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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Civil War and Reconstruction

Following the Civil War, how did this country change so that southern states could again become part of the United States?  "Reconstruction" is described in a free online Yale lecture series by Dr. Blight HERE.

 I've enjoyed learning a lot more in-depth facts about the politics of the reconstruction times from these lectures by Dr. Blight.  Many of us scratch our heads, trying to remember what if anything we learned in our history classes about how the Civil War impacted the people of the south following the did they again become part of the government? How did the people receive any help after being occupied by Union troops? We heard about the freed slaves, and a constitutional amendment giving the vote to all males, and maybe how carpetbaggers took advantage of the freedmen and set them into positions that they could use them as puppets for their own greed, but what about the former slave owners? Not oppressors nor losers but just ordinary family members, suddenly not part of a culture they had grown up in, also suddenly starving.

Not my ancestors' home in Fort Gaines GA, but similar to how cotton was king in the South
My ancestors lived through the Civil War   Did they have children during the 1860s? Did someone die during that time, or during the 1870s, and had they served the Confederacy? I know they had slaves, so did freeing the slaves change their lives much?  Did they move during or after the end of the war?

Nothing about slavery was good

There were southern whites as well as blacks who starved both during the war and afterwards. How was the division of land and businesses effected by the freeing of the slaves?

Texas History has just published this:
On this day in 1867, (January 24) Joseph Barr Kiddoo was replaced as superintendent of the Freedmen's Bureau in Texas. Kiddoo, born in Pennsylvania in 1840, was appointed superintendent in 1866, following distinguished military service during the Civil War. During his tenure he was sympathetic to both planters and blacks. Kiddoo imposed heavy fines on whites caught enticing freedmen away from employers with whom they were under contract, limited bureau interference in the civil courts, and instituted free education for blacks in Galveston and Houston. Under Kiddoo's program perhaps 10,000 blacks learned to read and write. Although Texas planters recognized that Kiddoo was changing the social structure of the state by his reforms, many appreciated his attempts to help planters and freedmen work together. Eventually, however, because he thought the laws reduced blacks to a condition of involuntary servitude, he suspended some sections of the state's black codes, whereupon Gen. Charles Griffin relieved Kiddoo as superintendent; the excuse was that an old wound received during the war prevented him from fulfilling his duties. Kiddoo retired from the army in 1870 and died in 1880. (2)
Picking  cotton, a crop that ruined the soil, but brought incomes to the south
I've also learned that sharecropping became a way to survive, where those who had land rented it out to poor families (black or white) who would then pay their rent by giving half the crop to the land owners.  Nobody really benefited, but it promised survival.

My ancestors again...

Samuel Gainer and Mary Phillips Gainer lived in Fort Gaines, GA at least until 1858, when their granddaughter was born there. (She became my great grandmother.) Mary Phillips Gainer's son William Phillips had married (1855) Mary Granger (from Massachusetts) and lived with her in Texas. They returned to GA for the birth of her first baby, which has been confirmed through correspondence I have between Mary Granger Phillips and her mother-in-law Mary Phillips Gainer.  (Just the name confusion is enough to go a bit crazy!)

There was no information in the 1850 Census of the Gainer family of any slaves.  That census only listed the free whites, however, living in Georgia prior to the civil war, it is highly likely that a household would have some slaves, which is proved by a gift of a slave to Mrs. Gainer's first grand daughter.

Among the correspondence saved by my family, was the document of a gift of a girl slave from grandmother Mary Gainer to her granddaughter, Zulieka Granger Phillips, born 1858 in Fort Gaines GA.(3)

The future Mrs. William Phillips, Mary Hull Granger had moved to Texas from Newburyport, MA with her father, mother, brother and two sisters in 1854-55. Her father was still listed in the Newburyport, MA business directory of 1854.  The 4 children were all adults.   (4)

... for East Texas History | Center for Regional Heritage Research | SFASU
Early East Texas home

I just obtained information that William Phillips married Mary Granger in Galveston, Texas, in 1855. I  always wondered how a southern man and a northern woman met.  Remember that much trade was done by ships, and Galveston was a booming city at that time. (5)

Galveston History Vignettes
Hotel Galvez, $1,000,000 Beach Hotel, overlooking the Great Galveston Sea Wall and Gulf of Mexico, Galveston, Texas

Historic Properties and Heritage Research | Galveston Historical ...
Galveston TX

The 1860 census of Tyler, Texas lists William Phillips as the head of household, with both the senior Gainers from Georgia now living with them. (6) This is important in that Samuel Gainer had been a leading citizen in Fort Gaines GA as an attorney. Thus their going to Texas with their son and his family must have been an opportunity or perhaps a way to avoid the struggles of the coming conflict.  However, I believe the Gainers weren't with the Phillips when Mary Granger Phillips had her second child in 1861, based on letters to her family.

