St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tracing Enslaved Africans

Knowing how hard it can be to trace my ancestors who came to America from Europe, I can imagine the frustration of those who seek their history from Africa.

I ran across this announcement of a new resource for researching those with African origins who were brought to the Americas on slave boats.  Perhaps, this will turn out to be helpful to those who are seeking their family history and roots from that area and timeframe.

New Website to Trace Origins of Enslaved Africans

/PRNewswire/ -- Little is known of the ancestry of Africans pulled into the trans-Atlantic slave trade. A new website, launched at Emory University this week, aims to change that. The African-Origins ( website provides a rare glimpse of the identities of Africans aboard early nineteenth-century slaving vessels, and through this information, the possibility of tracing the origins of millions of other Africans forcibly transported to the Americas. Public participation will be critical to piecing together this missing history.

Visitors to African-Origins can search an online database of Africans liberated from slaving vessels, with such details as gender, age, African port of departure, and, most importantly, an African name. Because names used within African languages and social groups have remained fairly consistent over the last two centuries, the thousands of names listed in this database are clues to the linguistic and ethnic origins of the Africans on board these vessels.

Scholars are now looking for help in identifying the modern counterparts of these names and the languages and ethnicities with which they are likely associated. Through the African-Origins website, those with knowledge of African languages and cultural naming practices can suggest these links. By taking a few minutes to search and listen for familiar names and contribute a modern counterpart, language, and ethnic group, members of the public can help identify the language, ethnic and geographic origins of people listed in these registers, and subsequently the likely origins of millions of other unnamed Africans enslaved during this period.

With these insights, scholars serving as editors of the database can consider the range of possible languages and groups affiliated with a name alongside historical research of peoples' locations and movements across Africa. As contributions are received and analyzed, new information will be added to the African-Origins database on the likely language and ethnicity of each individual. Visitors to the site will eventually be able to search for Africans by linguistic group and view maps of the historical locations of people pulled into the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

To find out more about the African Origins project or contact the project team, visit or email


Ahh, genealogy.  What trips our ancestors took!

©2011 AS Eldredge

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: 1862 "War Meeting" for the Co. D PA 149th Boys

With the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War this week, I've really thought about the families on both sides of the proverbial Mason-Dixon line and the costs the war brought to each.

History tells us of the organization of Co. D of the PA 149th Volunteers at the Hill Church in Robinson's Run on August 22, 1862.  Among those who volunteered and were original members of the group were several kin and kissing kin of mine, including Captain James GLENN (1824-1901).

This seems like the perfect time to share some more tidbits about cousin James.

In the Diary of Hannah Glenn SNODGRASS (my 2g aunt), she tells us that on August 19, 1862, her sister, Maggie, and Hannah's future husband, Addison Henry SIMMONS, and Hannah all ..

(Note: spelling and punctuation are the same as found in the diary)

"went to a war meeting down to Scotts. The speakers the Reverands J Y McCartney R McPherson Mr Calhoun Capt McElwain J Snodgrass & two others
Wed the 20 we sewed & put up tomatoes
Thursday the 21 we took the ear & plumbs aft put up some plumbs and sewed & Capt J Gleen (GLENN) was here for tea 
Friday 22 Capt G in the morning"....

Captain GLENN was the first cousin of Hannah, and likely came to tea as he was going to be leaving for war that night.  J SNODGRASS was also the cousin of Hannah.  Two of the Reverends mentioned were from the Mansfield Presbyterian Church and Mansfield UP Church.

According to Hannah's words,  Reverend McCartney chose his text on the 24th as Psalm 31 verse 19 which states, "How great is Thy goodness, Which Thou hast stored up for those who fear Thee, Which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, Before the sons of men!".  We can only imagine the good Reverend somehow used that verse for the war talk from the pulpit.

The company did leave for Harrisburg on the evening of August 22, 1862, and arrived in Washington, DC on August 31, 1862.  To see a letter written by company member (and cousin of Glenn) Frank C DORRINGTON, click on 1863 Civil War Letter from a Member of the PA 149th Bucktails written earlier this week.

