Friday, July 18, 2014

Asberry A.T. Copeland - an unknown soldier of the confederacy

Family lineage:  Son of Robert Hatten Copeland  1, Charles Mabry Copeland  2, 
Charles Thomas Copeland, Sr. 3, Charles Thomas Copeland, Jr. 4

1838 – 1863

He was the 4th son of Robert (aka“Snake Man” ) Hatten Copeland who had been featured in a previous post. At age 21, Asberry married Martha Frances McDonald and two years later, the only child they would ever have was born.  Asberry died much too young at age 25 in Mississippi.

This is the legend of an almost-forgotten hero who died of his injuries in battle and - until 1999 - was buried among hundreds of other unknown young men of his generation in the Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi Confederate Cemetery.  It is comforting to know that even to this day, although their names are unknown, the graves of the unknown soldiers are tenderly and respectfully tended by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

From the time he first heard the story which had been passed down through the generations of his family, it had bothered Billy Copeland, a retired Army Colonel and Asberry's great-grandson, that after more than 100 years, this man was still buried in an unmarked grave and had never received the honors and recognition he deserved.

Billy eventually accepted the challenge to convince the "powers-that-be" that his ancestor was entitled to a gravestone engraved with his name and dates.  Along the way,  he discovered that there were more than 1,200 unknown Confederate solders buried there, and suspected that at  least a few of them had been Asberry's close and trusted friends.  Each of them had left his home, friends, and  family to defend a land, a way of life and a cause he believed in with all his being. Those 1,200 graves represent months and years of fear, agony, pain and longing suffered by all those who had waited expectantly for their sons, husbands, fathers or brothers to return.  They never went home. They stayed in  Lauderdale Springs, Mississippi.

Paraphrasing Col. Copeland's formal presentation:
“Asberry A. T. Copeland was one of the UNKNOWNS. But he hadn't always been unknown!  His roots were sunk deep into the foundations of this country. His forebears had been pioneers. They had settled this land. Just because of the time in which he lived, he had to be resourceful, brave, bold and daring. There's no doubt he was all of these things because life itself was harsh in those days, and one would not survive very long, either as a  pioneer or soldier, without these qualities. These people were eager to help settle this new frontier and, when the time came for the Revolution, they were just as eager to form a new country. So, following the example set by his ancestors like Revolutionary soldiers John Copeland and William Blakely (whose lives were described in previous posts), Asberry stepped forward too.”

Before volunteering to go to war on May 15, 1862, Asberry had been a shoemaker and, since he was a member of a large family with a widowed and disabled father, was probably very capable of doing whatever was needed when it was needed. But when war came, this young husband and father left his family and enlisted as a Private in the 56th Regiment of the Georgia Volunteer Infantry.

That Spring, his regiment was sent to East Tennessee, where it fought to recapture the Cumberland Gap and advance into Kentucky. Later that year, the regiment was sent to Mississippi with other regiments of the Division, where they suffered many privations ending with the surrender of Vicksburg. It must have been there that Asberry was fatally wounded because almost a year from the day he enlisted, he died in the Mississippi hospital.

Col. Billy Copeland spent a great deal of time researching the life of his great-grandfather and the family which had provided soldiers to fight for America during the Revolution. After so much effort, the day finally came when he could make a strong case that Asberry A.T. Copeland was buried in that cemetery as an unknown soldier, and deserved to have a headstone engraved with his name. What a great day it was when finally - 136 years later - a marker was placed on a grave in his honor and memory with great pomp and celebration.   Asberry Copeland is unknown no more!

