Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ruby M. Harvey Collection and Little Giffin Poem

Recently our Family History Center has been cleaning house. We were able to purchase some very nice books from a local genealogist and then we were given some other books, so we needed more space. Some of the books and other materials went to the FHL in Salt Lake City and others went to a local group planning to set up a major research library in the Portland, Oregon area. There were two items that I am still considering what to do with them. They are more in the line of personal genealogical information compiled by individual researchers.

The first one is, "A Biography of Thomas Evans" by Richard P. Evans. It is done in the 11x17 format, 113 pages. It includes documents, pictures, maps, typed manuscript and family group sheets. It is beautifully done and I am sure contains information that would be very helpful to the related family.

The second one is a collection of family information, descendants from various lines, letters from families who were responding to a request for family information, maps, etc. Unfortunately these are all done in very poor mimeograph copies, some of which are barely readable. There were some family group records created from the information, but this work can all be found on I printed current family group records for reference to the collection. For this collection to be at all useful it needs to be entered into a computer format. This copy was made by Ruby M. Harvey and sent to her niece Ruby Deck.

Ruby Deck attended the same church I do. She was born 3 May 1917 in Chattanooga, Tennessee and died 15 September 1998 in Gladstone, Oregon. While I did not meet her personally, the members dearly loved her. As a ward consultant I feel an obligation to preserve these materials.

Ruby's father was Terrell Irwin Deck born 8 May 1892 in Rock Spring, Georgia and died 1 February 1966 in Sandy, Oregon. Her mother was Lola Jessie Harvey born 17 January 1893 in Knoxville, Tennessee and died 8 February 1946 in Sandy, Oregon. Her only sibling was Terrill Lee Deck born 11 June 1915 and died 24 January 1927 in Portland, Oregon. Her brother was fifteen when he died and never married, and Ruby never married, so there were no further descendants on this line. Their father did remarry on 30 October 1948 to Reva Birch, who had one daughter Rhea Valoy Birch from a previous marriage. Rhea was married twice, but has no descendants listed.

Ruby Marie Harvey born 6 May 1895 in Knoxville, Tennessee and died 29 December 1974 in Long Beach, California. She appears to have not married or had any children. Ruby and Lola had one other sibling, Elbert Allen Harvey born 26 October 1888 in Asheville, North Carolina and died 15 March 1928 in Long Beach, California. Elbert married Margaret Tennessee Giffin on 27 February 1909. They had three children: Kathleen Giffin Harvey Murphy, George William Harvey and Elbert Andrew Harvey. There appears to be at least one family member working on this line and I sent her an email this morning.

Now that I have given you a rather long explanation about this material, I want to share my serendipity moment that occurred as I read through this material.

The following poem was written about Volney Giffin, born 1845 in Knox County, Tennessee. He was the son of Bartlett Giffin and Mrs. Mary J. Giffin. Volney having been born in 1845 was sixteen years of age in 1861, the year he fought in the Civil War. The poem was written by Francis Orrery Ticknor of Baldwin County, Georgia.
Voleny Giffin is related to our family through Margaret T. (Giffin) Harvey
wife of Elbert Allen Harvey, son of Margaret Catherine (Allen) Harvey, daughter of Jessie Allen, son of William Allen.

Little Giffin

Out of the focal and foremost fire,
Out of the hospital walls as dire;
Smitten of grapeshot and gangrene,
Eighteenth battle and he sixteen,
Spectre, such as you seldom see,
Little Giffin of Tennessee.

"Take him, and welcome" the surgeons said:
"Little the doctor can help the dead"
So we took him and brought him where
The balm was sweet in the summer air;
And we laid him down on a wholesome bed,
"Utter Lazarus, heel to head."

And we watched the war with abated breath,
Skeleton Boy against Skeleton Death.
Months of torture, how many such?
Weary weeks of the stick and crutch;
And still a glint of the steel blue eye
Told of a spirit that wouldn't die.

And didn't, Nay more, in death's despite
The crippled skeleton learned to write,
"Dear Mother," at first, of course; and then
"Dear Captain" inquiring about the men.
Captain's answer: Of eighty and five
Giffin and I are left alive."

Word of gloom, from the war, one day:
Johnson pressed, at the front, they say,
Little Giffin was up and away;
A tear-his first, as he bade goodbye,
Dimmed the glint of his steel blue eye.
"I'll write, if spared." There was news of the fight;
But none of Giffin, he did not write.

I sometimes fancy that, were I King
Of the princely Knights of the Golden Ring,
With the song of the minstrel in mine ear,
And the tender legend that trembles here,
I'd give the best, on his bended knee
The whitest soul of my chivalry,
For Little Giffin of Tennessee.


More on Volney Giffin in my post on Sunday. Did he die in battle or not?

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