The following item I placed in my genealogy files without documenting the source!  How could I have done that?  So, please forgive me.  I acknowledge I didn't write this summary although I suspect it was a local newspaper of the time and I am still looking for the source.  When I find it, it will be properly noted.

Civil War Veterans Memorial
Memorial for Deceased Veterans
G.A.R. Men Honor Their Dead Comrades in a Service at the First Baptist Church Records and Singing on Program

The First Baptist church was filled with old soldiers and their friends, and relatives of deceased members of Captain Thomas Espy Post No. 153 Grand Army of the Republic, last Sabbath afternoon. Perhaps never before in Carnegie have there been held a more impressive service then this, the service to the memory of the twenty-one members who have passed away in the past seven years. The McKees Rocks Veterans Association was well represented. Rev. C. C. Cowgill, pastor of the First Christian church, read the Scripture lesson and Rev. J. H. Duff D.D., pastor of the First Presbyterian church, made the opening prayer. The pulpit was draped with the American Flag, and the symbols of the mourning, and on the arrival of the Post their half-masted flags were placed upon the platform. Col. Wm J. Glenn announced the program. The choir, with Miss Ella Perrin at the organ, sang several selections. Adjutant W. H. H. Lea read the record of each of the twentyone comrades who had died, and after each one the bugle call and taps were sounded. Rev. J. A. Snodgrass, the pastor of the church and a member of Espy Post delivered an address. Rev. Snodgrass spoke of the great dept which the younger generation owes to the Union soldiers of the Civil War. In the performance of their duty they assured to us the blessings of prosperity which we now enjoy. He called attention to the act that the government pension list, which up until last year grew steadily larger, had commenced to diminish, and last year was smaller then the year pre- ceding. There is only one cause for this, said he, the old soldiers are passing from our midst. The service closed by the congregation singing the doxology. Rev. Cow- gill pronounced the benediction.

*GLENN, James Captain James Glenn, who organized Company D, was a military man before the War, having entered the State service under the old Militia Laws, as Second Lieutenant in the Pennsylvania Blues, an independent Allegheny County Military Company. In this organization he was promoted to First Lieutenant and Captain; his Company being a good organization, and well known under the old system. He was mustered into the Volunteer Service for the Civil War as Captain of Company D, 149th Pa. Volunteers, August 22, 1862, and promoted to Major, April 22, 1864, and to Lieutenant Colonel January 08, 1865. After the Regiment joined the Army of the Potomac it was assigned to the Third Division, First Army Corps, and Captain Glenn was Provost Marshal of the Division. He served in this capacity until he was promoted to Major. Captain Glenn was placed in command of the Regiment after the fight at Gettysburg, July 01, 1863 the Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel and Major being disabled by wounds - and had charge of the Regiment through the second and third days of the battle, and up to July 6th, when Major Irvin returned and took command. After the battle of Dabney's Mills, February 07, 1865, the Regiment was ordered to Elmira, N.Y., for special duty, and Lieut. Col. Glenn was there placed on detailed court martial service. He was mustered out of the service August 22, 1865. After the war Captain Glenn was elected Major in the 14th Regiment, N.G.P., September 01, 1875; promoted to Lieutenant Colonel January 20, 1877, and to Colonel in January, 1882. After serving a term as Colonel he retired roll February 25, 1888. Captain Glenn was well known in the community in which he lived, had no difficulty in securing the requisite number of men to organize a Company for the Civil War, and with the assistance of his Lieutenants and First Sergeant, the Company soon became proficient in drill and discipline. During his service he became known as a fighting officer,being frequently assigned to other commands when severe fighting was expected. He was almost reckless in his bravery. It was a common remark among the boys that "the Captain didn't know when he was licked" and after his attempt to rally half a dozen members of his Company on the retreat from Seminary Hill at Gettysburg, to stop the advance of a division of Lee's Army, followed by his service in the Wilderness and other campaigns, the mention of his name was sure to recall recollection of his bravery and soldierly qualities. He served his entire term of service without sickness or wounds, and was engaged in every march, skirmish or battle in which the Regiment participated. After the war he engaged in the grain and feed business and made his home with his sister, Mrs. Robb, of Glendale, Allegheny Co., Pa., where he lived, honored and respected by the entire community and kindly remembered by the surviving members of his old company. He died August 23, 1902, and was buried by his surviving comrades in the cemetery at Mt. Lebanon, Allegheny Co., Pa.