This seems a good time to write a personal note of thanks for the support I have received over the last several years as I tried to learn about the Copeland side of our family and its journey through the generations.  As one of many frustrated Copeland researchers trying to overcome a very high so-called "brick wall", I met Billy on the internet.  At that time, I was trying to connect enough dots to get my husband accepted into the SAR (Sons of the America Revolution) through his heritage. That wall only started to crumble after Billy and two other family researchers, Bill Cash and Sue Copeland, generously shared their research on the Copeland family and set me on the right path to knocking down those pesky bricks. Thanks to these people my husband is now a proud member of the SAR and I have discovered some of the legends of this family which migrated to America in the early 1700s and gave so much to our country.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Charles C. Walker, Sr., A ranger during the Revolution

(Family Lineage: 1 Charles Walker Sr.; 2 Charles Walker, Jr.; 3 Eliza Frances Walker; 4 Emarine Bartram;
5 Queen Rebecca Dickerson; 6 Edna Bethel Franklin; 7 Judith Ann Hayward)

1755 - 1810
As an Englishman who had migrated to America in 1737, you have to wonder how Charles' father would have felt if he had still been alive when his son joined the movement to free America from Great Britain. Proud? Disturbed? Hurt?  On the other side of the family, Charles' mother, Elizabeth Taylor, was related to a future president, President Zachary Taylor, the 12th President of the United States, who took office in 1849 and died only 16 months later of an unknown cause (fodder for another post?).

In 1774, 19 year old Charles married 18 year old Elizabeth Margaret Peters, whose father and mother had both migrated from Germany and were neighbors of the Walkers.  Elizabeth's brothers were Charles' closest friends and fellow soldiers.  Ten children were born to the couple, at least one of whom, Chrispianos, fought in the War of 1812 and was featured in a previous post.  (You might want to keep an eye out for future posts describing their other sons' adventures, which included  murder!)

As war broke out, Charles enlisted as a ranger under Captain Peter Hogg, a well-known soldier who had fought in the French and Indian War under General George Washington.   According to "Rangers in Colonial and Revolutionary America” the concept of training men to be rangers originated in the seventeenth century when colonists and Indian tribes continually waged war against each other. They were full-time soldiers employed to "range" between fixed frontier fortifications, doing reconnaissance and providing early warning of hostile raids. They also served as scouts and guides. ( 

His final battle as a ranger occurred at Yorktown.  A lot was at stake! Yorktown had been established on the Chesapeake Bay in 1691 in order to regulate trade and collect taxes. By the early 1700s, it had emerged as a major Virginia port and economic center with 250 to 300 buildings and a population of almost 2,000 people. 

The Revolution was in its seventh year when, in 1781, British General Lord Charles Cornwallis brought his army to Yorktown to establish a naval base. During the siege by American and French forces that followed, much of the town was destroyed. In fact, by the end of the war, less than 70 buildings and 661 people remained. 
Excerpts from "This Day in History" describe the situation in 1781 when, by an incredible stroke of luck for the Patriots, the French fleet sailed into the Chesapeake Bay just as Cornwallis was choosing Yorktown, at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, as his base.

"Upon getting this report, Washington ordered the  Marquis de Lafayette and an American army of 5,000 troops to block Cornwallis' escape from Yorktown by land, while the French naval fleet blocked the British escape by sea.

By September 28, Washington had completely encircled Cornwallis in Yorktown with his troops  and with the combined forces of Continental and French troops totaling 17,000. After three weeks of non-stop bombardment, both day and night from both cannon and artillery, Cornwallis surrendered to Washington in the field at Yorktown on October 17, 1781,  effectively ending the War for Independence. "September 28-This Day in History/Battle of Yorktown Begins", 

As mentioned above, our family's war-hardened rangers, Charles Walker, and his brothers-in-law, who had fought all  those  years against the British, were participants in this final battle of a devastating war.

In 1789, both the Walker and Peters families moved to New River Valley, where they met up with Zachariah Callaway (also a “Family Legend”whose daughter, Sarah, married Charles and Elizabeth's son, Charles Walker, Jr.). 

The plaque, shown above was dedicated in 1976 and, entitled “Revolutionary War Soldiers of Giles County” .  It lists 94 soldiers who served during the War for Independence.. Inscribed on the plaque are the names of Charles Walker and his brother-in-law, John Peters.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

James P. Bartram, a soldier in the War of 1812 and an interesting character

Family lineage: James Bartram 1, Lewis Bartram 2, Emarine Bartram 3,
Queen Dickerson 4, Edna Franklin 5, Judith Hayward 6

1794 – 1875

For the first part of his life, James Bartram's story was intertwined with that of our nation which had declared its independence just a short time before he was born.

