Shopping Saturday: Abram Springsteen and His Civil War Drum, Part 1

image_pdfimage_print
"On the Potomac," 1861. Courtesy of Indiana Historical Society- see notes for details.
“On the Potomac,” 1861. Courtesy of Indiana Historical Society- see notes for details.

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

What is generally called ‘shopping’ became ‘foraging’ of the hunter-gatherer style once a man became a soldier. This was true for Abram F. Springsteen as well. Mary T. (Helbling) McMurray, his great-niece, told her descendants the story she had been told about his foraging. Since he was so little at about age 12, Abram could get in and out of little places easily, like through a broken fence, board, or hole and into a barn or chicken house. He used to hide eggs inside his drum as he departed, and calmly leave the area with ‘only’ his drum. Abram’s comrades were always happy to see that their enterprising young comrade was out looking for a tasty supplement to the generally awful Army grub.

This is one of the many family stories that rings true. Abram included some of his ‘shopping’ escapades in his diary. He did not specifically note the ‘appropriation’ of eggs by the Union Army from the Confederates (or even Union sympathizers), but that most likely happened as well.

Abram’s diary describes a cold January ‘shopping’ trip with fellow soldiers:

“On the 17th we joined in the pursuit of Hood’s, going as far as Clifton on the Tenn river where we remained until the 16th of Jany 1865. During which time our rations ran out and one morning after reveille I proposed to one of the drummers by the name of John Ellis, that we start out on a foraging expedition. He being much older than I, we started after providing ourselves with a musket and some cartridges. After going about a mile from camp, we saw a house across a field from which we made a break but before reaching it we heard some firing to our left and upon looking around saw three men coming along a lane near by one of which was leading a mule and supposing them to be rebels, we hid behind a stone fence until they came out of the lane when we recognized them as being Yanks. Upon seeing us, they called to us to join them but Ellis would go no further, so bidding him good bye I joined the party who proved to be of the 24th Ky. Inf. [Kentucky Infantry] of our Brig. [Brigade]”

Abram was fearless, to take off from camp with just one other soldier- and a drummer at that! Back in those days, the boys were likely to have experience with a rifle, as they would have gone hunting or just out to shoot back home. But  then to join up with other Union soldiers by himself- he was either brave, very trusting, or possibly, foolhardy. (Men are not always so nice in war- even to their fellow soldiers.)

"Land of milk & honey" by Forbes.Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society. See notes for details.
“Land of milk & honey” by Forbes.Courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society. See notes for details.

“After going about a mile further, I was put upon the mule to ride which suited me exactly. We soon sighted a house near where we found nothing save a few dried pumpkin parins’. Soon after leaving the place, we came across a pig rooting by the road side, one of the boys sent a bullet thro him and after cutting him up, hid the parts wanted in the bushes and started on and after traveling about a mile sighted another house situated about a quarter of a mile from the road. Here we found chickens, hams, bacon, Tobacco and a general assortment of provisions and were compelled; in order to carry all we wanted , to enlist the services of an old family nag [horse] we found on the place.”

Although Abram and the Kentucky soldiers spoke to the woman of the house and learned that her husband was “a loyal union man,” they decided they would confiscate food. Also, the woman had “a little babe in her arms”- so they knew they were taking food from a family who sorely needed it, despite being on the Union side. (Or so the woman said. Since homes and farms were raided by both sides, it would be smart for a family to claim they were on the side that was on their doorstep; survival was paramount.)

The soldiers knew that Hood’s forces were likely close by, so they needed to expedite their ‘shopping’ trip before they could get caught. They loaded up the mule Abram had been riding on plus took the old nag- probably the only horse the family had for plowing by that point. They started back to camp in the late afternoon, and stopped to pick up the parts of the pig they had butchered earlier. They wanted to reach camp after dark anyway, so others would not know what they had brought.

By the time Abram got to his tent, which he shared with Major Pickard, he heard the voice of Ellis, the fellow drummer he had started out with that morning. He also heard the Major giving Ellis,

“… a severe turning over for allowing me to go on with the parties we had met as they supposed me either captured or killed and just then I popped my head in the tent and then there was a time. I told the boys to keep quiet and just follow me. I then took the hungry dogs over to the 24th Ky. where my share of the proceeds of our trip were awaiting me. The boys having given me more than an equal share of what we had captured.

