The Human Side of War: A narrative of true American grit

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There are some stories that never make it into the history books. It really is a shame. They are left in the silent pages of dusty journals, faded photos, and family stories. Yet it doesn’t mean they are any less important. The small, tiny, anonymous moments of life don’t always get recorded, but the pieces that are left show the rich, inspiring lives those before me have led. Pieced together, photos and stories tell the best stories, the ones that should really be in history books.

For example, Isabella Christina Draper. She was raised in the south – the Deep South, in the middle of the Civil War.

Tensions Brewing

Isabella Christina Draper was born under unusual circumstances. She was born literally in the middle of war. Her parents were farmers in Tennessee, and when War between the states broke out, Tennessee was a split state with the Middle and West Tennessee regions favoring the Confederacy, and East Tennessee taking a strong Union stand. Isabella’s parents farmed smack along the border where the Union and confederate loyalties clashed (oral history of  Cheryl Bowman Nesmith).

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Living in Fear 

Even if you don’t remember a lot  from their 8th grade American History class, it is clear – growing up in the middle of war is harrowing. Often, it is the women and children that suffer the most. An entry retold by her great-great granddaughter shows the trials of growing up in war.

“She was 6 years old when the War broke out and with her father fighting for the Confederacy, that left her mother and the kids at home to survive the best they could. She would often tell my grandmother (Isabella’s daughter) how they would keep watch on the farm because at any time they would spot a Union or Confederate troop coming through for food and would have to quickly hide what little they had. No matter which side, when the troopers or soldiers left, they took everything in sight that could be eaten and anything else that struck their fancy, leaving the family with basically nothing. It didn’t matter the color of uniform the raiders were wearing, the family was seen as a target of opportunity. As the war progressed and the situation became more dire, bush-whacker gangs (guerrilla soldiers) became a terrible threat to the farmers, as well as Home Guard units, which often times were no better than the bush-whackers. These killers would steal, murder and burn any home they took a mind to just because they could. Every time little Belle turned around, she was running for her life, hiding the family’s pitifully scant supply of food or taking the one hog or two chickens she had into the woods hoping to keep them from being confiscated. Particularly in the latter part of the war, the family would run for cover simply to avoid being tortured and killed for information on husbands, sons, or brothers off fighting. Belle was 10 years old when the War finally ended. From age 6 to age 10, this is how Belle lived her life.”

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I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live through such conditions. The untold fear, nightmares, and hunger. What would it be like to never experience a sense of normalcy?

The Aftermath of War 

Her great-granddaughter, Cheryl Bowman Nesmith continues, “Immediately after the War, the situation worsened. There was no rail ticket for former soldiers to return to their families, therefore sons, husbands and brothers who had fought in the War oftentimes took months to return home, if they had a home to return. All the while, the bushwhackers ran rampant, destroying what little was left of the countryside and murdering anyone who crossed their paths. Add to this the shameful actions of the northern “carpetbaggers” who soon flooded the southern states scooping up large sections of land and farms that w foreclosed due to lack of payment on taxes. And the living conditions for the hundreds of starving local people continued to go downhill. The so-called “Reconstruction Years” imposed on the southern states were almost as brutal as the War itself. From the age of 10 until she married at 18, Belle and her family endured this horrible time.”

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Married Life

On 2 Oct 1873  Isabelle or “Belle”  married Cicero Constantine Stone, or C.C. stone. She was 18 years old, he was 23.

Cheryl Bowan Nesmith  says:

In 1873, animosities between the two loyalties still raged in Putnam County and when Belle married C.C. Stone, she came into the marriage from a Confederate family, he from a Union one. His family had to leave Tennessee immediately after the War due to their staunch Union affiliations and it was two to three years before the Stone family returned to Middle Tennessee. I’m sure discussions between the two got quite lively at times. Add to this the fact that C.C. was raised a Catholic and Belle was raised Church of Christ, one might say that even more “fuel was added to the fire”. My grandmother used to laugh at this because Bell raised every one of her kids, including my grandfather, in the Church of Christ. With C.C. being gone most of the time, I guess it never was a huge issue between them. C.C. worked for the U.S. government as an Internal Revenue Ranger, breaking up moonshine still operations in the hills and mountains. He was gone from home a lot over the years and under constant threat of life. After spending decades wondering whether Belle would ever see her husband alive again, raising eight kids basically alone and running a hotel, again basically alone…” Belle had lived through a lot.

