What would a second grade girl know about music in 1957? Oh, she knew Elvis, Little Richard, and the early rockers. Yes, she had seen Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show. She could sing and dance along to the music. Her babysitter would squeal and sigh as she spoke of Elvis.
Then, 1957 became an unforgettable year for her. It was that year that her family moved in a brand new house in a recently developed neighborhood. With a bigger house, her dad wanted a hi-fi system. A console model with radio was purchased…suddenly, the house was filled with the sound of her father’s records. Her dad sang along with the music, and she did as well. One of the first albums he purchased was “Love Is the Thing” by Nat King Cole. Nat’s rich voice reached out and invited them to sing along to “When I Fall In Love”, “Stardust”, and “When Sunny Gets Blue”. It was magical and unforgettable for the girl. Nat became one of her favorite male singers. But Nat’s voice was not the only one to fill out the house. The girl met Joni James, Keely Smith, Frank Sinatra. It was unforgettably heavenly!
1957 also proved to be unforgettable for the young school girl. She loved going to school! She loved to learn and wanted most of all to read and write. A new Catholic school opened in her town. She was in the first second grade class there. New friends and friendships awaited her. Also, her new neighborhood had a whole gang of kids her age to run around with and enjoy.
It was just a small detail, and it was just a small lie. The bigger picture was that he had been called to serve by Mr. Lincoln himself. It did not really matter…he was 14 years old, but he swore he was 17. He was small in stature at only 4’11” with a dark complexion. He was called to be a drummer boy in the 87th Regiment, Illinois, Company I. He was ready to make a contribution. Yes, sir, Private David W. Grubbs was ready to serve! He enlisted in August, 1862.
At first, David was required to learn many drum calls. These calls would direct his fellow soldiers on the battlefield. David was intelligent and could easily memorize these. He would not be carrying a weapon. Second, he had to prepare himself for other duties on the field. When the battle commenced, he would move to the rear to stay away from the shooting. He could be killed or wounded. He could be asked to assist medics in getting the wounded to safety. He could be asked by the surgeons to assist in amputations and other surgeries. He could be asked to hold down patients. He could be asked to dispose of discarded limbs in piles. David was a farm boy and had witnessed butchering on his homestead, but he had never before witnessed the slaughtering of other humans. The young boy was required to be mature and steadfast…no small tasks for anyone.
In July, 1865, Private Grubbs was mustered out. He was 17 years old. He went back to his family’s farm. Seven years later, he would marry and start his family. Did he tell his children any war stories? He would die at the young age of 47.
A large hole in the family was left by his death. His obituary stated the usual facts as far as birth, death, name of wife and children go. But hidden between the lines of writing was a larger story.
Born in Waynesboro, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, in 1848, Jeremiah Frederick Bowman was one of eight sons. Five of those sons would go off to fight in the Civil War…three would come back. Jeremiah enlisted at the age of 16. At that time, one brother had died in a hospital in Washington, D.C., with burial in the newly planned Arlington National Cemetery. Another brother had died and was buried at Andersonville, Georgia. The other two had been wounded. Did this inspire him to enlist and lie about his age? Could his parents sacrifice another child? Jeremiah survived the fierce fighting with no wounds or injuries.
Jerry, as he liked to be called, married Martha Bell Shatzer. They were the parents of six children. Martha died at the age of 27. They had recently moved to Ohio. Now a widower, he had the large duty of raising children and managing a farm. But he would not remain alone for more than two years with his marriage to Sarah Matilda McFadden. Together, they would have 10 children. All of the children reached adulthood which was unusual for the times. Jerry was surrounded by many hearts and souls.
Jerry lived to be 88 years old with his wife Sarah always by his side. In total, he would have 98 grandchildren. What stories did he share with them about his life? What little scraps of grandfatherly wisdom did he impart to them? He left behind a large family with a large legacy.
Note: Jeremiah is my husband’s third great uncle. In locating his obituary from 1936, I was inspired by the largeness of his life to relate just a small part of his human story.