Well, to say the boys were delighted at the sight of all the good things would be drawing it entirely too mild, they were perfectly overjoyed and for the time being I was the hero of the camp as I divided the provisions up as far as they would reach.”

Another time, near to when he was discharged at Greensboro, North Carolina, Abram took a number of foraging expeditions with  his “chum” Bruce Hardy of the 112 Illinois (whose father was an officer, also in the 112 Ill.). During one of the ‘expeditions’ they  fired their guns within a few miles of camp, probably trying to hit some birds or possibly a wild hog- Abram doesn’t say why. The two boys were actually arrested by the Union pickets (guards) for that offense, as they would have feared that the enemy was nearby. (There were still southern enemies even after the Civil War officially drew to a close.) The boys were taken to General Stiles’ headquarters, and severely reprimanded before being released.

“On another occasion, we got an old mule and started out in search of something good to eat. After going about 6 miles, we … having been informed there lived a beautiful daughter of a Rebel officer, we decided to have a peep at the young lady and, hitching the mule to a little bush, we proceeded with the use of a small pocket mirror, to arrange our toilet and while thus engaged our mule, who by the way was loaded down with butter, eggs, chickens, milk and a general assortment of provisions [from their ‘shopping’ trip], pulled the bush out of the ground and before we could realize what had happened was on his way back to camp.

“We made a grand attempt to catch him but he was too much for us so we gave up the chase and also the idea of taking a peep at the beautiful maiden we had heard about. We arrived back in camp about dark where we found the mule plastered from head to tail with butter, eggs, milk, etc. and looking as though he had been run through a thrashing machine.”

The mule must have high-tailed it back to camp, smashing the provisions on his sides as he trotted through dense woods.

Abram reported that a few days later, they returned to the home of the beautiful maiden,

“… and this time saw the young lady but she hated the Yanks and would have nothing to say to us.”

The fact that the young lady would not even speak to them likely made the loss of all those good victuals doubly disappointing.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “On the Potomac” courtesy of Indiana Historical Society. Their description: The tintype shows members of the Twelfth Indiana Infantry eating around a campfire. The men posed for the camera, holding plates and cups. One soldier appears to be feeding another with a spoon or fork, and another holds a tin cup above a coffee pot. Identifications scratched on the back of the tintype state the photograph was made “On the Potomac, 1861.” The list of names derived from an examination of the tintype under a microscope is as follows: Lieut. Wm. W. Angel; Sargt. Jacob Kenagu [Kenagy, Private according to Terrell]; Corp Nat ?reenfield [Greenfield, Recruit according to Terrell]; Privt Geo Burwell; Jno Campbell [John S. Campbell according to Terrell]; Sanford _arns [Karns, Recruit according to Terrell]; ?; Drummer Gilly [Gilmore Hollingsworth, Musician, Company H?]; Jas St ?. via http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/dc008/id/190/rec/1932
  2. “Land of Milk & Honey” by Edwin Forbes, 1876. Plate 32. Indiana Historical Society description: In 1861 Edwin Forbes was hired as a staff artist by “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.” He covered the Army of the Potomac from 1862-1864, and was known for his ability to draw quickly. His primary interest was in recording the everyday activity of soldiers. Plate 32, is from his publication “Life Studies of the Great Army.” The sketches are titled: Gone Off for the Yankees; A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey; A Scouting Party; An Old Campaigner. http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/dc008/id/573/rec/1974
  3. “Diary of Abram F. Springsteen” transcription, completed by family members. Thank you for sharing!

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.

Friday Funny: “Says She’s a Widow Lady”

image_pdfimage_print
1914 G.A.R. Parade in Detroit, Michigan, via Wikipedia. Public domain- Library of Congress.
1914 G.A.R. Parade in Detroit, Michigan, via Wikipedia. Public domain- Library of Congress.

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Earlier this week we looked at the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) and how it was a large fraternal organization with political clout. A number of our ancestors were GAR members, such as Abram F. Springsteen and Samuel T. Beerbower. (Both would be some-number-of-great uncles in Anna May (Beerbower) Helbling’s line, the number depending on your generations from Anna May.)

An encampment of the GAR was a great time for camaraderie amongst the old Civil War veterans. It was also an opportunity for a sweet but enterprising “widow lady” searching for a little camaraderie of her own.

