Saturday, November 30, 2019
Off the Shelf: A Rebel Came Home
Well, some books just fly off the shelf, once I decide to read them, even if they sat on said shelf awaiting that moment for years since purchase. But this time, we witness the total opposite: I will read this book for sure, but there is one limiting factor standing between me and this good read: I haven't gotten the book yet.
A Rebel Came Home, the collection of journal entries and letters written by Floride Clemson, has been on my to-do list, ever since I discovered that some of my Pendleton, South Carolina, kin were mentioned in various published diaries and letters. I obtained a copy of three out-of-print books for that specific purpose: to see what might have been mentioned by the peers of my ancestors. That was what first inspired me to get a copy of The Diary of Clarissa Adger Bowen, and then move on to A Faithful Heart and Far, Far From Home.
Once I finished all those books, the next volume on my list was to be Floride Clemson's diary. Besides the hometown connection shared with my Broyles and Taliaferro lines, Floride Clemson had one more link to my family—although one which she would never live to witness.
It was Floride's father, Thomas Green Clemson, who, after his children's death, willed his property for the establishment of an agricultural college in South Carolina. It was Richard Wright Simpson, the brother of Tally Simpson whose letters home during the Civil War were featured in Far, Far From Home, who served as legal counsel in devising that Clemson will—and who defended it, all the way to the United States Supreme Court against a Clemson relative by marriage who wanted to contest it.
While the Clemson home was about five miles distance from the Pendleton location of my own ancestors, Floride likely was familiar with many of the families in that nearby town—and hopefully mentioned some of my distant family members in her journal entries, once she returned to South Carolina. Even if there is no mention of these family members specifically by name, reading her journal will give me a bigger picture of the life and times of my ancestors who lived in that same region.
There is only one problem with this reading plan: the book of Floride Clemson's journal entries and letters, ranging from 1863 to 1866, was edited and eventually published in 1989. My best hope for obtaining a copy now is to find a gently-used version, hopefully in hardcover. Of course, my meaning to do so in the past apparently translated into thinking I did what it turns out I did not do, and I am still casting about for the best way to obtain a copy. Given the date, I am convinced this might be an excellent Christmas gift idea for someone I know who claims I am the most difficult person to buy for.