Monday, May 16, 2011

History Told At SCV Meeting

Sons of Confederate Veterans get history lesson
By Kim Bandura - Staff Writer
CNHI The Morehead News Tue May 10, 2011

May 9, 2011 — The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SVC) 5th Kentucky Regiment’s monthly meeting became a lesson in Civil War history as guest speaker Marti Kelly of Flemingsburg brought Confederate Capt. William Winder Monroe to life.

She and her husband, Lake Kelly, moved into the House that his great-grandfather. Captain Monroe, built in 1868, following the five generations of family before them who had lived in the house.

When the Kellys moved to the family home, Marti said “the attic, smokehouse and outbuildings were full of six generations of family history.” She said that no one threw anything away. “If they didn’t use it any longer, it got moved upstairs or out to the buildings.”

Over the years, Marti has pieced together the Civil War history the family is tied to. She has original documents, books, newspapers, letters and furniture.

Cpt. Monroe was a member of Morgan’s Offensive Guard (General John Hunt Morgan’s horseback statue is in downtown Lexington), a cavalry unit that fought its way through Kentucky.

He escorted CSA President Jefferson Davis on many occasions and was even captured by the Union and held prisoner.

Kelly has found letters written by Capt. Monroe as well as newspapers and pictures all over the house. “There are things I haven’t even opened yet because I can’t get to them.”

SCV members who attended the meeting Tuesday night were astounded to know this kind of history and memorabilia exists just next door in Fleming County. All members were eager to help Mrs. Kelly do whatever it took to get to the unopened trunks.

The SCV was organized in 1896 as a way to take care of their “literal fathers”. As veterans died, the organization took on the duties of maintaining their graves and monuments and preserving the history and legacy of the Confederate veterans.

According to SCV Kentucky 5th Infantry member Darrell Crawford, the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) would not pay for headstones of Confederate soldiers until 1914.

“They saw the Confederates as the enemy,” Crawford said. “One of the biggest projects we have is locating poorly or unmarked graves, trace the history and get a name to put on a headstone the VA provides.”

According to the group, Confederate headstones come to a point at the top, while Union headstones are curved. “This was done originally so that Union soldiers could not sit on the headstones of the Confederate veterans,” said Crawford.

The SCV has programs at the local, state and national levels, according to their national website. Preservation work, historical re-enactment and scholarly publications make up the bulk of their activities.

SCV membership is open to all men age 12 and over who have “family lines, either direct or collateral, to soldiers who served the Confederate States of America honorably during the Civil War.”