Week 48: Overlooked – Pauper Cemetery II, Gwinnett Co, GA

November Theme: Shadows

(Yeah … so … this post will likely only interest those who live nearby. But it’s a great place for me to keep track of research that is not connected to any of my other genealogy projects.)

When we moved into a brand-new subdivision in 1997, we stumbled upon an old cemetery around the block. I was told at the time that it was probably an old slave cemetery, as the land our subdivision had been built on had been an old plantation pre-Civil War. The developer wasn’t allowed to build on that lot, of course, so he just fenced it off, and it went largely ignored in the years since. Most people in our neighborhood were unaware of it.

A month ago, someone asked about it on our local Facebook page, and I shared what I had been told. Someone else chimed in with what they had heard. We were both wrong. Eventually someone pointed me to the Gwinnett Historical Society’s listing of cemeteries, showing that the cemetery was too recent to have been a slave cemetery, and was instead a Pauper’s cemetery dating around the turn of the previous century.

“Digging” into this cemetery (figuratively!) was interesting.

Gwinnett County, Georgia was founded in the early 1800s. County notes from March term, 1837, show a committee appointed to select a farm for the purpose of establishing a poor house. It took awhile. Other records indicate that the first Pauper home was established in 1850. The first one was on Old Norcross Rd, near where the Gwinnett School of Math, Science, and Technology is now. It moved to a new location between Lawrenceville and Snellville in 1893, and again moved in 1908, to Stone Mtn Rd, near the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Each home had a cemetery, and they are known, creatively, as Pauper I, Pauper II, and Pauper III. The cemetery in our neighborhood is Pauper II.

Militia District Map showing area of “Webbville”. The cemetery is in lot 75.

This location was used from 1893 through 1907. The farm consisted of 320 acres, much of which was rented out. [As near as I can tell, it encompassed all or parts of lots 74, 75, and likely lots on either side in the Militia District map shown here.] Cotton and other crops were sold to help support the home. There were several houses on the property, including a separate house for black inmates. The county provided a horse and wagon, a “milch” cow, a hog or three, a mule, and at times a bit more.

Searching through newspapers.com, chroniclingamerica.loc.gov, and Digital Library of Georgia, I was able to locate obituaries for several folks who died at the home and were buried at this cemetery. Several other obits show people who died while in residence and were buried elsewhere.

The 1900 census shows 14 residents of the Pauper Home. The census was taken by Andrew J. Webb, and the Superintendent of the Pauper House was William B. Haslett. Twelve residents are white and two are black. All speak English.  There are two married couples (both white), and those represent the only two males. One of the males is the only one who can read and write.

I found it interesting that three of the women are listed as having living children (one of the married couples has seven!) It seems that none of the children was willing or able to take in their relative.

The News-Herald (Lawrenceville, Georgia) Jan 29 1903

I did quick Ancestry.com searches on the 14. Several are buried in church cemeteries. Two of the women appear in the Pauper House listing on the 1910 census.  

Polly (aka Pollie) Green is listed in the 1900 census as being married one year, having had three children, including one yet living. I don’t know what became of her husband or child. Polly shows up in a news item of Nov 27 1902: Polly Green, inmate, tried on a writ of lunacy and adjudged to be a fit subject for the asylum. The county now has two crazy women on its hands. There are 2 crazy women at the poor house that ought to be in the asylum, but Dr. Powell has written the ordinary that there is no possible room there, so they will be kept there or sent to jail. (The other “crazy woman” was Mahala Moore Winn, who was committed to the poor house by her brother, a doctor.)

Dec 19, 1902 the News-Herald states that “Aunt Polly Green” was sent to the asylum in Milledgeville. It seems she returned to Gwinnett county at some point, as she died March 30, 1909, and was buried at the now defunct Pauper III cemetery.

Newspapers printed annual committee reports for the Pauper’s House which generally show a dozen or so inmates – mostly female, and mostly white. Where details are given, the women are often disabled, elderly, or both.

In 1901, the county appoints a new “keeper”, Mr. F. M. Mills, to begin in 1902. (Haslett had also applied to remain as superintendent. No reason is given for the switch). The county physician is Dr. A. M. Winn.

The News-Herald (Lawrenceville, Georgia) Feb 5 1903

In Jan 1903, an 80-year-old black inmate, George Parker, was kicked out of the home and the county for trying to arrange marriage with a 38-year-old white, blind woman, Mary McDaniel. (She is on both the 1900 and 1910 census for the home.) It is unclear whether Mary was aware of his intentions.

A 1984 survey of the cemetery claims 50-60 fieldstone-marked graves. Given that the cemetery was active for 14 years, that comes out to about 4-5 per year. I don’t know the turnover of inmates – only two from the 1900 census remain there in 1910. And not all the inmates who died there were buried there. However, the county also supported poor folk – usually to the tune of 60 or so people per year – who didn’t live at the Pauper House. Perhaps they were also eligible to claim a spot in the cemetery. Also, the poverty, disability, and advanced age of many of the inmates may well have meant a more fragile population.

The 1984 survey noted one hand-scratched stone that reads “Emily died”. (County records show an Emily Pugh who died and was buried there in 1893.) When I looked at the cemetery in 1997, I could find no stones with inscriptions, but there were a couple angel statues.

There is a creek running through the neighborhood known as Pugh Creek – perhaps Emily’s family. There was a mill located on this creek prior to 1850, run by the Wade family.

Researching the land documents brought up many familiar names. Flowers Crossing and Flowers Crossing at the Mill subdivisions are named for the Flowers family who farmed the land since before the Civil War. James Flowers (1807-1873) is buried at Mt Zion Church. Craig Elementary School is named for the Robert Craig family who purchased the land previously owned by the Wades. The Craigs later sold land to the J. T. Alexander family, the namesakes of Alexander Park (mainly lot 86 in Militia map). The photo at the top of this post was taken at Alexander Park a few years ago.

1963 map of area; I’ve added notes. “Pauper III” is a typo – should be Pauper II.

In 1907 the county made the decision to sell the Pauper farm and buy a smaller tract of land, as caring for both the inmates and the farm were proving to be too much for the superintendent. The 300+ acres of Pauper Farm II were sold to neighbor Andrew J. Webb for $5,000, and the almshouse made the move in early 1908. Andrew already owned land nearby – the 1884 Property Tax Digest shows he has 360 acres in the district. A Gwinnett Historical Society document indicates he owned 900 acres – that may include land he owned elsewhere in the county. (It wasn’t clear whether that was the total before or after he bought the Pauper farm.) The area was known as Webbville until about 1925. He was a Baptist preacher at a couple local churches: Friendship Baptist and Mt. Zion. He was also a successful operator of a cotton gin, a corn grinding mill, and a syrup mill. (I didn’t learn the location of these mills. I wonder if the original Wade mill on Pugh Creek was still in use.)

