Saturday, March 8, 2008

Fascinating fact about my birthplace and Appommattox


I was recently listening to Civil War Talk Radio hosted by historian Gerry Prokopowicz and I found out a fascinating fact concerning my birthplace (Niagara Falls, NY) and Appommattox Court House. This fact concerns the house of Wilmer McLean where Lee surrendered to U.S. Grant

In 1891, the house changed hands again, going to Captain Myron Dunlap of Niagara Falls, N.Y.

“He was a former Union officer,” said Schroeder, “and one of his plans was to make the site a retirement community for other ex-Union soldiers.”

That gave way to another plan, to dismantle the house and ship it to the World Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893.

“They made drawings and took it apart, brick by brick,” said Schroeder, “but the World’s Fair decided it didn’t want the house - not for $10,000, which was the asking price.”

Then the speculators went bust in the Panic of 1893, and the house where the Civil War ended sat for 50 years as a pile of bricks.

“There were 8,000 or so bricks originally,” said Schroeder, “but people kept carrying them off as souvenirs, and only 5,500 were left when the reconstruction started after World War II.”



Source:

http://www.niagara2008.com/trivia.html



Here is the full article that I googled

http://www.newsadvance.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=LNA%2FMGArticle%2FLNA_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173352197543&path=!news!archive


McLean descendants gather at Civil War surrender site
By Darrell Laurant
dlaurant@newsadvance.com
Monday, July 30, 2007


APPOMATTOX - More than 142 years ago, the Civil War came looking for Wilmer McLean.

This week, with his descendants, it was the reverse.

McLean and his family were upstairs in their two-story house when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant signed the agreement that ended the four darkest years in American history. The oft-repeated irony is that McLean, who lived in Manassas, had moved to Appomattox after the first Battle of Bull Run to escape the war.

“He used to say that the war started in his front yard and ended in his parlor,” said Patrick Schroeder, a historian with the Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park.

Four generations of McLean descendants toured the historic park and the restored house on Monday, a first for the family.

According to Charlotte Lageman, McLean’s great-granddaughter, “a family story is that a cannonball came through the chimney and fell into a pot of soup he was cooking in Manassas. That’s when he said, ‘This war is getting too close.’”

Of course, McLean was also a successful businessman, Schroeder pointed out, “and part of his reason for moving to Appomattox was business. He sold supplies to the Confederacy, and Manassas was often behind Union lines.”

The McLean descendants had been planning Monday’s home tour for a while, said Diane Brower, Lageman’s daughter, “but it’s hard to get everybody together at one time.”

Samantha Scott wasn’t all that excited when it finally happened. The great-great-great-great granddaughter of Wilmer, she’s only 5 months old.

“Since she’s been born, I’ve gotten more interested in our family history,” said Dawn Scott of Leesburg, Charlotte Lageman’s granddaughter.

Lageman has been to the McLean house on a number of occasions with Joyce Abbitt, another family member who lives in Appomattox. But it was Dawn Scott’s first time.

“We don’t have any family heirlooms from my great-grandfather,” said Charlotte Lageman. “It’s all here. My mother donated his spurs and some of his family’s baby shoes to the park.”

After the war, McLean and his family moved back to Northern Virginia. The Appomattox house was purchased at auction by John L. Pascoe, then sold to the Ragland family. In 1891, the house changed hands again, going to Captain Myron Dunlap of Niagara Falls, N.Y.

“He was a former Union officer,” said Schroeder, “and one of his plans was to make the site a retirement community for other ex-Union soldiers.”

That gave way to another plan, to dismantle the house and ship it to the World Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893.

“They made drawings and took it apart, brick by brick,” said Schroeder, “but the World’s Fair decided it didn’t want the house - not for $10,000, which was the asking price.”

Then the speculators went bust in the Panic of 1893, and the house where the Civil War ended sat for 50 years as a pile of bricks.

“There were 8,000 or so bricks originally,” said Schroeder, “but people kept carrying them off as souvenirs, and only 5,500 were left when the reconstruction started after World War II.”

The house was opened to the public on April 9, 1949, and officially dedicated in an April 16, 1950, ceremony that included direct descendants of Grant and Lee.

According to Schroeder, the McLean House draws more of the park’s visitors than the restored courthouse.

“That’s what everybody wants to see,” he said.

As for the McLean descendants, Wilmer isn’t the only family member with a high profile. Jeff Lageman, the son of Leon and Charlotte Lageman, was a star football player at the University of Virginia and a first-round draft pick of the New York Jets. He played 10 years in the National Football League and is now a successful businessman and color commentator for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ network.

“He’s the runt of the family,” said Leon Lageman with a smile. “6-foot-7, 290 pounds.”

Wilmer would be proud.

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