Monthly Archives: December 2013

Sunday’s Obituary – John Carpenter Triggs and James Alfred Triggs

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John Carpenter and James Alfred Triggs Obit

O B I T U A R Y .

Died, in Burke county, on the 15th ult., of congestive fever, John Carpenter, second son of the Rev. J. J. Triggs, aged 5 years, 5 months, and 15 days.

Also, on October 2d. James Alfred, the only remaining son of Rev. J.J. Triggs, of gangrene of the face, aged 7 years and 1 month. James A. was at the burying of his brother, wept as he left the grave, and said he was sorry he had to leave his brother in the grave, took his bed on his return, sick with the fever, which he left not until he died. Two days before his death, his physician pronounced him cured, and dismissed him from his care, but that afternoon the horrible disease which terminated his life, was discovered, and after making a most fearful disfiguring of the face, dismissed his spirit to Him, who said, “Suffer little children to come unto me.”

“Death ! great proprietor of all! ’tis thine
To head out empire, and to quench the stars.
The sun himself by thy permission shines,
And, one day, thou shalt pluck him from his sphere:
Amid such mightily plunder, why exhaust
Thy partial quiver on a mark so mean?
Why thy peculiar rancour wreak’d on me?
Insatiate archer ! could not one suffice?
They shaft flew thrice, and thrice * my peace was
slain !”
* Mr. T. lost a son last year.

The Rev. J.J. Triggs, is my 3rd great grandfather, and the two children mentioned in the obituary above, are my 2nd great grand uncles.

There has not been a single time since I found this obituary, that I could read it, and not cry. I can’t imagine the sadness of the family, losing John Carpenter Triggs and how about poor James Alfred Triggs? Have you ever heard of gangrene of the face?  How terribly awful.

Also the obituary mentioned that this is the third son Rev. Triggs lost.  The other son mentioned was William Garvin Triggs who died in 1841.

This is a snapshot out of the family bible that I am lucky enough to have a copy of.

William Garvin, John Carpenter and James Alfred Triggs bible entry


It’s extremely hard to read so here is the translation:

William Garvin Triggs died of convulsions Oct. 28th 1841.

John Carpenter Triggs died of billeous fever Sept. 15th 1842 after an illness of about 42 hours. This was the most promising of all my children; but God has taken him. Lord prepare me to follow.

James Alfred Triggs died of gangrene Oct 2nd just after sun set 1842. Oh my bleeding heart.

Rev. J. J. Triggs had fifteen children by four different women.  I know two of his wives died before he did, and one out lived him.  One I don’t know anything about at all.  He had seven boys and seven girls, and one listed as an infant that died within days of one his wives dying.

Of the boys, only one, Francis Allen Triggs would live to adulthood and he was 26 years old at the time of his death.

Of the girls, four of them would all die before they reached the age of four years old.  My 2nd great-grandmother, Jane Matilda Triggs Parks lived to be 68 years old, and one of her sisters, Sarah Ann Triggs Allday lived to be 52, and the other sister, Maria Triggs Golding I can track until the age of 55.

All of this sorrow that the Rev. Triggs endured, yet in everything I find and read about him, he never lost his faith in God.  He was a Methodist Minister for 31 years.

Christmas Past to Christmas Present

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As I was decorating the house the other day for the Christmas holidays, for some reason I started thinking about what my ancestors would have been doing at Christmas time during the civil war.

Christmas Decorations 2013

I’m sure they didn’t string fancy garlands or lights and probably not every one put up a Christmas tree as the European custom of having a tree was just becoming popular.  If they did decorate a tree, I’m sure the decorations would have been handmade usually of stringed sugared fruits, ribbons, popcorn, pine cones, colored paper, silver foil and spun glass ornaments.

As I looked around guiltily at all of my decorations, I wondered did they decorate their houses? Did they sit with their families around a fire and sing songs?  Did they trade gifts and visit neighbors?

Not having any way to know what my ancestors did, I started thinking about my husband’s ancestors.  Then I remembered that we had a copy of my (now ex) husband’s great-grandfather, A.J. Smith’s diary that he wrote during the civil war.  My (now ex) father-in-law, Al Reynolds has the original diary in his possession.

This is A.J. at about the time he enlisted as a Pvt. in Co. K, 20th Regiment Arkansas Infantry, CSA on March 6, 1862 in Lafayette Co., Arkansas.

