The Siege of Derry

A pencil sketch Jan 2022 by Wendy Harty of The Bishop’s Gate, originally built 1613-1619 and the walls of Derry were built to protect the Scottish planters that had moved to Ulster. The livery guild of London helped finance the wall and so the name of the town was changed to Londonderry. The walls, over 1 mile in circumference, forms a walkway around the city. 24 cannons thundered from its walls and my Irish-Scots relatives survived the siege.

105 days of Siege! Oh those brave inhabitants with the garrison who gallantly defended the walled town of Derry, Ireland, through these protracted days; Dec 7, 1698 when the gates were closed and the siege April 18-Aug 12, 1699.

This was the last successful invasion of English lands and an internal coup. King James II was ruling by personal decrees and was listening to William Penn and asking for freedom for religion. He was Catholic and deposed by his daughter, Queen Mary, a Protestant. King James wanted the lands of his Catholic subjects that had been confiscated returned to them.

Twenty thousand men, many of them foreign mercenaries, came with King James II, up to the gates the thirteen apprenticeship boys had pulled closed, at Derry, Ireland. The Protestants saw the army coming and fled to the town, swelling its population. The town was asked to surrender but refused. The siege began when storming the walls failed and they resorted to starving Derry out.

Can you imagine the extreme privations that they successfully suffered through for our posterity? From the stone ramparts of the city they shouted “No surrender, no surrender!” Our Barnett ancestors were on the side of William, Prince of Orange, Mary’s husband, for the English throne. Imagine the suffering, long endurance amid famine, pestilence and death, until in June three British Navy ships came up the River Foyle. The King’s men had erected a boom across the river which they could not break through. Eventually, the “Mountjoy” broke through and the city was relieved.

The Protestant William of Orange, who as King William II of Great Britain had defeated the Roman Catholic King James II.

One of the survivors grandchildren, Miss Lucinda James Gregg, would pen the words to the poem The Closing of the Gates. It’s 2 pages long but tells the tale very well Here’s a couple of her verses:

The haughty foe came boldly up with weapons keen and bright, Within those narrow walls, each face paled quickly at the sight; One startling cry rang wildly up from street to palace dome, – “The gates, the gates!” close fast the gates! For freedom and our home. They heard the dreadful shot and shell, and fast the fire came down, The roaring of the culverin resounded through the town, The river blazed with lightning, and the red-hot cannon balls, Thundered against the trembling gates and shook the dark old walls. Ah!, hushed was every hillside home, and stilled was every song, As paled the famished faces of that starving, suffering throng, Wan skeletons with trembling steps the battered bulwarks trod, And thousands , ere the summer waned, lay dead beneath the sod.

Janet Seaforth Kean climbed the steps of the old cathedral. She dropped upon her knees, too weak, too faint but her pleading prayers were answered when she heard, “the ships, the ships are coming.” Oh what a happy sight upon the tide, but from the shore King James opened batteries and blazing balls came thundering. One vessel ran aground. She watched the struggle of the ships. They broke the boom and victory was had at last.

Janet’s father-in-law was William McKean born about 1615 in Argyleshire, Scotland, a farmer and covenanter, a follower of the teachings of John Knox. Knox helped write the new confession of faith for the newly created reformed church. William McKean served as the religious leader of the Protestants throughout Mary, Queen of Scots reign. William McKean was very canny and wasn’t convicted, during a military Tribunal Inquest into the 1679 murder of Archbishop Sharp in Scotland. When King Charles I insisted all his subjects join the Church of England and sent troops to annihilate the Covenanters, William and his family escaped to the glens of Antrim in North Ireland, where the Scottish Presbyterians were given land confiscated from the Catholic Irish. There had been a rebellion in 1641 and many were killed. The defenders of 1689 feared that if they surrendered that massacre would ensue as in the previous generation.

The McKeen’s’, William and his two sons John and wife Janet Seaforth and James survived the Siege of Derry, with the Barnett’s. But life didn’t get any better. In 1704 an Act of Parliament stated that only Anglicans could hold office in Ireland. Presbyterians were excluded and that meant no vote either. Political, religious and economic hardships were the lot of the Scots-Irish. James Keen resolved to immigrate to America, where he could peacefully enjoy the religion of his choice. Having disposed of his property, he embarked with 16 families including his preacher, Reverend James McGregor and my 6th great grandfather John Barnett Sr. family, all from the parish of Aghadowey, County of Londonderry, Ireland. Janet’s husband, John McKeen, died just before setting sail. She and the 4 children, John Jr., Robert, Samuel and Mary aged 18, 13, 8 and 4 made the trip under the sponsorship of her brother-in-law, Justice James McKean. Five shiploads headed for Massachusetts in 1718.

And I told you all this story because Janet became the wife of Captain John Barnett Sr., married by James McGregor on November 29, 1721 who made the same trip. John’s first wife died on the voyage over (name unknown). John Barnett’s children were: John Barnett Jr., Margaret, Annis, William and Moses. John Barnett Sr. was born 1654 in Derry, Londonderry, Ireland and died at East Derry, Rockingham County, New Hampshire at the age of 86. (Many have found this marriage record and recorded Janet Seaford or Seaforth as the mother of his children but I believe this incorrect.)

the cemetery where John Barnett Sr and Janet Seaforth Barnett are buried
John Moses Barnett Sr. born 1654, County Antrim, Northern Ireland died Oct 8, 1740 (aged 85) East Derry, Rockingham Co. New Hampshire. A group of Scot-Irish settlers were the first to arrive in the area now knows as Manchester, New Hampshire. John had two wives: first wife died on the voyage over. She was the mother of John Jr 1695 married Jean, Margaret 1696, Annis 1698 married John Wallace, William 1700 married Elizabeth, Moses 1708 married Jean Clark, all born in Ballymoney, Antrim, Northern Ireland.
2nd wife of John Barnett married on November 29, 1721 in Nutfield, New Hampshire

Barnett’s in Ireland

The cannons on the walls of Londonderry, Ireland

“Scoundrels!” he said. “Scoundrels every one of ye!” and with that he marched up the hill with his fellow Catholic Irish and commenced to shoot. From the walls of Derry, the people shouted back, “No surrender, no surrender!” April 20, 1689, a bombardment of the fortified city of Derry, Ireland, caused devastating fires and significant loss of life. This was the first major event in the Williamite War in Ireland. The shutting of the gates of the walled city was an act of rebellion against the deposed Catholic King who wanted his land back. The city refused to surrender even with poor supplies. With famine conditions, the governor of the town gave inspired public sermons that roused the people to a fierce resistance. Finally, after 105 days of siege, British forces arrived to relieve the defiant Protestant city, and King James II retreated. Whether John Sr. Barnett, my 6th great grandfather, born 1656 at Derry, Ulster, Ireland, was inside the walls or out I do not know but many he would be associated with were at the Siege of Londonderry: his brother William, his future wife Joan Seaforth currently the wife of William McKean, and Williams’s brother James McKean, and the thirteen year old James McGregor, who was one of the apprenticeship boys who helped shut the gates. (These people will form the basis for the next journey of the Barnett’s).

(possibly the brother of my John Barnett Sr.)

Historically, emigration from Ireland has been the result of conflict, famine and economic issues. Fraught with political intrigue and invasions, famine and flight, the names of the ancestors are found in Ireland: Blair, Barnett, Rogers. Ours were the Ulster Protestants as opposed to the Gaelic Irish Catholic population. The Plantation of Ulster began around 1597. Before that Christianity and Irish secular laws ruled the land. These Irish were saints and scholars, with Irish chieftains. King Henry VIII was declared King of Ireland in 1542, with the aim of restoring authority to England. The Tudor dynasty held the Kingdom of England 1529-1603. With the aid of Thomas Cromwell, the king asked for surrender and regrant, the purpose to develop a loyalty to the crown. Rebellions broke out. The Irish elected their clan chiefs; the English wanted succession by inheritance of the first-born son. Then James I became King. English law, language and culture, the confiscation and redistribution of monastic lands, and Anglicanism as the state religion came about. Crisis came when authorities under Queen Elizabeth tried to extend their authority over Ulster and the O’Neill clan, the most powerful Irish lord in Ireland. A Nine Years War ensued. Unable to live with more restrictive conditions, the Earls took flight. The Irish were caught between Papal authority and allegiance demanded of them by the English monarchy. The English solution was Plantation, bringing in settlers, who would be loyal to the King, and the Barnett’s from Scotland came.

