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Hunting for Yellow Springs' Black Civil War Veterans

Yellow Springs Black Civi lWar Veterans Poster

In 1865, after the American Civil War, Union soldiers returned to their home communities — for some that was Yellow Springs, Ohio.

It is believed one to two hundred Black Civil War veterans quietly settled in the small town, helping it grow and prosper. Many were formerly enslaved people escaping Kentucky plantations.

Now, a group of historians, genealogists and other researchers are attempting to identify these valiant warriors.

Dan Gediman creates audio documentaries and is a lead producer with the Yellow Springs Black Civil War Veterans Project. He said many of these men were slaves, sold to the Union Army by their masters.

It is these records that Gediman believes will help identify these warriors.

"The Army was obligated to write down the name of their enslaver. And the reason for this is because their enslavers were promised $300 for every one of their male slaves who enlisted in the army. And we have access to those records," explains Gediman.

This group hopes to connect area Blacks with their Civil War ancestors–and ultimately their family lineage prior to that conflict.

So many white Americans celebrate the ancestry of their military veteran ancestors and their connections to that history. Black Americans are much less likely to be able to do that. And there's no good reason for it," Gediman said. "The records exist, and white institutions who have been keeping these records didn't make them particularly accessible to African-Americans. So we're trying to rectify that missing link in a lot of African-Americans history.”

Gediman explained Volunteers are an important component to pull off this project. Each will be assigned a soldier’s name and taught how to research online records to document their history.

Learn more about the Yellow Springs Black Civil War Veterans Project and how you can participate.

Kathryn Mobley is an award-winning broadcast journalist, crafting stories for more than 30 years. She’s reported and produced for TV, NPR affiliate and for the web. Mobley also contributes to several area community groups. She sings tenor with World House Choir (Yellow Springs), she’s a board member of the Beavercreek Community Theatre and volunteers with two community television operations, DATV (Dayton) and MVCC (Centerville).

Email: kmobley@wyso.org
Cell phone: (937) 952-9924