More on Captn James GLENN:

*General History of Company D, 149th Pennsylvania Volunteers: and Personal Sketches of the Members, compiled by John W. Nesbit. pg 52, 1908.

 "Captain James Glenn's Sword and Private J. Marshall Hill's Enfield in the Fight for the Lutheran Cemetery" by Wiley Sword Gettysburg, Jan. 1, 1993, Issue No. 8.

"Hannah Glenn Snodgrass Diary 1862-1863" Transcribed by Ann S Eldredge, Theresa Paxton and John Addison Williams, Jr,  Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society Quarterly, 32:3 (2006).

Ahh, genealogy. Writing about the past brings warm hugs from beyond on a sunny day.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Campfires of The Boys of '61 in 1894

I never thought much about the sheer numbers of American men who wore either the Blue or the Grey back during the Civil War.  All I thought of while researching my genealogy roots is why did they have to be injured or die.  What about their poor widows?  And the children they left behind as they marched off to fight for their beliefs.

It also really didn't occur to me why I couldn't find my Yanks in the GAR post near the little town in which so many lived.

Today, I stumbled across a souvenir edition of the Pittsburgh Press from September 9, 1894.  The number of stories, posts, and regimental histories combined with poetry and drawings is enough to have me reading for days.  The men had all come to Pittsburgh for a grand reunion from many states.  There's ton of history and names in these pages.

How many of my loving names which are only a memory will I find?

How many families suffered from the war?  How many hearts were broken?

I submit to you the poem "For Freedom Died" found on pg 33 with the notation it was from the New York Evening Post.

"Forward!" was the word when day
Dawned upon the armed array.

"Fallen!" was the word when night
Closed upon the field of fight.

"Hurt, my boy?" "Oh, no! Not much!"
"Only got a little touch!"

"Forward!" was the word that flashed
Homeward, when the cannon crashed.

"Missing!" was the word sent home
When the shades of night had come.

"Fallen?"  "Yes; he fell, they say,
In the fiercest of the fray!"

"Died last night!" the message said,
Thus the morrow's papers read.

One young heart that heard the word,
Fluttered like a wounded bird.

One was broken! Bowed her head
"Mother! Mother! Mother's dead!"

Two green graves we'll deck to day,
Son's and mother's side by side,
None will dare to tell us "Nay!"
Both for right and freedom died.

While we honor him who fell
In the fiercest of the fray,
We will honor her as well
Lying by his side today.

Let the flowers forever fair,
Bloom above our fallen braves,
While the angels guard them there,
Glory lingers o'er their graves.

Long ago one sweet soul
Entered her Gethsemane,
Death to her the greatest goal,
As it must to many be!

But life lingers   Oh! so long!
And the years so weary grow!
Tears have choked her heart's sweet song,
Dimmed those eyes that used to glow!

Oh! the bleeding, broken hearts,
Living long their lingering death,
Pierced by countless cruel darts,
Smothered sobs beneath each breath.

Comrades! Call the roll again!
Write their name on glory's page!
Whose who bore the grief and pain,
Fiercer far than battle's rage!

When they lie there side by side,
Dearer to him than his life,
Mother, sister, sweetheart, bride,
Or his dear, devoted wife.

And you deck his grave again,
Write her name- but not beneath!
By her agony and pain
Crown her grave with fairest wreath!

Angels called the roll again,
Wrote her name above the stars
For her patient faith in pain,
Deeper far than battle scars.

Three green graves we deck today,
This the third, where lies his bride-
None will dare to tell us "Nay!"
For these three for freedom died!

Take some time to dig through these pages.  It's a tear jerker you don't want to miss.

Oh- and here's a picture of cousin William James GLENN.  You can read more about him on an earlier blog: I am Simply a Survivor.

Below the drawing of GLENN is William H H LEA, the brother of my 2g-uncle, Cassius LEA.


Pittsburgh Press

Sept 9, 1894

Tip of the hat to cousin David for sending me to this newspaper date to find the drawing of WJ GLENN.