So the way was clear for extensive confiscation of land by the English, Scottish and Welsh colonists, culminating in the Plantation of Ulster. Amongst the placid lakes and peaceful, green valleys came four spies from England. They were from the London guilds, making a report of whether to proceed. Yes was their report and the town of Derry was renamed Londonderry as a result. With the Flight of the Earls, the Irish lands were confiscated and tens of thousands of Protestants, mainly Presbyterian Scots, emigrated to Antrim and Ulster, supplanting the Irish residents. I can only imagine the Irish Catholics weren’t happy!

The Ulster Plantation led to the 1641 Irish Rebellion during which thousands of settlers were killed, expelled or fled. After the Irish Catholics were defeated in the Cromwellian conquest of 1652, most remaining Irish Catholic-owned land was confiscated and thousands of English soldiers settled in Ireland. Scottish settlement in Ulster resumed and intensified during the Scottish famine of the 1690s. By the 1720s Protestants were the majority in Ulster. Ulster was the worst hit by the wars, with massive loss of civilian life and mass displacement of people. The atrocities committed by both sides further poisoned the relationships between the settler and native communities. The wounds would slowly heal but still festered in Northern Ireland in the 21st century; The Ulster Protestants wanted N Ireland to remain within the UK; while Irish nationalists wanted a United Ireland (mostly Irish Catholics). “The Troubles” and IRA bombings lasted 30 years, 1960-1998.

The Protestants built the walls of Londonderry and made it their stronghold in Northern Ireland. James II, the former British king, began a siege of Derry, on April 18, 1689, appearing before the walls with an Irish army led by Jacobite and French officers. James a Catholic had been deposed by his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband, William of Orange. James fled to France, hoping for Catholic supporters to help regain his throne. The French forces helped him and he captured Dublin in late March and in April marched to Derry, where the Irish supporters of Britain had fled, and my Scots Presbyterians were living. The town was summoned to surrender but refused. The siege began. They tried to storm the walls, but all attacks failed. Then they resorted to starving Derry out. 4000-8000 were killed mostly by disease and starvation.

Our Barnett’s survived the Siege of Derry, and John Barnett Sr. married ? and had three children: John Barnett Jr. Jan 7, 1695, Margaret 1696 and Annas 1698 born at Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

The Blairs and Barnetts in Scotland

James Blair and Molly Barnett are my third great grandparents, united in marriage in the New World, at Newbury, Vermont, October 4, 1787. I can trace their origins to Scotland. The surname of Barnett appears to be one of the earliest found in Scotland annals. The first possessions of the family were situated in Fifeshire. George Barnett, in the County of Fife, chief of all the Barnett in Scotland, lived in the reigns of James IV and V, died leaving besides other sons, David Barnett, born in 1560, who became eminent as a physician and was a great traveler. Society was structured on the feudal system and flourished economically, militarily and with many cultural customs. The clan chief held the land in exchange for service or labor of the nobility, the clergy and the peasantry.

My branch of the Barnett tree to the best of my knowledge after the family left Scotland is John Barnett my 6th great grandfather born 1654 at Derry, Ulster, Ireland; his son John Barnett Jr born January 7, 1695 Londonderry, Ireland. The Barnett’s and other Presbyterians were removed to Northern Island due to their religious beliefs and remained there until 1718, coming to Londonderry, New Hampshire. Another branch of the family came to Virginia, driven by persecution between 1728-30. Dr. Alexander Barnett is a relative who assisted in establishing American Independence, while acting in the capacity of private in the South Carolina Continentals and Militia. This part of the family founded Barnett’s Station in Ohio County, Kentucky. One stayed in Ireland and became mayor of Dublin. One was at the Siege of Derry. A different John Barnett is described as possessing a strong, vigorous mind, excellent constitution and great determination of character.

During the 17th century, huge numbers of people from Ayrshire, Scotland, moved to Ulster, the northern province of Ulster, Ireland. Ayrshire is where the Blair family came from. The Barnett’s came from Aberdeen, Scotland. They both spoke the Lowland Scots, an Irish dialect. From 1610 to the 1690s during the Plantation of Ulster, some 200,000 Scots speaking Lowlanders settled as colonists in Ulster.

In Scotland, they used the Scottyshe toung. My father’s ancestors came from the Highland clans: Buchanan Clan, the Stewart dynasty (Princess Diana) and the Henry’s (Patrick Henry of “give me liberty or give me death!”) who were Episcopalians. The Blairs and Barnett’s are my mother’s ancestors, living in the Lowlands of Scotland. The clan was the basic unit of society where the chief was the leader but not necessarily related. He had the land ownership and most of his followers were tenants who supplied labor to the clan leaders and took the chief’s surname as their own. The clan’s strength was measured in how many fighting men could be mustered in times of war against the various Kings. The Barnett’s were part of the Burnett Clan, part of a large extended “sept” family, associated with the House of Livingston at Fife.

What was their life like in Scotland? King James VI became James I of England in 1603. He encouraged increasing influence and availability of books, printed in England, and most of Scotland learned English. The King of Scotland moved to London, and the Protestant Church of Scotland started to use the King James Version of the Bible. The Barnett’s were educated as everyone whose father owned more than 60 cattle were sent to school. There were universities and colleges.

The following was published in the Belfast Ireland Times in 1858 by R. M. Sebbets, historian: There was a William Barnett was born in 1609 in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, came to Ireland prior to 1634, who was a weaver, a manufacture of wool and he settled in Londonderry, Ireland, where he died 5 January 1652 and was buried there. His wife Margaret was born ca. 1613 and she died in Londonderry, 19 February 1682. Perhaps his shepherds used the Old Drover’s Road, from Stonehaven to Aberdeen, across the River Dee. Muchall’s Castle was owned there by the Burnett Clan. In 1639, 9000 Coventers marched through during the Civil War of 1639. Dunnotter Castle was an impenetrable Scottish Castle, sitting on top of its own cliff peninsula on the road to Aberdeen.

Dunnottar Castle, In 900 AD the Vikings attacked the castle and killed the first King of Scotland. William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, and King Charles II all made felt their presence here and it was the home of the Earls Marischal, once one of the most powerful families in the world.

Lots of history here with dastardly torching, smuggling and pillaging. The North Sea pounds the cliffs and a cliff pathway leads up a narrow twisting route that ends in a tunnel. During medieval times, the English captured the castle, later besieged by William Wallace and his Scottish troops in 1297. The 4000 English soldiers, loyal to Edward II, found themselves overwhelmed and hid in the church. Wallace and his soldiers then ransacked the site and torched it – one of the bloodiest times. When he was captured near Glasgow, King Edward I of England had him hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason and crimes against English civilians. After this Robert the Bruce was King of Scots, one of the most famous warriors who led the Kingdom of Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence against England.

Dunnottar Castle is where the Scottish crown jewels were hidden: the crown, scepter and sword of Scotland. Those loyal to the Crown held out in siege for 8 months but Cromwell continually bombarded them. When Cromwell stormed the castle, he found no trace of them. Were they smuggled in the skirts of a pregnant woman or lowered down the cliffs to a fisherwoman? In 1685, 167 Covenanters hid for two months in the dingy, cramped Whig’s vault before those who survived were deported to the American colonies as slaves. But by this time our Barnett’s had answered the Kings call and were in Ireland in the Plantation of Ulster.

The Barnett’s were Presbyterians versus the Episcopal. The Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. When King Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church when the Pope wouldn’t grant him a divorce, he started his own church. It was an Episcopal/Anglican Church of “Catholicism without the Pope”, High Church, big cathedrals elaborate ceremony and clerical vestments and rites. They are overseen by appointed Bishops. The Presbyterians were organized with an elected “elder” system. Church dogma is Calvinist, just like the Puritans. The people rejected the Anglican English Church. Based on the teachings of John Calvin, brought by John Knox, it preaches salvation through faith alone, depending directly on a person’s relationship to God and Jesus. The churches purpose was to educate its members in correct interpretation of the Bible and Christian doctrine. The Scottish objected to King Charles of England introducing a Book of Common Prayer, which caused an outbreak of rioting when he insisted they have Bishops. This led to growing tensions with the Monarchy. The Bishop’s Wars ensued in civil war, the Scots Covenanters disputed James VI and I and his son Charles I over church structure and doctrine. In 1638, thousands of Scots signed a covenant, pledging to resist changes imposed by Charles on the Kirk, (Church). Following the victory in the 1639-40 Bishops’ Wars, the Covenanters took control of Scotland. Finally after more war, The Restoration was the return of the monarchy to Scotland and incorporation into the Commonwealth of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. This restored the Scottish Episcopacy which led to conflicts with the Presbyterians and the Bishops, culminating in the persecution of the Killing Time. In 1649, English Parliament executed the King, the Covenanter Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II King of Great Britain, France and Ireland and they signed a treaty. Charles broke the treaty which the Covenanters saw as betrayal as the King proclaimed the restoration of Bishops to the Church of Scotland. He passed laws rejecting the Covenants which excluded most Presbyterians from holding official positions of trust.

