What I'm Seeing Now

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This Memorial Day I Have Had Two Requests To Post This Family Memory

Was He A Little Drummer Boy?

 

We moved to the Manassas, Virginia area in 1988.  We currently reside in Bristow, a couple of miles to the southwest.  This is an area rich in history. 

My family has been in the Washington DC area a long time.  One line arrived in 1737, others thereafter over the centuries.

One such line was the family of Thomas Wright of Bandon, County Cork, Ireland.  Born in 1805, Thomas married Catherine Mason Baldwin, born in 1807.  They were married in 1828 and had 7 children, all born in Ireland.  A family record states, "in the process of time [they] came to the United States of America and made their permanent home in the City and State of New York."

Thomas and Catherine are pictured to the right, along with their youngest daughter, Sarah Baldwin Wright, born 4 Dec 1846, who is sitting to Thomas's right.

They are my great, great grandparents, on the Harding side of my family.

I have felt a special connection to this family since moving here.

That connection involves this hill.

This is the hill at the intersection of VA Route 29 and Sudley Road, just across from the Stone House.

In my travels, I drive by this hill 4 or 5 times a week.

Since moving here I have always had a special feeling, if not a connection, to it.  I never understood why.

When my mother died decades ago, one thing I wanted was the family history records.  And I have involved myself in these records ever since.  I was not as interested in the "stuff" as I was in the family heirlooms and records.

A very interesting story I ran across in these records involved Catherine Mason Baldwin Wright.

It seems that the Wright's oldest son, George Alexander (13 Sept 1830) was attracted to, and induced by, the very active New York City recruiting office of the United States Army at the start of the Civil War. 

He enlisted.  And he did so, says the record, without Catherine's consent.  "She had not consented to his leaving home, and when she learned that George had joined the U.S. Army and had gone to the front to fight for the Union, she naturally grieved for her children."

The baby of the family, William, born 1848, "was her youngest child and greatly endeared to [Catherine]."  One day he disappeared. 

Irresistibly attracted by the romantic ideas of his brother George's joining the army, she was afraid William had also run off and joined the army.

The family's oldest daughter, Isabella Baldwin Wright (17 Jan 1832), preserves a significant event in family history.  She wrote that Catherine had a dream.

"She saw in her dream an open field, in the midst of which she recognized her absent boy, when suddenly as she looked a great ball of fire appeared moving toward her son rapidly, taking his head clean off from his body, and she awoke greatly terrified and affrighted." [sic]

CAN YOU IMAGINE SUCH A DREAM?  CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW THIS MOTHER FELT?  THE DREAM GOES ON.

"At her urgent request an inquiry was set on foot as to the fate of William Wright, and the answer came back that William was killed at the battle of Manassas by decapitation by a cannon ball on the day she saw him in her dream."

I wonder - could her dream have been at the same moment as William's death?

Was William killed on the hill I feel the connection to?  Certainly I had those feelings prior to coming across this record.

I bet you already know what I think.

The record does not state the date of this dream.  So I don't know at which battle of Manassas this happened.  If it was the first, William would have been 13; the second, and William would have been 14.

 

WAS HE A LITTLE DRUMMER BOY?

 

From bottom to top that hill is about 1 mile long.  At the top is where Colonel Thomas J. Jackson made his famous stand that earned him the nickname "Stonewall."  This twenty-feet-tall statue marks the spot. 

William Wright "was buried on the battlefield after the battle of Bull Run, or Manassas."  Those graves were temporary, and very shallow.  Rains forced the removal of those bodies to more permanent locations, which marked and unmarked cemeteries now dot the area in and around the battlefield today.

I probably drive by my great, great uncle William often, and don't even realize it.

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 17 commentsJay Markanich • May 27 2013 05:07AM

Comments

Great story of the love of a mother for her son.  Tragic loss of life for someone so young.

Posted by Richard Burge Realty/ Burge Homes, Broker in Charge/Owner (Richard Burge Realty/Burge Homes) about 5 years ago

Your very lucky to have such a rich history. I have been unable to find out any dramatic events in my family's past. Have a nice Memorial Day remembering the reason for the day. Thanks 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) about 5 years ago

Richard - I bet lots of young men were lured by the romanticism of the war and left home.  Often it ended in tragedy.

Scott - thanks, and there are a lot.  One concerns a really colorful fellow named Colonel Zadock Magruder.  We refer to him as "The Patriot" in our family.  He fought with George Washington.  There are cool stories, and a high school named after him in Maryland!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

Gee.  I wonder if we're remotely related.  My maiden name is Wright.  Of course, I'm from Fuquay Springs NC, but who knows? 

I also have my mother's maiden name, Reams.
My paternal grandmother's name Fuquay.
My maternal grandmother, Van Hook.

Let's see, Irish, French, Dutch.

I'm a genuine All American mongrel. 

You gotta love it.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 5 years ago

We are all probably mongrels Lenn!  But I have none of those other names in the family history.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

Quite the story, Jay.  This could make a great mini-series on TV.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) about 5 years ago

Thanks Gabe!  I'll get started right away!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

Hi Jay,

A really good feeling story. Is'nt life great within the United States of America.

Have a great Memorial day my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) about 5 years ago

Thanks Clint.  That is a favorite family story.  Of course, putting it into story form like this brings it alive.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago
Jay, I really do think that's your uncle's field. I sort of got goose bumps looking at your beautiful photo.
Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 5 years ago

GReat story.  Brings history alive.  Happy Memorial Day.

Posted by Rob Arnold, Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F (Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc.) about 5 years ago

There are only two hills there that were charged up Pat.  This is one of them, and the one that saw the most action.  I get goose bumps when I drive by that hill.

Thanks Rob.  History can come alive, but especially when it's put down and into a story!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

Jay, great history, sad story though. And I also got goosebumps reading your story. My family from my paternal grandmother has been here a long, long, long time too. I was lucky enough to find a very detailed history online, with an extensive family tree. I know there is a log cabin being maintained by a school in PA that was in the family. I love family history.

We had many fight in the Civil War, and many die. I don't know where, nor do I drive by any fields where they would have fought. I have to say, that is amazing to be there.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) about 5 years ago

There are on line services available to find relatives who had enlisted during the Civil War, Andrea.  And you can go to a genealogy library at a local Mormon church building and order microfiches to search for particular names.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

Family history is such an amazing thing to discover.  What a powerful and sad story.  I love hearing stories about the Civil War.  Great pictures by the way Jay!

Posted by Teresa Fiveash, ABR (MidSouth Residential, LLC) about 5 years ago

Sad time in American history but the story is heart warming and written well as you always do.  Thanks

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) about 5 years ago

Thanks Teresa.  The photos are mine. 

James - and thank you!  This is an interesting story in the family history.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

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