he Civil War is in my blood. My maternal grandfather, David Brennerman Martin, at age seventeen, joined the Forty-Fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which fought in Kentucky to halt the advance of Kirby Smith. Later the Forty-Fourth was reorganized as the Eighth Ohio Cavalry. One of my grandfather's adventures was being taken prisoner and escaping the same day. Subsequently he fought in West Virginia and was made a corporal in January 1865.
According to family tradition, my paternal grandfather, Clarence Foster of Mathews County, Virginia, was fourteen and his brother twelve when they rowed their boat down the Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk, eighty miles each way, to give important military information to the Confederates. It should be mentioned that these boys, living in country where water furnished the principal avenues of transportation, had probably been "mucking about" in boats since they had learned to walk and that they must have known how to make use of wind and tide on their journey.
When I was a teenager, my family was visiting my father's relatives in Mathews County. One day we went for fresh figs at the former home of my father's grandmother. The house was then vacant. My brother and I explored the house, and I picked up a discarded book that lay on the floor of an upstairs bedroom. It was a book about women of the South during the Civil War period. I expressed a desire to take the book home, but my fastidious brother said, "You can't take that dirty thing in our car."
I put the book down on the floor, but I resolved that were I affluent enough to become a collector, I would collect books about women of the South during the Civil War period. Many years later, when I felt I could spare five dollars now and then, I would purchase a book from a dealer, I. H. Bulen of Meadville, Pennsylvania, who advertised in the New York Times Book Review section.
Later Thomas Broadfoot of North Carolina, who became a friend and mentor, bought Mr. Bulen's stock, and as five dollars seemed easier to come by, I purchased most of my books from him. I received a few gifts and bought books here and there as I found them. I have never again seen the book I left in Mathews County.
As time went on I added some other books pertaining to the Civil War, as interest dictated. There are volumes on the Confederate Navy, the Lees, the Blockade, as well as those written by or about Marylanders in the Civil War.
It was an interesting hobby for many years and I always intended to give it to the Goucher College Library. Tom Broadfoot at first discouraged my donating my books to my college. He knew that many valuable and irreplaceable items disappear from college and university libraries. However, when he learned about the protection the books would have in the Rare Book Room of the Goucher library, he kindly agreed to my making the donation, and he generously appraised each book in the collection.
When I moved from house to apartment, I gladly transferred
the books to Goucher. As long as I am able, I shall continue to make additions
to the collection and shall enjoy hearing that it is of use to others.
|-- Nell Foster Passano|