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

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.

 

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Military Monday: Jefferson Springsteen and the GAR Encampment

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.

 

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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.
 
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Abram F. Springsteen and His Civil War Drum- Part 4

Drum of Abram F. Springsteen, youngest Civil War soldier. Posted with permission of family.
Drum of Abram F. Springsteen, youngest Civil War soldier. Posted with permission of family.

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Abram Furman Springsteen, the youngest drummer boy in the Civil War (so it was claimed) had his glory in war, but he also had his pain, like all soldiers.

Abram beat his drum on a 185 mile march over mostly impassable roads through the Cumberland Mountains in March; part of the journey was through snow. In April they marched to Jonesboro, Georgia, with Abram beating his drum for 4 days while they covered 100 miles, burned bridges and destroyed railroad tracks as they moved.

"The Work of the Firing at Resaca" in The Photographic History of the Civil War in Ten Volumes, edited by Francis T. Miller, 1911, Review of Reviews, NY, NY, via Archive.org. Public Domain.
“The Work of the Firing at Resaca”- a photo of how the land looked around the area after all calibers of shells and ball had torn up the land; in The Photographic History of the Civil War in Ten Volumes, edited by Francis T. Miller, 1911, Review of Reviews, NY, NY, via Archive.org. Public Domain. (Click to enlarge.)

The youngest drummer boy and his regiment had joined with General Sherman on his Atlanta Campaign, and after the Battle of Resaca, Abram was ordered to assist the wounded in the field hospitals. Abram’s own words describe what happened next:

“In company with another litter drummer boy, I proceeded at once to my reg and after getting our grub [food], we started back (as we supposed in the direction of the hospital) but in fact in an opposite direction altogether and were soon lost upon the field where we wandered around among the dead and dying until the break of day when we found our way back to the hospital where we remained on duty until the 16th when we moved from Resaca, wading the Ostanaula river and crossing the Cossawattee, overtaking the enemy at Cassville, on the 18th…[we] went into an entrenched position…on the 26th behind which we lay under fire of three batteries… until relieved on the 1st of June. Our loss at this place was 16 wounded.”

Wandering among the dead and wounded in the dark, crossing rivers while trying to keep his drum from getting soaked, laying in a trench for six days while under fire- how his parents would have worried for their little boy!

Abram likely thought his luck had really run out though, when he was captured at Spring Hill, Tennessee. It was after midnight, and they had marched almost continuously for a week. Abram carried his knapsack and drum, keeping a beat to keep the troops moving. Abram continued the story:

“… I became exhausted and was compelled to sit down by the road side this being the first time I had given out since my enlistment. In a short time the troops were out of sight and realizing that it would be useless for me to attempt to overtake them before reaching Franklin, I waited until the wagon train came up when I climbed upon our Regt Baggage Wagon unslung my drum and knapsack and resting my elbow upon the rim of my drum.”

Civil War Wagon Train by Matthew Brady, NARA via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain.
Civil War Wagon Train by Matthew Brady, NARA via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain. Probably a stereoscope photograph. (Click to enlarge.)

“I soon fell asleep but this sweet rest did not last long for after going about a mile or so or just as we reached a place called Spring Hill, Tenn. about 15 miles from Franklin, we were fired upon and surrounded by the enemy a detachment of rebels. When I awoke, and realized fully what had happened, I sprang from the wagon and in so doing by [sic] hat fell from my head and while searching for the same in the darkness, was along with several others captured and at once hurried away from the road into a patch of woods where two of us made our successful break for liberty. We soon found our way back to the road and striking out reached Franklin at day break where I soon rejoined my command… I lost my knapsack, drum and hat. One of the boys provided me with a cap which tho a little large, answered the purpose very well.”

