Sunday, May 31, 2015

52 Ancestors #22: Three Generations of "Coasties"

Name: Herbert Paul Lange (1929-2013)

Uncle Herbert Paul Lange joined the U.S. Coast Guard after he graduated from high school in 1948.

Herbert Lange on the day he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard; from my
personal collection

Uncle Herbert retired in 1973 after 24 years of service. The Elizabeth City, North Carolina, newspaper, The Daily Advance, had this to say about his military service:

"Lange displayed a fine record of professional excellence and deserved his rapid promotion, Bullard said. The admiral said he offered his sincere gratitude for Lange's outstanding and productive efforts throughout his career, and he hoped he will keep close ties with the Coast Guard in his retirement."

I think one of his lasting legacies is something Admiral Bullard couldn't know about in 1973. It's the legacy of continued Coast Guard service.

My brother, Ted, followed Uncle Herbert into the U.S. Coast Guard in 1980. He served with distinction and had an illustrious career, retiring in 2007. Uncle Herbert's son began his military service with the U.S. Marine Corps but transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.

My brother's son, Austin, became the third-generation of my family to become a "Coastie" when he commenced his career in 2004. The following photograph is of his induction ceremony in Richmond, Virginia. It was a very special moment as father inducted son into the service.

Ted Jennings on the left, inducting his son, Austin, into the U.S.
Coast Guard

Austin is still serving our country proudly.

And this year, my brother's nephew, Matthew Hanks, graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy as the highest-ranking cadet, after serving for six years as an enlisted man. Matthew Hanks credited his uncle for influencing him to join the Coast Guard, but what he has done with his career to date makes everyone proud to know him.

2015 U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement with Matthew Hanks and
President Obama, the commencement speaker

You may read more about his remarkable service here.

Uncle Herbert's military service tradition continues to this day. He went to his grave a modest man and likely would not accept credit for the way he directly influenced his son and my brother, who went on to influence others.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Commencement.

Herbert Paul Lange was born on 22 May 1929 and was the seventh child of Gustav and Wilhelmina (Schalin) Lange. He married and had one son. Uncle Herbert died on 19 December 2013. His funeral tribute video may be found here. His tradition of service to his country continues to this day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Argonne Cross

The Argonne Cross is located in Arlington National Cemetery and commemorates the memories "of our men in France."

The Argonne Cross at Arlington National Cemetery; from my personal collection

My great great grandmother's step-son, Julius Franklin Collins was killed on 30 September 1918 in Argonne, France.

The grave marker of Julius Franklin Collins at the cemetery in Europe where
he was originally buried. He was latter disinterred and returned home to be
buried at Troy City Cemetery in Troy, Illinois, beside his father; photograph
courtesy of Mark H. Collins

The idea for this post came from

Monday, May 25, 2015

Korean War Memorial: Sophia, West Virginia

Sophia, West Virginia, is a small town in southern West Virginia, which was founded in 1912. It was the hometown of the late Senator Robert C. Byrd. In its heyday Sophia was the gateway to the Winding Gulf coal fields and served many of the nearby coal communities. Today, the National Coal Heritage Trail includes Sophia among its list of recommended attractions:

"Sophia is a quaint little town that has many unique shops and buildings in its historic region. Plan on spending an hour or two to walk along these streets full of history and be sure to engage the local as they have a wealth of knowledge."

We didn't see any quaint little shops but the downtown is quite nice:

Downtown Sophia, West Virginia; photograph taken by me

In the park by the railroad tracks was a Korean Conflict memorial. One soldier was mentioned by name.

Korean Conflict memorial in Sophia, West Virginia;
photograph taken by me

Honor Roll portion of the memorial; photograph taken by me

In memory of
Sgt. Prince A. Clyburn, Jr.
1951 Korea 1953
Co-founder of KSC 156
10-10-1933 -- 6-18-2014

KSC 156 is Chapter 156 of the Korean War Veterans Association of Southern West Virginia.

Worldwide Genealogy -- Memorial Day Weekend Traditions

I was reflecting on the oh so special way my husband and I commemorate Memorial with what is fast becoming a family tradition. Since this is my day to contribute a bi-monthly post to Worldwide Genealogy -- A Genealogical Collaboration, I hope you click over to my post and read about how we honor Memorial Day -- with family.

My brother and his wife at a restaurant in the Grove Arcade area of
downtown Asheville; photograph taken by me

2010 Asheville, North Carolina photo album

My sister-in-law, brother and husband in Newport,
Rhode Island; photograph taken by me

2011 Great New England Driving Vacation

Portion of the Medal of Honor Exhibit at the Fort Benning Infantry Museum;
photograph taken by me

2014 Southwest Georgia Tour Album

Mom's most deeply held wish was that my brothers and me would remain close after she and Dad were gone. I know that is Dad's wish, too, though he cannot verbalize it now. I think our nascent tradition is part of the glue that makes those wishes a reality. And my middle brother, who I call Saint Ted, well, he's a story for a different day.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

52 Ancestors #21: Died at Elmira POW Camp

Ancestor Name: Peterson Stanfield Key (1828-1864)

Peterson Stanfield Key was born on 21 June 1828 in Bedford County, Virginia, to Stanfield and Frances (Jones) Key. He married my first cousin three times removed, Frances "Fannie" Beard on 21 December 1858 in Bedford County. On 14 June 1860 when the census was enumerated they lived near the Peaksville post office. Peterson was a farmer and valued his real and personal property at $1,200.

