Monday, September 15, 2014

Grandpa Milford's Confederate Certificate

Happenstance. Irony. Call it whatever you like, but what happened to me on the way out to dinner the other night was nothing less than completely amazing. While on a fifteen minute car ride to, of all places, Ruby Tuesday's, I got the urge to google my second great grandfather's name, Milford Eugene Pentecost. Now, I am aware of the fact that it may seem strange to some people that I was searching for family history information on my phone, in the car, with only a couple of minutes of time to spare-but to those history lovers and genealogy obsessed, you get it. The result I came up with was a listing on ebay for Milford's original and framed C.S.A. Confederate Framed Certificate. The listing was out of Paradise Valley, Arizona...and Milford's certificate was going to the highest bidder, with a reserve price of $995. The auction had been over for almost a year, because Captain Pentecost's very rare certificate had already been sold. Here is the photo that accompanied the auction:
As you can see from the photo above, no words are necessary. This, to me, and really any descendant of any soldier, anywhere, is the find of a lifetime. I was beyond excited. Just to have this low quality picture of this document was such a gift to me, knowing that it belonged to my second great grandfather. It occurred to me that maybe, if I were a different sort of person, I might possibly harbor some anger or resentment that this heirloom, which to me was priceless, was being sold by a complete stranger to whatever bidder came up with the highest offer. I don't think you can work on your own genealogy consistently unless, at some junction early on during the infancy of your journey, that you shed yourself of entitlement. I have absolutely no feeling that I am entitled to any information, documents, ephemera or "stuff" associated with any of my family. I was blessed with Paternal Grandparents, Frank and Louise Hay Pentecost, who left me with an extensive and very well-written Pentecost genealogy entitled "There is a Tide Which..." This manuscript was handed down to me personally at a very young age, when my grandparents began to realize  I had inherited their passion for research. There are also copies filed with both the Georgia and Alabama State Archives. My own copy, still in the original green folder, is one of my greatest treasures. It shows their commitment and passion to research, all done in the late sixties and throughout the 1970's and 80's, during a time when finding any information in compiling accurate trees, was almost impossible without extensive travel to courthouses, archives and cemeteries all over the nation. They spent countless hours compiling biographies of as many Pentecost ancestors as they were able using records, but also through interviewing other family members. Below is a photo of Captain Milford Eugene Pentecost handed down to me by my Grandparents. 
Captain Milford Eugene Pentecost, Sr.
Below, is Captain Milford Eugene Pentecost biography, taken from the manuscript written by my Grandparent's:
"Milford Eugene Pentecost, was the eighth and youngest son of John Wesley and Mary Pentecost, was born in Newnan, Coweta County, Georgia, on January 5, 1833. Although he was at home with his mother and brothers in 1850, he later moved to Rome, Georgia, beginning his professional career as factor for a cotton brokerage firm. He was not married at the time of the Civil War, and enlisted in Rome on 23 August 1862 in Captain Van Den Corput's Company of the Cherokee Light Artillery, rated as Quartermaster Sergeant. On 24 January 1863, by order of General Stevenson, he was transferred to Company C, 31st regiment of the Alabama Infantry. He was captured at Vicksburg on 4 July 1863 and later that year was one of a group of exchanged prisoners. He went into winter quarters at Dalton, Georgia, and in the spring of 1864, fought in the campaign through Georgia to the Battle of Atlanta. He was honorably discharged at the time of the surrender in Greensboro, North Carolina. It has been a family legend that Milford Eugene was a witness to the "Great Locomotive Chase" which started at Big Shanty, but if this be the case, he was a civilian onlooker--not having enlisted for many months after the event took place on 12 April 1862.
Milford Eugene Pentecost was married twice; his first wife was Annie Elizabeth (Ella) Alexander, born 20 August, 1844.  They had two children, Annie Elizabeth and Milford Eugene, Jr.  Ella (Alexander) Pentecost died 11 November 1884 and is buried in the family lot in Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Rome, Georgia.  Two years later, Milford Eugene married Nora (Huff) Boyd, a young widow with a small daughter, Mary Boyd. Nora was born in Warrenton, Georgia 17 December 1858, the daughter of Isaac and Icey (Turner) Huff.  Her father had been an outstanding lawyer in Warrenton, and active in political affairs of the region.  He served during the Civil War as 1st Sergeant, Company F, 7th Battalion, Cavalry, of the Georgia State Guards.  Isaac Huff died in 1864 of illness contracted in camp, and Icey died a short time after the close of the war. Nora Huff was taken into the home of her aunt, Mrs. Mary Mandell, an older half sister of Icey.  The Mandell's daughter, Annie, and Nora were near the same age and grew up as almost sisters.  Nora was an intelligent and extremely capable young girl and received her education at Brenau College in Gainsville, Georgia. She taught school for some time before her marriage to R. J. Boyd, a Louisville, Georgia newspaperman.  He was the owner and editor of the Louisville "News & Farmer" and their wedding was one of much magnificence and a notable social event.  Though the newspaper account of their marriage predicted a long and happy marriage, events proved otherwise as Mr. Boyd died within two years, shortly before the birth of their daughter, Mary. Nora resumed her position as a teacher and cousin Annie, by then Mrs. Munnerlyn, cared for little Mary Boyd.  During a summer recess from teaching. Nora made reservations for a vacation at the famous resort hotel in Cave Springs, Georgia.  It was one of the favorite "watering places' of that era, patronized by southerners who went to "take the waters".  She and little Mary arrived at the hotel during a summer thunderstorm and one of the gentleman (who she later described as being very distinguished looking) standing on the gallery of the hotel politely offered to assist her with her luggage and the baby.  She thus became acquainted with Milford Eugene Pentecost.  After her return to Waynesboro, they kept up a correspondence which lead to their marriage in Waynesboro on 10 March 1886.

