So week two of training is over and Tuesday I am on my own when I go out to the park. I will start my day in the fee booth, go to the visitor center, then lunch, work the McLean house, and then back to the visitor center. My shifts are Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s from 8:45-5:30 and on Friday’s I will be doing my living history program, starting June 10th. I am a little bit petrified.
The bulk of my research work this summer has been, and will continue to go into researching the Peers family. I would like, if I may, to give you a bit of a background on this family now because it is incredibly fascinating.
George Peers was the clerk of the court in Appomattox Court House. He served for many years and was one of the most respected and liked men in the village, and his wife was equally adored and liked. At the time of the surrender in April of 1865, they lived down the Lynchburg-Richmond Stage Road behind the courthouse. George married Jennie in 1855 in Lynchburg, and until 1870 they rented their home from a Mr. Plunkett, and they finally bought the home in 1870.
Today if you were to visit their home, you would find a 12 pounder cannon in the front yard, marking some of the final fighting that happened as the Confederates tried to hold their position on the morning of April 9th, as the Federal’s approached the village from what is today George Peers Lane. The April 10th second meeting between Lee and Grant happened right outside of their home, Chamberlain camped in their front yard, he dined in the home on April 11th, and on the 12th the Peers could have very easily been watching from their yard during the salute between Chamberlain and Gordon as the Stacking of the Arms happened.
The source of my frustration and searching comes in the form of Jennie’s baby brother Charles. In 1862 Charles joined the Confederate Army and two months later was discharged under the Conscription Act. He does not show up again in military records until 1864 when he shows up in the 63rd TN Infantry. He would later be captured in April of 1865 and sent to a Prisoner of War Camp in Ohio, and released in June of 1865. So the best I can piece together at this juncture is the fact that Charles and Jennie’s mother was from TN, and perhaps he was visiting with family there when he joined up. I have contacted family members and I am in the process of trying to obtain further information.
My first talk as Jennie will be June 10th, as I mentioned before. I have a lot of information in my talk, and so I think I am more worried about having to memorize everything.
In my research for the Peers I also discovered their graves which are about ten minutes or less from my house. This was a discovery I made last Monday after an hour of searching in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Lynchburg on Grace Street. I was dismayed to find sometime in the last few months, George’s grave has fallen off the base and cracked. My next project is focusing on finding out who can get his grave repaired, because it not only means a lot to me, but George’s legacy also means a lot to us at Appomattox Court House. A lot of what we know about the village’s history is thanks to this man because he had the insight to write down his recollections in a little book that can be purchased to this day. When the court house burned in the 1890s all of the records were lost. There are so many mysteries that we will never be able to answer, because those files are gone.
Jennie and George’s graves today when I went to visit them for decoration day. I left the flowers at their grave and managed to pick up the bottom corner of the stone.
“A loving and loved wife. A Devoted mother. A faith Friend. And a Christian woman.”
On a completely different topic, on Thursday night we had a party at the park which resulted in a scavenger hunt. The long term goal of which was to get us as employees and volunteers into buildings and spots we’ve never been in before. So I was able to climb into the second floor of the outdoor kitchen behind the McLean house, which is where their head cook would have lived. Upstairs there was not much, considering the space is not open to the public. However, there was a crib upstairs and a chair with a little tiny pillow inside the crib that said “Welcome Little Stranger” and it was both the creepiest thing I had seen (an empty chair at an empty crib) and also the most endearing thing.
The courthouse building at dusk.
The Clover Hill Tavern where 30,000 Parole Passes were printed by the Federal Army for the Confederates in the span of 26 hours. The Tavern was owned by the Hix family and his daughter Emma would eventually marry one of the Provost Guards stationed at Appomattox Court House in the summer of 65.
Lafayette Meeks’ grave behind the Meeks store. Lafayette was the first casualty of the war from Appomattox Court House. He enlisted in 1861 and died later that year of yellow fever.
Where some of the last shots of the American Civil War were fired. In the far distance, that ridge is where the Federals advanced on the morning of April 9th.
I am grateful for a break, however I miss Appomattox when I am not there. I am definitely looking forward to Tuesday and hopefully my dress for my Jennie Peers talks will have arrived by then. I hope everyone has a safe Memorial day weekend and please take a moment to remember all that died in wars. Memorial Day was born out of Decoration Day which was born out of the Civil War. Honor both and remember both sides.