Civil War Couples

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
This might be an odd thread, just stark photos with no real plan behind it other than the photos. That's the point to me, anyway. It gets to you, more and more, the reality of what our ancestors went through in their seperations, their genuine sacrifices for whatever reasons. Unless we have letters, no one knows why each of these men went to war, North and South- we can guess based on our own perspective 150 years later, am betting we'd be wrong if we were able to ask each one. I wonder how wrong we'd be to guess about their wive's unhappiness at saying goodbye, especially if any of these photos were taken during a leave or maybe after recovering from a wound, their men going back to war. They'd already been restored to them alive, now the long wait for another miracle, his return home.

They are just haunting, that's all. Even if the men survived the war ( and you know not all pictured here did ), all are long, long gone, their stories closed. Some of that story we'd give an awful lot to hear in their own words is somewhere behind the eyes staring at the camera, patiently waiting for those seconds to elapse, the photographer to say it's done now. Then they thanked him, shook his hand, walked home or climbed in their wagon, the husbanc drove them home. Their life kept happening after those few seconds, how shocking a concept both would have found it, 150 years later we're looking at them in our seconds and minutes wishing they would speak to us. They kind of can.

It's not everyone's kind of thread, no real point other than keeping them company.



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diane

Retired User
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Location
State of Jefferson

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
INTERESTING, that I accidently included a Native American couple, very nice to understand details like that- also makes one look intelligent to one's children should this kind of thing come up again. " Oh yes, yes, see the couple on the left? " Long winded and pompous lecture follows, but the children know who KNOWS something. :smile: They thank you in advance, I'm sure, for priming their mother.

Thanks for the new pic- think there could be a hundred of these, never gets old. Hadn't occured to me the thing about how wonderful so many look but they DO, don't they? What a wonderful gene pool we're all swimming in, how lucky are we?

I got stuck on SO, so many letters couple like these shared, haven't been able to pick just one set. We're also very spoiled for cjoice since families tend to be incredibly generous with their treasures and allow the public to peek into the lives of ancestors. Have to admit to having a preference for the chatty ones which include troops, family news and just enough personal " Miss you' stuff to make the bond very clear, maybe some long distance teasing, always get a kick out of that. One of my favorites ( which I would not like getting ) was a man with interestingly no replies saved from his wife, whose every letter consisted of instructions on what to do with money. Where to put it, who not to pay until he came home ( he did ), and how convinced the husband was, every second he was awy, his poor wife was squandering all ' his' money on finery and food. Not a word about one, other subject, just money. Boy, I'll bet she couldn't wait until HE got home, what a catch! Laughed so hard, poor guy.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
The very tall man in the first section, 7th photo, he's standing, wife is seated- think that's my favorite for ' light' photos because it's the most interesting. She's wearing som adaptation of a uniform coat, with a necklace I can't figure out and a hair bow unique to anything I've seen, too. HE'S ( I'm sorry) cuter than a man with medals should be, just must be a vastly interesting story behind those two, that's all.

The African American family I think is my favorite for telling a clear story- GOSH he looks every inch the military man, and frightening soldier's soldier, she looks scared, you can see, FOR him, and for her family because of this awful war.
 

John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
Very much a couple for several months in 1863, were Clara Barton and Col. John Elwell of Cleveland.
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They had met in April; Elwell was Chief Quartermaster of the Department of the South, and Clara had brought her work "for my boys" to South Carolina. They were immediately attracted to each other, and their mutual affection was quite open and well known about Hilton Head. But, he was a married man, and all was apparently quite proper.

“Clara was taken by this 'kind, manly man' and enjoyed his stories and conversation. They spent many hours together and at one point she wrote in her diary , "What a life, and I am fearful that I ought to be in some other quarter although 'whatever is, is right ,' I know." They recited poetry to one another and took care of each other when sickness arose.

“One evening, after she had left his quarters, he wrote to her ,'This has been so beautiful an evening. I expect to dream about it (again) tonight.' But however much they were in love they never spoke of a future together. Elwell had his wife and family, and Clara had 'her boys.' They parted in December, 1863, when Clara took the steamer Fulton and sailed away from her lover. They would not meet again.” [the quote is from https://suite101.com/a/clara-bartons-love-affair-a45528]

Many years later, the two began a correspondence that lasted until his death in 1900. In one of these letters, Elwell confesses "I loved you as much as the law would allow ... and perhaps a little more." 'Nuf said.

