Saturday, April 21, 2012

Photos of Aunt Jo Williamson Reid

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Photo Credit: Joe Reid

William Thomas Reid and Jo Stella Williamson Reid in front of their home place
on Poplar Corner Rd. in Haywood County, TN

I love the way social networking allows those interested in gathering accurate records and stories of the past to share information and photos. A relative I didn't know previously, Joe Reid, emailed me last week and we've been exchanging stories and info. His grandmother, Jo Stella Williamson Reid, (pictured above) and my great grandmother, Janie Williamson Williams were sisters.

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Joe Williamson and daughters
Back row, l to r: Janie Williamson Williams (my great grandmother),
Jessie Williamson, and Nannie Williamson
Front row l to r: Jo Stella Williamson Reid, Joe Williamson, Mai Williamson Shelton

In this photo, Jo is the youngest girl on the front row on the left and Janie is standing behind her.

Their father and my great grandfather, Joe Williamson, who was a widower in the photo above, would see a lot of his family members die during his lifetime.

He was born in 1858 in Madison County, TN in the Providence community. His parents were Beverly M. Williamson and Eleanora Harriet Dougan. I have been unable to establish his paternal grandparents (so if you know, email me) but his maternal grandparents were Reverend Robert Linn Dougan and Elizabeth Scobey. Both families were early settlers of the United States and fought in the Revolutionary War.

Joe married Mary Elizabeth Joyner on 17 Jan 1882. She was a daughter of Alfred Bunn Joyner and a granddaughter of Littleton Bunn Joyner, both of whom were very instrumental in the settlement and development of the Haywood County, TN area.

Mary Elizabeth died on 16 Jan1898 at the age of 36, leaving Joe with five girls who were ages 15, 13, 10, 7 and 2.

Joe and his family were members of Providence Methodist Church and his father, Beverly, had donated land for the church and adjoining cemetery.

In 1901, Joe issued a deed for an acre of land for a school to be built near the church. In 1944, that same land was sold to the Providence Methodist Church for $100, probably when the school was closed.

In 1905, daughter Jessie died at age 20.

That same year, according to "A Journey into Yesteryears" by Martha Jones, Joe donated three more acres of land to the church. Part of the land was between the church and the cemetery while another was located on the south side of the cemetery.

Two years later, on 6 Sep 1907, daughter Nannie died at age 24.

On 22 Jan 1909 at age 51, Joe died and was buried, along with the others from his family, in the Providence Methodist Church Cemetery. Sadly, in his lifetime, Joe experienced the early deaths of his mother, father, step-mother, wife and two of his daughters.

21 Dec 1909, his daughter, Mai, married Thomas A. Shelton.

6 Feb, 1910, Janie, my great grandmother and one of Joe's other three surviving daughters, married William Lafayette "Will" Williams and they had my grandfather, Jesse Lloyd "Bo" Williams just a little over nine months later.
22 Sep 1912, Joe's youngest daughter, Jo, married William Thomas Reid.

My great grandmother, Janie, died after childbirth on 19 Aug 1914. According to family stories, Will was having a difficult time taking care of a 4-year-old and members of the Williamson family threatened to take him away if the situation didn't improve. That threat possibly came from the two surviving sisters, Jo and Mai. Will did eventually get it together. He remarried and many other children with his new wife.

Mai and Arthur Shelton had five children and she died 21 Dec 1944 at the age of 54 leaving Jo as the only surviving member of the Joe Williamson family.

Eventually, Aunt Jo, as we called her, and her husband moved across the street from my grandfather, Bo, who was her nephew. When I was a boy, she and my grandmother would take me fishing in ponds around the area. At the time, she looked very much like the photo below. In this picture she is sitting on the left on the front porch with her niece. This is a great photo because of all the elements of rural southern architecture it contains. You can almost smell the magnolia trees.

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Photo Credit: Joe Reid

Jo Stella Williamson Reid (left) and Viola Iris Shelton (right)
who was a daughter of Jo's sister, Mai
The great photo below was taken about a year before Aunt Jo's death at age 95 in 1992. She is seated on the steps of The Providence United Methodist Church for which her father and grandfather were instrumental in building.

