Yesterday, I was working on my book. The protagonist is named Virginia. It takes place just after the American Civil War. I’m not sure where her name came from. It was just there when the idea for the story came to me.
I was looking at my family tree just a few minutes ago as I was thinking about this story. It occurred to me while I was in thought, that I had a relative named Virginia who was alive during the Civil War. She was my great great Grandmother. Subliminal suggestion? Maybe.
My relative, Virginia Hays would have been 13-16 during the years of the war. She is not the protagonist in my story but I did begin to wonder what life must have been like for her.
She lived in Georgia at the time. I wonder if she agreed with the cessation of the southern states, did she know what it was, was she too young to care? What did she think of the talk she must have heard around the dinner table among her parents and other family members. What did she think of all the handsome young men in uniform. What did she think when some did not come back from the fighting.
From looking at the records I have of her parents, it doesn’t look like they lost any sons during the war. Maybe Virginia was lucky and her family stayed together. I hope so for her sake.
Then I got to thinking about my post of the other day about breast cancer and I wondered what it might have been like to have cancer of any kind in the mid 1800s. I know that most people who had cancer didn’t live very long. I wondered if Virginia knew anyone with cancer. I’m sure as she aged she must have and it must have been so difficult to watch those you knew dying and know there was no cure. It’s still hard today but at least we have hope.
Today, cancer is so common. Everyone knows someone who has had or has cancer. Thinking of what it must have been like, I’m extremely grateful to be living in this time.
So, back to my relative, Virginia. She grew up, got married, had many children and lost a few as babies. I’m sure like most women at the time, her life was hard. They were a religious family. She and her husband Stephen McRae are buried next to each other in the cemetery in Georgia.
I wish I knew more about what their lives were like. I hope someday I will find more information but till then I will learn more about The Civil War years while doing research for my book and keeping my Great great Grandmother Virginia always in my mind and heart.
The Tree of Life, the Circle goes on.