Golden Thread What did your relatives do during the Civil War . . . instead of fighting?

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Zella

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
May 23, 2018
I always find the stories about everyone's military ancestors fascinating, and it's one of my favorite aspects of learning about the war. But I also find it interesting to see what people who weren't enlisted were doing. @Schwallanscher suggested starting a thread on the topic, and here it is!

My contribution is my maternal g-g-g-g-grandfather Arnold Potter, who was a bit preoccupied starting his own unsuccessful cult (which was apparently noted for its questionable fashion sense). :redface::eek::confused:

A distant cousin has written about Potter, but apparently during the Civil War, Potter and his offshoot Mormon sect were living in Independence, Missouri. He ran afoul of a Union soldier who shot at him, so he decided to curse the Union and prophecy the Confederacy would win. That didn't work out so well, so he eventually relocated to Iowa, where he finished out the war . . . and the rest of his life (in a failed attempt to ascend to heaven in 1872).

So, what was your ancestor doing during the war instead of fighting and soldiering? :D
 

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archieclement

Captain
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
farming as well

It seems sects always been around, here we had Millerites

here is a documented story of the use of Hannibal's Lover's Leap by the Millerites. Millerites were the followers of the American Baptist preacher William Miller who prophesied the Second Coming of Christ. Miller's third prediction of the date of Christ's return was October 22, 1844 and on this day Millerites in the Hannibal area abandoned their crops and stores, put on long white robes, and gathered at Lover's Leap only to be ultimately disappointed.
 
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Zella

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
May 23, 2018
farming as well

It seems sects always been around here we had Millerites

here is a documented story of the use of Hannibal's Lover's Leap by the Millerites. Millerites were the followers of the American Baptist preacher William Miller who prophesied the Second Coming of Christ. Miller's third prediction of the date of Christ's return was October 22, 1844 and on this day Millerites in the Hannibal area abandoned their crops and stores, put on long white robes, and gathered at Lover's Leap only to be ultimately disappointed.
That's really interesting! I have vaguely heard of the Millerites but didn't know much about them.
 

alan polk

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
My ancestors spent the better part of the war trying to adapt to living in a hotly contested region between the Cold Water and Tallahatchie rivers in Mississippi. They had a business and a Plantation in Chulahoma. That little village and the school were eventually burned to the ground by the Yankees after Union strategy focused on civilian populations in addition to military targets.

My ancestor wrote a letter recalling much of the struggle. I wrote a piece about that letter and those experiences a while back. It can be found here:

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/emma’s-letter.144134/#post-1776124
 

Zella

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
May 23, 2018
My ancestors spent the better part of the war trying to adapt to living in a hotly contested region between the Cold Water and Tallahatchie rivers in Mississippi. They had a business and a Plantation in Chulahoma. That little village and the school were eventually burned to the ground by the Yankees after Union strategy focused on civilian populations in addition to military targets.

My ancestor wrote a letter recalling much of the struggle. I wrote a piece about that letter and those experiences a while back. It can be found here:

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/emma’s-letter.144134/#post-1776124
Thanks so much for sharing! That's wonderful that the letter has stayed in your family all these years.
 
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AshleyMel

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 26, 2016
Great thread! I hope this will encourage anyone who maybe has not looked too deeply into their ancestor to do so!
I found a new one that I am just researching more. He served for 8 months then was allowed to go back home because he was needed to take care of his family. I guess, he was in, some way skilled medically because he was known as Doc. I'm hoping I will be able to add him as a supplemental for UDC!
 

J. D. Stevens

Corporal
Joined
Dec 11, 2016
Location
Deep In The Heart of Texas
Two of my ancestors were my 2nd Great Grandfather, Philip Gathings, and his older brother, James Gathings. They owned adjacent plantations in Hill County of North Central Texas. Other than most of the men of military age were serving in the army, Texas did not endure the devastation the states to the east saw. The brothers grew mostly corn and wheat, but also had large herds of cattle, sheep, and hogs. James had a steam mill for grinding cornmeal and flour. They also had a tannery for hides and facilities for making leather products, shoes, saddles, etc. How much was sold for Confederate service is unknown. A receipt was found in Fold3 showing Philip sold 704 pounds of wool for $528 in 1863 to an agent for the Confederate Quartermaster.

One of the fascinating events by my ancestors was during the summer of 1863. The brothers donated 10 acres, set up a board of trustees, hired a president, and opened the "Gathings Male and Female College." That fall, 50 young scholars were attending for $10 per month. In September 1863, at age 44, Philip enlisted in the Texas State Troops because the Union army and navy was making demonstrations of invading at various locations along the Texas coast. Philip was stationed in Galveston.

