African American News and Genealogy

This site was developed to provide you with news that relates to African American Genealogy, History and News. Please feel free to forward this link to others. I hope you enjoy this site and good luck with your research! Cheers, Kenyatta D. Berry Managing Director

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Civil War Trails Signs In Dayton, Cross Keys Interpret History

Roadside Markers Expected To Help Attract Tourists By Jeff Mellott DAYTON - Betty Jo Meyerhoeffer has lived in her home on the southern edge of town for more than 50 years and is well acquainted with the story of Davy Getz. Tradition holds that Getz is buried on her property in a former orchard, said historian John Heatwole. Federals in October 1864 killed Getz after the Woodstock resident dug his own grave. The Getz story prompted one of three new interpretive signs that have been erected as the result of a collaborative effort between Civil War Trails and the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation. Bloody Prediction Fulfilled Federals took the 39-year-old Getz into custody. He wore civilian clothes but he also carried a squirrel rifle in an area where bushwhackers and Confederate raiders had harried federal troops. Woodstock town elders pled for Getz’s release and told federals that the man had the mind of a 6-year-old. On the southside of present Dayton, Gen. George Custer ordered Getz shot. A Woodstock merchant warned Custer that he would die in a bloody grave because of Getz’s death. The prediction, Meyerhoeffer said, came true when Indian warriors killed Custer and most of his command in Montana nearly 12 years later. "His reputation followed him on to the Little Big Horn," she said. Destroying Bowman Mill Custer was part of Gen. Philip Sheridan’s command in 1864. Sheridan ordered the systematic burning of the Shenandoah Valley. Custer’s torch, said Cheryl Lyon, burned down the David Bowman Mill. Bowman favored the Union, said Lyon, who owns Silver Lake Mill, which rests on the foundation of the Bowman Mill. "He’s a very central figure to me and the history of the mill," she said. According to family history, Lyon said, Bowman bought slaves and then freed them. Some of them, she said, worked at the mill as freed blacks. The war ruined the Valley’s economy. After the fighting ended, Bowman sold land and used the proceeds to help others get started, Lyon said of family histories. They seem to be borne out, she said, by the large number of land transactions he was involved with in the post-war period. Family efforts to recoup their losses for the burned mill from the federal government were unsuccessful, she said. According to family history, Bowman had a signed letter from Sheridan protecting the mill because it ground corn for the Union. But Custer ignored the letter, the family history goes, and burned the mill, Lyon said. Mill Creek Brethren The two signs in Dayton are up in time for Dayton Days, a special celebration that attracts thousands of tourists to the town. The Civil War Trails signs are designed not only to interpret historic locations but also to guide tourists to their location with the use of specially designed maps. Along with the signs in Dayton, the Mill Creek Church of the Brethren has allowed a Civil War Trails sign on its property on Port Republic Road. The sign describes Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson’s encounter with Campbell Brown, who served on Gen. Richard Ewell’s staff at the battle of Cross Keys, and the role of the pacifist Church of the Brethren during the Civil War. Memorial Sought Meyerhoeffer is excited about the sign near her home in Dayton that tells Davy Getz’s story. She hopes it stirs enough interest in his story to help pay for a fitting memorial for Getz. A plain white stone marks the presumed location of Getz’s grave. Meyerhoeffer, who enjoys history, wants to do more. "I am trying to get a little memorial for him," she said.


Post a Comment

<< Home