I started climbing the family tree again last night and found myself back on the branch of Sarah Jane Daugherty Feather(s) Scott. (Click through for background on her story.)
Somehow I had stumbled across the Ritchie County (WV) page of the USGenWeb Project. Most the project’s sites are hosted on RootsWeb, long offline, but now coming back up.
Browsing through the Scott Cemetery transcriptions, I came across the following:
Amos M. Scott Born Aug. 28, 1845 Died Dec. 11, 1918 Sarah J., wife of Amos M. Scott Born Nov. 1842 Died Oct. 7, 1901 Charles E., son of A.M. & S. J. Scott Born Dec. 3, 1883 Died Aug. 4, 1884 ? W., son of A.M. & S.J. Scott Born Dec. 30, 1881 Died July 26, 1882 Alfred G., Son of A.M. & S.J Scott Born Mar. 10, 1876 Died July 20, 1877
Look at the dates of the children’s deaths, born over a period of six years and dead before any of them reached their first birthday.
Above these dates are two others, who proved to be Sarah’s grandchildren through her eldest son Aldine (whose father, Cornelius, was killed in the Civil War).
Willie I. Feather Feb. 10, 1898 May 8, 1906 Edna Feather Aug. 3, 1893 Apr. 18, 1900
I moved on to the Reeves Cemetery transcriptions, and discovered Jacob — Sarah’s brother who fought for the Confederacy — and his wife Julia suffered their own share of sorrow.
Julia wife of Jacob Daugherty Aug 30, 1832 Aug 27, 1891 Jacob Daugherty June 27, 1892 May 15, 1908 Children of J. & J. Daugherty E. U. Wm Aug 18, 1857 Sept 20, 1861 Mary C. May 10, 1853 Oct 8, 1861 Allis L. Jul 21, 1864 Aug 11, 1868
Two children dead within eighteen days of each other at a time when Jacob and Julia’s home counties were in the process of seceding from Virginia. The secession could only have added to the emotional turmoil Julia and Jacob were feeling at the death of their children, especially since we know, in the end, Jacob decided to fight on the opposite side of his brothers.
Thinking perhaps the Butchers (Julia’s family) were Confederates and had influenced this decision, I had a look at one of her brothers (Valentine) and learned he fought for the Union. Of course, there may have been others in both families (Daugherty and Butcher) who favored the Confederacy, and we can never truly know why another person makes any decision.
Yet when I think of these families, I don’t think about the men and their big decisions about who to fight for. I think of the women and how they paid for living in a time where the death of a child was the possible price of having them.
Having seen how quickly a child could be taken, did they cling more tightly to ones that remained or followed? Maybe the knowledge of how easily their heart could be broken made them more reluctant to let a new baby into that heart. Perhaps these losses were accepted as part of the sorrows of living. Life was hard. Children died. And I’m sure the war magnified the hardship exponentially. Yet each of these couples had other children that survived to have children of their own.
As I discover this type of hardship in my family history, I am forced to recall that these same hardships — child mortality and civil war — are a daily reality for others, and I hope that this realization continues to spur me toward a more charitable way of living.