Ahh, genealogy.  Tis grand to find the family history so intertwined with that of our great country.  Tis humbling to know my kin have fought for this country since its beginning.  My thoughts and prayers go to all veterans and the ones they leave behind.  Thank you.

©2011 AS Eldredge

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: What a Carolina Coward in the Civil War

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the first shots being fired at Fort Sumter and the true fighting of the Civil War.  With all eyes on Charleston as the single beam over Fort Sumter split into two this morning, I find myself thinking of Lt Colonel Asbury COWARD, the man my grandfather called "Uncle Asbury".

This man who fought with Robert E Lee; the man who lost everything during the Civil War; the man who was a military man and educator;  his story is fascinating.  His memoirs of the Civil War bring tears to my eyes when I read it.  The pain, the suffering, the glories and the final defeat.  It's all there in his words.

I know Asbury was at the battle of Chickamauga.  I wonder if he was there when his cousin, my 2g grandpa was gravely wounded. 

In the book of his memoirs,  he tells how he sat with his brother as he died after being wounded.  He tells of the loss of his children.  As he rides back into South Carolina after being with Lee at the surrender, he felt his spirits rise.  He had come from nothing.  He made something.  He lost it all.  He would have it again.

Yes, indeed, Asbury.  You did.

Coward by name, not by nature
October 18, 2006

I was on another manhunt.

This time, I was furiously searching for those elusive Cowards on my maternal side. I had just returned home from a trip to Charleston, where I spent a full day digging and sneezing my way through their main library files. A kind older employee named Henry in the South Carolina Room took pity on my wide-eyed look of confusion as I asked where to find any information I could. He pitied me so much that he took me by the elbow and spent several hours at my side and explained some of the databases to me. By the way, I strongly encourage you to find such a kind soul the first time you really dig deep in a large library. With his assistance, I was able to locate the units of several of my kinsmen from the Civil War as well as several birth and death records from the area. This in itself is rather amazing as South Carolina was rather late in joining everyone else in requiring vital statistics. Henry was amazed when he found out that I was kin to Lt. Col. Asbury Coward.

Lt. Col. Asbury Coward lost so much during the War of Northern Aggression. He lost most of his family, several children, and all of his money. Not so uncommon for the time. What he did after the war deserves remembering. Lt. Col. Asbury Coward was born in 1834 on Quenby Plantation outside of Charleston, SC. His parents were Jesse Coward and Keziah Anne Dubois. Asbury graduated from the Citadel at the age of 19 in 1854 and was a professor by 1860. He was a cofounder along with Brigadier General Micah Jenkins of the King's Mountain Military School in the poverty stricken area of York Co, SC. General Jenkins was subsequently killed in the Civil War.

On Christmas Day in 1856, he married Eliza Corbet Larimore Blum, the youngest daughter of John A Blum. Together they had several children who died either as infants or as children.

When the disagreement between the North and South raged into war, he joined the 5th Regiment, SCV, and served under General Robert E Lee at Bull's Run. Asbury witnessed the shot that mortally wounded his younger brother, Jesse James Coward, as he was helping another fallen soldier. Asbury sat with his brother and prayed earnestly. After Jesse's death at age 25, Asbury arranged for a coffin and sent his slave, Charles, to accompany his brother's body home. Col. Coward was at Appomattox during Lee's surrender to Grant. His last commendation by General Longstreet, which is found in the book The South Carolinians, had a handwritten postscript by General Lee of "I concur in the commendation bestowed on Colonel Coward by General Longstreet. I have always considered him one of the best officers of this Army."

After the war was over, Asbury made his way back home to South Carolina. His memoirs tell us that as he crossed over into South Carolina amid all of the destruction and utter ruin, his spirits soared. He was back home, back to a new beginning, and had the faith he would triumph again. And he did. Asbury returned to his school and ran it for 20 years after the war. His former slave, Charles, elected to remain with Asbury as a cook for the school. Asbury served as SC State Superintendent for Education from 1884-1886, before becoming the Superintendent of the Citadel in 1890. His portrait hangs at the Citadel and the dining hall is named in his memory. Lt. Colonel Asbury Coward died in 1925 and is buried at Rock Hill, SC, next to his brother.Keep digging up those roots. You never know where the next clue will take you.

