Memorial Day 2021- Honoring those who fell in battle

Memorial Day- a day to honor those who have fallen in battle. We also place flags on the graves of veterans. Four years ago, I reported on Herman E. Maurer, cousin on mom’s side, who died in World War II. Last year, I posted about William Posten, killed during the Revolutionary War and who might be related to my dad’s family. This year, I turn to my husband’s family and tell you about Lewis Garrett Holcomb who died during the Civil War.

In 1861, Lewis enlisted in the Army of the Confederacy and served in Company I, 10th Texas Cavalry Regiment.  Five of his brothers–George Creager Holcomb (my husband’s ancestor), John Wesley Holcom, Henderson H Holcomb, Thomas Harrison Holcomb and Joel M. Holcomb–also fought in the Confederate Army.

For more information about the 10th Texas Cavalry and the battles in which they engaged:  https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/tenth-texas-cavalry

Lewis died of “phlg [phlegmonous] erysipelas”,  a skin infection with abscesses, in Lee Hospital, Lauderdale County, Mississippi, on 28 May 1864. [5]  He had been in the hospital since March 1864.  Did he have an infected battle wound or was the infection caused by something else?  He is listed on Find A Grave as being buried in the Lauderdale Springs CSA Cemetery, near Meridian, Mississippi.[6]  However, he may or may not be buried there.  According to William Burdette, Jr., who lives about five miles from the cemetery:

Lewis died fighting for a cause that he and his family believed in. Some may say that Confederate soldiers are not worthy of being honored for their sacrifice. I disagree. My sons carry the blood of both Union and Confederate soldiers in their veins. I tell them repeatedly to be proud of all their ancestors.

REFLECTION:

Memorial Day is a good time to reflect on the many lives sacrificed for our country. Many have persons in their family tree who died while serving in the military. We need to remember these whether they died during a time of war or during a time of peace.  As I look deeper into my family trees, I plan to identify those who died while serving in the military for future posts.

Am I glorifying the Confederacy? My answer to that charge is “No.” I am reporting on individuals and families in our (my husband’s and mine) collective family tree. These persons are also members in the family trees of others alive today. Many Americans have ancestors who fought for the British during the American Revolution. Does that make the current generation any less American? No. Should they still embrace those ancestors? Yes. Without direct line ancestors, my sons would not exist. Remember, too, families often divide in their loyalties. Even today, families face political, religious and/or ideological differences.

With every post, I do more digital file clean-up. I review paper and digital files, adding information to fill gaps. My Genealogy Do-over doesn’t seem as tedious when I do it this way.

What I learned: Lauderdale Springs CSA Cemetery in Lauderdale county, Mississippi. More pictures of the cemetery can be found on Find A Grave website (https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/60360/lauderdale-springs-csa-cemetery )

What helped: extensive family trees with many records already found. Online resources.

What didn’t help: incomplete citations. Not having anyone particular in mind when I considered a topic for this post.

To do: make a list of those who died while serving in the military. Choose one to honor on Memorial Day next year.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021. 


SOURCES:

[1] 1840 U.S. Census, Mountain, Washington, Arkansas, population schedule, Mountain, p. 261, line 27, Joseph Hanleen; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 25 May 2021); citing Washington, D.C.: National Archives & Records Administration, microfilm publication M704, roll 20.

[2] 1850 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, , p. 882, dwelling 527, family 527, J Holcomb 49; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 25 May 2021); citing Washington, D.C.: National Archives & Records Administration, Microfilm Publication M432, roll 909. Son, Harman Henderson, born 1843 in Texas; older children born in Arkansas.

[3] “Texas, U.S., Select County Marriage Index, 1837-1965,” database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 24 May 2021); citing Texas State Library and Archives Commission and various county clerk offices, Texas.

[4] 1860 U.S. Census, Cherokee county, Texas, population schedule, Beat 7, dwelling 1094, family 1094, LG Holcombe; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed 25 May 2021); citing Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Administration, microfilm publication M653. Lewis reported his birthplace as Illinois; possible that family lived in Illinois for a short time.

[5] “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas,” digital images, Fold 3 (http://www.fold3.com  : viewed 25 May 2021), Holcomb, L.G. (18 pages); citing Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 109, roll 0063; Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Confederate Organizations , compiled 1903 – 1927, documenting the period 1861 – 1865.