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Photo Credit: Joe Reid

Jo Stella Williamson Reid on the steps of Providence
United Methodist Church in 1991

I am really grateful to Joe Reid for sharing these photos. If you have any photos of any of my Haywood County ancestors, please send them and I'll be happy to post them.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

They Ain't Heavy, They're Castellaws

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l to r: Robert Edward "Bob" Castellaw, Zula Zera Watridge Castellaw,
John Hilburn, Nora Castellaw Hilburn, Zach Fletcher Castellaw

"He ain't heavy... he's my brother" as the old Hollies song goes.
You assume the families of your siblings will stay connected for at least a few generations but that is not usually the case. Thanks to social networks like Facebook and Twitter and the genealogy site, we can connect with those who are more distantly related and, in the future, perhaps families will be able to maintain a connection longer.

In this photo, the couple on the left are my great grandparents, Bob and Zula Castellaw, the parents of my grandmother, Elizabeth Castellaw Williams. My cousin Sandra Presley Smith connected me with another cousin, Martha Mann who was able to provide identification for the others.
The two people on the right are my great grandfather, Bob Castellaw's sister and brother and the man in the middle is his sister's husband.

His sister, Nora Castellaw Hilburn, was the baby of the Thomas and Nancy Johnson Castlellaw family and had a twin, Dora, who died either at birth on 12 Dec 1878 or as an infant.

Their father, T. J. Castellaw died just a few months later, on 5 Mar 1879. Nancy Johnson Castellaw was left with a newborn, Nora, and; Mary Jennie, age 16; Bob (my great grandfather), age 11; John Frank, age seven; Zach, age three; and John, age two.

She later married T. J.'s half brother, John Edward Castellaw. John was no stranger to grief. His wife and three of his four children died within a few months of each other.

This photo was likely taken in the mid to late '30s because John Hilburn, who was Nora's husband and is in the middle, died 23 Sept 1939. I checked his death certificate and discovered his address was 1089 Vollentine which is just minutes from my house. He died of a stroke at 3 am at home.

John was born in Atlanta and his job, when he passed away, was listed as Section Foreman.

Nora Castellaw Hilburn died just a few years after her husband on 29 Nov 1941 at age 63 after an accident at her home in Memphis. According to information posted online by pegjanderson:
"Mama as she was known to both her children and grandchildren decided on a (late November) day to burn the garbage. She did so wearing the typical attire for a woman her age......long skirted dress with petticoats......during the course of burning the garbage her dress caught fire and burned her badly. Her daughter Edith and granddaugher, Nora Joy arrived on the scene from a Christmas shopping trip in time to see her walk into the ambulance (she would not allow them to carry her into the ambulance). She died from her burns as she had swallowed some of the flames."
I also found a photo of John, as a young man, posted by the same person on

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John Hilburn

Photo credit: pegjanderson from
Nora and John had eight children, six who lived to adulthood:
Benjamin Franklin Hilburn Davis: 1900 - 1900
Mable Lorine Hilburn: 1901 - 1988
Dora Belle Hilburn: 1902 - 1987
Herman Lawrence Hilburn: 1904 - 1985
Carrie Louise Hilburn: 1911 - 1992
Edith Kathryn Hilburn Beloate: 1911 - 1992
James A. Hilburn: 1913 - 1914
Thomas Jefferson Hilburn: 1914 - 1994
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Zach Fletcher Castellaw

Zach Fletcher Castellaw
, the sibling on the far right, was born 28 Feb 1876. At age 19, he married Ida Bell Simpson. Ida's mother was Mary Ann Bell Watridge, a daughter of Daniel Washington Watridge and Mourning Adeline Cobb and a sister of my great grandmother in the photo, Zula.

So, simply put, Zach married the niece of his brother's wife. OK, not so simple.

