Saturday, July 12, 2008
Spies, Radars, and Ranges! (A Stringfellow History)
Stringfellows have been in the U.S. Army, the Marines, the Navy, and the Air Force for years and years, wars and wars. I'm not sure if they've been in the Coast Guard, but I know they've been just about everywhere and on both sides of the big pond for that matter. The name Stringfellow can be traced back many centuries actually, even as far back as the 14th century and was called Strongfellow as well as Stringfellow. The main branch of our name has been categorized, challenged and meticulously researched by my big sister, she's the genealogist in the family - I just gave birth to the last Reuben in a string (no pun intended) of more than 17 of them...that's a lot of Reu. The Civil War hero you see before you in this blog is not a Reuben, but his father was, and his brother was. He is Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow, who was a Confederate Spy and he worked directly under and for J.E.B. Stuart. Stringfellow was from Virginia, and had cousins (Pleasant and Robert Stringfellow) serving in the Union Army, and his own brother was serving in the South.
I've actually stood on a piece of ground just inside the forests at Manassass where both the Union and the Confederate Stringfellows hugged in a brief reunion of sorts before returning to their respective sides to continue a battle that raged - interestingly, I don't believe B.F. Stringfellow made the reunion, he was too busy pretending to be a Union sympathizer and gathering more information for the South, but he is the one credited with the intel as to where the cousins should meet safely to say what could have been a last-goodbye. Not much is known about Frank except that he did survive the war, and moved further south afterwards. He lived his life out with his family, and died a Confederate hero.
My father is a Reuben. He's pictured there - a Navy man, he wired things and still does. He's not much for words, but ask him something about a circuit and he won't shut up! My daddy served on a ship in Korea from 1950-1955. All of his brothers served in that conflict as well. Upon leaving the service he made the fatal and life-sentencing mistake of attending church one Sunday at the Fortieth Street Baptist Church in Oklahoma City where his family lived - we think he meant to attend Crown Heights but got lost and just sat down in the pew - what happened next was history! Mom tripped the man on his way out the door. He was trying to leave before she could have a proper introduction and she had already set her mind to marry him upon seeing the back of his head when she walked into the back of the sanctuary - see, it comes naturally for me. I know what I want and I do what I can. Like her I scheme, I admit it, but I also smile and through that Southern charm so deeply embedded within my spirit and my soul, I usually get what I aim for....with or without the rifle.
Reube is what they called my grandpa, R.J. was his father, and as it goes up the line it must come down the line as well. My father did not name his son Reuben, but I picked it back up. My brother was not old enough to join the military, but my son picked it back up. There has been a Stringfellow in every war - every conflict, and with both pride for my family and my country, I do wish at times that I had volunteered but I was told I was too skinny to join in 1979 when I tried to join - - I got over that problem fast enough, huh? Oh to be too skinny to join today! Now I'm too old and broken...hahaha
I'm not sure who the beautiful marker belongs to, I'm told his father was a Robert whose brother was a Reuben - my sister will have to figure that one out. With the history of our family being able to sneak up and capture, wire things and talk through them, driving over mountains and shooting something a mile away, I think I can safely say that I have a few things to write about...let my pen (or in this case my keyboard) be my weapon of choice. I keep both fairly close 24/7. I may never serve in a real uniform, but my heart is often camouflaged in various shades of red, white, and blue.