Wednesday, May 25, 2016

1883 Letter Mentions Perryville

In hindsight, perhaps I should have completed this before my trip to the battlefield last Saturday, but it still is worth sharing now.

This is a neat post-war letter. It is from 1883 and mentions something that happened shortly before the battle at Perryville. Even though it does not add anything about the actual fighting, I think it is rather interesting. The fact that it mentions the U.S. Army impressing a wagon from an African-American is also fascinating. Seeing the lawyer refer to him as a hard working "negro" instead of a hard working "man" is noteworthy and rather symbolic of the times. 

Following are a picture of the letter, my attempt to transcribe it, and a few brief notes I made about it. There was one word I could not definitely read, so I marked it with a question mark and parenthesis. 

I do wonder if there was any resolution to this issue and if Mr. Drew received any compensation.

Louisville August 19th 1883 

Col. Bingham
Dear Sir:

When Buell’s army was leaving Louisville just prior to the Battle of Perryville, I understand that you, then a quartermaster in Gen. Sill’s division, or at (rate?) being with them on the Louisville & Shelbyville Pike, impressed a wagon belonging to a negro named Geo. Drew. Said wagon has never been returned to him, nor has he even recd any pay for same. You gave him a receipt for it at the time which was forwarded by Capt. Semple of Genl. Boyle’s staff to the Headquarters of Genl. Rosecrans, in order that you might return the proper vouchers. It was never heard from. You will obige (sic) me very much if you forward proper vouchers so that Drew, who is a hard working negro, may draw his pay for the wagon. If you have forgotten the circumstances, I will get the testimony of Capt. Semple, who saw & read the receipts. An early answer will oblige.

Yours respectfully,
Jack Fay,
Atty at Law
Louisville, Ky

George B. Bingham was Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st Wisconsin, which fought on Starkweather's Hill at Perryville.

The African-American, George Drew, is a bit more mysterious. I found two possibilities for him on the 1880 census. One shows him as a 70 year-old farmer in Shelby County, Kentucky, near the location mentioned in the letter. I suspect that is the man, but the same census shows a man by the same name in Louisville. This man was just 35 years-old, probably too young to be the man who loaned the    wagon 18 years before that census. Perhaps further research will turn up more information on George

The letter also refers to General Joshua SillGeneral Jeremiah Boyle, and General William Rosecrans. I suspect the mention of Rosecrans instead of General Don Carlos Buell was a mistake by the writer twenty-one years after the fact, since Rosecrans did not replace Buell until two weeks after the battle.

Captain Semple may have been John L. Semple of the 103rd Ohio Infantry Regiment, which apparently was around central Kentucky at this time.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Review of Perryville trip

Overcast, foggy sky

The ground was wet and sloppy, saturated with recent rainfall, the temperatures were on the cool side, and the sky was gloomy and overcast, seeming to promise more precipitation. Though the soldiers who fought at Perryville would have gladly welcomed such conditions, I was more than a little bit anxious about how such conditions would affect the walking tour I was about to take.

It certainly did not appear to be the greatest of all days, but luck ended up on our side. Additional rainfall stayed away and though the sun remained in hiding and temperatures did not rise much, it ended up being a perfectly fine day for the tour, perhaps even better than a hot, humid day would have been.

The tour was in two parts and I only went on the first one. My legs were feeling tired and I did not want to push my body too far. I kind of wish I had tried to go out for the second part, but it was over a part of the field I have seen very often and I had already seen new spots and learned quite a bit in the morning session, so I sat out the afternoon walk and headed home.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable day, even slopping through wet ground and frequent mud puddles. The park is still in wonderful shape and even such gloomy conditions could not hide its beauty. 

Amazingly, we started at a stop which I had apparently not visited before, called Jones' Ridge. It gave a view of the "Valley of Death" that I had not seen before. From here, I could see the actual valley, not just a stretch of land. I had read about it before and walked through the area, but perhaps like the cliché "cannot see the forest for the trees," I previously could not "see the valley for the flatness." It was a great breakthrough for my understanding of that part of the field, seeing where Daniel Donelson's Confederate forces marched and how three different Federal batteries were able to fire on them. It was a bad place for troops to be.

I also was able to see how Thomas Jones' Confederates were in position in a neighboring valley to hear Donaldson's attack, but not see it. I do not know how I had never been to that stop on the park's tour (though the trail to it is unmarked at its start, so I had probably marched right past it several times, not knowing what I was missing.)