Just four months after the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, Peterson traveled to Staunton, Virginia, and enlisted as a private in Captain C. C. Otey's 4th Virginia Heavy Artillery. On 8 March 1864 orders were issued changing the status of the 4th Heavy Artillery to infantry. From that time until the end of the war, the regiment was known as the 34th Virginia Infantry.

Drawing of Peterson Stanfield Key; courtesy of member James Kinked

General Lee's forces had been in contact with Union troops under General Grant for severals days. On 15 May 1864 the 34th Virginia Infantry marched toward Port Walthall Junction. The war was about to find the men of the regiment.

The 34th, along with the other regiments under General Wise continued to move to the left along the defensive works near Petersburg, Virginia. By 15 June 1864, Wise was at Battery No. 5. Grant had been held at Cold Harbor earlier in the month and had suffered severe losses. He then turned his attention toward Petersburg. He sent General William Smith with XVIII Corps across the Appomattox River near City Point just north of Petersburg. The Union forces numbered 15,000 men as they approached the defensive works north of town. While the Dimmock Line was strong and well placed, the men who held that portion of the line barely numbered 2,000.

General Smith felt the forces opposing him were small in number and decided to send several skirmish lines rather than launch a major assault. His troops began to attack near dusk and soon breached the right of the Confederate line near Batteries No. 7 and No. 8. As the federal troops continued forward, they were in the rear of Battery No. 5 and behind the men of the 34th Virginia Infantry. Sergeant Robert Hicks of Company I wrote:

"The drove our pickets in. We was in our outer line of works. No troups on the line but our brigade. And they was scattered...They shelled us and amed to charge our works but was repulsed as weak as our line was...they was reinforced on our left and taken our works on the city point road...we was moving on the line all night."

Map of the Battle of Petersburg; from 34th Virginia
Infantry by Johnny L. Scott

The 34th began to retreat. This proved to be a costly move. Peterson was captured by Union soldiers at Battery No. 5 near Petersburg, Virginia, on 15 June 1864 along with nearly 40 other men of the regiment. Prisoners were marched first to nearby Bermuda Hundred and held overnight. On 18 June 1864 Peterson was send to Camp Lookout in St. Mary's County, Maryland. It may have been the second worst Union POW camp in the country.

Prisoners at the camp were kept in the "bull pen," a 1,000-square-foot area surrounded by a 14-foot fence with guard posts. The prisoners were given only thin tents for shelter. When high tide came, the low-lying bull pen would flood, often creating knee-deep mud and swamp-like conditions.  There would often be 16 or more men to a single 15-square-foot tent. Three or more men would share a single blanket.

On 9 July 1864, Peterson was sent back to Virginia, to Fort Monroe in Hampton. Likely, he was put on ship bound for New York. On 12 July 1864 he arrived at Elmira, New York, the most infamous Union POW camp. It was dubbed "Hellmira" by its inmates. The sanitary conditions were atrocious from the first days the camp became a prison and did not improve much during the war. The camp hospital was a tent and a military surgeon was not assigned. The prison was served by a local physician. Twenty-five percent of the Confederate prisoners held at Elmira died of illness caused by poor nutrition, disease, and lack of protection from the harsh winter weather.

Elmira Prison Camp; photograph courtesy of the Chemung Valley
Living History Center

Peterson Stanfield Key died at Elmira Prison on 19 October 1864 of chronic diarrhea. He was interred in nearby Woodlawn National Cemetery.

Peterson Stanfield Key headstone with the incorrect initials, a final indignity;
photograph courtesy of Find A Grave volunteer Jim Hackett

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Military.

Peterson Stanfield Key was the husband of my first cousin three times removed, Frances "Fannie" A. Beard (1839-1903), daughter of Granville and Elizabeth (Dooley) Beard.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Soldier's Experience in Southern Prisons, Part III

Continued from Part II

Towards the last of August we were sent to Charleston, and later to Florence, South Carolina. There was no shelter. The weather, later, was cold, ice forming on the little stream nightly. The rations were uncooked and more scant. There was no meat issued, and we were very weak. The punishments, as at Andersonville, involved the hounds, the buck and gag, and the chain gang. I did not see any stocks at Florence, but the commandant used to hang up by the thumbs men who had escaped and been retaken. I heard their shrieks in the long nights. Things got shadowy, then; I was burning with fever and shaking to pieces. I could not eat the grits. Comrades brought me water from the swamp. I had lain so long that a depression was formed in the sand and it was difficult to turn. I heard shots, and they said men were killed. I saw dead men carried by. Men stopped to look at me as I had looked at others, and passed on. One said, "See how he shakes," another, "How white that fellow is, he won't last long."

Union soldiers arriving at the Florence Stockade; image courtesy of the
Library of Congress

Then there was talk of parole, and I was outside, a comrade under each shoulder. To the box cars again -- a Confederate steamer -- iron clads -- Fort Sumter -- a transport of the United States, from the masthead of which floated the Stars and Stripes. Sailors in natty uniforms leaned over the rail, and, looking down upon the deck of our rusty little cockle shell, they gave us a welcome cheer. This was the sixth time we had left prison or stockade for exchange and it now seemed that our guards had for once told us the truth. We had often said, during the weary months from Libby to Florence, that when we should once again see the old flag we would shout until we woke the echoes for miles around. But it was a feeble cheer that went up from the wrecks of men squatting on the open deck. Here and there some of the stronger ones formed knots of five or six and broke into such a wild dance or walk around yelling or singing awhile, that they might have been regarded as maniacs loosed from their cells. Some knelt in silent prayer, and tear drops cut faint furrows down grimy cheeks where they had long been strangers. Others swore and cursed. They cursed everybody related to the Confederacy, and the things that had contributed to the hardships of their prison experiences, and, as if that were not material enough, they crossed the lines and cursed Lincoln and Grant because of the broken cartel.

