Memorial Day weekend has me thinking about those who lived in my historic house before me. The Whitten family lived here for two generations, from 1830 to 1941.
The 1863 diary of the oldest child, Emily survives. She lived here in Whitten House from birth in 1832 until she died in 1921.
From the 1863 Diary of Emily J. Whitten, Wednesday, April 1, 1863.
“Received an account of Milton Whitten’s death by letter of George Haskell. Was carried to the hospital March 7. Died 19th, of Typhoid Fever. Spent the evening with Uncle George’s [Milton’s] family.”
Milton was Emily’s cousin and lived around the corner. He was 18 when he enlisted on 10 Nov. 1862. He was 19 when he died.
Emily’s only brother, Benjamin Franklin (in the photo), was also serving in the Union Army at the time. Milton’s death must have added to the dread and fear inhabiting this Whitten House during that time.
Fortunately for the household, Benjamin (called Frank) survived and came home from the war in 1865. Emily’s diary records that she attended Milton’s funeral on April 19th.
Five years later, after the war, the G.A.R. veterans group organized the first Decoration Day on May 30th to honor those who had died in the war by decorating their graves with flowers.
Decoration Day evolved into Memorial Day, devoted to commemorating those who lost their lives in all the wars the United States has been involved in. The history of those who gave their lives for our nation is not only preserved in battlefields turned into memorial parks and monuments in public squares but also in the homes they did not return to. Restoring and maintaining their homes keeps their memory alive.
“Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners” was written to help preserve history.
Signed and personalized copies of the award-winning and bestselling 720-page hardcover book are available from the author in our shop, YourHistoricHouse.com/shop/.
© Scott T. Hanson 2023
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