Nevertheless, it was a fun and pleasing way to start the day, certainly a memorable "a-ha" moment for me. 

I could also now see how Jones' men advanced up the hill in front of them three times against Loomis' Heights and Peter Simonson's battery. They failed to take the position, but their determination caused the Federals to use most of their ammunition, so when John C. Brown's Confederates replaced Jones' men in trying to take the position, the weakened and wearied defenders finally gave away. Where this took place was much more visible from this spot than any I had visited before. It was a much better angle.

View of the Valley of Death 

Loomis' Heights - Simonson's position by the trees, Loomis' on far left

The rest of the tour was terrific as well. From Loomis heights, I gained a better understanding of the Federal defense against Confederate attacks from various sides and angles by Patrick Cleburne, Bushrood Johnson and Daniel Adams, as well as Jones and Brown, on Loomis Heights and from around Doctor's Creek and the Bottom House. I could then see where the Federals retreated to regather, around the Mackville Road, with some going to what became known as the "Slaughter Pen." My view of how this end of the Federal line reacted to the Confederate onslaught improved significantly here, and I now see more clearly how Leonidus Polk ended up in enemy line before making a narrow escape as nightfall came. 

Stone wall bring recreated near Bottom House

Looking at Confederate approach toward Federals late in day, Mackville Road 

Slaughter Pen

The second part of the tour was going to focus on the other side of the field where George Maney's men attacked Federal positions such as the Open Knob and and Starkweather's Hill. I've been on that ground several times and think I have a decent idea about what happened there, but what have I been missing, like Jones' Ridge? I know I did not get to see the land that the Civil War Trust is acquiring and I regret that. I wanted to see it, but forgot about it or I may have gone ahead with this part of the hike. I suppose fatigue affected my memory, or at least that is my excuse. I guess that just gives me good reason to make another trip sometime soon. Perhaps I can do another weekend where I visit Perryville and other fairly close historic sites like Abraham Lincoln's birthplace. I spent a couple days doing that a few years ago and enjoyed it, so maybe it's time to try that again. 

Here is a photobucket link to all the pictures I took. As usual, I took too many of the cannon, but no big deal. I go still need to take better notes for my photographs do I can explain them better, but maybe next time.

If anymore thoughts of this trip spring to mind, I'll share them here, and, as always, if anyone who reads this has the opportunity to go so, I strongly encourage you to visit Perryville battlefield, especially when a guided tout like this is scheduled. It is simply wonderful, a true Kentucky treasure. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Few Pre-Perryville Trip Thoughts

I'm headed to Perryville again Saturday morning after not visiting it last year. I do not know if I will take part in the entire hiking tour as it is hilly, rough terrain and I am not sure how much I can handle, but I am anxious to see parts of the field again, to think of the men who fought there, to ponder the issues of the war and the consequences of such issues. It won't be exactly a meditation, but it will be close, at least for me, or so I hope. It is a peaceful park, a wonderful contrast to the chaos of the actual battle, some of the toughest fighting in the war. I hope I can fully take advantage of the trip, truly enjoy it and appreciate how lucky I am to be so near to such a wonderful place.

I will take some pictures, probably of cannon, split-rail fences and rolling hills, as usual, trying unsuccessfully to capture the park's beauty to share it with others. The photos will be good, but can never capture fully the true essence of the park, much like my writing. That won't however, stop me from trying, both now and after the trip. 

I just hope the rain stays away or at least minimizes itself and that I enjoy safe travels throughout the day. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

1859 Article: "Free Soil" Press in Slave States

This story appeared in the Covington Journal of October 29 ,1859 and I found it to be interesting to see this viewpoint from one newspaper about others. Its opinion on the rise of such publications indicating the possible decline of slavery in border states is fascinating too, though I doubt it actually was accurate. Calling slavery "the institution" caught my eye as well.

Freesoil Press in Slave States

No haste of the growth of Black Republicanism is more alarmingly significant than the establishment of newspapers advocating freesoil principles in slave commonwealths. A few years since, such attempts would have been regarded as dangerous and incendiary. Now, in many of the border slave States, freesoil publications are not only tolerated, but looked on with an eye of favor by many of the population, all of which is ample evidence of the decrease of the strength of the institution in those States, truly foreshadowing early ultimate abolition there. 