However, even after the Revolutionary War had ended badly for them, some of Great Britain's leaders strongly believed that they could get their old colony and all its rich resources back if they were able to impose enough pain and loss.  Obviously, that assumption wasn't checked out with the Americans who, when pushed, showed that they could and would fight to keep their hard-earned rights and independence.

In June of 1812, President James Madison stood before Congress and reported the many grievances being committed against America by Great Britain, including taking sailors off of our ships to work on theirs and stirring up the Indians. Following a very close vote, the United States declared war on Great Britain.  About the time he was presenting his case to Congress, the President had no way of knowing that the Prime Minister of England had been shot and killed by an assassin. The new Prime Minister was tired of war and hoped for a more practical relationship with the United States. However, without internet or telephone service, the Prime Minister's offer of reconciliation took three weeks to cross the Atlantic - far too late to slow down the wheels of war. It was 2-1/2 years before the war ended and the Americans could declare victory - again.

Within months after war was declared, the British instituted a blockade of the Chesapeake Bay, which gave their ships free rein to blockade ports, raid coastal communities, grab sailors off of the captured ships and expropriate much needed supplies. They were so successful that eventually the British commanders began to believe that they might be able to exploit the obvious weakness of American defenses in the Chesapeake to bring the war to a swift and favorable conclusion - for them.

All of this was just beginning to heat up as a 19 year old Virginian named James P. Bartram married Delilah (aka “Delili”) Wilson in 1813.  According to family legend, Delilah was the oldest daughter of a Cherokee woman, Sarah Mounts, and her husband, James Wilson.  Less than a year later, he was one of the mountain riflemen drafted and mustered into Captain Moses Congleton's Company B under Colonel George Huston of the the Virginia Militia's 4th Regiment.

 He joined 8,000 soldiers assigned the task of  protecting Norfolk, Virginia and other cities on the Chesapeake after they had been reclaimed by the Americans in ferocious battles. These victories and the strong protective force that was left to guard the area convinced the British to set sail for other ports further north, which they hoped would not be as hard to capture.

After four months, James' enlistment ended and he was allowed to return home. He was given $6.94 to cover his travel expenses for the 26 day, 520 mile trip (no expense accounts in those days!). Several years after the war ended, he was awarded a pension and some bounty land.

Everything written about James' life from 1814 to 1850 involved buying or selling property, making money, going broke, moving from state to state, starting a Baptist church in his home, being kicked out of a church, and raising nine children. He seemed to be a man of strong emotions and some unfortunate habits that occasionally got him into trouble. 

Actually James' first recorded problem took place in April of 1849 when a complaint was lodged against him by members of the New Salem Baptist Church (later called Greenbrier) in Echo, VA for intoxication.  It took months of discussion and promises made, but finally the decision was made that he could keep his membership. 

Evidently that wasn't traumatic enough for James because the next year the situation arose again which had to have been even more painful and embarrassing for his family. This time it was his son, Lewis (eventually the pastor of that church), who recorded the finding on June 26, 1850  paraphrased below:
The case of brother James P. Bartram was referred to a committee of three brethren and a decision was that he be expelled from our body".
And so James Bartram was found guilty and "churched" because of what was perceived to be intemperance or some other "moral crime of excess". Since it's highly likely that those men judging his behavior were friends and/or members of his family, it's not surprising that James and Delilah soon moved away from home and ended up in Kentucky.  A few months later, at age 55, Delilah died, leaving behind her husband,  three young children and two orphaned grandchildren.

A year later, in 1852, James married a widow, Rebecca Fannin, who was the mother of several small children and possessed large amounts of land in Kentucky. Shortly after they married they moved to Missouri where he took possession of 80 acres of land which were possibly part of his bounty award.

