Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Research and Reunions

These two documents are about our Benjamin Mellinger, and his military history. He was our Yankee soldier during the war, the story goes that he went AWOL, and came to Alabama. It is his granddaughter that was my grandmother, Lillie Prinzillian Mellinger. The Mellinger line is related to the Perrett line--from Crenshaw County, AL there comes a story about a French Indian Trader named Perrett who had an Indian squaw for a wife; she'd tended to him when he was ill, when he recovered, she stayed with him. How much truth there is to that, we still have yet to prove. However, half the fun is the journey!

Family and Reunions

M.H. Beasley and sister, Charlene Beasley Sasser, b. 6 Jan 1927

Mellinger Hancock Beasley
b.23 August 1916

M. H. Beasley and Sherry (Sasser) Johnston

A few years ago, mama's only surviving sibling, Mel Beasley suggested to her that we start having family reunions again like in the 'old days'. We all discussed it quite a bit, and settled on a date. I decided to host it at our home in Evergreen: the Old Pritchett Place, a farmhouse smack dab in the middle of Evergreen, just off AL 83/Liberty Hill Drive--very conveniently located off Exit 96 of I-65. The house is spread out with lots of room, a front and back porch and plenty of yard space for the children we hoped would come. It was a wonderful location and so many families came--we could tell that this was going to be a big hit! With Mel and his family coming up from Mobile; Malcolm and his family also from Mobile, as well as others in the family; those coming down from Montgomery; Birmingham; and some from Pensacola, this proved to be just what everyone needed to reconnect and share their memories of family with each other. We hosted one at the Bolden Cardwell Hall of Evergreen First United Methodist Church over on Desplous Street; we hosted twice at Hampden Ridge United Methodist Church in the Hampden Ridge Community where our ancestors went to church and many are buried; we also hosted one at the old homestead on County Road 23. We had decided to include the children and grandchildren and all the allied families of the Ancestor: Charles W. Beasley & Thirza Northcutt Beasley--this included Mel and Charlene's parents: Charlie Samuel Beasley and Lillie Prinzillian Mellinger Beasley--so we had Beasleys, Barlows, Etheridges, Hendersons, Johnstons, Broxton, and in between the families that these folks had married into. We have met so many wonderful cousins in branches of the family that we knew nothing about. I've met many of them online, through research, whether their queries or mine. The Beasley Family migrated from NC to AL--and settled in Conecuh County way early--and it's been fun to discover all the connections to other Beasley families far and wide! I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the photographs of our family reunions. The next reunion will be held once more at the Pritchett House the weekend of Mother's Day--we're going to celebrate our family once more.

Memories of the 23rd Alabama by Henry J. Beasley

(By Henry J. Beasley)

After a lapse of 44 years it is difficult to remember names' and dates, but I will try and write something of my company and regiment. I was in the 23rd Ala., Co. H. We went out in the au­tumn of 1861; we were mustered into service at Montgomery about the 16th of November. F. K. Beck was our colonel. From there we went to Dog River near Mobile and were there for a while. From there we went up in Tennessee and Kentucky. We were under Gen­eral Bragg in the Kentucky march. It was a hard march, with but little to eat--parched and raw corn for several days--but we had a large quantity of bacon stored at camp. When we retreated it was fired and burned up. I saw the light of it for several miles, but we managed to get several pieces; so we had meat for several days. Some of the boys threw theirs away; and they were so worn out and footsore they could hardly march empty handed. Our Regi­ment did not do any fighting of note on this trip through Ken­tucky. We came through the gap of the Cumberland Mountains in the fall of 62 and wintered in portions of Tennessee and Missis­sippi. In the early spring of 63 we went to Vicksburg. While there we went for a day's march up the Mississippi River and got lost in the swamps. We were lost three days and nights and it rained the whole time we were there. We had nothing to eat while in the swamp. Our good Colonel Beck offered us his horse if we would eat him. We declined his generous offer and told him we would share the pangs of hunger with him; that we were true soldiers and wherever he went and suffered the 23rd Regiment never flinched from duty when in the face of danger or suffering. We all loved our officers, especially Colonel Beck.