There are, proudly remarks a Northern freesoil contemporary, now ten Black Republican journals printed in English and eight in German, making eighteen in all, published in slave States, distributed as follows:

The Missouri Democrat, St. Louis, Missouri; The Free Democrat, St. Joseph, Mo; The Sentinel, Kansas City, Mo.; The Free South, Newport, Ky.;  The Wheeling Intelligencer, Wheeling, Va.; The Wellsburg Herald, Wellsburg Va.; The Ceredo Crescent, Ceredo, Va.; The National Era, The Republic, Washington D.C.; The News and Advertiser, Milford, Del.

German - Der Anzeiger des Westens, Die Westliche Post, St. Louis, Mo,; Der Hermann Wochenblan, Hermann, Mo.; Der St. Charles Demokrat, St.Charles, Mo.; Die Deutsche Zeitung, St. Joseph, Mo.; Die Missouri Post, Kansas City, Mo.; Der Anzeiger, Louisville, Ky.; Der Baltimore Wecker, Baltimore, Md. 

We are of the opinion that several more ought to be added to the above list, but "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." We shouldn't be surprised if moderate freesoil journals were published in this city in three years. With Seward as President, the "freedom of speech and of the press" would probably be protected. At all events Seward would make the attempts and with the office holders and power and patronage of the Federal Government to back him, he might be successful.

Republished from the New Orleans Crescent

Was this really a story saying a newspaper would be unhappy about freedom of the press being "protected?" That is how this article reads to me and I find it interesting. Was avoiding abolitionist sentiment more important than its own expressly listed Constitutional rights? 

The assumption that Seward would be the next President is also interesting, though not unusual for the time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Book Review: For Slavery and Union: Benjamin Buckner and Kentucky Loyalties in the Civil War

Copyright 2015
University Press of Kentucky 

After going quite a while without doing a book review, I now am doing a third one in just the last couple of weeks. Today's review is about a book I really enjoyed, one which covered one of my favorite topics, Kentucky in and after the Civil War.

For Slavery and Union is a fascinating book. It is partially a biography of Benjamin Buckner and partially a biography of Kentucky in Civil War era. It serves as a discussion of the formation of the memory of Civil War Kentucky instead of just an analysis of it. 

For students of Kentucky during and after the war or those who study memory and perception, this book is virtually a must-read. It discusses the reasons many people supported both the Union cause and slavery, using Buckner as a specific, detailed example of such support. Lewis shows how men like Buckner believed that the Constitution and government that existed as of 1861 had constantly protected slavery and that they trusted and expected such protection to continue. The feeling that secession was disorder and overly passionate (even "feminine" per Lewis) compared to the established law and order of the Union, and the expectation that the "cotton states" would dominate any southern nation, were also among the rationale for their choices. The onset of emancipation eroded their faith in the Federal government, but strengthened their conviction of the importance of keeping the proper roles of the races in everyday society.

Lewis starts this work by providing background information on slavery in Clark County, where Buckner spent much of his life. It shows how the region and state's economy and geography required a different practice of slavery - on a different scale - than did the cotton states of the deeper south. He argued that the talk of slavery in Kentucky being "milder" than in other areas was (and is) a myth, based largely on the differences that Kentucky's economy and geology required and how the state's slaveholders adapted the institution to meet their particular needs. He also explains how Buckner's life was one in which slavery was a basic element, in routine daily life and in the political arena, especially as the secession crisis approached and unfolded. The story of Buckner's new relationship with his future wife Helen and how it fit with social norms of the time, begins to unfold as well, opening a window into one aspect of his view of life.

The middle chapters then discuss Buckner's military career, including his support for the Union and opposition to secession. They describe the importance of military experience and glory to his understanding of (white) manhood. The author, relying largely on the letters Buckner wrote to Helen, further describes his courtship and how he hoped his military service would win him approval to marry her. This part is not directly related to the actual war or Buckner's politics, but contributes greatly to the understanding of Buckner's mindset about what life should be, including gender roles. His core beliefs and values influenced all the choices he would make throughout his life, including joining and leaving the Union army. He was a product of his times, in talk and action, but the times also became a product of men like him.

For Slavery and Union proceeds to explain Buckner's reaction to the changing war aims of the Union government. As these goals evolved and emancipation, the enlistment of African-American soldiers, and a harder type of war became a priority, Buckner and men like him felt betrayed by the Federal government. Lewis describes the rising tension in the army between Kentucky troops and General William Rosecrans. Opposition to ending slavery - and, importantly, to arming African Americans,  stealing part of the "manhood" white men valued so much - was quite strong among these soldiers. Several officers such as Buckner backed their tough talk by resigning their commissions, after some first tried to have their units transferred back to Kentucky where they hoped to protect the peculiar institution in their hometowns.

