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The Tentacle


January 16, 2013

Letters Reveal Divided Shriver Family

Kevin E. Dayhoff

This Saturday the Historical Society of Carroll County will give a presentation on the letters and documents which shed additional light on the divided loyalties of the Shriver family of Carroll and Frederick counties during the Civil War.

 

The presentation is part of a long standing tradition of throwing an annual birthday party for the county every January.

 

From 1659 to 1837, the eastern half of Carroll County was governed by Baltimore County. From 1695, Prince George’s County governed the western portion of Carroll County until 1748 when Frederick County was formed.

 

As early as 1785, citizens petitioned Maryland Gov. William Paca to form a separate county from parts of Frederick and Baltimore counties.

 

Finally, a bill was introduced in 1835 and passed the General Assembly on March 25, 1836, to form Carroll County. This act was confirmed on January 19, 1837. It only took about 50 years, but Carroll Countians had finally changed their government.

 

On Saturday, according to local historian Catherine Baty, curator of the Historical Society, “Helen MacSherry will discuss, in particular, the Union Mills Homestead Foundation's project to transcribe and publish the documents, letters, and diaries written by the Shriver family during the Civil War.”

 

The Shriver family originally arrived in Philadelphia in 1721. The first member of the family, Andrew Shriver (1712-1797,) came from the Electorate Palatine in Germany.

 

According to a definitive account of the family’s divided loyalties during the Civil War, “The Shrivers: Under Two Flags,” originally published by family descendent, David Shriver Lovelace, in 2003, Andrew Shriver, Sr., “settled just east of Littlestown” in 1733.

 

An old Shriver family history published by the Maryland Historical Society in 1977 reports that “his son, David Shriver, Sr. (1735-1826,) moved to Frederick County… and eventually became a political, economic, and social leader, especially among the large German populace in that area… It was this Shriver that laid the foundation of the family’s prominence, most notably in the political arena…

 

“Union Mills is located seven miles north of Westminster, Maryland, and was founded by David Shriver's son – David Shriver, Jr. (1769-1852) and Andrew Shriver (1762-1847) – in 1797.”

 

Mr. Lovelace observes in his book that “Maryland, as a Civil War border state, found many of her families divided… in their loyalties between the North and South. These differences played out in the living rooms and parlors on the home front…” Moreover, in the case of the Shriver family, the divided loyalties were also played out in their diaries and letters.

 

“The Civil War history of the Shriver family begins in Frederick, Maryland, where a member of the family became involved in an event that was to become a prologue to the war,” observed Mr. Lovelace in his book.

 

“Abraham Shriver and his wife, Ann Margaret Leatherman, had settled in Frederick. Abraham, a prominent judge, was the third son of David Shriver, Sr., and a younger brother of David Jr. and Andrew, who together founded Union Mills, Maryland. These two branches of the family maintained a close relationship, attested by many letters exchanged among family members over the years…,” according to Mr. Lovelace.

 

“Edward Shriver was born on December 8, 1812, the second son of Abraham and Ann Margaret… Edward was also an early member of the Maryland Militia… In October 1859, as a colonel commanding the Sixteenth in Frederick, Maryland, he took part in the incident at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia that foreshadowed the war…”

 

Here, TheTentacle.com editor and publisher, John W. Ashbury picks up the story in his book, “… and all our yesterdays: A Chronicle of Frederick County Maryland.”

 

“Late on the evening of October 16, 1859, John Brown and 21 followers raided Harpers Ferry ... Frederick officials sent a telegram to President James Buchanan offering help. It was quickly accepted. Colonel Edward Shriver, a Frederick lawyer and the commander of the 16th… assembled three companies of militia…

 

“But before Shriver and his men could act, Colonel Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart arrived with Marines from Washington. Lee followed Shriver’s plan and captured Brown and his supporters…”

 

In the end, John Brown’s raid failed, “in no small measure due to the actions of Fredericktonians…,” noted Mr. Ashbury.

 

Meanwhile the well-known history account detailing Carroll County during the Civil War, Just South of Gettysburg, by Frederic Shriver Klein, W. Harold Redcay, and G. Thomas LeGore, further explains “the way in which the Civil War divided members of the same family in Maryland …

 

Two brothers, William Shriver and Andrew K. Shriver lived on opposite sides of the road at the time of the Civil War, and the sympathies of the two brothers and their families took opposite sides as the war progressed.

 

“Strangely enough, members of William Shriver’s family, who were sympathizers with the southern cause, did not own any negro slaves at the time of the war; and yet Andrew K. Shriver’s family, who were Northern sympathizers, owned a few negro slaves as household servants, and kept them until slavery was abolished…

 

“Personal letters from the two Shriver families illustrate the different interpretations and attitudes of Northern and Southern sympathizers, when both Confederate troops and Union troops were stationed in the Union Mills area in the same twenty-four hours,” right before the Battle of Gettysburg.

 

First person-primary source information about historic events, such as the Shriver letters, are cherished by historians like myself.

 

The annual Historical Society of Carroll County birthday program is a critically acclaimed history presentation and is free and open to the public. The program will be held from 2 P.M. – 4 P.M., in Holy Cross Hall, Church of the Ascension, on Court Street in Westminster. For more information: 410-848-6494.

 

 . . . . .I’m just saying…

 

kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

 

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