The Barnett’s and Blairs that remained in Scotland would not pray for the King, or swear to him, because he was persecutor of his Church who had renounced the oath of God in the Covenant. They were barred from worship God in public and on severe penalty forbidden to assemble together.

In 1603, James I became King of England, Scotland and Ireland. He encouraged people from England and Scotland to move to the northern part of Ireland to make it friendlier towards James. In 1609, this was known as the plantation of Ulster and the English speaking Protestants who took part were called planters. There was one problem. To get the merchant companies to come, he confiscated the Irish Catholic land and gave huge land grants (4,000,000 acres) to Ulster where the walled town of Londonderry, Ireland was built up.

The vast majority of the settlers were Scottish, and they had a new form of Christianity. My relatives were Presbyterians which was different from Catholicism and the church of England. They were transported from Scotland to county Derry, Ireland. This family were the founders of the Presbyterian church in Ireland, before 1634. (info from Jordan, John W. Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography. New York. Lewis Historical Publishing Co. 1914).

The lessons of previous attempts at plantations had been learned and they lived within walled planter towns. They brought new farming methods and a Puritan lifestyle. Many Irish native Ulstermen attacked the settlers and burned crops. However, some stayed and became employees of the settlers, and the Ulster Plantations became very successful.

The second major influence on the Plantation was negotiated by English landowners who were to be the Undertakers, wealthy men from England and Scotland who undertook to import tenants from their own estates. They were granted about 300 acres each on condition that they settle a minimum of 48 adult males including at least 20 families, who had to be English speaking and Protestant. These men didn’t have enough capital so involved the twelve great guilds from the City of London who also invested in the project.

A search of the muster rolls of 1630 lists these Barnett Names, their Land Lord and the County: Richard Barnet (Lord Grandison) Armagh, William Barnet (Sir J. Erskin) Tyrone, Zachary Barnet ( Sir J. Erskin) Tyrone,Adam Barnet (Town and Liberties), at Coleraine Londonderry, Robert Barnet ( (Sir J. Clatwoorthy) Antrim, Arechibal Barnet ( Lord Chichester) donegal, Mungo Barnet (Lord Chichester) Donegal, John Barnet ( Lord Viscount Ards) Down, Archibald Barnet (Lord Viscount Ards) Down, Archbald Barnet ( Lord Viscount Clannaboyes) Down and Archbald Barnet (Towne and Lands of Holliwood Lord Viscount Clannaboyes) Down,

My 6th great grandfather was John Barnett, born in 1656 in Derry, Ulster, Ireland. He had three children: John Jr. born Jan 7, 1695, Margaret 1696 and Annas 1698 at Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

The Civil War Ended and the Miller’s Live in Texas – the Years 1868-1906

My mother, Verna Jeane Miller Waddell, died on January 2nd, 2008. Mom is happy we are “connecting”! This is also her parents wedding day back in 1912. This was 110 years today as I write this in 2022. I think they are the most beautiful couple captured in their wedding finery.

Willaim Miller and Josephine Elizabeth Reinhardt Erratt were married Jan 2, 1912 at Sand Point, bonner County, Idaho.

But what of William’s life (which intersects with his brother Ira Lee)? I am going to follow the Miller family while they lived in Texas. At the end of the Civil War, Josiah Miller volunteered to patrol the Rio Grande. Brownsville, Texas, is where he honorably was discharged. Brownsville was named after Major Brown who was killed by cannon fire during the War with Mexico and became a trade center for southern Texas. It is in Cameron County, named for a US soldier killed by a Mexican firing squad during the war. The comfortable year round temperature of 74 degrees F sounds delightful as I sit in the “deepfreeze of Southern Alberta”. At the time of Josiah and Emily Atkinson’s marriage here, Brownsville had out grown its Mexico War military post and was one of the largest cities along the Rio Grande Valley in the State of Texas. The last battle of the Civil War took place east of Brownsville on May 13, 1865. Brownsville is where the Chisolm Trail begins and the big ranches supplied cattle for drives to rail heads in Kansas. Josiah and Emily married on June 17, 1868. I like to call this the North uniting the South. Emily’s 3 brothers, Jeremiah Francis and Edward fought as Confederates for the south.

Josiah and Emily named their first child Joseph Converse Miller, named for Josiah’s deceased twin brother who died during the Civil War. Joseph was born August 21, 1869. And here a small mystery appears. I couldn’t find an 1870 census BUT listed at Cameron County were a family that almost matches the description: Joseph C Miller born in Kentucky aged 29, Emily born in Texas aged 24 and Joseph 11 months. Occupation farmer with a value of land at $500 and personal of $300, about double of the people living close to them. The city of Brownsville is in Cameron County. (All I could think of is Josiah living in the south after the Civil War didn’t want people to know he’d fought for the Union ?) Census said he could read and write but not Emily. Edward was born July 11, 1871 also at Brownsville. Up the Atlantic Coast the family of 4 went, where Hiram was born October 19, 1873 at Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas. (Nueces is where Emily was in the 1860 census with her mother and family). A little over two years later the family were in Lavaca County where Celia C born March 17, 1876. The census taken in June 1880 lists Joseph C Miller as a carpenter, aged 40 with wife Emily 33, Joseph 10, Edward 8, Hiram 6 and Celia C aged 3. William my grandfather was born later that year September 10, 1880 at Hope, Lavaca County, Texas. Ira Lee nicknamed Tot was born Apr 20, 1884 at Lavaca County, Texas. The last child Albert Asa was born January 14, 1887 also at Hope. The history of Hope says it was settled by Germans who fought in the Civil War Confederacy and only seven of the 100 soldiers made it home. What a place for a Union soldier to raise the six boys and one daughter they had in fourteen years! According to Josiah’s Oklahoma Rush letter, he wrote April 29th 1892, “on a whim he’d left with Emily for a ranch far removed from any mail communication and there I lost track of everybody. At that time I had a good start but the Mexicans stole all I had and left me flat broke.” Where were they?

The Mexican and Indian raid of 1878, gives me some clues to what conditions were like. It was Sunday on April 14, 1878, a band of forty Mexicans and Kickapoo, Lipan Apache and Seminole Indians crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico. They killed, stole horses and equipment. Fourteen miles north of Laredo the band turned north of Laredo toward the Nueces River. They broke into smaller groups and began attacks on scattered ranches. They were 30 miles from San Diego which was in Nueces County. Military and law made little attempt to capture the raiders who were in Texas for six days, murdering at least eighteen men, women and children. No wonder they gave up where they were at and moved to Lavaca County, to a place called Hope.

The Miller family was moving north. On May 2, 1888 at Hallsville, Texas, Joseph Converse Miller fell ill with a fever and Emily could not nurse him back to health.

Hallsville had a post office in 1869 and the first business in town was a saloon. The town boasted the terminus of the railroad and soon became a boom town, with 50 businesses which shipped cotton, wool and hides. In 1873 the railroad moved its local headquarters and many people moved away. It is at Hallsville that Josiah and Emily buried their oldest son, only 18 years on that Thursday, where they laid him to rest. Then, Hiram was thrown from a horse and was paralyzed from the waist down. He was about 20 years old and Emily and Josiah faithfully cared for him. By 1893 there were only 300 people in Hallsville and the Miller’s had moved to Rush Creek, Indian Territory and the letter dated April 27, 1892, written to his brothers and sister.

