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Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Zouaves Come to Chancellorsville

The Collis Zouaves at the Jackson monument, May 1899

     Unlike their first visit to Chancellorsville in May 1863, the Collis Zouaves received a friendly welcome when they came to the Fredericksburg area 36 years later for the dedication of their monument at the Chancellorsville battlefield.

Charles H.T. Collis, left (LOC)


     Charles Henry Tucker Collis (1838-1902) was an Irish immigrant who arrived in America in 1853 and began his law practice in Philadelphia in 1859. Soon after hostilities commenced between the United States and those in rebellion in the South, Collis was authorized to organize a regiment of volunteers, the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteers, who called themselves the "Zouaves D'Afrique." Like a number of other regiments of the time, the 114th Pennsylvania adopted the stylish uniforms of the zouaves, French light infantry units which served in North Africa in the mid-19th century. These uniforms typically sported fezzes or turbans, short colorful jackets and billowy trousers.

Members of Company H, Collis Zouaves at Petersburg, August 1864 (LOC)

     The 114th Pennsylvania distinguished itself in a number of engagements during the Civil War. Colonel Collis was particularly noteworthy during the battle of Fredericksburg, and was belatedly awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1893. In May 1863, the Zouaves were positioned near the Chancellor house and took very heavy casualties during the battle, losing three officers and 35 enlisted men. Colonel Collis, suffering either from malaria or typhoid fever, had to be carried from the field on a stretcher when he could no longer stand.

114th Pennsylvania at Germantown (LOC)

     In early May, 1899, several surviving members of the Zouaves, including Charles Collis, came to Spotsylvania for the dedication of the monument commemorating the names of their 38 comrades who had fallen at Chancellorsville. I have not seen it, but I believe this monument is on the south side of Route 3 just east of the NPS Visitor's Center.
     Collis and his fellow veterans were accompanied by members of the Chancellorsville Battlefield Park Association, with Vespasian Chancellor acting as their guide. Vespasian showed them around the local battlefields and posed with them for a picture taken at Stonewall Jackson's monument. I am pretty sure that is Vespasian leaning against the tree at far right.

Vespasian Chancellor (Photo taken by Tom Myers at the NPS Visitors Center)

     Vespasian's grandfather, George Edwards Chancellor, was the original owner of the grand house known to history as Chancellorsville. It was built as a wedding gift for him and his wife, Ann Lyon, by her mother's step-brother, wealthy Baltimore merchant William Lorman. During the Civil War, Vespasian Chancellor served in Company E of the 9th Virginia Cavalry, and was for a time attached to the headquarters of J.E.B. Stuart as a scout. In 1893, he married his cousin, Sue Chancellor, who (with members of her family and others) had been made prisoner in her own home, Chancellorsville, during the time that General Hooker made it his headquarters.
     Charles Collis appreciated the warmth and kindness he received while in Spotsylvania, as mentioned in this article which appeared in the May 11, 1899 edition of The Free Lance:


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Past Meets Present in West Chester


     Three years ago I wrote an article describing the dramatic events that occurred at Oakley, the farm of Leroy Wonderful Dobyns, during the battle of the Wilderness. Based on a letter written by Leroy's daughter, Maria, to my great grand aunt, Nannie Row, this remains one of my more popular pieces, as Maria describes in cinematic detail the level of suffering and violence experienced by one family on the the periphery of the major fighting that took place in Spotsylvania in May 1864.
      One of the actors in that drama was Major William B. Darlington of the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, who was shot off his horse near the Dobyns' house. Major Darlington was taken to the nearby home of William Shelton Buchanan, where his leg was amputated by Dr. Taylor,  the surgeon of General Wade Hampton. He survived his ordeal, and after the war  was appointed postmaster of West Chester, Pennsylvania.
     Recently it was brought to my attention that Malcom Johnstone, executive director of the West Chester Business Improvement District, wrote an article on the history of the West Chester post office, in which he cited Spotsylvania Memory's article. His piece can be read here.
     It is always satisfying when events from the past can be utilized to amplify our understanding of the present.