Exchange of prisoners at Charleston; image courtesy of the Virginia
Historical Society

I hugged to my side the little bag of grits I had accumulated. I could not eat the grits but dared not let them go until I knew that we were surely free. I had starved so long that those broken kernels of corn were very precious. I was constantly hoping to barter them for something that I could eat, or possibly for a dose of quinine or some peppers. But now a gang plank was run from an opening in the side of the transport. It was lined on each side by sailors who pushed us rapidly along and aboard the big vessel. In the hold before us was a great stack of blue uniforms and clean underclothing, complete from cap to shoes. Kind attendants, too, were there to assist us, and they said, "Strip now, quick, take everything off, and throw your rags overboard." And out they went through a porthole overhead. They were very filthy, for they were the remnants of what we had worn a year and a half before in the Chattanooga champaign, remnants of what we had gained in traffic, remnants of what we had taken from the bodies of our dead. They had been held together by threads raveled from the stronger parts and held together by needles made from splinters of Georgia pine. We thought Charleston harbor a fit buying place for them all.

As fast as dressed we were marched in two ranks to an upper deck, where we passed a small window from which was handed to each of us a pound loaf of wheat bread. At another window each of us received a great piece of raw fat pork -- a half a pound and the sweetest morsel I ever tasted. At still another window each got a pint cup full of steaming United States coffee. It was then, when our digestive organs had something to work on, when we were decently clothed, and were at last free from the torture of vermin, that lost manhood began to return. Each did not now look upon his fellow as something to be watched and feared. We did not watch that night lest our bread should be stolen. In fact, it was reported that we would receive rations again in the morning -- a fact heard [sic] to believe. Some, after being rationed fell into line a second and even third time and hoarded their bread and meat. When their actions were noted they were told to take all they wanted.

Rounding Cape Hattaras much of this bread and meat was brought to light again, and for forty-eight hours the ship presented anything but the neat and trim appearance we had noted on first coming aboard. The ship's surgeon, the officers and their wives, vied with the sailors in attentions to their passengers. Five only of our number died on that trip to Annapolis and here, after we had been again stripped and washed, and our hair clipped close, we were put to bed between white sheets.

Hospital at Annapolis; photograph by Matthew Brady and held by the
National Archives and Records Administration

Women came to my cot with oysters fresh from the bay, with bread and butter, jellies and pickles, with shining glass and snow-white napkins, and when I had eaten they said, "Now, you just rest and sleep, and dream of home." When I was able to read the card at the head of my cot, I found: 'Phthisis pulmonalis, fever, general debility; diet __________ treatment.' I cannot remember the diet treatment, but I remember well the ministrations of those women; how they hovered round my cot, touching up my pillow, and how their cool hands rested on my hot forehead. I do not know whether they were army nurses, residents of Annapolis, or members of the Christian and Sanitary commissions. I never knew. But the soldiers have not forgotten their ministrations, and give to woman's loyalty and patriotism a 'royal three times three.'


A Soldier's Experience in Southern Prisons, Part I 
A Soldier's Experience in Southern Prisons, Part II 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Soldier's Experience in Southern Prisons, Part II

Continued from Part I

We reached Andersonville May 20, 1864. As I passed inside, the ground seemed entirely occupied. The stockade then contained eighteen acres and eight thousand men. On all sides I heard the cries of 'Fresh fish.' 'Look out for the dead line!' 'You can't stop here; pass on; plenty of room down the hill.' I walked down the slope to unoccupied ground. My feet sank into the yielding sand, and as I retraced my footprints had filled with the slimy ooze from the hillside. I would not lie on such ground except as a last resort. On the farther side of the stockade, near the dead line, I found a smooth-faced boy named Reese. He was from Ohio, and was slow in his speech. He always smiled when he spoke, and his smile was sweet as a girl's, but sad as tears. He was sheltered under an old blanked stretched on three small sticks. I had secured an overcoat from the supplies sent us a Danville, and this I had traded to a guard for two United States blankets. I had stolen a sheet-iron tobacco plate from the cellar there which I had transformed into a dish. I had an old knife that I had managed to save from the searchers, and a haversack that had been carried through the Chattanooga campaign. I proposed a partnership with Reese, which, when I had shown my property, was speedily accomplished, and comparing our condition with those of thousands about us we were a pair of millionaires. Reese died in the pen at Florence. The three comrades with whom I escaped from the train died at Andersonville. One friend with whom I slept died at Charleston, and another was killed by a guard.

Confederate soldiers waiting for a train; photograph courtesy of The
Photographic History of the Civil War

Prisoners kept pouring into Andersonville until the number reached 23,000. The entire ground was covered until there was scarce room to move, and then the stockade was enlarged to thirty-three acres, and later the number of prisoners reached 35,000. The soft hillside by the tramping of so many feet became more solid, and thousand who had no vestige of a blanket burrowed holes to escape the heat and dew. When it rained these holes filled with water and the occupants had to sit outside. The ration for the earlier months consisted of about four ounces of meet and a section of corn bread four inches square by three inches thick. The bread of unboiled meal was baked very hard for the depth of half an inch while the center was raw. The bread would often be as full of flies as a plum pudding is of fruit. As a large portion of our number drew rations after dark, the ingredients were not wasted.

