.A. in the Peter Stark Producing Program. She also studied briefly at Princeton University.

Currently living in Los Angeles, she has been working as a part-time lecturer as a Stark adjunct professor since 1992. Her lecturing and consulting experiences have comprised of Pixar, Disney, Le Femis (Paris), DFFB (Berlin), 20th Century Fox, Sony Animation, Screen Training Ireland, North By Northwest (Denmark), and more. Her area of expertise in the film industry focuses on the development of storytelling for all cultures, incorporating corporate, nonprofit, and academia. Her influences extend to writers like, Josh Goldsmith (EP, King of Queens, What Women Want), Pete Chiarelli (The Proposal), Elizabeth Klaviter (Producer/Writer, Grey’s Anatomy), Dana Fox (EP, Ben and Kate), Miles Millar & Alfred Gough (EPs, Smallville), Garret Lerner & Russell Friend (EPs, House), John August (screenwriter,) documentary producer Karen Johnson (Double Dare,) and many more. She focuses on principles such as The History of Hollywood Economics, Violence in Entertainment, The Purpose of Happily Ever After, Epiphany, and The Ten Stages of Transformation, among other important storytelling principals.

Aside from lecturing, Bobette is also a screenwriter and documentary producer. "There is phenomenal work being done in documentaries," she praised. "The constraints of raising funds and delivering ideas that can be marketed worldwide have created a really taut story discipline among documentary makers." Her works include Deadly Code (2013), Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (2016) and Weapons of Mass Distraction (1997). She also has written a book that is apart of the “Do” series, entitled, Do Story: How to tell your story so the world listens that engages and connects the craftsmanship of storytelling. She is a member of the Writers Guild, and in December of 2007 while picketing outside of Paramount during the writer's strike, she reinforced, "Writers took the lead here because we're contrarians, independent thinkers."

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Archibald Buster

*The history of Archibald Buster (1802-1894) was compiled many years ago by Lottie Buster, a daughter of Claudius Green Buster, and grand-daughter of Archibald.  Many, many thanks must go to her for writing down these facts about Archibald’s life, with which we would otherwise be without and they would be lost in the pages of past history.

Nolichucky River Valley
Archibald, one of nine children born to Claudius & Isabella (Woods) Buster, was born on March 22, 1802 in Greene Co. Tennessee.  He was born along Nolichucky River, near Greeneville, where his parents had settled in 1789. Archibald grew up on the new frontier of eastern Tennessee and on August 18, 1829 was united in marriage to Elizabeth Black Henderson, daughter of David & Isabel (Libby) Black Henderson.  Elizabeth wad born in Kentucky on January 30, 1809.  Archibald and Elizabeth lived in Tenn. About 5 or 6 years after their marriage, three children were born to them in Tenn. Before they migrated west to Missouri and were pioneer settlers in this vast new land.  Eight more children were born in Missouri. Three of their children died in infancy.   Martha Ann, their first child, was born in Greene Co. Tenn., on June 13, 1830.  Samuel on Feb. 29, 1832.  On March 8, 1832 they were deeply sorrowed by the death of Martha Ann. She was buried in Tennessee.  On March 10, 1834, their third child, Mary Jane was born. 

In or about 1835, Archibald moved his family west by covered wagon to Missouri.   Their next child, Sarah Elizabeth, was born in Johnson Co. Missouri on Feb. 20, 1836.  On Oct. 11, 1838, William Marion was born.  On March 20, 1841 Paulina was born.  On Sept. 4, 1843 they became the proud parents of twins when James and Margaret E. were born.  But their joy was not to last, for on June 25, 1844 James passed away aged 9 months and twenty-one days.  On Nov. 30, 1846 their home was again brightened by the birth of Claudius Green.  Then on June 26, 1847 sorrow again struck their home with the death of the remaining twin, Margaret E. age 3 years nine months and twenty-one days.  This the third child they had laid to rest.  On April 24, 1849 David Elzy was born and five years later, on March 26, 1854, Eliza was born. 