An early picture of The Gathings Male and Female College, the first in Hill County established in 1863
Gathings Men & Womens College.jpg
 
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JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Location
Central Pennsylvania
My family on both sides were Quakers so I don't think they fought. One ancestor taught in a boys' school and spent a lot of time trying to get them to attend church.

Here's something either cool or odd or both- Quakers in our family left the sect to fight in the Revolution, then were allowed back in later. Wish I could remember what the process was called. Moved to Ohio, same thing during the Civil War- left to fight, some went back. Well, veteran grgrgrandfather somehow ended up marrying a Methodist battleax, have a feeling he had no choice but to leave his Quaker family behind. The whole thing is interesting, leaving to fight but permitted back later. Love to see someone who knows this stuff get into the topic.

So, what was your ancestor doing during the war instead of fighting and soldiering

JPK and 3 brothers were in uniform but one brother, grgrgrandfather, ran a ' public house ' in D.C.. It was also a hospital, like a lot of hotels. Family was awfully political, another brother ( ton of children that generation ) was a politician/lawyer, died in the war despite not being in uniform. Yes, a politician in the family. Don't tell anyone.

Have several building and running canal boats although most of that family answered the call for men when things were heating up.
 

Waterloo50

Major
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Location
Blighty.
I always find the stories about everyone's military ancestors fascinating, and it's one of my favorite aspects of learning about the war. But I also find it interesting to see what people who weren't enlisted were doing. @Schwallanscher suggested starting a thread on the topic, and here it is!

My contribution is my maternal g-g-g-g-grandfather Arnold Potter, who was a bit preoccupied starting his own unsuccessful cult (which was apparently noted for its questionable fashion sense). :redface::eek::confused:

A distant cousin has written about Potter, but apparently during the Civil War, Potter and his offshoot Mormon sect were living in Independence, Missouri. He ran afoul of a Union soldier who shot at him, so he decided to curse the Union and prophecy the Confederacy would win. That didn't work out so well, so he eventually relocated to Iowa, where he finished out the war . . . and the rest of his life (in a failed attempt to ascend to heaven in 1872).

So, what was your ancestor doing during the war instead of fighting and soldiering? :D
Questionable fashion sense, I’m intrigued, what are we talking here, white pointy head gear with robes or just very loud coloured pants, open toe sandals with knee length socks, come on, spill the beans. OMG, it wasn’t golf clothing was it!
 
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ARW

Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 12, 2018
Location
Lebanon Pa
My GGGrandfather Daniel Wells, who lived in Bradford Co PA, sent 2 boys off to war and spent his time selling lumber to the Federal Government. As he sold lumber he bought more land and sold more lumber. By the end of the war he owned over 1000 acres of what now was cleared farm land.
Over 40 other ancestors in the same area went off to war. The ones who stayed home either farmed or worked in the coal mines.
Most of my wife's ancestors were either Mennonite or Brethren and did not go off to war. They were mainly farmers in the Lebanon and Lancaster area of PA. Some raised tobacco and some even worked for the cigar makers in the area.
 
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Lusty Murfax

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Location
Northwest Missouri
One of my GG-Grandfathers, Adam was of military age during the WBTS and did not serve. Born in Penn., he left home at the age of 15 due to a dispute with his Father's second wife. Adam migrated southward into Kentucky and came across the trail of a family migrating from eastern Tenn. to northwest Missouri. Adam joined them and the group arrived in what is now Kansas City, North (of the River). The Tenn. family had many relatives already living in the area, they were among the early settlers of Clay and Platte Counties. He met and eventually married one of the migrating group's cousins, who had been born in Missouri. Living in the area and associating with the related families he developed Southern sympathies. He followed his future wife's family northward to Atchison Co. in extreme northwestern Missouri and settled nearby. Adam started a freight hauling business and when the war came to Missouri his business was already established. Though Atchison Co. was far removed from the conflict occurring several Counties south, local Union authorities demanded that Adam serve in the Union militia. He declined, but a compromise was reached in which Adam and his two wagon teams would haul freight for the U.S. Army from Nebraska City, Ne. on the west side of the River out to various Army forts situated on the Great Plains. Adam stayed out of the war and returned to Atchison Co. in 1864 to marry my GG-Grandmother.
 
Joined
Oct 31, 2017
Location
Bountiful
Well, you can't pick your ancestors. A 3rd great grandfather of mine was born in 1833 (prime age to be a soldier) was listed in the 1860 census as the Overseer on his grandfather's tobacco farm. I have never found he was in the military. Interesting that ARW, in post #18 lists Daniel Wells. This 3rd gr grandfather of mine was married to a Wells. They were Virginia Wells though.
 
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