According to Tennessee Century Farms, the farm Zach and Ida built is still in operation today.
"Castellaw Corner Farm, located 5 miles north of Brownsville, was founded in 1903 by Zack Fletcher Castellaw and his wife Ida Simpson. The 1,000 acres yielded corn and cotton and also supported cows. The couple had six children. Their son Zack Thomas Castellaw was the next owner of the land, along with his wife Frances Bryant and their two children. The farm produced corn, cotton and cows.
The current owners of the farm are Thomas Edward Castellaw and Betty Castellaw Sims. Mr. Castellaw, grandson of the founders, reports that a cotton gin and a commissary once operated on the farm and, before electricity came to the area, the house used carbide lighting. Describing his ancestors, one of whom was a member of the Haywood County Court, Castellaw notes the family was “known as hardworking, patriotic folks.” Castellaw and his wife Carolyn live on the farm today where cotton is the primary crop."
Ida died 21 Jan 1919, at age 39, of influenza and small pox following childbirth. It appears the baby died as well.

Zach and Ida had six children:
William Benjamin "Be" Castellaw: b. 13 Feb 1897 - d. 4 Jan 1953
Ida Pearl Castellaw Covington: b. 1899 - d. 4 Oct 1932 (33 yo widow of Louis Covington at time of her death)
Mary Bertha Castellaw English: b. 21 Dec 1900 - d. 16 May 1988
Emma Castellaw: 1903 -
Vera Castellaw Dixon: b. 10 Jan 1907 - d. 7 Dec 1984
Zach Thomas Castellaw, 1910 - 1956
In the census of 1920, Zach is listed as a widow but living in the household with the family is a 5-year-old daughter named Flora. 10 years later, in the census of 1930, the only two living at home with Zach are Zach Jr., who was then 19 and Flora who was 15.

Zach died at age 75 on 22 August 1951 in Haywood County. His death certificate lists his marital status as divorced so I assume he married for a short time after Ida's death and had the daughter, Flora, who appears to have stayed with her father after the divorce. But that is all unconfirmed yet.

Everyone in the photo above is buried in the Holly Grove Baptist Church Cemetery in Haywood County.

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James Alonzo Jacocks, Jr., Mary Jennie Castellaw Jacocks
and an unidentified grandson

Photo credit: Jean Mann

The oldest sister of Bob, Nora and Zach was Mary Jennie Castellaw. The way they are posing, the background and the ages would suggest that the photos were taken on the same day as the photo at the top of this blog.

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Source: Peggy Anderson

top row, l to r: Nora Castellaw Hilburn,
Jim and Jennie Jacocks
bottom row: Nora's daughter,
Edith Hilburn Beloate, and her children
Nora and James Howard Beloate
Jennie was born 19 August 1866. When her mother donated the land for and helped build the first schoolhouse in the Holly Grove area, Jennie was the school's first teacher. She married James Alonzo Jacocks in Haywood County. James was the son of John Hill Jacocks, one of the earliest settlers in Haywood County.

By 1920, Jennie and James Jacocks were living in East Baton Rouge, LA.

James died 11 Aug 1941 and Jennie died 23 Jan 1946. Both are buried in the Redwood Cemetery in East Feliciana Parish, LA, behind the Redwood Baptist Church.

Their children were:
Ella Mae Jacocks Brantley: b. 6 Jan 1890 - d. 26 Feb 1977 (married Wayland Brantley, a son of my third great grandparents, Henry Day Brantley and Margaret Rebecca Steele)
Sarah C. Jacocks:
Thomas Hill Jacocks: b. 22 Oct 1894 - (married Hattie Mann)
James Alonzo Jacocks: b. 25 Nov 1895 - d. 4 Mar 1965 (LA, Private USMC, WWI)
William Johnson Jacocks: b. 2 Feb 1898 - d. 20 Apr 1933 (married Carrie Lovelace, a daughter of Charles B. Lovelace and Nancy Jane Yelverton. She was one of my grandfather, Guy Lovelace's aunts and my mother remembers going to Louisianna to visit "Aunt Carrie").
Zachery T. Jacocks: b. 9 Aug 1900 - d. 29 Jan 1972
Clara C. Jacocks:
Myra (or Marie) M. Jacocks: b. 1 Nov 1906 - d.11 Mar 1994

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Two Mules, One Horse, Eight Farmers, a Big House and a Dog

(Note: Information on this blog entry was updated in a new blog entry on Nov. 25, 2013.)

