I’ve been researching my family tree off and on for the past two years, and have written before about the usefulness of obituaries in genealogical research.
The other day, I told my brother I was making a list of our direct ancestors who were Civil War veterans. He asked me why I was doing that and what I planned to do with the list. It was an interesting question. I wasn’t entirely sure what compelled me to make the list – I just knew it felt important to me to know their names. I wanted to learn more about them, and I wanted to honor their lives.
I’m fascinated by the war that divided the nation. Learning that at least six of my forefathers fought in the Union forces has made me even more interested in the war. The stakes were high, the battles fierce. With a toll of more than 600,000, the Civil War claimed the lives of more soldiers than any other war in our history.
I’m not alone in my fascination. A quick search of Legacy.com’s database of more than 10 million newspaper obituaries revealed more than 10,000 obituaries that referenced the Civil War. Most tell of their interest in reading about the war, or their participation in Civil War reenactments. But one category of references caught my eye – obituaries for the sons and daughters of veterans. It’s been more than 150 years since the Civil War began. The idea that there are still some sons and daughters of these soldiers who are just now passing away is simply amazing to me.
Here are a few of the many interesting obits I came across in my search:
James F. Brown Sr. passed away at age 99 on January 26, 2012. He was born February 14, 1912, in Greene County, GA, son of James H. H. Brown and Fanny Moore Brown. Jim was one of the last “Real Sons” of the Confederacy in the country. His father, who was born in 1841, fought in the Civil War with the Confederates from 1861-64 and was with General Lee at Appomattox for the signing of the surrender. Jim started in the hotel business in 1933 in Mobile, Alabama. He spent 10 years in Maine and eventually had his own hotel for 17 years in Franklin, PA. He was on the Pennsylvania Board of Hoteliers, Board Chairman of Franklin Hospital, and Salvation Army Board for 12 years. He served in the Navy during World War II. He was a life member of Masons since 1936 (32nd Degree), member of Kiwanis since 1941, Shriners since 1948, Who’s Who in America in 1960′s, and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans [Read full obituary in Knoxville News Sentinel]
Louvenia Bell McKinley, 96, passed away December 23, 2010. She was born on March 14, 1914, in Clarksville, Tenn., to John Henry Bell, who was born a slave and received his freedom by joining the Union Army during the Civil War, and Mattie Moreland Bell. Louvenia was the 4th of six siblings. She attended Burt High School in Clarksville and graduated from Attucks High School in Carbondale through the adult education program. Louvenia was a “Cook Extraordinaire.” Just ask anyone about her rolls. She worked for Southern Illinois University Carbondale as a cook in the old Grand Avenue/Route 51 cafeteria, as a chef at the home of President Delyte Morris on Grand Avenue, at Lentz Hall in Thompson Point and as a teacher in the SIU-Manpower Chef Training Program at VTI (Vocational Technical Institute-Carterville Cam-pus). After retirement from SIUC, she worked as cook for the Early Childhood Program at the Eurma C. Hayes Center. [Read full obituary in The Southern Illinoisan]
Doris Fanning Rutherford, 92, passed away October 31, 2011. She was born Oct. 2, 1919, in San Antonio to Fay and Dempsey Fanning. She was proud to be a direct descendant of a Civil War veteran. Her father, Dempsey Corbett Fanning, served during the Civil War as a bugle boy and is buried in the Confederate Cemetery in San Antonio. Doris married Travis Allen Rutherford on Aug. 11, 1940. After raising two daughters, she pursued a career, which included serving as administrative assistant to the director of Tarrant County United Way and later to the president of Miller’s Mutual Insurance. She was an avid reader, student of the Bible and active member of the Baptist church for 60 years. [Read full obituary in Star-Telegram]
Rachel Mungo Thomas passed away on January 16, 2012 at the age of 99. She was the youngest of eighteen children born into a sharecropper family in Mecklenburg County, NC. Her father was a Civil War veteran. Throughout much of her life she lived and raised her four daughters in Jacksonville, FL. She was known for her bountiful gardens, her gracious hospitality and her sharp sense of humor. She loved her daughters fiercely. In the 1970s she returned to her beloved Appalachian mountains where she lived until 2002, when she moved to Sonoma County to join her two youngest daughters. After an injury in 2006, she moved to Park View Gardens nursing home where she was lovingly cared for until her death. [Read full obituary in the Press Democrat]