52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Cemetery

ANC, Section 27, Site 175

Mary had heard tell that these grounds had once between beautiful beyond description…more than her small town Pennsylvania mind could imagine. She heard tell that the land had been taken in retaliation for a decision that the owner had made. Leaders said he should pay for turning his back on the country that he loved and served…his decision had been to be loyal to his state of Virginia. Therefore, leaders decided his home and grounds would be changed so that he could never return and enjoy this place again. Now here she stood on his property. She and husband David were not here to enjoy the gardens and admire the views. They were here for another type of visitation.

A year earlier (1863), her family had been intact in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. She and her husband parented nine children: eight sons and one daughter. The War Between The States had taken a toll on the nation. Their home was close to Sharpsburg, Maryland, where the Battle of Antietam took many lives in September, 1862. Gettysburg was situated in the next county over where three days of battle claimed more lives in July, 1863. In fact, General Lee had retreated through their town and stopped in the town square to get a drink from the pump for himself and his horse Traveler. In that year, her boys were safe at home and far from battle. Six of her sons were eligible to join the army. In the autumn of that year, five would enlist.

Now here in Arlington, Virginia, she and her husband came to visit the resting place of their son Calvin. As a member of the 126th and 149th Pennsylvania Regiments, 22 year old Calvin had been wounded at Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia. Because of the extent of his wounds, he was transferred to Armory Square Hospital in the District of Columbia. Calvin passed away on 18 May 1864. The army had run out of burial spaces so it was decided that the grounds of the Lee-Custis Mansion across the Potomac River would be converted to a cemetery. Calvin was one of the first to be buried there. It had taken a great deal of planning for the family to visit Calvin’s grave. They were here now…paying respects to their beloved son…thinking of the day they would be reunited in the Kingdom of God.

Mary and David Bowman are my husband’s third great grandparents. Calvin is his third great uncle. Today, they are all reunited in the Kingdom of God where no wars rage and where grief grips no one. At peace…

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Military

A mother's tears
Dampened the cheeks of her boys
Bound off to bind the Union back together
As proclaimed by Mr. Lincoln.

A mother's tears
Dampened the photos of sons in uniforms...
Five boys banded in Pennsylvania regiments
Pledging to raise the colors and fight on.

A mother's tears
Dampened the letters sent by the Army
To inform of three wounded and two dead
Heralding loss and grief beyond measure.

A mother's tears
Dampened the personal belongings
Sent from a hospital and a prison
Comforting her with their physical touch.

A mother's tears
Dampened the faces of the returning ones:
David scarred at the Battle of the
Franklin and Jeremiah marred at
Laurel Hill.

A mother's tears
Dampened the flowers left at graves
In Arlington and in Andersonville
Marking the resting haven of the fallen.

A mother's tears
Dampened the faces of her grandchildren
With the stories of fathers and uncles
Changed forever by red badges of courage.

A mother's tears fell and
Dampened the face of Mary Bowman
My husband's third great grandmother
As she sent her sons to war.

52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Nature

Just what was the nature of his intentions? His first wife Abigail and son had died during childbirth. He was alone. Men in his day needed a wife and children to build a homestead. Why, the very answer…the very person…was right in view. Mary Etta was a yard girl at the brickyard where he was the foreman. It was the Wisconsin territory, and women were few. Miss Mary Etta proved herself to be strong and hard-working. So, he took a chance and asked her if she would become his wife. She consented. Andrew Storer and Mary Etta Soule were united in matrimony on 24 July 1852 in Watertown, Wisconsin. She was 19, and he was 35. They pioneered together through many territories and “baby states”.

Just what was the nature of his character? As a young man growing up in Maine, he grew wanderlust in his heart and soul. He moved onto Boston where he worked on the docks but lost his health. He moved back to Maine to regain his strength…that he did. He moved on to Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa before he finally settled down in Osborne County, Kansas as a homesteader. He was known for being neighborly, steadfast, relentless, and a chance-taker. He planted these character seeds into his nine children.

Just what was the nature of his business as a farmer? After all, the years of his youth had been spent as a dock worker and brick maker. For a time, he was a successful sheep farmer, a vocation many in Osborne County did not undertake. He earned a grant from an agricultural college in Mississippi so he could grow trees on his property. On the plains, trees could be few and far between. Cottonwoods thrived on his grounds.

Just what was the nature of his legacy? To me, he was my second great grandfather. He left his descendants the abilities to try more than the obvious, the philosophy to move and grew where one is planted, and the courage to be strong-willed.

That is the nature of Andrew Storer’s heart and soul.