Tuesday, January 13, 2015

52 Ancestors 2015: #1 Susan Driskill, Civil War Widow

File:Love's Melancholy by Constant Mayer 1866.jpg
"Love's Melancholy" by Constant Mayer, 1866
Public Domain from Wikipedia Commons
On August 18, 1862, Susan Driskill Latham's life was changed forever. Her husband of nearly 22 years, the father of her seven children, died from typhoid fever in a military hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.

Susan H. Driskill was born in 1827 in Kentucky.  At the age of 17, she married James Harvey Latham on September 25, 1844 in Clarksville, Tennessee.  They settled in Todd County, Kentucky, where they lived at the time the 1850 census was taken. Sometime between 1854 and 1856, the Lathams moved to Greeneville, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.

James and Susan had nine children; seven of them survived childhood.  Two year-old Cordelia and baby Stephen, just 11 days old, died from scarlet fever in 1856. James and Susan's youngest child, Harvey Edward Latham, was born less than a month before his father was mustered in with his regiment on October 10, 1861.

It is doubtful that James Harvey Latham ever saw his wife or children again -- he died less than a year later. On the day of his death, he was quickly buried at the Nashville City Cemetery, then was later re-interred at the Nashville National Cemetery.  It does not seem likely that Susan would have been able to visit her husband's grave.  She had young children to care for, Nashville was over 100 miles away, and wartime made it unsafe to travel.

At the start of the Civil War, Kentucky was one of the neutral "border states", split in two over the issues of slavery and seccession.  Since it was a strategically important stronghold to both the North and South, Kentucky saw many fierce battles, many of them not far from where the Lathams lived. Perhaps this explains why Susan Latham and her seven childen moved to Hamilton County, Illinois between 1863 and 1864.

On October 12, 1864, Susan married Edmund Hawthorn, a widower, in Hamilton County.  She was 37; he was 51.  Edmund became the guardian for Susan's younger children, and his signature appears on the marriage license for my third great grandfather, John Wesley Latham.  Edmund and Susan had one daughter, Ida, who was born on June 13, 1867.  Susan's three oldest children (George, John, and Sophronia) were married and lived nearby -- and Susan now had three grandchildren.

Then, on November 20, 1869, Edmund Hawthorn died in Logansport, Illinois.  Susan was widowed twice by the time she was 42 years old.  But what happened to Susan after Edmund Hawthorn died? Unfortunately, I don't know.  Susan Hawthorn appears in the 1870 census with her four youngest children, but I haven't been able to find her in any records after that.  Perhaps she married a third time, or maybe she died before the 1880 census was taken.

Recently, I was able to connect with a cousin partly because of this blog!  She read my post on James Harvey Latham and visited his grave in Nashville a few weeks ago.  I have wanted to visit his grave myself for a long time, and it would be even more meaningful now that I know about Susan.

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