AJ Smith

So, I pulled the diary up and looked for dates around Christmas time and this is what he wrote (the year is 1863 from farther up in the diary):

“Dec 24th Ark troops and some others to the amount of 500 are parolled for exchange and put on the steamer New York and go to the Fortress Monroe and ly over till the evening of the 25th. On the night of the 25th ly in the mouth of James River.  On the morning of the 26th sail to City Point and wait for the Confederate Boat from Richmond till the morning of the 28th.”

We know from his diary and muster rolls that he was taken prisoner at Big Black on May 16, 1863 and imprisoned at Fort Delaware and then later at Point Lookout, where the parole he mentioned above took place.

I went back into the living room at this point and sat and looked at my tree.  A.J. was not sitting in a warm house around a tree with his family during the Christmas of 1863. However, I imagine being paroled from prison after seven months, was a pretty good Christmas gift.  I imagine he was sitting on that steamer on Christmas eve, glad to be on his way to freedom and thinking very much of his family at home, but was he even thinking about it being Christmas as he didn’t mention that in the diary?

I found a picture of the New York steamer, which you can view here.  I can’t imagine being stuffed in there with 499 other parolees.  I wonder what he was fed?  I’m sure it wasn’t anything like the meal we will eat on Christmas eve.  In fact, he was probably lucky if he got anything at all.

In doing a bit of research, I came across this entry, written in a diary on Christmas day 1863, by Sergeant John L. Hoster of Co. A., 148th NY, who was serving an extended period of non-combat duty in the Fort Norfolk, Virginia area.  He wrote:

“Cool but pleasant. Corpl. Spaid, Dick Bachman, the orderly and I had a splendid Christmas dinner today, consisting of roast goose, mashed potatoes, good gravy, bread and butter. The goose was bought in market yesterday by F. Spaid for $1.25, stuffed with crackers and oysters and roasted by Mrs. Duncan. We had it served up on a fine large platter, borrowed, bought or stolen for the occasion. Had a fine supper on the remains. Flag of truce ship, New York, came here today and took away a few prisoners to City Point. A schooner also came today with several new pontoons which were unloaded at the dock.”

Wait, what?

This dude is chomping down on a goose, from a platter probably stolen from some southern lady, while poor A.J. was getting taken away to City Point. Sgt. Hoster’s good fortune didn’t last long as it was only a matter of time before his own goose was cooked and the next Christmas he was sitting in a Confederate prison eating sweet potato soup and meal dumplings.

I am happy to report though that Sgt. Hoster did eventually return home to his family, as did A.J.

I don’t know what any of my ancestors were up to during the civil war at Christmas time. Of the eight great-grandfathers that I had during that time period, four of them fought during the war between the states.  One was shot in his head and survived, but suffered greatly for the rest of his life.

So, this Christmas I will remember what my ancestors, and my husband’s ancestors sacrificed so that we could end up here together, living a life of luxury compared to what A.J. was going through during 1863.  I’m thankful, and I don’t take it for granted and I know my husband doesn’t either.

My son, Pvt. Cole is currently at Ft. Sill in Oklahoma completing his AIT training.  We get the privilege of Skyping. If you don’t know what that is, it’s where you both log on to Skype either on a phone or computer and we can chat while a webcam sends video, to the person on the other end. This is what my screen looks like when we are talking.

Skyping with Justin

I can only imagine that A.J.’s mother would have wished for a letter or some word that A.J. was still alive and was being released and would be on his way home soon.  He had already been sent home once deathly ill to recover at his parents house, only to then be later captured.

His father, Robert Burnett Smith was off fighting in an Alabama regiment and so I imagine his mother, Sarah Yates Smith lived in constant fear for her husband and son. She also had, two other sons fighting; John Calvin Smith and Joel Benjamin Smith.  She wasn’t lucky like I am to be able to sit here at my computer and see a smiling face from hundreds of miles away, with just a few clicks on a phone.

Have you thought about what your ancestors were doing during Christmas way back when, and how drastically different it is from what we do now at Christmas time?

I’m thinking maybe we should cook a goose in honor of A.J. this Christmas and share that story with the kids! 🙂

Tombstone Tuesday – Rufus F and Dona A Higginbotham

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When we went to Texarkana a couple of weeks ago, I took Knucklehead by Woodlawn Cemetery to visit the grave of his 2nd great grandparents, Rufus Francis Higginbotham, Jr. and Eudonia A. Williams Higginbotham.  I try to take him by at least one cemetery on every trip.

Headstone of Rufus F and Dona A Higginbotham

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