It is week three in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge. This week’s prompt is titled Long Line.
I immediately thought of the many lines I have traced back through history the farthest. A few years ago, I became fascinated with identifying and proving lineage for several “gateway ancestors,” colonial immigrants whose ancestry can be traced to Old World gentry, nobility, or royalty. So far, I have determined that the following ancestors are direct descendants of Charlemagne: Edward Foulke (1651-1741) of Pennsylvania, my spouse’s 8th great-grandfather; Lawrence Smith (1629–1700) of Virginia, my 10th great-grandfather; Edmund Hawes (1612–1693) of Massachusetts, my 11th great-grandfather; and Peter Worden (1569-1639) of Massachusetts, my 12th great-grandfather.
But since I have already written or will soon be writing about these predecessors in my blog, I determined that these were not the “long lines” about which I would write. So, back to the family tree, I went.
Again, I thought about family lines that span generations. This time, my mind went to George Spengler (1150 – 1190), my spouse’s 20th great-grandfather. George Spengler served as the cupbearer to the Prince Bishop of Wurtzburg Godfrey of Piesenburg. When the Third Crusades commenced in 1189, Godfrey of Pisenberg heeded the call to arms. George Spengler, his loyal servant, accompanied the Prince Bishop. Not a wise choice, as sadly, both men died en route.
However, since I had already blogged about George Spengler, I figured that I should write about someone “new”: perhaps an everyday person whose name has not been recorded in history. But since all of our longest lines have patriarchs and/or matriarchs who have been well-documented by historians, I had to think outside the box…
Suddenly, an idea hit me like a bolt of lightning: I would write about my Long (as in surname) Line.
Unfortunately, the Long family does not live up to its name. Unlike the aforementioned lines that go back generations upon generations, this one dead-ends at my third great-grandfather, William Francis/Francis William/William Franklin/Franklin William Long. Obviously, the sources vary, so for this blog post, I will refer to him as William Francis Long.
Even though I do not know his exact name, I do know that my third great-grandfather was born circa 1836 in Maryland. His parents and, consequently, details of his childhood are unknown.
The first time he appears in Washington County records is on 25 November 1856, when he married Lucinda A. Thomas, the 16-year daughter of Joseph Thomas and Mary E. Johnston.
A few years later, on 14 May 1859, the couple welcomed their first-born child, Ella Long (my 2nd great-grandmother).
In the 13 June 1860 issue of the Herald of Freedom and Torch Light newspaper (Hagerstown, Maryland), the following announcement is made:
Mr. William F. Long has been appointed Bible agent and colporteur for the county. (A colporteur peddles printed material door-to-door.)
Is this my William Francis Long? If so, it is uncertain as to how long he worked as a colporteur.
What is certain is that on 3 September 1860, the federal census listed him as a carpenter in Sharpsburg, Washington County, Maryland. It was not a good living, however, as his real estate was valued at $100 and his personal property was worth only $50.
Meanwhile, almost 500 miles away, our nation was on the verge of war. With the first shot fired on Fort Sumter on 12 April 1861, the War Between the States had begun. In the ensuing months and years, discord abounded in Western Maryland; neighbors and families were divided between Union and Confederate support.
Soon, the war would come to Washington County, Maryland. On 1 January 1862, Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson marched north from Winchester to Bath with the intent of disrupting traffic on the B&O Railroad and C&O Canal. On 5 January 1862, Jackson’s force reached the Potomac River, opposite the garrisoned town of Hancock, Maryland. His artillery fired on the town from Orrick’s Hill but did little damage. Union garrison commander Brig. Gen. F.W. Lander refused Jackson’s demands for surrender. For two days, Jackson continued the bombardment while unsuccessfully searching for a safe river crossing. The Confederates withdrew and marched on Romney, in western Virginia, on 7 January 1862.
A month later in the Long home, on 12 February 1862, daughter Chora May was born.
Meanwhile, the war raged on and was about to get worse for the residents of Washington County, Maryland. On 14 September 1862, after invading Maryland, Gen. Robert E. Lee divided his army to march on Harpers Ferry. The Army of the Potomac under Major Gen. George B. McClellan pursued the Confederates to Frederick, Maryland, then advanced on South Mountain. Pitched battles were fought for possession of the South Mountain passes—Crampton’s, Turner’s, and Fox’s Gaps. By dusk, the Confederate defenders were driven back, suffering severe casualties, and McClellan was in a position to destroy Lee’s Army before they could regroup. McClellan’s limited activity on 15 September 1862 after his victory at South Mountain, however, allowed the garrison at Harpers Ferry to be captured and allowed Lee time to unite his scattered divisions at Sharpsburg.
Then, on 17 September 1862, about a mile from the Long home, the Battle of Antietam was fought. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, pitting the Army of the Potomac, numbered at 87,164, against the Army of Northern Virginia, numbered at 38,000. After the last shot was fired and the dust and smoke had cleared, 2,108 Union soldiers were dead, 9,549 were wounded, and 753 were captured or missing. For the Confederates, 1,567 soldiers were dead, 7,752 were wounded, and 1,018 were captured or missing.
