Saturday, February 21, 2015

William Allen Philpott - a hero of the Confederacy and a prisoner of the Union

Great-Grandson of Charles Thomas Philpott ("our" Revolutionary soldier)

1836 – 1926
William Allen Philpott
It must have been quite a gift to hear stories about the Civil War  being told by a man who had personally experienced them. William (aka "Uncle Billy") Philpott of Shelbyville, Tennessee was such a storyteller, who lived to tell tales 60 years after the war ended,  which were passed down through the generations.

Fortunately for today's historians, William's memory had remained sharp as he turned 90 on April 2,1926.  It was at his birthday party that he told all present how even early in his life, he had been connected to some of the famous men of his time (who are legends  in ours), such as:
  • Davy Crockett who had died at the Alamo only a month before William's birth;  
  • Abraham Lincoln who was only 26 years old in 1836, while Andrew Jackson and Jefferson Davis were 27 that year;
  • And although he hadn't been legally entitled to vote because he wasn't quite 21,he had been allowed to cast a ballot for Andrew Johnson as Governor of Tennessee (because it was believed he would vote for the "right" person in the tight race). 

    Uncle Billy provided even more gifts to us when he not only filed for a pension in which he described his actions during the Civil War, but also completed - at age 86 - the “Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaire" and the "Civil War Veterans Questionnaire", all of which combined to give us a very personal story about a horrible time in our country's history.

    A young Confederate soldier

    On July 1, 1861, at age 25, William Allen Philpott, who was married and owned a 20 acre farm, enlisted in the newly organized 23rd Tennessee Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which - before they could go into battle - had to undergo intensive training at Camp Trousdale, the main training camp for Middle Tennessee and Kentucky recruits. 

    The Battle of Shiloh Church
    After completing their training, the 23rd got its first taste of battle at Shiloh Church on April 6, 1862, when 40,000 Confederate soldiers under the command of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston attacked the Union lines, after which they struck a line of Union soldiers occupying ground on the Tennessee River. This overpowering Confederate offensive drove the unprepared Federal forces from their camps and threatened to overwhelm General Ulysses S. Grant’s entire command. 

    General Pat Clebourne
    Private Philpott was one of 630 soldiers in Clebourne's Brigade at the beginning of that battle.  But after pushing their way through thick undergrowth while climbing a steep hill, they were mauled by desperate Union soldiers during an intense 15 minute battle, and 300 of their men were lost.

    Three months later, the 23rd was again heavily involved at "The Battle of Perryville", which was the largest, bloodiest engagement fought in Kentucky. Although it was considered a Confederate tactical victory, Confederate General Braxton Bragg, was forced to order a retreat to Tennessee because of what had been extremely poor communications between the General and his officers, as well as a shortage of men and supplies.    

    It was while fighting near a burning barn in Perryville, that - according to William: “240 men fired at me point blank, leaving thirteen holes in my clothes and wounding me!”  Sadly, there was no description of his wounds which - you would think - would have ended his life - or at least put a severe crimp in it.

    This man loved to tell stories about what he had lived through!  For instance, he reported that: 

    • Shortly after being promoted to the rank of Sergeant, he saw a Union soldier leaning against a tree and took a shot at him. After seeing the soldier fall to the ground, he carefully approached him and discovered that the soldier actually had seven bullet holes in him! So he never was sure whether-or-not it was his bullet that had killed the enemy. 
    • Once, while experiencing extreme pain while walking, William asked to be carried for awhile in the supply wagon. His request was denied. He was so angry that he smashed his gun into the wagon with so much force that his hip snapped loudly back into place, and he was able to march on without pain.

    General Joshua Sill
    By 1863, after the 23rd had been merged into  General Bushrod Johnson's Brigade in General Pat Clebourne's Division, Sgt. Philpott decided to remain with his fellow soldiers, even though he had earned four days furlough, and it was then,  during a fierce battle, that Union General Joshua Sill was killed.

    As a postscript to General Sill's death,"Uncle Billy" reported that he had examined  General Sill's body and noticed that the fatal wound had been made by a much smaller missile than any ammunition the Confederates used in battle at that time, leading to his conclusion that the wound was self-inflicted. This was based on the common belief that General Sill had made a serious tactical blunder the day he died which had caused serious and unnecessary losses to his command.

    General Bushrod Johnson

    The regiment continued under the command of General Johnson, who was now a Division Commander.  But by the time the Battle of Chichamauga took place, the Division was down to 181 active soldiers because 26 of their soldiers had completely worn out their shoes and were sent to the rear before the battle began.