The Platte Purchase region (highlighted in red)
When Archibald and Elizabeth first reached Missouri they seemed to have lived in several different places, always searching for better land and a better place to raise their family. They lived at various times in Saline, Petis, Platte, Johnson and Atchison counties. Sometime during these years in Missouri, we know not the date, they moved south into Texas, but their stay was of short duration.  They lost all their cattle with Texas Fever. Grand-mother, Elizabeth, traded a feather bed for a yoke of oxen and they moved back to Missouri.  They seemed to have settled, first in Platte County, later moving to Atchison County where they entered on 180 acres of Government land at $1.25 per acre.  This was before the Homestead Act was passed.  They came into what was then called, “The Platte Purchase” seeking cheap land, but land also rich in natural resources.  

Missouri was considered way out west in those days and life was rough.  They suffered many hardships in those pioneer days.  All water had to be carried from a spring or creek. They had to cut and split rails with which to fence their land and protect it from marauding animals. They lived in log or dirt houses which they most often had to build for themselves.  They built fireplaces along one inside wall of these houses where their winter cooking was done.  These fireplaces were also used for heating their homes, and often for light to do their evenings work.  In the summertime they would build what was called Dutch-ovens out in the yard and under the trees, here their summer cooking was done.  Their cooking utensils consisted of various pots and pans and a big deep skillet which had a lid two inches wider than the skillet and a long handle.  This they used for making corn-bread, etc.  They would place the batter in the skillet, bury it in the live coals, and let it bake.  It was said that daughters Sarah Elizabeth and Mary Jane both owned cook stoves long before their mother did.  People, at that time thought they were living too fast and extravagant  to last long with such modern conveniences. 

Stephen Douglas
In 1861 when the Civil War erupted, the fact that the Busters were former southerners made life quite difficult for them.  They did sympathize with the southern cause, but opposed slavery and had not supported Bell, the southern candidate, but had supported Stephen Douglas who also opposed slavery.  The State of Missouri was divided along the imaginary Mason-Dixon line and the Buster home was near this line.  Many of them felt safer in the Army than they would have felt at home.  Neighbor was pitted against neighbor over the question of slavery.  Their homes were under constant attack from marauding bands of raiders, cattle and horses were stolen and many times, their homes were burned. Many raiders, often raiders from Kansas, made life pretty unpleasant for them all over the northern part of Missouri.  These marauding bands of thieves under the guise of soldiers, pilfered, robbed and intimidated the defenseless women and children of the men who were fighting for the southern cause.  Some times houses were burned over the women’s heads, with little ones in their arms.  These bands were of the lowest type, not brave enough to face real battles but did their warring on women and children.  

The following story is told about grand-mother, Elizabeth Buster.  “Quote” from Lottie Buster’s files.

Once when grandma was weaving homespun for her children’s winter clothing, one of these bands came, prowled around the barn and then came to the house.  Not finding any “Rebels” around they took what they found loose.  One man took out his knife and started to cut the wool from her loom.  Grandma told him to stop because that wool was to be her children’s winter clothing, but he kept right on and paid no attention to her.  Grandma reached for her dogwood stick, a heavy stick with which she poked up the fire with, and brought it down across his arm with all her strength.  It broke his arm in two places.  One of his comrades cocked his gun and shoved it against her breast and threatened to kill her, but the Captain, who knew grandma, ordered him to put down his gun.  Then he said, “Aunt Betty, if you tell me what we want to know, where the things we are looking for can be found, I will protect you and your children.”  Grandma had little choice in the matter, but her quick wit came to her side.  “All right”, she said, “What do you want to know?”  He replied, “We know that you have some valuable horses and saddles.  If you will tell me where they are I will protect you, even with my life if need be.”  “We know too that you know where they are.”  “Yes” said  grandma, “I know where they are and I will tell you if first you rid this house of your men and send them on about their business.”  The Captain ordered his men to leave the house.  Grandma looked him straight in the eye and said, “Those horses and saddles are in Price’s Regiment, in the Rebel Army, and my two sons are riding them. If you want them, go get them.”  She had outwitted him but he kept his promise and departed with his men, without molesting her further.  Some one later wrote a poem of the incident, one verse going like this:

     The little old lady with the poking stick 
     Broke his arm in two places with one mighty lick
     The brave soldier swore, and all was a fluster     
     This little old lady was “Aunt Betty Buster”.