A. J. Webb was a county commissioner in the 1870s/80s, and his name appears on many county committees involved in creating new roads, bridges, and land divisions. As noted above, he was a census taker in 1900.

His house was a local landmark, having been built in 1855 by the James Flowers family and likely sold to Andrew around 1880. (There is a sheriff sale of land owned by W. F. Flowers, adjoining lands of Webb, in 1876.) The house stood until a couple decades ago on Old Snellville Hwy, when the property became too valuable to developers.

Andrew died 2 Jun 1924 (born 1844) and was buried at Friendship Baptist Church Cemetery. The church has gone through a number of name and/or denomination changes; it is currently called Reformation Presbyterian. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/39189820/andrew-j-webb I photographed the cemetery some years back, when it was known as Friendship Primitive Baptist.

A 1904 news item describes a petition for a new road leading from “Webb’s gin to the Stone Mountain road running northerly through lands of the Gwinnett county pauper farm to intersect with the Lawrenceville and Snellville public road on the north side of the pauper farm.” I thought this might have been Webb Gin House Road, but that road runs east/west. I cannot identify a road that fits this description. I’m wondering if it might be a portion of Old Snellville Hwy.

I was unable to find any map or description of where the actual Almshouse stood within the 320 acres. I’m still scouring newspapers for names of residents. Because I don’t want them to be overlooked anymore, I’m compiling names as I find them. (I will update this as I find more.)

Inmates of Pauper II farm and/or burials in the cemetery:
Emily Pugh, death record, Buried Pauper II 1893
Travis Grimes, Newspaper - inmate, old CSA veteran, robbed. 1896
Adeline House, obit, Buried Pauper II 1897
J. W. Herndon, death notice - inmate, buried elsewhere. 1899
Louvena Knight, 1900 census, buried Pauper II 1903
Almeda Johnson, inmate 1900 census, 1910 census
Pollie Bryan, inmate 1900 census
Ann Howell, inmate 1900 census
Mary J McDaniel, inmate 1900 census, 1903 news report - blind, inmate 1910 census
Pollie Green, inmate 1900 census, 1903 judged insane, buried Pauper III 1909
Almeda Hunt, inmate 1900 census
Susan Wood, inmate 1900 census; Newspaper - death of pauper Miss "Sookey" Wood 1904
Ezekiel J Green, inmate 1900 census - married to Mary
Mary J Green, inmate 1900 census - married to Ezekiel
Wash. Hurndon, inmate 1900 census - married to Melvinia
Melvinia Hurndon, inmate 1900 census - married to Wash.
*Peggy Garner, inmate 1900 census
*Dora Wood, inmate 1900 census
Mrs Harriet Hazelrigs, Newspaper - sick at poor house 1901; died and buried at Camp Creek 1901.
Mary Koker, Buried Pauper II 1901 (obit doesn't mention if she was an inmate but she was a resident of Webbville so probably was)
Mahala Moore Winn, Buried Pauper II 1903. "Insane sister" of Dr. Moore.
*Dan Winship, Newspaper - inmate 1903
*Unnamed "old negro woman" died at farm - Newspaper, 1903
Nancy Hanby, Newspaper - admitted to Pauper house 1903
*George Parker, Newspaper - kicked out of Pauper house 1903
Mrs. Jane Smith, Newspaper - admitted to Pauper House 1903
Joe Kent, Newspaper - died at farm, interred elsewhere 1904
Mr. J. Ross Smith, obit - died at farm, carpenter/builder 1905
*Unnamed woman died Christmas Day at farm 1905
Pheobe Titshaw, obit, Buried Pauper II 1905
Mrs. Amanda Cole, obit, buried elsewhere, 1906
*Henry Thompson, obit, Buried Pauper II 1907
Sallie Young, obit, Buried Pauper II 1907
Jacob Wofford, Newspaper - indigent CSA veteran, referred to Pauper house 1907 (?)
Amanda Cole, Newspaper - died 1906, buried elsewhere
(* = black)

Some sources: Gwinnett Historical Society newsletters, Historical maps, various newspaper archives, History of Gwinnett County Georgia 1818-1943 Volume I by J. C. Flanigan, Find a Grave, Alexander Park Master Plan, Ancestry.com.


Week 46: Tombstones

November theme: Shadows

The prompt this week suggests to write about a favorite grave marker. That is totally impossible for me – I have visited cemeteries all over the world, and each is special for one reason or another.

Lakeside Cemetery in Erie, PA. I love this marker, and I love the view even more.

The overwhelming number of choices to write about is paralyzing. So instead, I decided to concentrate on a few favorites from my “home” cemetery, Oakland, in Atlanta.

This monument for Mary “Mollie” Neal and her daughter Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Neal is one of the most photographed at Oakland. Near the main entrance, the sculpture, erected by husband/father Thomas, is full of symbolism, and is especially resplendent in spring.

Kenny Rogers is now the most visited gravesite, surpassing our previous favorites, Margaret Mitchell and Bobby Jones.

One of my favorite places to take photos is from Jewish Hill, with the consecrated Jewish grounds in the foreground, Confederate section in the middle, and the city of Atlanta in the distance.

The Richards Mausoleum is the favorite spot for weddings in the cemetery. Beautiful in all seasons. (The shadow picture in my last post features this spot as well.)

Timmons family – This picture appeals to me for reasons I can’t really explain.

Maynard Jackson’s grave was upgraded a few years ago, from the stone on the left to the monument on the right. (The photo of the new one was taken this year at Illuminati, an annual event at Oakland showcasing artists.)

Oakland cemetery is known not only for being the final resting place for many of Atlanta’s famous, infamous, and notable residents, but also known for it’s Historic Rural Garden, Art and Architecture, and Wildlife Habitat.

I guess I have strayed from the “tombstone” prompt! I have thousands of photos, and I need to stop somewhere. I’ll leave you with this favorite that was taken at Capturing the Spirit of Oakland, 2021.

For more information about Oakland, I found this neat write-up with lots more pictures: https://thecadyluckleedy.com/2019/06/14/oakland-cemetery-atlanta-georgia-a-victorian-garden/

You can also visit Oakland’s website: https://oaklandcemetery.com/

Week 43: Shadows

November theme: shadows

Every year the two weeks prior to Halloween are super busy at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta. This is the season of “Capturing the Spirit of Oakland,” a tour designed to “enlighten, not frighten.”

