Sunday, February 4, 2024



It has been quite a long time since I last posted to the blog. I'm guilty of not checking it as much as I should. Life has a way of distracting and other interests intervene. Nevertheless, I did manage to find a cemetery related to Snake Bite Lilly this past summer. It is located off of Ellison Ridge Road. Mrs. Lilly told me that someone long ago vandalized the cemetery. Most of the tombstones are illegible (if not all). The writing has pretty much disappeared from the few shards of slate that might have been tombstones. 

Anyway, I wanted to give a quick update. I will do my best to keep an eye on the blog. It's my intention to keep it up for everyone's use. 

If I don't immediately respond, hopefully, someone will notice your comment and give you some good advice. 

People will sometimes comment asking for information related to their own branches of the family trees. I know a lot about my own branches of family trees. I do not know everyone's branch of their own family trees. Keep in mind that the blog was originally intended for my immediate cousins related to our grandmother's family from Streeter (Lilly Jennings Basham's side). I have cousins who live around the world and this was a way to answer their questions and share photos, etc. 

I have a blog post titled "Online Sources for Research" (2012). It could be helpful.

Happy investigating and good luck!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

60th Va. Infantry Command

Keep in mind that the command structure changed over the course of the war.  At the beginning of the Seven Days Battles of Richmond in 1862, the command was the following (in descending order of rank):

Gen. James Longstreet

Maj. General Ambrose P. Hill - his light division (which included men from the 60th Va. Infantry - among many other divisions - totaled roughly 14,000 men at the time of the Seven Days Battles).

Brig. General Charles W. Field -"Field's Brigade". During the Seven Days Battles this included roughly 1,500 men.  This included: the 60th, 55th, 47th, and 40th Va. Infantries.

Col. William E. Starke (commanding officer of the 60th Va. Infantry).

Lt. Col. B. H. Jones.

Maj. John C. Summers.

White Ryan, Cpt. of Company I,  aka "Mercer Mountain Rangers"

Alexander Basham Mystery Solved

For a number of years I've tried to track down where Alexander Basham (John Wesley Basham's father) was buried in Richmond.  As a review, Alexander Basham served in the 60th Virginia Regiment (Co.I) and died at the Seven Days Battles of Richmond in 1862.  I had two mysteries: (1) the location of his burial, and (2) the specific Battle of the Seven Days Battles he was wounded in.

I contacted historian Bob Krick in Richmond and he was able to do some detective work with some materials in Richmond.  According to Bob, Alexander Basham is buried at the Oakwood Cemetery in Section C.  Unfortunately, we do not know exactly where in Section C he is buried.  The graves are unmarked.  They are numbered, but the corresponding names do not exist for many soldiers because over time the ladies who once maintained Oakwood could not read progressively fading markers, and some markers were lost, broken, or stolen.  A 2nd list resurfaced about 15 years ago.  This list was maintained by the caretaker of Oakwood Cemetery, John Redford.  It's because of this list that we know for sure that Alexander Basham is buried at Oakwood Cemetery and in Section C (but not the specific plot).

As for the battle he was wounded in, Bob had the following to say (I've included the full correspondence):

  "Attached is the scan of the appropriate page from the Oakwood Cemetery superintendent's burial list.  That list only exists for 1861-62, so you are fortunate in that regard. The original list was discovered in the archives at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond a few years ago.  Basham is about two-thirds of the way down the list, correct in every particular except it identifies his regiment as 6th Virginia instead of 60th Virginia.  Those sorts of errors are typical, even routine, and it should not bother you.

I am happy to report that I finally found what I thought I remembered:  a note in my files about a 60th Virginia casualty list.  It was published in the Richmond Enquirer on July 7, 1862, page one.  Happily for you, it breaks down the regimental casualties by battle:  June 26 (Mechanicsville or Beaver Dam Creek); June 27 (Gaines's Mill); and June 30 (Frayser's Farm or Glendale).  This is on microfilm, and I do not have the ability here in my office to make a copy for you from film.

It shows Alex Basham wounded "slightly in thigh" on June 30 at Frayser's Farm.  So the inference is that he served in, and survived, the big charges at Mechanicsville and Gaines's Mill.  You can guess along with me on how a "slight" thigh wound on June 30 became a fatal wound by the second week of July.  Gangrene is one possibility, or some version of infection.  Or, he could have been weakened by the wound and contracted something else.
The 60th Virginia's charge at Frayser's Farm is a very famous episode.  The 60th and a sister regiment charged a battery of Union cannon and actually fought for possession of it using bayonets, fists, and clubbed muskets.  The ground where that happened is now part of our national park, only recently preserved by the Civil War Trust and turned over to us.  It is very, very different today.  It is wooded, but was open in 1862.  And it is unmarked today--no signs, no trails, etc. But in future years it slowly will become better looking, and better for visiting.  