During the later months yams, rice or peas were issued in lieu of meat, and meal or grits instead of bread. We had no vessels to receive these, and the steaming rice was shoveled from the wagon box into blankets; or a man would take off his trousers, knot one of the legs and thus receive the portion for his mess. The same method was used in the distribution of the yams and peas, except sometimes the receptacle was a piece of under clothing. Reese and I with some half dozen others, with the aid of sticks and half canteens, dug a well some twenty feet deep, which yielded only drops of water, but it was a great improvement over the sluggish stream which carried to us the sewage of the cook house and the camps above. When rations were issued a raw and feeble attempt was made to furnish wood. A few loads of wood came in so that once a week a mess of fifteen would receive two cord-wood sticks. These were so inadequate that we dug in the sand for the roots of the forest that had once covered the ground. This was done so long as a piece the size of a lead pencil remained. The heat of July and August caused Reese and hundreds of others to go blind after the sun went down, nor could they see until the sun rose again. We called them 'moon-eyed men.'

Union prisoners at Andersonville; photograph courtesy of the New
Georgia Encyclopedia

All the prisoners had scurvy. Nine or ten months of prison life did not fail to produce it. While smallpox prevailed at Danville the authorities caused a general vaccination. Many hundreds of these men were now attacked with virulent gangrene. These, with the wounded, the scurvy cases and the imbeciles, used to gather daily at the south gate to solicit medical aid. The dead were also carried there to await the opening at nine o'clock. Then Confederate surgeons came in and applied some substance to the wounds that cause them to emit smoke. This did not stop the work of gangrene, but it killed the parasites. While the dead were accumulating, I used to count thirty, forty, sixty and more, coming from all quarters of the stockade. Death came slowly. It seemed a gradual wearing out. I had noticed that what I supposed was a dead soldier lying for some days near my place. He had comrades there, and at last one of ventured to enquire, "Why don't you carry that man out?" "Well, he will never be any deader than he is," was the retort. "You wait and see." I noted him carefully for some minutes, when at last the breast heaved slightly and emitted a faint sigh.

Burying the dead at Andersonville; photograph
courtesy of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript
Library, University of Georgia Libraries

Passing down the hill one day a packed mass of men attracted my attention. As I pushed my way in, making inquiries, I was answered, "The hounds! The hounds!" A man sat naked on the sands. His comrades were pouring water over him. He was covered with scratches and bits from his head to his feet. His face, his breast, his back and limbs were torn and bruised. "I could have fought off the dogs," he said, "but the men cocked their revolvers and made me come down from the tree, and then they set on the dogs until they were tired."

It was in June that a small portion of the prisoners were transformed into beasts and began to prey upon the others. They snatched and ate the rations of the weaker ones and grew strong. We called them 'raiders' and they grew in numbers and boldness until murder was added to theft and no one was safe. They made raids within a few steps of where I lay, and cut and bruised some men in a horrible manner. The prisoners began to organize as regulators, and armed themselves with the sticks that had supported their little shelters. The raiders, anticipating trouble, began to organize and also called themselves regulators. The law and order men began the arrest of the the raiders and they began the arrest of the others, and even of non-combatants, that they might turn attention from themselves. The stockade was pandemonium those days. Hundreds of half naked men here, and hundreds there, surged to and fro, with sticks and fists for weapons. No one can say what was done. The dense crowed hid the acts of individuals, but order was finally victorious. A court was organized; as is well known six of the raiders were found guilty of murder and were hanged. The others, with the innocent men that had been arrested in the turmoil, were compelled to run the gauntlet, where fearful vengeance was visited upon the unfortunates.

To be continued...


A Soldier's Experience in Southern Prisons, Part I 

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Soldier's Experience in Southern Prisons, Part I

A readers of this blog have likely figured out, I'm a sucker for first-accounts of history or ancestors' life experiences. It's what brings to life all those dates and places related to a person we work so hard to discover.

One of the treasured books in my genealogy collection is the Centennial History of Madison County by W. T. Norton and published in 1912. Volume I included the first-hand account of J. T. King, of Upper Alton, who was held in several Confederate prisons during the Civil War. His account first appeared in the Century magazine. It's quite long (for a blog) so I'll tell it in three parts. This series is part of my commemoration of Memorial Day.

A Madison County Soldier's Experience in Southern Prisons

The flank advance on Chattanooga and the battle of Chickamauga covered a month of forced marches, skirmishing and fighting over mountains and through thickets of timber and brush in rain and mud by night and day.

Crack! Crack!

"Surrender you Yanks!"

"Halt, there! Halt, or you're a dead man!"

Crack! Crack Crack!

"Now surrender, you Yankee son of Yankee Doodle!"

Seated on top of a staked and rider fence, I looked along a rife barrel into the right eye of a Confederate as he hissed the words through his teeth. My companion had fallen dead at the first fire and I saw that this fellow meant to shoot. My answer was conciliating.

Confederate troops advancing through the woods during the Battle of
Chickamauga; image courtesy of the Library of Congress

"Have you pistols, watch or greenbacks?"

"No -- no sir."

"Well, give me that hat. Here, Ill take that ring. That knife is mine."

Our pockets went inside out, and I was more surprised when they began to exchange clothing with us. Some of our party who were better clothed than myself were forced to give up their blue coats and take butternut instead; also to give boots in exchange for dilapidated shoes. When the dressing and undressing had been completed, but for the arms in the hands of our captors, you couldn't tell a Yank from Confed. They forced us at the point of the bayonet to repair the railroad about Chickamauga which had been burned during the battle. During these three days they gave us once daily a few ounces of meat and a pint and a half of meal. The latter we mixed with water and bake on a chip before a fire. The men who guarded us to Richmond had been in the thick of the fight a Chickamauga, and their humane treatment, in contrast with that of the authorities at Richmond and the stockades, was not forgotten. We were very hungry, and when the train stopped for wood they allowed us, after giving our parole, to break for the woods where we found wilde grapes and muscadines. at Atlanta we were searched by officers and relieved of such trifles as we had not previously given up, or such as, by slight-of-hand, we were unable to secrete. They did not spare us our tin canteens, tin cups and spoons. At Weldon we were surrounded by many persons of both sexes, who evinced much curiosity to know what battles we had been engaged in and the circumstances of our capture. One elderly gentleman remarked: "Yankees can't stand up against our southern soldiers; we whip you on every battlefield."