A headline of “SAYS SHE’S A WIDOW LADY, And Wants a Husband Who Is In High Social Standing” was found in the Elkhart Daily Review, Elkhart, Indiana on 31 August 1899 on the front page. The committee in charge of the September 1899 GAR encampment in Philadelphia received a letter from a 34-year old woman from Marion, Indiana, asking them to give her letter to a widower “high in social standing.” She states that she will be in attendance at the encampment, “…and it would be so lonely for not to know any one there.”

She was pretty specific in her needs [transcribed as written]:

“I would like a jeantleman 38 or 40. He knead not fear me. I am a dressmaker here.”

“Please let it be some who can show me over the city and enjoy myself.”

“I want to have a husband to take me to Chicago next year.”

This was one serious lady! But smart too- there would be a lot of “jeantleman” at the encampment from all over the country, so it would be a big pond to fish in, as they say. They would be like-minded men, too- Northern sympathies, patriotic, and committed to the work and social aspects of the GAR.

Her letter was taken seriously, as the committee knew there would probably be some widowers at the encampment who would be pleased to find a spouse there too. The GAR was a family-based organization, so grown children would sometimes be there as well as the veterans themselves. This was a good thing for the ‘widow lady,’ since it was 34 years since the close of the Civil War- the vets attending would be at least 50 or more. To find her a 38-40 year old husband, it would have to be the son of a veteran- not even our youngest drummer boy, Abram F. Springsteen, would fit her requirements.

The ‘widow lady’ was in luck. The committee replied to her letter with the address of “the Texas farmer who says he has two sons he wants to marry off here…”

We don’t know what the outcome was, and can’t really research it since we do not have the name of the lady. This was, however, a very determined lady, and people married more for economic reasons back then than for love (“you can learn to love him/her”).

The GAR Encampment Committee was hoping for a public wedding to add to the festivities, and my guess is that it probably happened. I suppose we need to add “matchmaking” to the list of missions of the GAR.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Military Monday: Abram F. Springsteen and the G.A.R.
    http://heritageramblings.net/2016/02/01/military-monday-…en-and-the-g-a-r/
  2. “Says She’s a Widow lady” in the 31 August 1899 Elkhart Daily Review, Elkhart, Indiana, p1, via GenealogyBank.com.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.

Wisdom Wednesday: The Springsteens and Abraham Lincoln, cont’d

image_pdfimage_print
Abraham Lincoln portrait, signed, "I approve" on 8 August 1861. With kind permission of the Indiana Historical Society Digital Collection, http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/P0406/id/727/rec/69
Abraham Lincoln portrait, signed, “I approve” on 8 August 1861. With kind permission of the Indiana Historical Society Digital Image Collection, http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/P0406/id/727/rec/69

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

So here is the whole story- well, as much as we can determine:

Once Lincoln was officially elected as our sixteenth President on 6 November 1860, the southern states decided that they must secede from the Union, as they had threatened. Tensions within the country had been high through the election, but the speeches and actions of some of the Southern states that winter increased the tension to a fever pitch.

Lincoln was in Springfield, Illinois, when he received the news of his election, and plans were made for him to make a 70 city whistle-stop tour on his way to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration. News of an alleged plot to assassinate him in Baltimore reached the President-Elect, however, and the Pinkerton Detective Agency vowed to protect him along his journey on the railroad and in the cities along the way.

The city of Indianapolis had prepared for his visit for two weeks, and the railroads had advertised half-price fares to those in the counties around Indianapolis; people also made their way to Indianapolis with horse and buggy, on horseback, or even walked- some up to 50 miles to attend the grand event. Indianapolis had a population of 18,611 in 1860, but was estimated that 50,000 persons of both parties would be there to receive the President; the carnival-like atmosphere produced at least that many citizens, if not more. Even though our ancestor Jefferson Springsteen was a long-time Democrat, being a politician he likely was interested in seeing the famous Republican, a humble nobody who had just been elected to the highest office in the land.

The President-Elect’s entourage started off on a rainy Monday morning from Springfield, Illinois, and made stops or slowed down through many towns along the way. At 5 p.m. the train arrived in Indianapolis, to gun salutes, waving flags, patriotic bunting flying, and crowds standing in the mud from the rains that had finally subsided. (Those poor women and their long dresses…) There were people hanging out windows, on rooftops, and even up on telegraph poles- wonder if our rambunctious Abram was one of those?? If so, he would likely have justified it to his parents as up on a pole was the only way he could have seen Lincoln, since he was too short at age ten to see over the crowd.

