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Civil War Round Table of Kansas City

The Civil War and Me Through the Years

by Suzee Oberg

In 1956. as a sophomore at Oklahoma State University, I was enrolled in an American History class taught by a professor [Berlin B. Chapman] who selected me and three other students to take part in the dedication of a Civil War battlefield. We were given several songs to learn and sing as a part of the program. We were bussed 16 miles to the site of the first battle in Oklahoma at Twin Mounds or Round Mountain, sang our songs along with the rest of the program, which was recorded and put into a time capsule, and had a good time while earning "As” in the class.

As a child, I had learned a little about the Civil War from my grandmother, whose father. Charles Wood Daniels, had fought in Company E. 8th Illinois Infantry, and was later involved with one of the largest old soldier's reunions in the country. Numerous times I had listened to her tales of the fun she had while attending those festivities in Baxter Springs. Kansas at the turn of the 20th Century. She kept on display several pieces of glassware with the dates and family names engraved on them as precious mementos of that time.

It was the same year as my Oklahoma Battlefield adventure that my grandfather. Ira Louthan Hartzell. suffered a stroke and became bedridden. Before his death, he was comforted by my mother reading his father’s Civil War diaries to him. The diaries and letters belonging to his father. James Naulin Hartzell and the 7th OVI, were kept in the big safe in the basement. Eventually. I inherited the Civil War diaries, letters, money, and other war related artifacts from my grandparent's home in Westwood.

When I began working on my genealogy, the Civil War service of the ancestors became important to list. It was only then that I learned that my Swiss immigrant great grandfather. Joseph Soldan Els. had enlisted to defend his home in Co A. Independence Home Guards. His two brothers also enlisted in the Union Army.

In the 1990s and 2000s, I began attending a genealogical reunion conference held where ten of my direct ancestors lived together in the Germanna Colonies in Virginia in the early 1700s. It was held in places mentioned in the Civil War diaries. The office of our Germanna Memorial Foundation is directly across the highway from “The Wilderness". In fact, one year I was invited to a Wilhoit cousin’s home that was where the Battle of North Anna had occurred on their farmland. The family stated that both Grant and Lee had sat in their dining room, though not at the same time of course. They took me and the other kinfolk on a hayride around the battlefield, where archeologists were actively digging for artifacts. I must mention that some of my Virginia cousins who still live in the Culpeper and Madison area refer to the war as “The War of Northern Aggression”.

The Civil War artifacts that I have are letters and diaries kept during the war. pension papers, bullets, buttons. Confederate money, a fading Alliance, Ohio newspaper front page, about the death of an ancestor with a picture of his house and the statement that it was on the underground railroad. I have the souvenir glassware engraved with the names and dates of attendance of the reunion in Baxter Springs and photographs of the tents there. I have a letter from a relative who attended the reunion as a girl and a description and speech given by my great grandfather Daniels about the reunion, which is in a 1904 history of Cherokee County, Kansas. Medals from reunions and a diary that was kept by James Hartzell. while traveling across the country on a train on the way from Cape Girardeau, Missouri to a reunion in California, round out my war related treasures.

I have not studied the Civil War battles and officers like a lot of our members have but I thoroughly enjoy learning from our speakers and reading the books they have written about the historical conflict.

Civil War Round Table of Kansas City
436 West 88th Terrace
Kansas City, MO 64114

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