One especially effective phrase Lewis used in describing emancipation and the reactions it provoked  was the "lost mastery" that men like Buckner suffered with slavery's end. This expression was a brief but effective description and applied to more than just slavery. If slaves could be freed and African-Americans gained rights previously held solely by whites, what could happen next? It was a scary thought, one of potential chaos and unpredictability that ran counter to the orderly life these men desired.

This work next turns to Buckner's post-war life and career, as he continued to believe in a unquestioned racial hierarchy and took steps to establish it and support its continued existence despite the destruction of slavery. He resumed his career as a lawyer and became involved in local and state politics, employing legal and political tools to maintain his ideal society, in which whites, especially men, were at the top and blacks remained at the bottom. Buckner even formed a state militia company to help achieve his goals. He later played a key role in weakening the effects of the 15th Amendment, successfully arguing before the Supreme Court in United Stars v Hiram Reese et al to support a poll-tax law that made it tougher for blacks to vote in Lexington.

It is in this section where the development of the state's memory of the war becomes evident, as it shows how Buckner's beliefs and goals matched those of other pro-Union Kentuckians as well as former Confederates. It is an especially important part of this book and of the understanding of the state's image.

Many who study the Civil War are familiar with the cliché that "Kentucky joined the Confederacy after the Civil War." Anne Marshall's book Creating a Confederate Kentucky describes how Kentucky developed its Confederate image and is perhaps my favorite Civil War volume. Lewis' work is an excellent addition to Marshall's, and even strikes me as a prequel to Marshall's book (though while reading it I got the impression that the conversion of Kentucky's self-image to that of a Confederate state began during the war, immediately following the Emancipation Proclamation.) Lewis' work shows the existence and growth of the various beliefs and characteristics Union supporters shared with former Confederate backers, through the eyes, life, words and actions of Benjamin Buckner. Marshall's deals more with a longer post-war era and different memory-related developments throughout the state, but what For Slavery and Union describes is the early formation of the thinking and beliefs that created the memory and perception of Kentucky as described by Marshall. (This includes Lewis' insightful point that ex-Confederates did not "take over" the Kentucky government, but, rather, used cooperation and understanding from men like Buckner to gain such power.) This is probably the most valuable aspect of this book - the analysis of a single life as an example of how so many Kentuckians felt about the coming, reality, ending and memory of the Civil War, particularly in relation to slavery and race relations.

For Slavery and Union is a wonderfully insightful and interesting book, offering a terrific understanding into and analysis of Benjamin Buckner's life and how it serves as an example of loyal slaveowners in Kentucky and their relationship to the Federal government as the Civil War progressed and ended. Author Patrick Lewis obviously performed thorough research, using a wide variety of sources, and weaved quotes from many of these into his narrative. His analysis of these sources gives this book a tremendous importance in the study of Kentucky and Kentuckians during and after the Civil War, especially of slave owners who supported the Union. (Disclosure: one of my four-time great-grandfathers was a Kentucky slaveowner during the time. He was too old to fight, but had a son and three grandsons who joined Union units, including Home Guards. How closely did my family's beliefs mirror Buckner's? That question certainly has added to my interest in this book.)

I do wonder if more illustrations would have made a fine book even better, as it includes only one photograph. Could a map of Kentucky, particularly one with counties and regions shown on it, have been beneficial? I have at least a reasonable understanding of Kentucky geography, but non-Kentuckians may not. Perhaps I am nit-picking here.

Overall, this book is a terrific study of a slave-owning Unionist and how he and others like him contributed to the memory of Civil War-era Kentucky that has lasted even until today. It describes the mixed feelings that southern unionists - particularly those in a border state - struggled with, and shows that not all decisions were as simple as blue or gray. It is more of a scholarly book than a popular one, so it may take a little extra effort to read - it did for me, anyway. That is not meant as a criticism of Lewis' writing, however - it is an acknowledgement of the challenge he accepted with this project. The study of Kentucky in the war and its aftermath is a complex topic and Lewis explores that complexity in a well-researched and insightful work, focusing on the life of Benjamin Buckner to illustrate issues many citizens of the Commonwealth faced. Time spent reading this book is a worthwhile investment; this is a fascinating look at a complicated topic.

