Archiver > ARBRADLE > 2003-12 > 1071713027

From: "Melissa Jones" <>
Subject: [ARBRADLE] Interesting article from Arkansas Online
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2003 20:03:47 -0600

Forwarded article from Arkansas Online ...
The man in the PHOTO
A 140-year-old tintype led Christine Gatewood on a journey to find her grandfather, who went from slave to Civil War soldier to landowner.


America's Civil War lives on in history books and in organizations that honor those who fought and died in it. But, of the descendants of these veterans, few in this century can claim to be only one generation removed from the war - and from slavery.
By accident, Christine Gatewood of Little Rock found out that she is the granddaughter of a man who went from slave to Civil War veteran, and who was one of the developers and community leaders in the area that is now southwest Little Rock. He also helped establish a church and school there.
A tintype, more than 140 years old, of Egbert Austin Longley in Union Army garb is just one of several mementos that led Gatewood on a threeyear odyssey that culminated with her locating Longley's grave in Fraternal Cemetery in Little Rock, getting it a new gravestone and organizing an Oct. 25 luncheon and Masonic ceremony in Longley's honor.
Initially, the picture of Longley in uniform was the only proof Gatewood had of her grandfather's role in the Civil War.
"I was like, 'I cannot believe it,'" she says. "My mother was always saying, 'I never learned and we never knew that there were black soldiers in the Civil War.' She said, 'I never believed it.' "It's hard to believe, but I've got the pictures, and I literally did the research just to back everything up," says Gatewood, who is a researcher for the Arkansas History Commission.
The photo, along with those of other relatives from the same era, belonged to Gatewood's uncle, Edward Longley, who had lived in her grandmother's home. When Edward Longley died in early 1991, he left the house to Gatewood and her two sisters.
Thieves had broken in twice and plundered the contents of the house. During the second break-in, they'd dragged a dresser - along with some other furniture - out to the front yard but left them there, having apparently found them too troublesome to deal with. The photos were in a drawer of the dresser. Gatewood retrieved the photos, but it was nearly 10 years before she did anything with them.
In 1998, Gatewood and her husband, Curtis, began to inspect the photos.
"We started talking about them, looking at them, and [decided] these are really important to black history," she says. "We hadn't learned in school that black soldiers actually fought in the Civil War... This [aspect] of the Civil War I thought was important for our children to learn.... "
She began looking into the life of Longley, her paternal grandfather. Gatewood's father, Leland Longley, Egbert's youngest son, was born in 1908. Egbert Longley was 72 at the time.
Her grandmother, Hattie Fredonia Waters, was Egbert Longley's second wife, Gatewood says. "She was at least 30 years younger than him. And when I was born, my father was 54. So that's why I'm just a generation away from the Civil War."
Egbert Austin Longley was born in February 1837 to Ann, a slave on the Longley plantation in Brownsville, Tenn. His father, Robert Y. Longley, was the plantation owner's son. As a young man, Egbert Longley, "who had an intense desire to be free," according to Gatewood's biography of him, ran away to Murfreesboro, Tenn., and joined the Union Army. He was a member of the 88th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment, which was charged with guarding Memphis at Fort Pickering during the Civil War. Longley became a corporal. Later, he became associated with the Third U.S. Colored Cavalry, Heavy Artillery, which merged with the 88 th.
After the war, hostility toward blacks prompted Longley to move to Arkansas to begin a new life as a free man. The Longley family came to Arkansas in 1871. In 1879, they moved to an area near Fourche Creek that first came to be called the Longley Settlement because of the size of the Longley family; it is now part of southwest Little Rock. In 1890, Longley was ordained as an African Methodist Episcopal minister. He and his eight siblings built a log house that was used as both Longley Methodist Church and Longley Negro School.
Because of a spring on the Longley property, the church/school and a nearby cemetery were named Spring Hill. The church, school and cemetery's names were later renamed after the family. However, the cemetery is still known to some as Spring Hill Cemetery.
Egbert Longley married his first wife, Myra Davis, in 1885; the couple had two children. Myra Longley died in 1893. Egbert went on to marry Gatewood's grandmother and have four more children. Seeking additional means of support, Egbert Longley also went on to make a career as a master carpenter, bricklayer and real estate owner. He purchased property in central Little Rock and moved his brothers' and sister's families there. He also moved so that his children could attend Philander Smith College.
SILENT WITNESS Egbert Longley died in 1920, having remained silent about his role in the war because of fear of retaliation from whites in the area, Gatewood wrote in his biography. Hattie Fredonia Longley lived 36 years after him, collecting her husband's Civil War pension until her death in 1956. Longley Negro School lasted until the early 1960s. Longley Church now exists as Longley Baptist Church, 9900 Geyer Springs Road. This, Gatewood says, was a result of a split in the original church.