“On my return from the run into the new lands that was opened on the 19th inst. I was surprised and overjoyed to receive a letter from you.”
…. I became desperate and careless of what became of me (after wiped out by the Mexican rustlers) till recalled to my senses by the fact that I had a family to support and I went to work to try to retrieve my losses by hard work again and since that time I have been up and down oftener down but always struggling and at present I see but little in the future to cheer and nothing but regrets behind. I have been in this territory three years farming with poor success and last year the most disastrously of all as I planted cotton heavily and instead of getting ahead I came out $500.00 in debt and unless I can make a heavy crop this year I will be down again. …..

Josiah named his wife, Emily and living children telling of the death of his oldest, named after his twin brother. He cont’d the letter: “Eddie and I made the run into the Cheyenne Country and got us fine claims of 160 acres each. I want to start to the land office tomorrow or day after to file a declaratory and try and hold them. This is fine country here but it belongs to the Indians – all a white man can do is to lease it. I have four hundred acres fenced and two hundred in cultivation. I get the use of it for five years for breaking and fencing rent free.

He ended the letter “wishing he had some good news to write but as I said I see but little to cheer only that I am still held in remembrance although I do not merit it. And signed it affectionately, Sie ”

I think Sie must have been his family nickname short for Josiah!

There is so much history just to unpack here! This letter is 6 small pages long on lined paper. The wording, spelling and sentiments tell of an educated mind. The post office of Beef Creek was on the Chickasaw Nation and the Creek was a tributary to the Washita River. While once open range for the trail drives from Texas, a small community of merchants and tradespeople settled. Many supply wagons and stage lines came through the crossroads of the Washita Valley. There was rank bluestem grass for the cattle to graze on and the Chickasaw Nation and the US Secretary of the Interior began issuing grazing permits and charging fees to trail bosses. With the ending of the open range around 1890, Josiah must have been able to lease the land, fence and break it. I feel very sad for these times while William 18 and Ira Lee 16 were growing up. I can feel the despair of Josiah having lived on a farm most of my life. I also can hear the bark of that gun fired to send them off into the Oklahoma Land Rush and feel his optimism. Maybe this was the break the Miller’s needed. Beef Creek today on the map is called Maysville. From here the family went to Thomas, Oklahoma, another 137 miles away.

Thomas, Oklahoma was part of Oklahoma Territory. It was opened during the Cheyenne-Arapaho opening in 1892. William Thomas opened a general store and was the first postmaster in 1894. Emily once again could not save their son, Albert Asa Miller from the fever. Albert died on July 2, 1894 and was buried in the Mound Olive Cemetery, Thomas, Custer County, Oklahoma, The inscription on his grave reads Son of J.C. and E. 7 years. (years later the family visited his grave and reported the red blowing sand had nearly obliterated the etching on the stone).The railroad came through in 1902. Most of the early settlers of Thomas were the Amish, the Drunkards’, and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ religious groups. Reverend Eisenhower, a brother to the President, established the Jabbok Orphanage of the United Brethren in Christ.

The 1900 census finally lists Josiah C and Emily Miller having been married for 32 years, with 5 living children out of eight. Emily can read and write. Hiram is 26, William 19, Ira Lee 17 and living with them is Cellia Combs. They are at Deer Creek, Custer, Oklahoma. Emily’s birth year is listed as Jun 1849 which differs from other census of 1845-46? Celia is listed as servant and had attended school for 2 years. Is this their daughter Celia? Ira Lee had schooling for 3 years. Living next door were Edward aged 28, his wife Annabel aged 19. They had been married for 2 years with a child, Lawrence R aged 1.

Edward Miller married in Oklahoma. He and Annabelle had two sons: Lawrence and Jesse. When Saskatchewan opened up homesteads he moved to Canada in 1903 according to the 1906 census of Qu’Appelle. His wife Annabelle left him to raise the two boys. I previously wrote the story, “If only Josiah I was closer,” said Emily. It is here on this census that Josiah is listed as the head of the family age 66, Emily 56, Edward 34, Hiram 32, Ira L. 23, grandsons, Lawrence 7 and Jesse Converse 5. Post office listed Osage. Josiah 35-11-13 homestead with 10 horses, 2 milk cows and 2 cows. Edward homestead listed beside at 10-11-13 with 8 horses. A hired man by the name of Clarence Day lived with them. William was his own head of household and on his 1921 census states he came to Canada in 1904.

Osage, Sask. today has a population of 20.

William and Ira Lee have travelled over 2000 miles from Texas to Saskatchewan and I still haven’t gotten to the explanation of why all we Miller cousins have Alberta birth certificates. They are young single men in the year of 1906. To be cont’d.

The Cold Civil War

“Samuel Howard wore the grey uniform of the Confederacy” watercolor by Wendy Harty, Dec. 2021

I heard a statement about what is happening in the USA today in 2022 and it was referred to as the Cold Civil War! As I am researching the men who are related to me through my Sidbury, Atkinson, Costin relatives that lived in North Carolina during the Civil War 1861-1865 I keep asking myself questions of – “If I were in their shoes?” and why would they fight to keep slavery. I maybe found an answer in a newspaper. It was very descriptive of them shooting deserters! While many of North Carolina’s Confederate soldiers volunteered, others joined the army under threat of imprisonment or death if they refused. The North Carolina’s suffered heavy losses during the Civil War; over 30,000 died in battle, of wounds, or disease.

From the start of the war, North Carolina didn’t secede. Those living in the coastal regions remained loyal to the United States. Some joined the Union and fought against the Confederacy. Thousands more refused to be conscripted. North Carolina joined the Confederacy on May 20, 1861 the second last state to leave. When Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to crush the rebellion of the south, North Carolina opted to become one of eleven states to cede rather than fight against its neighboring states. The wartime governors fought to suppress political dissent and pockets of resistance. Tensions between the two sides ended in two mass killings. February 1863 the 64th North Carolina infantry killed 13 citizens, suspected of being Unionists and deserters from the Confederate Army. A year later, 22 North Carolinians captured fighting for the Union after they had deserted the Confederacy, were hung.

150000 men at the start of the war supported the Confederates, joined by another 125,000 conscripted. 24,000 deserted. So whether this family’s story is one of support and personal commitment to the Confederate cause, or whether they joined under threat of imprisonment if they refused, is unknown to this author. However both sides of the Sidbury and Howard/King families are found in the 1850 Census of Slave Schedules.

As Union forces succeeded in capturing Confederate ports, Wilmington, only 30 miles away from Sloop Point and Stump Sound, where the families lived, was an important Confederate port. As the south collapsed in 1865, North Carolina found itself on the front lines of major military campaigns, as Sherman began his march to the sea.

My 3rd great grandfather Samuel Atkinson Sr. married Judith Sidbury. He was a young 20; she was 15 when they had two children: Aggie (Agnes) Atkinson, my 2nd great aunt on mother’s side, named for her grandmother, Agnes Barlow, Judith’s mother and Samuel Jr. named after his father. Aggie and Samuel were babies when their father died. Judith remarried to Thomas Costin. This family history story continues with the child of Aunt Aggie Atkinson. Aggie married young to Hardy Howard. They had a child named for her paternal heritage, Samuel Howard, my 1st cousin 3x removed, born about 1833. He became a farmer and at age 29 enlisted on May 6, 1862 at Granville Co. N.C. He was a private in Co. K. 55th infantry. The history of the 55th says it was assigned to Davis’ Brigade, French’s Command, Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia. During the Suffolk Campaign, did Samuel witness the duel when a Alabama officer accused the 55th of negligence and the loss of 2 cannons. The duel was fought at 40 paces with Mississippi rifles. Both officers missed and the Alabaman officer revised his report. The 55th brought 640 men to the Battle of Gettysburg, losing 31% casualties. Samuel marched on and came to the Battle of the Wilderness.

In the three years since the Civil War began, the Union made little progress against the Confederates. Abe Lincoln appointed a man who would fight. He chose Major General Ulysses S. Grant. He devised a new plan where the Union armies would fight together with an objective of destroying Confederate armies. The Union armies moved through the Shenandoah Valley, destroying rail lines, agriculture infrastructure and the granaries used to feed the southern armies. Grant took out the salt and lead mines. (See my blog Civil War, A Little Salt, A Lot of Money).