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Belle’s husband, C.C. Stone

C.C. and Isabelle Draper Stone,  in front of the hotel they ran. Children are behind them. Image courtesy of Madeline Stone Gilbert

C.C. and Isabelle Draper Stone, in front of the hotel they ran. Children are behind them. Image courtesy of Madeline Stone Gilbert

“At the turn of the century, C.C. retired from the U.S. government, he and Belle sold the hotel and they with four of their remaining children moved west settling in Dexter, Chaves County, New Mexico Territory. You would think by now, after moving away, that events would settle down and perhaps Belle could find things to smile about. But, in 1909, when C.C.’s father, Enoch Stone, passed away, C.C. returned by train to Tennessee for the burial.

Word got out that C.C. was coming back to Tennessee and the threat was made by some of the mountaineering families that he would be killed as soon as he got off the train. He told them “bring it on; I’ll be there to meet ya”. Again, Belle was left wondering if she would ever see her husband alive again and this was hardly something to smile about. Fortunately, nothing happened; C.C. tended to his business and returned safely to New Mexico” ( Cheryl Bowman Nesmith).

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This is a photo of an old postcard (complete with stamp bleeding through from the back) of the Bloomington Springs Hotel in Bloomington Springs, Tennessee. This is the hotel that C.C. Stone and his wife Belle Draper Stone owned and operated until they sold it and moved the rest of the family to the New Mexico Territory after C.C. completed his time as a U.S. Ranger with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Photo courtesy of Judy Duke, Museums Administrator, Cookeville History Museum and Cookeville Depot Museum in Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee.

This is a photo of an old postcard (complete with stamp bleeding through from the back) of the Bloomington Springs Hotel in Bloomington Springs, Tennessee. This is the hotel that C.C. Stone and his wife Belle Draper Stone owned and operated until they sold it and moved the rest of the family to the New Mexico Territory after C.C. completed his time as a U.S. Ranger with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Photo courtesy of Judy Duke, Museums Administrator, Cookeville History Museum and Cookeville Depot Museum in Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee.

Isabelle

Isabelle “Belle” Christine Draper Stone
c.1948 , Pine Lodge, New Mexico, USA

Despite the hardships of her life, Belle lived to old age.

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This was cropped from a group photo of her and her children, in-laws, grand and great-grandchildren at a Stone Family Reunion. She was around 90 years old. Original owned by: Gladys Stone Hughes.

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Isabelle Christine Draper Stone is sitting and wearing a shawl around her shoulders. She was around 90 years old at the time of this photo. Standing L-R: Arthur Stone, Dorothy Kuykendall, Alfred Stone, Josie Stone, Charlie Stone, Walter Stone, Peggy Stone, Garnet Stone, Maud Stone, Fate Kuydendall’s brother, Harry Kuykendall, Fate Kuykendall, Bonita Stone and Christine Kuykendall. Sitting in chairs L-R: Mae Stone, Aubry Stone, Ora Stone, Isabelle Draper Stone, Wanda Stone, Stuart Stone, Pansy Stone Kuykendall, Doris Kuydendall and Eunice Kuydendall. Children in front L-R: ?, Desi Mae and Danny. Photo owned by: Gladys Stone Hughes.

In fact, she lived to be over 100 years old.

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This was taken on her 100th birthday. Isabelle is sitting and is flanked from left to right by: Arthur Stone, Walter Stone and Garnet Stone. Photo owned by: Gladys Stone Hughes.

If you ever think your life is hard, just look at history. There you will found countless stories of perseverance, courage, and true grit. Belle Draper, is one of those stories. She endured hunger, pillaging and hardship. She also practically single-handedly raised 8 children and ran a large hotel, all while constantly fearing for her husband’s life. She may not be in the history books, but her story is in my book – never to be forgotten.