Abram captured a Rebel drum at Ft. Anderson, and they marched into Wilmington, North Carolina on the 23rd of February, 1865. They found a number of Yankee prisoners that had been left behind when they routed the enemy.  Seeing them, Abram was probably even more thankful that he had escaped after his capture- he could have been in a similar situation in a Confederate prison. Of the POWs, Abram reported:

“They were all in a deplorable condition– a good many having been wounded and their wounds not having been properly attended to- were alive with vermin. Among them I met a young man by the name of Albert Lockwood of Indianapolis, Ind. whom I had known since childhood in Indianapolis. I took him in charge, gave him some of my clothing, a blanket and seven dollars in money and also gave him the Rebel drum I had captured at Ft. Anderson to take home for me, he having been furnished transportation to his home in Indianapolis.”

After many more long marches and days of beating his drum for his company, Abram and the Indiana Volunteers returned home. It was a joyous homecoming, as would be expected. His mother and oldest sister made him a nice dinner at the late hour of 9 o’clock in the evening. They talked about his experiences and what had gone on with the family while he was gone.

Abram finished his diary with:

“… we all retired but I could not sleep. No indeed, the sounds of the drums and fifes were in my ears and the dear old faces of the boys to whom I had become so attached were constantly before me and I almost regretted that the war was over.”

The drum that Abram carried through most of his service was lost to the Rebs when he was captured at Spring Hill, Tennessee. He probably had use of another drum during his remaining seven months in the service, though he does not mention that in his diary.  In February, 1865, he did send home the Rebel drum he captured, but he was not discharged until 21 June 1865. The men of his company gave him a gift of a drum at some point, and that is the drum he cherished and used for all those years with the G.A.R., for parades, recruitment, etc. It is also the drum seen in all the posts of this series, which has been passed down to the oldest male descendant in each generation.

Addendum: In 1877 Abram was the manager of a band of 16 men called the “Great Western Band.” He also played drum solos for theater performances, including one called, “Lightning Express” for the Mossler Brothers Concert on 29 December 1881 in Indianapolis. His sister-in-law, Jennie (Taylor) Springsteen, sang a song at that same concert.  So Abram continued his interest in drumming throughout his life.

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “Hoosier Youngest Civil War Soldier,” by Louis Ludlow, in The Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, page 4, columns 1-3, via GenealogyBank.com.
  2. “Diary of Abram F. Springsteen” transcription, done by family members. Thank you for sharing!
  3. “Mossler Brothers Concert,” in Indianapolis Sentinel, 29 Dec 1881, volume XXX, number 363, page5, via GenealogyBank.com.

 

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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.
 
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Thriller Thursday: Abram F. Springsteen and His Civil War Drum, Part 3

Drum of Abram F. Springsteen, youngest Civil War soldier. Posted with permission of family.
Drum of Abram F. Springsteen, youngest Civil War soldier. Posted with permission of family.

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

We left our story with the Springsteen family chasing after their son Abram who was running off to war…

But Jefferson Springsteen (1820-1909) must have remembered his own headstrong, daredevil nature at the same age, and he and his wife Anna (Connor) Springsteen (1824-1887) finally relented. They allowed Abram to muster into Company I, 63rd Indiana Volunteers on 29 July 1862. He had turned 12 years old only 24 days earlier.

Anna- and Jeff and the whole family- must have been terribly distraught- they had just lost their youngest son, Joseph Springsteen, at only 22 months old. Now another son was leaving them, and the risk of him not coming back was high.

Abram had quite the adventure as a drummer boy in the Civil War, but he saw horrors as well.  Regiments tried to keep their drummer boys protected, as their drum rolls were one of the few ways to communicate in the chaos and noise of battle. In May of 1864, Abram was ordered off the field at the Battle of Resaca, Georgia by his commanding officer, General Mahlon Manson. Abram lingered, carrying his drum, wanting to be in the thick of it all. An enemy shell knocked Gen. Manson off his horse, and Abram ran to his side, being the first to reach him. Abram probably felt very smug at the service he was able to do after technically disobeying an order.

Battle of Resaca- Union cavalry moving through a gap to attack Confederate infantry. Kurz & Allison, c1889, Library of Congress via Wikipedia. Public domain.
Battle of Resaca- Union cavalry moving through a gap to attack Confederate infantry. Kurz & Allison, c1889, Library of Congress via Wikipedia. Public domain.

