Today I’m going to bounce back to the Leach family for just a bit. I’d asked cousin Dale Leach if he’d be willing to write a biographical sketch on the life of his great-great-grandfather, Sylvester Leach. Dale was indeed willing! So he’s started us off with this introductory version to whet our appetites and will create the “rest of the story” as time permits. Enjoy this lovely tidbit!
JOURNEY TO PINE GROVE
“People will not look forward to posterity who will not look backward to their ancestors.”
Sir Edmund Burke – 1729-1797, British Political Writer, Statesman
And so it was on that cold, January day in 1979 when I first began my journey as my father & I trudged back through the snow-drifted, country cemetery in Michigan to find the grave of my great, great grandfather, Sylvester Leach, whom I was later to discover had been a Civil War veteran and a private in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The occasion was my 31st birthday and I had recently developed an interest in family history, being a father myself with a 1 year old son, and was thus eager to learn more about my father’s family which had always been a great mystery as I grew up. Not the least of which was the perplexity of this man, whose posterity and long decayed remains, now lay frozen beneath my feet.
My avid interest in the Civil War did not originate on that winters day at Pine Grove Cemetery, but years before when I made a trip to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, with my parents and older brother, to visit some of my Mother’s relatives. As a nine year old: I vividly remember the wonderment I felt at first seeing the numerous Civil War battlefields & relics in an area which, unlike Michigan where I had grown up, was heavily touched by that great war 100 years before. How enthralled I was to hear the fearful family stories told of hated and much feared Federal troops who once burned and pillaged this beautiful valley that I now stood within as a wide eyed boy. Little did I realize then the great irony I was later to discover that my paternal great, great grandfather was among those marching with invading Union army of 1864 nor, quite simply: just how he would profoundly affect my life hence forward. A blessing this journey has been to my life since that cold winters day not only to have glimpsed the life of this admirable man, Sylvester Leach, but also the special people I have been privileged to meet along the way such as Lloyd A. Carr, Esther Starr Allen, Naomi Norton Blaine, and many, many more.
Dale H. Leach