On the day that we got out of the swamps the sun rose clear and bright. We knew Vicksburg was east of us so we marched in that direction. A short while after we started we came in sight of a house. I said to Ed Mock, "Here is where we can get some­thing to eat." So we stopped and they began preparing something immediately. But Ed became impatient and would not stay, so I was left to enjoy my feast alone. I was not alone either for there were two pretty girls, there, and this hungry "Reb" enjoyed himself immensely, and I thought of my comrade Ed Mock. I remained with those good people for hours and rejoined my command at Vicksburg about 11 o'clock that night and the boys had my rations drawed and cooked, so I happened to good luck at last.

We went next to Port Gibson; there we were engaged in a hard battle. The boys fought well, but we had to fall back. Lost several, killed and wounded and some captured. E. W. Pettus of the l0th Ala., was captured, but escaped from the enemy by swimming.

The next battle was at Big Black under General Pember­ton. There was some desperate fighting done there. The artillery roared all day long. The loss of life was terri­ble. We fell back to the trenches at Vicksburg where we remained for 40 days.

The closest place I was in was while I was on picket duty all alone when about four Yanks centered their fire on me, but I stood my ground and had the satisfaction of see­ing the litter bearers carry off several of them. We had a hard time in the siege of Vicksburg. We held them in check until we had nothing to eat and were in a famished condi­tion. We surrendered on July 4, 1863. The Yankees were very kind to us; they gave us hungry "Rebs" plenty of ra­tions, and we all came home on parole. After spending some days at home, we went to Demopolis in parole camps, and after the exchange we went to Tennessee. The next battle was on top of Lookout Mountain. This was a peculiar battle, as er fought with rocks part of the time by rolling them down the mountain side on the yanks. The next engagement was at Missionary Ridge. This was a bloody battle and the yanks outdone the "Rebs." At this time the 23rd Ala. Regi­ment was in E. W. Pettus' brigade to the surrender; we were in Stevenson's division. If I am not mistaken, our regi­ment went into quarters at Dalton Ga.; then we were in the tights from Dalton to Atlanta for nearly 100 days. In a charge near Marietta' one of my brothers was killed, and at Rasaca we lost our colonel, F. K. Beck. My captain, B. L. Selman, was wounded at this time, and Lieutenant John Mc­Donnell, our second Lieutenant took charge of our company. He was a brave and true soldier. I would be glad to tell of all the brave deeds of our soldiers in Georgia, but I have not time.

At New Hope Church we had a bloody battle, at which I was slightly wounded in the leg, but I did not stop fighting. All through northern Georgia I saw plenty of Sherman’s monuments in shape of lone chimneys and blackened spots where he had burned the houses. I saw women and children left without shelter or anything to eat and no prospect for the future. On our retreat we could tell the way Sherman's march was going by the smoke of the burning buildings. He burned everything--houses, barns, fences, etc. In the two days fight at Atlanta there was some hard fighting. The Yankees fought well. I think they had about fifteen pieces of artillery right in front of the 23rd Ala. Regiment and the fiendish screams of the shells was terrible.

About this time Johnson was relieved of his command from the Tennessee army and Hood placed in command. We all had sad faces the day Johnson left us. We hated to give up our leader. The boys said goodbye Old Joe, we all love you. I think Davis made a great mistake when he relieved Johnson from the Tennessee army and placed Hood in command. But the boys never flinched from duty when ordered by Hood. When he said charge the boys would raid the Rebel yell and charge even if it was against superior numbers. I will relate a funny incident which happened among that picket fight. As we fell back to line of battle we had to go through an old field. We were trotting along at a lively pace. The many balls were going "zip" "zip" around us when one hit one of my company; he hollowed Henry I'm killed! killed! and he said if I'm not killed I am going to get away from this place. He outran me and beat me back to the line of battle.

After we left Atlanta on our march back into Tennessee we had a spat or two with the Yankees. E. W. Pettus brigade had to cross a creek. We had to throw pontoon bridges across to get over and then we had to charge the yanks so we could cross. This incident was in our march to Franklin, Tennessee.

The 23rd Ala. was not in the battle at Franklin, but was held in reserve and on the night of the fight we slept on our arms.

