Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Stokes, Amanda

Amanda Stokes, born in 1820 and raised on a farm near Waynesville, overcame personal tragedy and grief by serving those in need.

Stokes' fiancée was killed during the Civil War. She responded to this loss by selling her wedding trousseau and other personal items and raising about a thousand dollars. After serving in local hospitals, she volunteered to be a nurse for the Northern Army. Her parents, Ellis and Hannah Morgan Stokes, other relatives, and friends discouraged her choice. She persisted.

Accepted by the army, she served at Stone River, Chattanooga, Chicamaugua, Murfreesboro, and Nashville. The thousand dollars was spent to buy delicacies and relief items for the soldiers in her care whom she called "her boys".

Hazel Spencer Phillips, an employee of the Warren County Historical Museum wrote a column called "Our Museum" in the 1940's for the Western Star, a Cox newspaper. In 1942 Phillips gave a speech in which she described Stokes' appearance. She wrote, "Amanda Stokes had dark brown naturally curly hair which she wore in curls about her head, parted in the middle. She had rather heavy dark brows and brown glowing eyes."

While working at the Chattanooga Hospital, Stokes was asked to take a wounded Lieutenant to another facility. The horses drawing the ambulance became frightened when crossing the Chattahoochee River. They ran off the bridge and into the water. Stokes managed to escape from the ambulance by breaking the wooden top with her head. Both Stokes and the patient were rescued by four soldiers who had seen the accident. The Lieutenant died a few days later and Stokes' health suffered ever after. The ambulance and all of her records were lost in the river.

By the end of the war Stokes had spent most of her funds and had difficulty obtaining a pension. The loss of her papers contributed to the problem. In 1878, due in part to the efforts of "her boys", Stokes was appointed a matron at the Ohio Sailors' and Soldiers' Orphans' Home in Xenia. She later became their librarian.

Finally, Stokes received a small pension, thanks to the persistent efforts of several citizens of Warren County.

Stokes died on March 25th, 1885. Her services were conducted at the East Baptist Church in Lebanon by Reverend Sumrall, pastor of the church. He was assisted by ministers from the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Christian Churches. Members of the Grand Army of the Republic attended and served as pall-bearers. The casket was draped with the American flag and topped with a beautiful floral wreath from the Home in Xenia. The Lebanon Gazette of April 1, 1885 reported the following, "The services were not protracted, but were peculiarly impressive, and many tearful eyes in the crowded audience attested to the deep affection and esteem in which the deceased was held in this community, where she has been so long and favorably known."

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