Monday, March 16, 2015

John P. Kale

John P. Kale, about 1846 (Polk County Memorial Museum)

     The story of John Kale has its beginnings in the Alps of Switzerland, where John's father, Anthony Kale, was born about 1790 in Chur, the capital of the canton Graubunden. A candy maker by trade, Anthony made his way from landlocked Switzerland to a port city in western Europe. Once there, he boarded a sailing ship and crossed the Atlantic. Whether he came alone or with relatives, at what city in America did he arrive, and exactly what year he undertook that perilous journey are questions that have remained unanswered.
     However, by some time after 1810 Anthony Kale was living in Fredericksburg, Virginia. His name first appears in the written record on April 10, 1816, when his marriage to Catherine Estes was announced in The Virginia Herald. Catherine Estes was one of ten children born to Richard and Catherine Carlton Estes of Greenfield, a plantation in western Spotsylvania County.
     Anthony Kale owned property at 706-708 Caroline Street; those buildings survive today as the Fredericksburg Visitor Center and Beck's Antiques. At No. 706 Kale ran a confectionery and grocery, and his family lived on the floors over his store. The seven children of Catherine and Anthony were born there. The youngest of their three sons, John, arrived in 1824. (More can be read about the Kales here).

706-708 Caroline Street

     Little is known of John's early life, other than he apparently received a good education, given the early success he enjoyed in the newly minted Republic of Texas. In 1846, the 22-year-old John left Fredericksburg and went west.

Letter of John Kale, February 1847

     On February 19, 1847, John wrote a letter from Liberty, Texas to his uncle Absalom Row of Spotsylvania. He began by mentioning how much sickness there was out there, from which he was not immune: "I have not been well two weeks at a time since July last." John was teaching school then, but in the sparsely settled section northeast of modern Houston, there was not much money to be made in that profession. John made some observations on recent elections in Virginia and then indulged in a wistful look back at the life he had left behind in Virginia: "You cannot imagine what it is to me to hear from you all every one and all things about home are ten times dearer to me than they ever were before. Your fine healthy faces would be a show in this part of the world, and little George I no doubt remembers how the squirrel's tail was played about his nose." The little George he referred to was my great grandfather, George Washington Estes Row.

George Washington Estes Row (1843-1883)

     By 1850, John Kale was living in the tiny town of Livingston, Polk County, where he was clerk of court. He was one of the earliest American settlers in that area and over the years enjoyed success as clerk, town merchant and farmer.
     John married Mary Winifred Hicks in Polk County on August 10, 1852. Their marriage was short-lived and tragic. Their first child, a daughter, died at birth in 1853. Their son suffered the same fate in 1854. Mary Kale died two weeks after the death of her son on September 6. All three are buried near her parents in the Abell Cemetery in Liberty, Texas.
     By 1860, with an aggregate wealth of $56,000, John Kale was one of the wealthiest men in Polk County. But that statistic does not tell the whole story. After the death of his wife and children, John was in a mental where he could not be left alone. He moved to Denton, Texas to stay for a time with his brother, Richard. For the 1860 census taken in Polk County, his occupation is given as "undefinable," because he was living in Denton at the time.
     John enlisted as a private in Company K of the 5th Texas Infantry on August 24, 1861. Now 37 years old, he was considered an old man by some of his fellow recruits. The 5th Infantry was part of the famed Texas Brigade, commanded by General John Bell Hood. Within two months of his enlistment, the  5th Texas was transported to Virginia, where it encamped on Neabsco Creek near Dumfries. Here, the older and more experienced John worked as a nurse in the General Hospital.
     John fought with his regiment during the Seven Days Battles near Richmond in 1862. The Texas Brigade, along with Longstreet's Corps, then marched west toward Culpeper in order to link up with Stonewall Jackson's troops and confront the army of General John Pope.
     On August 26, 1862, John Kale was put on picket duty, along with future Texas judge John W. Stevens and Nathan Oates. This episode was recounted in a book written by Judge Stevens 40 years later: Reminiscences of the Civil War, Hillsboro Mirror Print: Hillsboro, Texas, 1902, 51-52:

