Thursday, November 16, 2017

Saint Margaret of Scotland

Saint Margaret  of Scotland

Photo of window depicting St. Margaret in St. Margaret's Chapel, Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland
Photo taken by Kjetil Bjørnsrud in 2005 was found at Wikimedia Commons and used under GFDL (Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic).
     Today is the feast day for my 28th great-grandmother, Saint Margaret of Scotland, who died on this day 924 years ago at about 48 years of age. Margaret was an English princess of the house of Wessex, but she was born (c. 1045) and spent her early childhood in Hungary while her father, Edward Aetheling, was in exile there.  Her mother's name was Agatha.
     In 1057, when Margaret was about 12 years old, she moved back to England with her parents and siblings where her father died shortly after their arrival. The family remained there, however, and lived under the protection of Margaret's great-uncle, King Edward the Confessor.
     King Edward died in 1066. King Harold II briefly succeeded him before being killed on October 14, 1066 in the Battle of Hastings while fighting the army of William, Duke of Normandy. Margaret's brother, Edgar Aetheling, was proclaimed king by the Witenagemot, but he was never crowned. William ultimately prevailed and was crowned King William I of England on December 25, 1066.
     Now that William was king, Margaret, her mother, her sister and her brother feared for their safety. They left England in 1068 and were probably trying to sail to Hungary when the boat they were on was pushed off course by a storm. As a result, they ended up landing in Scotland.
     The king of Scotland was Malcolm III, also known as Malcolm Canmore. Malcolm was a widower, and he apparently became quite taken with Margaret. He and Margaret were married in about 1070, and Margaret became queen of Scotland. Margaret was educated and very religious, and Malcolm was by all accounts very devoted to her.
    Her holiness and wisdom had an impact on Malcolm, causing him to be a better ruler. Malcolm regarded his wife with holy reverence, and with most devoted love followed her advice, and guided by her he became not only more religious and conscientious but more civilized and kinglike. The king's devotion to her and her influence over him were almost unbounded. He never refused or grudged her anything, nor showed the least displeasure when she took money out of his treasury for her charities. Although he could not read, he loved her books for her sake, handling them with affectionate reverence and kissing them. Sometimes he would take away one of her favorite volumes and send for a goldsmith to ornament it with gold and gems. When this was done, he would restore it to the queen as a proof of his devotion. (
    Margaret frequently washed the feet of the poor, fed poor children herself, gave alms, and provided clothing and housing to those in need and did other works of charity. She urged religious reforms, and she herself kept to a very stringent regimen of fasting, praying, liturgy and penance. One of her books, a book of the Gospels, is in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England. A facsimile of it can be viewed here.
An illustration from St. Margaret's Book of Gospels found at
   Margaret and Malcolm were the parents of eight children, including three kings of Scotland and one queen (by marriage) of England. Malcolm and their oldest son were killed in the Battle of Alnwick on November 13, 1093. Margaret had been in declining health for months and gravely ill for days when she received the news of her husband's and son's deaths. She died shortly afterwards on November 16, 1093. Margaret was canonized in 1250. She is the patron saint of Scotland.

P.S. Margaret's husband Malcolm was the son of King Duncan I of Scotland. King Duncan is featured in Shakespeare's play Macbeth, in which Macbeth kills Duncan and takes his place on the throne of Scotland. What fun to find a saint as well as a person featured as a character in one of Shakespeare's plays in the family tree. Isn't genealogy wonderful?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wilbur Fisk Mims

      My family is lucky enough to be in possession of a few letters that were written during the Civil War. One of the letters was written by my great-great-great uncle Wilbur "Will" Fisk Mims to his father Shadrach Mims. During the Civil War, Wilbur Fisk Mims fought with Company H of the Third Alabama Cavalry, also known as the Prattville Dragoons. He initially served as sergeant of the company and was promoted to first lieutenant in 1863.  In February 1865, he was promoted to captain and became the company's commanding officer. He wrote a history of the Prattville Dragoons' wartime activities entitled War History of the Prattville Dragoons, a pdf of which can be viewed here. (The pdf does take some time to load.)
     The ability to maintain a mount was an ongoing concern of the cavalry soldiers. Many, many service horses died from injury, disease or starvation during the war, and many other horses had to be retired from active service for the same reasons. In his War History of the Prattville Dragoons, Will mentions the fact that his horse was shot through the nose during the Battle of Mossy Creek on December 29, 1863. In Will's letter dated June 23, 1864, he talks at length about the condition of and concerns for his horse and the condition of his brother Shack's horse. (Shack was a nickname for Shadrach.) Below is my transcription of Will's letter.

