Sunday, May 25, 2014

Granny's Pantry # 18--A Bitter-Sweet Memorial Day Tribute

While Memorial Day at present honors active military personnel who died serving their country, the origin of the holiday was rooted in an effort to commemorate soldiers from both the North and the South who lost their lives in the War Between the States.

There is a strong Granny’s Pantry connection with this original Decoration Day tribute, as the holiday was once called.

John Calvin Morgan was born in 1935 in Rowan County, NC.    
He married Rachel E. Wyatt, also born in 1835, and they lived not far from the Yadkin River. John and Rachel had two children, Mary Jane (b. 1856) and John Noah Calvin (b. 1862). Unfortunately, due to the War Between the States, they were not destined to live happily ever after together.      

According to family records, John enlisted in the 5th Regiment, Co. H, NC Troops, where he served with his cousin, James Nathan Morgan. In sworn testimony in 1885, Nathan Morgan reported that, “on or about the 12th day of May 1864 at the Battle of Spottsylvania [sic] Court House in the State of Virginia [John Morgan] was shot and instantly killed.”  We don’t know where John was buried. 

Rachel was 28 when he died. She lived the remainder of her life (50 + more years) as a widow and died at 79.  

John and Rachel’s son, Calvin, and his wife, Eugenia A. Culp, lived on the farm that we now call the Cow Palace and they became the parents of Granny Cole (of High Rock).
The Granny’s Pantry connection with service in the Civil War continued when Granny Cole’s granddaughter, Jenny,
married Donald Dickens of Wake County, NC.

This grandson-in-law, has long been interested in Civil War history, partly due to his own great-grandfather’s service. This story had a happier ending, but still leaves some unanswered questions.There were 3 brothers with the last name of Partin from Wake Co., NC (Willow Spring area).  Two of the brothers enlisted in 1862 in Co. H, 40th Regiment, which became the 3rd Regiment, NC Light Artillery, which finally became the 13th battalion, NC Light Artillery (Co. F). The third brother joined them in 1864. One of the brothers, Mark Allison Partin, was Donald’s mother’s grandfather. 
The Partin brothers served throughout the War. According to family history, the 3 Partin brothers were present at Appomattox, and we know that they all survived. Family history and a letter from a seminary president who knew Mark in 1915 said that Mark A. Partin surrendered at Appomattox with Co. E of the 26th NC Troops. There is no record in the Appomattox rosters that M.A. Partin actually surrendered. We believe that he and his brothers simply faded away from the formalities and headed for home. 
The mysterious star
Also according to family history and artifacts, when Mark returned home, he brought with him pieces from the famous apple orchard at Appomattox, uprooted, according to Mark, in 30 minutes or less. He also brought a white linen star on a blue field cut from a battle flag.

What was the flag from which Mark received the star remnant? Could it have been the flag of the 13th Light Artillery, a group with which Mark served? There were 71 flags surrendered at Appomattox---was the 13th flag among them? Could it have been the last battle flag of the 26th NC Troops? The battle flag of the 26 NC Regiment was captured in the Battle of Hatcher’s Run. Was there a new flag issued to the 26th following that event? 
[A conservationist from the NC MOH has stated that the star remnant is in keeping with the time period and the materials are consistent with those of a Confederate battle flag. She also stated that the flag remnant had obviously been subjected to a great deal of hardship as it looked as if it had been in mud or blood.] 
There is no record that the 26th Troops battle flag was one that was surrendered at Appomattox.  And if the flag remnant should be from the 26th, why did it come home in Mark Partin’s possession?  We have a possible theory, also rooted in romance:
Mark’s future wife, who was also his cousin, was the sister of J. Q. Adams who served with the 26th, died in New Bern after the capture and is buried in the mound there. We have family letters from J. Q. Adams to his sister while stationed at New Bern. Since the flag remnant was kept by the family with those letters, did Mark take a piece of the 26th battle flag home to Adams’ sister (whom he later married) as a memorial to her brother from the 26th that died during the War?  At this point---these questions remain unanswered.
Mark Partin’s possible connection with the 26th NC Troops becomes important because his great grandson (and Granny Cole’s grandson-in-law) is a member of the 26th NC Troops Reactivated—a Civil War Reenactment group. He does this to honor the memory of his ancestors and others who served in this conflict that had such a devastating impact on families in both the North and the South.A number of Donald’s family members have reenacted with him in the 26th, including his daughters and sons-in-law. 

And so...on this Memorial Day, we honor and remember those who have served in America’s wars and those who have died doing so.
 “… choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”                                                                            Joshua 24:15

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