The Confederate Force in the Battle of the Wilderness was commanded by General Robert E. Lee. In 1864, the Wilderness was a dense second growth forest of small trees, bushes and pines. Small clearings were scarce and the few winding roads made cavalry fighting impossible. Into the smoke marched Samuel Howard. It was nearly impossible to see enemy soldiers. He fired at a sound, rather than a visual cue. Some of his troop became lost and were involved in friendly fire incidents. There was a blizzard of lead. An unnamed wounded soldier would write, “Suddenly, to the horror of the living, fire was seen creeping over the ground, fed by dead leaves.” They needed to get behind the Orange Pike, where the majority of the fighting was over by 2:30 pm. Fighting moved to the woods north of the Turnpike and both sides traded attacks and counterattacks. Confederate Brigadier General Leroy A Stafford was shot through the shoulder blade, the bullet severing his spine. Paralyzed from the waist down and in agonizing pain, he urged his troops forward. Samuel Howard was a casualty that day also but resumed fighting. Visibility was limited near Orange Plank Road, and it was difficult to control men and formations. Attackers would blindly become targets for concealed defenders. Lee allowed his weary troops to rest the evening of May 5th into the dawn of May 6th, where they had fought, beside the Orange Plank Road. The Union placed their artillery on both sides of the road and opened fire at 4:45 AM.

Lee was reinforced by the Texan brigade and he was relieved and excitedly waved his hat. The Texans paid a heavy price, leading the charge up the road, only 250 of the 800 men were unscathed. By noon, a Confederate victory seemed likely. Union General Burnside arrived and attacked. Lee organized another attack around 4:15 pm. Another fire threatened the wounded in the woods.

Lt. Col. Horace Porter, Grant’s staff would write, “Forest fires raged, ammunition trains exploded, the dead were roasted in the conflagration, the wounded, roused by its hot breath, dragged themselves along, with their torn and mangled limbs, in the mad energy of despair, to escape the ravages of the flames, and every bush seemed hung withshreds of blood-stained clothing.”

Samuel Howard was again a wounded casualty on May 5, 1864 and hospitalized. On May 6th he sent home. Samuel was one of over 28,000 casualties who fought in the Battle of the Wilderness and it ranks in the top five American Civil War battles for casualties on both sides. Confederate Stonewall Jackson’s arm was buried in a cemetery here. Samuel went home to his wife and children: two of them had died while he was away fighting: William C. 1855-1863, and Horatio K. 1860-1862. Ruth Carolina 1857, Theophilus Klopstock 1859-1929 and Agnes Jane Dickey Howard 1864. The family is on a 1870 census with the 3 children and Samuel’s occupation is listed as huckster ( a person who sells small items door to door). Samuel died in 1877 leaving his widow, Ann King, to move to New York where she lived with her son Theophilus named a coachman in the 1900 census.

The Battle of Wilderness had no winner, and neither side was driven from the battlefield. Rather than retreat, Grant moved his troops south, presenting a threat to Lee’s army at the Confederate capitol city of Richmond, Virginia.

I called this blog the Cold Civil War. Here’s my final thoughts. Why would anyone even consider another Civil War?

The Cornfield

Watercolor by Wendy Harty Dec 2021 “Into the Cornfield”

September 17, 1862,

He lay still on his belly. The sun hadn’t risen above the South Mountain. It had rained during the night, so he was feeling soggy but his gun was dry kept sheltered underneath his body. No fires had been permitted because of the proximity of the enemy. Previously his Co. E 3rd Infantry Regiment of North Carolina had marched up the Hagerstown Turnpike. This road cut through the middle of the property of David R. Miller and it was at the south end of Miller’s cornfield they waited.

The Union troops marched past the Miller residence heading south. The Confederate troops were waiting for them. An intense infantry battle ensued. Those in the cornfield were shot at from all sides. As Union soldiers stepped out of the cornfield, just at dawn the Confederates troops rose up a wall of butternut and grey uniforms and unleashed a horrific volley. Two hours of back and forth fighting had exhausted Confederate’s General Stonewall Jackson’s troops. General Robert E Lee sent in reinforcements. The Confederates pushed the Union troops back to the northern edge of the Cornfield, but then were counterattacked by the Union Twelfth Corps, who fought back and crushed them. For four hours the field changed hands six times amidst a storm of lead. The fighting slowed at nine in the morning. No one had control of the Miller’s cornfield, but thousands of bullets had been fired. The slain lay in rows precisely as they stood in their ranks and every stalk of corn was decimated at the bloody dismal battlefield. 25,000 soldiers fought and thousands lay dead or dying.

The Confederates retreated to the West Woods. The Union won the day and burial details buried their comrades in graves in the soft tilled soils of the Miller’s farm fields. Once that was accomplished they buried the Confederate dead. Almost eight thousand soldiers had been killed or wounded in the 30 acre area of the Cornfields, which it became known as instead of Miller’s. The single bloodiest day had just occurred in the Union’s history.

Rebel dead lined the fences along the Hagerstown Pike as the union infantry pushed south through the corn. picture Antietam National Battlefield (U.S. National Park Service)

At the West Woods, this same day of September 17, 1862, at 6:00 AM a vicious assault was launched against Robert E. Lee’s forces which began what was called the Battle of Antietam. With the cornfields, it became known as the single bloodiest day of the Civil War.

From 3:30 until dark that same day, at the Burnside Bridge, the Union formed for an attack against the final Confederate line. They swept forward over the rolling hills, where 2500 Confederate soldiers on the high ridge south of Sharpsburg had artillery. Again the fighting was intense. From Harper’s Ferry came exhausted men who had marched the 17 miles, and drove the Union back. Some of them had not learned how to load their muskets until the day before. Through the decision of General McClellan not to support Burnside’s final assault, General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia, retreated back across the Potomac into Virginia.

The aftermath of the Battle: estimated casualties 22,717. Union 12,401 and Confederates 10,316, at the Battle of Antietam.

The man firing into the cornfield was my 1st cousin 4x removed. Woodman S. Everett 1829-1862 died that day of September 17, 1862 in Sharpsburg, Maryland at the age of 33. He’d enlisted May 13, 1861 at Onslow County NC as a private, Co E, 3rd Infantry. On August 19, 1962 he was promoted to Corporal. This means he would have had command of his squad of soldiers.

My 3rd Great grandmother Judith Sidbury had a younger sister named after their mother Agnes Barlow Sidbury. Aggie Sidbury born in 1796 married Thomas Collier Everett. Aggy was a grand daughter of Elizabeth Stockley married first to Woodman Sidbury. Thomas Everett was a great grandson to Elizabeth’s 3rd husband Nathaniel Everett To Aggie and Thomas Everett were born seven boys: Mathew Van Durdeson 1824-1858 died at age 34. His name on documents is listed as MVD. It is to he I have a DNA match. Reuben 1828-1864, Thomas 1828-1882, and twin Woodman S 1829-1862, Cabel N 1834-1866, Stokley J. 1835-1865, and William Thomas 1837-1862. Thomas and Aggie both died before the Civil War. They would not know of the death’s of five of their seven boys, as they fought

William Thomas Everett 3rd Regiment, NC Infantry, Company E, promoted from First Lieutenant to Major. enlisted May 13, 1861 at Onslow Co. NC. William had only been married a few months in 1862 when at age 24 he died at Goldsboro, NC and was buried at Stump Sound Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, at Holly Ridge, Onslow Co. NC. He had married his brother’s wife, Caroline on March 12, 1862, after his brother Matthew Van Durdeson Everett died in 1858 leaving his widow with 4 small children.

Reuben Everett enlisted on July 23, 1863 at Fort Branch as a Private with 17th Infantry (2nd organization) Co C as a private. He ‘s married his wife Betsey Ennett on Aug 2, 1858. In 1860 census he was living at Stump Sound, Golden Place, Onslow, NC. A farmer with the farm worth 1000, and personal of 500. Two sons were born to them W. T. in 1859 and Reuben Joseph Jr. in 1861. Reuben died in 1864 probably fighting in Virginia.

Stokely J Everett on December 31, 1863 to August 31, 1864 Absent, wounded in battle Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863. Stokely had enlisted like some of his brothers Co E of 3rd NC Infantry. His compiled service records show him disabled and in Onslow Co. NC. Stockley died in 1865 in his hometown at the age of 30.