     "Kale was about 45 years old [actually, he was just 38] and a little hard of hearing, we three were carried down by an officer and posted in thirty or forty steps of the enemy's line, in high corn. The mud was awful, the air was quite cool after nightfall...Our orders were if the enemy attempted to advance, to wait until they were in twenty feet, then fire into them and fall back, we were not to speak above a whisper. We were so close to the enemy that we could hear their feet pop in the mud as they moved around in line. We could hear, all night, the low rumbling sound of their voices in suppressed tones as they conversed.
     "Kale, poor fellow, could not hear as well as myself and Nath, which was a great discomfort to him, and us as well. The slight breeze that came through the corn, sawing the blades against one another, made a noise very much like a man slipping up on us. Kale, every few minutes would insist that the rascals--as he called them--were coming and at times we could hardly restrain him from raising his gun to fire."

     Four days later, John Kale was shot during the battle of Second Manassas. He was taken to the Receiving and Wayside Hospital (General Hospital No. 9) in Richmond, where he remained for two months. He was then transferred to Hospital No. 21. From there he was transferred to "private quarters October 29, 1862, having furnished a substitute."
     Not much else is known of John Kale's activities during the Civil War. In a letter written by his sister Kate in July 1864, we learn that John and his brother Richard (who had begun the war as a trooper with the 15th Texas Cavalry) were "now in the same company. John is in the commissary department. He says the State [Texas] is full of refugees and everything is high. Sugar is not to be had at any price."
     The war now over, John returned to Polk County. Although his wealth was now less than half of what it had been before the war, he was still better off than most of his neighbors. He opened a dry goods store in Livingston. On March 21, 1867 he married a 30 year old widowed school teacher, Isabelle Wallace Sharp.
     Isabelle, or "Belle" as everyone knew her, had been the second wife of John F. Sharp, who had died during the war. Belle was raising John Sharp's son by his first marriage, John, Jr. Belle came from a distinguished Delaware family. Her grandfather, Caesar Augustus Rodney, had served in the House of Representatives and had been Attorney General of the United States.
     John and Belle had four children together. The first, Iola Rodney, died in 1871 at age three. Annie Rose was born about 1869, Louise "Lutie" was born in 1870 and Katherine "Kate" Carlton (named for her grandmother) in 1872. On May 15, 1873, Belle Kale died while giving birth to her fifth child, who also died.

Anna Rose Wallace Vaughan (courtesy of Felicia Gourdin)

     After Belle died, John Kale made the decision to send his three surviving daughters to live with Belle's sister, Anna Rose Wallace Vaughan, in Yalobusha, Mississippi. Anna Vaughan, a widow with four daughters of her own, taught school there.  In the photograph below, Anna is seen with her daughters and the younger Kale girls who are identified by the numbers: 1-Lutie, 2-Kate, 3-Annie Rose.

Courtesy of Polk County Memorial Museum

     In 1880, John Kale was living alone and farming. For a man who had been twice married and the father of eight children, it must have been lonely. He was still close to his adopted son, John F. Sharp, Jr., who acted as guardian for the daughters of John Kale after his death on February 14, 1886 at the age of 62.

     As John Kales' daughters became old enough, they were enrolled in the Ward Seminary for Young Ladies (modern Ward-Belmont College) in Nashville, Tennessee. There, on Christmas Eve 1887, Annie Rose Kale was killed in a dormitory fire.

Kate Kale (Courtesy of Polk County Memorial Museum)

     Kate Kale married Kentucky banking executive James Florian Cox in 1892. They never had children. In 1910 James left Kate for the much younger Virginia Lee Harris of New Orleans.

