An unlikely Daughter of the Confederacy.
The above sword belonged to my second great-grandfather, Col. W.R. Stuart. My fourth cousin found it not long before she found me on ancestry.com. At first, because of Stuart’s Colonel title, I thought it was a Civil War issued sword to help my great great-grandfather hold back advancing Union soldiers. Turns out that the sword was issued by the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal order not the Confederate Army. I’m not sure if the sword had anything to do with the Civil War, but I’m sure the colonel did. A census record shows him owning 59 slaves around 1850 and some receipts recently found by a genealogy buddy, Ghita Johnson, show he gave many thousands of dollars to the confederate cause. That’s many thousands of dollars more than I’ve ever given to any cause.
Great great-granddaddy was a Confederate for sure.
I have mixed feelings about the sword which is probably why it took me so long to post any pictures of it on this blog. What can I say? I’m never going to be happy that the Col. owned slaves, that one of them was my second great-grandmother, Temple Burton, that it’s a lot easier to find out information about him, a slave owner than about her, the slave he owned. But I am glad that he left a lot of history behind him. His history has the potential to shed some light on Temple’s. All of it, from the Colonel’s deep religious ties to the Methodist Church to Temple’s decision to live with her former masters decades after she was emancipated helps me expand my view of them and ultimately of myself. Like Malcolm Gladwell said on the final episode of PBS’s Faces of America, “the more ways you can define yourself, the better off you are.”
I’ll never identify as a daughter of the confederacy because of what the concept conjures up for me, but, a Daughter of the Confederacy, however uncomfortable it makes me, is literally one of the things that I am.
My fourth cousin, Monique will supply a guest post to tell you how she found this 19th century sword once she’s had a chance to catch the first episode of Who Do You Think You Are.
Meanwhile, has your ancestry research changed or expanded how you see yourself?