I thought I was going to struggle with this week’s 52 Ancestors theme: Same. “What ancestor is a lot like you? What ancestor do you have a lot in common? Same name? Same home town?” I’ve written quite a bit about my family, so I looked to my husband’s family tree for inspiration. I was still stumped. However, while out with friends on Saturday night, inspiration hit me.
My husband was born and raised in Wisconsin, a 3rd generation descendant of a few branches of his family tree. Three of his 3rd great grandfathers and some great grand uncles had enlisted in the Union Army during the American Civil War, including Samuel Kelsey, David Harrison Caylor and James P. Larry.
About three-quarters of Wisconsin’s recruits were sent to Madison, WI to train at Camp Randall. The recruits didn’t spend much time there. They were given a uniform, trained quickly and then sent off to battle. Before they left Madison, the troops would often stop off a at a tavern on their way out of town, located at what is now East Washington Avenue and Milwaukee Streets. The area became known as “Union Corners.”Soldiers would belly up to the beautifully carved wooden bar on the first floor of the two story building, and order their drinks that from an assortment of bottles displayed on the back bar, which was also intricately carved.
Almost 100 years came and went. The Civil War was long over. In the 1950s, the old tavern building was torn down, and replaced by a gas station. Another, smaller, one story building was built and the handsome wooden bar and back bar were moved to the new building, and the tavern business continued, changing owners and names.
It is still open today, and is one of the most popular spots in Madison for craft beer enthusiasts. Once in a while, you will find my husband among those enthusiasts. Perhaps sitting at the same spot and touching the same wood that one of his 3rd great grandfathers may have sat over a hundred years before, before they marched off for war.