Monday, December 20, 2010

Ike was a Good Ole Rebel....

 (Title of this blog is based on the poem by
Major Innes Randolph, C.S.A - later put to music)

.... or, then again, maybe he wasn't.

Despite the stereotypes that people have of the Southern Appalachian mountains, there was actually a strong Union presence in some areas - except Scott County, Virginia.  I have quite a few ancestors who served in the various wars of the United States from the Revolutionary War forward.  In all those old veterans, I only have one Confederate - Isaac Hickam.

If the last name "Hickam" sounds familiar, perhaps you remember the 1999 movie, "October Sky" with Jake Gyllenhall.  It was based on the story of Homer Hickam, a cousin of mine.

Or perhaps you're thinking of Hickam Air Force Base, now part of the Pearl Harbor Complex, located near Honolulu, Hawaii.  The base was named after Lt. Col. Horace Meek Hickam.

My 3g-grandfather, Ike Hickam, was born on the family farm on October 20, 1842 in rural Scott County, Virginia, the son of George Hickam and Frances Dixon.  The family farm was located east of Gate City, just off present day Highway 58.

On June 26, 1861, Ike enrolled in Scott County to serve the newly formed Confederacy.  He was one of the 67 men that made up the Clinch Mountain Boomers.  Captain William James Smith was in command.  They traveled to Abingdon, Virginia, arriving on July 13.   The Clinch Mountain Boomers became known as Company H of the 48th Virginia Infantry.

Since he is my only Confederate, his papers are my only experience dealing with what's available for researchers of Confederate veterans.  I'm unsure if the few papers I have is the exception or the norm.

Something of interest, Ike is shown to have been in hospital in Winchester, Virginia, from June 27, 1863 until June 30, 1863.  The note on the hospital roll is that "Hickam is improving".  I don't know what happened or where he was wounded.  What is also of interest is the place his unit was headed at the time of his dismissal from the hospital.  Company H/48th Virginia Infantry found themselves assaulting Culp's Hill at Gettysburg.  Did Ike make it in time to join his company in the assault?  Unfortunately, I've not found anything to prove or disprove it.  I have to say, when my daughter and I visited Gettysburg in October, we spent some time at the crest of the hill.  It was easy to see the ghosts of both the offense and defense in that place.  It was quiet the day we visited with a bit of a chill in the air - completely opposite to the hell that was found on those holy acres.

The one thing his papers do show is Ike decided that he didn't much care for war on March 12, 1864 and left.  He wasn't on the rolls from then until December 31, 1864 when he was dropped from the rolls. 

According to family stories, Ike had become a Union sympathizer.  After leaving his post, he settled briefly in Powell Valley, Tennessee before making his way to Garrard County, Kentucky.  His mother had died in 1847 when Ike was only 5.  His father remarried and there was quite a bit of discord between Ike and his step-mother as Ike grew.  Again, according to family stories, there are hints at violence within the family and that's the true cause of his moving away.

Ike met and married Nancy Pointer in Garrard County in 1869.  Their growing family is found on the Garrard County censuses for 1870 and 1880.  They moved just across the county border into Madison County where they and four of their unmarried children lived out the rest of their days.  Interestingly, they lived in the steep hills of western Madison County; however, when they died, they were buried in the large cemetery in Richmond, rather than one of the smaller one near their home.

Isaac Hickam
Nancy Jean (Pointer) Hickam

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