Lincoln gave a short speech from the back of the train. The speech sounds inspirational, but it was also an extemporaneous counter to the ‘welcoming’ speech by the Governor that challenged Lincoln as to what he would do as President to resolve the tense situation between the north and south.  Lincoln said:

“I appeal to you again to constantly bear in mind that with you, and not with politicians, not with presidents, not with office seekers, but with you is the question: Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generations?”

Technically not yet President, and wanting to avoid further rifts with the southern states, Lincoln wisely chose his words.

"Bates House Polka" sheet music cover, c1854. With kind permission of the Indiana Historical Society, Digital Image Collection, http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16797coll1/id/1263/rec/4.
“Bates House Polka” sheet music cover, c1854. With kind permission of the Indiana Historical Society, Digital Image Collection, http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16797coll1/id/1263/rec/4.

It is easy to imagine the huge crowds of people who gathered at the train station, and followed his entourage to the Bates House where they would spend the night. (There were not enough carriages, and the Lincoln crowd had to carry their baggage through the streets. There were not enough rooms, either…) Had Abram shinnied down a telegraph pole and run after the carriages, with his family trying to keep up?

The crowds must have driven the Pinkertons crazy- it was almost impossible to protect the President-Elect with all the hand-shaking. (Probably made parents crazy too, trying to keep their children in sight. The pickpockets had a field day.) It is estimated that 3,000 citizens of Indiana lined up to shake Lincoln’s hand that Monday evening alone. There were also receptions, speeches, and the general chaos that comes with crowds of that size. Even the normally-hostile Democratic newspaper in town had sympathy for the President:

“Mr. Lincoln, we hope, slept well after the labors of his reception. To be pushed and crowded around as he was, beset by red hot politicians steaming with patriotism and whisky, and to have his hand shaken at the rate it was and for so long a period must certainly have tried his powers of endurance.”

Lincoln, AKA “The Railsplitter,” reportedly said, of his time in Indianapolis,

“that the shaking hands and fatigue of his reception was harder work than mauling rails.”

Since our ancestor Jefferson Springsteen had been involved in city politics and had at least one young son apparently fired up about the possibility of war, and possibly more sons (though the others did not serve that we know of- they were too young, though Abram did not let that stop him), it is highly likely that the Springsteens were in at least one of the crowds on at least one of the days.

The crowds swarmed the hotel- would all of the Springsteens have been a part of that crowd? Lincoln gave a speech, as planned, from the hotel balcony. This speech was important- the first big speech since his election, and it would be covered in all the newspapers around the country. The wisdom of his speech was in again asking the people to determine what was ‘right.’ He asked how they defined “coercion” and “invasion,” of which the south accused the Union. He said of those who would readily ‘tear asunder’ the Union,

“In their view the Union as a family relation would seem to be no regular marriage but a sort of “free-love” arrangement, to be maintained only on “passional attraction.”

(That was a surprising analogy.)

Lincoln then asked the crowd,

“On what rightful principle may a state, being not more than one-fiftieth part of the nation and soil and population, break up the nation… ?”

(BTW, there were only 34 states in the Union at that time. He must have meant 1/50 by size?)

Abe wisely finished with:

“Fellow-citizens, I am not asserting anything; I am merely asking questions for you to consider. And now allow me to bid you farewell.”

Lincoln’s wisdom was to guide the citizenry to see for themselves what the next step was for the Union as a whole. He knew the country was too divided to pronounce edicts and threats of his own, but he had to help the country realize the big picture of what was happening between the north and south.

The opposition tore his speech apart, and even the New York Times, normally a moderate newspaper, stated,

“It is very evident from his speech at Indianapolis, that Mr. Lincoln has no sympathy with that theory of our Government which regards it as a voluntary league of sovereign States—from which any one of them may secede at pleasure.”

Wonder what the conversation was at the Springsteen dinner table that Monday night? Would die-hard Democrat Jeff have torn the speech apart too? How would he reconcile his northern leanings with his political party? Would ten year-old Abram have had wide eyes, getting to hear the talk of politics, knowing that he had seen the next President of the United States, and that war was a real possibility?

