I keep stumbling upon stories that make me think I may have to buckle down, do the research, and write a Civil War novel one of these days.
Last week I learned about Sarah Brandon, known as the “Mother of the Civil War.” I don’t think it’s the most apt nickname, but I didn’t get to choose. She lived in southern Ohio just across the WV state line from Moundsville and her claim to fame is having had 16 (SIXTEEN!!) sons fight in the Civil War. Of course, there were 23 (TWENTY-THREE!!) children in total and only ONE was a girl. Whoo-wee!
But the Civil War aspect isn’t what intrigues me most. It’s the sheer, raw character that Sarah Brandon presents. Here are a few bits and pieces gleaned from newspaper accounts:
- She allegedly lived to be 113, although a birth record is hard to come by.
- At the age of 15, she married a man who already had TEN children.
- In all, she outlived THREE husbands even though she was the one who must have been pregnant pretty much all the time.
- Her sons were described as “Large, rugged men, noted for their strength, stamina, and endurance.”
- Near the end of her life she lived in a cabin with her son Evan who was known as an expert wood craftsman as well as reckless and adventurous (he was in his 70s by then).
- Even when she was supposed to be more than 100 years old, Sarah would walk the mile to town regularly. Perhaps to buy the strong “scrap” tobacco she smoked in her pipe. She was quoted as saying, “Life without my pipe would not be worth living.”
- She was blind in one eye since childhood. Her then 11-year-old brother shot her right eye out with a bow and arrow.
I mean c’mon. You can’t make up stories this good!