One time during the Civil War, Grandpa Archibald was taken prisoner by a band of these marauding soldiers.  He managed to escape from them and started to walk back home.  In some way he had gotten hold of a Union coat.  He was stopped once.  “Who Goes there?” demanded the sentinel.  Grandpa replied, “Captain Drydon”.  “Pass on” said the sentinel and grandpa was safe because he was quick witted enough to give them their own Captains name.    
Civil War Guerilla Raider
After a disastrous raid by Guerilla raiders, William Marion & Sam, the two older Buster boys, rode south to the Confederacy.  It has been told that an aunt of theirs was killed by these raiders.  She had a beautiful new rag rug on her floor, a very prized possession in those days.  When the raiders began to tear up the rug, in search for a trap door which might lead to guns or other valuable possessions, the aunt protested and asked for time to pull out the tacks and take the rug up without ruining it.  She was refused time, hit over the head with a gun butt and killed.  A nephew, herding cattle near by was also killed.  Rocks were tied around his neck and he was thrown into a pond to drown.  All the cattle were stolen. (NOTE: My father, Albert M. Buster, son of William Marion Buster told this story many times, but we were not able later to verify who this aunt and nephew were.  It is believed that they were relatives on Grandma Buster’s side of the family, Hendersons.) The Dave Henderson Jr. and George McDowell families had come to Missouri and Archibald from Tennessee, settling in Missouri, just cross the river from Fort Leavenworth the main trading post in that part of the country at that time.  The Henderson and McDowell families later moving into Fort Leavenworth where many of them worked for the railroad later. 

It is said that it was because of these dastardly acts by Guerilla raiders, that the Buster boys rode south to the Confederacy.  We do not have any record of Sam’s service in the Confederacy but on the following pages, there is an account of William Marion’s service. In 1864, Archibald sold the farm and moved north to Nebraska City, Nebraska.  Shortly after this move, Grandmother Elizabeth’s health began to fail.  Also at this same time, the big muddy Missouri River began to flood an daughter Mary Jane and her baby were in danger of the flood waters.  Archibald went to their aid, (Mary Jane’s husband, James Goodman, being away in the Army at that time.)  Because of the rising flood waters, Archibald was not able to return home immediately.  Grandmother Elizabeth became worse and died on March 1, 1865.  It was thought that she had contracted Yellow Fever, so was buried at once, before Archibald could return home.  She was buried at Wyuka Cemetery in Nebraska City.  Some of Aunt Paulina Latham’s children are also buried near by.  

Archibald was a school teacher, he taught a subscription school.  Most of his wages were in corn, meat, potatoes, or whatever people could spare.  School teachers were scarce and terms were short.  School was only carried out in the winter time when there was little else to do.  Archibald stayed on in Nebraska City after Elizabeth’s death where he made ox yokes and saddle trees.  These his partner covered with rawhide and then sold them to freighters of the plains.  Freighting from Nebraska City to Denver was a very thriving business before the coming of the railroads.  Some of the Buster boys made good money driving ox teams and freighting long before they came of age.  Thomas J. Hamilton, who married Sarah Elizabeth Buster, daughter of Archibald, was one of those freighters.  He had three rigs, or wagons, pulled by oxen and hauled about five ton per rig.  He made two trips to Denver in 1865 and one trip in 1866.  They were getting ready to make another trip in 1866 when William Henry Hamilton, oldest son of Thomas and Elizabeth, was killed while herding cattle.  All the cattle were stolen except one yoke of oxen belonging to James Goodman.  As the story was told by Lottie:  It seems the cattle were stolen by two men and two women and driven to Nebraska City for sale.  
Among the cattle was  a big white bull, easily recognizable.  A friend or neighbor recognized these cattle and reported it to Thomas.  This lead led to their capture and the two men were caught an executed.  No report on what happened to the women.

