Haunted by family history. And then I baked some more.

Having survived the zombie Mayan apocalypse, or whatever it was that was supposed to happen, a girl’s thoughts turn to Christmas. And the fact it’s, well, tomorrow.

The Hubs has a membership to ancestry.com, which started out as a trial membership that he “forgot” to cancel. He’s been digging in the deep recesses of our family trees and was excited, nay, overjoyed to discover he has ancestors who fought in the civil war. Up until this discovery, he was under the impression his family was too new to the US to have been in the war. He requested military records from the National Archives so we could learn more about a family member who, along with his brother, was in the 139th PA Volunteer Infantry. You may recall in Gettysburg visits past, I scaled a fence so we could snap a pic of the 139th’s monument.

The records came this week.

It was eerie. Photocopies of paperwork filed almost 150 years ago, in carefully lettered script. Pay sheets. Roll call sheets.

His name was Jacob. He was 35 years old and had a fair complexion with light hair. He had blue eyes. He went into the regimental hospital on April 10, 1863. He died April 15, 1863. He had a haversack, a flannel shirt, and trousers, all deemed worn out and subsequently burned.

All of a sudden, he became a person. He wasn’t just a name anymore. He was a farmer, 5’10” with blue eyes and a family. He had a brother, Alexander, who eventually would fight at Gettysburg.

And on Christmas 1863, his family had a vacant chair.


There’s things for me, personally, that bring the past to life and more tangible than just pictures (oddly enough). Like, walking through Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg and seeing the graves of people I’ve read about: the Trostles, the Culps, Jennie Wade, the Zieglers. Jacob had blue eyes.

It’s nagged at my mind since we got the records. First, I write an entire chapter and part of another in my novel.

Then I baked cookies. Then I promptly baked some more.

The first cookies baked and consumed en masse were Rolo stuffed sugar cookies:


The gooey caramel and chocolate deliciousness made them marginally difficult to remove from the pan, as demonstrated by the cookie lump in the center. I did my good duty as a wife and mother and scarfed those…three or four…up. Unfortunately melty caramel is also liquid hot magma in your mouth, so I was discovered when I mumbled/shrieked, “It’s sooo good but soooo hot.” Which probably sounded like, “it’s mmmmmm gmmmm but smmmmm mmmmott!”

Tonight I made York peppermint patty fudge cookies:


Needless to say, I’ll be jogging a lot this week.

On that note, I’m off to make seven gallons of frosting and frost an egg nog cake. Then unload some presents. Maybe drink some wine.

Whatever you are doing tonight and tomorrow, friends, have a great holiday! Be blessed.


1 Comment

  1. The first part of this post reminded me of something I wrote for Veteran’s Day this year. It’s also about a relative I didn’t know – a French soldier in WWI. http://darlenecraviotto.com/2012/11/10/remembering/. I’m also fascinated by the Civil War but I always thought that none of my ancestors fought in the war because I come from a family of post Civil War immigrants. But while reading your post I realized that some of my mother’s people were actually here in the U.S. during that period. I’m excited to think that I can now do some research that may lead me to some distant ancestor who fought in the Civil War. Thanks for writing this post!

    The cookies look delicious!

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