"Look-A-Yeah, old man," said one of our guards, "I can't have you talking to these men like that; you never saw a Yank with a gun in his hand and, __________ you, I tell you they were hard to ketch. Now you stand back."

Passing under one of the wagon bridges that formed a railway crossing and which was covered with people, we were assailed with a shower of sticks and stones. On our arrival in Richmond October 10, 1863, we were placed on the second floor of a tobacco building, overlooking the river. Extending from the corner across the sidewalk was this sign: Libby & Son, Ship Chandlers and Grocers.

Confederate soldiers in a Richmond prison; from Harper's Weekly,
18 January 1862

To inhale some fresh air, I immediately seated myself at an open window and was drawn in by a fellow prisoner, or I should have been shot by an outside guard. A little later we were drawn up in line and counted, and then listened to a speech from a man whom I learned later was 'young Ross.' He stated that for fear we might bribe our guards it would be necessary for us to give up what money, watches, jewelry and pocket knives we possessed. "We might," he said, "Keep what Confederate money we had, but greenbacks and coin must be turned over, all of which will be receipted for and turned over and returned when you are exchanged. And now, gentlemen, step up and get you receipts, after which you will all be carefully searched and anything that you have not turned over will be confiscated." It was surprising to see the amount of property that thus passed under Confederate control. I could not understand how so much had escaped previous seizure, but the sagacity of Mr. Ross brought it to light. It was never seen by the Yankees again.

We were soon moved to the Smiths' building, another tobacco factory. Here we were again searched, but the game was hardly worth the hunt. Our rations, we estimated at Richmond, at two to four ounces of beef and six to eight ounces of good wheat bread. To supplement this we made counterfeit greenbacks, which we were sometimes able to pass on unsuspecting guards. Once by cutting out the figures in a ten cent scrip, and with a little blood gluing this over the figure one in a dollar greenback, myself and three comrades bought with this bogus ten dollar bill ninety loaves of good bread, and it was the only time while I was in the Confederacy that I had a full meal.

The morning after this we were loaded into box cars for 'exchange;' but the train moved towards Danville, which, we learned later, was our destination. As we approached the Roanoke river it was dark and raining. I had succeeded in removing the cap from the gun of one of our guards, and, attempting to do the same for the other, found his was not capped. So when the river was crossed and we had cleared the houses, four of us jumped from the moving train and escaped to the woods.

Confederate prison in Danville, Virginia, from a drawing by Henry
Vander Weyde

After five days and nights of almost super human effort and suffering we were all recaptured and taken to Danville. While here our government sent, under flag of truce, clothing, a blanket and an overcoat for each of us. We learned of their arrival and there as great rejoicing; but on looking at next morning we saw our guards wearing blue overcoats and carrying new United States blankets. They gave us a portion, however, and our condition was much improved, but Danville looked like a Union camp. I saw here a number of recaptured prisoners undergoing the torture of buck and gag; and once when we had dug a large tunnel from the cellar, our rations were cut off for forty-eight hours, and we were all driven to an upper room, thus driving four hundred men into space formerly occupied by two hundred. We were headed thus for two days, one person at a time being allowed to descend to the yard below, and not until his return could another go. Entreaties, threats and curses were met with bayonets, and a scene of horror ensued not to be described. About half a dozen who lay on the opposite side of the room from me forced a window and leaped to the ground below; but they were riddle with buckshot and not one escaped. They brought in those who were not killed outright and we dug out some of the shot as best we could; but our remnants of knives were poorly adapted to such work and the operation was critical. A man near me held a can of soup through an opening in the dingo to pour off some of the bugs. He fell, with a bullet through him. He was not killed, but he had learned his lesson.

To be continued...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

52 Ancestors #20: The Moonshiner

Ancestor Name: Lacy F. HATHCOCK (1910-1995)

Distilling whiskey is intimately tied to the history of the United States. As a way to pay down the debt of the newly independent country, Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, pushed through legislation which taxed domestically produced distilled spirits. He believed it was a "luxury" tax and would not cause much consternation. It became the first federal tax imposed on domestic produce.

Instead, farmers in western Pennsylvania, long accustomed to distilling their excess grain, revolted. President Washington called out the militia and 13,000 troops from several states began marching to Pennsylvania with Washington leading them. The rebels went home before the Army arrived. The incident indicated the federal government had the will to enforce its laws. However, illegal distilling, called moonshining when taxes are not paid, continues to this day.

Moonshiners; photograph courtesy of the Efficient Drinker

Even after Prohibition ended in 1933.

Lacy F. Hathcock, my fifth cousin once removed, was a married 26-year-old man when he was arrested in Franklin County, Alabama, for distilling. He was sentenced to one year and a day to 18 months and day and began serving his time on 13 November 1936. He was paroled on 9 November 1937 and from all accounts went on to lead a productive life.