After Archibald’s children were all married, he spent a great deal of his time traveling around and visiting amongst them.  He used to travel from place to place driving a yoke of oxen hitched to a light wagon.  His oxen were Duke and Dan and most always carried a homemade chair with a rawhide seat in his wagon.  During the last years of his life, he quit traveling around so much and spent much of his time with his daughter Lizzie (Hamilton) north of Rockport on the farm.  This time, when he did visit, he drove a little dark gray mare, Old Kitty, hitched to a single buggy.  His visits were always short as he was anxious to return to the Hamilton farm.  During the last years of his life, at abut age 89, he regained his eyesight and could read newspaper print without the aid of glasses.  In the summertime you could often find him out north of the house, under the lilac trees, sitting in his little old fashioned rocker, reading his papers or his bible.  He was deeply religious and well prepared for the day that was to come.  In the wintertime, his favorite spot was near the west window of the house, reading and waiting for the call, which he knew would not be far off.  A short description of Archibald, written by one who knew him goes like this:  He had snowy white hair, dark blue eyes & heavy shaggy white eyebrows.   He was a short stocky man.  The Busters were a thrifty hard working clan with enough Irish in their blood to give them a keen sense of humor, quick wit, and a lovable disposition.  

The call came for Archibald on April 22, 1894.  He had taken a walk out to the barn to see his faithful old friend, “Old Kitty”.  On his return he fell as he crossed the door sill coming into the house.  A heart attack had put an end to his long and useful career.  He was the oldest living man in Atchison County and one of it’s first settlers.  He had served six weeks as a Justice of the Peace in Benton Township and after his first case, a particularly trying time, he filed his report and handed in his resignation, he had had enough of that.  During this tenure he had performed several marriages and at least one inquest.  He was laid to rest in the Hunter Cemetery, south of Rockport, Missouri. 

Several other members of Archibald’s family have passed away in a similar manner, quite suddenly.  His daughter, Mary Jane, on the evening of July 18, 1908 apparently in good health, ate her supper and suddenly became quite ill and passed away before a Doctor could be summoned   Sarah Elizabeth passed away quite suddenly at the breakfast table on January 14, 1912.  Claudius Green Buster ate his supper and then left the table to sit in his favorite rocking chair when he was stricken with a heart attack and died on the evening of May 12, 1918.  On the morning of August 13, 1913, grand-daughter Martha Blevins arose to get breakfast, again in apparently good health. When her husband came in from doing chores he found her, partially dressed, but sitting in her chair dead. 

Keith Davidson Buster

During the latter years of his life, Archibald lived with his daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Hailtonon the farm north of Rockport, Missouri.These times, when he did visit, he drove a little dark gray mare, named Old Kitty, hitched to a single buggy.His visits were always short now, and he was anxious to return to the farm. It is said that, at the age of 89, he regained his eyesight and could read the newspaper print without the aid of glasses. In his early nineties, he always boasted, and proved, that he could jump up in the air and crack his heels together three times before coming down. In the summertime, you could almost always find him out north of the house, under a lilac tree, sitting in his little old-fashioned rocking chair, reading his papers and Bible. He was a deeply religious man, having claimed to have read the Bible through nineteen times, and well-prepared for the day he knew was to come. In the wintertime, his favorite spot was near the west window of the house, reading and awaiting the call, which he knew could not be far off.

A short description of him, by one who knew him well, went like this: Archibald had snowy white hair, dark blue eyes, and very heavy white shaggy eyebrows; a short stocky man. He came from a hard-working clan; thrifty, but with enough Irish in his blood to give him a keen sense of humor, quick wit, and a lovable disposition. The call, for which he waited, came on April 22, 1894. He had taken a walk out to the barn to see his faithful "Old Kitty". On his return to the house he fell as he crossed the doorsill. A heart attack had put an end to his long and useful career. He had been the oldest living man in Atchison County, and one of its first settlers. He was laid to rest in the Hunter Cemetery at Rockport, Missouri.

Archibald had served six weeks as Justice of the Peace of Benton Township in Missouri. After his first case, a particularly trying one, he filed his reports and handed in his resignation. He said he had had enough of that. During his tenure, he had performed several marriages and at least one inquest.

