On May 16, 1900, the Laurens Advertiser published the obituary of George Berry Poole (1838- 1900).
This good citizen died at his home in this city on the 8th instant after a protracted illness, aged sixty-one years. His remains were buried at Langston’s church, where he held his membership in the Baptist church. He leaves a widow and three sons and was a brother of Dr. Poole, of this city and Mr. M. B. Poole, of the Enoree. He was a veteran and after the war diligently pursued the arts of peace, a man of extraordinary energy and faithful to his friends.
“He was a veteran’’ …for a long time, I thought that this obituary was in error. I had searched the Laurens County Veteran records and did not find his name. And his name was missing from the occasional newspaper accounts of Laurens county veterans.
Recently, I was reviewing a court case—Geo. B. Poole & Mary F. Pool his wife Ex Parte Laurens Equity Court, 21 November 1866– that I had examined years ago, and found that I had overlooked a critical portion of the record. The clerk had left a space in the ledger that I had interpreted as the end of the case, but now found to be the introduction to the report of the commissioners assigned to examine the testimony and advise the judge. And in that report was the phrase “That said Pool came from the army when the war ended … and found his family living on the charity of friends’’. 1
Having now seen two contemporary accounts that George did indeed have a Civil War record, I once again searched the available veteran documentation and, sure enough, hiding in plain sight all this time was the Compiled Service Record of “Poole, G. B., Private, 2nd Co. H, (Hagood’s) South Carolina Infantry’’.2
Moral: As my cousin and skilled genealogist Charlie Purvis noted on hearing this story- “… that is why once you gain some experience you should go back and re-review your source documents periodically’’. (Charlie’s blog is Carolina Family Roots – highly recommended.)
George appears to have been a somewhat reluctant warrior. Although he enlisted on May 3, 1862, he was immediately Absent on Sick Furlough until August. From then until May 1864 he was Absent Without Leave. On April 9, 1865 he was admitted to the CSA Hospital at Farmville, VA suffering from `debilitas’. He became a prisoner of war when the Union Army captured the hospital a few days later, and was paroled sometime between April 11 and April 21, 1865.
George did come home penniless “and found his family living on the charity of friends’’. The years of Reconstruction were not kind to George- he suffered crop failures, indebtedness, and bankruptcy throughout the 1860’s and 1870’s. He farmed and turned to occasional bootlegging to supplement the meager family income.
I am not certain what the writer of his obituary meant by the phrase “diligently pursued the arts of peace’’, but I can imagine that his post war experiences would have made George appreciate the value of peace. And I am pleased to hear that, despite all the troubles he endured, his contemporaries thought him to be “a man of extraordinary energy and faithful to his friends’’.
1. Laurens County Office: Equity Court; Equity Court Report Book 1841- 1867, p. 181; film at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
2. NARA M267. Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers from South Carolina units: Record Group: 109 State: South Carolina. Roll: 0124 Military Unit: First (Hagood’s) Infantry Give nname: G B Surname: Poole Age: [Blank] Year: 1862.