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The Sandwich Islands, Stowaways, and Sugar Plantations

Who says history is boring?
Not when you’re in my family.

This is a story about my great-great-great grandpa.
Isn’t that great?

Andrew Jackson McKenney Sr. (Image courtesy of Donald Earl McKenney Jr).

See how you're related! Click to enlarge.

See how you’re related! Click to enlarge.

He name was Andrew Jackson McKenney Sr. He was born in the spring of 1840, in Stetson Maine.

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Why Maine? That’s because it’s where his ancestors settled. John McKenney’s great-ancestor was actually a Scottish soldier in the Scottish revolutionary war. Apparently, he was part of an army that tried to “place their own Prince Charles on the throne of Great Britain as the rightful heir of the Stuart monarchy. They were defeated by the military dictator, Oliver Cromwell, and the English forces at the battle of Dunbar and Worchester. (Donald Earl McKenney Jr).

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Think, Braveheart.

Unfortunately his ancestor and many other Scots were captured as prisoners of war and exiled to Boston where they served a year-year indenture. After seven years John McKenney moved his family to Maine where his family could establish roots.

So, that’s why Maine.

Legend has it that that Andrew Jackson McKenney was also born with a rebellious spirit because when the civil war broke out, he decided leave Maine as a stow away on a ship. The ship sailed around Cape horn to the Sandwich Islands, aka Hawaii.

Possible route of the ship he was on

Possible route of the ship he was on

Once in Hawaii he made friends and worked for the Rowan family on a sugar plantation near Kaneohe, Oahu.

Photograph of Kaneohe Hawaii

Photograph of Kaneohe Hawaii

How a typical sugar cane plantation would have looked on Hawaii.               ( courtesy of http://aam.govst.edu/projects/cmietlicki/images/images_2/sugarcane2.jpg)

How a typical sugar cane plantation would have looked on Hawaii. ( courtesy of http://aam.govst.edu/projects/cmietlicki/images/images_2/sugarcane2.jpg)

Mr. Rowan died a few years later. Within a year of his death, Andrew McKenney married the widowed Mrs. Rowan, (Louisa Grace Richards). Andrew was 21 years old, and Louisa was 30 when they were married. Louisa was originally born and raised in Cornwall England, but decided to live in Hawaii after finishing a world cruise with relatives and her sister. Before settling in Hawaii, they also spent some time living and working in Australia before coming to Hawaii.

Louisa Grace Richards. (Image courtesy of Don Earl McKenney Jr).

Louisa Grace Richards. (Image courtesy of Don Earl McKenney Jr).

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Kaneohe, Hi. What their land might have looked like.

Together they worked on the six acre sugar plantation. Allegedly their plantation was on the western fringe of Kaneohe, with the Puu Keahiakahoe mountains overlooking their land.
Interestingly, Andrew Jackson become friends with King Kamehameha V and was appointed his advisor and a uniformed member of the Palace Guard (Donald McKenney Jr).
(This fact gave me serious “cool points” when I lived in Hawaii during middle and high school.)
Allegedly his official sealing ring still exists and is owned by one of his decedents.

Example of a sealing ring which was a ring with a seal for impressing sealing wax. It was used often by important people to authenticate their documents.

Example of a sealing ring which was a ring with a seal for impressing sealing wax. It was used often by important people to authenticate their documents.

A few years later, Andrew McKenney suddenly passed away at the age of 38 on September 20, 1878. Although the cause of death was listed as “brain disease” it is uncertain. Family stories say that “he went blind and lost his hair shortly before death (Donald Earl McKenney Jr).

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Final resting place of Andrew Jackson McKenney. He was buried on the sugar plantation property, which is now on undeveloped state land. (Image courtesy of Don McKenney).

The location of the burial site is just west of the dead end of Kulukeoe Street (a residential area.) To the west of the burial site is the state mental hospital .

Don McKenney made a grave marker for Andrew McKenney. It is now mounted on the boulder that marks his burial place .

Don McKenney made a grave marker for Andrew McKenney. It is now mounted on the boulder that marks his burial place .