    Sgt. Philpott's last battle for the Confederacy was officially known as "Stones River" but more commonly called "The Forgotten Conflict Between the Confederate Army of Tennessee and the Union Army of Cumberland". This battle,which began on December 31, 1862, didn't end until a few days later, and both sides experienced their highest percentage of casualties during the entire war. Although the results were inconclusive, the Union Army did  repulse two Confederate attacks. This led to the Confederate Army withdrawing which gave a huge morale boost to the Union Army. 

    It was also a life-changing battle for Sgt. William Philpott because - almost four years after he had enlisted - he was finally captured and imprisoned until the war ended in 1865.

    There is no record of where he was for the first nine months of his

    imprisonment but the record does pick up the tale when he arrived at Camp Douglas in Chicago in October of 1863.  This camp was the Union's answer to Andersonville Prison - and was just as gristly. Finally, in  March 1865, he was moved to Camp Lookout in Maryland. 

    It was there that he took the oath of allegiance to the Union and was released from the camp on June 17, 1865.  Thanks to money sent by this father, Charles T. Philpott, he was able to pay for transportation to take him home (he obviously wouldn't have been physically able to return to Tennessee on foot after almost three years in prison).

    William Allen Philpott was married twice and had 6 children with his first wife and 8 with his second. He died seven months after his 90th birthday party and left behind a tremendous heritage of bravery for his large family.

    This tale is dedicated to
    Loye Roach
    Who generously shared her Philpott research with me - a stranger 
    and is now meeting these interesting ancestors face to face
    Rest in Peace, Loye, and thanks
    1930 - 2014

    Wednesday, February 4, 2015

    Edna Bethel Franklin - daughter, wife, mom and sister

    1 Edna Franklin, 2 Judith Ann Hayward

    1913 - 2004

    As is the case with us all, Edna's life was bracketed by the dates of her birth and death – with plenty of dash in between. So ". . .we'll start at the beginning - a very good place to start", to quote those great words from "Sound of Music".

    Queen, Fred, Evert, Edna
    On July 13, 1913, Fred, Queen, and their 15 month old son,William "Evert" Franklin, were living near the small town of Rosehill, Missouri, which had as its only claim to fame the fact that three railroads ran through it. On that day, Queen's tiny figure looked ready to burst at any minute; there was no doubt that their family dynamic was soon to be changed forever. When it  became apparent that labor had started in earnest, Fred made sure that Evert was secure in his bed before  rushing off to find the local doctor (they had neither a car nor a phone so it took some time to round him up). 

    Years later Queen reported that she had given birth to her little girl without the benefit of husband or doctor, which gave her an opportunity to do things her way.  Based on her bad memories of birthing Evert only a few months before, Queen decided that instead of lying immobile, the traditionally accepted birthing method, she'd walk and then roll back and forth whenever there was a contraction. It worked!  During one of those rolls, her daughter was born.  By the time the doctor and Fred returned, the only services required were to clean up the baby and cut the umbilical cord.

    Until Edna's birth certificate was amended by the State of Missouri in 1967, her name was shown as "Not Named". Years later, she would often comment that she wished her parents had thought of a prettier name, but was grateful that at least she hadn't been named Queen Jr.

    WilliamEvert and Edna Bethel Franklin
    If you've read earlier posts featuring Fred and Queen Franklin, you know that times were tough during the first decades of their marriage.  As the family teetered on the brink of flat-out poverty, they moved from Missouri to Ohio to Indiana and back again, always looking for viable work.  Fred might have lacked formal education, but he could read and was willing to do almost anything – no matter how physically hard – to support his family, while Queen, a former teacher, encouraged the children to read, kept house, made their clothing and tended a large garden.  

    8th grade graduation

    By 1923, the family had added two more little boys, Paul and Carthel, and had saved enough money to buy a farm near Versailles, Indiana.  Besides the house, barn, chicken coop and pig sty, the property contained a general store which Fred operated until the economy in the area changed and it was no longer viable. Although the only source of heat in the house was a wood-fed stove which was supposed to radiate heat throughout the house, water was drawn from a well, and the outhouse was the most popular building on the property, this house remained the "official residence" of the Franklin family for more than 30 years.  Fortunately, as time went by, some changes were made to the ambiance (an inside toilet and running water, for instance).

