By Linda Emley
I’m not an expert on the Civil War but I’ve spent the last 2 1/2 years working on the Battle of Albany re-enactment that is coming to Ray County in October this year.
Like all Americans, I was first introduced to the Civil War in school. It wasn’t a big deal because it happened a long time ago. After I started researching my family history, I found blue and gray ancestors, but I loved them all the same because they were my family.
In 1975, I moved to Virginia and while driving across the state, we stopped at Appomattox Courthouse to tour the “Surrender House.” I still remember the re-enactors that made us feel like we were visiting Virginia as it was 110 years earlier. That summer day was the first time that I felt the Civil War and knew it was real.
On June 1, 2013, I attended the memorial service at the Confederate Home in Higginsville. While watching this program, I experienced the same emotions I felt many years ago while visiting Appomattox.
My trip to Higginsville was also an historic journey because I’d learned that June 1 in 1930 a memorial service was held at Higginsville. I ran across a program from a 1930 scrapbook at the museum and knew I had to experience this event 83 years later.
Many Ray Countians were part of the service in 1930. It opened with a march to the cemetery that was lead by Earl Brown, a drummer from Richmond. The first song was sung by the Brown-Rives Chapter of United Daughters of the Confederacy from Richmond. A tribute to the Confederate dead was given and was followed by another song from the Richmond ladies. The final event was taps played by 17-year-old Arthur Hutton from Richmond. There was a concert in the afternoon and the Richmond ladies sang several songs. They opening with “America” and the closing song was “Blest Be the Tie That Binds.”
I also found a newspaper story from 1930. “June 1 was the annual homecoming day at the Confederate Soldier’s Home at Higginsville. A most beautiful day for such a celebration and true lovers of the Sixties gathered in great numbers to mingle with the vanishing heroes of other days and to conduct a memorial service in the beautiful cemetery. This service was under the auspices of the Brown-Rives chapter U.D.C of Richmond.
“They had on display many lovely quilts and some were for sale at reasonable prices. When noon came the beautiful grounds looked like one large family party loaded with good things to eat. It seemed the hospitality of the Old South had again returned.
“The park is very beautiful now, also the flower gardens. It is a short drive over and if you will make it you will feel amply repaid. The Veterans are pleased with Mr. Harlan the new superintendent and all of them tell us how they love Isaac Duvall.”
I was glad to find this because now we know Isaac was the “Mr. Duvall” that escorted Bruna McGuire and Mrs. Scott Holloway around the home in 1927. Isaac Bates Duvall was born in 1874, the son of Joe. He was listed in the 1930 census as the 56-year-old custodian of the Confederate Home. He died in 1940 and is buried in Cleveland, the small Missouri town, where he spent his last seven years. His wife Grace was buried beside him in 1942.
The memorial service in 2013 was a lot like the one in 1930. My favorite part was when everyone announced the name of a Civil War ancestor and then placed a rose on the base of the U.D.C. memorial. I was honored to lay a rose on the monument as a gift from one of the descendants. He said it was for my hard work and dedication of history preservation. It was nice to be part of the service.
One speaker said that many gave their lives during the war. As I looked over the 800 graves, I thought of the pain and suffering these men felt. They watched their comrades fall but none of them died in battle because this cemetery started in 1891.
A few minutes later I was looking at the cemetery and in the far corner I saw a stone that was standing a bit taller that the others. Then I realized that there was one man that died during the war because in 1992, a few pieces of William Clarke Quantrell were buried there. He also has a grave in Louisville, Ky., and Dover, Ohio, where other parts of his body are buried.
Quantrell’s mother was Carolina Clarke Quantrell and I always felt sorry for her. My great-great-grandmother was Louisa Ann Clarke and I wonder if they were related. I’m sure if I go back far enough, I’ll find a connection because our “Clarke” ends with an “e”. Louisa had two brothers, one who fought for the Union and the other who fought for the Confederates. This Clarke connection could be an example of “Brother against Brother,” which is one reason why this war still affects us 150 years later.
So many things have changed since I attended the Higginsville Memorial Day ceremony last year. Many of the people that gave the program are my new friends. I’ve attended several events and one by one I’ve added them to my list of historical friends. I have a big surprise for them this year because I’m taking a scrapbook that I found at the Ray County Museum. It is the Brown-Rives U.D.C. Chapter that was formed in Richmond in 1911. This scrapbook is full of articles and programs about previous Memorial Day events at Higginsville.
One of the articles was from 1923. “Twas A Glorious Day For the Boys in Gray. Services Were Held Morning and Afternoon – 2000 Ate Dinner. June 3, 1923, Confederate Memorial Day and the birthday of Jefferson Davis, is a day that will long be remembered by the residents of the Confederate Home and the hundreds of guests and delegates that came for the occasion. By early morning cars began to arrive at the home, and were parked in space provided for and managed by the Chamber of Commerce. This organization had charge of all transportation, which was furnished free to and from home for the visitors of the day.
“In all directions came visitors in cars, laden with baskets and carrying armfuls of flowers. The baskets were taken care of at the home by a committee of the Chamber of Commerce, who also had a reception committee to receive all guests. The flowers were placed on the graves of departed soldiers. “
A morning service was given and shortly after noon the dinner was served cafeteria style. The U.D.C. was in charge of the program. Another program was given in the afternoon in front of the main building. A letter was read to the crowd from Mrs. Joe Shelby, widow of Gen. Joe Shelby, who said in her message from Texas that although absent in body she was with them in heart.”
On June 7, I will be attending my second Confederate Memorial Day in Higginsville. The program starts at noon, but I will be there early because I’m taking the “Capt.” with me. It may seem strange that my “flat man” Capt. William T. Anderson is helping me promote the Battle of Albany because it’s telling the story about his death. It’s amazing how many different stories I hear about Bill Anderson when we attend different meetings. I always introduce myself as the “Capt.’s driver” and then tell his story and invite everyone to come to Ray County for the re-enactment.
After we leave Higginsville, we are headed back up highway 13 to the Battle of Kingston. Caldwell County is hosting a Civil War Re-enactment and Living History Event June 6,7 and 8 and the Capt. and I will be there sharing information about our Battle of Albany. I plan on being there Saturday evening for the ball on the courthouse square and again on Sunday. If you have a little extra time, drive on up to Kingston and be a part of the 150th Re-enactment of the Thrailkill-Taylor Raid. This event is free to the public and will be a nice way to spend the weekend with your family and friends. If you make it there, please look us up. I’m sure it won’t be hard finding me because I will be hanging with the Capt.