For Slavery and Union is an enjoyable, perceptive and informative work and the most recent addition to my list of favorite books. I strongly and gladly recommend it. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Wrap-Up and Some Sources for Hart Series

Well, my series on Derrill Wason Hart and his family has finally reached its conclusion with this post. It started out to be just one post, then evolved into perhaps two or three, but ended up being nine posts, including this one. I have really enjoyed this project and have learned quite a few new ideas about online research and how to continue to look for more information even when I think I am done. Perhaps some better planning would be helpful as well, though planning for the unexpected might not be easy. Still, this project has been good for me in more than one way. 

Anyway, I found and used many different sources in this series. Most are linked and/or mentioned throughout the various stories, but I originally noted that I would make a separate post of sources, so, to keep my word, here it is. Some of these may be duplicated in the various posts, but better safe than sorry.

Here is a list of the posts in this series.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hart Family: A Genealogical Sketch

This is the latest and probably last (except for a list of sources) installation of a series of posts I originally intended as just one entry on a man named Derrill Wason Hart, who played college basketball at the University of Kentucky. I was going to title it Basketball, Dahlias and the Civil War, at least until I found more information than I expected and decided to separate the stories into multiple parts. See my previous posts:

This entry will concentrate on some of his family history outside of the war.

Derrill's mother Rebecca Wright Wason Hart was born May 4, 1851 and was a member of one of the earliest families to settle in the Pisgah area of Woodford County, Kentucky, according to this link. I have seen similar information at links such as this one which indicates her father Robert H. Wason was a doctor and also an elder in the Pisgah Presbyterian Church. 

The Wasons were well-off financially. The 1860 slave schedule indicates that Robert owned thirteen slaves, down from the twenty listed on the 1850 record. Tax records from the 1860s show he raised dozens of hogs as well. The 1870 census listed him as a physician, with an impressive $33,000 of real estate and $4,000 worth of personal property. 

Robert Wason had been born on March 11, 1811 in Woodford County and married another Woodford County native, Margaret Gay (his second wife), who had been born June 30, 1821. The book History of Woodford County Kentucky (which misspells their name as Wasson) states that Robert's parents were from Greencastle, Pennsylvania and family trees on show that her parents were Virginians. 

Robert and Margaret had nine children, five daughters and four sons. Robert passed away October 10, 1891, while his widow lived until February 9, 1897. Both are buried in the Pisgah Cemetery.

Both pictures courtesy

Derrill 's middle name was his mother's maiden name, similar to many other men born in the 19th century. Naming children after parents or other family members also was a common Hart family practice.

Derrill's father, Robert Singleton Hart, (his middle name was his grandmother's maiden name and his mother's middle name) was born January 9, 1843, the son of Benjamin and Anne Singleton (Falconer) Hart. He was a successful professional and family man, as he was a Civil War officer (2nd Lieutenant in the 22nd Alabama Infantry), made a living as a doctor and helped raise several well-educated children. 

The earliest record I can find for Robert is the 1850 census, where a 7-year-old Robert is listed in the household of 37-year-old Nancy Hart, along with William Hart (age 14), Duval (possibly Derral, most likely a misspelling of Derrill) Hart (9) and John Hart (5.)  Robert's mother was 37 years old then but was named Anne per the first records I found. Family trees on, though with no supporting documents attached, list her name as "Ann Nancy Singleton Falconer Hart." A cemetery record for the Falconer cemetery in Sprague, Alabama lists her as Nancy Singleton Hart, living from January 20, 1813 to April 25, 1868, which matches other records, so apparently Nancy Ann/Anne or Ann/Anne Nancy was her name. (I will simply use "Ann Nancy" for the purposes of this story,) 

Benjamin Hart passed away a few months before this census took place.

Robert's brother Benjamin (probably formally Benjamn III), his second oldest sibling (I have found nothing about his oldest brother Horace), was living in Columbia, South Carolina in 1850, with another Benjamin Hart, probably his grandfather, given his age of 84 years old. The younger Benjamin was a 16 year-old student. Also in the household was the family of John Thompson, a physician. Benjamin may have been attending the College of South Carolina, known today as the University of South Carolina.

I found very little record of the family on the 1860 census. Edward was a teacher who lived with Thomas Meriwether, a wealthy planter and slaveowner in Montgomery. Also in Montgomery, living with the H.W. Henry family, is a clerk by the name of William T. Hart, who might have been Edward's brother William F. Hart. H.W. Henry was another wealthy planter and slaveowner.)

