Before they were presidents, these Ohioans were leaders in the Civil War PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Thursday, 26 January 2012 12:15
(Editor's note: "Josh Franklin's Far Out Family Blog" is 10 chapters of Civil War history focusing on Ohio's role, written in a modern tone. Students, parents and teachers are invited to take the series a little further after reading it, and discuss the topics suggested below. The series is published through Ohio Newspapers in Education and was written by Steven Coburn-Griffis. The illustration is by Isaac Schumacher.)

Chapter one:
Hey, hello and welcome to Josh Franklin's Far Out Family Blog, sponsored by Mr. Wooster's third period English class. If you're reading this, you've probably already figured out that this is an English assignment. Yup.
And here's the thing. Mr. Wooster wants us to relate to our relations, tell the untold stories about our families and learn to relate to them as we relate them to you. That and learn a little bit about writing in the process. Right Mr. W?
OK. So here's how this could go. See, I could tell you all kinds of juicy little secrets, like how my sister was still wearing diapers until she was nearly 7 years old or how Dad secretly watches "The View" or some other girly show when everybody thinks he's watching ESPN. I could even tell you about how Mom used to be a show girl in a casino in Las Vegas or how my brother used to jump through burning rings of fire on a motorcycle.
And some of those things might even be true. But that's just so boring. I mean, who cares? Am I right or am I right?
So, instead of telling you about how my Great Aunt Sophie (if I really had one, I mean) collects doll heads, I've decided to go back even further and introduce you to my Great-great-great-great Grandfather and his brother, my Great-great-great-great Uncle. See, My family has all these really old letters that Uncle Ethan wrote to Grandpa Wilfred (yeah, I know, what a name, right?) during the Civil War. The letters are all yellow and tattered and held together with tape. They're so old that if you're not really careful, they'll just fall apart. So, even though I know about them, I've not been allowed to read most of them. But, unlike my mother, I'm willing to share. And that's where this blog comes in.
What I'm going to do is read one letter for every blog I have to write and then copy it down so that you can read it, too. And here's the best part (for me, anyway).
Mrs. Logsdon, the best history teacher who ever walked the hallowed halls of our high school, has agreed to give me extra credit if I pass along some bits and pieces about the Civil War and how our home state of Ohio helped get the job done.
To show her I mean business, I'm going to kick it off here and now.
There were five famous Ohioans who fought in the Civil War who later became presidents of these United States of America.
They were Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, William McKinley, Benjamin Harrison and James Garfield. But wait! There's even MORE!
Everybody knows that Grant was in charge of the Union army (you knew that, right?), but did you know that Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley both served in the same regiment, the 23rd Ohio? Hayes was a general, but McKinley was only a private. Absolutely true. And you read it here first.
OK, OK, OK. So this is kind of like when they start selling soda pop or whatever in the middle of your favorite TV show. Not when they break for advertisements, but, like, right in the very middle of the show itself. I know that. I get it. But a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do. Am I right or am I right?
Anyway, this isn't about me, so let's just move on. Drum roll please. Here, in all of its original glory from way back in 1862, is the very first Civil War letter my Uncle wrote my Grandpa:

Wilf,
I am off for a soldier. Tell Ma not to worry.
Ethan

Bet you thought it was gonna be really long. LOL.

Chapter one: questions and activities
Josh's teacher wants his students to 'relate to their relations' as they complete their assignment. What do you think that means? Write down a list of some of your memories and habits, such as first toy, how you get to school, your favorite food. Then ask a parent and a grandparent or older friend to do the same. How are all of your responses the same? How are they different? Why?
Mr. Wooster also wants his students to learn about writing. You can already see a difference in Josh's and Ethan's writing styles. Read an article from the front page of your newspaper. Compare it to a chapter from your favorite fiction story. Why do you think they are written in different styles? What does each author want the reader to take away from the piece?
As Josh notes, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley were all active in the Civil War and all became presidents of the United States. As you read the rest of Josh's blog, keep track of all the Ohioans mentioned and what role they played during Ethan's time.

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