Abraham Lincoln commemorative plaque in Indianapolis, Indiana. via Wikipedia Saves Public Art - Flickr: Lincoln Plaque by Rudolf Schwarz (1907) [Control # IAS IN000016], CC BY 2.0.
Abraham Lincoln commemorative plaque in Indianapolis, Indiana. via Wikipedia Saves Public Art – Flickr: Lincoln Plaque by Rudolf Schwarz (1907) [Control # IAS IN000016], CC BY 2.0.
Lincoln was to depart Indianapolis at 11 a.m. the next day, 12 February 1861, but the crowds began to assemble at the Bates House by daybreak. It seems logical that Abram would have been a part of that crowd too, possibly sneaking out the window before his parents awakened if he was as ornery as it seems.

Abraham Lincoln strode out to the hotel balcony to be seen by the clamoring crowds again. They demanded that Mr. Lincoln give another speech, but he made his excuses. Then it was a struggle to get him into a carriage for the ride to the train station because of the crowds, more wanting to see him and shake his hand. There were so many people in the street that the horses could barely move toward the railroad depot. They did arrive at the train finally, where there was another crowd waiting to see the President-Elect. At long last he was able to get on the train, which was decorated with flags, a golden eagle, and thirty-four white stars on a blue field around the smokestack. As the train steamed off, people followed down the track. Can’t you just imagine Abram running free, waving an American flag and shouting, “Mr. President! Mr. Lincoln!” as the train chugged out of sight?

The Pinkertons might have breathed a bit of a sigh of relief once Lincoln and his family were on the train. They still had to be very cautious however, and watchmen stood along the railroad tracks one-half mile apart, waving an American flag to let the train engineer and detectives know that the tracks were safe to proceed. Lincoln actually got off the train as it neared Baltimore, Maryland, considered a southern state with slaveowners and a strong opposition to Lincoln. The President-Elect sneaked through the city in the dead of night in disguise, in order to avoid any possible assassins.

Lincoln was ridiculed for cowardice by avoiding the crowds of Baltimore who were waiting to see him. He did go on to redeem himself as a wise and brave President in our bloodiest war, as we all know.

The Springsteens may have shaken Lincoln’s hand during his visit to Indianapolis, although it seems that surely this event would have been a part of the family story if true. (The crowds were so enormous that it would have been quite a feat to get that close.) Nevertheless, this information does answer the question of probable truth or family lore- the Springsteens could have seen President Lincoln on 11 February 1861 in Indianapolis, Indiana, and most likely did if the story was passed down through four generations. Lincoln’s speeches would have inspired a young boy to be a part of protecting the Union, and it thus may not have been Lincoln’s call to arms in April that moved Abram to beat his drum at the recruiting office- he may have started right after Lincoln left town in February. And now, we understand the excitement of that day, and what it must have been like for our Springsteen family in February, 1861.

℘℘℘℘℘℘

The next time Lincoln came to Indianapolis was in his funeral train. The President would lie in state in the Indiana capital on 30 April 1865. Was our Springsteen family included in the crowd that was even larger than the crowds at Lincoln’s 1861 visit? We do not know. It was a rainy, miserable day but thousands stood in line to view the coffin in the rotunda of the capital, and the city was draped in the black of mourning. Our Abram could not be a part of this day, as he was not mustered out of the service until seven weeks later, on 21 June 1865. He does mention the death of his President and Commander-in-Chief in his diary:

“We received the news of the assassination of President Lincoln, just as we were entering Raleigh [North Carolina] and it was with great difficulty that the officers in charge of the troops prevented them from burning the town.”

It would take a long time to heal the country.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. History of Indianapolis, Indiana, Wikipedia- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Indianapolis
  2. Lincoln’s Inaugaration Journey – Indianapolis:  http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM11MR
  3. Lincoln- assassination attempts just after election (Baltimore Plot):
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltimore_Plot
  4. “Mr. Lincoln Goes to Washington” by Paul Fatout in the Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 321-332. http://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/imh/article/view/8077/9867
  5.  “Lincoln In Indianapolis” by George S. Cottman. Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 1-14, 1928.
    http://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/imh/article/view/6446/6613
  6. A maul is a large, heavy, hammer with a wedge-shaped head that is used to split rails, which Lincoln had done quite a lot of as a young man on the Illinois prairie. Rails are the horizontal supports on a fence.
  7. Lincoln Commemorative Plaque in Indianapolis, Indiana-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln_(relief_by_Schwarz)
  8. Diary of Abram F. Springsteen, written after the war, family manuscript. Thank you to the wonderful cousins who shared this treasure!

