Sunday, May 17, 2015

Civil War Sunday - True Children

I call them living wormholes - they are a direct link to our past.  (This term, incidentally, is not original to me.)  If you don't like that term, just consider them as living treasures.

I've blogged about some of these treasured people - for example, my husband's aunt, who is now 103 years old.  She was born three months before the Titanic sank.  Through her memories (and she is still fully with us mentally) we are linked to our past.

Another example is Harrison Tyler, a grandson of President John Tyler.  President Tyler was born in 1790.  As of February, 2015, this grandson was still alive and still living on the family homestead.

These people are vitally important to our society, in my view.  History is not something dead in a book.  It is the story of you, me, and people who were born before us.  When they pass, memories are lost forever.

Now, I have become aware of another living wormhole (or treasure, if you will):  Nellie Appling Wylie, of Mt. Airy, North Carolina.  You may be familiar with Mt. Airy if you ever watched The Andy Griffith Show.  Mt. Airy was where Andy Griffith grew up, and Mayberry was based on the Mt. Airy of his childhood.

Ms. Wylie just turned 100.  Her father fought in the Civil War, which was fought 150 years ago.  How could that be?

Her father was born in April of 1848.  He was 19 when the war ended in 1865.  She was his last child, born when he was 67 years old.  He died in 1937.

Watch the remarkable interview with this treasured woman. Her children are all deceased, but her grandchildren work to preserve her memories.

To think I may have walked in her footsteps in the several times I've visited Mt. Airy thrills me.

She is what historians call "true children" of our Civil War.  To them, the Civil War is not some set of dead facts in a boring textbook.  It was part of stories told them in their childhood.  They knew, and loved, those veterans of the war.  And it is good to know they were given places of honor at sesquicentennial commemorations of the war.

There are not too many "true children" of the United States Civil War left.  There are, perhaps, 35 (or fewer), most in their 90's or 100's.

By the time we reach the 175th anniversary of the 1861 start of the war, they will all be gone.

Do you have a treasured relative or family friend who is a link to history?


  1. Alana,
    I'm so glad you posted this. Thank you. You're right, this little woman is a treasure. I loved watching the interview!

  2. good to know about this. never heard about it earlier.

  3. Nellie is my great aunt and I had the honor of growing up listening to her stories of her father alongside my grandmother, her sister. As the last two daughters of Richard Appling and his third wife they had an incredible childhood in a rural valley in eastern West Virginia. I was always struck by the respect and reverence that they both showed to their parents and siblings. The ability that they showed to love family no matter what the actual lineage might be was an inspiration. As mixed as their family was, it ran on love and mutual respect. We would be well served to remember that blended families are nothing new and every bit as loving and supportive. In hearing their stories I was also struck by how big a difference the Depression made on their experiences. As the youngest daughter who hit high school at the height of the depression Nellie was well acquainted with the hardships that people endured then, even though she was extremely blessed and better off than many. My grandmother, who was a few years Nellie's senior, had moved on to teach in a one room schoolhouse a few valley's over by the time the worst of the financial crisis hit. She told a story of "buying" a car for the afternoon with friends while in high school because they wanted to drive to a neighboring town to catch a movie. They "returned" it after their sojourn. By the time Nellie was in high school that was no longer an option. To me, this illustrates the importance of first hand experience with first hand experiencers. Nellie Wylie and all those who can help us remember where we came from are a treasure. I sincerely thank you and all of your followers for noticing and caring. And by the way, Nellie has one of the sharpest minds and wickedest sense of humor you could hope to find. And her chocolate pie is to die for! Thanks and best, Jennifer (Appling) Growden

  4. I SO agree that the older people are our links to the past. We need this if we are to connect with our humanity. So many bad things happened long ago. The atrocities people carried out in the name of wars leaves me cold. But, those good people who remain remind us that not everyone behaved the same way.

  5. Hey Alana! I'm sorry that I haven't visitied your blog in such a long time. I've was busy writing my newest novel "The Defeatist"- it's now available on Amazon.
    Wow! Your husband's aunt is an amazing age. One of our residents at work is 101 this year, she's so intelligent. I love talking to people of different generations, I think we take life for granted these days!


Thank you for visiting! Your comments mean a lot to me, and I appreciate each one. These comments are moderated, so they may not post for several hours. If you are spam, you will find your comments in my compost heap, where they will finally serve a good purpose.