Because Andrew had passed away, Louisa was left alone with four kids to raise. (The three boys from her previous marriage were grown and out of the house.) The younger boys Andrew and Edward were sent to live in Utah with a half-brother named Charles Rowan.  Louisa married her third husband Robert Brown but quickly divorced him in 1881. She then took her daughters and sailed to San Francisco. The oldest Rowan sons, remained in Hawaii. George married a Hawaiian woman and raised his family. William Rowan died around 1887.

Louisa came back to Hawaii ten years after Andrew had passed away to visit.

Louisa came back to Hawaii after Andrew had passed away to visit. She is on the old McKenney place, most likely close to Andrew’s burial site. This is the last time she visited this place before returning to the states.

After a trip back to Hawaii during the late 1800s, Louisa and her two daughters returned to California and settled in the Oakland, California area. Although she spent the remainder of her life in the States, (until 1908) I can only imagine that part of Hawaii always remained with her. Or, as they sing in a popular Hawaiian song, Aloha Oe.

Aloha ʻoe, aloha ʻoe Farewell to thee, farewell to thee
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo The charming one who dwells in the shaded bowers
One fond embrace, One fond embrace,
A hoʻi aʻe au ‘Ere I depart
Until we meet again Until we meet again
ʻO ka haliʻa aloha i hiki mai Sweet memories come back to me
Ke hone aʻe nei i Bringing fresh remembrances
Kuʻu manawa Of the past
ʻO ʻoe nō kaʻu ipo aloha Dearest one, yes, you are mine own
A loko e hana nei From you, true love shall never depart

Now we know where the 80s got it from

Oh the hair.
Let’s all take a minute to appreciate these hairdos.
There are no words to describe them really. These perfectly coiffed doos are really works of art.
I mean, they didn’t have hairspray back then people.

This photograph was probably taken around the turn of the century, when Edwardian and Gibson hairstyles were all the rage.

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Back row left to right: Beatrice, Neil, Ruby, Front left to right: Mina, Agnes (Mina and her children)

I found this gem while researching family names.

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The famous "Gibson Girl"

The famous “Gibson Girl”

See how you're related! Click to enlarge

See how you’re related! Click to enlarge

Mina and her children come from the “Mary E Lane” side of the family.
While researching I found out that she had more than awesome hair. Times were really different back then.

Mina grew up right in the middle of the Civil War. I can’t even imagine what it would be like.
I discovered that Mina’s father fought in the Civil War. It is unclear which side he fought for, although he was born in New York and raised his family in Michigan so it is likely that he would have fought for the North. Both of these states were some of the first to ban slavery. I would like to think he fought on the abolitionist side.

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Civil war soldier in the trenches. Photo courtesy of  Jean Damien

Civil war soldier in the trenches. Photo courtesy of Jean Damien

I also discovered that Mina’s parents divorced which intrigued me. Divorce wasn’t common in the 1870s like it is today. Hiram Lane (Mina’s Father remarried 15 years later).

In an article called Divorce: Dilemma for Early Americans, I learned possibly why there was divorce.
It says:

After the Civil War divorce cases escalated all over the country. Families separated for the duration of the war didn’t always want to reunite. Many men found it easier to disappear in the west rather than return to their families leaving the wife to file for desertion. Civil War pension files often reveal cases where two women are seeking a pension for the same spouse, neither wife aware of the other.

While society became more liberal, the stigma of divorce was still felt by those involved. Women especially tried to avoid the label divorce, often calling themselves widows despite the fact they still had a living spouse if separated, or ex-spouse if divorced. To admit to divorce was an admission of inferiority or rejection. Widowhood, on the other hand, could not be construed to have been the widow’s fault. Into the mid 1900s census records reveal widows for whom divorce actions can be found in the courts.

They never taught that in History class.
Just as women in WWI and WWII were strong, women in the Civil war were often unsung heroes. Not to mention it would take a lot of courage to be on your own raising children at a time when divorce was a serious stigma, and employment for women was not common. Mina’s mom, Jane Bailey – what a strong lady.

Mina Estelle Lane later in life

Mina Estelle Lane later in life