23 April 2018

Walking in a Virtual Cemetery


Week 17 (April 23-29): Cemetery

Walking in a Virtual Cemetery

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley © 2018

There I was strolling through virtual cemeteries all over the country— updating and adding links and info to Find-A-Grave for my Hensley family. I was doing this from the comfort of my office, thousands of miles removed from where the actual gravesites exist. 
I tracked down the link to my great-grandpa Hensley’s grave at: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/47043231?search=true
 And when I re-visited the site (it had been a while), I discovered someone had left this picture of a medal. So I looked again at the only picture I have of him, and while his medal doesn’t match this graphic — exactly, perhaps it solves the mystery and helps to date the photograph.

Civil War Campaign Medal—Army

The Civil War Campaign Medal was retroactively awarded to all members of the United States Military who served during the American Civil War. It was first authorized in 1905 for the 40th anniversary of the war's conclusion. Originally intended as a commemorative award, it was soon adopted as a military decoration due to its popularity in the senior military ranks, many of whom were Civil War Veterans.
The blue and gray ribbon drape is to commemorate the uniform colors of the Union and Confederate troops. The Army's version of the medal has a profile of President Abraham Lincoln on the medallion while the Navy and Marine Corps version depicts the battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia. 
The Army Civil War Campaign Medal was established by the United States War Department on January 21, 1907, by General Orders Number 12. To qualify, a soldier had to serve between April 15, 1861, and April 9, 1865. In the U.S. Army, units with Confederate lineage use campaign streamers with the gray edge up and units with Union lineage use campaign streamers with the blue edge up. The closing date was extended to August 20, 1866, date of President Johnson's Proclamation ending the war. 
Although some recipients may have worn some form of the ribbon, the monies necessary to mint and issue the medal were not appropriated by Congress until 1956 – 91 years after the war ended. 
Handed down in our family is a picture of five Hensley brothers and it has long been a mystery as to the date it was taken and there’s some disagreements among family members as to which brothers are pictured therein. There’s no dispute that the one on the far right is Francis Marion Hensley (my ancestor) [1841-1923].
See my previous blog posts about him:


The photograph of interest must have been taken near Muskogee, Oklahoma where he lived, and his three brothers, who lived nearby are assumed to be included: They are: James (1856-1929), Charles F. (1857-1920) and Ralph (R. M.) 1851-1921. 
The disagreement is whether the other brother in the photograph is George (1835-1912) or Marble John (1851-1923), both of whom lived in Georgia. It appears to me that the men are lined up by their ages, with the eldest (Francis Marion) on the right. If so, next to him was Ralph, Marble John (I think), James and then Charles. Francis Marion would have been about 64, with Ralph 61 and the rest in their 50s, except, Charles, the youngest, who would have been about 48. 
The date of the photograph is probably about 1905-10 and my guesstimate now is that it was taken in 1905 — the 40th anniversary of the end of the Civil War — and perhaps because of a reunion of those soldiers and the Civil War Campaign Medal, although it is not clear to me that the medal was actually available that early. 
Of course, in genealogy, nothing is always positively, 100% accurate, and I’ve been known to be wrong. If you can verify the men and the date or prove otherwise, let me know.
I'll be in a cemetery -- somewhere.


  1. Myra- Great post! But you have to explain that name: Marble John. at first I thought it was a typo but it appears twice so figure it must have been an actual name. Was that the name given to him by his parents or did he acquire it later? Never heard that one before.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Nick, we have three Marble Johns in that family, so obviously they liked the name or it had some meaning to them. I'm seeking to find the answer.