Monday, May 30, 2011

Back Just in Time for a Memorable Memorial Day

Didn't intend to go missing for the spring but got too busy with several things -- a course on "Interpreting Material Culture," a couple of Alexandria Historical Society projects, and the day job which started taking up more evening and weekend time.

But this week, I got back to work on one line of the Hughes family, the people who had been enslaved at Volusia here in Alexandria. David Hughes had married in slavery, had served with the U.S. Colored Infantry, and according to his widow's pension application, had 14 children. His youngest, Lockwood S. Hughes, was born in 1880 in Washington, D.C., just a few years before David died.

I've wondered about the name Lockwood and was also hopeful that it was unusual enough that I might find him more easily. I can't be sure but one possible inspiration for the name may have been Rev. William F. Lockwood who was at the Virginia Theological Seminary in the 1840s. David and Frances lived near the Seminary and were wed there in 1851, although I don't know for certain that they knew Rev. Lockwood.

Locating and tracking Lockwood Hughes was fairly easy. He lived near his mother in Washington County, Pa., after she remarried. Lockwood married Rita Scott and they had three daughters who were still quite young when he died in the early 1920s.

This weekend I spoke with one of those daughters. Florence is in her 90s, still lives in Washington County, has seven children and was gracious enough to talk to a complete stranger who called her up out of the blue. (This isn't something I regularly do. Usually if I'm contacting a descendant, I write a letter and enclose information so they can see I'm sincere and only wish to share their family's history with them. And next week I will send information about David Hughes to this kind lady who spoke with me.) As much as I wanted to know if she had old family photos or the family Bible this transcription came from, I didn't ask. I was most grateful that she is in good health and has a sharp mind.

Family Bible transcription from Civil War pension application #485519, National Archives

With the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War underway, perhaps I felt the history and significance of Memorial Day even more. I had just had a conversation with a woman whose own grandparents had been born into slavery in the 1830s and whose grandfather had served in the Civil War. One hundred and fifty years really isn't that long ago for some families.