Week 4 Witness to History

A Forgotten Witness

This prompt brings to mind the obvious moments – wars mostly. I have several ancestors and family members who served their country during wartime. One lost his life at the Second Battle of Winchester in 1864. In a cemetery less than two blocks from my home, is buried my Revolutionary War ancestor; in the same plot is his son who served during the War of 1812.

I’ve researched both Revolutionary and Civil war ancestors extensively and filling in the details of their war service is fairly easy to do, records of those time periods are plentiful and accessible. While doing that work, I have often wondered about the family they left behind while they were off doing the bidding of or in one case resisting their governments? Francois Xavier Laforce was about 25 years old when he was mortally wounded in battle; he left behind a two-year-old son and his 22-year-old wife, Flavie Philion Laforce. 

What was life like for Flavie when her husband left to join the war against slavery, when she found out he’d been killed, when she had to continue on without him? I know she had family nearby did she reside with one of them? Living in the small town of Keeseville, in northern New York, she might have known other Civil War widows, did they bond over their shared loss and grief?  There are so many unanswered questions that will never be fully answered. Her view of history is one that doesn’t often get written about. We celebrate the soldier, the patriot, the hero but we mustn’t forget the family and the community that stayed behind.  Flavie was a different kind of witness but so important to remember.