The area in and around Sharpsburg, Maryland was in shambles. Farms were decimated. Crops waiting to be harvested had been razed by bullets and cannons or trampled in the troops. Harvested crops were requisitioned by the military to feed the troops. Smaller animals, like pigs and chickens, were confiscated to feed the masses, as were the eggs from laying chickens. The military also requisitioned horses and mules to replace dead, wounded, or exhausted military draft animals. Wooden fences were destroyed during the battle or were dismantled for firewood.
When the bodies were buried and the debris was cleared, all that was left behind was disease and hunger. The elderly, the sick, and the youngest were most affected. So was the case with eight-month-old Chora Long, who died on 1 November 1862. She was buried in Fairview Cemetery in Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland.
Several months passed. It is uncertain how the Long family fared after the death of baby Chora. Did they relocate or did they choose to stay? Did William Francis Long take odd jobs to make ends meet or, because of the destruction, was his carpentry business flourishing?
Nine months after Antietam, another fierce battle was waged 50 miles away. In the first days of July 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was fought. Two days later, on 4-5 July 1863, Lee’s battered army retreated, moving southwest on the Fairfield Road toward Hagerstown and Williamsport, screened by Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry. The Union infantry followed cautiously the next day, converging on Middletown, Maryland (about 15 miles from Sharpsburg).
On 7 July 1863, Confederate Gen. John Daniel Imboden stopped Union Brig. Gen. John Buford, Jr.’s cavalry from occupying Williamsport and destroying Confederate trains. The Union cavalry drove two Confederate cavalry brigades through Hagerstown before being forced to retire by the arrival of the rest of Stuart’s command. Lee’s infantry reached the rain-swollen Potomac River but could not cross, the pontoon bridge having been destroyed by a cavalry raid.
On 8 July 1863, the Confederate cavalry, holding the South Mountain passes, fought a rearguard action against elements of the Union 1st and 3rd Cavalry Divisions and Infantry. This action was one of a series of cavalry combats fought around Boonsboro, Hagerstown, and Williamsport.
On 11 July 1863, Lee entrenched a line, protecting the river crossings at Williamsport and waited for Meade’s army to advance.
On 12 July 1863, Meade reached the vicinity and probed the Confederate line. On 13 July 1863, skirmishing was heavy along the lines as Meade positioned his forces for an attack. In the meantime, the river fell enough to allow the construction of a new bridge, and Lee’s army began crossing the river after dark on the 13th. On 14 July 1863, two Confederate cavalry divisions attacked a Union rearguard division still on the north bank, taking more than 500 prisoners.
On 16 July 1863, across the river from Williamsport, Union Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg’s cavalry approached Shepherdstown where Confederate Gen. Fitzhugh Lee’s and Brig. Gen. J.R. Chambliss’s brigades, supported by M.J. Ferguson’s, held the Potomac River fords against the Union infantry. Fitzhugh Lee and Chambliss attacked Gregg, who held out against several attacks and sorties, fighting sporadically until nightfall when he withdrew.
In all this madness, a child named Emory E. Long entered the world. Born on 11 November 1864, he was the third and final child of William Francis Long and Lucinda Thomas.
Thankfully, the war ended in May 1865, and Western Marylanders were left to pick up the pieces and move on. What was happening in the Long family during this time is unknown.
No records can be found for them, that is until 13 April 1868, when three-year-old son Emory E. Long died and was buried next to his sister in Fairview Cemetery in Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland. What a heart-breaking time for the Long family. To lose not one but two children must have made life difficult to bear.
The next time the Long family appears in records is in the 1870 U.S. Census. Wife Lucinda Long and daughter Ellen Long were residing at her parents’ home. William Francis Long is nowhere to be found. I thought that perhaps he died during the war (with the Battle of Antietam occurring near their home) or maybe he left home to make his fortune or perhaps he was on the road disseminating religious tracts.” I wonder…
I had to find out, so I started “fishing” a bit deeper, widening my search parameters to see what I could “catch.” Unfortunately, what I found raised more questions than answers. In 1870, a William Long, born circa 1836, was living about 13 miles away in Williamsport, Washington County, Maryland with his wife Elizabeth and sons William and Samuel B. Is it possible that this was my William Francis Long? Although there are many known instances of men having more than one family, I could not say for certain if this were the case or was it just a coincidence.
Fast forward ten years to the 1880 U.S. Census: Lucinda and Ella Long are still living with her parents with still no sign of William Francis Long. Considering that Lucinda lists herself as married and not widowed means that William Francis Long was presumably still alive. But as there still is no trace of him, I believe it is safe to say that my third great-grandfather left his wife and daughter, never to return. And since his name (in its many variations) has not turned up any possible matches, there is a distinct chance that he might have changed it. And now you see why this deadbeat dad is one of my dead-end ancestors.