Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Georgia's Youngest Oldest Ex-Confederate

Whatever else you say about Confederate veterans, you’ve got to admit that some stretch the truth like warm taffy. For instance, I was interested to read in the February 9, 1923, Atlanta Constitution of a remarkably old ex-Confederate coming to live in the Georgia Confederate Home.

“After years 109 years of unremitting toil, Lorenzo Dow Grace, oldest Confederate veteran, has consented to lay down his axe and live ‘for the next forty years, at least’ on the bounty of his state.”

Grace’s 1814/1815 birth year made him quite a bit older than other vets I’d read about. To double-check, I went to 1920 U. S. Census records, where I found “Daw Grace” of Gilmer County, a laborer, reporting a birth year of 1815. So far, so good.

But when I went back to the 1910 census, I found “Lorenzo D. Grace” of Gilmer County, a laborer, reporting his age at 90 years old. (Birth year: 1825.) In the 1900 census, “Loranzo Grace”, Gilmer County, is 72 years old, with a birth year of 1828. The 1880 census had Lorenzo D. Grace, Gilmer County, at 40 years old. (Birth year: 1840.)

Georgia’s oldest Confederate veteran was getting younger by the decade!

When you’re reading wartime stories written long after the fact, remember Lorenzo Dow Grace. Just because they’re Confederate veterans doesn’t mean they’re not above making a good story a lot better.

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