Lacy Hathcock's Alabama Convict Record; courtesy of

Name: Lacy F. Hathcock
County: Franklin
Distilling Fee Paid: 12/9/36
Received: 11/20/36
Serial No: 36206
Race: White
Sex: Male
Age: 26
Court No: 8073
Tr. Book: 107, page 226
Crime: Distilling
Sentence Began: Nov. 13, 1936
Term: 1 yr. 1 day to 18 months 1 day
Max. Time: May 14, 1938
Min. Time: Nov. 14, 1937
Max. Time: Oct. 29, 1938
Min. Time: Apr. 29, 1938 [illegible] out
Date of Death:
Cause and Place:
Discharged: Paroled 11/9/37 [illegible]
Temporary Paroles: 45 days on 3/30/37 Ext. to 9/1/37 on 5/22/37 Ext. to 9/15/37 [illegible] 9/1/37 or 9/9/37

Lacy was born on 12 December 1910 and was the oldest child of Bennett Moland and Sarah Caroline "Callie" (Barrett) Hathcock. By 1930 he had married Mamie Bolton and lived with her parents on their farm in Prentiss County, Mississippi. He worked there as a farm hand. He and Mamie had two children.

In 1945 he was drafted into the U.S. Army and entered military service at Fort McClellan, near Anniston, Alabama. His wife died in 1989 and Lacy died in 1995. They were interred at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Belmont, Mississippi.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Black Sheep.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Homestead Shacks Over Buffalo Tracks

My great grand aunt, Jane (Muir) Beck, was the youngest child of James and Margaret (Semple) Muir. My grandmother always called her Aunt Janie. She married a farmer, Herbert Bartist Beck on 20 June 1912 at Lebanon, Illinois. They had two children in Illinois, Thelma Christena and John Wesley Beck. In 1923 they moved west to Montana and homesteaded land. After my great grandfather retired from the coal mines, he traveled to Montana to visit with his sister, Janie.

From left to right: Robert Muir; his sister, Janie (Muir) Beck, his nephew, John
Wesley Beck from my personal collection

Janie's life seemed so different from the rest of her siblings who mostly stayed in the midwest and worked in coal mines or factories. What was life like in big sky county for Janie and her family?

In 1990 the Roy History Committee published Homestead Shacks Over Buffalo Tracks: History of Northeastern Fergus County. Thelma (Beck) Erickson, Herbert and Janie's daughter provided three articles about her family and their early experiences in Montana. So I'll my first cousin twice removed, Thelma tell the story.

"I, Thelma Beck Erickson, remember my trip to Montana, when I arrived at Roy with my parents and brother, Johnnie on the train. This was a long train ride. The last 22 miles to my uncle John's homestead, we traveled by pickup and car.

In Billings, we saw our first Indians. There was a pow-wow going on and we saw papooses, feathered head dresses, beautiful blankets and real Indians. What a sight for a seven-year-old girl!

It was all green at Trenton, Illinois when we left there and there was snow on the ground at Roy. Uncle John came with his pickup, to haul our trunks and his neighbor, T. L. Petersen came with his car, two-seated with side curtains. The back seat held our suitcases, grub box and some groceries and just enough room for me to sit, while Mr. Petersen and Pop were in the front seat. Mom and Johnnie rode with Uncle John. It was late that night when we finally arrived, for whenever we came to a steep hill, Mom and Johnnie got out and walked and T. L. and Pop would push, as the pickup was weighted down with our possessions. We followed in T. L.'s car.

Janie (Muir) Beck, son John, and husband Herbert Bartist Beck; photograph
from Homestead Shacks Over Buffalo Tracks published by the Roy History

The next morning, the snow was so white and pretty. All the winter wheat that had come up was covered. One of those late spring Montana snow storms. That same year, 2 August 1923, there was snow on Black Butte.

The folks lived in cramped quarters in the three-room shack with Uncle John and Aunt Ethel. He had moved another shack prior to our coming and so, when warmer weather came, my family slept there and we continued to cook and eat with Uncle John. Mom helped with housework, cooking and canning and Pop helped Uncle John while he was filing on our homestead.

At this time, the land was not in one piece. One parcel was right on Crooked Creek with the creek running the full way across. One parcel had been homesteaded and let go so it was again open. This place had a shack with a gabled roof and small dam, plus some old machinery had been left. This was four miles down Crooked Creek. Pop made a road across those four miles and finally got some converts for crossings. He fenced all the land, but there was often trouble with wires being cut, which allowed range cattle, horses and sheep to get in, eat and trample the crop which was so hard to grow.

My first cousin twice removed, John Wesley Beck; courtesy of
Exploring Central Montana's Past: Missouri Breaks Historical Homesteads
published by Bureau of Land Management

The folks got a shack moved onto another parcel Dad owned where we went to live. It was roofed with heavy metal roofing and a slate covered, heavy tar paper was put on the outside. The inside was covered with a heavy pale blue building paper, put up with lath to secure it. Mom made curtains to put around beds and in one corner. We had a cookstove with two doors in the oven, hearth in front and a water reservoir in back, tin stove pipes and a metal roof-jack, so that no wood would be near the paper as they would get hot. We had a brick chimney later. As time went on, another building was added, giving us two rooms. We had one bed and two cots. The kitchen was used as the dining room and a place for the cream separator. Cream was our cash product from milking cows. Later we bought the Garwood house, as this family had moved away, and it was added to our home. It gave us three bedrooms and it had a brick chimney, also a little room that was intended for a bathroom (this was never accomplished) and it was used for a clothes closet. The north room was my special den when I was home. Mom and I did a lot of sewing and made many quilts and rugs.

I started school at Little Crooked and boarded away from home with the Bakers for two terms. They lived at the Little Crooked post office and store, which was on the north side of the Rocky Point Trail, across from the log school building. The building was used as a dance hall, meeting place, voting and for political gatherings. Yes, there were politics then!