The Daily Star 28 February 1894

     Lutie Kale married lumber wholesaler Edward Lewis Edwards in 1894. Their wedding announcement made the social page of the Fredericksburg papers. She and Edward settled in Dayton, Ohio and had one daughter. After her divorce, Kate moved to Dayton to be near her sister. Lutie died in 1922, Kate in 1926. They are buried at Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum in Dayton.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Annette Houston Harlow

Annette Houston Harlow with her son, Finley

     Today I am showcasing the colorization talent of graphic artist and friend of Spotsylvania Memory, Deborah Humphries. Beginning with the original image shown below (provided by Elizabeth Robinson), Deborah was able to bring to life my cousin Annette and her young son, Finley Houston Harlow, in late 1913 or early 1914.

     Annette Willson Houston (1878-1960) was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, the daughter of Finley and Grace Alexander Houston. Finley Houston, one of the leading citizens of Lexington in his day, has been the topic of a previous post, which can be read here.

     In September 1905, Annette married Washington & Lee graduate, Benjamin Franklin Harlow, Jr. (1873-1961). Ben Harlow's father was an attorney, Civil War veteran and publisher of the Greenbrier Independent in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Ben and Annette were married at 'Clifton,' her family's home near Lexington, Virginia. In the family portrait taken on the day of their wedding, Ben and Annette are standing at far right, their eyes turned to the camera lens. Her parents are seated, her sister Mary stands at center, and sister Bruce and her husband William Emrys Davis stand at left:

     After they were married, Annette and Ben moved to Roswell, New Mexico, where Ben worked in the printing business until early 1917. Ben also taught Latin at the New Mexico Military Academy, whose superintendent was Annette's cousin, James William Willson.

     Once the Harlows came back to Lexington, Virginia, Ben became the publisher of the Lexington Gazette. After his retirement, he was succeeded by his son Finley, who held that position until his death in 1972.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Slaves at the Museum

Display at the Chancellorsville Museum, National Park Service

     Last week, while in Virginia doing some research and making headway on my upcoming book, I finally had the opportunity to visit the Park Service's  recently updated contact station at Chancellorsville. I was interested in seeing several of their exhibits, including this one. Please click on the images in my blog for enlarged viewing.
     This particular exhibit speaks to the exodus of slaves from the Spotsylvania region while Union troops were nearby. Among those enslaved people who escaped to freedom were a number from Greenfield plantation in western Spotsylvania. Their flight to freedom in 1862 was documented by my great great grandmother, Nancy Estes Row, in this list of runaways written in her own hand:

List of runaway slaves from Greenfield

     My great great grandmother had the foresight to include the last names of those "servants," which made it possible to discover the fates of three of these people, whose story appears here. The story of another Greenfield slave, Ellen Upshur, who had been given as a present to a relative in 1857, can be read here.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dr. John Duerson Pulliam

Newlyweds: John and Lucy Pulliam, 1861 (CH)

     Every so often I am privileged to come across a collection of photographs relating to one of Spotsylvania's historic families. Such a stroke of good fortune occurred earlier this year when Pulliam family researcher Craig Harnden began to post these photographs to his family tree on Ancestry. With Craig's kind permission, I am able to share with you today this very rare look at the Pulliam family. Pictures from Craig Harnden's archive that appear in today's post are designated with '(CH)'. All images in my blog may be clicked on for enlarged viewing.

