Elizabeth Ann Obershain had much to
worry about that summer in 1864. When word came that Gen. David Hunter's army
was marching with a large part of the Union Army up the Valley
of Virginia to attack Lynchburg from the rear, Elizabeth Ann was
especially worried. Her eldest son, who was serving in the Confederate Army,
had left at home some eight or 10 pounds of gun powder.
When Hunter's advance guard
appeared on the opposite side of the river from Buchanan, Mrs. Obershain feared
her house would be searched by Union soldiers as soon as they entered the town.
Wishing to save her son's powder, she carried it over to the graveyard of St. John's, which
adjoined her premises. She concealed it under some rank, matted grass near an
old tombstone in the rear of the church, where from the solemn ness of the
place, she supposed no soldier would go, and that the powder would be safe.
Great then was her surprise and
amazement when, going out on the back porch at about 10 p.m., she saw several
fires burning in that part of the churchyard and soldiers lying around them on
the ground. She realized at once the situation. "Should fire get to that
powder," she thought, "and cause it to explode and do any injury, the
soldiers, supposing it was intentional, would become infuriated and burn the
town." The mere thought of being the cause of such a calamity, though
innocent, was more than she could bear.
Followed by her housemaid, Hannah,
she went out through the garden and crept cautiously up to the dividing fence.
Soldiers were stretched out on the ground here and there on the other side,
fast asleep. Some of the fires were spreading slowly into the grass.
Thinking not of her own danger, but
only of what might happen to others, she whispered to Hannah to remain where
she was, climbed the fence noiselessly, crept steadily among the sleeping
soldiers, got the powder and returned safely with it to the house.
When told afterward that she was in
great peril at the time; that if she had been detected when coming out with the
powder in her possession, the soldiers would have believed she was attempting
to do the very thing she had gone there to prevent, she replied, "I did
not once think of that."
Mrs. Morris Borden Tucker
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.