Early next morning we marched through the battlefields and here a terrible sight met our eyes.

The dead was strewn everywhere and just to the right of the locust orchard, it seemed to me, was the hardest part of the fight, the dead being in heaps.
We marched right on toward Nashville.

     The 23rd Ala. was nearly all the fighting around Nashville.

Here at Nashville was the first time we had encountered Negro troops, two lines of Negro troops charging on our lines.

     If you ever saw Rebs shoot, we shot them.

     Our fire was too hot for them and they fell back.

     Some of our boys jumped over the breastwork and captured two of their flags.
     In this fight our Lieutenant Colonel was wounded by a piece of shell.

After we fell back from Nashville, we went up into North Carolina.

Our boys were in no condition to fight; they were worn out, hungry, footsore and nearly naked, and from now we did not do any fighting of any interest.

Here I will give a little of my Hospital experiences with the sick in Tennessee.

In Powell’s Valley near Clinton our boys were nearly all killed. I was detailed to take the sick to Knoxville and we put them on the boat at Clinton that came up the Clinch River. We were a day and night in getting into the Tennessee and to Knoxville.

After I got the boys in the Hospital that night one of them died.

I dressed him and saw him buried, and the next morning I said to myself I was not the boy to stay in the Hospital, so I slipped out and went to my command.

Some of the boys ask why I did not stay that I would have been out of the range of bullets.

I said I was no hospital rat, that the front was where I wanted to be.

In these memories I can state all the brave deeds the boys of the 23rd Ala. accomplished in their fourth years service.

They were as true as any Regiment that went to that cruel war.

     I am proud to say that I am an old Confederate Vete­ran.

After the war, we came home and found everything in a ruined condition.

     It seemed that everything was gone but honor.

We went to work with the determination to build up all our country and the result has been marvelous.

The old boys are now rapidly passing away and in a few more years there will be no more.

At the State Reunion at Montgomery in 1907, I was going along looking into the faces of the old boys seeing if I could recognize any of them when I noticed an old man looking about on the crowd like myself.
     I took him by the hand and ask (what Regiment)?
     He replied 23rd Ala. Company H.

     And I said "Bill Siggars." He said, "Henry Beasley" and then everything was forgotten in our Happiness.

     I had not met him since the surrender. He was eighty-two.

At the Birmingham Reunion in 1908 I met our drummer boy who I had not seen since the surrender.

     We sat down on the grass at the Court House and chatted a long time about our war experiences.

Since the war it has been a great pleasure to me to meet our old comrades. They seem like brothers. I know the hardships they endured for the lost cause.

Time will fail me to tell of all the courage and fortitude of the private soldiers who endured the cold, the hunger, and the strife following their leaders to the end.

Each year our ranks grow thinner,
Veterans of 61 to 65;
Soon life's sun will sink forever
On those wearers of the gray.
One by one they answer roll call,
One by one they pass away;
Pass beyond this vale of tears,
The noble wearers of the gray.

Supplied by: James H. Wood
12601 Long Cove Drive
Charoltte, NC  28277-4029

Friday, February 15, 2013

Flamingos Flocking to Evergreen

Flamingoes flocked to Evergreen on Liberty Hill Drive
Yes, you're seeing pink flamingos in yards in Evergreen! I arrived home from work yesterday to see four of these beauties near my drive! My poor little pooches wanted to know where they came from and when they were leaving! A colorful site to behold! This is a wonderful fundraiser for my beloved library: The Evergreen Study Club will help these flamingoes to their next destination and in the meantime, it's a lovely way to help support the many programs that we have for the Evergreen-Conecuh County Public Library! Who knows, they may flock to your yard next!

February is a special month for me

The month of February, the second month of the year, a pretty special month for me: God chose this month for me to be born to special parents: Jones B. & Charlene (Beasley) Sasser on the 23rd in 1955. I enjoyed birthday parties at home with cousins and friends most of my growing up years--birthday cakes and singing the birthday song--cake and ice cream--punch--all precious memories. As I grew older, of course, the parties were fewer and cakes were less, as we did other things to have fun! Mama almost always baked my birthday cake, though, and even if that's a small thing--to me, I wish mama could make me a birthday cake this year! I miss my Mama being in the kitchen! She did love to cook once upon a time.

