Monday, June 14, 2010

Comments on "Shhhhhhhhhh!, Let's not talk about this. . ."

by Terry Thornton

I recently received two Anonymous comments to the previous article, "Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! Let's not talk about this. . ." Because my response to Anon 1 was too long to be included in the comment section, I've elected to respond to both Anon 1 and Anon 2 in a separate article below.
From Anonymous 1:

Thanks for sharing your family history,my family was Hush,Hush on everything and visited mainly with immediate family members.

I also found my great great grandfather Amaziah Stafford was a soldier on both sides in the war. I wish the family had passed this info down and the reasons leading up to it instead of being ashamed of family history.
Dear Anonymous 1,

Generally I don't post anonymous comments unless I have some knowledge of who and where you are --- but in your case I'm making an exception. I had no information before your comment was received about anyone with the name AMAZIAH STAFFORD.

It is a shame that much of Amaziah Stafford's history may be lost because of the "hush, hush" and the "Shhhhhh! Let's not talk about this" syndrome which seems to have afflicted many families in our nation because of conflicting loyalties during and after the Civil War. My Alabama/Mississippi family simply didn't talk about four brothers who served in the Union. Certainly they didn't speak about the fact that three of the four joined first the Confederacy and then switched sides. I am of the opinion that survival was the major reason so many Southern families scattered after the war years and the reconstruction years were over. And scatter they did with "Hush and Shhhhh" necessary to not call attention to themselves.

Did the enlistment bounty paid by the North entice these men to voluntarily join the USA forces? Did political conviction, patriotism and loyalty to the Union play a role in the decision of a native born Southerner to take up arms for the North? Painful decisions were made by many --- and for untold numbers, personal decisions made during wartime meant that in peacetime, many intra-family battles continued to be fought.

In the Hill County of Northwest Alabama and Northeast Mississippi, it is not unusual to find USA and CSA veterans of the Civil War buried as neighbors in death. It is a shame that members of some families couldn't live as neighbors to their own kin when the war ended.

I am sorry your STAFFORD family didn't talk of Amaziah Stafford's service to the United States of America and of his service to the Confederate States of America. Family history told on the pages of the Stafford Family GenForum has many references to Amaziah Stafford --- and while that information is for the most part undocumented, the words there give a brief outline of Stafford's life. Here is a summary of that information.

AMAZIAH STAFFORD, born 1827, died 1910 and is buried in Maxey Cemetery, Smithville, Monroe County, Mississippi (the only cemetery index I find of Maxey does not list Amaziah Stafford although several of his family are buried there).

According to unconfirmed information at, Amaziah Stafford was the son of John and Jennie Gilmore Stafford. Also at are several copies of a photograph said to be of Amaziah Stafford.

Amaziah Stafford married Mary J. Osborn, August 25, 1849, Itawamba County, Mississippi according to documents available online at the webpages of the Itawamba Historical Society. Mary J. is said to be the daughter of Joel Abram Osborn and Mary Massengale Osborn. She was the granddaughter of an early settler of Hill County, Reddick Massengale.

The 1860 and the 1900 Federal Census reports of Itawamba County, Mississippi, shows that Amaziah Stafford was a farmer. In 1860, his household was enumerated in the Tremont precinct and consisted of Amaziah, 30; Mary, 28; Jane, 10; Martha, 8; Nancy, 6; Andrew J., 4; and William, 2. The 1900 household in Beat 4 of Itawamba County includes only Amaziah, 73 and Mary, 71. (Census information transcribed from the images available through Heritage Quest online courtesy of the Lee-Itawamba County Library System.)

According to information available online through the Itawamba Historical Society, Amaziah Stafford served in the 43rd Regiment, Mississippi Infantry, CSA and Amaziah Stafford served in the 33rd Regiment, Indiana Infantry USA. He was a Private in both armies.

Through various postings at the Stafford Family GenForum, it can be surmised that Amaziah and Mary J. Osborn Stafford had at least five children and Marietta is mentioned as the name of a sixth child. Marietta, according to family lore posted on-line, was the daughter born during the period when Mr. Stafford was in the CSA in Marietta Georgia --- and a letter from Mr. Stafford is cited as the source of her name. He was in Marietta when he got word of his daughter's birth --- and he wrote home requesting that she be named Marietta.

According to some of the GenForum posts, others list the children in the family of Amaziah and Mary J. Osborn Stafford as George Washington Stafford, Martha Stafford, Jane Stafford, Nancy Stafford, Andrew James Stafford, and John Johnson Stafford.