Western Spotsylvania County, 1863

     Named for his grandfather, John Duerson Pulliam was born in Spotsylvania on 3 November 1840 to Richard H. Pulliam and Rebecca Duerson. The Pulliam farm can be seen in the lower left portion of the map detail shown above. Richard Pulliam's sister Eliza's farm lay just to the north. To the northeast was Greenfield ("Mrs. Rowe"), my family's ancestral home.
    John D. Pulliam graduated from the University of Virginia in 1859. Like many young men in Virginia of that time who wished to practice medicine, he then attended the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He graduated in 1861, having written his thesis on the topic of digestion.
     The year 1861 would prove to be the most significant in the life of young Dr. Pulliam for two other reasons as well. On 15 July he enlisted in Company E of the Ninth Virginia Cavalry, my great grandfather's old regiment. Also serving with John were his brother Thomas Coleman Pulliam and his cousin Thomas Richard Pulliam, whose self-indulgent life and violent death have recently been featured in this blog. Click here to read what has become the most popular article ever published on Spotsylvania Memory.

Lucy Noel Jerrell, age 17 (CH)

     The most momentous event in the life of John Pulliam in 1861 was his marriage to eighteen year old Lucy Noel Jerrell on 4 December. Lucy was born in July 1843 to John C. Jerrell and Mary Cropp. The Jerrells lived southeast of Spotsylvania Court House, where her father operated a grist mill and ran a store.
     Dr. John Pulliam survived his year in the Confederate cavalry, managing to avoid injury, sickness or capture. He returned home to Spotsylvania, where he began his fifty year medical practice. Unfortunately for John and everyone he knew, the Civil War that they had so avidly wished for would soon be on their very doorsteps.

John C. Jerrell (CH)

     Among the first to suffer were John Jerrell and his second wife, Ann Marshall. On 5 November 1862 their home, mill and store house were ransacked by Federal troops. In the Confederate archives is the long list of the Jerrells' property that was stolen or destroyed that day by Union soldiers who "laid violent hands on his goods and wares." Among other things, the Jerrells lost ten slaves, a double barreled shotgun, 100 pounds of coffee, and 110 pounds of nails; English, French, Latin, Greek, law and medical books; percussion caps, quinine and other medicines. Without a doubt the most intriguing object stolen that day was a set of obstetrical instruments. As if that were not enough, the Jerrells suffered further indignity that winter when Confederate troops camping on their property burned 1,900 fence rails for fuel.
     A year and a half later John and Lucy Pulliam would have their own violent encounter with Union troops swarming through their neighborhood during the battle of the Wilderness. The experience of the Pulliams was included in the historic letter written by Maria Dobyns of neighboring Oakley plantation: The yankees even tore off the plaster off Dr. Pulliam's cellar, thinking something had been hid, took money off his and Lucie's clothes, together with everything else.

The Pulliam family, 1876 (CH)

     This family portrait made in 1876 shows John and Lucy Pulliam with their five oldest children (Ivy would arrive in  1877 and the youngest, Flavia, was born in 1883). The oldest daughter, Mary Etta, is at far left. She married John F. Lewis in 1880 and had three children with him before dying in 1886 at the age of 23. Standing at John's shoulder is Justinian, who also practiced medicine until his untimely death in 1891. Standing between her parents is Lucy Noel Pulliam, who married Dr. Charles Dudley Simmons. In John's lap is Alma, who married Dr. Frank P. Dickinson, whose family owned "Mercer Hall" in Spotsylvania. Warner moved to Augusta County where he lived near his sisters Ivy and Flavia for a time before dying during the influenza epidemic in 1918.
     Other photos from the Pulliam album:

Dr. Justinian Pulliam (CH)

Alma Pulliam (CH)

Flavia Pulliam (CH)

Ivy Pulliam  (CH)

     As a physician, John Pulliam touched the lives of many during his long career, including my own family.

Estate expenses of Nancy Estes Row

     Dr. Pulliam treated my great great grandmother, Nancy Estes Row, during her final illness in January 1873. The Rows were able to recoup some of his $12.50 fee when he bought several items at her estate sale.