See also: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=5858589
 

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JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
That is SO interesting, thank you Jno. You know there would have been some poorly disposed old biddy gossiping otherwise but it's very pleasant to note reputations alone precluded assumming more than friendship was there. It's a sad kind of story, on the one hand an two people destined never to be together, who probably could have been, on the other a good story since this knee-jerk thing where folks tend to leave marraiges out of discontent only doesn't seem to have been as prevelent 150 years ago ( as opposed to violence or truly awful living conditions which violate the covenant ). Of course, it isn't for any of us to judge all these years later, either- another mystery never to be solved. We frequently lose the 'real' reasons behind life events in a lot of our historical figure's lives through agenda- someone will invent something which suits their perspective, this will become Truth then it's heckish to surgically remove the dratted thing.

Example is, I just ' found' an apparent reason behind the suicide of Lazinka Ewell's first husband which sounds as fishy as it is sordid. No one there has Clara's heroic stature to raise Holy Heck on that, wish there were the same kind of laws against this kind of thing for folks who aren't here to defend themselves and there would be if they were alive. And no, am not going to post it, wouldn't if someone were able to show me it had elements of truth. It'd make us the National Enquirer of forums, dependent on salacious ( would somebody please spell that for me today? ) ' news' for an audience. If it would have been private to the point of excrutiating 150 years ago, it still is.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
I'd come here to post a few more Civil War era couples, before becoming distracted by Clara and her close friendship. Some of these are not men in uniform, just of the era. Once in awhile I'd bump into a couple who bugged me, or haunted me, really- one especially- a lovely, very young, neat as a pin woman in a poke bonnet with one of the most hunted expressions you've ever seen sitting next to a scrawny, poorly shaven, unkempt and slightly sneering litle man. Some of these stories I'm guessing we're happier not knowing.

It's just kind of wonderful musing about these folks and maybe imagining they ALL were around for 1866.
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John Hartwell

Major
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Location
Central Massachusetts
It's a sad kind of story, on the one hand an two people destined never to be together, who probably could have been, on the other a good story since this knee-jerk thing where folks tend to leave marraiges out of discontent only doesn't seem to have been as prevalent 150 years ago ( as opposed to violence or truly awful living conditions which violate the covenant ). Of course, it isn't for any of us to judge all these years later, either- another mystery never to be solved.

Today people have come so to expect the immediate, selfish gratification of every urge that it is too easy to forget (if one ever knew) that there were times in our history when self-control and self-denial were genuine values not only preached but actually practiced by a great many. Clara and John were sorely tempted, I'm sure. But I'm equally sure that they had self respect and an ethical sense enough to keep them on the moral straight-and-narrow. It is still so today for some people, though to read or watch the public media, you would never know it.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
They truly were- without all the heavy, heavy eye makeup and hair straighteners which as Mom pointed out makes them all look alike. There's something endearing about SO many of these couples, I don't know, the bond is in their eyes and attitude, a lot have come to the photographer because even if it was not spoken out loud it's been made clear to them he may not be coming home. I'm awfully glad we do not know which ones did- in our heads all of them could have.OH no- just thought of Sheldon's Shroedinger's Cat. It would apply!

Maybe one of the reasons we like these 150 year old photos so much is their inevitablity- there's an awfully good chance these couples ended their lives as Mr. an Mrs., unless a minnie ball put paid to that union. Don't get me wrong, I've commited multiple marraige- probably for reasons having to do with having grown up inside a marraige like these people had, and my parents had. The perspectives changed out there, without everyone changing en mass, a reason I lay at my own door not societies. You're supposed to twig to this stuff.

Anyway, Clara and her friend, perspectives of 150 years compared to now, all germaine to the thread, like I said, maybe one of the reasons we're SO taken with these couples. That's so correct, Jno. I watched a psychologist ' fix' a marraige on TV the other day, a wife had left her family, 3 sons, through feeling ' stifled' and ' dead inside'. The psychologist encouraged her to explore these things on the grounds that if she were not a ' whole' person she wouldn't be a good wife or mother, her children would suffer. She ended up not staying, must have gone off to FIND herself. No abuse, no turmoil, no rank dishonesty, legal problems, poverty- nothing in the household except people who wished she were there. Deep self absorbtion, is what it was, somehow given an out by a professional. Crazy, plus to me said an awful lot about what might be going on in the therapist's head- how many married people watched that and allowed themselves the same self indulgence? If she's so bored, could be borING, stop looking for other people to make you ' happy'. In her position that frame of mind tends to be a choice children do not have when she bails. 150 years ago this ' finding yourself' thing wasn't even a thought- if your husband came back from the war, boy, were these women happy.
 
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