|Charlie E. McCray|
Of all the ancestors in all the stories he's told (and retold), Dave's great-great-great-grandfather, Charlie McCray, is (so far) my favorite character.
Charles Edward McCray was born in Lewis County, Virginia (now West Virginia) on August 21, 1842 to Robert and Margaret McCray, a Scottish family in rural West Virginia. He fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War, survived starvation in a Union prison camp, walked more than 400 miles to reenlist after his release, and he lived to be 99-and-a-half years old.
His longevity is why his story is so vivid - Brooks knew his great-grandfather Charlie personally until he was 11 years old, when Charlie finally passed away. "I don’t have to find out from a tourist what happened at Gettysburg, I sat in the room with my great-grandfather who was there!" Brooks said. "He was in 17 battles in the Civil War! He was in Antietam! He was in Gettysburg!"
|Jonathan Bennett, a distant uncle to my husband|
|Cpt. James McCray's Headstone|
After surviving battles that tens of thousands of men had died in, after months of starvation in a prisoner-of-war camp, and after walking 400 miles over both enemy and rugged terrain, Charlie miraculously made it back home in one piece.
He rested for six months. But at the end of those six months, the war still had not ended. So he put on his grey uniform again and he reenlisted, not knowing he'd be a witness to the final battle of the Civil War.