The book History of Kentucky, published in 1922, states that Robert S. Hart had been born near Montgomery, Alabama and received his medical education in Baltimore before practicing medicine for several years in Alabama. He then came to Kentucky in 1875 to take over the practice of his future father-in-law, Robert Wason. It does not specify how he knew the Wasons or was able to get that job.

Robert does not seem to be on the 1860 census, but does appear on the 1870 record, which lists him as a physician and shows him living in the household of a Moses Bledsoe, a 65 year-old illiterate African-American farmer in "Township Thirteen" in Ramer, Montgomery County, Alabama. This list states that Robert had $2,000 of real estate and $100 of personal property, but shows no values for Mr. Bledsoe. It records the rest of the household as one woman who appears to be Moses' wife, an African-American female housekeeper and one white male whose occupation was teacher. I did not find Moses Bledsoe on any other census record, but am curious about what type of relationship Robert and the Bledsoes had. Were the Bledsoes former family slaves? Or were they long-time neighbors or acquaintances of some sort? Perhaps they just happened to have rooms available for men who needed someplace to stay.

Of course, that may be a different Robert S. Hart, but his age of 27 matches the 1843 birth date listed on his headstone and the occupation matches other records as does the location noted as Montgomery County

More details, including a possible conflict to this record, is on, from the Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929. It states that Robert's practice type was "allopath" and that he had studied at College of Physicians and Surgeons of Baltimore, which eventually merged with the University of Maryland School of Medicine. It adds "1869 (g)," which could mean he graduated that year. The possible conflict is that it mentions his "practice specialty" was  was "Pisgah, Ky, 1869." That seems nonsensical but might mean that was when and where he started his practice (which would contradict the History of Kentucky book mentioned previously.) If so, how did he do that and live with the Bledsoes at the same time? Perhaps he was starting his practice in Kentucky, but was in the process of moving from Alabama when the census was taken. He may have stayed with the Bledsoes as a temporary boarder while moving. 

Also, since the Physicians book was published after his death, perhaps the author received wrong information. A date could be forgotten, especially so long after the fact. My interpretation of what "Pisgah, Ky, 1969" means may be wrong also.

Robert Hart married Rebecca on February 24, 1876. The 1880 census lists them in the household of his in-laws, the Wasons, in the Court House precinct of Woodford County, Kentucky. It lists him as a physician again while his in-laws were a "farmer" and "keeping house." The household included his wife Rebecca (listed as a "boarder") and four of her siblings. It does mistakenly note his birthplace as Kentucky, though the 1870 census had shown Alabama. 

The few existing records of the 1890 census do not bring up Robert Singleton's name, but the 1900 census shows him in the Fairground Precinct of Woodford County, in a house (on a mortgaged farm) with his wife and five children, including Derrill. This record does show Alabama as his birthplace and South Carolina as the birthplace for his mother and father. His occupation is again noted as "physician" and the record indicates he had been married to Rebecca for 24 years.

The last census on which Robert would appear, that of 1910, recorded similar information as the previous one, except for showing only 3 children in the Harts' home. This enmerstion also added "& farm owner" to "physician" as his occupation. A previously linked book, History of Woodford CountyKentucky, lists Robert as an elder of the Pisgah Prebyterian Church. 

Dr. Robert Singleton Hart passed away at his home on Versailles Pike in Woodford County, Kentucky, on March 21, 1916 due to heart issues that had left him ill for three weeks. He was buried in the Pisgah Presbyterian Church cemetery. 

Obituary from Kentucky Kernel


The 1920 census shows the widowed Rebecca still living on a Woodford County farm, along the Lexington Pike. Her son Robert Jr. and sister Kate Powell were in the same household, with Robert listed as the farm manager.

Similar information appears on the 1930 enumeration, though their name was misspelled "Heart." They now had two African-American servants on the farm, which was located on Pisgah Pike.

The History of Kentucky book offers a brief description of the Hart farm, stating it sat on the county line and was "a place of much beauty and is greatly endeared to Mrs. Hart" because of her many family ties to that land. She had been born in the same house where she was still living seventy years later.

This book briefly mentions the lives of their five children - Ben, Margaret, Robert Jr., Mary and Derrill. Four of them graduated from college, and the one who did not died before having that chance. (Again, note the re-use of names between generations.)