Milford Eugene Pentecost was commissioner of a cotton warehouse in Rome and it was in this city they lived for the next decade.  In 1886, he was elected President of the Stock Exchange, an affluent and outstanding person in business and social affairs in Rome.  The prosperous business of cotton trading was brought to a standstill only a short time later in the depression which developed during the Cleveland administration, and the whole country suffered severe financial reverses. In 1895, Milford Eugene Pentecost moved his family to Gadsden, Alabama, where he had received an appointment as Justice of the Peace, also holding a position on the local Board of Pensions.  As he grew older, his health declined, he was forced to retire from active business and at the age of seventy-one made application for a Confederate Pension.  The Pension was granted and continued until his death 8 April 1915.  After the death of Milford Eugene, Nora drew a Confederate Widow's Pension.  She had established a very successful magazine agency during the time of their residence in Gadsden and continued her business activities until shortly before her death on 18 November 1934. Milford Eugene and Nora Pentecost are buried in Forrest Cemetery in Gadsden, and with the exception of his daughter, Annie (Pentecost) Macgruder who is buried in Rome's Myrtle Hill Cemetery, all their children are buried near them in the same cemetery."
Beautifully, written, Captain Pentecost would be proud of the elegant words written about his life, and that they have been so generously shared with future generations. I was very blessed to have received a kind response from the ebay seller who had my great grandfathers Certificate for sale. It seems he'd already sold it, but without any hesitation, he shared the name of the buyer. He also went so far as to offer to keep a watch for any other items of the Pentecost family that he may run across, and wished me the best of luck in my quest. The buyer for the certificate was in Cartersville, Georgia. So, Milford had made his way, through his certificate, almost home...from Rome, Georgia, to Gadsden, Alabama to Arizona and now almost full circle back to where it all began in Rome. Quite ironic. Saying a little prayer for this next owner of Milford's certificate to be a kind as the first, I went to work to uncover the mystery of how this treasure ended up in Arizona.
Working under the assumption that the eldest child usually inherits the family photos, documents, etc. I went down through the family tree to Captain Milford Pentecost's oldest son, Milford Eugene Pentecost, Jr. (1875-1960). Now, I recalled that my grandparent's had spoken fondly of Milford Jr. They were both extremely grateful for his willingness to share the family bible, allow them to copy old documents and photos, and especially for his the wonderful memories and family stories.Milford Jr's oldest son was named Milford Morrow Pentecost (1907-1996) and he was born in Gadsden, Alabama  and died in Sun City, Maricopa, Arizona. BINGO! It seems Milford Morrow Pentecost married a Ruth Tuckey, originally from Maricopa, and just as a sidenote, she was a golf pro and President of the Arizona Women's Golf Association in 1960. Milford Morrow passed away in 1996, and at that time, he and Ruth were childless. Ruth died in Oregon, at the age of ninety in 2003. It's easy to see how the certificate most likely fell into the hands of people on the outside of Captain Milford Eugene Pentecost's family, and in Arizona.

I heard back from the buyer who purchased the certificate in Cartersville, Georgia. He was as willing to help as the seller on ebay he purchased it from, but unfortunately he'd sold the certificate almost immediately at a Civil War memorabilia show. I am very grateful for both of these kind men in answering my emails quickly and exhibiting such empathy, and a true willingness to help. It truly was a pleasure speaking with them both.
It is unfortunate that the certificate has once again disappeared, but I have to be very grateful that I got the one photo of it-and that maybe there is a  chance it may reappear again!
Lots of lessons are learned here. The first, and most important, is to make certain important family heirlooms are securely in the hands of family members with a true love for genealogy and preserving the integrity of those heirlooms. Write it in your will, leave a notarized letter with another family member in regards to your wishes, at the very least, label the heirloom with the name of the intended recipient. If you aren't able to do that, pass the item on. At the very least, find out if there is one person in your family with a love for genealogy, and a selfless spirit for photographing, documenting, sharing the item, whatever it may be, with other family members.

The discovery of the existence of this certificate sent me on a very enjoyable and interesting journey, and I look forward to knowing more about Grandpa Milford in the future! I really, really wish I could have known him!

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