Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Robert E. Lee

Capt. James DeGraffenreid Miles
7th Texas Infantry, CSA
of Lowndes County, Alabama, Freestone and Navarro Counties, Texas
Ellen L. Day Miles
Russell County, Alabama -Freestone and Navarro counties, Texas
wife of James DeGraffenreid Miles

Unknown Miles
Possibly a brother of James DeGraffenreid Miles

Sister of James DeGraffenreid Miles
children of Aquilla and Sarah Perkins Davis Miles
Lowndes County, Alabama
Family Photos
I'll bet that a lot of people are not even aware that today is General Robert E. Lee's birthday. I had not heard a word about it, until my daughter told me. I looked it up and, sure enough, his birthday is January 19, 1807. It's a shame that his day is not being observed anymore.
Vin advised me that in Texas, it is also Confederate Heroes Day Janeane also told me that, in Alabama, it is , officially, King/Lee Day.
I've been reading a very thick biography of Lee for a few years now. Reading has been pushed in the background in favor of drawing and writing, lately. It is interesting, but I don't get very many pages read before I have to do something else, it seems.
I found it especially interesting to read that he had been in Texas, of course. His trips that involved going along the Gulf Coast and stopping in Port Lavaca was also of interest.
He was certainly a talented man with his work in engineering and other areas.
I don't have any personal photos of Lee, but I always heard that, somehow, we were related to Light Horse Harry Lee. I don't have any proof of that, of course, but it's what my mother told me. Since I wasn't all that interested in history back then, I didn't try to find out more. Maybe one of these days, I'll find answers to the many questions that I have now.
I thought that, since I don't have anything personal on Robert E. Lee, I would share some ambrotypes and tin types that I have from the Civil War era. While J.D. Miles, shown at the top, did not serve directly under Lee, he was with another group when Lee surrendered. Another dark day in history. Miles was a captain in the 7th Texas Infantry, out of Freestone county. He had quite a career and life, going from Alabama to Texas. The top photo is an ambrotype of J.D. Miles Sr. (His son, my grandfather was J.D. Miles Jr. ) I have cleaned up the photo some on the computer, but I wanted to show the little frame, typical of the small pictures that people had made during that time, that is around the picture. All of these pictures on glass are in a little frame that has a cover to it.
The second picture is of Ellen L. Day Miles. This is a rather large tin type. The oval that you see on it is where it was once in a frame. I do have the frame, but I don't know if I should put those delicate tin types out in the open. They are in a box, in the dark, now. I did have some copies made that are what I put in frames.
I have wondered if this is a wedding picture of Ellen. There is a matching tin type of J.D. Miles, her husband, but it doesn't have as much color as this one. Ellen's mother, Lucretia Vann , married William Wiley Day, and they lived in Russell County, Alabama. Lucretia was part Cherokee, of the Vann family in Georgia. You can see the restored Vann Plantation online through Cherokee By Blood, and also on the website of the historical plantation.
Ellen and J.D. were a nice looking couple. He was said to be a wonderful man, too.
The third photo is a damaged ambrotype. I can't tell who this man is. But doesn't he have on a jazzy tie, compared to what you usually see!
Possibly, he was a brother to J.D. Miles. You can't see his face well enough to identify him. Something about him, though, makes me wonder if he could be someone from Ellen's family. I think it is the hair, or maybe I am totally wrong. His jaw area looks a lot like Aquilla, the father of the family. Probably it would stand to reason that these are all members of the Miles family. There is one more ambrotype that was in the same box and it is totally gone. Just a blank piece of glass. Another had just two eyes left on it.
J.D. had 3 brothers, all of whom served in the Confederate Army, as did the men who married the Miles girls. Of course, they were all from Alabama and Georgia. Wish I could find pictures of that whole family and their home in Lowndes county. I was told that it is still there.
The last picture is borrowed from Robbie Lee Gillis Ross(named for Robert E. Lee, of course!). Mrs. Ross died a few years ago and I really wish that I could get in touch with her daughter in North Carolina. Mrs. Ross wrote 3 wonderful family history books, "Your Inheritance", the second of which included our Miles family. Josephine Miles Gillis was Mrs. Ross' grandmother and I feel sure that there were photos and information not included in the book that would answer some questions and add to what I have on the family.
My mother corresponded with Mrs. Ross while she was writing her book and they shared information. One of the things they shared was the journal that Josephine kept just before, during, and shortly after the Civil War. Actually, this was the 6th journal that Josephine kept. The others were lost when she and her Methodist preacher husband were moving. Their wagon overturned in a creek and they lost a lot of things including the previous journals. The only one saved was the one she was working on, which happened to be in her purse. Wouldn't that have been something to have all those journals today!
Mrs. Ross donated the journal to the Alabama Department of Archives and History along with her author's notes and her book. I was so thrilled to be able to obtain a copy from the ADAH, with the notes. I've read it several times, although it is a bit hard to read due to the script.
Josephine was called "Joe", which reminded me of Jo in "Little Women". She liked to write, too.
I would recommend that journal as almost required reading. I could just picture the people, the places, and the events as I read it. After my mother read the journal, she insisted that I read the copy that Mrs. Ross let us borrow. She said that it sounded just like the way that I write!
It certainly gives a look at life in the south. Besides the copy of the journal, I have a copy of "Your Inheritance" Vol. II, which I use a lot. Very interesting and so much more than just dry names, dates, and facts.
Josephine was a beautiful lady from her picture. Tragically, she died, probably from the results of malnutrition after her second son was born, at the age of 29, shortly after the Civil War. She was able to write in her journal until a few days before her death.
Unfortunately, we have been told that the ADAH is cutting out its Saturday hours and some research services, and letting some employees go. I hate to hear that. I haven't used them much, but thought that I might at some time in the future. I was very pleased with finding Josephine's journal and their help in getting a copy. I'm sure that there is much more there.
Today I'm thinking of Robert E. Lee, his namesake, Robbie Lee Gillis Ross, their places in history, and my own family from those times past.
Congratulations to former Bryan resident, Raini Rodriguez, on her career as an actress. Be sure to go out and see her in her latest movie, "Paul Blart: Mall Cop". Teenage Raini plays the part of Kevin James' daughter in the movie. She was in Bryan for the opening of the movie. Look on the KBTX website to see a bit more about Raini. Her little brother, Rico, plays "Little Guillermo" on Jimmy Kimmel's tv program. It's great that Raini is giving Bryan some good publicity!
And a big congratulations to Virginia Vaughan who is a finalist for Texas State Artist for 2009-2010. See her blog and website for all her news. That's a big thing to make it to finalist. Hope she wins!

1 comment:

limbowalker said...

Hello, just wanted to say I enjoyed reading this post. Yes Aunt Bobby (Robbie Lee Ross) was a great woman. My name is Norman Macleod Gillis, I have one of the original journals, and some other papers from Aunt Bobby. Unfortunately I am on the wrong side of the country to get to them at this time. My email is