The fiercest fighting of the battle and the second bloodiest day of the Civil War occurred on May 3, 1863. Confederate General Lee launched numerous attacks against the Union forces at Chancellorsville, resulting in heavy losses on both sides. Stokely was 1/9081 wounded while 1665 were killed and 2018 were captured or went missing. General Lee had made a risky decision to divide his army in the presence of the larger Union force of 133,868 versus his 60, 298 soldiers. This confederate victory was tempered by heavy casualties including General Stonewall Jackson who was hit by friendly fire and had to have his left arm amputated. He died of pneumonia eight days later.

Thomas Jefferson Everett served in the military on May 13, 1861, in Onslow when he was 38 years old.

Caleb N Everett married Henrietta Redd in Onslow on December 7, 1857 when he was 23 years old. This marriage didn’t survive as Caleb was living with his mother Aggy Everett and Henrietta was living with her father Sigley Redd at 1860 census. Caleb enlisted in Confederacy Army Co E 3rd Infantry, May 13, 1861 as sergeant and mustered out August 18, 1862, with a discharge disability. He survived the war but died just after it ended in his hometown at age 32.

General Robert E. Lee that September 1862, had his eyes on capturing the Federal capital in Washington, D.C. Confederate success would have influenced impending Congressional elections in the north. With succession, America’s Civil War, had divided the country and so General Lee was actually invading the north, when he crossed into Maryland. Abraham Lincoln needed the victory to keep Republican control of the Congress and issue a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which vows to free the slaves of all states. After McClellan failed to pursue Lee, Lincoln lost faith in his general, named Burnside commander of the Army of the Potomac and the Civil War continued for another three years.

160 years later, I saw another attack on Congress. It wasn’t at the Cornfield but right inside the doors of the Whitehouse, a stunning attack at the heart of American democracy. This one failed also, but only by about one minute. Could something historic be taking shape? A human rights struggle since the birth of this nation involving voting rights, with an intent on destroying democracy? I watch the individuals that refuse subpoenas thinking themselves to stall and be above the rule of law. I saw a podcast where a man named Bannon says he is training 4000 militia, to be ready when the real President Trump returns to office. “Lawless rebels provoking disunion by their refusal to accept the law of the land.” I read history and on March 1, 1861 Davis with the Provisional Confederate Congress established a volunteer army, where the South Carolina state militia besieged Fort Sumter. This volunteer army became the Confederate States Army. Perhaps they should think about the 620,000 Americans that died during the Civil War, with more than half of those dying off the battlefield from disease or festering wounds. Maybe if they read history, they wouldn’t make the same damn insane mistakes! Oh I wish my premonition is so, so wrong! Let me end here with Abe Lincoln’s often quoted speech, “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” Lincoln voiced a prophecy publicly. Researching the Civil War histories I can not understand wanting another Civil War, where the five Everett brothers gave their lives, fighting what I consider the wrong side of the war.

Civil War, A Little Salt, A Lot of Money

North Carolina was ravaged by the Civil War. Sophia Sidbury Atkinson (my second great grandmother) is found on a list of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, North Carolina, February 1859 (Old New Hanover Genealogical Society Quarter, Clarendon Courier Vol XIV 2002 page 56) but in the 1860 Census , Sophia along with the five children were in Texas. Sophia’s husband Samuel Atkinson Jr. had died in 1857. What made the widow, Sophia move to Texas before the Civil War? At this writing I do not know!

But what of the relatives in North Carolina? Forty thousand men from North Carolina never came home; they died in their prime. Many more were wounded and at the end of the war had only scars and their courage to speak for them. At the end, millions of dollars were spent with investments, savings, loans all made worthless. If the men did come home they found ruined crops, empty barns, fences in disrepair; all the broken dreams amidst defeat. While they were away fighting from 1861-65 the farm and plantation woman, children and old men remained at home. Free blacks and slaves strived to survive. Every commodity became scarce, with exorbitant prices. Draperies and carpets were taken up to make clothes. When the coffee supply ran out they boiled parched corn. The spinning wheels were put into use. Merchants and the unscrupulous blockade runners continued to sell to the highest bidder. Bacon, once .33 sold for $7.50/pound, wheat at $3 for $50 a bushel and coffee $100/pound. Cornmeal was swapped for flour, sorghum for sugar and lard for butter. Finding a substitute for salt is harder. preserving meat was the biggest problem. In the hog raising South, the situation became dire when the Union blockaded the Confederate states exports of money making cotton and stopped Britain from sending them salt. “The rebels can’t live without their bacon” and the lack of salt was a major factor in the Confederacy’s defeat in the Civil War.

If you boil saltwater and dry it in the sun it makes salt. Salt during the Civil War sold for $64/bushel and was used by the armies to preserve meat. That is how some of my family made money during the Civil War and continued until the 1930’s. A little bit of salt was worth a lot of money with it needed to cure food like salt pork. Up a dirt road, no longer on any map is Old Sloop Point in Watts Landing, and the Confederate government dedicated a 220 acre tract of land in New Hanover County, North Carolina for salt works during the War. Salt is essential for preserving food and curing leather. It was the key to feeding soldiers and civilians in the South. The North targeted the salt facilities as military targets. My family didn’t own any of the mines but probably had cauldrons hidden in the marshes.

The County of New Hanover was formed in 1729. In 1734 part was called Onslow County and by 1875 was separated again and part called Pender County. So, although they didn’t move, the relatives lived in all three counties determined by the dates. (sometimes the records are confusing!)

Judith Sidbury (my 3rd great grandmother) had brothers Stockley L 1785-1869, William Barlow 1790-1860 and Woodman Stockley 1792-1866 and a sister Agnes Aggy Sidbury 1800-1865 and Amos Atkinson was her son-in-law married to her daughter Elizabeth Costin and this is how the North Carolina families survived and prospered. (info from a Star News Correspondent, Chris Mudarri and interview with Mr. King who grew up listening to the old fellows talk about this at the post office). The Sidbury boys and Amos and Elizabeth Costin Atkinson, owned large tracts of land at Sloop Point and Stump Sound just before the Civil War.

The best recipes I make all have salt in them, even my desserts. They don’t taste salty but if I gave two of the same, one with and one without you would realize something was missing; next time I pick up that salt shaker I will remember that salt was one reason the Civil War ended. It is here on the Atlantic coast, that Emily Atkinson my great grandmother was born and lived as a young child.

Planters in Florida 1837

A Florida Box Turtle by Wendy Harty in watercolor, Dec 2021. This dome shelled turtle could retract its head and legs and close its shell off to predators. The box turtle shell was made into rattles and either hand held or worn around the ankles by the Seminole or Creek in their traditional Stomp Dance..

As the soils in North Carolina depleted from the growing of tobacco cultivation, some of my Sidbury, Atkinson and Costin cousins moved to Florida. John Sidbury Jr. was falsely accused of patricide of his father John Sr. in Sloop Point, North Carolina. He hadn’t fled the murder scene but I believe had gone to find a place in Florida where Woodman Costin was a private in Capt. Wm B Harrison’s Co, 2 Reg’t Florida Militia under Col. R.C. Parish during the Florida War. John Sidbury Jr. did move after he was acquitted of his father’s murder back in North Carolina and found as a private during the Seminole Wars in Carter’s County, Florida Mtd. Volunteers. He mustered in Feb 17, 1857 and was paid $50 for his horse and $5 for its saddle. John was promoted to Corporal. My great Uncle Stockley L. Sidbury Jr. 1785-1869, brother to my 2nd great grandmother Judith moved to Florida. He’d been born in New Hanover to Stockley L Sidbury Sr and Agnes Barlow. In the 1820 census he is listed in North Carolina with 5 in his household and 24 slaves. In the 1840 census he is listed at Florida with 12 in his household and 78 slaves. At age 76 Stockley was listed as a retired planter at Quincy, Gadsden, Florida. I think it was this relative in Florida that gave John Jr. his alibi?

Stockley L Sidbury Jr. had married in 1808. Her name was Rebecca Walcom. They had many children: One was named Seaborn, The name on the census was changed to Sadbury but it wasn’t hard to trace them. He would name his children: Margaret (his grandmother’s name), Stockley L Seabourn Sadbury (his grandfather’s name) and Seaborn M. (after himself). And it was these planters that wanted the people of the Seminoles to stop harboring the run a way slaves. If my readers haven’t gathered yet, I am very against slavery. If I were a slave and the master took my child to slave auction, I would have ran away. I too would cry, “For shame, for shame!”