As a bonus, see the second attachment, which is a very well known piece of combat art depicting the 60th Virginia and its sister regiment the 55th Virginia charging that battery at Frayser's Farm.  The artist served in that brigade, which makes the sketch that much better." 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Captain Matthew Farley

Captain Matthew Farley I've written about before in earlier blog entries.   See the post Samuel Pack, Francis Farley, James Ellison Sr. Battle of Point Pleasant dated August 2010.

What I find most interesting is that Vernon Pack found his grave in Indiana.

The Findagrave website has photos of his tombstone, and someone posted his last will and testament on the site.
Click the link:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Lillian (Lee) Dillion

Again, I have to apologize for a long absence.  I have a new teaching job with a long drive.

On January, 25th, 2015 my Aunt Lee passed away in Florida.  She was the oldest daughter of Ed and Lilly (nee Basham) Halstead.  Her biological father was Claude Hurt (Lilly's first husband).

Although she was technically my mother's half sister, she was as close as any sister could be to mother.  Likewise, I admired my aunt very much.

She owned Del Mar beauty shop in Beckley, WV for many years.  During WWII she worked on aircraft construction in Baltimore, Maryland.  Two of those planes were the Martin JRM Mars and the Martin B-26 Marauder.

She was a self-educated business woman and became very successful.  This was during the 50's and 60's when many women had to depend on their husbands for income.  She told me when I was a college student to make sure I took business courses, which I did and this knowledge served me very well.

She was one of the most inspirational figures in our family.  I will never forget the historical books, baked cakes and candies that she would send me during Christmas.  We also would visit her and my uncle at their home in Virginia.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Streeter during Thanksgiving

The following taken from an interview of Vernon Pack, 11/24/13:

Me:  What was Thanksgiving like in Streeter?

Vernon:  I didn't recall having a turkey, but we would have meat of some kind.  Dad would kill a rabbit or we would have pork.  Turkey was rarely seen.

Me: Wild turkey were rare?

Vernon:  Yes.  I read somewhere that it was common to have 3 deer a day - in the 1800s and back.  But, you never saw a bear in the woods, rarely a deer or turkey-

Me: This is in the 1940s, right?

Vernon: Yes.  The hunters had just about eliminated all the big game around the Streeter area.  A friend recalled the only time he saw a deer it was dead on someone's fender - killed by a hunter and put on the fender of the automobile.

      [Thanksgiving] we maybe had a rabbit or some pork, sweet potatoes were of course plentiful, regular potatoes, brown beans (dad loved them), and cornbread.

     We would have a pig or hog butchered on that day and the ladies and their husbands would come and some members of the neighborhood would come and help butcher - it was an all day and sometimes all night affair.  Butchering day was Thanksgiving Day.  Salt was rubbed in the meat to help preserve it - we didn't have electricity.  Usually the hogs were 300 to 400 lbs, so it was a chore to get them prepared.  The people who helped were given some of the pork for the benefit of helping.  Not everyone had pigs, but dad often did.

    Thanksgiving wasn't a day of leisure; it was a day of work.  You had a heated water barrel - boiling and hot - you stuck the hog down inside the barrel a number of times to get the hair softened to scrap off.

Me:  What about pies, desserts?

Vernon:  Chocolate pies, apple pies, pumpkin pies and cobblers -

Me: Did your mom make the pumpkin from can?

Vernon: she grew her own pumpkins and selected the best from the field.  She would then cook it down.  I didn't like pumpkin pie because I had to smell it being prepared.  I liked the cherry, huckleberry, and blackberry cobblers.

  [On activities]:  My uncle Alex Pack [William Alexander Pack] was invited.  He would stick the knife in at an angle [when slaughtering the pig].  The men would bet he would punch the heart - normally he would puncture the heart.  He knew what he was doing.

  They [the men] would chew tobacco and have spitting contests.  They also played Mumble (or Mumbley) Peg.  You open a knife partially, place a piece of wood on the floor, and cover your sight of it with one hand and see if you could stick the wood with the knife tip.  It would stick if you knew what you were doing.  The men bet 5 to 20 cents.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fall Memories

Fall is probably my favorite season.  Some of my favorite foods come in season: pumpkin, apples, squash, warm stews and soups.

  One of my fondest memories is going to the Streeter area with Mawmaw and Pawpaw Halstead.  Pawpaw made a crate that tied to the front of his Jeep which he used to put his beagle in.  You might think, "that's odd", but it seemed so normal at the time -the radiator kept his beagle warm.  We would all take KFC and park along the road, eat and admire the foliage.

  It's a simple memory, but one that lingers.