Perhaps hoping that he had "served his time" and would be welcomed back, he and Rebecca returned to Wayne County five years later.  It seems his hope was well-founded because now his son, Lewis, was pastor of the church that had ousted him, and he was accepted back into membership. However, before long, the "moving bug" hit again and his family packed up and moved back to Missouri. Although land transactions showed his age as 60 years old, he was actually 66 at the time.

Things seem to have settled down for a few years so we aren't sure what was actually going on.  But it couldn't have been good because the next time we run across this couple in 1867, Rebecca was selling land - without James.  What makes this interesting is that - at the time -  a married woman couldn't sell property unless her husband was dead or had legally deeded it to her. We know  James was not dead and there are no records showing that he had transferred the deed to her.  It seems he had either deserted or divorced her and moved on to a new life.

Five years later, he claimed to be 70 years old and a widower  (he was actually 78 and a widower only if you counted Delilah as his spouse), and married another Rebecca who was 34 years his junior.

James' long, interesting journey through life ended on September 27, 1875 at age 81. When his third wife, Rebecca Lunsford Sexton Bartram, was asked to be the executrix of her husband's estate, she refused, probably because by that time he didn't have enough cattle or crops to even tax. She returned to her mother who lived nearby and remarried less than a year later.

Isn't it refreshing to know that our ancestors weren't saints?  

Special thanks to Violet W. Bartram and D. Kent Bartram, the authors of a wonderful resource on the Bartram family entitled “Bartram Branches”, published in 1984 by Gateway Press which was referred to often in writing about the personal life of this very interesting man..

Friday, July 4, 2014

Harold Victor Hayward - aka Harold Foss and "Mr. Peanut"

1913 - 1993

(Family Lineage: Harold Victor Hayward  1, Judith Ann, Susan Faye and Linda Jean Hayward  2)


8 Month old Harold
In 1915, his mother named him Harold Victor Foss before she gave him up to a Lutheran children's home in St. Paul, Minnesota (times were very different then, with few good choices). But from 1916 until his death in 1993 at age 78, he was Harold Victor Hayward, with his adoptive parents changing only his surname.

1915 – 1993

Those dates represent the beginning and the end of his story on earth. But they don't even begin to describe his "dash" or how he became a legend in his own right.

Some months after his birth in the Salvation Army Maternity Hospital, he was transported from the Kinderfreund Society in Minnesota to a children's home in Iowa, where he was put up for adoption. It was there that Edwin Herbert Hayward and his wife, Dorothea Wierck Hayward, of Fairbank, Iowa saw Harold for the first time. It's not known when they were able to take him into their home, but records do show that 18 month old Harold officially became Harold Victor Hayward when the adoption was finalized in 1916.

He was 19 years old before the closely held secret of his adoption was finally emotionally revealed to him by his father. His mom, who seemed to have convinced herself that she had given birth to him, was not thrilled that the “secret” had finally been told to the only person in Fairbank, Iowa who didn't know about it. However, once it officially came out, so did several other “facts”:
  • that his birth mother had placed him in a basket on a church doorstep during a Minnesota snow storm with a note tucked into his blanket saying “His name is Harold Victor Foss. Please take good care of him”. (Of course this is the stuff of which legends are made, but documentation found after his death proved that this tale was untrue.  He did eventually share that story with his children but there's no way of knowing whether-or-not he believed it);
  • that Herb and Dora were looking for a blond, blue-eyed baby girl when they arrived at the children's home (If that is true, it is obvious that their plan went awry when they saw what his father later described as a screaming, scrawny little boy who obviously needed parents and plenty of loving - at least he did have blond hair and blue eyes!)
Dora and Harold
The Haywards were tenant farmers in Iowa during Harold's childhood.   But soon after he graduated from high school, he decided that there was a different life awaiting him. And judging by his experiences after he arrived in the big city, it seems he was right - Chicago was waiting for him!

This farm boy with a strong personality and generosity of spirit made a difference in many lives and will be remembered for his contributions and actions through the years, such as when he:

  • Hopped a freight train to Chicago with very little money in his pocket and few plans except that he was welcome to stay with relatives until he found work. What he didn’t count on was that he would be joined in the boxcar by a young couple running away from their families who had no money, no prospects, and were expecting a baby soon.  By the end of the ride, his pockets were empty because he had given whatever money he had to the couple.  After the train pulled into the train yard, Harold hitched a ride to the North side of Chicago where his aunt and uncle lived.