Omitted from history books, is this part of Florida’s history! On Christmas Day in 1837, during the Second Seminole War, the Africans and Native Americans defeated a superior U.S. Army. Colonel Zachary Taylor was leader to the Army. After a two and half hour battle, his survivors limped back to Fort Gardner. Taylor declared victory. His falsified his report, and was promoted to General. Decades later, Taylor was elected the 12th President of the US.

A book by the first Native American woman, D.C. Winnemucca to be published says, “For shame! For shame! You date to cry out Liberty, you hold us in places against our will, driving us from place to place.” By the early 1840’s most Seminoles were forced to move to Indian Territory but not without fierce resistance. The government brought the leaders in to talk under the white flag of truce and then captured them and relocated. The US government committed to reforms and did nothing. The names of cousins found in Florida were Woodman Atkinson, Stockley Costin, and John Sidbury Jr. (changed name to Sadberry) at Jacksonville, Duvel Co. the children of my cousins and uncles all related to my 4th great grandparents Stockley L Sidbury Sr and Agnes Barlow.

The real story was the Indians and blacks were the victors who had their freedoms for two more decades. What’s the Florida story? Spain claimed Florida in the 17th and 18th centuries. It attracted pirates, adventurers and runaway slaves from Georgia and Carolina plantations. With America becoming independent from Britain, more runaways sought freedom in Florida. After 1776, Creek (the Spanish word for runaways) were known as Seminoles, and joined the Cherokees and black slaves. Pushed off their lands or running away from slavery, the tribe relocated to Florida. There were very few people living in Florida at this time because disease had been carried to them by the Spanish. These two people forged an economic and military alliance. The plantation owners had a nightmare, as Florida offered their slaves a sheltering escape and freedom. Planters demanded military intervention.

By 1811, President Madison, ordered covert slave catching invasions into Florida. In 1816, General Andrew Jackson, ordered an attack to “restore the stolen negroes to their rightful owners”. Where hundreds of Seminoles and runaway slaves lived along the Apalachicola River, their villages, farms and cattle were destroyed. Again in 1818, Jackson invaded and seized the fugitives as well as free black men and women. The US government bought Florida for $5 million dollars and the next four decades the Seminole Wars were fought three times trying to bring this nation under control and to end them sheltering slaves.

Osceola, Wild Cat and John Horse led the Seminoles. During the Second Seminole War 1835-1842 the Army spent $40 million during the longest and largest slave revolt in US history. The Seminoles were excellent marksmen and brought down every officer but one. With their leadership in disarray and dead, the Tennessee riflemen and Delaware Indians fled on Christmas Day, 1837.

The Third Seminole War 1855-1858 the US enforced the Removal Act, coerced many Seminoles to march to Indian Territory but perhaps 200 hid in the Everglades of the Florida swamps. This was land not desired by settlers and they were finally left along and they never surrendered. The descendants of those who escaped have governments and reservations in Florida today. And they keep their traditions alive in performing the Stomp Dance with box turtle rattles.

Dear Great Grandmother Keziah Atwood Gibbs 1726-1794

“Awaiting the burial detail” watercolor by Wendy Harty Dec 2021 Civil War 1861-1865

He could hear the bloodhounds. They bayed their mournful sound into the dawn. The weariness that Oliver McCall felt as he climbed that tree to escape from being torn to shreds was immense.

Its December, 2021 and once again my thoughts turn to you, Keziah, the most beautiful girl in all the land. That is the meaning of your name. It is your birth month, since you were born in December 295 years ago, and married on December 16, 1744 in Brookfield, Massachusetts to my fifth great grandfather, Abraham Gibbs. Remember that one word “Forbidden” written in the church records that sent me off hunting history. Today it is the word civil. I pause in thought about quiet and peaceable behavior but the Latin means citizen and “a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country.” Freedom comes with great costs. The war against covid has killed over 800,000 in America. That’s more than the Civil War of 750,000. There were 24,000 deaths Grandmother Keziah when you lived through the Revolutionary War. I learned about your sons Isaac and Joshua rolling up their shirt sleeves to be vaccinated against small pox and it was one reason George Washington won the revolution. Besides the war dead there were the war injured. We are losing this war Keziah. The unvaxxed want their freedom to choose and reason that their guns and Bibles will be taken away. Their freedom comes at a cost. I read about the covid injured; 50 million people infected with the coronavirus continue to suffer from persistent symptoms I also learned one other new word, researching the story of your great grandson Oliver McCall; the word drapetomania, the disease that made slaves run away from plantations! The cure was whipping. Oliver my 2nd cousin 4 x removed, chose to enlist for the Union. We all make choices.

Some of your family ended up in Panet’s Seignory, Quebec, Canada. It is here I find your youngest son, Joshua Gibbs, (brother to Isaac, my fourth great grandfather), who would leave and come back to live in Pennsylvania, because of the War of 1812. Joshua wrote down the families travels in a letter, saying “In the year of 1813, in the month of January, we made calculations to leave the province of Canada, and the boys set out and was defeated being taken for soldiers in Montreal by the British and Horris Gibbs and Hirum Gibbs left the British Army in the year of 1814. Joshua and son Miron and the rest of his family left in 1814. Included in the rest of the family was your granddaughter named Lavina Gibbs born January 5, 1809. She married Thomas McCall and lived a long life; buried in the Concord Presbyterian Cemetery amongst 119 other McCalls.

Thomas and Lavina Gibbs McColl

Thomas and Lavina Gibbs McCall had a son born in 1836. Oliver would grow up during the Antebellum Period meaning before the war. In the Southern States they used slaves and the leaders shifted from defending slavery as a temporary, embarrassing system to a defense of slavery as a heroic cause, that enslaved people were happy and that slavery was not the cause of the war. Was there any other way to end slavery but by war?

Lavina and son Oliver buried her husband in 1858. Before this time imagine the conversations around the Missouri Compromise, Native Removal and the Trail of Tears, Manifest destiny, Nullification, Mexican American War, the Compromise of 1850, Fugitive Slave Act, Bleeding Kansas and the Election of Lincoln.

When Oliver was 26 he was a merchant and enlisted on September 7, 1861 at Callensburg, Pennsylvania. He was 5’10”, brown hair, blue eyed and was a miller. Oliver was 1st Sergeant at Camp Orr in Pennsylvania 103 regiment, infantry Co. A. under Captain Reynolds Laughlin who would be his future’s wife’s step father. At age 27 he was wounded on December 14, 1862, Kinston, North Carolina. The Union controlled the sounds of North Carolina and at the mouth of the Roanoke River, at Plymouth, they hoped to push upriver and capture the vital Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, which would completely cut off General Robert E. Lee’s army in Virginia from the ports and end all the supplies to his army. (My mother’s relative Governor Edward Bishop Dudley had helped to build this railroad) Oliver was part of an expedition led by Brig. Gen. Foster which left New Bern in December to disrupt the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad. At the Kinston Bridge their advance was stubbornly contested; the Confederates were outnumbered and withdrew. Foster’s men destroyed tracks and burned down the bridge. Oliver McCall recovered to keep fighting and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on January 25, 1863, at New Bern, North Carolina. The next January one of the Captains wrote from New Bern, “Morning cold and icy Day pleasant overhead, Got 2 loads of wood all hauled by dark, in morning my wife came to see me, Mrs. McCall came with her”. January 9, 1864. Oliver got to see his mother, Lavina, and then at Plymouth, Washington Co. North Carolina on April 20, 1864 he was captured! Two years earlier, Oliver with the Union Forces had occupied Plymouth, near the mouth of New Bern and conducted raids into eastern Carolina.

The confederates wanted their coastal towns back. With three brigades of infantry, of 10,000 troops they attacked Plymouth with a garrison of 2834 men defending the town. They had strongly fortified the post and repulsed the first attacks. The next day under heavy shelling the Union vessels in the river were sunk and the rest retreated. For two hours there was fierce resistance, but the garrison surrendered. Confederate Brigadier General Hoke wrote, “I have stormed and captured Plymouth, capturing 1 Brigadier, 1600 men, stores and 25 pieces of artillery.” He also found 100,000 pounds of bacon, 1000 barrels of flour and 500 horses plus the port; his victory provided a badly needed boost to Confederate moral.