The Byford School District #207 was formed and had the first school in 1925-26 term with Hazel Van Heining and Roland Schrier as the teachers. Johnny and I and the younger Jakes children attended. 

Courtesy of Exploring Central Montana's Past: Missouri Breaks Historical Homesteads
; published by Bureau of Land Management

I used to stay with Mabel Cottrell and helped with all her small children and did the milking. With the money I earned, I bought my first pair of patent leather dress shoes with a strap. I cleaned them with Vaseline and put them in a shoe box and wore them for Sunday and special occasions. 

My folks got our first car in 1934 and it was second-hand. This was shortly before I was married. My brother John went right to work on that car and that started him fixing autos and the car business which was the love of his life. As I write his, many old friends and neighbors have gone over the Great Divide and we who are left aren't getting any younger.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Fish Tales

This is a photograph of my brother Ted, when he was stationed in Alaska with the U.S. Coast Guard and the halibut he caught while fishing from their boat.

Ted Jennings in Alaska with the halibut he caught; from my personal

The idea for this post came from

Monday, May 11, 2015

52 Ancestors #19: 1949 Road Trip

Ancestor Names: Gustav LANGE (1888-1963), Wilhelmina (SCHALIN) Lange (1894-1960), Dorothy Ailein (LANGE) Jennings (1930-2014)

My mother was the eighth of nine children born to Gustav and Wilhelmina (Schalin) Lange. Grandpa immigrated to Canada in 1911 at age of 23, and Grandma was the first child born to her parents after they immigrated to Canada in 1893. Gustav and Wilhelmina married in Winnipeg in 1915, moved to Michigan in 1916, and purchased a farm in southern Maryland in 1919. Their last six children were born on that farm.

In 1949 my Mom and her parents drove from Maryland to Alberta, Canada to visit family my grandparents hadn't seen in over 30 years. Mom's sister, Millie, may have accompanied them, but I do not know for sure. Mom would mention the trip from time to time; and as we were clearing out her house prior to selling it, she reminisced as we went through old photograph albums.

Somewhere in the United States on the way to Montana, 1949; Mom is on
the left. From my personal collection

Oh, how I wish I would have been in family historian mode and asked questions about the people in the photographs and the places they saw along the way. But I didn't. I was project manager mode. I was working to a schedule, checking things off the task list, and trying to keep Mom excited about her decision to move into an assisted living facility.

These photos were taken in Montana. To the left Grandpa Lange is
is in the light shirt holding a cup. It looks they were watching a
living history demonstration of some sort. On the right (left to right)
are Grandpa Lange, Grandma Lange, her sister Hilda Wendell and
John Wendell. From my personal collection

A small digression so you may appreciate why I focused on the route my Lange/Schalin ancestors took on that Summer of '49 road trip...

My husband says my family can't be together for 5 minutes before a map is out; and we are tracing routes for possible vacations, reliving old vacations, or answering a geographical question that has come up in conversation. He is simply amazed by the phenomena and we never let him down. It's genetic we abashedly tell ourselves as one of us is going to get a map.

So how did Mom and my grandparents drive to Canada? I know they drove because they took Mom's new car and that she and Grandpa did the driving. From the photograph albums I know the relatives they visited.  Grandma's sisters Aunt Hilda in Livingston Park, Montana, Aunt Julia in Red Deer, Alberta, and Aunt Lena and Grandpa's brother Richard Lange in Winnipeg. They also saw Grandma's sister, Aunt Martha, but I believe she and her husband drove west or took the train from Ontario for the visit. They also stopped in North Dakota to visit the Tridtke or Fridtke family, but I do not know who they are.

Shell Oil map of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Part of the route my Mom
and Grandparents drove in 1949 on an extended family visit.

I have acquired a 1945 map published by the the Canadian Government Travel Bureau of the main automobile routes between the United States and Canada (Eastern Sheet), and Shell Oil maps of British Columbia and Alberta and Saskatchewan and Manitoba published about the same time period. Based on the order of the photographs in Mom's album, I believe the route of their trip was Montana, Alberta, Manitoba, and North Dakota and back to Maryland. Using modern roads the trip is just over 5,500 miles. They were on the road for just over two months.

This photograph was taken in Red Deer, Alberta, likely at the home of
Julia (Schalin) Kirkham. Grandpa Lange is at the far left, then Felix George
Allen, my Mom, her Aunt Martha (Schalin) Allen, and Grandma
Lange; From my personal collection

Mom and I are different in another way as well. I used to come back from vacation and none of my photographs would include a person. It's only since I've become interested in genealogy that I may remember to photograph people. Mom's photographs rarely included the sights they saw along they way; they are all of people. Family were always in her heart. When her minister gave the eulogy at her memorial service, he told such moving stories of Mom's childhood; it was almost as if he was her brother and grew up along side her. Those were the stories she'd told him about her family over the nearly 30 years they knew each other.

And so one last photograph from Mom's album of their 1949 road trip.

According to Mom's album this photograph was taken in Winnipeg,
the home of Pauline "Lena" (Schalin) Parsons. I assume these men
are Parsons/Schalin family but I have no idea who they are. From my
personal collection

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme There's a Way.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: The Necklace

Before Mom died she gave me three pieces of jewelry: her mother's opal and ruby engagement ring, her sister's engagement ring and cameo necklace.

Cameo necklace

As I was looking through Grandma Lange's old photograph album, I discovered a photograph of Grandma wearing the cameo necklace. This photograph was taken on 5 April 1952 at the wedding of her daughter, Mildred, to Marvin Edward Jennings.