Here are a few more details on the lives of Derrill Wason Hart's siblings, all, of course the sons and daughters of a Confederate veteran and nephews/nieces of 5 others. 

Ben was born in 1882 and, as of 1910, was single, living in Covington, Ky., and working as a chemist at U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1911, he married Charlotte Forsythe Buckner. She had also been born in 1882, but in Lexington, Kentucky.) They lived in Cincinnati, (perhaps where they had married, though one source says they wed in Lexington) and in 1930 they lived as lodgers in San Francisco. His occupation there was "executive" at what appeared to be "Alaska Pks," perhaps the Alaska Packers Association. By 1940, the couple was back in Woodford County, living with his brother Robert and uncle Robert Wason. Ben died in 1949 and is buried in Pisgah Cemetery, along with Charlotte, who lived until 1956. (As an aside, Charlotte was the niece of Union Civil War veteran Benjamin Buckner, the subject of the book For Slavery and Union, which I will review later. I find it fascinating that my research has a connection, even so small, to a book like that.)

Robert Jr., born in 1887, had finished 4 years of study at Clark University and worked in chemistry and farming. The History of Kentucky book linked previously states he became ill while at school and moved back home. In 1920, he lived in Woodford County with his mom and aunt, managing the farm, as was the case in 1930, when he was still unmarried. In 1940, he still resided on the farm, and the household now included his brother Ben, Ben's wife and their uncle Robert Wason. He died on May 17, 1960, in nearby Lexington, from heart issues. His death certificate states he was married by then, but did not give his wife's name. Like much of his family, he was laid to rest in the Pisgah Cemetery.

Margaret Rebecca, born February 8, 1885, lived in Garden City on Long Island, New York by 1930.  She had married Robert H. Wyld and finished 4 years of college but was not working as of the 1940 census. They had at least two children, son James and daughter Ann Falconer Blizard. Margaret died in September of 1975 in Garden City.

The youngest Hart daughter, Mary Worley Hart, died at sixteen years of age on August 29, 1906 and was interred in the Pisgah Cemetery.

Rebecca Wright Wason Hart lived until July 13, 1932 and was buried in Pisgah Cemetery.


Robert Singleton Hart's parents (Derrill's paternal grandparents) were Benjamin and Ann Nancy Singleton (Falconer) Hart. Benjamin was born on June 28, 1811, apparently in South Carolina and wed Ann Nancy in 1833. Ann Nancy (née Falconer), was born January 20, 1813 in the Sumter District of South Carolina. 

I did find a Benjamin Hart on the 1840 census in Montgomery, but the lack of detail on that record makes it hard to know with full confidence if this is the same man. It indicates 21 people were in his household, including 14 slaves and 1 "free colored person."

Benjamin passed away December 23,1849 in Montgomery and was buried in the Falconer Cemetery in Sprague, Alabama.

Ann Nancy appeared on the 1850 census with four of her children, as mentioned previously, and the 1850 Federal Slave Schedule shows her (listed as Nancy) owning 18 slaves, so it is likely she inherited them from Benjamin. The 1860 slave census then shows her owning 37 slaves, more than double the previous decade's total. According to the ages on the list, 13 of the additional slaves had been born since the previous census, but it is obvious that Ann Nancy had somehow acquired several others, through purchase, trade or other inheritance. This family must have been in very good shape financially. 

Ann Nancy, who died April 25, 1868, was interred alongside her husband in the Falconer Cemetery. Their daughter Martha Eugenia Hart (1839-1871) also was laid to rest there.

None of the Hart family found extreme fame or fortune, but their family story includes several interesting and diverse chapters, from leadership roles and fighting in the Civil War to careers in medicine, chemistry, publishing, botany and farming. It includes participation in college athletics and service in the navy, with family members living throughout the country from South Carolina to Alabama, Texas, Kentucky, Florida, California and New York. 

Derrill Wason Hart, Kentucky basketball player, was the son of a Confederate veteran and the nephew of 5 others. He had no children, but left a legacy including the flower garden at his alma mater and the Derrill Hart Medal. His story branched out in many different directions, in and out of the Civil War.

The Civil War experiences of his father and uncles and Derrill Hart's own Kentucky basketball career join together two of my favorite interests and make for what I consider a truly fascinating and unique story for My Civil War Obsession. It ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated but has been a really fun, and even educational, project for me, probably the favorite one I have worked on for this blog. I hope I have given this family's story a fair telling and that all who have read it have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed finding it.