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.

Tuesday’s Tip: Exploring a Family Story- The Springsteens and Abraham Lincoln

image_pdfimage_print
Baby Mary T. Helbling with her beloved grandmother, Anna Missouri (Springsteen) Beerbower in 1925. Family photo.
Baby Mary T. Helbling with her beloved grandmother, Anna Missouri (Springsteen) Beerbower in 1925. Family photo.

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Tuesday’s Tip:

Explore your family stories.

They may hold a bit of truth- or even more.

℘℘℘℘℘

While researching and writing the stories of Abram F. Springsteen for recent posts, a memory of Mary T. (Helbling) McMurray’s story that Abram and his family saw President Abraham Lincoln sparked an interest in checking out that old family story. Mary’s grandmother, Abram’s sister Anna Missouri (Springsteen) Beerbower, had moved in with her daughter and son-in-law, Anna May (Beerbower) Helbling and G.W. Helbling, during her later years. Mary and her grandmother were very close and spent quite a bit of time together. They did talk about family a lot, and Mary always knew more about that line of the family than of her father’s.

Many genealogists and historians will say that a good number of family stories are just that- stories. But I have found that our older generations were actually pretty accurate in their storytelling. So off to research and see if there was at least a grain of truth in the oft-told lore.

If memory serves (which it doesn’t always, lately), the reason Abram ran off to the Army was due to him seeing President Lincoln, per Mary, his great-niece. So finding out if Lincoln was anywhere near Indianapolis during 1861 was what was needed to verify this story, since that year was when Abram first enlisted.

It was harder than thought to find a detailed timeline of Lincoln’s activities. After a Google search that did not show me what I needed, I decided to look through Doris Kearns Goodwin’s most excellent book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Cover image is Daniel Day-Lewis in the 2012 film, "Lincoln."
Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, first published in 2006. Cover image is Daniel Day-Lewis in the 2012 film, “Lincoln.”

Some tidbits but not exactly what I was looking for, though of course it was hard to stop reading through the book. It did give great context for the times, including the tug between sides to prevent or ‘render asunder’ our precious Union that had existed for 85 years.

The Indiana state capital, Indianapolis, was a major railroad and transportation hub. It also was the home of Gov. Oliver Hazard Perry Morton, who was one of Lincoln’s major supporters. Indianapolis was therefore a major base of Union support, so it was highly likely that Lincoln would have paid the city a visit.

The best clue came from waymarking.com, of all places. (They provide ways to log your visit to a particular spot using a GPS.) The site showed an Indianapolis monument commemorating a visit by Lincoln- on 11 February 1861. Bingo. A quick trip to Wikipedia.org led to more and then much more, and the number of open windows on my laptop increased rapidly with all the information I had been seeking, and more.

 

Tomorrow: the real story

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. History of Indianapolis, Indiana, Wikipedia- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Indianapolis
  2. Lincoln’s Inaugaration Journey – Indianapolis:  http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM11MR
  3. Lincoln- assassination attempts just after election (Baltimore Plot):
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltimore_Plot
  4. “Mr. Lincoln Goes to Washington” by Paul Fatout in the Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 321-332. http://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/imh/article/view/8077/9867
  5.  A maul is a large, heavy, hammer with a wedge-shaped head that is used to split rails, which Lincoln had done quite a lot of as a young man on the Illinois prairie. Rails are the horizontal supports on a fence.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.

Military Monday: Jefferson Springsteen and the GAR Encampment

image_pdfimage_print
Grand Army of the Potomac, Indianapolis, Indiana, circa 1910. Used with kind permission of the Indiana Historical Society, Digital Image Collection. http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/dc013/id/937/rec/963
Grand Army of the Potomac, Indianapolis, Indiana, circa 1910. Used with kind permission of the Indiana Historical Society, Digital Image Collection. (Go to website to see a higher resolution picture that can be zoomed.) Abram was working in Washington, DC about this time so he may not be in the picture, though it would seem he likely would have returned to his home town for the reunion. Abram was 50 in 1910. http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/dc013/id/937/rec/963

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

“Extra Police Force for Next Week” was a headline 29 June 1882 in the Indianapolis Sentinel. The paper reported that the Indianapolis, Indiana Board of Police had determined that reinforcements were required for the upcoming Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Encampment to be held in July.

Interestingly, Jefferson Springsteen, who had served as Chief of Police back in the ’50s- that’s 1850s, you know- and was a detective in later years, was one of the men temporarily added to the force. Jeff, and the 24 others appointed were to be sworn in and receive their orders at the Central Police Station that afternoon.

1902 GAR Encampment, Meade Post of Philadelphia, PA, with their tattered battle flags that they still cherished. Glass negative, via Library of Congress, no restrictions.
1902 GAR Encampment, Meade Post of Philadelphia, PA, in Washington, D.C. with their tattered battle flags that they still cherished. Glass negative, via Library of Congress, no restrictions.

Would the patriots who made up the GAR be rabble-rousers? Since the Civil War had ended 37 years earlier, and most of the men were 18-20 or older when they enlisted, the average age was likely 40-50 years old. (No statistics to back that up, but it’s logical and don’t know if that data would exist.) So why extra police?

"Swopping Yarns." October, 1902 GAR Encampment, Washington, D.C. Glass negative, via Library of Congress, no restrictions.
“Swopping Yarns.” October, 1902 GAR Encampment, Washington, D.C. Glass negative, via Library of Congress, no restrictions.

This was not a National Encampment- that occurred in Baltimore, Maryland, that year. Each state had encampments for all the posts in the state, so the Indianapolis event would still draw large crowds.  The GAR had a women’s group too- the “Women’s Relief Corps” or W.R.C. These were mostly the wives of GAR members (or those who were widowed), and family members were allowed to join the reunion as well. So even though it was a state event, a lot of people would attend, especially folks from the smaller towns around.

Additionally, the city of Indianapolis was being shown off- the GAR encampments brought many people and a quite a lot of money into a city. The GAR was around the peak of their membership in the 1890s, thus they were ramping up membership in 1882, so there could be thousands attending. The extra police would help to keep things orderly, and show that Indianapolis was a safe and lovely city to visit. Large crowds always drew pickpockets and a bit of a criminal element, so 25 extra sets of eyes to protect the veterans and their families would be useful.

"The Big Guns." October, 1902 GAR Encampment, Washington, D.C. Glass negative, via Library of Congress, no restrictions.
“The Big Guns.” October, 1902 GAR Encampment, Washington, D.C. Glass negative, via Library of Congress, no restrictions.

Even though the soldiers would be in their 40s or 50s and theoretically stable family men and businessmen, Indiana had mustered a whole unit of Irish volunteers (the 35th, of which Abram was a part during his first enlistment) to serve in the Civil War. The Irish could sometimes use a bit of policing once they got to the pubs or if they BYOB’d, no matter the age. (Just saying’- I have Irish blood too so can say so.) Of course, soldiers were often known for drinking and carousing, but hopefully these folks had changed their ways once they were back in a more civilized world with their loved ones.

There are two great ironies to this story. First, ex-Marshall Jefferson Springsteen had defied Federal law and dragged home his ten-year old son in 1861 when the 35th Indiana Volunteers marched off to war. (Jeff had signed to allow Abram to join, thinking it was to be a Home Guard.) Jeff was smart enough to know that technically Abram was deserting even though he was likely dragged off kicking and screaming. Despite Abram being underage when he enlisted and mustered into the unit, the military did not care- he was officially absent without leave once he left- and in wartime, being AWOL is considered desertion. (See previous ‘Abram Springsteen and His Drum’ posts for more information.) So it was ironic that for the 1882 soldiers’ reunion, Jefferson Springsteen was to uphold the law, and for the military/ex-military, rather than break it.

During the Civil War, Jefferson Springsteen had been required to register for the “Old Man’s Draft” since he was over 40, but he was not called up. His little boy Abram, however, served to help protect the country and liberties enjoyed by the whole Springsteen family, along with the rest of our citizens. Now, the irony was that Jeff would get his opportunity to protect and serve, and this time, care for the veterans who had protected him. Nice turnaround.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Grand Army of the Potomac, Indianapolis, Indiana, circa 1910, photograph is taken in front of the Indianapolis War Memorial. The base housed a museum, which included a picture of Abram that listed him as the “youngest drummer boy of the Civil War.”
  2. “Extra police force for encampment,” Indianapolis Sentinel [Indiana], IN, 29 June 1882, Volume XXXI, Number 180, Page 8, GenealogyBank.com. Unfortunately the image is copyrighted so I cannot post it here.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images. Click to enlarge images.

We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions about copyright of our blog material.