Cover of tour brochure

I’m not a huge Halloween fan – I’m more of a Christmas person. I teach piano and begin my students working on their Christmas music in October, and I would be fine with spending 3 months on Christmas and skipping the holidays in between.  However, I make an exception for CSO.

If you think 3 months to plan Christmas is too much, you should know that the 8,000 or so tickets for CSO tours go on sale July 1, and often sell out before the month is over. There are estimated to be about 70,000 people buried at Oakland. Each year about seven of those “silent citizens” are given the opportunity to speak, to tell their stories. In the process, we learn about Atlanta history, some of the earlier citizens, and events that shaped the community.

Some of our Silent Citizens get a chance to share their stores.

I have the privilege of providing research that goes into the scripts. Each year my husband and I also join in the fun by being “cabooses” for a couple of the tours. Cabooses follow behind each tour group to try to keep the group together, assist those that need help during the tour, prod the stragglers, and so on. This is also my chance to see what the writers did with my notes. Most of the volunteers working the event are in costume and portray other “residents” of Oakland.

My husband takes on the persona of Judge Clark Howell (1811-1882). He has his history memorized and his quips fine-tuned. He especially enjoys working the line while waiting for the next tour to begin. He likes to explain that his period spectacles come from the “Optical Department of Home Depot,” where he fashioned some wire frames from 12-gauge wire and ground down an old pair of his prescription lenses to fit. He chose just the right doorknob to top off his homemade cane.

Judge Howell strikes a pose

But I like to choose someone different every year. I’m a little backward in my process. I make my costume first, then dig up (so to speak) someone who would be around my age during the time frame of the costume. This year I made a pseudo-Edwardian dress, aiming for 1903ish. (If you’re a period costume expert, please don’t judge. I only aim to approximate.) I chose to become Ellen Vail Woodward Orme, or as she would have been known then, “Mrs. Doctor Francis Hodgson Orme.”

Ellen Vail Woodward Orme

Ellen was born 29 Jul 1843 in South Carolina. Her father, an Episcopal priest, was born in Dauphin Co, PA (– which I thought would be a convenient excuse for why I don’t have a southern accent, but no one asked.) She married Dr. Orme in 1867 in Atlanta. I don’t know how they met – but interestingly, Francis was also born in Dauphin Co, PA. (Maybe she liked his accent!) He moved to Savannah as a young man, and came to Atlanta in 1861, so I’m guessing that Ellen also came to Atlanta at some point and they met there, but I don’t really know. (She was still in Beaufort, SC in 1860.)

As is typical of the era, Ellen was overshadowed by her husband. He was well-known and beloved. He survived the Yellow Fever twice. He was an authority of homeopathic medicine and was the author of a widely used textbook. He was the attending physician when Henry Grady died. He wrote and published poetry and various articles. He was injured in a fall from a carriage and spent the last few years of his life as an invalid, but cheerfully maintained his social life with a regular influx of visitors. He said as a doctor he was quite familiar with the inevitability of death and was not disturbed by the concept. His will dictated that his wife and children were NOT to be dressed in mourning attire – it was a “frivolous fashion” and the money could be better spent in charity.

The Atlanta Constitution, Apr 18, 1894

Ellen did step out of the shadow of her husband occasionally. She was a history nut (which is mostly why I wanted to be her). She was a regent of the Atlanta DAR, chairman of the Atlanta Circle of Colonial Dames, and president of the “Nineteenth Century History Class.” In 1904 she was a delegate to the national meeting of the Society of Colonial Dames in Washington DC . Francis, for his part, wrote a theme-song for the local DAR, “The Song of the Revolution,” which was then adopted by the state and national organizations.

Francis died in 1913, and Ellen died 8 years later. They rest side by side at Oakland. I have it on authority that “Ellen” enjoyed her chance to caboose some tours this year. Francis, she explained, was feeling lazy and didn’t want to get up. I suspect she was happy for the chance to step out from his shadow.

Fun fact: Judge Clark Howell’s daughter, Catherine Schley Howell, married Alsop “Park” Woodward, Ellen’s younger brother. On the 1880 census, Judge Howell and his wife are living with Park’s family, along with Park’s (and Ellen’s) mother Elizabeth. There are other connections as well. So it makes complete sense that Ellen Orme and Judge Howell would have known each other, despite their 32 year age difference.

Week 42: Lost

October theme: preservation

Genealogy is often about things that were lost. Lost opportunities to talk with family members who are now gone – questions we forgot to ask, or never thought about before, histories we didn’t even know enough to ask about, situations that were too painful to press into. Identities that were lost because photos weren’t labeled (label your photos, folks!) Gravesites lost due to weather, vandalism, or poverty. Branches that were lost because of family conflict, distance, or loss of communication. Documents that were lost because the person doing the clearing out didn’t care. (Many of the documents and photos I have on my father’s side were dug out of a dumpster after my cousin grabbed what he wanted, then discarded the rest).

But my first impulse for today’s prompt was to write about a lost cousin (technically 1C3R).

My 3rd great-grandmother Elizabeth Miller (see Week 34 Timeline) had a brother John (born Johannes Müller). He was born in Vollmerz, Main-Kinzig-Kreis, Hesse, Germany on 29 Mar 1834, and immigrated 1848 (according to 1910 census) or 1850 (according to the 1850 census.) I have not been able to identify him on the 1850 census – although there are LOTS of John Miller options!

John and Sophia’s wedding record.

John came first to Harrisburg, where several of his siblings already lived. There, in 1857, he married Sophia Rosina Matilda Breininger, also a German immigrant. They had eight children, all but the last were born in Harrisburg. The first born, Louis, lived only seven months. The next six, John William, Anna Ellen Sophia, Emma Rebecca, George Martin, Bertha Elizabeth, and Frederick Charles Gustave, moved with their parents to Muscatine, Iowa in 1871. The youngest, Robert, was born there in 1874.

 (Ironically, Robert was the only one to later live and die in PA – he attended medical school in Philadelphia and stayed there.)

A relative sent me this photocopy – unfortunately, I don’t have access to the original.

Father John died 1 Nov 1910 in Atalissa, IA. His obituary lists his children, with their current city, except for son Fred, whose name is listed without location.

John’s will contains this cryptic passage: “My children as now living are as far as known at this date, January 1st, 1904, John W., Anna, Emma R, George M, Bertha E, Fred C. G., and Robert. Should the residence or whereabouts of any of the above heirs be unknown and it be therefore not practical to pay them their respective share, then my daughter, Emma, or son, George in her stead shall hold the said share until inquiry can be made as to his or her whereabouts ….”

