Online at DigitalNC
Last Friday I received in the mail a donation of a photo album from 1925 containing perhaps fifty photographs of Boy Scouts and the Stuckey family in Wilson, NC. The High Point Museum originally received the memory book from the owner and thought that it should be in Wilson. So we are very grateful that they sent us this unique treasure.
Some of the subjects of the photographs include a Confederate veteran reunion, Camp Wilson, Charleston, SC, Camp Leach (doesn’t sound fun) in Beaufort County, NC, the Appalachians, and Bath, NC. I have digitized a few pages but it is so large I am going to take it to UNC Chapel Hill on Thursday to get it completely digitized and put up on Digital NC.
Yesterday a patron was looking for a book in the local history room and said, “I saw it here twenty years ago!” Well it turned out that the reference copy had been absconded with before I got here but we still had one in the NCNF circulating collection.
The book is a collection of photographs of NC Confederate Civil War soldiers called, State Troops and Volunteers: A Photographic Record of North Carolina’s Civil War Soldiers, Vol. 1. I had never even heard of the the book and it is a remarkable, painstakingly researched work that required collecting images from 320 families from all over NC. And it is the first work of its kind that didn’t rely on photos found in archives. The author, Greg Mast, received so many photographs that he decided to end this volume in 1862 with the intention of publishing other volumes. But the fact that this was published twenty years ago gives me the sinking feeling that there will not be any more volumes, which is very unfortunate. However, there is still this one and there are some singular photographs in the book, including one collection of photographs from the Woodard family of Wilson County, a family that truly suffered more than most during this period. And much to my surprise there is a photograph of the brother of my great great grandfather. I had never seen this photo of Ephraim Kale, who is a too young, fifteen years old when it was taken. I have included the captions for both images in the post.
The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs divisions has announced that their two ambrotypes of Wilson County native, Civil War soldier and namesake of a local SCV chapter, Captain Jesse Sharpe Barnes, was mislabeled and the portraits are actually of his cousin (or maybe his wife’s cousin), Major Thomas Alston Martin.
This was all made possible by the tireless work of Katharina Schlichtherle, historian, teacher and friend of the Wilson County Local History and Genealogy Library. Katharina is a resident of Germany but last summer she visited Wilson County for her ongoing investigation of the local Barnes family in the 19th century and performed some research at our library.
During her research online, she came upon an image in the book, Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina, in the Great War 1861-’65 (digitized and online at the Internet Archive) that was labeled Jesse S. Barnes, Capt., Co F. This portrait was not the same person labeled as JS Barnes in the LOC collection. This image was in the LOC Collection but it was labeled only as “South Carolina Militiaman” because of his SC uniform. It turned out that Jesse had joined up in South Carolina before North Carolina had seceded as many North Carolinians did at the time (North Carolina was the last state to secede).
As to how they figured out that the other portraits was of Major Thomas A. Martin, Katharina told me that during a curator’s examination of the portraits, a piece of paper serendipitously fell out of one of them that read “Friend Tom Martin”.
I stay in touch with Katharina and try to help keep her Wilson County and Civil War obsession fed. And it has worked! She is coming back next summer.
The news about the name correction was in an article that Katharina sent me in this month’s Military Images Magazine.
Monday I received a package in the mail containing a treasure trove of artifacts of the Harper family. The package was sent to me from one of their descendants who thought that the Wilson County Public Library would be a fitting place for the collection to reside, even though she lives hundreds of miles away in upstate New York.
The Harpers were originally from Greene County, but many of them moved to Wilson near the turn of the twentieth century.
Last week I scanned over 100 archival documents that were brought in by one of my dear patrons, Lois Bass. Her father, Arthur Bass, actually led the ceremony to open the WIlson County Public Library in 1939. There are letters, deeds, wills, indentures, receipts and plats that she found tightly folded in a small tin box on a shelf in her father’s storage shed that range in date from the 1700’s to the early 1900’s. She doesn’t seem too keen on giving any of it to the state archives so I wanted to scan the documents for use in the library at least.
Here is a transcription of the second Civil War letter in the collection. This one is from Private Bunyan Barnes and Private Ervin Bass. They were very concerned about all the girls back home being married off to someone named Rubin before they got back from the war.
