Bill Kirby

Online news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Surprising facts about family found in box of old photos

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Surprise. Surprise. Surprise.

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– Gomer Pyle

I’ve got a confession to make. Last weekend, I was spending Mother’s Day with the folks. My sister had come to town, too, and we were looking through a big packet of old, old photos a distant relation had sent to my mom.

Among them was an image showing two soldiers during the War Between the States. They were brothers, hatless and stiff-standing in those rough excuses for military uniforms.

“Did they fight in any of the big battles?” I asked curiously.

“We’re not sure,” I was told quietly. “They were Yankees.”

“You’re kidding!” I said. “We have Yankees in the family. I thought we were all Confederates!”

No.

One had apparently moved to Kansas in the mid-1800s and joined up out there.

Another was living on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River and apparently thought he looked better in blue.

I looked up their obscure regiments on the Internet and found few conflicts and fewer military accomplishments.

“At least they didn’t seem to hurt anybody,” I said.

If they shot at any of my Rebel ancestors, I can only surmise that they missed.

PHOTO IDENTIFIED: Last Friday, I asked whether any of you might identify a photo found in the former Martha Lester school in Harrisburg.

The photo was retrieved after the school closed years ago, but no one seemed to know who it was. But someone did.

A commenter on the column said: “This is a photograph of Selena Sloan Butler. She is recognized as the organizer of the first National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers and co-founder of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers (now a part of the PTA).”

If you Google her, as the commenter suggested, you find the same photograph.

I still have not found a photograph of Martha Lester, the late educator for whom the school was named. But several members of her family said they will look.

TODAY’S JOKE: Frank Allen shares this one:

An elderly woman walked into the country church. The friendly usher greeted her at the door and helped her up the flight of steps.

“Where would you like to sit?” he asked politely.

“The front row, please,” she answered.

“You really don’t want to do that,” the usher said. “The pastor is really boring.”

“Do you happen to know who I am?” the woman inquired.

“No,” he said.

“I’m the pastor’s mother,” she replied indignantly.

“Do you know who I am?” he asked.

“No,” she said.

“Good,” he answered.


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