Carson City woman tells story of great grandfather in Civil War
Anne Clancy’s great-grandfather Calvin Robinson told her the story of his life – nearly a century after his death – and now she wants to share it with the world.
After more than 50 years of carrying around an unopened bundle of his writings, Clancy, 71, delved into his notes last year and found the story of a Vermont man living in Florida during the Civil War.
“I felt indebted to that man,” Clancy said. “I felt a responsibility and a passion to share this with the world because it is such a unique story.”
Working on an aging typewriter, she transcribed his notes from yellowing paper and is now awaiting publication of the book, “A Yankee Living in a Confederate Town” from Pineapple Press.
“It was totally laborious,” she said. “I spent thousands of hours with a magnifying glass to decipher his writing.”
As she read the elegant copperplate writing, the man with the long white beard and sad eyes – whom she had only seen in an aged picture – came to life.
“He was a compassionate man and a religious person,” Clancy said. “He believed in his Almighty God and they prayed often.”
She read how he left his job as a school teacher in Vermont and moved with his wife and two boys to Jacksonville, Fla., where the climate was better suited for an ailing lung condition.
He told how, once the war broke out, he decided to put his $18,000 savings in the “safest bank in the south” – buried in his backyard.
He knew he was being watched and decided burying the money at night would raise suspicion. Instead, he went to work in his garden, transplanting an apple tree from one end of the yard to the other.
Hidden in the soil used to replant the tree were empty wine bottles stuffed full of cash.
In order to put his stories into context, Clancy researched the war which lasted from 1861 to 1865 and killed about 620,000 American soldiers.
“Everybody thinks of history as fact and that’s it,” Clancy said. “It isn’t. It is the experience of the people who lived through it.”
Clancy’s father bequeathed her the papers in 1950 and she carried them with her as she moved to various parts of the country. Then about two years ago she saw a flier in the library advertising the memoirs class offered at Western Nevada Community College.
“I was led to take it,” she said. “I just knew that was what I wanted to do.”
In the class, she wrote about her own life experiences – growing up in Delaware, receiving three bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree, and moving to Silver Springs in 1971 to raise Canary Isle Burros and hybrid earthworms.
“The class helped me to come to terms with memories that I have pushed down and closed the doors,” she said.
When the class was over, instructors Marilee Swirczek and Ursula Carlson urged the students to take on a long-term project.
Clancy knew it was time to open the packet of papers. With the help of her son Andrew and other members of the community, she transcribed, edited and compiled the book – she even discovered 27 cousins she didn’t know about.
The book should be printed later this year.
She plans to give the original manuscript to the Jacksonville University Library in Florida.
For your information:
Classes at Western Nevada Community College begin Aug. 27.
The memoirs and autobiography class will be offered Tuesdays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call 445-3000.