Virginia Herald 6 May 1875

     By the 1870s John had begun to dip his toe into local politics. In 1875 he was elected as a delegate from the Livingston district for the Conservative Party's convention. Also elected from the Livingston district was Dr. Thomas W. Finney, who had served with John in the Ninth Cavalry. In 1860, while still a medical student, Finney lived with John Pulliam's family. Years later both doctors would be lauded for their heroic efforts during an epidemic in Spotsylvania:

The Free Lance 15 July 1887

     John Pulliam was elected a justice of the peace and served on the Spotsylvania  Board of Health 1909-1912. In 1910 he was elected president of the Spotsylvania chapter of the Farmer's Alliance. The only setback I have spotted in his multifaceted career occurred in 1884, when his nomination as superintendent of Spotsylvania County schools was rejected by the Virginia Senate.

Spotsylvania Court House, about 1900

     In the photograph above, Dr. John D. Pulliam is sitting with the political elite of Spotsylvania County. He is seated front and center, fourth from the right.

Dr. John Duerson Pulliam (CH)

     For many years John and Lucy Pulliam lived on a 160 acre farm near Peake's Crossroads, later known as Belmont.

Lucy Pulliam (CH)

Daily Star 29 May 1905

     Lucy Pulliam died of a stroke while entertaining friends at her home in 1905. John continued to live in their old home for a time, but sold it for $4,200 in 1909. He then moved in with his nephew Richard Graves and his family.

John Pulliam at White Hall, 1906 (CH)

     By about 1912 Dr. Pulliam had mostly retired from medicine, although he still would treat special cases. The last of these occurred in January 1914 when he traveled to Richmond to attend a sick nephew. While there he contracted a bad cold, which developed into pneumonia. He died on 15 January 1914.

John Pulliam (CH)

Richmond Times Dispatch 17 January 1914

     John, Lucy, Mary Etta, Warner and Justinian Pulliam are buried at Mount Hermon Baptist Church in Spotsylvania.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Little Orphan Annie

Frances Kent. Richmond, early 1900s

     Despite the fact that she had only a grade school education acquired in Spotsylvania in the early 1890s, my grandmother had  a life long love of history, literature and poetry that transcended her modest upbringing. Even into old age she enjoyed reading such heavy tomes as Winston Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples. I remember her ability to quote reams of poetry she learned by heart as a young girl, and as a lad I would sit by her rocking chair, transfixed by her ability to still recall without difficulty the poems she had learned seventy years earlier.
     One of the poems she used to recite (and also my mother, who had learned it from my grandmother, complete with her inflections and dramatic phrasing) was Little Orphan Annie, written by James Whitcomb Riley in 1885. The Annie of whom Riley wrote was a real child, Mary Alice Smith, who lived in the Riley household.
     For my modern readers, who will not be able to appreciate the terrifying effect the recitation of this poem by my grandmother and mother had on me at a very tender age, I present this poetic artifact from a bygone era. Read it alone in a dark room by candle light. If you dare.

Little Orphan Annie

Little Orphan Annie's come to our house to stay, 

To wash the cups and saucers up, and brush the crumbs away. 

Shoo the chickens off the porch, brush the hearth and sweep, 

Make the fire, bake the bread, and earn her board and keep.

And when the day is over, and all the things are done,

We'd sit around the kitchen fire, and have the mostest fun!

A-listening to the witch-tales, that Annie tells about. 

And the goblins will get you, if you don't watch out!

Once there was a little boy who wouldn't say his prayers

And when he went to bed one night a way upstairs;

His mama heard him holler, and his daddy heard him bawl, 

And when they turned the covers down, he wasn't there at all!

They searched him in the rafters, and in the closet press, 

They searched him in the chimney flue, and everywhere I guess, 

But all they ever found of him was his pants and roundabout. 

And the goblins will get you, if you don't watch out!

Once there was a little girl, who'd always laugh and grin, 

And make fun of everyone, all her blood and kin.

Once when there was company, and old folks were there, 

She mocked them, and shocked them, and said she didn't care!

And just when she was about to turn, and run and hide, 

There was two great, big black things, standing by her side!

They snatched her through the ceiling, 'fore she knowed what she's about. 

And the goblins will get you, if you don't watch out!