A letter from Wilbur Fisk Mims dated June 23, 1864 to his father Shadrach Mims. Transcribed by Sharon Morehart.

                           Marietta Ga  June 23d/64
Dear Father     I have not reced [received] any letters from home since I last wrote but that is no reason why I should not write even if I never received any from home. Knowing so well the solicitude of all the family at home concerning those on the battle field. we know that every mail is looked at with eager and anxious eyes, and disappointment follows if we are not heard from especially during such perillous times. This time finds us well and in fine spirits. Shacks horse being sick some time with Curry[?] fever has given out entirely he is now in the run with the waggon train near Atlanta trying to remount himself doubtless he has written to you before now all about his condition  My horse has been having an unusually hard time of it for the last ten days, and rations are getting shorter every day for horses. Yet the poor little fellow keeps up amazingly well. I take all possible care of him, though at present rates of hardships I will have to get my mare in two or three months [next page] before [Leon?] is ruined entirely he is a better horse than I thought, all the boys in the company are well. no casualties have occured yet. our Brigade still remains lucky about getting into fights our regiment especially  our time may come soon though, __ we oppose the Yankee cavalry entirely and they get whipped so often that they dont trouble us much now, there is no news a good deal of cannonody  all the time and occasionally a charge from the Yankees along the infantry line, but ends the same old way all the time. an awful repulse, Mr. John Garner of our company was sent to the Montgomery hospital I think he is in bad health [illegible line--on crease and faded] propper diet would soon cure him. he is one of those Tenneseans and did Shack and I a great many favors when we were in Tenn. I wish you would go to the Hospital in Montgy and get him to stay with you until he gets better he is a very good man do something for him. I havent heard from W [?] Davis or Fielding or John since I wrote. Bill Sorsby is well.  My love to all      
         Write soon to your                                             
                              affectionate  Will

     One of the horses that Will rode in the last half of the war was a mare named Mollie. Will held her in high esteem. Perhaps she was the mare to which he referred in his letter. He kept Mollie until she died in November 1883. Her obituary appeared in The Southern Signal and is shown below.

The Southern Signal (Prattville, AL), 9 Nov 1883, p. 3, c. 2-3;, accessed 13 Oct 2017.

The Southern Signal (Prattville, AL), 9 Nov 1883, p. 3, c. 2-3;, accessed 13 Oct 2017. Transcribed by Sharon Morehart.
Death of Old Mollie--A War Horse.
     Capt. W. F. Mims, our Town Marshal, has recently lost by death his faithful old warhorse that was familiarly known by the name of "Old Mollie." This aged specimen of the equine genus, has truly gone where all dead horse go, but it would seem from her long and noble service on earth that she was entitled to a higher and better estate than an ordinary departed member of her kind.
     Mollie was obtained by Capt. Mims from Mr. Tom Carter, a comrade in the Prattville Dragoons, in East Tennessee, in the Fall of 1863, during Longstreet's famous detour into that section of the country. She was then supposed to be about nine years of age, which number added to subsequent time would make her age at the time of her decease, about 29 years! During the stirring scenes in which her gallant owner afterwards participated, the ears and eyes of "Old Mollie" often witnessed spectacles and heard sounds which were enough to appall the stoutest hearts. But the spirited little mare ever nobly bore her rider in whatever way his hand guided, and several scars upon her flesh attested that she was often where peril and death rode upon the storm of battle, With her master, she fortunately servived the shock of arms. To-day she lies beneath the sod of the field, in a grave, indeed, in which the grateful Captain caused her aged form to be peacefully laid away. 
Drawing found at

     Will himself lived another 34 1/2 years. He passed away on March 22, 1918 at the age of 82. His obituary appeared on the front page of the April 18th edition of The Prattville Progress. Since it contains a nice synopsis of his life, I include it here.
The Prattville Progress, 18 Apr 1918, p. 1, c. 3;, accessed 17 Oct 2017.