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Internship - Genealogy

Genealogy project based around Civil War Letters donated to Stanley Library, completed by Jake Dilauro - Spring 2023.

Summers County, West Virginia, was officially established on February 27th, 1871. In the county, there is a tiny town called Hinton, where the Ellison's originate from. It is located approximately 100.4 miles away from Ferrum, Virginia, and it will take you roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes to get you there by vehicle today.

The majority of the letters shared between Charles and Leona ranged between 1863 to1868, with their marriage happening in 1877; this makes the relationship of Charles and Leona older then the town they lived in together. Leona and her family were from Giles County, Virginia, while most of the Ellison's have since stayed in the West Virginia and Virginia regions.

The War to End Slavery

The Civil War was a war that made the country split into two parts, the North and South, separated by politics but bound by blood and kinship. Across the nation, battles raged where brothers fought brothers and, in some instances, fathers fought sons.

This all started out as a war against slavery, which is why the Civil War is also known as “ The War Against Slavery” or “The Confederate War”. The North, also known as the Union, consisted of: Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, California, Nevada, and Oregon. The South, also known as the Confederates, consisted of: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, taxes, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. The Union wanted for all of slavery to be completely eradicated while the Confederates wanted to continue on to make their fortune off the backs of free labor. In the end, after four years of brutal conflict, the Union prevailed and proceeded with the emancipation of all slaves in their controlled territories. 


There are many ways that people look into history to gain a better understanding into what exactly was going on at the time. Most documents or primary sources that are provided to the public are usually published by people of higher education in fields, such as English and History. These are not at all bad places to get a good basis into what exactly was going on back then from a broader perspective, but to gain more understanding of the time period, one must be willing to dive deeper into research. One route to gain a more personal perspective of history is through the study of Genealogy. 

When studying Genealogy you can take a deep dive into individual everyday people and see how they perceive what was going on during their time alive in the world. To study Genealogy you end up looking into things like gravestones, obituaries, censuses, library of archives, and even the amazing record the Church Of Latter Day Saints. 

Interesting facts about Genealogy 

  • Contrary to popular belief, Ellis Island were not the ones to change family names.
    • It was normally just the original ancestor changing it or shortening it.
  • The largest known family lineage come from Confucius, who at the time has over 3 million descendants throughout the world making a total of 86 recorded lineages.