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> Civil War soldier's diary going home
Shanifaye
post Mar 22 2008, 04:11 PM
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http://www.columbian.com/news/localNews/20...-going-home.cfm

QUOTE
Friday, March 21, 2008
By Dean Baker, Columbian staff writer


While sorting through his late aunt’s effects in Downey, Calif., Mitch Hammontree found a leather-bound book, which he was amazed to discover was the diary of a Confederate soldier.


Now, after a lot of research, Hammontree and his wife, Cindy, have decided to take the diary back to where it was written in Savannah, Ga., more than 140 years ago. Next week, they will hand the little book over to the descendants of the soldier, A.S. Quarterman.


The Washougal couple found the relatives using the Internet and the telephone.


“They have treated us like family,” said Hammontree, 53, a businessman who plans to open a Quiznos sandwich shop at The Crossing, the new development in Washougal, in May.


He also found among his aunt’s effects some letters from his father, who served with Gen. George S. Patton in World War II, including the Battle of the Bulge.

But, he said, the greatest prize was the Confederate soldier’s record.

“It’s really fascinating when you can touch something like this and say, gosh, that’s part of my family history and the history of the country as a whole,” said Hammontree, an avid genealogical researcher.

The diarist, Quarterman, was a member of a family that had been prominent in Walthourville, Ga., which is near Savannah, beginning in 1630.

Quarterman kept accounts of the famous Liberty Mounted Rangers through the war, and later apparently acted as a quartermaster for Mount Pleasant plantation near Savannah, recording the “pay” he gave to freed slaves in goods such as rice, corn and pork. The book also lists members of the Rangers, crossing off several names and listing them as “dead.”

At one point in the diary, which consists mainly of transaction records and lists of names, Quarterman either copied a piece of poetic prose or wrote it himself. On Sept. 2, 1863, he wrote:

“Vain, vain is every scheme of man, regarding the future. Fate stands behind the door and laughs, while lovers hold their plots. Half their schemes are needless and the other half often prove impracticable. …”

The diary was wrapped a yellowing scrap of paper and tucked into a plastic bag, Hammontree said.

“My aunt had been an accountant and she was meticulous,” he said. “She had gotten all the things from my grandparents’ house when they died, and she had newspapers from way back. She was a pack rat.”

Hammontree figures his grandfather, also named Mitchell Hammontree and a resident of Maryville, Tenn., had gotten the diary through his adopted father, a man named Lambert, who may have befriended Quarterman or a member of his family after the war.

A soldier named Lambert was among the men listed in the diary, and Hammontree’s grandfather was adopted and raised by a family named Lambert after his own parents died.

Finding the Quartermans

There is no way to know how the diary came to be in his aunt Ruth Hammontree’s hands, he said. But he was able to trace the Quarterman lineage over the Internet and by telephoning the many Quartermans in the Savannah area.

Finally, he found Elton and Joan Quarterman. Elton Quarterman explained that his great-great-great grandfather was Keith Axon Quarterman, the brother of A.S. Quarterman. Keith Axon Quarterman was a surgeon in the Confederate Army. The brothers are buried next to each other in Georgia.

After tracking down the modern Quartermans, the Hammontrees took their son, Kyle, now a senior at Washougal High School, to Georgia where the Quartermans rolled out the red carpet for them.

“At first they wanted to know what I wanted to charge them for the diary,” he said. “But I said, ‘I’m not in this for the money. I’m going to give it to you.’ ’’
So, the Quartermans invited them to supper with 50 members of their clan.

Hammontree couldn’t give the diary to them right away because his aunt died without a will, he explained. But now that his aunt’s estate is out of probate, the Hammontrees are going to Georgia to hand over the book and fulfill their mission.

Hammontree said he is glad to be able to know a bit more about his ancestors. He said the Quartermans have a family Bible a foot thick and very much appreciate knowing more about their relative.

Hammontree said it’s been a pleasure to get acquainted with members of the family of a man who once stood shoulder-to-shoulder with some of his relatives in the Civil War. “It’s like touching the past personally,” he said.


I have to give a million kudos to Mr. Hammontree for not taking any money for the diary.....lord knows he could have thrown it up on ebay like everyone else does with stuff like this. To KNOW that he took the time to tract down the rightful "owners" just warms my heart.

Take THAT you greedy ebay family bible sellers!!!
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NadineG
post Mar 23 2008, 10:02 AM
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That is a terrific story!
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Steph
post Mar 24 2008, 01:50 PM
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They deserve some kind of award for being so completely unselfish and for endeavoring to find the family...we all know how much time that took.
Hopefully the family that received it will post some of the information about other soldiers contained in the diary.

Steph
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