Friday, April 8, 2011

Missing Civil War Letters

Due to the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, anything and everything pertaining to this historical period will be more active on everyone's radar. Hopefully, this collective genealogical/historical radar can help find a lost family artifact. Let me preface by saying that the chances of finding copies of these letters are extremely low, as I will explain below. However, hopefully this post will be tagged and hover out there in the interwebs to be discovered someday by someone who can help.....even if it is years later, just finding copies of them would be an amazing thing for our family.

The letters were apparently from my 3rd Great Grandfather, Madison Daniels, to his wife Mary Ann (Hill) Daniels back in Porter Ohio (Gallia County). However, there were several Daniels brothers who were also possibly writing back and forth at the time and perhaps their response letters exist somewhere out there as well (among their descendants?). The four brothers that fought during the war were:

John Quincy Adams Daniels - 56th Ohio Infantry - taken prisoner at Vicksburg and remained there until the end of the War.

Madison Daniels - 173rd Ohio Infantry (1864-1865)

Abraham/Abram Daniels - 173rd Ohio Infantry (1864-1865)

Silas Daniels - 179th Ohio Infantry (1864-1865)

Madison supposedly wrote about the upcoming election and favoring Lincoln, among other details of his unit's being stationed in Nashville. I would also imagine that their brother's prisoner status in Vicksburg could have been a subject included.....but unfortunately, I have never read them.

The reason these letters are in the category of 'needle in a haystack' is because they were reportedly lost in a fire somewhere around the mid-1980s. I was still a kid at the time, and so I don't remember a lot about the loss. They were in the possession of my Grandfather Charles Daniels of Cincinnati Ohio. I'm not sure how long he had these letters (possibly since the 1960s), but at some point he loaned
Daniels Brothers
L-R Charles & Horace
 them to his brother Horace Daniels....of undetermined locale. I can remember that Horace travelled A LOT. When the family talked about him, they mentioned Hawaii, Texas, his children in California, etc. and that was all in relation to recent places of residence. Apparently it was while living in Hawaii that these letters were lost in an apartment fire. I think the fire report was inaccurate? Not really - although word of mouth reports can be wrong. My hope is that somewhere out there they were photocopied and passed out to other family members, perhaps in the California area. If they were misplaced after a fire, and ended up in a museum somewhere, stranger things have happened. I have not lost hope that somewhere in all of my Grandfather's things, he may have taken photocopies of them to file away - even though he said he did not have a chance to copy them. My inkling of doubt for his memory in this area exists due to his obsession with photocopying. Even back when photocopying was not an easy task, he was copying everything! Later, after the loss of these letters, he even bought his own desktop copier machine. Grandfather's files are another matter entirely, and hopefully someday, we will be able to sift through everything for that happy surprise - copies of these letters! But in the meantime, we're hoping these soldier names might stick with folks as they conduct research this year, and for the next 5 years to come. Particularly in the western part of the country where the letters were last seen and where Horace's descendants may still reside. We would love to connect with them anyway as that branch of the family tree has always been a bit hazy for us.

BTW, on a side note, I ran across a couple of cool Civil War sites for Ohio:

Fight for the Colors: The Ohio Battle Flag Collection (Ohio Historical Society

Ohio in the Civiil War

Sunday, April 3, 2011

So How Did You Two Love Birds Meet?

I love stumbling upon those little unexpected clues that get our speculation wheels a turning! I was going over some census records of family that lived in a certain area. Not direct ancestors, but peripheral siblings. Unfortunately, I oftentimes skip looking up the siblings when I research because it seems they had so many of them! But this is another reminder of why complete family group research is the best method - you never know what you will learn!

This particular 1900 census was for that of my great great grandfather's sister and her husband:
In 1900, the family of George and Cora (Cox) Quinlan consisted of the two of them, plus one small child (Frank), Cora's widowed father, Barton Cox, and a servant, Lizzie Mickabe (Mockabee/Mockbee). The reason I know how to spell Lizzie's surname correctly is because I recognized the servant immediately. She was the sister of my great great grandmother. My great great grandparents were Lavega Cox and Oleva Mockbee/Mockabee. I also know that Oleva's sister Lizzie, from above, went on to later marry Lavega's brother Jerry Cox. As a result, two sisters married two brothers from the same family.

This was not an uncommon alliance in small rural communities, but it made me think back and wonder, how did these couples meet? Did Lizzie begin working there in George and Cora's household before my great great grandparents met? Or did she start working there because her sister married Cora's brother? Since family/social gatherings were so very important for these small communities, I enjoyed thinking about how the attractions began. After a little digging, it turns out that the age difference suggested that it might have been Oleva and Cora (along with the other many siblings?) that did a little matchmaking over the years.....perhaps over a cup of tea? Here is a visual representation of the couples as they got together:

Oleva Mockbee and Lavega Cox were the oldest of
the couples and married first in 1880.

Cora, Lavega's sister and George Quinlan married next and
were about 10 years younger than couple number one.

Lizze Mockbee, Oleva's sister was quite the baby
(yet spinster material) at 25 when
she was working in the Quinlan household
during the 1900 census. But then, she was only 2 years
younger than Cora's husband (Cora was 4 years
older than her husband). So, was this a friendly
matchmaking set-up since Jerry and Lizzie
married the next year in 1901? Or was Cora jealous
of the age similarity between Lizzie and George?
I love speculating a little when it comes to family dynamics. I think we have a tendency to give our ancestors the benefit of the doubt and always think the best of their choices and outcomes. But lately, I've discovered some really questionable things about another family group - which has me turning a more suspicious eye on the activities of our ancestors. A recent conversation with another researcher had us laughing about this very thing: it turns out our ancestors were not the spotless, honorable people we automatically consider them to be - sometimes, they were a bit scandalous and reckless, just like today's generation - people really haven't changed. Each generation is fundamentally alike, it is only our perceptions that change over time.

P.S. Lizzie and Jerry's life together was very short lived. Lizzie died in 1903. She had one child, a boy, named Frank - which is the same name as the son had by Cora and George.....hmmmmmm :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Designed by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates