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North Hall woman connects with Civil War ancestor through letter

POSTED: May 15, 2011 1:33 p.m.

Civil War connection

Annette Sale has a printed copy of a poem that her great-great-grandmother wrote to each of her great-great-grandmother's children when her husband went off to fight in the Civil War.

TOM REED/The Times

Annette Sale looks through some of her family history at her Clermont home.

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For many Southerners, not just soldiers, the closing days of the Civil War were terrifying, with the Union army marching their way.

Such was the case with Alabama's Ann Dozier Powell, raising five children in the absence of their father, who was fighting for the Confederacy.

She wrote a poem expressing prayerful hopes for each of her five children, whom she mentioned by name.

"These are tender little (rhymes) to her children. She wrote them thinking she was going to die in the war," said Annette Sale, Powell's great-great-granddaughter, who lives in Hall County at the White County line.

"They're almost childlike, and she used the sweet names she had for them."

Such as "Dolphy," short for Powell's first-born child, Francis Rudolphus Powell, Sale's great-grandfather.

Each verse speaks directly to each child: Dolphy, Willie, Oscar, Richard and Annie.

"Each (child) has a singular personality and a wonderful future," Sale said, describing the poem and its message.

"It's a very precious statement because it does tell the children what Southern families would hope for in their progeny in terms of their belief system, their manners and their way of loving each other as siblings and carrying on the family.

"So that's what I'm trying to do."

Sale added, "It was just wonderful finding this literature."

She came across the poem nearly 27 years ago after moving to the Atlanta area and visiting with aunts, who supplied her with stories of the family's past.

"Such fascinating women," Sale said.

She doesn't have the original poem, just a copy that has been embellished with artwork and swirling script.

And Sale doesn't know exactly when Powell penned the poem, but the latest child was born in 1863, or a couple years shy of the end of the Civil War.

She also doesn't have a photograph of Powell, although she has several other historic photos, including one of the old family home place and one of her great-grandfather.

Sale also has a family history as told by her aunt, Kathyrn P. Davis.

The family history says that Powell was born in 1832 in Talbot County in West Georgia, near the Alabama line.

She married William Powell in 1851, and the couple lived in nearby Randolph County. In 1852, she gave birth to Francis.

Shortly afterward, they moved to Clopton, Ala., west of Eufaula.

"They acquired 1,500 acres, which Ann had to tend, with the help of slaves, while her husband was at war and during his illness after he returns," Davis wrote.

Ann Powell died on June 4, 1872, seven years after the Civil War.

Not only did she survive the North-South conflict, she apparently had one more child. The family history says that after Francis was born, she had five children - all in Clopton.

Her poem addresses five children.

Powell's husband remarried Elizabeth M. Crittendon, "whom Ann had chosen as the kind stepmother if God should see fit to call me hence," Davis wrote.

"Ann had kept a journal over many years, revealing her innermost thoughts, to be read only after her death," Davis wrote. "This journal is still in the family's keeping."

Others in Sale's family have picked up the pen, as well.

"I know we have a literary gene," she said. "I'm contemplating a book myself."

For her part, Sale appreciates the time and attention her great-great-grandmother gave to leaving a legacy not just for her children, but for family generations to come.

"It makes me feel so close to her, the whole lineage," she said. "I feel like they're still alive in my heart. Ann must have been quite a woman. ... I would have loved to have known her."

 

 



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