  • Met Edna Franklin, a beautiful young teacher from Indiana, on a blind date.  Shortly after their wedding on the Franklin farm in Versailles, Indiana on May 23, 1936, they packed their gifts and Edna's brother, Paul, into their car and headed to Chicago, where Harold had rented a small apartment. Since Paul had no place to live, the young couple laid a board over two chairs in the kitchen for his bed. Their honeymoon sure didn't last very long!!
  • With World War II in its infancy, Harold was appointed Community Commander in the “Citizens Defense Corps Reserves”.  Since his job was considered vital to the war effort, he was excused from active duty, and it wasn't long before this father of two little girls was supervising a victory garden, organizing air raid drills and prayer services, keeping the neighborhood active in support of the troops, and selling war bonds. 
  • As President of the North Shore Kiwanis Club, Harold sold its members on the idea of taking fund raising to a new level in order to give very needed support to underprivileged kids in the city. The idea? -  selling peanuts on the streets of Chicago. 
Harold Hayward in 1970
The few of us still around who were involved in this ambitious project still remember that first Peanut Day in September of 1951 and what it took to make it successful. Weeks before the big day, a truck had dumped what seemed to be tons of  peanuts in the Hayward's garage. Those who had been unfortunate enough to be recruited by Harold, that super salesman, spent endless hours bagging peanuts in the hot garage. Of course they were assured that their efforts were not only a duty, but a privilege.  It didn't always feel that way!  Needless to say, one lesson learned was that from that time on, peanuts were bagged by the supplier before the big event.
Finally, with bags of peanuts in their hands, volunteers of all ages hit the streets with donation cans and peanuts. It soon became obvious that people liked receiving peanuts instead of poppies or just a "thank you" for their donations. And they usually threw in some extra money to show their pleasure.
The campaign was highly successful, so much so that by 1970, $3.4 million had been raised and Kiwanis clubs throughout the country had adopted the project as well. Oh yes, and Harold became known as "Mr. Peanut".
  •  The Haywards always welcomed into their home youth who needed advice, a sympathetic shoulder or  a good laugh.  The door was always open and tissues handy.  Harold was much more than a “Luther League Leader” to those whose lives he touched. Even years later, those children who had grown into adults talked about what he had meant to them and the example he had set for how to be a good parent and person.
Harold taking over typing duties
  • After opening an insurance office in their local neighborhood, Harold continued to hone his skills in selling life insurance - while Edna became his staff of one and learned how to type from an instruction book while working in the house. He was always proud of the career he had chosen.  Even without a college degree or certifications such as CLU or ChFC, he was highly successful and managed several successful general agencies for some of the largest insurance companies in the country over the years.  

Life itself eventually slowed him down.  In 1948, while working in an electronics store, he slipped on some stairs while lugging a television set down to the basement (yes, there were TVs then - but they were bulky and heavy). That resulted in a fractured back. Seven years later, in 1955, as he was changing out storm windows for screens, the ladder slipped and he fell to the sidewalk, resulting in a crushed elbow and cracked hip. By using chips of bone scraped off the sidewalk by the EMTs, the elbow was pieced together "with glue and wire",  but the hip bothered him for the rest of his life. The timing was awful!  By that time there were three children in the family, his widowed mother was living in the basement apartment and he had just been appointed General Agent of a large insurance agency in downtown Chicago. So he spent his first weeks in the new job supervising the agency from a hospital bed in the family dining room.
Harold and Edna Hayward - 1990
Yes, Harold's dash through life was a constant challenge, but he loved the journey!

After 57 years with the woman he always called "my beautiful wife", it came to an end in Venice Florida in 1993. His vibrant personality, successes, deep faith and idiosyncrasies  helped to make  him what he was – a legend that lives on even now through stories told by those who knew and loved him!