Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Follow Lyndon And Learn of "Hary"

My Civil War odyssey began in earnest when I found war-era letters from my Confederate ancestors, four brothers and their father, Joseph Welborn. Joseph apparently opposed secession and the war. My mission was to follow the path of the brothers through the Civil War, starting with the middle son, Lyndon McGee Welborn.  Lyndon volunteered for the Confederate army in1861. 

My odyssey has taken me from Columbia, S.C., to
Wilkesboro, N.C. (A).  Now I travel east to
Warrenton, N.C. (B) to learn more of Lyndon.
I followed Lyndon first to Wilkesboro, N.C., where he signed on as a 21-year-old private.  My next stop was Warrenton, N.C., near the Virginia border.  While preparing for my trip to Warrenton, I learned more about Lyndon, and I found a reference to “Hary.”  I promised I’d post more about the mysterious "Hary" and other things I’ve discovered about Lyndon during my Civil War odyssey. 

Here is an excerpt from Private Lyndon Welborn’s first letter home after mustering with the 1st Regiment of North Carolina Troops.  In this letter to a younger brother, Robert, I discovered “Hary,” (Harry) apparently a member of Lyndon’s household. Lyndon seems to have warm feelings for Harry, whom he addresses in this letter, along with his brother, David.

Who was Harry?

Hints come from this portion of Lyndon's letter:

Warrenton NC
July 5,   61

            Dear brother, (Robert)

... I must bring my few lines to a close    I am wel and harty and wish you all the same     if any of you have any news let me no       tel David that i will write to him next     tell hary that i wil remember him and hope that (i) will see him again   tel him again look for me between now and chritmas     no more

      From your brother respectively
     Lyndon M. Welborn

For full letter, go to THE LETTERS page.

From my book-in-progress Dear Father I Am Sorry To Tell You:

To learn about Harry, I researched the family papers my Great Aunt Kate had assembled. My findings knocked the wind out of me.  Harry was a slave on Lyndon’s family farm, a gift to Pa Joseph from his mother Jane McGee Welborn.  Jane willed Joseph “one negro boy named Harry,” whom records indicate was about 50 at the time, along with “one negro woman Luce and one child Sally.”  Jane also sold Joseph eight more slaves, including three children, for ten shillings each, “in consideration of the love and natural affection which I have and bear to my beloved son Joseph Welborn.”
            By 1861, Harry likely was in his late eighties.  I speculated that when Lyndon’s Ma died, Harry probably was too old to work the fields, and since Pa Joseph never remarried, maybe Harry helped care for widower Joseph’s 10 children.  When Ma died, Lyndon was barely seven years old. His brother David was four, and brother Robert was an infant. How would Ma have felt on her deathbed if she had known Lyndon, David, and Robert, as well as another son, William, would all go to war?
            One thing I know for sure, Harry didn’t see Lyndon walking across the farm’s cornfields, coming home by Christmas as 1861 drew to an end. Lyndon’s soldiering life was only beginning.  Years of hardship and horror awaited him. 
         ...When I learned my family had owned slaves, I couldn’t believe it, but wills among my family papers testified unequivocally to the fact.   
COMING SOON:  My visit to Warrenton.  See PREVIEWS page.             

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