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The Tate Gunter Family

A while back, I saved this photo on my computer because I liked it so much I planned to try and figure out who these people were. I forgot all about it until I ran across it recently and once again, it captured my imagination. Why did the one lady stay on the porch? Everyone is dressed up but the boy has no shoes. The husband and wife look like they stepped out of a Hollywood casting office. Is that Robert Downey Jr. and Alicia Silverstone?

I originally got the photo from my cousin, Janet Marbury who helped me with some key information about the Marbury line of my ancestry. She wasn't certain who all the people in the photo were but written on the back was "MS Tate Gunter's."

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Clayborn and Martha Gunter

Written on the back of this photo above, also in Janet's collection of photos, is "Great Grandpa (Claiborne Gunter) Great Grandma (Martha Gunter - Reared Papa (Andrew Francis Marbury) until he was 4 years old." The common denominator between the two photos is, the guy in the center of the top photo is on the back row, second from the right on the bottom photo. Is his name Tate Gunter?

Janet remembers her Aunt Allie (Alice Cobb), who was very much into genealogy, stating that the mother of Janet's grandfather died when he was very young. Her grandfather, Andrew Frances Marbury, went to live with his mother's family in Arkansas until his father remarried.

I already knew Andrew Francis Marbury was born 5 May 1883 to Rush Marbury who was the son of my fourth great grandfather, Robert Green Marbury and a brother of my third great grandfather, Ben Franklin Marbury. I guess this would make Rush my third great uncle.

From the records I have, it appears Rush married Delilah J. Mann 17 Oct 1888 in Haywood County and Emma L. Smith in 1900. So the only way any of this makes sense is if there was a first wife who is currently unaccounted for.

Checking the census of 1880, three years before Andrew was born, Rush is single, 26 and living in district five of Haywood County, TN with his parents, Robert Green and Harriet D. Marbury. He is still three years away from Andrew's birth and has not yet married.

In 1883, Andrew was born to Rush and a girl whose last name was obviously Gunter and she was from Arkansas. I wonder where Rush from Haywood County, met a girl from Arkansas?

In 1889, Robert Green Marbury's brother, W. C. Marbury, wrote in a letter, "I see Rush is married again. Well I hope he and his dear companion will live a long and peaceful and happy life and be prosperous and kind to each other."

Of course the fact that he included "again" meant that his 1888 marriage to Delilah was a second one and, when the marriage occurred, Andrew would have been around five so that jives with what Aunt Allie remembered.

The 1890 census records were destroyed in a fire so no help there.

In 1900, Rush is once again living with his parents in a household that now also includes his 17-year-old son, Andrew Francis Marbury. He lists both his and the birthplace of his mother as Arkansas.

Using the names from the back of the photos, I searched the Arkansas census and found, in the 1900 census, a "Clayborn" and Martha Gunter living in Cypress, Arkansas in Faulkner County. She was born in Jan 1836 while he was born in Jan 1827. They were married in 1850 so in the census of 1900, they had been married for 50 years. Both were born in Tennessee.

Another search further back found a "Chris" and Martha Gunter living in the same county in Arkansas in 1880. All the dates and locations matched so this had to be the same couple. Living with them were the following sons and daughters: Lafayette (age 21), Oliver (age 19), Alice (age 16), Ellen (age 14), John Wesley (age 12), Robert Joshua (age 10), Birt (age 8) and Jeannetta (age 1).

Since Rush had not married yet in 1880, I believe his future wife was Alice Gunter, the daughter who was 16 in 1880.

With this much info, I was able to use and really track down a great deal of information about the family.  Martha was originally Martha G. Dallas. She and Claiborne were married on 23 Aug 1850. Ten years later, in 1860, they were living in Conway, Arkansas and by 1880 had moved to Cypress, AR. Claiborne died in Vilonia, a town also in Faulkner Co., AR, on 23 Aug 1903 and Martha died 15 May 1913. Both are buried in the Cypress Valley Cemetery which is filled with Gunters. (While searching, I found this story about the cemetery being vandalized by a couple of boys).

