Yesterday marked the anniversary of the passing of my second great-grandmother, Ella V. (Long) Thomas, who died 98 years ago on 18 September 1922. Although I never met her, she raised a truly admirable daughter, my great-grandmother, whom I have mentioned in previous posts.
Born on 14 May 1859, in Sharpsburg, Washington County, Maryland, Ella V. Long was the daughter of Lucinda Thomas and William Francis Long (or Francis William or Franklin William or William Franklin Long, depending on the source).
On 3 September 1860, the Long family was enumerated in Sharpsburg, Maryland. Living in the home were 24-year-old Francis Long, a carpenter; 20-year-old Lucinda; and their one-year-old daughter Mary. (Perhaps Ella’s birth name was Mary Ella or Mary Ellen?)
When Ella was almost two-years-old, a shot was fired on Fort Sumter, outside of Charleston, South Carolina on 12 April 1861. The War Between the States had begun.
Meanwhile, while the war raged in the country, the Long family was welcoming a new member. On 12 February 1862, when Ella was about three and a half years old, a little sister, Chora May Long, arrived in the family’s Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland home.
Although the war had started nearly 500 miles away, soon it would arrive on the Long family’s doorstep. The Maryland Campaign was commenced from 4-20 September 1862. General Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the North was repulsed by the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General George B. McClellan, who moved to intercept Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. In the early morning hours of 17 September 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, the Battle of Antietam began. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history. The Army of the Potomac numbered 87,164. The Army of Northern Virginia engaged 38,000. After the last shot was fired and the dust and smoke had cleared, 2,108 Union soldiers were dead, 9,549 Union soldiers were wounded, and 753 Union soldiers were captured or missing. On the Confederate side, 1,567 soldiers were dead, 7,752 were wounded, and 1,018 were captured or missing.
Farms in and around the battle were decimated, including those in Keedysville, which was only a couple of miles from the battlefront. Crops waiting to be harvested were destroyed by bullets and cannons or trampled by the tread of the troops. Harvested crops were requisitioned by the military to feed soldiers. Smaller animals, like pigs and chickens, were confiscated, as were the eggs from 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. Thousands of wounded required care; consequently, barns and homes were converted into makeshift hospitals. The area around the battlefield was littered with debris—thousands of muskets, bullets, and other military equipment, as well as hundreds of unexploded artillery shells. Wells were depleted, and streams were polluted by human refuse and decaying corpses and horse carcasses.
Perhaps it was because sustenance was scarce or that disease was rampant or because babies sometimes just die, but less than two months after the Battle of Antietam, Chora May Long passed away on 1 November 1862. She was only about nine months old.
Although Chora’s loss was heartbreaking, two years later on 11 November 1862, joy came again when Ella became a big sister again, this time to a brother named Emory E. Long.
Despite the hardship of war and the death of a child, the Long family survived. When the war ended in April 1865, the Long family was still holding on.
For three years, all was well. That is until 13 April 1868, when five-year-old Emory E. Long died in Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland. Again, a great sadness once again descended upon the Long family.
Whether this loss was the last straw and he abandoned the family or whether father William Francis Long had died during or after the war, by 20 July 1870, census records show Ellen (Ella) and her mother Lucinda (Thomas) Long living with Lucinda’s parents Joseph and Mary Thomas and brother Emory on their Sharpsburg, Washington County, Maryland farm. Joseph was listed as a retired farmer, and Mary was keeping house. The farm was valued at $7,800 with personal property valued at $300.
Ella and her mother Lucinda were still living with Joseph and Mary Thomas on 4 June 1880, when they were enumerated on a farm in Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland.
Four years later, on 19 January 1884, Ella Long left her grandparents’ home to marry John Luther Thomas in Washington County, Maryland. He was the son of Solomon Thomas and Elizabeth Huffer.
Meanwhile, on 7 October 1885, a Keedysville, Maryland woman by the name of Anna (Rohrer) Koontz Nalley died at the age of 37. She left behind a husband, Joseph Nalley; four children under the age of 10 from her first marriage to John William Koontz (Annie M., Henry Clinton, Bertha Jane, and Reuben Koontz); and four children age five and under with her second husband (Nina Agnes, Jacob Filmore, Ada Mae, Frank), who himself had five young children from his first marriage to Susan Moats (Edith Sarah, Fannie Rozena, Josephine, William Henry, and Betty Mae).
Now a two-time widower with 13 kids, Joseph Nalley found himself unable to care for all of those children. Consequently, many of the children were placed with other families. Little Ada Mae, born on 17 September 1883, was only two-years-old when her mother died. Ella (Long) Thomas and her husband John Luther took in little Ada Mae and raised her as their own.
About a year later, Ella and John welcomed daughter Veda Pearl Thomas, who was born on 28 August 1886, in Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland.
Son Jason Lester Thomas came along two years later on 3 April 1890.
Four years later, on 21 May 1894, son Joseph Luther Solomon Thomas was welcomed to the family’s Washington County, Maryland home.
Two more years passed. Then, on 22 October 1896, daughter Leona Lucinda Thomas (my great-grandmother) was born in Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland.
The couple’s final known child, son John Carl Thomas, was born on 17 February 1900. That same year, on 12 June 1900, the Thomas family was enumerated in Washington County, Maryland. Residing in the household were John L. (age 42), Ella V. (age 41), Veda P. (age 13), Jason L. (age 10), Joseph L.S. (age 6), Leona L. (age 3), John C. (age three months), and Ada Mae Nally (age 16, who was listed as a domestic). The census also shows that John was a farmer and that Ella had borne six children, five of whom were living.
On 27 January 1904, adopted daughter Ada Mae Thomas married Emory Clarence Stotler, son of John Milton Stotler and Mary Elizabeth Needy.
The next year on 20 November 1905, 18-year-old daughter Veda Pearl Thomas wed Hurley Clifton Herr, son of Daniel S. Herr. The couple set up home next door to her parents.
Five years later on 22 April 1910, the Thomas family was still farming on Munroe Road, Keedysville, Washington County, Maryland. Living in the home were John (age 52), Ella (age 50), son J. Lester (age 20), son Joseph L. (age 15), daughter Leona L. (age 13), and son John C. (age 10). Farming alongside John were sons Lester and Joseph.
On 10 June 1911, son Jason Lester Thomas married Nannie Bell Cox, daughter of George Cox and Adelia Licklider.
Two years passed. Then, on 27 March 1913, at the age of 71, Ella’s mother Lucinda (Thomas) Long died, in Washington County, Maryland. She was laid to rest in Keedysville’s Fairview Cemetery. With Lucinda’s passing, all family from Ella’s childhood were gone.
Four years after this sad event, two celebrations came to the Thomas household. First, on 22 December 1917, in Hagerstown, Washington County, Maryland, daughter Leona Lucinda Thomas married Carl Victor Taylor, son of Allen Seymour Taylor and Martha Ellen Trone. A few days later on 28 December 1917, son Joseph Luther Solomon Thomas wed Susan “Susie” Frances Kephart, daughter of Clarence M. and Hettie A. Carson.
Three years passed. Then, on 5 January 1920, John and Ella Thomas (ages 62 and 60) were living on Church Street in Boonsboro, Washington County, Maryland. Daughter Leona and granddaughter Carella were also in the household. The farm had been passed down to the next generation, and John was enjoying retirement with Ella.
Sadly, their time together was coming to an end. On 18 September 1922, at the age of 63, Ella V. (Long) Thomas passed away. Her grieving husband buried her in Boonsboro Cemetery.