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Author's note: I was ten years old when I became enthralled by genealogy. My interest grew as I quizzed my grandmother, DOROTHY MAE (HENDERSON) MCKAIN (1917-1999), about her family-for her great-grandfather had died in the Civil War. She recalled that her grandparents, WILLIAM GEORGE and LAVINA JANE (WEETER) SEDWICK, had displayed a large portrait of the soldier, complete with uniform and saber, in their home. She remembered nothing else about him or his story-not even his name. As I interviewed other family members, the story became somewhat clearer. I was able to glean that William George's mother had died when he was only two and that his paternal grandparents had raised him so that his uncles were like brothers to him. William's father, the Civil War soldier, died in the war of a disease he had contracted when his horse was shot and he was pinned under it overnight. These romantic additions to the tale of the mysterious soldier only served to intrigue me more.
As I grew, so did my knowledge of sources for genealogical research. Census records, county and family histories, and land and estate records allowed me to put a name to the soldier and his wife: SERGEANT GEORGE FLETCHER SEDWICK and MELINDA C. HALSTEAD. A significant impediment to my search was due to the loss of many records in a nineteenth-century fire in the Butler County, PA courthouse. Eventually, two unusually rich sources of information were found in an ancient family Bible (that may have belonged to George and Melinda Sedwick) and the U.S. Army orphan's pension records for Sergeant Sedwick's son, WILLIAM GEORGE SEDWICK (1854-1928).
Some time later, to my delight, I discovered, among some old papers in my grandmother's attic, a long-forgotten essay that she had written, entitled, My Most Interesting Ancestor, that details the story of George Fletcher Sedwick's life! The essay was written during her freshman year at Kittanning (PA) High School-placing its composition sometime during the 1931-32 academic year. Upon rereading the article, Grandma recalled that she had been supplied the details of the story by her grandmother, LAVINA JANE (WEETER) SEDWICK (1855-1949), widow of the soldier's orphaned son.
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