Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lost Positions and Exiles of War: Harvey Mitchell and Edward William Johnston

Two parallel updates about the impact of the American Civil War on Harvey Mitchell/Michel and Edward William Johnston. In brief, both lost their jobs during the war, and both became exiles along with their immediate families. Mitchell/Michel was reportedly replaced in his US Government job in Washington, D.C., while Johnston refused to swear an oath of allegiance as a condition of keeping his position as Librarian of the Mercantile Library in St. Louis. 

Anecdotal evidence had suggested that Harvey Mitchell/Michel died in 1863, but thanks to the research of Kellee Green Blake, there is solid evidence that he was still alive as late as February 26, 1864, the date his wife Jane Wood Johnston Michel (spelled "Mitchell" at the time of their wedding on September 25, 1832; she was born in 1811 and died in 1891) -- the younger sister of Edward William Johnston (1799-1867) and Joseph Eggleston Johnston  (1807-1891) -- discussed Harvey's plight, hers, and their yougest daughter's (almost definitely Susan Henry Mitchell, 1846-1915, who afterwards married William Taliaferro, 1840-1912).

There are also additional details related by Kellee Green Blake, Director, National Archives-Mid Atlantic Region (ret.) of Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, in her email message to me dated November 8, 2012. (I was delighted to hear from her, and am very thankful that she made contact). For instance, Jane wrote her 1864 letter from Eastville, Northampton County, Virginia (see red spot on above map for aproximate location); the original is in the Benjamin F. Butler Papers, Library of Congress. Additionally, it's stated in Jane's letter that Harvey was supplanted in his job as draughtsman, circa early in 1863. 

I discovered additional details about Edward William Johnston thanks to leads via Adam Arenson's The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War (Harvard University Press, 2011), pages 137-138 and 282-283, and "Anna and the Librarian," Opinionator, Disunion, New York Times online (January 11, 2012): http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/anna-and-the-librarian/ 

Even more will soon be revealed, hopefully, but I have already discovered the following. It turns out that Edward not only was married to a second wife after the death of his first (Marie Antionette Estelle Costar Villagrand, who died in 1848), but that they were married as of 1860; she was originally from Maryland, and they both died within days of each other in 1867. Margaret A. Johnston's vital dates: circa 1821 to circa December 11, 1867. I have not yet been able to determine if she had been previously married, when or where the wedding with Johnston took place, or what her family name was. But I am certainly intrigued by the new findings. The trick was hunting down a second 1860 census record despite a slightly mispelled name -- Edward was enumerated twice, once at work and once at home. Details forthcoming.

The bottom line: Harvey and Jane and Edward and Margaret were exiled due to the American Civil War. Harvey probably died as a result of this disaster, while Edward and Margaret probably had their lives shortened due to war-related stresses. Jane managed to live quite a while longer.

Contact Information: Erik Donald France  efrance23@gmail.com

Above map closeup derived from Charles B. Barr, Telegraph Stations in the United States, the Canadas & Nova Scotia, Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, Washington, D.C. 20540-4650.

1 comment:

  1. Update (notes): Edward married Margaret Wooley (Woolley), daughter by a first wife of Abraham (Abram) R. Wooley (Woolley), a former lieutenant colonel whose second wife was a Preston, sister of the first wife of Albert Sidney Johnston. Or so it would seem.