One comment at the Stafford Family GenForum notes that part of Mr. Stafford's family referred to him as "The Snake" because of his service in the army of the United States.

Please note, however, that I have not verified any of this information except for the marriage names, date, and location; the military service of Private Stafford; and the 1860 and 1900 census reports of the Itawamba County Mississippi household of Amaziah Stafford.. Your comment to "Shhhhhhhhhhhh! Let's not talk about this . . ." is most appreciated. It is my sincere wish that you continue to document Amaziah Stafford's service to both his countries, the North and the South --- the Union and the Confederacy.

And further, I'd most appreciate learning the burial place of Amaziah Stafford.
From Anonymous 2:

Fascinating history. If you lived in Alabama you would have learned about the divided loyalties of North West Alabama and the "Free State of Winston." It was always part of our Alabama history. It is not surprising to me that loyalties would be divided. During the American Revolution there were @1/3 Patriots; 1/3 Loyalists, and 1/3 undecided. Some People in the North during the WBTS also supported the Southern Cause and some did not think Lincoln should have called for the 75,000 troops to force the South to stay in the Union. Some of those people were imprisoned for their beliefs, newspaper editors were arrested and some newspapers shut down. It is just an ugly history all the way around.
Dear Anon 2,

Little attention was given in any of my public education to Southern Unionism. The public education I received (beginning in 1945 and ending in 1957) made no mention of anything except the solidarity of the Confederacy. I had to be an adult to learn about this important part of our heritage --- and there are still numerous family members who say "Shhhh, let's not talk about this ". The war was horrible in the so-called Freedom Hills area of Alabama and Mississippi --- neighbors were indeed fighting and killing neighbors --- and much of it was done by para-military organizations. Had it not been for a harmless childhood game played in the cemetery at New Hope Cemetery, I wonder if I'd have ever inquired about the cracks in the solidarity of the South. Little is mentioned that during the war entire families from the Hills of Alabama just along the Mississippi border were transported to Northern States for their safekeeping. And I'm of the opinion that information is still suppressed about the extent of Southern Unionism especially in Northeast Mississippi. I'm glad you had knowledge of the "Tories of the Hills." I agree completely with your statement "it is just an ugly history all the way around" and think that is more the reason why Southern Unionism should be widely discussed. I think Northern Confederates should also be documented and discussed.

Thank you both for your comments to "Shhhhhhhhhhhh! Let's not talk about this. . ."

Terry Thornton
Fulton, Mississippi


Dorene from Ohio said...


Due to time constraints, I have not yet fully "digested" all the facts in your post or in the comments yet...but it looks to me like you are sharing history in a very honest way...and also opening up dialogue....and in the process making us all the wiser! Thanks!

And I will read your post thoroughly.....!

Terry Thornton said...

Thanks Dorene. I most appreciate your comments.

Terry Thornton
Fulton, Mississippi

Mona Robinson Mills said...


I loved your "Shhhhhhhh!" post and don't know how I missed it the first time around. Like you, my education indicated nothing but an undivided South, totally united in their opposition to the "Northern aggression." Genealogical research has really opened my eyes, and I've found brothers fighting against brothers and cousins against cousins in several of my families. It was a Civil War in their own backyards, not at far-away Manassas, Chickamauga, Atlanta or Gettysburg.

Another incorrect perception learned from my history classes is that the Revolutionary War was primarily fought in New England. Boy, was I surprised to find out that more battles were fought in South Carolina than any other colony! Many of these battles had brothers fighting against brothers, cousins and neighbors, as I've found among my families. It was a Civil War 85 years earlier.

Thanks again for the great article.

Mona Mills
Oxford, MS

Terry Thornton said...

Thank you, Mona, for your kind words. Indeed the Civil War involved families from Hill Country fighting each other --- the tombstones and military markers in the graveyards of our region show numerous Southern Unionists buried alongside their Southern Confederate kin. It is a chapter of our heritage that used "revisionism" in our history --- and, as you have discovered in the genealogical research, the Civil War was in our hills and backyards and around the courthouse square. This history needs to be properly told in my humble opinion.

Terry Thornton
Fulton, Mississippi

Anonymous said...

Eric Foner's Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution
(or the abridged A short history of reconstruction) helped me place the "shhh..." attitude in context. There was an ongoing price to pay for dissenters (or those associated with Unionism or Republican Reconstruction governments) in the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction era. I think 1865-1965 is the real "shhh" factor because that period of history deals with people who have more directly touched our lives.