2011-12-08 / Local & State

A Civil War Soldier’s Letter Home

Souders shares relative’s 1864 letter
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

Joanne Souders Joanne Souders What started out as a high school genealogy project has turned into a passion for Mc- Connellsburg resident Joanne Souders.

Always a bit of a history buff, the 72-year-old Fulton County native said her interest in family history took root many years ago when she decided to lend a hand and help research their family tree for daughter Elaina’s history project. Heading to the Fulton County Historical Society for assistance, Souders and Hazel Harr delved into the history books to help research the project that is still ongoing today.

“She really helped put the bee in my bonnet,” Souders said of the late, local historian.

Information contained in that family tree would eventually lead Ohio resident Mary Lou (Gingery) Blizard and her son, Gary, to connect with Souders, a distant relative.The Blizard family, according to Souders, had been active in researching the extended family of Daniel Ginerich.

Having travelled to Lancaster and later to the “mountains” of Fulton County, the Blizards determined Daniel Ginerich was first taxed in Warwick Township, Lancaster County, in 1782. Originally a “freeholder,” Daniel Ginerich was listed as a gunsmith three years later. It wasn’t until 1819 and 1820 that records indicate Daniel was taxed as a single man and gunsmith in Dublin Township, Fulton County.

Several variations of the last name Ginerich are known to exist. In fact, Daniel’s son, Christian, used the spelling “Gingery” when he married wife Margarett, who bore 11 children, including Souders’ great-grandfather, David Gingery.

Souders was pleasantly surprised to learn about the connection between the Blizard family and herself. The families stayed in touch for quite some time over the phone and in writing. Perhaps the most touching or profound piece of correspondence shared with Souders, however, is a transcribed letter written to the Gingery family by Civil War soldier Samuel Gingery.

As the fourth born of Christian and Margarett Gingery’s 11 children, Samuel penned the letter to elder brother John while stationed at a camp near Berryville, Va. Samuel stated his regiment was assigned to the 19th Corps, the 2nd Division and the 4th Brigade. As a member of the Potomac Department commanded by Cmdr. Major General Philip Sheridan, Samuel, a Union soldier, said, “The rebels are at Winchester and can hear our men and the rebels skirmish. Very plainly we do not know how large a force they have here. We are well fortified. The eight corps are behind breast works in a line of six to eight miles in length.”

Talking much about politics and the upcoming November 1864 election, Samuel went on to say in his letter, “ ... I think they do not betray themselves at the second Thursday of November, we shall elect the honest Abraham Lincoln, who us soulders trust will crush this great evil of our trampled country.”

“We are steadfast to his administration.

He has done all the people can ask for the chance,” he added. “We have heard from David (Souders’ great-grandfather), and they say that he is going to vote for Freemont and McClelan. He was in Iowa a few weeks go, but he has gone back to Illinois.”

Samuel also touched on the duties associated with being in the military as well as his brother, William Gingery, who was coincidentally assigned to the same regiment. “William and I have been on camp guard today, there is a great deal of guard duty to do in this valley. There is a large army to be protected by the picket guard and it requires a regiment for guard every 24 hours, and it requires a guard for every head quarter of the brigade and the regiment.”

Dated September 18, 1864, the letter was written exactly one month and one day before Samuel was killed in battle at Cedar Creek, Va. He was 32 years old at the time and was laid to rest at the National Cemetery in Winchester, Va.

Meanwhile, several other members of the Gingery family lived out their life in Fulton County and were buried in the Gingery Cemetery, located on the former Peffer farm just north of McConnellsburg in the wooded area behind the Barn. Souders’ great-grandfather David was laid to rest there on October 17, 1894.

Even though she only has limited photographs and memorabilia of her distant family, Souders said, “These people are so real to me, even though I don’t have any photos to know what they looked like.”

“They were living souls and a part of us,” she said.

She indicated once you begin delving into history and know where you can find readily available information it’s surprising what you can dig up. She added that record-keeping and updates are never truly done because your family continues to grow and expand.

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