Lt. Colonel Asbury Coward, the man my mother called "Old Uncle", a true American giant. Asbury Coward, my cousin. The man who exemplifies the family motto- Coward by name, not by nature. Indeed.

Ahh, genealogy. April 12, a day when so many families were torn apart 150 years ago. May we honor all our heroes, past, present and future.

Photo Source:

©2011 AS Eldredge

Monday, April 11, 2011

1863 Civil War Letter from a Member of the PA 149th Bucktails

Francis Crawford DORRINGTON (1838-1925) was a native of Allegheny Co, PA, and distantly related to me through his aunt who married into my GLENN family.

When I was first looking for information on the family after visiting the St. Clair Cemetery and finding DORRINGTONs in the GLENN family plot, I ran across this 1863 letter.

Francis, or Frank, was the son of Joseph DORRINGTON and Eliza LONG of Allegheny Co, PA.

Frank was recruited as a member of Company D, 149th PA Volunteers in August 22, 1862.  Of interest is a note that his cousin James GLENN was elected as Captain and was active in recruiting of the local men.  This has also been mentioned in the 1862 diary of my great great Aunt Hannah which was first published in 2004 by two of my cousins and myself.

Frank mustered in as a 3rd Corporal.  The regiment arrived in Washington, DC in late August 1862 and stayed there until February 15, 1863.

This letter, written on February 11, 1863, details daily life in the camp and mentions several relatives who had moved to DC.  It was submitted some 40 years ago to a historical society in CA, but I have yet to determine how the submitter was related to Frank.

For me, it was a great find.  The salutation has me suspect it was written to his brother, Joseph.

Frank was severely wounded May 8, 1863, at the Battle of Laurel Hill.  His story of survival is fascinating to read and can be found in the regimental history by Nesbit.

Frank married Nancy HEWITT and had a family.  After the war, he was in the Temperanceville area of Allegheny Co, and ran a feed store.  Frank is buried at Chartiers Cemetery in Carnegie, Allegheny, PA.

General History of Company D
149th Pennsylavania Volunteers
John W Nesbit

Ahh, genealogy.  Remembering the sacrifices of those who have gone before.

©2011 AS Eldredge

On the Eve of Civil War: "What is to be Done?"

How well I remember the parents of my friends finding Civil War artifacts on their farmland back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Growing up in the South and in the general area through which Sherman's men trekked their way to the sea, it was not uncommon for an old artifact to find its way to the surface.

As a young adult, I lived near a battlefield outside of Atlanta for a number of years, and it still was not uncommon to find artifacts of the War after a hard rain.  Why, we even had a foxhole or two on the hill behind the house as there was a three day skirmish in the area.

Recently, I spent a few days in Charleston, the town where the first shots of the Civil War were heard.  Spending some time in the city via tourist style, I saw some beautiful old homes and heard some interesting stories about the American Revolution and the early days of Charleston.

History is alive in Charleston, and a lot of talk was about the upcoming anniversary of the War of Northern Aggression.  It seems so strange to think our country was so divided that states seceeded from the Union and brothers and cousins fought each other.

I have also spent some in the last week looking at the Captain Thomas Espy GAR Post 153 in Allegheny Co, PA.  I had several family members who were members of that little Civil War Veteran Group and I have found it fascinating to look online at the documentation and artifacts they have in their possession today.

Today, I heard talk of a protest in Atlanta over the lighting of a match.  Lighting of a match?  It would appear some groups don't think that having a plaque at or near the spot where Sherman ordered the burning of Atlanta is important.  According to the group protesting the plaque, we shouldn't remember the event since it is also in the same area as another more recent movement.  Their view is the plaque should be somewhere else.  The burning of Atlanta did happen and Sherman's March to the Sea did have devastating effects on the South. And the order did come to burn Atlanta where the city of Atlanta was, and is.  Where else should it be? 

Leading up to the Civil War, there was much tension among the different groups. Sometimes, I wonder why different groups of today believe that we shouldn't remember the past.  Honor your past, honor the past of others.  The many trails we took as individuals have all come together to make us what we are now.

