Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Civil War Ancestors - William Franklin Haden

Today's post is the last of the Civil War ancestor stories.  William Franklin Haden was my husband's great, great grandfather, born 30 Sep 1817 in either Logan or Warren County, Kentucky.  According to dates passed down in the family, he was born about seven months after his father died from being thrown off a horse.  William had one brother about two years older.  The half-orphaned boys were raised by a stepfather with the guardianship of their Haden uncles.  William's brother, John, moved from Kentucky to Mississippi and then Missouri, dying there in Jasper County in 1852.  The picture was made in 1859 - it is a daguerrotype.

William married first Mary Martha Ann Gaines in 1837 and had two daughters.  The family left Kentucky bound for Greene County, Missouri, where cousins were living, probably about 1843.  It isn't known whether Mary Martha died in Kentucky or on the journey, or soon after their arrival in Missouri.  William married again to Mary Jane Perkins, 16 Dec 1845, in Greene County - he had known her back in Kentucky, as both of their families had lived in Logan County.

By the time the Civil War started, the area of Greene County where the Hadens lived had become Christian County.  Their home was near the Wilson Creek battlefield.  William was a bit old for the service - he was about 44 when the war began.  It is doubtful that he actually served as a soldier.    But William was captured by the Yankees and put into prison in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  For some years I searched for proof that this was more than a family story.  Then I came into possession of letters written by his son Joseph Benjamin Haden, who was my husband's great grandfather, and found the following letter written in 1924 to his older brother, James or "Jimmie".

Let me explain a bit more.  Joe B. Haden spent most of his long life in Ladonia, Fannin County, Texas.  He died in 1953 at age 93.  For many years he wrote articles both for his local newspaper and the Dallas newspaper; he also kept up correspondence with many of his friends and relatives.  He had a very old typewriter which I actually saw in the house some years ago and he made carbon copies of everything he wrote - both the articles and the letters.  The letter certainly confirms the family story that William was in prison, but does not say why.  Family tradition is that he was accused of spying for the Confederacy.  At that time in place in southern Missouri, the Union forces needed little reason, so likely "spying" was as good as any.  

Unfortunately, Joe didn't tell us which of his sisters made that incredible ride.  There are three possibilities.  One of the half-sisters, Sarah Mildred, was already married, the other half-sister, Elizabeth Margaret, was in her early 20's.  Joe's oldest full sister, Marietta, would have been about age 16.  Let me describe a bit about this journey.  It is about 175 miles and over the Boston Mountains, a range of the Ozarks.  Although they might have been able to travel on some roads and trails, including the Butterfield stage route, even today this area is heavily forested and much of it quite unpopulated.  Throughout the duration of the War the whole area of southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas was the haunt of bushwhackers and guerillas - it was a war zone.  Today it would take some three and a half hours in a good vehicle to make this trip through the mountains.  Although the Pony Express could cover 100 miles a day, at normal speeds and with no fresh horses along the way, the girls likely covered about 20 miles a day, which meant they surely had to sleep along the way.  Did they camp out?  Did they beg lodging from strangers?  What courage to have made this difficult and frightening journey!

And, yes, I have the postcard:

William's daughters were not able to get him released, so they would have had to return home by the same long, dangerous route.

The story doesn't end there.  Mary Jane was left in Missouri with her step-daughters and seven children of her own, ranging from their early 20's to an infant girl.  I have no choice but to rely on the family traditions about this time period, but remember that Joe B. Haden lived to be 93 and my husband knew him.  His mother, Mary Jane, lived to be 91.  They were around to tell these stories for a very long time.  Because the guerillas took horses, wagons, anything they might be able to use, the Hadens had hidden a horse in the woods and had dismantled the wagon and buried it.  Mary Jane had pity on any of the soldiers, regardless of their uniform, and fed all who came to her door, although she may have spit in the food of the Yankee boys.  Since she had shown kindness, the Union soldiers warned her that her home was to be burned.  Mary Jane and the older children dug up the wagon, reassembled it, and left for Texas, as did so many other Missourians.  Joe remembered looking out the back of the wagon and seeing the plume of smoke that had been his home.

William was still in prison, so Mary Jane stopped at every crossroads and country store to explain which way she was going, so that William could retrace their travels and find them should he be released.  He was released at the end of the War and did find them. The family settled first in Lamar County, then moved to Fannin County, where they would remain for the next three generations.  William and Mary Jane and several of their children are buried in the Ladonia city cemetery - I have visited their graves several times, as well as the house where Mary Jane lived following William's death in 1880.  I have the copy of the deed when she gave the house to my husband's grandfather.

Mary Jane outlived William by so many years and I do not have a picture of her when she was young.  This one was made circa 1895-1900.  I have one other remembrance of Mary Jane.  On my backporch in Florida is a cast iron wash pot - large and very heavy - it traveled with Mary Jane and children in that wagon from Missouri to Texas.  I wish that pot could tell it's story!

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