Monday, April 30, 2012

A civil war story of tragedy, courage, passion, and loyalty. {Part 2}

At the end of my last post about the civil war story in my family, I mentioned that I would post part 2 the following day.
Well, that didn't happen.
Life happened.......but not the blog post.
Life for me right now is relentlessly screaming for my attention on a million different fronts, and I often find myself making promises I cannot keep.
Bad form, I know.

So let me get back to that story......
and some things I saw as just too extraordinary not to keep alive for my children.

If you'd like to read the story again in it's entirety......just so you know what I'm talking about......
you can find it here.

The first thing that jumped right out at me was......
that although my great-great-great grandparents had conceived a child before they married,
they did not get an abortion, an act becoming more popular in the mid-19th century, and more readily available at that time.
William felt an obvious obligation and sense of responsibility, and based on the growth of their family and the length of their marriage, a deep committment and love for this lady and their child.
He did not leave her in scandal and destitution, which was often the result for women in this state at that time in American history.
They worked together to provide for their growing family, and were known in their church as having "an excellent character in the community and were considered very worthy people."
I love that they took responsibility for their actions and were pro-life!!
I love that even though they made what seemed like a "mistake," they handled it the right way and went on to have some great victories!

Second, he fought for the cause of freedom, had to step aside from the fight due to physical ailments, but clearly wanted to get back in the fight when the time seemed right.
He seemed to me a man of courage, a man of passion, and a man of great loyalty!
I'm not exactly sure what motivated him to get into the war.
The state of Delaware was a "border state," but it was also a slave state.
I noticed that on a census for 1860, it looked to me like they had a 17 year old girl living with their family possibly as hired help.
Her name was Louiza Clayton and it looked like her occupation was listed as "Dress Maker."
I wouldn't be entirely surprised if she was a slave.  (or maybe even a "free slave?")
I have no way of proving that though.
Her name is not listed in the census of 1870, but I also find no record of this young woman in any family records anywhere.
I don't know who she was, or why she was living with them.
Maybe she was a sort of nanny to their six children?
At any rate, I don't know if my relatives were initially for or against slavery.
But I think that by the end of his military career, they were against it.
Whichever way he fought though, he was very loyal to his state and to his regiment,
and was earning himself a higher rank.

Third, though I'm sure it was difficult for his wife to continue to raise 7 children by herself after his death, she had the good sense to obtain outside help with expenses.
I commend her for going through all the hassle of getting the right people to go with her to write down their testimony of her family life and to verify that all she was applying for was true and honest.
I commend her for not giving up and splitting up her family and sending her children to live with other family members.
She kept them together as I could gather from later census records.
To me that is a testament to a great tenacity and will to survive and to care for her family.

Last, and most profoundly, I've learned through this process that unless you have military records that record a more detailed account of the family's life, the information available via documentation is relegated simply to a birth certificate, (possibly) a marriage certificate, birth certificates of children, and a death certificate.
That's it.
Those are the footprints left in the genealogical history of a family.
UNLESS, family members keep the stories of these people alive.
They have to be talked about.
They have to be SHARED!
Passed down.
But even more.....I want to be remembered as more than just a birth certificate and death certificate.
What kind of mother was I?
What kind of wife was I?
What kind of legacy did I leave in the my church?
What was I known for?
Did people clearly know that I was follower of Jesus Christ and had a passion to help others see Christ in my life and the difference that His sacrifice on the cross made in my life?
Did I pass that on to my children?
Did my life count for the cause of Christ?

I will never have a way of knowing what my great-great-great grandparents were like on a personal level.
I may be making huge assumptions about several decisions they made that are clearly documented.
But I want to learn from this that if a person's life is going to be valued and important.....WE must see the value of those who've gone before us, and the things we can learn from their successes and their failures.

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, 
let us lay aside every encumbrance,
and the sin which so easily entangles us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, 
the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who endured such hostility by sinners against Himself,
so that you may not grow weary and lose heart."
Hebrews 12: 1-3

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