Travels to Research a
Civil War Book
by Mary Emma Allen
Assisting my Cousin Steve
in researching a book about our Civil War ancestor,
Henry Ira Banks, has been a fascinating journey.
The book, The Legacy Road by Steve
Enyeart, recently was released. By combining our
research and his travels, Steve has written a very
informative blog and book about our ancestor and the
Civil War era.
Henry Ira Banks served in the Union Army, and Steve had acquired
the bible Uncle Henry carried with him during the war. This
piqued Steve's interest in discovering more about his ancestor.
He learned, from something I'd written online, that I was
descended from Henry Ira, too, so contacted me.
I grew up near Uncle Henry
Ira's birthplace in New York State and knew about him from
delving into my grandmother's family history, as well as
discovering letters he'd written from the battlefields.
(Grandma was Henry Ira's niece.) As I researched the Banks
family, I learned that Henry Ira's father drowned when Henry was
young, leaving his mother with five young boys and four older
children. His mother, Cynthia Banks, eventually moved to
western Illinois with the younger boys. My great grandfather,
Willis Banks, was older and stayed behind in Pawling, NY.
Steve is descended from
David Irish Banks, one of the brothers who grew up in Illinois
Through additional research
and the letters I discovered, Steve traced Uncle Henry's route
during the war. Then Steve actually visited many of the
battlefields where Henry and his fellow soldiers camped and
fought. On his blog,
Steve relates his travels and discoveries in his search for
Uncle Henry Ira.
He corresponded with people
living at Henry's birthplace, connected with the nearby
historical society, met our Cousin Dee in Colorado, who is
descended from another brother who went west, explored Henry's
homestead in Kansas, and found his grave site in Baird, TX. The
grave was unmarked, so Steve was successful in acquiring a
gravestone for it.
Then he made several
journeys to various places where Henry's travels with the Union
Army took him. To get the feel of what these soldiers might
have experienced, Steve also participated in a reenactment.
Following Uncle Henry Ira's
trail has been a fascinating journey for me,too. Even though I
didn't physically walk over the battlefields and visit the
western sites associated with our ancestor, I've enjoyed
providing information where I could and reading about Steve's
travels. It's always interesting to meet new cousins and learn
more about our common ancestors.
Photo Credit Kathleen Walls
I did visit the Resaca
Battlefield and Kennesaw Mountain several years ago in search of
another of my grandmother's uncles, this one on her mother's
side. George Mathewson fought there and was buried at the
nearby Union Cemetery in Marietta, GA. I recall the
satisfaction of finding his name on a marker, so could relate to
Steve's excitement in locating Uncle Henry's grave. My
Great-great grandmother Eliza regretted that she never saw
George's grave. So I somewhat felt I made the journey for her.
Steve describes his journey
to the Resaca and Kennesaw Mountain, as well as other areas in
search of Uncle Henry Ira. I must compare dates and battles and
see if both of my grandmother's uncles were at that area the
|Actual Kennesaw Battle Site
Photo Credit Kathleen Walls
Whether you're researching
your ancestors, seeking information for a book or article,or
simply broadening your knowledge, including travel in your
search can give more depth to your work and provide enjoyment
for yourself. Reading Steve's book will give you "armchair"
pleasure as you follow his travels.
Steve Enyeart's book,
The Legacy Road, is available at bookstores online.
(c)2015 Mary Emma Allen
(Mary Emma Allen writes
from her woodland home in New Hampshire and during her travels.
She does a great deal of researching and writing about her
family history and conducts workshops to help others with
theirs. Currently she and her daughter are compiling a family
Ads fund American Roads so please consider them for your needed
If you enjoy the articles we offer, donations
are always welcome.