Manassas Junction Va
Jan 9th 1862
I this evening take the time and pleasure of writing you a few lines to inform that I am well at present and hope these few lines may come to hand and find you and Charity enjoying the same good blessings I received your letter a few days back and I was glad to hear that you were well and I was sorry to hear that there is so much sickness about there and to hear the sad Death (of) Gabriel Bass we don’t have no gradeal (great deal) of Sickness here Considering the number (of) folks there is here I can tell we have a heep of fun here with the Black Creek Boys but Girls is Scarce here we cant have no fun with Girls (who ) is not here to be with you all but I cant tell when it will be but I live in hop(e)s of coming back Some Time I tell you the Boys is Vary anxious to come to see you all again I have nothing more of interest to write this time So I will come to a close I want you to write soon
P.S. I will put in a few words of news I saw your sweet heart this evening and he was feeling very poorly with a bad cold I would like to be back there to see some more fun with you and the girls but I cant fo(re)tell when I will be able to get back to see You any more but you must tell the Girls they must not get married until we all come back for I don’t think you have got any young men there to be with except Rubin I guess he is thare yet I guess he has got his own swing round the Girls I don’t think I have anymore of interest to write this Time You must excuse bad writing and mistakes for I had to do this in the knight and I was getting sleepy I will close by sayin I remain yours Truly
One of my patrons brought a the letter of her grandfather, Joseph Davis, a private in the 4th NC regiment and a resident of Black Creek in Wilson County for me to digitize recently. The letter is dated November 13, 1861 and he is stationed at Manassas Junction, VA guarding the depot that the Confederates had won after the first battle of Manassas in July. The letter speaks of the universal longings of any soldier, food and family.
Pvt. Davis was later wounded captured at the battle of Antietam and was soon paroled and worked as a nurse at the Wilson Confederate Hospital.
Captain Jesse Sharpe Barnes enlisted in the 4th North Carolina Infantry, Co. F at the age of 18 on May 16, 1861 and a little over a year later he was dead, killed at the Battle of Seven Pines in Virginia on May 31, 1861. He was a Wilson County native and a nephew of General Joseph Barnes. Jesse’s brother Lt. William Sharpe Barnes survived the war but was badly wounded at the Siege of Petersburg.
The brothers were brought to my attention by a researcher from Germany who is visiting Wilson next month. I ran it by my 80 year old volunteer and he knew all about the Barnes siblings and he actually has the book of minutes from the Jesse S. Barnes Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans that was started in the late 1800’s. He said a lady from the local Daughters of the Confederacy gave the book to him because everyone who was in the camp had died. It is a great resource for the death dates of members who died before death certificates were issued in 1913.
Also Jesse was quite a handsome man for the disease ravaged 1860s and he is featured in the 2013 My Daguerreotype Boyfriend calender, which is full of 19th century eye candy.
We now have the new edition of the long running series, North Carolina Troops 1861-1865 A Roster. These invaluable reference books have been put out by the North Carolina Archives since 1961! The new one is Volume XIX, Miscellaneous Battalions and Companies. Here is a bit from the preface:
This volume contains the rosters and unusual histories of six battalions and 25 independent companies. Mallet’s Battalion had the special duty of enforcing the conscription laws, but was called from this duty to fight at the battle of Kinston in December, 1862. Avery’s Battalion helped defend the western part of the state during Stoneman’s raid in March-April, 1865. Clark’s Special Battalion was an ad-hoc unit of militia men, called out in response to Burnside’s invasion of eastern North Carolina; the battalion took part in the battle of New Bern in March, 1862. Hahr’s Battalion served in the defense of Wilmington in late 1864 and early 1865. McLean’s Battalion served as the guard unit for conscript camps in Morganton and Greensboro. The Salisbury Prison Guard Battalion, as the name suggests, guarded the prisoners of war at the famous Salisbury Prison.
I have found a plethora of information in these books for patrons and sometimes myself. I recently found a great great grandfather of mine name Palser Kale from Catawba County who served in the 32nd Regiment. Palser went in as a private and became a sergeant and then was reduced back to a private before he was discharged for having a inguinal hernia. So if ole Palser didn’t bet his comrade a dollar that he could pick up a 200 lb ammunition crate and got a hernia, I might not be here right now.