One time during the Civil War, Archibald was taken prisoner by a band of the guerrillas, dressed as Uniion soldiers. Archibald managed to escape from them and started to walk back home. In some way, he had managed to secure a Union coat. He was stopped once; "Who goes there?" demanded the sentinel. Archibald replied "Captain Dryden". "Pass on" said the sentinel, and Archibald was safe because he was quick-witted enough to give them their own Captain's name, which he had remembered.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

A House Divided: Kentucky during the Civil War

Milton P. Buster
Senator Judge Milton Pope Buster (1824-1864)
When the next senator did not want to replace the void in the Kentucky senate house, Milton, who was already a judge, stepped-up and was sworn in by autumn of 1861, just six months after his father's death. (His father was Joshua Buster, who also was a senator of Kentucky during the 1830's-1850's, and according to the 1860 census, he had 7 people still enslaved.)  Although having Union loyalties during this period, Milton had 3 children enslaved—ages of 4-11 and he served the senate until his death in 1864.  He was only 30 years old at the time of his death.  In the Journal of the Senate, he was mentioned as such: "we are called to mourn the loss of another friend and companion—Judge Milton P. Buster, Senator from Wayne county, departed this life yesterday morning.  In respect for his memory—therefore... the death of Judge Buster the legislator has lost one of its most valuable members and the State a patriotic and enlightened citizen."  The legislature in June 3, 1865, appropriated money to erect a headstone at the grave of Milton Buster.

Private John David Buster (1826-1909) 6th Company Calvary, 3rd Regiment
John was shot in his left foot and received a pension of $12 per month beginning in 1889. The 3rd Regiment Kentucky Volunteer Infantry was an infantry regiment that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It was organized at Camp Dick Robinson and mustered in for a three-year enlistment on October 8, 1861 under the command of Colonel Thomas Elliott Bramlette. The regiment lost a total of 301 men during service; 6 officers and 103 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, 192 enlisted men died of disease. It mustered out of service at Louisville, Kentucky by company beginning October 13, 1864 and ending January 10, 1865.  After the war, John did not return to Kentucky, moving to Illinois, Missouri, and finally to Kansas where he was finally laid to rest.


Situated between three slave states and three free; connected by railroad arteries into Tennessee and Ohio; and bounded by rivers accessing the Deep South and the East Coast, Kentucky was where North and South converged — where, as historian Bruce Catton said, they “touched one another most intimately.” But when those two philosophies collided over slavery in 1860, the impact shook Kentucky to its core.

The presidential election of 1860 deepened a growing chasm between divided Kentuckians. Southern Democrat and Kentucky son John C. Breckinridge won 36 percent of the state’s vote with a pro-slavery platform and Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas, champion of popular sovereignty, received 18 percent, while Constitutional Unionist John Bell, who stood simply for preserving the Union, carried the state with 45 percent. Abraham Lincoln, promoting Republican opposition to slavery’s expansion swayed less than one percent of Kentucky voters. But when Lincoln’s victory brought secession and war, the state was too divided to rally behind either side. Torn geographically, ideologically, economically, politically and militarily between North and South, Kentucky was the physical embodiment of the Civil War era’s “brother against brother” strife.

Slave or Free

Slavery was first introduced to Kentucky during its territorial days, and for nearly the first 40 years of its statehood, Kentucky’s population of slaves grew faster than that of whites. By 1830, slaves constituted 24 percent of all Kentuckians, although this ratio dropped to 19.5 percent by 1860. Slave owners in Kentucky numbered more than 38,000 in 1860, the third highest total behind Virginia and Georgia. Like most slave states, Kentucky was not a land of large plantations: 22,000 of its slave holders — or 57 percent — owned four or fewer slaves.

Kentucky’s most ardent proponents of slavery came from the state’s south and west sections, where the lifestyle most resembled that of the Deep South. The primary differentiation came in terms of crop distribution. In the Deep South, slavery-based cash crops such as cotton, rice and sugar were the norm; in southern and western Kentucky, tobacco was the cash crop, accounting for one quarter of the nation’s tobacco output and requiring nearly year-round labor to produce. Another prominent crop was hemp, the growing of which involved the hardest, dirtiest and most laborious agricultural work in the state, making it desirable for slave labor. Together, tobacco and hemp firmly bound southern and western Kentuckians to the preservation of slavery.

