The Civil War had lasting influence in my family. Down along Linville Creek, in Virginia, there lived several families, among them the Lincolns (Jacob and his brother Abraham, who later moved to Kentucky), the Herrings and the Chrismans.
Elizabeth Lincoln, the daughter of Jacob Lincoln, who owned slaves, married Joseph Chrisman, and their first son was named John Lincoln Chrisman. Elizabeth died and the faithful Negro servants, Anne and Africanus, helped to raise little John. Eventually his father remarried and moved to Missouri with his family.
John Lincoln Chrisman married, and years later Elizabeth, his second daughter, showed me the books that Elizabeth Lincoln had owned, and also a silver chest. She gave me her father's journal, and patent for the land he bought in Missouri, and a receipt for a slave girl named Millie. During our conversation I asked Cousin Elizabeth, "Wasn't your father's name John Lincoln Chrisman?"
She drew herself up and looked stern, "Leave out the Lincoln, please – my father never used it in later life."
I was somewhat embarrassed, but persisted with my line of questioning, and asked how she had taught her scholars about Lincoln. She replied, "Lincoln was a Black Republican and a traitor to his own people. I never taught my pupils that he freed the slaves, but I taught them that Lincoln had ambition to educate himself, and that he became a great man because he rose above his early environment."
A picture of General Lee hung on the wall of her parlor and she pointed to it and asked my 12-year-old son, "Who is this?"
He noted the beard and quickly replied, "General Ulysses S. Grant."
The shocked look on her face made him realize he had made a great error, and he looked again and hurriedly remarked, "I mean General Robert E. Lee."
Our dear old cousin commented, "Well now, that is much better."
The War was very real to her 70 years after its close.
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’S WEEKLY asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.