The Civil War, obviously, left an imprint on the United States that lasts even 146 years after it ended. But, for Jodie Mae Crawford, of Central, and her four siblings, the connection to that war is closer than most.
After all, their grandfathers — not great-grandfathers, but grandfathers — fought in the Civil War and survived it.
It is impossible to know how many people living in 2011 can say that, but it probably wouldn’t take long to call the roll.
It takes some impressive multigenerational longevity and some fortuitous birth order to achieve that feat.
“I believe that my dad was the last of his line of people, and I know that my mother was the youngest,” Crawford said. “So, I’m the youngest child of the youngest child. I never thought about too much of the fact that both of my grandfathers were in the Civil War, but I’ve heard stories.”
Her older siblings are Elme Sevario, of Baton Rouge; Johnnie Powers, of the Brittany community in Ascension Parish; Olive Kimball, of Toledo, Ohio; and Charles Drew Fridge Jr., of Sorrento.
According to online records at the Ohio State University website, both Robert Thomas Fridge Sr., Crawford’s paternal grandfather, and John Andrew Sides, her maternal grandfather, were part of the Confederate Army’s 1st Louisiana Cavalry Regiment’s H Company, which was formed in Baton Rouge on Oct. 5, 1861.
The regiment was outside Louisiana from November 1861 until April 1864, participating in more than 75 engagements. Sides, a corporal, was captured at Big Hill, Ky., and remained a prisoner of war until being returned to the Confederacy in a prisoner exchange in March 1865, Crawford said.
Sides’ return home near what is now Baker delighted and surprised his wife, Josephine.
“My grandmother had got up that morning and she said, ‘When John comes home, he’s going to have a feather in his hat,’” said one of Crawford’s sisters, Johnnie Powers, 92, who lives in the Brittany community in Ascension Parish. “Sure enough, when he came in he had picked up a feather out in the yard somewhere and he came in with that feather in his hat.”
Crawford, 80, was born three years after Sides died in 1928 at age 92. Powers said she only has fleeting memories of him. Both he and Josephine were in wheelchairs in their later years. Both were born four years apart on July 28 — he in 1835, she in 1839 — so the family always held reunions to celebrate their birthdays. Crawford’s mother, Josie Mae, was the last of their 10 children.
The family has less information about Fridge, who was born in 1823 in Livingston and was a sergeant with the 1st Louisiana Regiment. Family lore has it that he was captured by Union forces somewhere near Baton Rouge but escaped and hid in a hollow tree to avoid being retaken.
Fridge died in 1881 and his wife, Jane, died in 1893. Their ninth child, Charles Drew Fridge Sr., was the siblings’ father.