This statement refers specifically to son Fred.

Fred Miller

Sophia died 28 Jul 1919. Her will is dated 1 Jan 1916. It states, “To my son, Fred C. G. Miller, I give the sum of six hundred dollars, but should his residence or whereabouts be unknown and it be not possible to pay him this money, then my daughter, Emma, shall hold such sum in custody….”

Fred was not located. A bio of his brother-in-law (Emerson Oxley, husband of Anna Miller) says, “Fred, who went west when twenty-three years of age and has not since been heard from…”

Thinking my resources are much greater than what was available in the early 1900s, I set about to learn as much as I could.

Fred was born on Christmas Day 1870 in Harrisburg, Dauphin Co, PA. He was just an infant when his family moved to Iowa. The 1880 census shows them in Goshen, Muscatine, IA. They are there still on the 1885 Iowa census.

The only other document I found for Fred was a marriage record.

Marriage record for Fred and Mabel

I learned that Fred married in Cedar Rapids, IA, on 18 Sep 1893, to Mabel Kendig. The marriage record says he is a butter maker. It also says this is his first marriage, her second. (She is only 21.) Fred was twenty-three when he married – the same age that the article quoted above says he was when he left. (The record says he was 24, but he was 3 months shy of it.)

So I thought I’d check into his wife, Mabel. I learned that her first marriage occurred in 1891. She married a third time in 1901, and a fourth time in 1907. Her later two marriages took place in Illinois, and she died in Chicago. Her information did not lead to any more answers about Fred. Did she go west with him after their marriage? Or did he abandon her? Did he marry AFTER he left home – or perhaps left home in order to marry against his parents’ wishes? There is nothing in the family records to indicate that Fred had even married.

I followed a long rabbit trail of military records for a “Fred C. G. Miller” – has to be him, right? Same name, age, middle initials! Served in the Philippines during the Spanish American War. And then I learned that this Fred was born in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I’m holding out the possibility that there were two men with the same name in the service, and the records got comingled – but so far, haven’t been able to make that work.

I followed another rabbit trail for awhile, for a Fred C Miller of Muscatine, IA, whose mother’s name was Sophia … but his father was Christopher (or Christian).

There are many other possibilities, too. Perhaps he changed his name, or lied about identifying details such as age or birthplace. There are certainly plenty of Fred Millers out there, including a couple in California, but the records indicate they were born there. There are sadder possibilities – traveling west in the late 1800s was fraught with peril, and he may have died along the way, buried where he fell, unmarked and forgotten.

It’s sad to think of him lost forever, but I can’t imagine the grief his parents must have endured, never knowing, always hoping.

Father John Miller, back right, with remaining sons, George (back left), Robert, and John.

Week 41: Passed Down

October theme – preservation

When my older sister got married, my mom pulled a ring out of her jewelry box and said, “I want you to wear this when you get married.” It turned out that Mom and her sister had worn this same ring when they married, and their mom had worn it when she married.

My grandmother, wearing the ring in her wedding portrait.

It had belonged to Mom’s maternal grandmother. It is believed that it was her wedding ring.

My great-grandmother, Kate Jennie Frederick Kuebler, at right, wearing the ring. (Others are Loretta Frederick Miller, her half-sister at left, and Anna Kuebler, wife of Kate’s son George, in center.)

The ring itself is not valuable, at least to my knowledge. My great-grandparents were not wealthy. It is a cameo ring, but not a finely carved one. But it is pretty, on an intricate gold band.

I got married the following year and wore the ring. (You’ll have to take my word for it – all my wedding photos focus on my left-hand, or block my hand with my bouquet.) My younger sisters also wore it at their weddings, as did my cousin. My daughter, and one of my daughters-in-law wore it. We’ve had a sizing band placed and removed as necessary, and brides wore it on the finger where it fit best. We didn’t make a big deal of it, and most of the guests were unaware of the ring or its significance.

A photo of the ring from my daughter’s wedding.

The ring is not magical. Not all the marriages have been smooth sailing, including great-grandmother’s. That was never the point. The meaning is more of a “something old” that ties the generations together, as if those who have gone before are now extending a blessing to those who come after.

Week 38: Road Trip through Germany

September theme – exploration

I know, I know. I skipped Week 37. It’s been crazy busy and might be for the rest of the year. I’ll do my best.

But I really wanted to write about this prompt, because we had an amazing road trip a few years back.

From 2003-2006 we lived in Germany. We visited relatives in Switzerland and in Sweden, and had a wonderful time making connections, hearing stories, and seeing the places where ancestors had lived out their lives.

In fall of 2004, we took a road trip through Germany. Both my husband and I have German roots, so I wanted very much to visit some of the cities I’ve encountered while doing genealogy. I made a list of the places I’d come across, and we mapped a route.  I admit, it was a challenge mentally to keep relationships attached to the right cities and shift mental gears as we moved from place to place.

My great-great grandfather Jacob Kuebler was born 10 Jan 1824 in Pfalzgrafenweiler, a small town in the district of Freudenstadt, in Baden- Württemberg. His father Michael and grandfather Johann Georg were also born there and died there. (Jacob emigrated to the US about 1849.) It was fun to see ads for various Kuebler enterprises, wondering if they might be relatives. (Kuebler is a fairly common name – means Cooper.) It was also fun to find buildings and shops with dates on them, showing that they would have been places known and likely visited by my ancestors.

Johann Georg’s wife, Anna Maria Braun, was born in Klosterreichenbach in 1729. This village began as a monastery. I don’t know much about her, except that she was 16 years older than her husband.

Johann Georg’s father, Christoph, was born in Glatten, in 1722. The Glatten church was built in the 1400s, enlarged in 1906, and renovated in 1927. The cemetery contains surnames such as Kuebler and Haist, that show up in my family tree. Of course the graves are mostly modern, as German graves are not kept in perpetuity.

Pfalzgrafenweiler, Klosterreichenbach, and Glatten are all located in the same district (Landkreis) of Freudenstadt. The main church in Freudenstadt is where all the “big events” like weddings and christenings would have taken place. It is also where all the records were kept at the time.

We then made our way over to a tiny hamlet called Deutschhof. A German book I found, called Hugenotten in der Pfalz had a record of inhabitants with names that sounded quite similar to my husband’s Hugenot ancestors who immigrated to New Paltz, New York. So of course we had to visit. According to Wikipedia, the community was a Mennonite one, although it says Mennonites were there beginning about 1712, which was a few years after the Ferrees had already moved to the New World.  The Ferree ancestors lived there in the second half of the 1600s.