In the north and east, Kentuckians were ideologically and economically moving away from slavery. Economically, the area was diversifying. More and more of these Kentuckians broadened their traditional tobacco-and-hemp livelihoods by cultivating grains and cereals, breeding horses and livestock and manufacturing goods. By 1850, they had given Kentucky the South’s second broadest economic base. Generally, a more diversified economy meant less reliance on slavery, which helps to explain Kentucky’s rising emancipation ideology. Already, diversified Kentucky had a profitable market in the excess slaves sold to the Deep South. It was only a step further, then, to support emancipation, which called for a gradual and compensated end to slavery.

A third faction of Kentuckians was ambivalent about slavery. Although not economically bound to the institution themselves, they justified it for several reasons. Some called it a “necessary evil” for life in an agricultural state. Others, prejudiced against or wary of a large free-black population, regarded slavery as a means of control.

Kentucky v. Kentucky

As one southern state after another seceded between December 1860 and May 1861, Kentucky was torn between loyalty to her sister slave states and its national Union. One month after the opening shots at Fort Sumter in April 1861, Gov. Beriah Magoffin issued a formal proclamation of neutrality and advised Kentuckians to remain at home and away from the fight. Although Magoffin did not believe slavery was a “moral, social, or political evil,” he opposed immediate secession on two fronts. First, he believed the sectional differences could be worked out through mediation. Second, he feared an invasion of Kentucky if the state seceded.

 At the individual level, Kentucky Unionists, largely those who supported Bell and Douglas in the 1860 election, favored neutrality because they disapproved of both southern secession and northern coercion of southern states. Confederate sympathizers backed neutrality because they feared that if Kentucky chose a side, she would choose the Union.

But neutrality in principle was much less complicated than neutrality in practice. Army recruiters from both sides entered Kentucky to enlist volunteers, and each army amassed troops along the state’s borders. Within Kentucky, the rival factions organized militias — Confederate sympathizers called themselves the State Guards, while Unionists became the Home Guards.

Lincoln, meanwhile, governed Kentucky with a light hand during her neutrality. He worried that any demonstration of force would prompt her secession. For a time, Lincoln even turned a blind eye as Kentucky allowed horses, food and other military supplies and munitions to enter the Confederacy. But just a month after Magoffin proclaimed neutrality, Kentuckians delivered important political victories to the Unionists, when those candidates won nine out 10 of the state’s congressional seats. Later, on August 5, Unionists also won control of the state legislature. Their success was partially due to outspoken claims that the South only wanted Kentucky to stand between it and danger. However, the success was also bolstered by a boycott by pro-Confederates, who refused to participate in elections for a government they did not recognize.

In response to the Unionists’ growing political power, the state’s Southern sympathizers formed a rival Confederate government. On November 18, 200 delegates passed an Ordinance of Secession and established Confederate Kentucky; the following December it was admitted to the Confederacy as a 13th state. The state capital was at Bowling Green, and George W. Johnson — who only supported Kentucky’s secession because he hoped the new balance of power would end the war — became governor. Governor Magoffin eventually resigned and cast his lot with Confederate Kentucky, as did John C. Breckinridge.

Kentucky’s dual governments and military forces caused many divisions between Kentucky families. Kentucky-born statesman John J. Crittenden’s son George was a general in the Confederate Army; his son Thomas was a general for the Union. Robert Breckinridge, John C. Breckinridge’s uncle, had two sons fighting for the North and two for the South. Three grandsons of the late Kentucky statesman Henry Clay fought in Union blue while four fought in Confederate gray.

In total, about 100,000 Kentuckians served in the Union Army. After April 1864, when the Union Army began recruiting African American soldiers in Kentucky, almost 24,000 joined to fight for their freedom. For the Confederacy, between 25,000 and 40,000 Kentuckians answered the call of duty. Their most celebrated unit was the First Kentucky “Orphan” Brigade. The Orphans fought hard on many western battlefields, and their heavy losses — especially in commanders — may have led to their nickname. In mid-1862, Benjamin H. Helm took command of the brigade and led it until his death the following year at the Battle of Chickamauga. Helm was President Lincoln’s brother-in-law.

