On Wednesday of this week, I spent an evening in Manhattan with the Civil War Forum of Metropolitan New York about Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs. On the Saturday prior, I spent time in Burlington, North Carolina, with the North Carolina Civil War Roundtable—the oldest roundtable in the state—speaking about the last days of Stonewall Jackson.
As part of that visit to North Carolina, I had the pleasure of having dinner with Bill and Corty Freeman. Corty is one of Stonewall Jackson’s great-great granddaughters.
Corty was one of four children born to Elizabeth Cortland Preston (Jackson’s great-granddaughter) and John Creech.
Elizabeth’s mother was Julia Jackson Christian (Jackson’s granddaughter), who had married Edmund Randolph Preston.
Julia Jackson Christian’s mother was Julia Laura Jackson (Jackson’s daughter), who had married William Edmund Christian. Julia and William also had a younger son, Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian. Julia was 22 when she married William. She died only a few years later, at the age of 26.
Mary Anna raised her granddaughter, Julia. “My grandmother remembered being there when they dedicated the statue to my great-great grandfather at his gravesite,” Corty told me. The statue, sculpted by Edward Valentine, stands over Jackson’s grave in Lexington, Virginia. It was dedicated on July 21, 1891, on the anniversary of the battle of First Manassas. “My grandmother was four,” Corty said.
Corty takes her own grandchildren to Lexington, where she has roots not only through her Jackson lineage but also through the Prestons. “I feel connected there,” Corty told me. “I want to share that sense of place with my grandchildren.”
(For more on Jackson’s ancestors and descendants, check out this page from Ancestry.com, courtesy of VMI.)
Also as part of my visit to Burlington, I had the treat of meeting one of ECW’s longtime readers, the wonderful Amanda Warren. It was so nice to put a face to her name after all this time.
I know several of my ECW colleagues have also been on the road over the past couple of months. I know we all feel the same way: it’s immensely gratifying to get out and about to meet so many great people who are eager to hear great stories. While we all love to write, most of us come from public history backgrounds that have put us in close contact with the public—and that’s something that never quite leaves you once you’ve done it. Feel free to check out our speakers bureau or e-mail us for information about our availability.