Other times, the small size of the drummer boys could be an advantage. Abram told the story that he was to carry dispatches to a forward skirmish line, which was in a very dangerous position. Abrams crawled through a field of cotton, on his hands and knees. The enemy noticed him, and began firing. He jumped up and ran as fast as he could- thankfully the enemy soldiers were not good shots. He was able to safely deliver the important missives and help the Union in their battle with the Rebs.

 

To be continued…

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “Hoosier Youngest Civil War Soldier,” by Louis Ludlow, in The Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, page 4, columns 1-3, via GenealogyBank.com.
  2. “Diary of Abram F. Springsteen” transcription, done by family members. Thank you for sharing!

 

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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.
 
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Workday Wednesday: Abram Springsteen and his Civil War Drum, Part 2

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Abram Springsteen and his Civil War Drum
Drum of Abram F. Springsteen, youngest Civil War soldier. Posted with permission of family.

Helbling Family, Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Yes, his parents must have truly regretted the day they bought Abram Furman Springsteen a drum.

Jefferson Springsteen, his father, was probably the one who went to get Abram from the Army office where he was ‘drumming up’ recruits for the Union, and dragged him back to school, where a ten year-old boy belonged.

But Abram persevered with his drumming to recruit soldiers. And Jeff went back to get him again, and took him back to school.

At first, at the age of ten, Abram likely thought he could do his part for the war effort by his drumming. By the time he turned eleven on 5 July 1861, though, ideas were probably constantly swirling through his mind of the glory of battle and the brotherhood of soldiers forged only by fire. By October, the desire to become a soldier was so strong that once again Abram ran away, but this time he acted on the plan he had made- he enlisted in the 35th Indiana Volunteers, Company A, as a private.

And again, Jeff and Anna Springsteen went to take their child from the military and back to home and school where he belonged. They probably knew he would run away again- his father’s genes for adventure had surely been passed to young Abram. The 35th was to be a Home Guard to protect Indianapolis, so Abram’s parents finally agreed to allow him to stay.

Civil War Regimental Fife and Drum Corps, via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain. (Click to enlarge.)
Civil War Regimental Fife and Drum Corps. We don’t know if Abram is in this picture or not, but he probably was much shorter than the men in this photo. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. (Click to enlarge.)

We don’t know if Abram took his own drum, or was more likely issued a federal drum that he could use as he marched at the front of the column of Indiana Volunteers. He learned the various drum rolls that were used as commands on the march and on the battlefield, and would have practiced with the men as they drilled in ranks; he may have even helped stand watches or run errands for the officers. Abram’s life continued in this vein for two months, until the end of the year. On 31 December 1861, the inevitable happened- his regiment was ordered to be transported to the frontlines. Upon learning of this, Abram’s parents, Jefferson Springsteen (1820-1909) and Anna (Connor) Springsteen (1824-1887) requested his discharge. The Army was not about to lose a warm body, however, no matter how short or how young, and they refused to muster him out. Abram did not want to go back home anyway.

The family was distraught, including his six siblings. (We know that Anna Missouri (Springsteen) Beerbower was especially worried, as they were close.) The federal government continued to prohibit Abram from mustering out because he was underage, arguing that his parents had signed with permission at his enlistment. Their reply that they thought the enlistment was just for the Home Guard fell on deaf ears.

Desperate measures were required.

Abram’s law-abiding parents kidnapped him.

They locked him inside the house.

Do you remember anything about Jefferson Springsteen from previous posts, and his jobs in Indianapolis? They include being the first Chief of Police in Indianapolis, a Detective, etc. through the years. So kidnapping his son and going against federal law must have been a tough thing for him to do. But it was his son, and Abram was just too young to go off to war.

What a handful Abram was- he continued to run away, be caught, be locked in the house again; and repeat. What was a parent to do?

To be continued…

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. “Hoosier Youngest Civil War Soldier,” by Louis Ludlow, in The Evansville Courier and Press, Evansville, IN, page 4, columns 1-3, via GenealogyBank.com.
  2. “Diary of Abram F. Springsteen” transcription, done 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.
 
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