Partitioning the State

For the first few months of war, the Union and Confederate armies stayed out of Kentucky. That changed when Maj. Gen. Leonidas Polk ordered a Confederate invasion of Columbus for September 4, 1861. Columbus was a port town on the Mississippi. Its high bluffs and railroad terminal made it valuable militarily — so valuable that Polk seized it to preempt a Union occupation. Two days later, Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant responded by occupying Paducah and then Smithland. Because the Confederates invaded first, they were branded the aggressor. Although Governor Magoffin called for both sides to leave Kentucky, the Unionist legislature only asked the Southerners to withdraw. All pretenses of neutrality were gone.

After staking their initial claim, Union soldiers came down from Cincinnati to take control of northern Kentucky, while Confederates moved in through Tennessee to claim southern Kentucky, including the Cumberland Gap situated near the convergence of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. With nearby railroads and access to ardently Unionist East Tennessee, the Gap was a strategically important site, but the ambitious Brig. Gen. Felix Zollicoffer, who seized the Gap, was discontent to remain there. Accordingly, he planned to extend his line further north and west into central Kentucky. As Zollicoffer and his men moved north along the Wilderness Road, they encountered a Union force sent to halt their progress. On October 21, the two sides clashed at Camp Wild Cat, and the Union troops sent Zollicoffer backtracking in defeat.

After another retreat, Kentucky was in Union hands for the remainder of the war, but Confederate raiders continued to wreak havoc and foster division behind enemy lines. One of the most famous raiders operating in Kentucky was Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan. Though born in Alabama, Morgan spent most of his life in Kentucky. He had no formal military education but was immensely successful with hit-and-run strikes to disrupt the Union supply line, occupy Union troops away from the front and secure supplies for the Confederacy.

In December 1862, Morgan undertook his famous Christmas Raid. During this two-week period, he rode 400 miles in central Kentucky, tore up 20 miles of railroad, destroyed an estimated $2 million worth of supplies and took nearly 1,900 prisoners. Another of Morgan’s exploits was less successful — his Kentucky- Indiana-Ohio Raid of July 1863. Granted permission to raid Louisville but not to cross the Ohio River, Morgan disregarded orders at great cost to his men. Morgan was captured in Ohio (though he later escaped), and only a few hundred of his more than 2,400 men made it home.

Invasions, raids and guerilla warfare worsened toward the war’s end as defiant Confederates rebelled against the Union presence in their state. When Confederate armies finally surrendered in April 1865, one Kentuckian recalled that “pandemonium broke loose and everyone acted as if the world was coming to an end.” But the South’s surrender did not unite a divided Kentucky. Many Kentuckians balked at freedom for blacks, and hatred often prevailed. For the first five months after the Confederate surrender, U.S. troops imposed martial law in Kentucky. Even after the military left, the state was a violent place through the 1860s and beyond. The war’s political aftermath also left the state deeply divided as former Unionists, former Confederates and former Whigs fought bitterly for power.

Post-war Kentucky needed healing. Families, communities and entire regions of the state had been ripped apart by the war, and more than simple animosity was prevalent throughout. Yet as the North and South healed their wounds and settled their differences, surely Kentucky would, as well. For in Kentucky, where such division had resulted from North and South’s convergence, there was also great promise, because, as historian Bruce Catton wrote, “where North and South touched one another most intimately” was also where they “came closest to a mutual understanding.”

Garry Adelman is the author, co-author or editor of numerous Civil War books and articles. He is a senior historian at History Associates in Rockville, Maryland, vice president of the Center for Civil War Photography, and a longtime Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg. Mary Bays Woodside serves as a consultant to History Associates.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

John Erastus Buster: Loyalty Ranger

Old Hall Cemetery
Birth: Dec. 30, 1851
Death: Jun. 11, 1937


John Erastus Buster was born December 30, 1851, in Albany, Clinton County, Kentucky, to John Prather Buster and Martha Jane Lair. John stood 5ft 11in tall, had blue eyes, dark hair and a light complexion. He was married to his first wife, (name unknown) and had a son, Lair. He married a second wife , Emma Sanola Mayfield, in December 1894. They had four children. John was a farmer in Lewisville, Denton County, Texas. In the 1900 census, he was listed as a "ginner" in Denton County, Texas so he must have lived in "cotton farming" country. John enlisted in the Texas Rangers as a LOYALTY RANGER on May 5, 1918 through February, 1919. Loyalty Rangers worked under cover and most people never knew what they did. They were a secret service, working under the Hobby Loyalty Act of 1918. The 1920 census has him listed as a real estate insurance agent. John Erastus Buster died June 11, 1937, in Lewisville, Denton County, Texas.