It was the fact that her grandfather had fought with the Union Army during the Civil War that threw Gatewood's research for a loop.
Verifying the information was a three-year process. Court records revealed that Longley had indeed been ordained as a minister. Gatewood discovered that he was mentioned in books that included The United States Colored Troops: The Roster of Union Soldiers, 1861 Through 1865, edited by Janet B. Hewett (Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1997). She also traveled to Brownsville, Tenn., to do more research.
"He was in all these books, and I couldn't believe he kept showing up," Gatewood says. "This man is really amazing to have come from being born a slave then become a soldier, then come from where he came from and... to become a minister and to give back to God - thanking him for bringing him out of the bondage of slavery."
Visits to the courthouse and the Little Rock Housing Authority revealed that Egbert Longley had owned a lot of properties." Gatewood has a map of the land owned by her grandfather.
The attempt to locate Longley's grave was one of the biggest challenges of Gatewood's research. First, she went to Longley/Spring Hill Cemetery. Finding no grave there, she asked colleagues at the History Commission for advice. They told her to find out the date of his death in the death index, then get a copy of the death certificate. The death certificate listed Dubisson Funeral Home as being in charge of funeral arrangements, but it no longer had records going back to 1920. HERITAGE HUNT After an unsuccessful search for her grandfather's grave at Haven of Rest, a black cemetery in Little Rock and the closest one to her grandmother's house, it occurred to Gatewood that her grandfather might be buried at Little Rock National Cemetery, which is for veterans. She visited officials of Oakland Cemetery, the caretaker of National Cemetery, but Egbert Longley's name was not on its list of those buried in National Cemetery. Then Gatewood noticed Fraternal Cemetery, which is ac!
ross the street from Oakland Cemetery.
Next, Gatewood took another look at her grandfather's death certificate. "At the bottom it said 'Fraternal.' "So we went over to Fraternal Cemetery, and we walked around there, went over there three or four times," but found nothing. The cemetery's headstones had been misplaced when Horace Mann High School (now a magnet middle school) was built. Some graves had sunk; others were obscured by moss and grass.
The cemetery's sexton told Gatewood that Fraternal Cemetery's records had been burned in 1975. Gatewood was discouraged, but determined not to give up. She went back the History Commission and was advised to go to City Hall to see if it had any record of her grandfather's burial at Fraternal. Nancy Clark, Little Rock city clerk, told her there were two old books on the cemetery and those buried there. Looking through the books, Gatewood saw that most of the prominent blacks buried in the cemetery - including noted lawyer Scipio A. Jones - were Masons. She knew her grandfather had been a Mason.
Toward the end of one of the books, Gatewood found her grandfather's name.
"I couldn't believe it.... I was so excited about that," she says. The book gave an exact description of the plot and its location. She saw that Egbert Longley had purchased six plots for family members, which meant her grandmother was likely buried there, along with several of her father's brothers and an aunt.
Gatewood headed back to the sexton at Fraternal Cemetery with the death certificate, copies of the pages of the book giving the proof that her grandfather's remains were there, and proof that Egbert Longley purchased the plot in 1905. The grave was said to be at Willow Avenue, Grave C. They found it, as well as the other family graves.
Her next step was to order a headstone from the Office of Memorial Programs, Department of Veterans Affairs. The office supplies free grave markers for war veterans. Two weeks after the request was sent, the office called her to verify the information on Egbert Longley. "It was a long process," she says.
Gatewood also ordered a copy of her grandfather's pension file. It was a year before she received it, "but it was worth it." The 200 pages of information contained his autobiography and listed his duties as a soldier. In addition, Gatewood found Longley's marriage license, her grandmother's first marriage license (Hattie and Egbert Longley were both widowed when they met), her father's birth certificate, and a record of her grandmother's request for extra money from the pension fund on behalf of Gatewood's father, who was only 12 when Egbert Longley died. One of the pictures Gatewood has is of her grandfather holding her father on his lap, with her father's brothers standing nearby.
Gatewood has since traced her family history back to Senegal in western Africa, and is in the process of doing a book about her mother's family. She's researching the story of a great-grandfather who also was a slave-turned-Civil War veteran.
"If we don't write our own history... it will be lost forever."

This story was published Wednesday, December 17, 2003

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