I've already spoken HERE  from letters about how when Mary Granger Phillips died following the birth of her second daughter in 1861, and husband William soon joined the Confederacy.(7)  Their life in East Texas when it was the frontier, and starting a farm prior to the war is reflected HERE in letters. (7)
... History, University of Texas at Austin, East Texas Collection (DI
Lumber industry in East Texas

I'll share more about the lives of the Gainers, Grangers, and Phillips during and following the Civil War...soon!
East Texas | Abandoned America ~What a shame. A great loss of history ...
Remains of an East Texas home

I'm including this post with Sepia Saturday which has a meme for which I have no photos or stories that match.

Today's Quote:

“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.” — Jean-Paul-Sartre, Philosopher.

(1) Yale Courses: The Civil War and Reconstruction with David Blight (on YouTube)
"This course explores the causes, course, and consequences of the American Civil War, from the 1840s to 1877. The primary goal of the course is to understand the multiple meanings of a transforming event in American history. Those meanings may be defined in many ways: national, sectional, racial, constitutional, individual, social, intellectual, or moral. Four broad themes are closely examined: the crisis of union and disunion in an expanding republic; slavery, race, and emancipation as national problem, personal experience, and social process; the experience of modern, total war for individuals and society; and the political and social challenges of Reconstruction."

(2) Texas History On Line

 (3) Document hand written by Mary C. Gainer, Nov. 16, 1858, giving her 15 year old negro girl to her grand daughter Zulieka Phillips, now visiting from Jefferson Parish, Texas, "for her own use and benefit." Entered as a court document by clerk of court, Fort Gaines, GA

(4) Newburyport MA business Directory, 1854, and US Census 1860 Galveston Texas

(5) Record # 1008865, marriage of William Phillips and Mary Granger in Galveston, TX, 1855, Texas Select County Marriage Index, 1847-1965.

(6) My blog "When I Was 69" by link to Aug. 5, 2013 about the letter of  Dec. 9, 1861 

(7) op. cit. link to Feb 7, 2014 about 2 letters, 1872 and 1860 about the piano



  1. You can check the 1850 and 1869 U.S. Federal Census Slave Schedules to see how many people were enslaved by your ancestors. There are no names, but ages, color - B(lack) or M(ulatto). Quite frustrating to try and figure out if my ancestors are on a list even when I have the name of the slave owner. Probate records are much better as they name names and often even family groups. I've been researching my family in Kentucky recently during this time period.

  2. Thanks Kristen. Good info. Hope you find more about your ancestors!

  3. Obviously a lot of research went into your fine post!

  4. I don't think a single one of us is untouched by this! A HUGE topic...and a fine job!

  5. I belong to a History Book Club and our current book which we will discuss this week is on this very topic. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 by Eric Foner. I don't know if I have time to go through the lecture series but thanks for the link. I'll share it with my group. In September we finished two formidable books on the civil war, yet I've decided that reconstruction was far more messy and complicated than the war. In Foner's book the South's change from free labor, when slaves did all the agriculture work and also construction, handcrafts, and mechanics, to paid labor was the main difficulty. All the wealth in the South's pre-war era was in humans who could be rented out, sold, mortgaged, and bred. Land value was meaningless if there were no laborers, and after the war free blacks refused to work unless fairly paid. Initially many chose sharecropping because they got to own land. Only later did it become exploitation.

    1. That book is one of several mentioned in the lectures, required reading for the course I imagine. I haven't read it, but would probably learn a lot! Thanks for the detailed comment.

  6. All interesting questions. My family, one side of it, were in Pennsylvania and my great-great-grandfather paid $300 to get someone else to serve in his place. I certainly hope it wasn't another relative from another line who was 18 years old and served for a total of two months before being killed in battle. If your history goes back in this country you're bound to find you were on one side or the other.


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