I came across some interesting articles in a northern newspaper, The Washington Reporter, from January 11, 1860.

The first is titled "Sand in Cotton Bales."

There is no doubt a very great difference between the economical relation of the North and the South, separately considered.  The yankees are an ingenious people, a fact that is undisputed by either their friends of foes....It is the great relief of the disadvantages of slavery when the slave is brought intra mania--within the walls-- and made a portion of the family; and, as Horace Greely thinks, when the slaves and the whites, by co labor as mechanics or otherwise, become more intimate than can possibly be the case in field labor, there naturally arises a more sympathetic and philanthropic feeling between the parties. It would, we believe, be a happy thing for the slaves of the South should succeed in establishing their own manufactures.....

(The article is talking mostly about the sprinkling of sand in cotton bales, which increases the weight of the cotton, thus increasing the money received.  According the article, the Yanks had been practicing that for years in different ways, for example, adding sand to brown sugar.)

....It cannot be supposed for a moment that the planters-- the very pinks of chivalry-- would sand the cotton themselves; no doubt that is done through the industry and ingenuity of their yankee overseers, and so far as that is concerned we hope our chivalric friends will not turn to and tar and feather the yankees on that account,....

Another article follows entitled "Emigration of Negroes from Arkansas"

In this article, the legislature of Arkansas has passed a law giving the Negroes the alternative of leaving to stay free or stay and become slaves.  Of course, many left.  Who wouldn't?

......What shall be done with the thousands of unfortunates who will be driven northward?-- This is a grave question, and our readers will see....that it is engaging earnestly the consideration of the leading minds of the country......

Senator Doolittle of Wiconsin said that the more important question was what to do with the free Negro as opposed to the slavery issue.

...He said the free States will not retain them; some of the Northern States enact stringent laws to prevent them from coming among them,.....

As we reflect on the Civil War and its effects on the nation and on our families, remember first that we are all Americans.  As for me, I lost family members on both sides of the war.  I still think of them, no matter what color uniform they wore.  They all shared my blood, and my blood runs red for America.

Ahh, genealogy.  Remember the past.  After all, how can history teach us if we aren't willing to listen?

Source:  The Washington Reporter, January 11, 1860

©2011 AS Eldredge

Friday, April 08, 2011

New Life for Family Members of the GAR Captain Thomas Espy Post 153

The GAR Captain Thomas Espy Post 153 has been a place of interest for me over the last several years.  I guess it is because I have several uncles, cousins and such who were members of this group in Allegheny County, PA.  In addition, two of my lovely female cousins, Wanda and Virginia, have been invaluable in assisting with the donation of materials and acting as docents for the post.

Just recently, a cousin of mine who is of the blood of Colonel William James GLENN sent an article from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on the Civil War Veterans in the post.  The article gives information on the post and my cousins and asks for help in identifying the pictures of the men from their 1904 reunion photo.

I've forwarded the article to my group in Allegheny County to see if we can assist in identifying some more of the veterans in the picture.  So far, one lady has responded with the possible identification of her 2g grandpa.  Hopefully, more genealogy buffs are grabbing those old photos of grandpa and a magnifying lens to search the 1904 photo.  The photo can easily be blown up for viewing purposes.  There is also a list of the men who were members of the post.

Here is a link to the article:

Link to the Post information which includes manuscripts, membership forms, transfer card, deceased members, etc.

Just this afternoon, another genealogy buddy told me the post even has a Facebook page - Captain Thomas Espy GAR Post 153.

Recent Geni-Tales Blogs on the Captain Thomas Espy GAR Post 153
Whirlwind of Treasure in Carnegie
Simply, I am a Survivor

Captain James GLENN who was the cousin of Colonel William James GLENN mentioned above died in 1901 was also a member of the post.  He died in 1901 so he is not in the picture.  His picture can be found in an earlier blog of mine:

cousin Captain James GLENN of Co D, 149th PA Volunteers
Just Didn't Know When He was Licked

Ahh, genealogy. Is it just my age or do the magnifying lenses just not get those veterans in clear focus?  Must be the lenses---------

©2011 AS Eldredge