    Fred Franklin and Harold Hayward
    Although the people at that time didn't have electronics to entertain themselves, they still recognized the need to  have fun during the warm months (with games of croquet and horseshoes) and during the cold Indiana winters (with books, music and, later, card games).  Recently, the Franklin grandchildren discovered that Fred and his Uncle Bill Franklin were accomplished musicians and had  often been sought out to play at dances and weddings.  They were even more surprised when they came upon a 1925 recital program which listed Edna and Evert  performing on the violin and piano.  Huh?  Thanks to Carthel's memoirs, we now know that Edna and Carthel were given piano lessons, while Evert and Paul learned to play the violin.  Until those discoveries, the only known musicians were Queen (who played the piano not very well) and Paul (who sang, wrote and recorded music).

    New Marion High School graduate
    Harold Hayward High School graduate
    Between April 1931 (when she and Evert finished high school) and May 1936 (when she married Harold Victor Hayward), brown eyed, dark haired Edna loaded up her "dash” with life-changing events, some of which were:
    • Working as a housekeeper to earn enough money for college;
    • Combining her financial resources with those of cousin Eva Franklin to rent a room while attending classes at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana;
    • After earning a teaching certificate, returning to New Marion to teach for a grand salary of $100 a month;
    • Attending the University of Indiana for advanced studies;
    • Going out on a blind date with Harold Hayward in Chicago set up by a mutual acquaintance;
    • Falling in love with that Iowa farm boy who was almost two years younger and just starting his career in Chicago;
    • Being romanced through the mail or over the party line phone which was monitored by all the neighbors;
    • Marrying Harold at her parents' home in Indiana, surrounded by friends and family;
    • May 23, 1936 Franklin/Hayward Wedding
    • Starting a brand new life with a brand new husband in a tiny apartment not far from Lake Michigan to which they'd retreat with a blanket when the  house got too hot - a completely new way of life for this country girl. 

    Life with Harold couldn't have been more different than the one she had dreamed about when a girl! She never taught in a classroom again but she used her teaching skills to encourage and mentor her three daughters, Judy, Susan and Linda.  
    • Where he was flamboyant, she was shy but always quietly supportive ; 
    • Where he loved to tell bawdy jokes, she'd surprise with her very dry humor; 
    • Where he was at his best selling and speaking to crowds, she was learning how to type and support him in his first insurance office. 
    • While he was instructing the girls in the intricacies of football, she was an avid basketball and Cubs fan who rooted for those perennial losers all her life. 
    • Where he rarely caught edible fish, she continuously hooked more than anyone else (including professional guides) but refused to clean, cook or eat them (her daughters believed the fish thought they had a better chance with her since she wouldn't eat them - they were wrong!). 
    • Where he had a beautiful voice and loved to sing – especially with his daughters - she would promise those same daughters that if they sang for her, she would do some of their chores. 
    •  After he became Governor of the Illinois-Eastern Iowa District of Kiwanis, she found her voice as his first lady, finally using the charm and wonderful sense of humor that only her family and close friends knew she possessed. 

    DEATH (May 3, 2004): 
    Edna was only two months shy of 91 when she died as a result of bad care in a local rehab facility. In a “normal” family, she might have been considered the “grand old dame” – but not in the Franklin family! After all, her mother bowled until she was 103 and lived to age 107; her older brother, Evert, died 3 months before Edna and 2 months before his 92nd birthday as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident; her younger brother, Paul, only made it to age 89; and her father, Fred, (also featured in a post) was little more than a baby when he died at age 86. Today, her “baby” brother, Carthel, still enjoys golf and travel at age 94.

    The following poem was written in celebration of her life. Despite the fact that it's been more than 10 years since she left us, she is sorely missed - and her stories continue to be told.       
                                                Edna’s Song
    You’d think the story’s over, but it’s only just begun.

    Her life is woven through us - into each and every one.

    The thread has not been broken, but the fabric takes new shape.

    A shape that brings its own new joys, from which we can’t escape.

    When something special happens, we know what she would say,

    And feel her lingering presence as she'd send us on our way.

    We’ll sense her joy and laughter, knowing that her pain is gone.

    And that she knows she did her best - her loved ones can go on.

    We’ll hear ourselves repeating her maxims and her jokes.

    We know what she would want for us, her big and little folks.

    She’d want us to remember her as wife and mom and friend.

    She’d hope we’d build on lessons learned, and pass them on again.

    We never thought she’d leave us, our lives would stay the same,

    But God knew best the time and place, and took her home again.

    Can’t you just imagine the reunions going on?

    The joyous joining with all those who’d waited for so long.

    Thanks to you, dear Edna, for all you said and did,

    For always sharing whom you were with each adult and kid.

    We miss you badly, always will, and know that some fine day

    We will reunite with you and Dad in a whole new way.

     Judith Ann Hayward Copeland