The Ferrees became citizens of near-by Steinweiler in 1678. The oldest building still standing there was built in 1724, but I imagine the town did not look much different when the Ferrees lived there.

We learned that many records in the Palatinate were stored at Speyer, so a couple months later, we were able to take a trip to the archives there. An added bonus: My grandfather’s second wife was born Rosa Weber in Speyer. She immigrated in 1910, and Ellis Island records give her father’s address (presumably HER address prior to immigration) as Ludwigstrasse 36. I’m hoping the houses weren’t renumbered, as it was exciting to think I was seeing her childhood home, and walking the streets she knew.

Week 37: High and Low – the Royal connection

September theme: Exploration

When Queen Elizabeth II died last week, the focus on the royal family intensified. When I saw the topic for this week’s blog, the first “High” I thought of was royalty. I had heard the stories of royal connections on my husband’s side – descended from Charlemagne! – and thought that might make a fun post. I knew all the European royalty was interconnected, so it would be interesting to see how my husband and the Queen were related.

I pulled up some old trees I had found online – all undocumented, naturally – showing hubby’s descent. Charlemagne was supposedly his 30th great-grandfather. It was fun to find trees showing both his father AND his mother were descendants, at the same level. In 2017 my husband and I had the opportunity to visit Aachen, a city in Germany where Charlemagne made his headquarters, built a massive cathedral, and is where he is buried.

 How special is this connection? About as special as everyone getting a participation trophy! Geneticists have shown that nearly everyone with European ancestry has, somewhere along the line, intersected with Charlemagne’s descendants. It’s a mathematical thing. My husband and I are both 100% European, so no surprise there.

I use Ahnentafel numbering for my tree, to keep it organized. Source person, in this case my husband, is #1. His father is #2. At each generation, the father is double the child. So hubby’s grandfather is #4, great-grandfather is #8, and so on. The mother’s number is the father’s number plus one. Her father is then double her number. 

One of the cool things about this numbering system is that the number in the straight paternal line tells you how many ancestors you have in that generation. Father’s number is 2, you have two parents. Paternal grandfather is #4 – you have four grandparents. Straight-paternal great-grandfather is #8, and you have 8 great-grands.

So the straight paternal line for 32 generations (30th great-grandfather) means Charlemagne would be ancestor #4,294,967,296,  (that’s over four billion for those of you not wanting to count places) and hubby (and all of us) would have that many total 30th great-grands.

Charlemagne was born 747 and died 814. According to a chart I found online, the historical estimate of the world population (not just Europe) in 800 AD was between 220-240 million. Our ancestors at that point number nearly 18 times the world population. Obviously, there has been some intersection of lines, duplicating of ancestors. Plenty of cousins intermarrying, but also more distant relatives who didn’t even realize they shared a common ancestor, or several. It is inevitable that Charlemagne, through one of his 18 children, has infiltrated everyone’s European ancestry.

After plotting out the line of descent from Charlemagne to my spouse, I plotted the line of succession to Queen Elizabeth with all of the twists and turns and the throne gets fought over and jumps branches a few times. (I did not do an exhaustive genealogy for her. The connection I found makes her Charlemagne’s 36th great-granddaughter. I suspect her line has lots of connections.)

And finally, I began documenting my husband’s connection going up the tree. I did fine for the first eleven generations or so, then ran into trouble. I found contradictions and invalidations and errors galore, with the end result of dead ends and brick walls. I tried the same thing with his mother’s line and ran into trouble at the 10th generation.

So disappointing! I know my husband is a prince, but now I can’t prove it!

The high is that he is surely descended from royalty. The low is, I have no idea how.

For more information:

Here is a nice post about Ahnentafel Numbering, complete with charts: https://englishancestors.blog/2020/08/01/the-ahnentafel-system/

And here is an article about being descended from Charlemagne: https://www.theguardian.com/science/commentisfree/2015/may/24/business-genetic-ancestry-charlemagne-adam-rutherford

And this is the World Population Estimate chart I used: https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/international-programs/historical-est-worldpop.html

And here is an awesome online tour of the Aachen Cathedral. https://www.aachenerdom.de/en/cathedral-experience/3d-virtual-tour/

Week 36: Exploration – for the thrill of it.

September theme: Exploration

My uncle, Arthur David Nyberg was born 1 Aug 1921, the eldest of four boys born to Swedish immigrants in Erie, PA. The 1930 census indicates that Swedish was spoken in the home, and the boys grew up attending the Swedish-speaking Bethany Lutheran church.

It is interesting to speculate the cause and effect of various things – The first born child of an immigrant couple learning to navigate a new world, growing up between two languages and two cultures, the family history and prevalence of ADHD (though not then yet understood or diagnosed), the “boys will be boys” mentality…. Regardless of the reasons, Art grew up headstrong, adventurous, and independent.

Academics weren’t his thing. After completing three years of high school, he dropped out and joined the Navy. After a few months of training, he was assigned to the USS Wasp (CV-7) aircraft carrier in May of 1940. Although the US was not yet in the war, they would be soon.

The Wasp was sent to the Guadalcanal a couple times. Art was onboard when it was torpedoed by the Japanese 15 Sept 1942 (almost exactly 80 years ago as I write this).

Life Magazine page from Art’s mother’s scrapbook

In an interview, published by the Dispatch Herald, while he was home on leave, he shared his experience.

When a ship’s bombed out from beneath you, “you’re scared,” and that’s the sentiment of 21 year old Arthur Nyberg, aviation machinists mate, third class, who is back in Erie today after surviving the torpedoing of the USS aircraft carrier Wasp. Not that it denotes any lack of courage on the part of the United States navy’s fighting men. It’s just the first and most natural sensation, he said…. The Erie sailor was working on the flight deck on the opposite side. “A warning had been shouted, but I didn’t hear it,” he said. “After the explosion occurred and things started shooting around, we knew what had happened, so I threw myself flat on the deck. After a few minutes I got my lifebelt on and shortly after that we got the order to abandon ship. “After we abandoned ship, we swam around in the water for two and a half or three hours. I had a lifebelt on, so I was able to help some of the other fellows get on life rafts. We got as far away from the ship as possible and just before dark we were picked up by a destroyer.

“The water was full of men. They were pretty well scattered at first but later they managed to get together in groups.” Art admits he didn’t see the ship sink because he fell asleep. “You get pretty tired swimming like that,” he said. The water was quite warm but shark-infested, and there was a cold wind which kept the water rough. … Arthur said firmly, although with a smile, “I didn’t see a thing.” He said that the ordinary seamen were cautioned, before being given 30 day leave, to speak with the utmost discretion concerning everything that has happened. On Nov 7 he’ll report at San Diego, Cal, and then he’ll be off on another ship for active duty in some theater of war.

