Sunday, October 5, 2008

A confederate soldier's journey

Former Easton councilwoman Carole Heffley visits the grave of Conferderate Army officer Harry W. Coleman in Easton Thursday. Research by Heffley uncovered how the soldier ended up so far from his Mississippi home. (Kevin Mingora, Allentown Morning Call / October 2, 2008)
Research uncovers how he ended up in Easton Cemetery.
By Michael Duck Of The Morning Call
October 3, 2008

Harry W. Coleman, an 18-year-old Confederate Army officer, has lain for a nearly a century and a half in Easton Cemetery -- deep in Union territory, apart from anyone he knew in his life and more than a thousand miles from his home in Mississippi.Uncovering how he ended up in Easton took six months of sleuthing by Carole Heffley, a former city councilwoman and amateur historian, with help from researchers across the country. What she unearthed, she said, is a saga of a family divided, prisoners of war, loyalty, politics and passion.''It's better than 'Gone with the Wind' -- because it's all true,'' said Heffley, who now splits her time between homes in Wellsboro, in Tioga County, and Stokesdale, N.C.Heffley will join fellow historians today for a noon presentation at Easton Area Public Library and to pay respects at the Confederate soldier's nearby gravesite
Related links
Coleman grave Photo
''I dream about Harry, for Pete's sake,'' she said, laughing. ''It's been my morning, noon and night.''Easton Cemetery superintendent Wayne Unangst said he had no idea who Coleman was before Heffley contacted him.Amateur historian Richard Hope of Easton said he's surprised more Confederate soldiers aren't buried here. ''Not everybody in Easton was a gung-ho Northern supporter,'' he said, noting that at least two local newspapers were cool to the Union's cause.Heffley had heard years ago that a Confederate soldier was in the cemetery, but she didn't dig into the history until she began researching an article for ''Easton Is Home: Historic Edition,'' a publication she used to own and to which she still contributes.Heffley learned Coleman joined the Confederate Army three days after his 15th birthday. He served alongside two of his brothers, including his flamboyant older brother James. The elder Coleman, also an officer, later escaped from a Union POW camp -- so that he could be with his fiancee, according to Heffley.Harry Coleman, however, remained behind as a POW. He was passed from one POW camp to another, refusing to renounce the Confederacy, Heffley said.Meanwhile, Harry's sister Frances had met a rising young New Jersey politician named Theodore Fitz Randolph, who married her and brought her back to the North, Heffley said.In 1865, Harry Coleman died of pneumonia while held at Fort Delaware, about 45 miles below Philadelphia. Randolph received his body and buried him in Easton, where Randolph's father was a businessman.Randolph went on to become New Jersey's governor in 1869 and then a U.S. Senator. He and Coleman's sister were later buried in Morristown, N.J.''It was just unreal to find out all of this,'' said Heffley, who relied on sources from the Sons of Confederate Veterans to Louisiana State University researchers in piecing together the story for a new booklet she's unveiling at the library today.Heffley she said she hasn't found any living relatives of
Copyright © 2008, The Morning Call

No comments: