Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Preparing for Winter and Pondering the Past

The green tomatoes got wrapped and the hummingbird feeders taken down and put in the garage tub to be sterilized and stored for next summer. Gerald had brought in a small bucket of the last of the okra yesterday, and I microwaved some for our lunch, put some in the fridge, and put some in the freezer. Our good neighbors Jay and Winnie Payne brought us a bucket of cleaned fish last night, so I fixed some for our lunch and froze the rest. Gerald ran by Vickie's and found Erin could not resist coming home during fall break after all. I hope I get to see her.

Today I worked revamping an essay that has been revamped many times on my great grandfather William Felix Grundy Martin. Down through the years, we have discovered new information, and so the essay gets longer and longer. I last revised it in 1999 and gave it to our four children as a Christmas present that year.

WFGM's mother was Hannah Alice McCullough Martin Nichols, whom my children called the "Little Apple Doll Lady" because her photograph taken with William Felix's family group looks like the little apple doll heads sometimes sold at craft fairs. Come to find out, my distant cousin in Centralia was calling her the same thing.

Despite all the new information, there is much we do not know about WFGM's life. He enlisted in the 109th Infantry to fight for the Union. This was the regiment that was issued inferior guns and was detached and left at Lumpkin's Mill because the guns were deemed unfit for use in battle. By April of 1863, the regiment was disbanded after losing 237 by desertion and some of the officers having proved incompetent. Like the others in the 109th, WFGM was transferred to and discharged from the 11th Illinois Infantry.

The service record for WFGM says he also deserted and yet it says he was paroled as a prisoner of war near Vicksburg on December 14, 1862, 16 days after listing as deserting, and other dates given in his record are at variance with one another. I get angry every time I read his service record because I do not think he deserted in the normal sense of the word desertion--if at all. I understand there was much Southern sympathy in the l09th, but WFGM was a strong supporter of the Union. He and his three brothers were part of the nine Martin cousins who enlisted with the Union despite their love for their Tennesee relatives. I am grateful WFGM was not one of the 92 enlisted men in the 109th who died of disease although he was very ill at times. I know how much his wife Louisa Jane was missing him as she cared for my grandfather William Henry, who was born three days after WFGM mustered in at Camp Anna. WFGM's younger brother and two of his cousins were among the 34,000 Illinois men who died in the Civil War.

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