In 1900, the Frontier Battalion faded along with the frontier; but by July of 1901, the Legislature passed a new law concerning the Ranger service. The force, to be organized by the governor, was created "for the purpose of protecting the frontier against marauding or thieving parties, and for the suppression of lawlessness and crime throughout the state." Ranger captains picked their own men, who had to furnish their own horses and could dress as they choose. They did not even have a standard badge.


The decade of unrest saw massive enlistments in what was then called the Texas State Ranger Force. Three groups served side-by-side and often were intertwined: Regular Rangers, Special Rangers, and Loyalty Rangers. The Regulars were on the state payroll and assigned to companies. Special Rangers included those hired by private groups for various duties (livestock inspectors, railroad police, oil field security, etc.). Some in this group were "honoraries." The difference between Regular and Special Rangers was often blurred. Loyalty Rangers, authorized by the Hobby Loyalty Act (1918), enjoyed the status of Regular and Special Rangers, but focused their attention on local subversion and acts of disloyalty. Many Rangers had relatives in the organization during these years. One small town in Wilson County, Texas, boasted twenty-two residents who became Rangers. A majority of the force were native Texans, but others came from the South and Midwest. Two had been Arizona Rangers. In 1935 the Rangers became part of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Panic spread in 1915 when authorities in McAllen, Texas, arrest Basilio Ramos, Jr. Ramos was carrying a copy of the Plan of San Diego, a revolutionary manifesto supposedly written and signed at the South Texas town of San Diego. It called for the formation of a "Liberating Army of Races and Peoples," of Mexican Americans, African Americans, and Japanese, to "free" the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Colorado from United States. Versions of the plan call for the murder of all white citizens over 16 years of age. The goal was an independent republic, which might later seek annexation to Mexico.

Mexican raids into Texas in 1915-16 caused an estimated 21 American deaths; an estimated 300 Mexicans or Tejanos may have been killed in South Texas by the actions of Rangers, vigilantes and citizens. Some sources place the death toll as high as 300 and 3,000.

In January of 1919 Representative José T. Canales of Brownsville demanded a legislative investigation of the conduct of the various Ranger forces during the period 1915-1917 and the reorganization of the force. The Texas Legislature investigated nineteen charges made against the Texas Ranger forces in the aftermath of the Plan of San Diego and the War.

The investigation resulted in the reduction of the Ranger force to four companies of 17 men each. A tightening of qualifications for the Texas Ranger service led to its initial professionalization.


South Texas border, amor car 1918
In 1918, the national prohibition law was passed. It gave the Rangers, along with federal officers, another problem to cope with on the border. Many a burro train of bootleg liquor from Mexico was intercepted, and shoot-outs between Rangers and smugglers were not infrequent.

During the first World War, the already large regular Ranger force was supplemented with another 400 Special Rangers appointed by the governor. After the war, on the heels of a Legislative inquiry into the Rangers' operation on the border, the Legislature in 1919 reduced the size of the force to four companies of 15 men, a sergeant and a captain. Additionally, the lawmakers authorized a headquarters company of six men in Austin under a senior Ranger captain.

Texas was in a state of transition, and so were the Rangers. Rangers still rode the river on horseback, but they also used cars. The automobile was taking over as the principal mode of transportation in Texas and the rest of the country. And horseless carriages needed oil, not oats. The increased national demand for petroleum fueled a new law enforcement problem for the Rangers.

In addition to their traditional duties, along with assisting in tick eradication efforts, handling labor difficulties and the enforcement of prohibition, the Rangers had to deal with lawlessness that came with the oil boom in Texas.  

John Prather Buster (b.1814) KY, Father
Claudius Buster (b.1788) VA, Grandfather
William Woods Buster (b.1757) NC, Great-grandfather
William Buster, Jr (b.1729,) VA, 2nd Great-grandfather
William Bustard/Buster (b. 1696) VA, 3rd 

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