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Archive for June, 2008

Yeah! Really! Check out this unicorn living in Tuscany.

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Quite some time ago, I recall reading, probably in Yankee magazine, that nearly every cemetery in New England, … then again, maybe that was in the Northeast, … has at least one Confederate soldier buried there. And, if memory serves me, I believe that most of these men had been prisoners of war but then at war’s end, they decided to settle in the area rather than return to their respective home states.

Now, every Memorial Day, when small representations our nations flag are placed alongside the headstones of those men and women who served in the military, an additional Confederate flag is placed alongside the headstone of Topsfield’s lone Confederate soldier!

The grave of William Buckner Taylor
Pine Grove Cemetery, Topsfield, Massachusetts

So, … why is that? In fact, why is his headstone specially marked with his Confederate service, that is, Company I, 9th Virginia Infantry?

Is this a “military” style headstone? Did he specifically request that his Confederate service be noted?

Well, I can tell you one thing, my curiosity has been aroused for several years now … it is just this year that I finally decided to do something about it. However, I’m not interested solely in William Buckner Taylor’s Confederate service. I’d like to know a little bit about the man! I mean, why did he choose to stay in this area? Did he leave family in Virginia or had they perished during the war? Did he have a family here and where are they buried? What kind of work did he do? What other kinds of interests did he have? And on and on …

Unfortunately, these questions cannot be answered quickly. Definitely not quickly enough for a blog entry. However, using the little bit of information from William Taylor’s headstone as well as a two hour “Google” search, here’s what I’ve got so far.

First, the obvious … William Buckner Taylor was born in 1844 which means that he would have been 17 years old when the Civil War began and 21 years of age when it ended. Taylor died in 1911 which means he would have been about 67 years of age.

I’m afraid that the biggest challenge thus far comes from the fact that the name of William Taylor (and even William Buckner Taylor) from Virginia, even those born in 1844, is VERY common! (But that fact can also make the search all the more fun!)

And now for some “background” information … there was a 9th Virginia Infantry Regiment and a 9th Virginia Infantry Battalion. If Taylor served in the 9th Virginia Infantry Regiment, Company I was at one time known as the “Craney Island Light Artillery” and he may then have seen “action” in places like the Second Manassas, Harper’s Ferry, Fredericksburg, and even Cemetery Hill in the battle of Gettysburg.

Sadly, Virginia saw the most battles during the Civil War … 123 to be exact (Civil War Battle Summaries by State). One can only speculate then that there wouldn’t have been much left of that beautiful countryside to return to, not to mention an economy in shambles. Certainly, some very compelling reasons not to return to one’s native state. In addition, like any war in any part of the world, human casualties are not limited to those in uniform. Many civilians perish as well from injury, hunger and disease. Was this the fate of William Buckner Taylor’s family?

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I must admit that I’ve never been a huge fan of American Civil War history. However, I have always loved biographies and/or personal histories, especially of those “invisible” individuals (aka, “non” celebrities or “the rest of us”). And, being able to place a person in a specific time period has alway given that “moment” in history greater significance or “substance” if you will. Well, at least, it does for me.

So, while this may be a limited beginning, I am pleased with the results thus far. Trust me, however, this is just the start!

***

Note: For an update to this entry, please visit Past Entries Revisited

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Have you noticed how the common names of plants sometimes depend on where you live? Okay! Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “well, that was an obvious statement.” But, when I say it depends on where you live, I don’t mean that you must live great distances apart like from the east coast to the west coast or from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico. No, when I say it depends on where you live, I mean as in my situation, in the same state, just a few miles apart, from inland to along the coast!

Take, for example, a rose whose Latin name is Rosa rugosa. Inland, they’re called a wrinkled rose but, along the coast, they’re called a beach rose. Same clothes, different label. Go figure!

But, what is even more amazing, is just how much this rose seems to LOVE neglect. Heck, I think it even LOVES abuse! I mean, really, what other plant does not want any TLC? Especially a rose! I have two of these rose bushes in my yard and nearly killed them when I tried to rid them of ants. And the plants along the coast? They endure salt spray and salty sand. I think that’s just INCREDIBLE!

Just take a look at this beach rose blossom! And look at those healthy leaves!

And when I say along the coast, I don’t mean just in the vicinity, I mean right along the shoreline as in this next photo!

Oh! How I wish I could include the fragrance of these rose blossoms in this post! It is pure heaven! 😀

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