Called the Battle of Plymouth, that was fought from April 17 through April 20, 1864. It resulted in a Confederacy victory with 2,834 casualties, including Oliver captured and an estimated 150 dead. Confederate losses after the three day fight, believed to be about 850 killed or wounded. It was the sounds of America’s costliest and bloodiest battle that rang in Oliver’s ears being the second largest battle fought in North Carolina, and yielded havoc on North Carolina’s coastal communities. The Union commander, Brig Gen. Wessells, refused to surrender and gathered his troops inside Fort Williams. The Confederates unleashed their cannon on the bastion and a gunboat on the river added its two cannons to the bombardment. Shelled from every side, Wessell’s hoisted the white flag. Oliver was marched under bayonet and was sent to Libby prison for 9 months. Here he survived on corn bread and sweet potatoes and meat was no longer in the ration. Semi-starved and amidst diarrhea, dysentery and fever, only 1/2 clad the men were permanently broken down in constitution. Constantly jostled around the cooking stoves and bathing troughs, and then an uneasy slumber upon the cold floors packed head to toe, he found two friends who agreed they had to escape. The treatment of the prisoners was of such a fearful nature. Prison life was bad! Overcrowded it housed officer prisoners from the Union Army. They suffered from disease, malnutrition and had a high mortality rate. Over 1000 were crowded into large open rooms on two floors, with open, barred windows leaving them exposed to weather and temperature extremes.

Captain Bowers, Lieutenant Brown and Lieutenant McCall whispered in the corner of their prison. These three planned their escape for November 4, 1864. They escaped and the hounds were sent on them. They had no choice but to give up. The Confederate Law said, “To kill a blood hound on your track was death by the military law as resistance to capture.” As part of his punishment Oliver watched the dog eat his breakfast and he had none. The Civil War ended and Oliver McCall was mustered out at the age of 30 on March 30, 1865.

Oliver McCall 1835-1896 2nd Lieut. Co. A image from the 103d Regiment PA Veteran Volunteer Infantry 1861-1865 by Luther Dickey, 1910

Oliver married Agnes Dunkle on December 8, 1868 and the couple moved to Fort Calhoun, Nebraska. They built a large two story frame house to accommodate the eight children and had a splendid grove of forest trees. The Red Cloud Chief, a local paper reported in 1884 that Oliver owned 560 acres, 140 had been put into corn with a worth of 15-20 thousand dollars, he had 100 head of cattle, and many hogs, and the fruit trees were producing the largest yield in the county, with supports needed so the limbs did not break. His body was always wracked by the remnants of wounds and confinement in that living hell which caused him great bodily suffering; from the effects of which he never fully recovered and had endured during the Civil War. Oliver died May 12, 1896 at the age of 60. A large concourse of friends followed the remains to his last resting place after funeral services for “The Chief” with the Grand Army of the Republic assisting in performing last rites.

Oliver McCall was my father’s relative. Fighting from North Carolina on the Confederacy side were my mother’s family, Sidbury’s, Costin’s, Atkinson’s and Everett’s. Another relative of mom’s, Josiah Miller, was fighting on the Union side down towards Baton Rouge in 1864. Brother against brother, brothers against cousins and fathers, this Union has been divided. What lesson can I learn today from this conflict that killed 750,000 Americans? What could justify four years of slaughter and destruction? A constitutional right to secede? Just kill those on the other side of a debate? Human bondage was a fatal flaw of the South. But I’m sure Oliver as others thought, a small battle or two would end the affair, not leave a country bathed in blood.

The Many Names of Judith or Judah: Sidbury, Costin, Atkinson, Costin

Called “In the Presence of the Forces of Nature!” watercolor by Wendy Harty December 2021

There were five hats on the table. It was what her father Stockley L. Sidbury wanted them to do; he’d left pretty explicit instructions in his will. Her mother Agnes Barlow Sidbury was dressed in black, still grieving. Her husband, Stockley, had called her his beloved Aggie. They had been married for 25 years and to this couple at New Hanover, North Carolina were born the 2 girls and 3 boys gathered around the table. Each of the five children had received portions of the plantations. Now to make things equal they were to have other assets after their land had been valued. Aggy, as the youngest went first and drew her shares of hogs, horses, cows and calves, and oxen. and slaves. Aggy was only 9 when her father died but she would sleep in one of the feather beds bequeathed to her. Woodman Stockley Sidbury was 13, William Barlow Sidbury was 15, Stockley Jr was 20 and Judith (my 3rd great grandmother) was 25.

Judith had an interesting life, that I believe I have finally untangled. Judith Sidbury was born during the Revolutionary War. She was a very young girl when her first husband Henry Costin married her. Henry was 30 years older than Judith. Henry had fought in the 1st Battalion for North Carolina during the war on September 8, 1778. From his first and second marriages he had children close to Judith’s age, twins Martha and Nancy Ann and a son Henry Jr. who went and fought in the Indian Wars. It is possible that the Costin’s had married into the Stockley family, which makes the marriage of Henry and Judith an arranged marriage of necessity of the times? Judith was 16 when Elizabeth their daughter was born. I have DNA matches to Elizabeth and she would marry an unknown Atkinson. Elizabeth was three when her father Henry died in 1800. What did widows do in the early 1800’s. They married as soon as possible. Judith married my third great grandfather Samuel Atkinson Sr. born in 1780. Their daughter, named Aggy was born in 1800 and their son, Samuel Atkinson Jr. was born in 1801 and then Samuel Atkinson Sr. (my 3rd great grandfather) died soon after! Samuel Sr. is listed as head of family on the 1800 census. He and Judith were living beside Benj Atkinson, Daniel Atkinson, John and Isaac Costin, and the Howard family who had been guardians to Judith’s father Stockley when his father died.

Samuel died as a young father at the age of 21. I don’t understand the court systems. His will was not probated until Jun 1808. So here Judith is a widow again within two years with three small children: Elizabeth Costin, and siblings Aggy and Samuel Jr. Atkinson. These children are 4, 1 and a baby. (Judith’s story is so similar to her grandmother’s Elizabeth Stockley, Sidbury, Bishop, Everett with three marriages).

Judith Sidbury, Costin, Atkinson married again to Thomas Costin, son of a Patriot that had fought during the Revolutionary War. To Thomas and Judith were born three more children: William was born in 1805, Mary in 1810 and Woodman Stockley Costin in 1815. I have another DNA match with Woodman.

Judith’s father Stockley L Sidbury died in 1815. In his will he calls her Judith Costin and leaves $100 to grandson Samuel Atkinson Jr. Judith inherited 1/2 of a plantation, and then she reached into the hat. And here history seems to repeat itself again. The wind began to blow! Just as her great grandmother had married 3 times and lived through the hurricane of 1752 when Stockley was born, he died the year of another. The 1815 North Carolina hurricane was billed the most severe flooding. The disturbance drifted out in the Atlantic then made landfall on September 3rd, 1815. The hurricane caused significant impact with ships damaged, grounded, capsized or destroyed offshore. Extensive damage to corn, cotton and rice crops were noted. An 8 foot flood surge with heavy rain and strong winds helped to topple over the majestic shade trees throughout the state. This disrupted the soon to be harvest.

Thomas and Judith and the 6 children hunkered down during another hurricane in 1827. The storm moved ashore along the Carolina coast August 26th, a Category 4 in strength. Ships on the ocean had their sails torn apart and reduced to bare poles. For six hours a wind blew with great violence. and once again, the cotton and tobacco crops didn’t fare well and the corn crop sustained significant loss. The roads were impassible by fallen trees. Downed fences, torn off roofs and damaged orchards and storm tides rose 12-15 feet. They rebuilt again.

Thomas and Judith saw the children grow up. Thomas and Judith died sometime in the 1840’s. Judith’s oldest, Elizabeth Costin would marry an unknown Atkinson relative and named children Amos, Stokely, Henry and Woodman. In the 1850 census this Elizabeth is a widow looking after her 1/2 brother William, listed as idiotic and three children named Stokely, Henry and Woodman Atkinson. Amos was married to Vashti Seaborn Sidbury the daughter of Judith’s brother William Barlow Sidbury. Mary grew up and married John Sidbury Jr. in 1828, the 3rd great grandson of Woodman Stockley Sidbury and Elizabeth Stockley; so these two were second or third cousins, to tell a story about in a future blog. And Samuel Atkinson Jr. who inherited the $100 from his grandfather Stockley L. Sidbury? Well he was my second great grandfather and married Sophia Sidbury.

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