Then, I get married in 1973 about two months after my high school graduation--and it was nearly 6 years later, that we were blessed with an adorable little girl born on the 19th of February 1979. Jennifer Claire Johnston we named her, and she was indeed the apple of our eyes! She was the first grandchild for my parents and yes, they doted on her, and my mama still does! My two sisters spoiled her incredibly rotten and we allowed that, I think! She's a beautiful young woman today, a wonderful mother to two of the most precious grandsons I could ever imagine, sister to two incredibly smart siblings who we love dearly: Katie and Kyle, loving cousin to my sister's boys who came later: Josh, Jacob and Jared;  intelligent and smart and funny and a hard working young woman. Claire has always had goals and gone after them--excelling in her achievements in every direction. Daddy would be so proud of you, Claire, and he would have loved these wonderful boys! Can you imagine him taking them fishing!?! What fun! I try my best to have fun with them in his memory!
My parents: Charlene Beasley & Jones Branton Sasser wedded on 20 December 1947; Three daughters: Lillie Maureen b 1949; Sherrell Elaine b 1955; and Mary Janet b 1961.

Dewdrops in the garden remind me of the freshness of an early morning; all the exciting possibilities a day holds, much like a child: Imagine the places they will go!
The month wasn't always kind to me, and Valentine's Day has been my least favorite day of the year, but when I compare what I might have lost on a Valentine's Day so long ago to what I've gained from then since, I know that God has blessed me beyond comparison! I love knowing that Claire and I share our birthday month of February, as we do with others in our family and communities. It's a blessed month! Happy Birthday dear Claire! I hope you will have a wonderful birthday and even if I can't be there to celebrate it with you, my heart will be there!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Share the Love--Share Your Stories

Share the Love--Share Your Stories
     A few months ago, I created a series of programs for the Library Archives Department entitled: The Canebrake Oral History Series: A Window into Our Collective Past and each month, planned something special to share with others. The first one we held is described in an earlier post, and it was honoring the memories of Sallie Ellis Weekley. We did one in December about Sharing Christmas Memories, and had great participation. January we skipped because of the flu outbreak, and February--well, today it flooded! So many were kept away from the event because of the weather, but two friends did drop in for a little bit, and between Diane Sosebee, our co-worker, myself and them, we managed to share a few stories for just a bit before they had to get back out and home before the next front comes through. I heard marvelous stories about how their parents or grandparents met; stories about their life together; and just in general about their childhood! We laughed at some till we nearly cried! We also realized how similar our childhoods were, even with an age difference! Take the time to share with your children, grandchildren, and other family members about your own childhood or that of your parents and grandparents. Share the Love and Share YOUR Story!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Let's Paddle!

One of my favorite pasttimes is taking a canoe out on the waters of our rivers and creeks here in Alabama--I would have never guessed that I would enjoy it so very much! But I do! Since doing history and genealogy and all the research of the places our ancestors lived, I enjoy getting to visit and explore them, if at all possible. Late last summer, a friend and I decided to put the canoe in on Pigeon Creek, and we thoroughly enjoyed it! Quite different than the Sepulga which I have done about three times now, and look forward to doing it again one day. It was so pretty that I kept forgetting to take photographs of the scenery! So, most of my photos are of the beginning of the trip down the creek! Come with me as we paddle down Pigeon Creek!
This view is of the creek at Lloyd's Mill--up the creek from where we actually put in at. The creek was incredibly low here and would have been terribly hard to negotiate, as more walking would have been done than paddling!

We walked into the woods from the old mill site to see how much depth there was to the creek here and once there, and seeing the numerous log jams, we knew we'd have to go in down the creek further.

This is the view as we started, we'd loaded the canoes, and set off, an wow, what a journey--didn't take as long as we thought it would to paddle down to the US84 Bridge.

This photo is also of the creek right by the old mill site. That in itself was an adventure that day!

You can see that this is where we put in and the front of the canoe, as we start our journey.


Ready to Paddle!

Our island