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The Ghoul Of Gettysburg?

Discussion in 'Period Civil War Photos & Examinations' started by Claude Bauer, Jun 27, 2016.

  1. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Now now. We all know that's pretty hysterical, ' superior '. It'd take me 3 tries to spell it. Minister's kid. From the days when the parsonage was the place someone like this man came and you made him sandwiches and gave him better clothing.
     

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  3. civilken

    civilken Sergeant Major

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    Now , now smart and Christian you are right again.
     
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  4. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Ha! Yes, we picked up a lot of spelling reading those Lutheran hymnals every Sunday! Here's how smart I am, no clue we were singing the ' Battle Hymn of The Republic '. The coin didn't drop until I was like 30, sang that darn hymn once a month all that time. Duh.
     
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  5. coldsmoke

    coldsmoke Cadet

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    Greetings all... I stumbled upon this thread and happen to have some insight on the matter.

    I first saw this individual in Mr. Gregory Coco's 1995 book titled "A strange and blighted land" on page 89, which covers the gruesome aftermath of the battle of Gettysburg. He is described as un-named, and was arrested for robbing bodies which seems to be the common story.

    In 2005, I dug in and did some research on the fellow with the help of the internet.
    The relic shop, The Horse Soldier, in Gettysburg, had the original photo for sale ! I scheduled a weekend get away with my wife and to Gettysburg we went.

    The photo was small, 2"by 3" or so and had some interesting hand written script on the back. Dated mid july 1863 as I recall.
    It said..."Here is Mister Godfor, the ugliest man in Gettysburg"
    thats all I recall and that is crtstal clear in my memory.
    The photo was $800 and even though my wife was pressuring me to buy it, I just couldn't. ..regrets? Maybe now.

    I believe the park purchased it and it goes on display in the visitors center on occasion.
    Hope this helps a bit.

    Cheers,
    Dave M.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  6. Story

    Story Corporal

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    Color me skeptical, but the closest I can find for a Godfor/Godfer/Godfur about the same age as this fellow looks is a James Godfur born @ 1818 in England, living in Philadelphia's Ward 3 (Kensington), per the 1850 Federal Census.

    I'd want to see where someone 1) with a last name 'close enough' and 2) of the right age bracket was 3) living in the vicinity of Gettysburg, before I bought this version of Brooklyn Bridge.

    You're probably thinking of R. U. Pickman. Wasn't he with one of the Massachusetts Regiments?:skull:
     
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  7. Mike Serpa

    Mike Serpa 1st Lieutenant

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    The ugliest man in Gettysburg. Bullied and picked on. Then rumors started about grave robbing?
     
  8. Nathanb1

    Nathanb1 Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Retired Moderator

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    Great.............I just seasoned the black eyed peas with sausage. I think I'll keep this one to myself. That's a big pot of peas.
     
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  9. coldsmoke

    coldsmoke Cadet

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    Hmm...interesting. Good leg work too!
    Maybe more will be unearthed now.
     
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  10. 7th Mississippi Infantry

    7th Mississippi Infantry Major Forum Host

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    Hello Dave M.

    Welcome to the forums.

    Neat story !
     
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  11. coldsmoke

    coldsmoke Cadet

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    Thank you...and thanks for having me as well.

    Cheers
     
  12. chubachus

    chubachus Sergeant

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    Do you remember if it was a CDV or if there was photographer info in it? The Weavers were local Gettysburg photographers in the 1860's who probably would have taken it.
     
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  13. coldsmoke

    coldsmoke Cadet

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    It was a CDV. I recall the shop owner seeing something that proved (to him) the date and place of origin of the image.

