Saturday, January 25, 2014

52 Ancestors #3: Mary Anne Hill

Get ready for another family myth-busting ride! For my third installment of this series, I have chosen  to feature my Great Great Grandmother, Mary Anne Hill Daniels. I had not intended for Mary to be such a problem child for this post. In fact, I thought she would be a breeze....and then I had an "out-of-research" experience. You know that feeling, when you've been researching a line, and can recite the facts you've gathered with your eyes closed and at the drop of a hat - and suddenly your own litany has a snag. You can actually see from outside the research realm and catch something you had not caught before....that is a prime example of why this series has proven to be such a great prompt! And why we should practice this kind of "review" from time to time - beyond 2014.

Mary Anne Hill has a wonderful story and family heirloom associated with her narrative. One that has been told time and again about a clock and an Ohio Yankee girl serving up breakfast to a group of Confederate Soldiers during the raiding parties of General John Hunt Morgan. That is...until today...I do believe, after this post, I will be changing the story just a tad....

What I know about Mary Anne Hill:
Name: Mary Anne Hill Daniels
Born: January 30th, 1842, 43, or 44 (various documents list January, but different years) in Radcliff, Vinton County Ohio
Died: 1934, Gallia County Ohio
Married: Madison Daniels, October 29th, 1865, Gallia County Ohio
Parents: Richard Hill of North Carolina & Sarah Oiler of Virginia or Pennsylvania (conflicting records)
Children: John, Minerva, Margaret, George, Jesse, William, Eva, Arizona, Arthur, Clyde

My Grandfather, Charles (mentioned in #2), had a small anecdote about his memory of Mary:
"I don't remember much about Grandma Mary since I was very little, but I do remember she was a very independent woman. She lived on the farm with Uncle Jess and Aunt Min (brother & sister), and I can remember a time when she took a couple of big bowls of beans outside to snap or something, and I went out to ask her if I could help, and she said "No". I pressed her further and asked again to help. She flapped her hands at me and said "No, no, shoo, you kids get out of here!" I guess she just wanted to do it herself." (Charles Daniels Sr., 2002)

What I THOUGHT I knew about Mary - The Mystery of the Clock:
We have a story in the family that centers on a mantel clock that was handed down through the Daniels male line. This mantel clock was said to have come from the farm that Madison & Mary had made their home on for decades. The family legend states that this clock was on the mantel during the time when General John Hunt Morgan was making headway into Ohio during the Civil War. Just before their capture, Morgan's men spread out along the areas near the river, separating into small foraging groups, taking what they needed. As a raiding party in enemy territory, any farm chosen for such ransacking would have been in danger of further harm without capitulation. According to the details of this story, Grandma Mary voluntarily invited the invading men inside and fixed them a big breakfast, which left them full, satisfied, and grateful enough to leave the Daniels household largely in-tact. We also made the assumption that Grandma Mary did this because her husband was a Union soldier, and might have been even more afraid of repercussions. Cool story....but...

What I have realized about the story:
1. This story may not be about Mary at all!
2. Mantel clock age IS correct to validate the story - 1830s Chauncey Boardman "Groaner" Clock made in Connecticut.
3. Time frame of Morgan's men traveling through southern Ohio, just prior to capture: 1863
4. Military service date of Madison Daniels: Sept. 1864 through June 1865
5. Marriage date of Madison and Mary: October 29th, 1865
6. Handwritten notes of repair dates on the back of the clock do confirm it was in the hands of the Daniels side of the family after the War.

So...If the clock was on their mantel, and Mary served them breakfast...
1. Was she living with Madison BEFORE marriage? Highly unlikely for a small community in 1863.
2. If they were living together, Madison would have been home - he had not yet entered the army - which removes the "fear" factor in relation to a Confederates finding out about this being a Union soldier family.
3. My father added an element to the story - that someone was hiding under a bridge in the area while Morgan's men were raiding - where, when, & why?
4. Both sets of parents were alive and living on farms in the area.
5. The Daniels side of the family was from Pennsylvania.
6. The Hill side was from Virginia & North Carolina.
7. Was breakfast served by Grandmother Delila Daniels, a northern woman who may have had another son in the war at the time? (Need to research the rest of the men militarily)
8. Was breakfast served by Grandmother Sarah Hill, or by Mary, still living in her parents' household - could this have been a sympathetic southern family....serving up a little treason for breakfast?
9. The entire story is false?
10. Either way, the troop movements and clock age do coincide to the family farms in the area (after some local research).

Which means....
This story, while still a valid piece of family narrative, should be related in the future with the above considerations. Plus, this just means I have more work to do! I would love to find out more about the farms in the area, the military service of the families, etc. I don't think it's possible to prove the story, but eliminating certain possibilities can be achieved with additional work.

Ah, Grandma Mary - my newest enigma!



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