Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - William Edward Dark

William Edward Dark's grave marker

William Edward Dark was my maternal great-great-grandfather.  He was one of those ancestors you love to find, a real character with loads of documentation!  William served the Confederacy as a  courier directly for Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. He was with Gen. Johnston at the Battle of Atlanta and several other engagements in which the gray-clad Confederates tried to halt Sherman's march to the sea through Georgia.  You can tell by his birth date that he was very young, indeed, when he served!  When he died at age 93, he was the last surviving confederate veteran in Winn Parish, Louisiana.

Excerpt from "Four Confederate Veterans Debate on Presidential Nominees Tuesday"

Mr. W.E. Dark, who wore the Confederate veteran uniform and who displayed more badges to national reunions than any other veteran present, is secretary of the Winnfield Camp 1703. He was courier during the war and served in the Twenty-Six Georgia Battalion. Mr. Dark took part in many of the major engagements in Georgia and Tennessee. He was in Atlanta when Sherman had surrounded the city, but he got out of the city while General Hardee held the Federals.

"As a courier, I didn't do so much fighting," Mr. Dark said in relating thrilling experiences during the war. "I was usually on the run."
"I was too good at dodging bullets to get shot," Mr. Dark added, his eyes twinkling. "But I never will forget the time I ate a dispatch. I had a dispatch to deliver to General Von Zinkins at Corinth. I was riding on the top of a train from Iuka, Miss., to Corinth. We saw some horse soldiers ahead of us and thinking that we were about to be surrounded by the enemy, I was ordered by my superior officer to destroy my dispatch. The only way was to eat it. How I did it, I do not know, but that was one message that was not delivered. The enemy proved to be some of our own men, and I had some explaining to do when we reached Corinth."
Mr. Dark has been married three times and is the father of 22 children. He has seventy-five grandchildren. His youngest children are twin girls, seventeen years old.
Apparently, Mr. Dark was quite well known as a dancer, as well!  Several articles describe his "Clog Dance" at many confederate reunions:

The following article was taken from "The Shreveport Times," a Saturday morning issue, dated 8 November 1924.

     Meet the champion heel-shaker of the old veterans.  W.E. Dark, who, despite his 77 years, can jig and cut capers that would make modern terpsichorean artists look to their laurels.

      Dark attended the reunion of the Louisiana U.C.V. here Wednesday and Thursday and after he had demonstrated his dancing proclivities, was informily[sic] declared the champion dancer of the reunion.  Dark also won honors as the "sheik" of the reunion.  The way he had the feminine members of the entertainment committee pay him homage made him the envy of many.  The major rarely appeared without two of the fairest of the fair holding his arms and he even stole a few kisses in the Youree hotel lobby, but nobody objected.

     Dark, who, by the way, is a major on the division commander's staff and is fully entitled to the title, had an odd experience Thursday at the hotel.  He met a man by the name of Light.  Both had a big laugh. 

      Incidentally, Major Dark is the father of 22 children, 14 of whom are living, has been married three times and has so many grandchildren he has lost track of all of them.

     "It would take a month to check 'em up and I have never taken the trouble." he declared.  He also has several great-grandchildren.

      During the Civil War, Major Dark enlisted when 16 years old and served with the 26th Georgia Infantry under General Johnston.

     Major Dark is still vigorous and works regularlly[sic] on his farm near Dodson, LA, where he has resided many years.  He is a member of David Pierson Camp, U.C.V. of Winnfield.

What a character!  I'm sad I live too late to have ever met the man, he sounds like a party waiting to happen...

Tombstone Tuesday – To participate in Tombstone Tuesday simply create a post which includes an image of a gravestone of one or more ancestors and it may also include a brief description of the image or the ancestor. This is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.