    The Horse Soldier had both sides of the original photo posted on their website at the time. I wonder if they could pull it up in their photo records?
    Knowing somebody there might be of some benefit for this sort of endeavour I would think.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
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  14. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Yep. There were always side shows in the circus- the thrill of extraordinarily handicapped people on display was a huge draw. In England? You could purchase something called a ' poking stick ' before paying a shilling ( I think ) to tour Bedlam, the institution ( so called ) housing mentally ill. Poking mentally ill people through the bars, while they were on display in their veritable stall filled with hay, like animals, was a Victorian pastime like going to the zoo.

    I don't know. I'm a little suspicious of this photograph. Gettysburg citizens were making themselves ill nursing wounded, sending wagons out into fields scouring for wounded. Heck, Virginia Wade's sister handed her famous baby to her mother and headed to the hospitals as soon as her sister was buried. Kind? Those that were not, reports of those who were not turned out to be unfounded- outsiders coming in to make a buck from suffering. There was one confirmed death of a woman who was put to bed, exhausting herself nursing wounded- she couldn't stay there. There was too much suffering. Getting up to resume the grueling work killed her. Probably others. These people had no time and less inclination to bully and harass a man in this condition.

    Outsiders, bet. Really do not know this for a fact but it seems to me someone saw this unfortunate as some kind of gee-whiz op- either making Gettysburg look awful or make a buck selling the ' freak ' photograph after he was caught- along with quite a few others.
     
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  15. Mike Serpa

    Mike Serpa 1st Lieutenant

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    So, you believe he was a robber? And maybe others were, too. A lot of dead bodes there to rob.
     
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  16. Story

    Story Corporal

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    You'
    Looting the dead after battles has probably gone on since Cain slew Abel and to think otherwise is to sanitize war. After the armies left, who stuck around? Grave diggers and *maybe* military salvage teams, but that still left a pretty big vacuum in which to operate - working pistols would command $20 & up, watches near their face value, and wallets were obviously Christmas stockings waiting to be riffled. These would be the same 'bushwhackers' that raided farms and perpetrated all manner of crimes outside the range of any local Provost Guards' muskets.

    But with the sensationalism of the press in those days, I'm curious as to why this fellow didn't receive dozens of column inches. It's the sort of lurid sensationalism that would sell like hotcakes and yet all we have is one pic and the sounds of silence? I'm throwing the shenanigans flag.

    This "Godfor" photo might be a case of one Studio personifying those ghouls that were known but unspoken - some photographer took a random old guy, gave him a Dickensian sounding name for a Dickensian villain's role, then paid him off with a train ticket to anywhere else as a bonus.
     
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  17. Mike Serpa

    Mike Serpa 1st Lieutenant

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    So the story goes something like this: he wasn't the only one robbing graves. But he was the unfortunate one who got caught. Had his photo taken, because of his looks, to show the vileness of the crime. Or, @Story might be right. I wish could find an early reference to him.
     
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  18. Burning Billy

    Burning Billy Private

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    The military themselves were likely responsible for most of the looting of the dead that occurred during the war. In one of the other threads awhile back someone posted a picture of Confederate dead from late in the war, perhaps Petersburg, who appear to have been looted. Their pockets were inside out and it looked like there might have been some discarded personal effects scattered on the ground. If they were looted, it was more likely by Union soldiers than by the civilian photographers who were on scene next.

    Dead Union or Confederate soldiers whose bodies lay on ground controlled by the enemy for awhile, were likely not uncommonly relieved of pocket money, watches and the like, by their opponents. That sort of thing is common in war and likely always will be. Buttons or anything with a unit insignia might also be taken as a ghoulish souvenir, and of course boots and caps and other 'practical' items were taken as well when needed.
     
  19. D.H. Hill

    D.H. Hill Private

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    There's hardly a soldier from the images of the Petersburg dead who hasn't got his pockets cut, and most are missing their buttons, unless they be US manufacture.
     
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  20. civilken

    civilken Sergeant Major

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    you are probably right but I believe in innocent before guilty.
     
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  21. JohnW.

    JohnW. Sergeant

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    That certainly does look like intestines.
     

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