[6] “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas,” digital images, Fold 3, Holcomb, L.G. (18 pages); page 12 of 18.

Horace Johnson and CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps)

1930s. The Great Depression. Dust Bowl. WPA (Works Projects Administration).  CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). Do any of these terms sound familiar to you? If your family tree includes young adults in the 1930s, then they may have found work through one of these programs. My husband’s maternal grandfather, Horace Clayton Johnson, was one such person. In this post, I share pictures and a document about his service.

First, a brief history lesson. The Works Projects Administration (WPA), established in 1935 as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal program, employed millions who were unemployed after the stock market crash of 1929. Many projects involved construction of public buildings and roads. The WPA Graves Registration Project surveyed cemeteries and created indexes for the burials. Those tombstones have since aged another 90 years and may now be unreadable. Also, you may find grave markers not listed on other sites. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) planted trees and constructed trails and shelters in national and state parks.  

Now, about Horace. Horace Clayton Johnson was born 7 April 1915 in Ben Hur, Limestone county, Texas to Henry Louis Johnson and Nellie Black.[1]  Henry, a farmer in 1920[2], moved his family to Mexia City, Texas by 1930 and was listed there as a carpenter.[3] In 1935, twenty-year-old Horace, the third of 8 siblings and second of two boys, probably needed work to help support his family. So, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps.  

CCC work crew, 1935, near Trinity, Texas; Horace Johnson member of this crew. From personal photograph collection held by Horace’s daughter, 2021.

He was a member of Company 839, established 1.6 miles east of Trinity, Texas, on June 8, 1933. Trinity is about 100 miles southeast of Mexia. This was probably the furthest young Horace had ever traveled from home.  The men constructed and maintained fire lanes, fire break roads and telephone lines. [4] Membership in The Corps included an educational component. In March, 1935, Horace received a Certificate of Proficiency in Simple Arithmetic and Spelling.

We are not sure exactly how long Horace served in the CCC. In 1937, he married Mable Venette Reed, a native of Cherokee County, approximately 70 miles northeast of Trinity. Perhaps they met when Horace was in the CCC?

In summary, discovery of these items adds to Horace’s story. And, places him within a specific time period in American history. I wonder how many other treasures might be found in old suitcases and boxes!

For more information:

Wikipedia (Yes, I know this isn’t always the best source):https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Works_Progress_Administration

Civilian Conservation Corps: https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/civilian-conservation-corps

Example of WPA Graves Registration Project: https://iowawpagraves.org/index.php

Reflection

Mother-in-law and I found these pictures and document when going through a box of old family pictures. All items have now been placed in archival quality sleeves and the appropriate notebook. I was especially surprised to find the Certificate of Proficiency. This kind of document is all too often discarded by later generations. The fact of Horace’s residence for a time in Trinity County presents a clue about how he may have met Mable, a native of Cherokee County.

I discovered the Iowa WPA Graves Registration website about 10 years ago, when researching a possibly related branch of Dad’s family. I am not sure how many counties or states had similar projects. Also, I am not sure how many are readily available on public internet sites. If you can’t find cemetery records for a person who died before the 1930s, contact your local county or state historical society. You may be surprised at what you find!

What I learned: more about the Civilian Conservation Corps, which I vaguely remembered from American history classes. Specifics about what Horace’s group did.

What helped:  retrieving  pictures and document with my mother-in-law. Internet sites with information about WPA and CCC.  Less than 1000 words! I like these shorter blog posts!

What didn’t help: nothing specific.  


SOURCES:

[1] Texas, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Texas Department of Health, delayed birth certificate LL18432 (23 February 1942; copy issued 26 Oct 2011), Horace Clayton Johnson; Limestone County Texas County Clerk, Groesbeck, Texas.

[2] 1920 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, Pt Enterprise School District, enumeration district (ED) 81, p. 3A, dwelling 41, family 47, H.L. Johnson head, age 32; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 1 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T625_1829.

[3] 1930 U.S. Census, Limestone county, Texas, population schedule, Mexia, enumeration district (ED) 11, pg. 6B, dwelling 135, family 149, Johnson Henry L, head, age 46; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & downloaded 1 March 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication T626, roll 2371

[4] “History, Civilian Conservation Corps,” Trinity, Texas (https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Trinity,_Texas#/Civilian_Conservation_Corps  :  accessed 26 April 2021).

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021