Grandpa and Grandma Lange at their daughter's wedding in 1952. Grandma is wearing the
cameo necklace

So the cameo necklace first belonged to my Grandma Lange and then to her oldest daughter Ruth (Lange) Meek. I wonder how Grandma came to own it.

The idea for this post came from

Sunday, May 3, 2015

52 Ancestors #18: Professor Frederick Speece's Will

Ancestor Name: Frederick Speece (1785-1868)

Recently I finished reading the fifth book in Jeffrey Archer's The Clifton Chronicles. In the third book the matriarch of the family, Elizabeth May Barrington, died. It was during the reading of her last will and testament, the sparks flew when she disinherited her only son to prevent his fiancee from getting any of the family's money. It was beautifully done:

"The remainder of my estate, including 22 percent of Barrington Shipping, as well as the Manor House is to be left to my beloved ... daughters Emma and Grace, to dispose of as they see fit, with the exception of my Siamese cat, Cleopatra, who I leave to Lady Virginia Fenwick, because they have so much in common. They are both beautiful, well-groomed, vain, cunning, manipulative predators, who assume that everyone else was put on earth to serve them, including my besotted son, who I can only pray will break from the spell she has cast on him before it is too late."

But Jeffrey Archer writes fiction. I could never find such a put down in a will written by someone in my family tree, could I?

As it turns out I could.

The book entitled Campbell County Chronicles described Frederick Speece's life after his daughter's marriage:

"In the latter years of his life the impulse seized him to play the King Lear Act. He accordingly made a proposal to his daughter and her husband to take charge of his property and divide the proceeds with him. He soon discovered this was a most unsatisfactory arrangement, and in his will written in 1868 [note: the will was written in October 1865] he covered pages of it with minute details of the neglect and privations to which he was subjected by his daughter as well as her husband."

Honestly, I couldn't wait to read that will. Image my surprise when my used and tattered copy of the Rice and McGhee Families of Bedford County, Virginia, by Virginia Rice Biggerstaff arrived in the mail. There was a partial transcription of the will of Professor Frederick Speece on pages 48-50.

"...I was soon informed by letters of their unhappy situation. Among other doleful facts, my daughter stated to me, 'Doctor Rice is as poor as poor can be.' I was surprised and grieved at this, for I did not know his character, and he had told me of his full practice through a good many years. I wrote him to bring his wife back to my house, which he shortly did. I then proposed to him the following: Take all my property into your possession and enjoy it, work the farm and give me half the proceeds. To this he agreed and took possession. I delivered to him three negro men, at that time strong and hogs sufficient for the family. My table was well furnished with wares of every description, with silver spoons and other plate to the amount of 25 pieces. My house was furnished with bedding, chairs, etc. some of them elegant...

Photograph courtesy of Campbell County Chronicles

From that time up to this, Doctor Rice's sole object has been to get all he could from me by fair means or foul. Within two years my hogs were extinct. The horned cattle were...nearly all destroyed. Two work horses were worked to death. My table furniture within two years was almost all broken up, the silver plate was made a plaything for the children, black and white, and was soon reduced to seven or eight pieces...At this (October 1865) I am almost without clothes of any description. My son-in-law and my daughter Ann have refused me any but the coarsest. I have been begging for a pair of half soles for my old shoes for the past two months and have been refused...

Doctor Rice and my daughter are the laziest people that I ever knew. He does nothing from a consciousness that he is the greatest man in the world and must not compound his dignity. She is completely negative and from long habit has become physically dead flat. At least half her life she is asleep...My daughter, the wife of Doctor Rice, is not much better than he is, but she has some excuse as he treats her tyrannically; so much that she has begged to be divorced, and parted from him forever. This he told me, himself not long ago...

That my helpless, hapless daughter Ann, may not in any extremity be without a roof over head, I hereby give to her under certain conditions 90 acres of land including the home house and all its her during her life and at her decease to her children in perpetuity. The conditions of the above bequest are these: I have good reason to believe that William R. Rice will present heavy claims against my estate for medical service rendered to my family and also for his supervision of my negroes, farm, stock, etc...No such claims shall be paid. Should he or his wife make such a claim, the above bequest of land to my daughter and her children shall be cancelled, revoked, and be utterly null and void...I hereby sign seal and deliver said will in present of witness...this 10th day of November 1865."

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Where There's a Will.

Frederick Speece was born 23 October 1785 to Conrad Speece, a Presbyterian minister, and his wife, Rachel Claywell. His father was an early settler of Campbell County, Virginia, which was formed in 1782 from part of Bedford County. Frederick Speece wrote of himself that "he was a wayward boy of a melancholy turn, a stranger even in his own home; so he bade adieu to the land of his birth and went wandering afar; yet in the course of a few years he returned well satisfied to revisit his old haunts."[1] Frederick Speece married Ann Nancy Booker Morton in 1812 in Charlotte County, Virginia. They had two children, Edwin and Ann, but Edwin died in 1829 at the age of 16 years old. The loss of his young young son was a great grief to him and left him with only a daughter. By the time his daughter married Dr. William Reid Rice, a widower, in 1858, Frederick Speece was retired Greek and Latin teacher from New London Academy near Liberty, Virginia. He was also a poet, having published My Native Land and Other Poems in 1832.

Frederick Conrad Speece is the father-in-law of my second cousin four times removed.

[1]Early, R. H. Campbell County Chronicles and Family Sketches: Embracing the History of Campbell County, Virginia, 1782-1926, (Lynchburg, Virginia: J. P. Bell Company, 1927), pages 38-39

Doctor or Gold Digger?