Sunday, May 21, 2006

Mom's on the Trail

I was surprised to find a reference to Lt. Col. Charles de Choiseul's burial place as a cemetery in Flat Rock, N.C. The hamlet was far from de Choiseul's home state, Louisiana, and the place where he was mortally wounded, Port Republic, Virginia. Then I learned that his father, a former French consul in Charleston, S.C., had built a summer home in Flat Rock in the 1830s — a popular trend with other prominent Charlestonians seeking to escape the sultry South Carolina climate. I mentioned the cemetery to my mother, who lives in Columbus, N.C., a short drive from Flat Rock. She loves visiting cemeteries and quickly volunteered to go and see if de Choiseul was interred there. A week later I received an excited telephone call. Mom found the grave site! The next day, she e-mailed me a number of digital photos of the site and surrounding cemetery, which is also the final resting place for Confederate treasury secretary Christopher Gustavus Memminger. Way to go, Mom!

More Above and Beyond the Call

Ross Brooks should have been mentioned long ago here. We made contact months ago regarding Louisiana and the Civil War. He has been most helpful in working to establish the identity of a photograph of Confederate officer Alvan Read. We have yet to prove who this man was, as more than one soldier by this name who served. Since then, Ross has contributed information on other soldiers. Most recently, he scanned and e-mailed me an 1862 newspaper article that is an eyewitness account of the Battle of Port Republic, where one of my current subject was mortally wounded. Ross, like Jim Power below, is another truly bright spot in my ongoing journey.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

Jim Power is one of the many fine individuals I've had the pleasure to come in contact with during the course of my research. A retired businessman, amateur historian, and author of two books, including "A Respectable Minority In the South During the Civil War" (Authorhouse, 2005), Jim had collected much material on Maj. Thomas B. Webber, one of my subjects. We exchanged numerous e-mails, and yesterday I received a package containing an autographed copy of his book, a transciption of Webber's 1861 diary, and other materials. I am overwhelmed by Jim's kindness, and appeciate him for going above and beyond the call of duty. Thanks, Jim.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Finding Mary's Tombstone

Several years ago I picked up a beautiful CDV — an outdoor view in a cemetery picturing a tombstone flanked by two women. One woman rests her hand on the stone, and the other stands a few steps behind it. Both women are dressed warmly. In the background, leafless trees and the stone wall of a two-story building are visible. The photographer's name is not on the CDV mount, nor is there any indication of where this scene is located. However, the name, life dates and inscription are easily readable. The name of the deceased is Mary Greenleaf Woods. I spent some time researching her, and eventually discovered that she was buried in a cemetery located behind Rosse Hall at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. On my way back from Indiana, I drove to the college and found the grave site. The years had not been kind. The withered stone had been broken into three pieces (fortunately repaired, and it appeared recently) but it was there, and I was thrilled to find it and take a digital photograph from the same ground upon which a photographer had stood 150 years ago.