He then served aboard the new USS Lexington (CV-16) returning to the Pacific Theatre until late 1944. He returned to a training squadron in Florida and was discharged in 1946.

He wasn’t ready for quiet civilian life, though. He re-enlisted in the Navy later in 1946 for the purpose of joining Admiral Byrd’s expedition to the Antarctic.

Unfortunately, he didn’t quite make it to the continent.

Penguin Special, Yesterday’s news Tomorrow, 23 Jan 1947 [Excerpts]

A speedy and efficient rescue was performed yesterday morning by the crew of No. 1 lifeboat, who picked up the pilot and two-man crew of the Sikorsky helicopter which went down off the port side of the Philippine sea.  The aircraft, bound for service with task force 68, had gone aloft in search of icebergs in the area when the pilot, lt. cdr. C. S. Tanner, inexplicably lost control of the $46,000 helicopter, which dropped into the ocean a short distance away from the ship.

As the plane heeled to the starboard, A. D. Nyberg AMM1C, jumped out the port hatch, followed by C. E. Kelso S1C.  The cockpit was under by the time Lt. Cdr. Tanner struggled clear against the inrushing water.  While waiting to be rescued, they did not worry but were chilled to the bone.  It was the second dunking for Nyberg, who was aboard the carrier WASP when she was sunk by a submarine torpedo hit off Guadalcanal.

The rescue operation took 13 minutes.  The three were so numb with the cold that they were unable to help themselves into the boat.  A doctor, Lt. (JG) P. D. Boone, and S. L. Fyle, PHM3C were in the boat to treat them for cold and shock.  They were soon back aboard and resting comfortably in sick bay.

Read Admiral Byrd, who had been on the scene when the rescued men were brought back aboard, visited them in sick bay. 

A later 1947 postcard to his parents is postmarked Edinburgh, Scotland, and says he is headed for Sweden next, and is trying to get some leave. He was apparently successful, as photos he took at the time show him with various Swedish relatives. Though not a prolific writer, he faithfully sent postcards to his parents from all over the world. Cuba. Alaska. Philippines.

In 1950 he went to Korea on the USS Missouri (BB-63). A 1951 postcard to his parents says he’s on his way home on the USS Gen. Wm. Mitchell.

He left the Navy in 1956 and enlisted in the US Air Force serving with helicopter squadrons doing maintenance and inspections. In 1957 he sent a postcard to his parents from Hong Kong.

He retired from the US Air Force in 1960. He transferred his machinist skills obtained in the service into jobs repairing outboard motors and Honda motorcycles.  He rode his beloved motorcycles well into his last years. He died 29 May 2012 after 90 years of thrill-seeking adventure.

Week 34: Timeline overlay – Personal and Historical

August theme: help

It’s humbling to think that all of my life’s joys, struggles, heartaches, proud moments, and vast, hard-earned (and rarely heeded) wisdom might someday be reduced to a dash between my birth and death dates engraved on a stone. If that.

Knowing that a person’s life consists of more than a couple dates, I like to try to “fill out that dash” for family members I research. Creating a timeline helps me keep track of what happened to them, and what was happening around them. Sometimes it points me toward other sources, or other people. Sometimes it helps me understand their world a little better. And sometimes it puts my own life into better perspective.

My great-great grandmother was an immigrant from Germany. She arrived in the US at age 18. Married 5 years later, had five children, buried four of them, and died at age 33. Her timeline is short, but full.

Elizabeth was born Elisabetha Müller on 2 Mar 1832 in Vollmerz, Main-Kinzig-Kreis, Hesse, Germany.

Elizabeth and her brother arrived on the Bark Anna.

28 Jun 1850 she arrived at Baltimore, along with younger brother Conrad. They joined their older half-sister’s family in PA. Over the next decade, her other brother, sister, and father also immigrated. (Her mother had died in Germany in 1844).

15 Jul 1855 she married Christian Friedrich [aka Christopher Frederick], another German native, in Harrisburg.

Marriage record in church book for Christian and Elisabetha, both of Harrisburg.

3 Jul 1856 daughter Mary Elizabeth was born.

1857 daughter Edith Julianna was born

18 May 1857 Edith died.

22 May 1859 daughter Catherine Jennie “Kate” was born.

17 Apr 1862 daughter Mary Elizabeth died.

16 Oct 1862 son John Henry was born.

23 Nov 1862 John Henry died.

29 Jul 1864 Elizabeth delivered a stillborn son.

10 Mar 1865 Elizabeth died, aged 33 years, 8 days.

Her dash encompasses a lot of pain in a short amount of time. She doesn’t even have a gravestone – didn’t even get the dash; buried in her brother-in-law’s family plot with several of her children, all in unmarked graves. And during the last years of her life, while birthing and burying her children, her adopted country was engaged in Civil War.

Elizabeth and several of her children were buried in the Metzger lot (on the left side of the monument, grassy area at bottom of photo) owned by her half-sister’s husband, William Metzger.

In Nov 1860, Abraham Lincoln is elected president. At the end of the year, South Carolina secedes from the Union, followed by several more states in the next month.

4 Mar 1861, (2 days after Elizabeth’s birthday) Lincoln is inaugurated. A month later, the Civil War formally begins.

In Feb 1862, Lincoln’s 12-year-old son, Willie, died of Typhoid fever. (Just two months later, Christopher and Elizabeth buried their five-year-old daughter.)

In January 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect. In March, the Union begins a military draft.

The war comes closer to home at the end of June 1863 as Confederate cavalry skirmishes with Federal troops near Harrisburg. Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania. At the time a city of 14,000 people, it was a center of iron and steel production and other industry. It hosted training camps, was a major rail center for troop transport, including bringing wounded soldiers back from the front, and was a prize target for the rebel army.

Harpers Weekly, 4 Oct 1862, soldiers at the Harrisburg Capitol

A few days later, the Battle of Gettysburg takes place, just 38 miles away.

About this time, Christian Frederick registers for the draft. He is listed as class 2 (married men ages 35-45) on a record dated 1 Jul 1863. A second record has his name crossed out with a notation “physical disability.” I have no idea what his disability was.

Since Christopher was a carpenter / cabinet maker, it is reasonable to suppose part of his job was building coffins. 155 casualties from both sides were laid to rest in the Harrisburg cemetery. The women of Harrisburg were busy with the war effort, too, as they worked together to provide food and clothing for the soldiers at the training camp. Elizabeth’s brother Conrad had enlisted, making the war a bit more personal.