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Photo Credit: MarthaLaurie,

Headstones of Claiborne and Martha G. Dallas Gunter

A reference on one of the files has "Tate" as the nickname for Lafayette so I can confirm the guy in the photo I was curious about is indeed Tate Gunter and from the records and, I know he was born 26 Feb 1858.

The grandson who lived with the Gunters for the first few years of his life returned to Haywood County and eventually became a mail carrier and a "substantial citizen." He died 5 July 1955 and was buried in the Zion Baptist Church Cemetery.  I don't know if he stayed in touch with the Gunters or even ever visited again.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Quick Visit to Louisiana's Civil War Museum

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Louisiana's Civil War Museum and Confederate Memorial Hall

We were just in New Orleans and had a few hours before our train left for Memphis so my wife and I checked out Louisiana's Civil War Museum and The Robert E. Lee Memorial.

Having just been in Shiloh a week ago, we're just one step away from throwing on period clothes and reenacting.

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Me, the Letter E and Robert E. Lee

Our first stop was the Robert E. Lee Monument which is located next to the museum in the center of what is called Lee Circle near the Pontchartrain Expressway at the end of St. Charles Avenue. It was dedicated on February 22, 1884 (Washington's birthday), only 20 years after the end of the Civil War. The column was designed by architect John Roy using marble from Tennessee and the actual sculpture was done by Alexander Doyle.

According to Wikipedia, the monument itself is 60 feet tall and Lee is sixteen and half feet tall.

Four staircases lead up to the monument and at the base of each staircase is a bolder sitting on an old warehouse skid, each with a different capital letter. Looking somewhat like modern art, those elements are certainly out of place. We puzzled over the E and then moved immediately north to the next staircase and found the same thing only the letter was an N. Had we moved around, I am pretty certain now that the other letters were N and S representing north, south, east and west.

I am still not certain what the deal is with that but it's doubtful Roy and Doyle incorporated wooden warehouse skids into the design of their memorial.

All day long, thousands of people ride past the monument in street cars and, during Mardi Gras, bleachers are set up and it's supposedly a great spot for watching the parades. I guess an accidental benefit of having the monument so high is we are spared the image of Mardi Gras beads hanging off Lee's sword.

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Louisiana's Civil War Museum and Confederate Memorial Hall

Next up was a visit to Louisiana's Civil War Museum. Just nine blocks from the French Quarter, the building looks a little old and churchy, especially considering it sits across the street from the very modern and sexy National WWII Museum and next to the hipster Ogden Museum of Southern Art, both of which have now been added to my bucket list since we were too pressed for time to include more than one stop.

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Confederate Memorial Hall, between 1900 and 1906

We picked up an info sheet at the front desk of the Civil War Museum that explains the attraction is the oldest operating museum in Louisiana and the building was donated on January 8, 1891 by Frank Howard in memory of his father Charles T. Howard.

My wife struck up a conversation with the gentlemen behind the counter and when he heard we were from Tennessee he told us he had just come from Shiloh the weekend before. Of course, we had to share that we were there too. We are such Civil War insiders.

Most of the collection in the museum was donated by residents of Louisiana. A large collection of Jefferson Davis artifacts were donated by his widow, Varina Banks Howell Davis and May 27 - 28, 1893 over 60,000 visited the museum to pay their last respects to Davis who had died in New Orleans.

Since we were in a hurry, I didn't stop and read about all the items in each one of the exhibit cases but there was enough in the exhibit you could honestly spend two or more hours if you were into it.

Among the items on display are uniforms, guns, bullets, shells, swords, paintings, letters, photos and many personal items from those who fought in the war.

A couple of things of note that jumped out at me during my very hurried visit are below.

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William Crumm Darrah "Billy" Vaught of Tennessee

Always looking for fellow Tennesseeans, I was happy to see Billy Vaught looking down at me from a hallway in the museum. He was born in Tennessee but moved to New Orleans at some point and became a clerk for the Washington Artillery. He was a Second Lieutenant in battles at Shiloh, Corinth and Farmington and was in command at many other battles. He was injured when a shell exploded near him and his hearing was impaired for the rest of his life. He surrendered with the rest of his company at Meridian, MS on May 10, 1865. He didn't live very long after the war, drowning on August 21, 1870 in Natchez, LA. His sabre and spurs were on display in the museum.

