Fourth of July – 1869

written from Bridgeport, Ohio, July 4th 1869

“……nobody home but Dr,. Mary and myself – none of us, I believe, in a very festive mood. It don’t seem at all like the 4th of July. There was some kind of a celebration yesterday at the fairground on the Island of the “lower million” principally, I suppose from their maneuvers. I watched them a while through the telescope, but didn’t see much to interest me, except a velocipede race, which was somewhat of a novelty.There was quite a crowd, and they appeared to be enjoying themselves hugely notwithstanding the extreme heat, till a sudden thunderstorm, towards evening, sent them flying in all directions. Thunder, and hail storms are all the fashion in this neighborhood. ”

It does get very hot, and humid, in this part of Ohio. The Afflecks were probably much more comfortable staying at home on top of the hill where they lived. I was glad to see Mary taking interest through the telescope, as she sounded weary and depressed for several years after the loss of her son in the Civil War, and the death of beloved granddaughter a few years later.

Old Family Friends

In searching through records of Quaker meetings, I was surprised to find the names of Nixon and Milhaus present at meetings attended by my Howard ancestors. Today I find that the Howards were more than casually acquainted with the Milhaus family.

On July 4, 1869, my 3rd-Great-Grandmother, Mary Howard Affleck, wrote to her sister, Sarah H. Forrer:

“I am glad thee and Augusta had such a pleasant visit at Richmond and was much interested in the account thee gave of the great revival. I have pleasant recollections of a week spent there some forty or fifty years ago, but so many changes have since taken place, that I don’t suppose it would seem like the same place now. Did thee see or hear anything of Hannah Mendenhall when thee was there? Thee will recollect her, a sister of Jane Watters, whom we visited the day we were at friend Milhaus’.”

A Stanton Cousin

An anecdote appears in The Life and Times of Edwin McMasters Stanton. Variations of this anecdote appear elsewhere in histories of the man who would become Secretary of War under President Lincoln.

Stanton was living in Columbus, working at a bookstore, and boarding with the Howard family, when  “during the spring and early summer of 1833, the cholera, which had struck heavily in eastern Ohio, moved menacingly eastward along the route of the National Road. The epidemic began raging in Columbus during the unusually hot summer months. On August 9, Stanton was served his midday dinner by Ann Howard, and the returned to the bookstore. An hour later Ann collapsed. At 4 p.m. she was dead. As a precautionary measure, to keep the plague from spreading, her family buried her at once. When Stanton learned of the horrible event, he experienced a morbid conviction that she had been buried alive. Persuading a young medical student and anotehr boarder to help, he hurried to the burial ground and by lamplight exhumed and opened the casket.”

What is not reported anywhere, is that Stanton was half-second cousin to Horton Howard, the father of the young woman who died. When I read this story, I recognized that Horton’s mother was a Stanton. The Stantons and Howards were Quakers, and their careful record keeping allowed me to make the connection.


Heirloom roses

April 28, 1864 – Mary Howard had just returned from a visit to her sister, Sarah Forrer, and wrote: “The flowers came in good order and are the wonder and admiration of the neighborhood, but the chickens have commenced their depradations, and I shall be obliged to keep them out of their reach. The first thing they did the morning after I came home was to snap off the bud of my Gen Jacqueminot. I don’t know when I have been so vexed, as I had been particularly careful of it all the way.”
General Jacqueminot is a rose, introduced in 1853, and it is still available. I think I need to find one for my garden.

Here is one place that sells this rose.

War in the good old days

Had a great day at the Historical Society. I’ve transcribed many letters written home by Howard G Affleck (along with his mother’s introduction, and most of a letter written home by Dr. Affleck when he visited his son at Philippi. West Virginia, after the early battle fought there.) I am struck, reading these letters, with realizing that things haven’t changed much over the years. The bad stuff: substance abuse (whiskey), friendly fire, supplies mismanagement, looting, empty promises. The good stuff: care packages from home, soldiers helping each other, civilians helping soldiers, soldiers helping civilians, leaders expecting and demanding honorable behavior, and a family’s love.

I know, some of these seem contradictory. With many characters mentioned in these letters Howard saw almost any imaginable behavior during his military career.