March 4, 1865,  Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated for a second term.

(March 10, 1865, Elizabeth Frederick died.)

March 18, 1865, Heavy snowfall during the winter, followed by heavy rainfall on March 16-17 caused the St. Patrick’s Day Flood of 1865. The Susquehanna and its tributaries overflowed, carried away several houses and an enormous amount of logs and timber rafts. It took out three bridges and disabled the railroad.

The Baltimore Sun, 18 Mar 1865

On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant.

14 April 1865, President Lincoln went to the theater….

April 22, 1865, President Lincoln’s funeral train had spent the night in Harrisburg, then headed towards Philadelphia. An estimated 40,000 people lined the streets of Harrisburg along the route – roughly twice as many people as who lived there. Maybe my great-great-grandfather was one of them.

Lincoln funeral train at Harrisburg, 22 Apr 1865

So – my great-great grandfather, in the space of a few months, is grieving the loss of his wife, and caring for his five-year-old daughter Kate, the only surviving of his five children. His town is flooded – perhaps his home as well. (He lived fairly close to the river.) The war is over, but his president is dead. 

Christopher must have been a man of some resilience, as he seemed to have picked up the pieces and started over. Or maybe he needed someone to help with his daughter. He soon remarried.

He married Anna Johanna Mary Corselius, 13 years his junior. I haven’t found a marriage record, but it must have been about 1866. Their first child, son Harry, was born in April 1867. His death certificate says he was born in “Broadtop PA”. There is a Broad Top in Huntingdon Co. Anna’s parents lived in that county. I don’t know if Christopher lived there, or if his wife just went home to deliver her baby. Their second child, Lizzie, was born in Erie, PA, in Aug 1868. I wonder if Christopher moved to Erie for a job, or if he was escaping the memories of life in Harrisburg.

Lizzie’s full name was Elizabeth Mary, seemingly a tribute to Christopher’s first wife and/or eldest daughter Mary Elizabeth. A third child, Ida Juliana (another tribute, this time to Edith Julianna?) arrived 10 years later but died young.

Christopher worked as a Carpenter in a “car shop” (railroad). There is very little additional information about him. Not famous, not wealthy. He spent the rest of his life in Erie, and died there on 13 Feb 1890 of “dropsy” (heart failure). He was only 64 – a year older than I am now.

Anna remarried to a widower, Mathias Michael Wittman, a year later. When Kate’s family ran into financial trouble, they moved to Erie, and received some financial help from the Wittmans. When Mathias died, he was buried with his first wife. His will has bequests for Anna’s children, but not for Kate. (Perhaps she had received enough already.)

When Anna died in 1922, she was buried with Christopher in the Erie cemetery. At least they got dashes.

Week 33: Service. Letters from War

August Theme: Help

150+ years after the Civil War, we know who the good guys were and who the bad guys were. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.

When researching for a friend, I came across a stunning collection of letters written between a North Carolina husband and wife, while he was away in the Confederate Service, and she was struggling at home. It gives a reminder that people caught up in the “wrong side” are still people. That not all choices are defensible, but not all actions are choices.

Francis Marion Poteet was born 3 Feb 1827 in McDowell, NC, which is in the southern Appalachian region. He was one of nine children. He married Martha Henley on 25 Sep 1847, and seven months later they had their first of 13 children. Ten of them were born prior to his enlistment in 1863.

In 1863, the Confederates were in trouble. Starvation was a reality. Lack of basic supplies, price gouging, illness, disorganization. The Confederate Army was having trouble manning its forces. Wikipedia states:

The First Conscription Act, passed April 16, 1862, made any white male between 18 and 35 years old liable to three years of military service. On September 27, 1862, the Second extended the age limit to 45 years; the Third, passed February 17, 1864, changed this to 17 to 50 years old, for service of an unlimited period.

At the time of his conscription on Oct 2, 1863, Francis was 36, working as a miller, carpenter, and farmer to support his large family. Conscription means compulsory enlistment – he was forced to go. His letters show that he hated it. He hated the war, he hated being separated from his wife and family, he hated not being able to help them. Army life was miserable.

He also hated the Yankees. His family had not been slaveholders, but he was certainly influenced by what his peers and elected officials were telling him: That the North needed to mind their own business, that Union soldiers were aggressors, that the South was being invaded and needed protection. This ugly war was their fault. The lack of food and supplies, the danger to his family, the loss of life as he knew it – these were caused by the Yankees. He was as much affected by personal perspective as we are today.

Francis was part of NC 49th Infantry, Company A. On Nov 3, a few weeks after he enlisted, he wrote to his wife from Camp near Kinston, “I am well but not satisfied… Sumtimes I think that I Will Runaway.”  “you Rote that if I could be at home to go with you to the shucking that you would be glad If I could I would give Ever thing that I am worth to be with you if I cant be with you I pray that the Lord may be with you and help you as mutch as if I was with.”

Kinston, NC; one of the battles his unit was involved in

His letters make clear his feelings for his family. On November 12, 1863, he wrote, “you don’t now how bad that I want to see you and My little Babes…. My Dear Wife I want you to hug and kiss to my little Children for me and tell them that I told you to Doo so for me.”

Ten days later, he is sick with a bad cold and cough. His mood is grumpy. He chastises his wife, “you Rote to me to not Runaway you don’t now nothing About hard times .. tell mother that I live in hops that I will see her once more in this life … I cant see how to Rite for my teares…”

On Jan 7 1864, Martha’s letter shows that things aren’t all that great at home, either. “we are not well the children is sick with bad colds and I haint seen a well day since you left… I cant get the William house he is a going to move to it and I don’t know what to do … Bill Cowen come hear a Tuesday and told me to get out as soon as I could and what I am to do I don’t know… if I hav to move I will sell the Mar and Cows and live while the corn and meat last for I don’t see how I am to get along with no one to help me.”

from Library of Congress

There are no letters available from December of that year. Fold3 service cards show that Francis “deserted” on Dec 1. Desertion was a serious problem, and punishment was often harsh and included execution. The reason for Francis’s leave, we know in hindsight, is that his 13 year old son, Marion Alvis, was quite ill. Francis stayed home for several weeks – long enough to be with his son when he died, and to have him buried. Francis was “lucky” that he was “only” imprisoned. He wrote on Jan 12, 1864, to let his wife know where to send the letters – “NC Weldon gard House in care of the prov Marchel ofis.”

