Vintage journals can range from the fascinating to the utilitarian. Finding a pre-Civil War journal written by a young man who had a heart for words is a treasure, indeed. The Holmes County District Public Library has such a journal, and, over the next several weeks, we’ll be looking at it in-depth, with photos and annotations wherever possible.
The memorandum of J.B. Lightcap, a Civil War soldier and one-time resident of Holmes County, Ohio, begins with these endpapers, christened with Lightcap’s sweeping script noting the following:
“Book bought in Wooster
Wayne Co Ohio
July 25, 1851”
It seems that, at first, Lightcap intended only to record births, deaths and marriages in the book, which looks as if it were designed to be an address book of sorts, with alphabetized tabs running along the right side of the lined journal. But there are very few of any of these events simply recorded in the opening pages (we’ll get to those that are listed in a future entry). Instead, beginning on September 7, 1854, Lightcap begins his memorandum with these words:
“Left home and went to Williams County with A&J Oberlins. Age 19 years 7 months and 26 days. It took us 7 days to move there a distance of 180 miles.”
Based on the 1880 and 1890 census records, the dates Mr. Lightcap gives and the information here, this J.B. Lightcap is Jacob B, son of Jacob and Elizabeth Lightcap, born in Pennsylvania in December, 1835, raised in Holmes County, Ohio, married to Martha and settled in Richland County, Ohio where they had three children, Addie, Lillian and Rosa and an adopted daughter, Helen A. Maser.
According to this research, Jacob B was the son of Jacob and Elizabeth (Gilbert) Lightcap, who moved to Holmes County, Ohio and owned and livd on a farm near Bigelow Church in Ripley Township and had 12 children, three of whom, Martin, Jacob and Saul Lightcap were in the Civil War. The information says Saul died serving aboard the S.S. Sultana. The Sultana exploded just after midnight on April 27, 1865 and is known as ” the greatest maritime disaster in United States history.” But if Saul’s birthday was 1854, as it says in the research, he would only have been 11 years old.
For the upcoming posts, we’ll look at Lightcap’s journal entries and follow some of the rabbit trails and places his writings points to throughout Holmes County and some of the surrounding areas. We’ll also look a little more closely at his travels, activities, family and companions.