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Items belonging to P. G. T. Beauregard

Having just blogged about P. G. T. Beauregard and his surprise attack on Grant at Shiloh, it was interesting to see some personal items belonging to that Louisiana-born military officer in the collection.

According to Wikipedia, "after the war, Beauregard was reluctant to seek amnesty as a former Confederate officer by publicly swearing an oath of loyalty, but both Lee and Johnston counseled him to do so, which he did before the mayor of New Orleans on September 16, 1865. He was one of many Confederate officers issued a mass pardon by Pres. Andrew Johnson on July 4, 1868. His final privilege as an American citizen, the right to run for public office, was restored when he petitioned the Congress for relief and the bill on his behalf was signed by Pres. Grant on July 24, 1876."

He was very involved in public service until his death in and was interred in the vault of the Army of Tennessee in historic Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans.

These are just a couple examples of the hundreds of stories and individuals represented in the artifacts on display in the museum. I highly recommend anyone interested in southern history include a visit to this interesting museum.
For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Late to the Battle of Shiloh

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Last Sunday, my family and I were traveling back home to Memphis from Middle Tennessee and decided to take a slight detour and visit Shiloh National Military Park. I knew there were some interesting things taking place there because this coming Friday is the 150th anniversary of the battle. 

Fought on April 6 and 7, 1862, the Battle of Shiloh was a major part of the Civil War and was named because of a church that was located near where the fighting took place (that will be on the test).

A Union army led by Ulysses S. Grant had moved deep into Tennessee and was encamped at Pittsburg Landing on the west bank of the river. Confederate forces under Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard then launched a surprise attack on Grant. The Confederates achieved success on the first day, but were ultimately defeated on the second day of fighting.

It's known as the bloodiest battle for both the Union and Confederate soldiers with around 23,750 dead or missing. That's more than the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Mexican American War combined.

I was curious for more information about the battle and found an article on Tennessee History for Kids to be really helpful at providing a good overview.

This "trailer" for the 150th event is also helpful at showing the significance of Shiloh.

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The Battle is Over

Because we were making a last minute stop, we were late for the actual reenactment so I still can't cross that one off my list. I was pretty bummed however, I did get to see a few of the soldiers dusting off and loading up and was able to check out a few of the monuments and the cemetery.

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Grant's Headquarters

One particularly interesting spot to me was inside what is now a national cemetery for those who died at Shiloh. On the sight of this monument once stood an oak tree. Grant wrote in his memoirs:

"During the night, rain fell in torrents and our troops were exposed without shelter. I made my headquarters under a tree a few hundred yards back from the river bank."

As noted on the plaque, that oak tree was destroyed by a cyclone in 1909. Something about standing in the very spot Grant used as his headquarters really makes history "come alive" as they say.

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Confederate Memorial

There are some amazing memorials to all the soldiers throughout the national park. One of the first we came across turned out to be the largest. Over 18 feet high, the Confederate Memorial, depicts "defeated victory." The Historical Marker Database includes a description of the meaning behind much of the symbolism in the memorial.

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Confederate Memorial

While driving around the battlefields, you can't help but be struck by the vastness of the place and at 491 acres, there is a lot of vastness to experience. I knew very little about what actually took place there and, if time had permitted, I would like to have read more of the plaques on the monuments that sat literally in the middle of wide open fields. The man-made monuments projecting out of what was otherwise a beautiful landscape felt very fitting for the great loss of life that took place there.

I'm a sucker for a pretty monument and we ran out of time before we could even explore a small part of the park so we'll have to return, hopefully before the 200th anniversary.

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Already think you know a lot about Shiloh? Take the quiz and see how you do. I answered eight out of ten correctly which qualifies me as "a Captain of the Battle of Shiloh."

One other site that is worth a quick look is, the Web site of The Civil War Trust which is America's largest non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of endangered Civil War battlefields. According to the Web site, "The Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the war's history and the fundamental conflicts that sparked it."

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.