The next letter we have preserved is from Martha, dated Feb 4, 1864. She has sent food to her husband: “five pies and five ginger Cakes one doz unions [onions] two custerds 1 ham of Meat and three twists of tobacco.” These are being sent care of men traveling that direction. She is still concerned about having a place to live. “You wrote for me to stay hear Bill Cowen says if I stay in the house I shant work the ground that I shant as much as hav the garden I hav walked my self down this week trying to get a place and hav got non me and my children are bound to perish all the honest men is gone and set of speckalating dogs is left to press the lives out of the poor Women and children while the soldiers is standing as a wall between them and the enemy…” 

She is clearly overwhelmed trying to deal with dishonest and unscrupulous men who are taking advantage of her situation. “I told you when you left I was left to the Mercy of the people there is about as much mercy shown me as a dog would show apeace of meat.”

Hunger is a frequent topic going both directions. On Mar 17, 1864, Francis wrote, “I had to Sell my Raisor and my coat to git Sumthing to eat.” He is still imprisoned for desertion at this point, and it’s incredulous that they aren’t feeding him! “Unions” is a frequent request – It is hard for me to imagine trying to survive on a diet of onions! The good news in this letter is that someone named Johnthan Walker “has acted very cleaver with you tell him that I hope that god will bless him for letting you have the land.” So Martha at least has a place to live.

Fold3 service cards say that Francis was finally returned to his company (from prison) on May 25, 1864. One of the cards identifies the prison as “Castle Thunder.” A later letter includes his address as Care of Capt Richerson, Castle Thunder, Richmond Va., Room no. 8.

Matthew Brady photo of inner courtyard of Castle Thunder

A letter from Martha on Jun 16, 1864, has a surprise. Apparently all this time Francis has been away, Martha was pregnant with child number 11. Imagine! Caring for 10 children, grieving the loss of one of them, trying to run a farm, all while pregnant. Her letter says “My baby will be 4 weeks old Saturday Night she was born the 21 of May write to Me what to name her.” She enclosed a tracing of the baby’s hand. It would be many months before Francis saw her. The baby was eventually named Eliza Ann.

“the sise of the baby’s hand”

Letters continue back and forth with news of every sort, from neighbors getting married to soldiers wounded or killed, of getting to wash clothes, how the crops are doing, measles and other illnesses, and everything in between. Every letter contains longing for each other and desperate prayers. “Remember me in your potisions [petitions] and ask god to have mursey on me and help me to pray aright to my god.”

They also send each other news of the war – each of them sharing bits and pieces, as neither has access to it all. On Oct 4, 1864, Francis wrote, “Lee Says that he cant hold Petersburg that he will have to vack awate [evacuate] it … I haint heard our loss but I expect that it tis heavy.”

Matthew Brady Civil War photos – Confederate trenches at Petersburg

And then the heartbreak. Imagine getting this letter that Martha wrote to her husband on Nov 2, 1864. “poor little Francis Emmer is dead she died the 29 of Oct last Saturday a little while before sundown I wrote to you about the sore in her Mouth her chin rotted and come loos fom its jaw boen and 5 of her teeth come out and her toung turned black it was the pittifullest looking little Mortal you ever saw I cant tell you how bad it was it died with its eyes fixed on me it died without a struggle …. It was the best child I ever saw it never cryed one half a hour …” As near as I can tell, the poor little girl got an infection – perhaps something as simple as an infected tooth or bug bite – that went gangrenous. It is disconcerting that she always refers to her daughter as “it” but there is no doubting her affection for the child. She goes on to write about other things, and then returns to her daughter. “I am so lonsom sens our sweet little baby daid evry body sed that it had the most sens that they saw a little child hav when it got so that it couldn’t talk it would point its little finger for what it wanted and the day before it died it would look at me and then point with its little finger toward the loft I think it saw the Angels that come to take it to heaven.”

Martha’s letter about Frances Emma

The summer of 1864, Francis is in a NC “Horspitel”, although his letters don’t say why. The letters following his release from prison show that Francis’s regiment is in Petersburg, VA. A December letter says that he gets a daily ration of a handful of crackers, his shoes are falling apart, it’s snowing and the mud is deep.

The final of the surviving letters is dated Feb 2 1865 from Martha. The war ended a couple months later. The National Park Service says this about the NC 49th:

OVERVIEW:49th Infantry Regiment was organized in March, 1862, at Garysburg, North Carolina. Its companies were recruited in the following counties: McDowell, Cleveland, Iredell, Moore, Mecklenburg, Gaston, Catawba, and Lincoln. Assigned to General R. Ransom’s and M.W. Ransom’s Brigade, the unit fought with the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days’ Battles to Fredericksburg. It then served in the New Bern area and near the Chowan River in North Carolina. Returning to Virginia, it was active at Drewry’s Bluff and Cold Harbor, took its place in the Petersburg trenches south of the James River, and saw action around Appomattox. This regiment lost 14 killed, 75 wounded, and 16 missing at Malvern Hill, had 16 killed and 61 wounded during the Maryland Campaign, and had 9 wounded at Fredericksburg. Many were disabled at Sayler’s Creek, and it surrendered 11 officers and 95 men on April 9, 1865. The field officers were Colonels Lee M. McAfee and Stephen D. Ramseur; Lieutenant Colonels James T. David, William A. Eliason, and John A. Flemming; and Majors Pinckney B. Chambers and Charles Q. Petty.

There is no record of when Francis was discharged, although it is likely he was with his unit to the end, and then returned home to his beloved family. Over the next couple years, he and Martha added two more children to the family. Later censuses list him as a farmer or farmhand, although they moved around – Censuses listed them in Jamestown, McDowell Co in 1870; Silver Creek, Burke Co in 1880; Mooresboro, Cleveland Co in 1900.

The Morganton Herald, Jul 18 1895

Martha passed away on April 2, 1902, after 54 years of marriage. Eight hours later, on April 3, unwilling, it seems, to ever be parted from her again, Francis died. The Roxboro Courier of 30 Apr 1902, quoting the Cleveland Star, said,

“Mrs. Mary Poteat, or Mooresboro, had a stroke of paralysis and fell in her yard last Wednesday afternoon and died at 8 o’clock that night from the effects of the stroke. At 4 o’clock next morning her husband, Mr. Francis M. Poteat, died from an attack of heart failure, brought on by his intense grief over the death of his wife.”

They are buried at Sandy Run Baptist Church Cemetery in Mooresboro, Cleveland Co, NC.

[If you are interested in digging deeper, the preserved letters between Francis and Martha are available here: https://digital.ncdcr.gov/digital/collection/p15012coll8/search/searchterm/poteet ]