Benjamin Franklin Barham – Corporal, Confederate States of America Army

Benjamin Franklin Barham was born in 1844 in Page, Virginia.  He died on 18 November 1919 in Washington, D.C.  He married Mary Catherine Ruffner in 1870 at Licking County, Ohio.  He married a second time to Carrie Lee Woodard, at St. John’s Church in Washington D.C. on 2 June 1895.

Benjamin Franklin Barham was born in or near the town of Luray in Page County, Virginia. His father was Francis Barham who had migrated there prior to 1839 from Williamsburg in the Tidewater region of Virginia. His mother was Mary M. Lamberson (Lammerson ?) Barham about whom we know very little.

Benjamin grew to manhood much the same as most other rural boys: working with his father, going to school and hiring out as a farm hand to help with the family finances. A diary from the War Between the States described him as being around 5’10” tall, having fair complexion and light hair. The above photograph, taken shortly after the war and while he was in Newport, Licking County, Ohio, indicates that he was quite a handsome man


Considering his propensity for wandering later in his life it is not at all surprising that he quickly enlisted in the Confederate Army at the outset of the War when he was only seventeen. He served in Company K of the 10th Virginia Infantry through many of the major engagements of the war. In 1864 he was captured, along with most of his regiment, at Spotsylvania Courthouse during the Battle of the Wilderness. He and the other prisoners from the 10th were taken to the Federal prisoner-of-war camp at Point Lookout, Maryland, and then transferred to the camp at Elmira, New York, until their release under Oath of Allegiance in June of 1865.

It appears that he wandered westward to Licking County, Ohio, shortly after he returned home from the war. There he met and married his first wife, Mary Catherine Ruffner who, surprisingly, was also from Page County. They remained in Ohio for several years and five of their seven children were born there. They returned to Virginia in 1878, shortly after the death of his father, Francis. His infant son, Francis (obviously named after his recently deceased father), was his first child born in Virginia.

The children of Ben and Mary Catherine are:
Everett Edward,  b: about 1870
Hubert  b: 1876
Wylie  b: August, 1872
Francis A.  b: October 6, 1878
Luella,  b: November 27, 1873
Asa  b: December 20, 1880
Ernest  b: 1874

His parents and at least one of his brothers lived in the small village of Hamburg, two miles west of Luray near the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, and so he and Mary returned to that area upon his father’s death. His father had worked in the building trades as a plasterer and Ben and his brothers undoubtedly learned their occupations from him.

In 1883 the Page News and Courier records that Ben and several friends planned to travel to Texas where it was said that fortunes could be made. There is no further record indicating that he actually left for Texas but there is proof that at least one of the group went and it is very probable that Ben and the others went with him. There is virtually no record of Ben in Page County between 1863 and 1892 and, in fact, Mary executed a deed for a property in 1887 without Benjamin being there. We only know that he was back in Page County in late 1892 when Mary died of Typhoid Fever, two weeks after their son, Hubert, died of the same disease. Mary and Hubert are both buried in Green Hill Cemetery on Main Street in Luray.

Ben apparently remained in Hamburg after Mary’s death, along with his two sons, Asa and Francis. His daughter Luella was married and gone, as were his sons, Everett, Wylie and Ernest. Francis, or Frank as he was called, is relatively well-documented but, sadly, Asa seems to have disappeared completely and there is no record of his whereabouts thereafter.

Ben’s daughter Luella married a farmer named Oscar Dodson, of Sperryville in Rappahannock County, in 1893. Ben visited her often and it was there that he met the person who would become his second wife, Carrie Lee Woodard, who was a friend of Luella’s. She and Ben would sit and chat in the parlor whenever he visited and she could get away from her chores. Considering her age, 18, and his, 52, this relationship was not accepted well by her family. Family legend has them leaving messages to each other in a hole in an old tree “down by the creek”. In June of 1895 they ran away to Washington, DC, and married. After a stay at the Willard Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue they returned directly to Hamburg. Another family legend has one of Carrie’s uncles so angry over the marriage that he wanted to go to Luray to shoot Ben. Fortunately for future generations he did not. Although she lived in a small cabin beside Ben and Carrie’s home on Ridge Road in Washington in later years, Carrie’s mother never spoke to Ben, so intense was her dislike for him.

Benjamin Franklin and Carrie Lee had eight children although only five survived:
May Agnes b: May 17, 1896
Raymond  b: January 1, 1906
Elmer Lee  b: September 7, 1897
Lucy O’Neal  b: May 19, 1907
Mary Virginia  b: June 25, 1901
Margaret  b: August 31, 1912
Daniel  b: December 19, 1903
William Hayward  b: August 31, 1912

Raymond died when he was six months old and the twins, William Hayward and Margaret, died the same day they were born. Interestingly, Ben was sixty eight when he sired the twins.

Ben and Carrie apparently resided in Hamburg for a time although we do not know for how long or when they moved to Little Washington and Sperryville in Rappahannock County. His youngest sons, Asa and Francis, were still in their early teens and they lived with them until they were old enough to depart on their own. Ben and Carrie were living in Washington township when May Agnes was born and they lived in Sperryville when Elmer Lee and Mary Virginia were born. Carrie, both daughters and son Elmer were living in Sperryville without Ben in 1902. They lived in a small house (or office as it was described in a very poignant letter from Carrie to her brother, Hayward) behind the home of a Major Swindler on Main Street, directly across from the Woodward Road intersection. Ben purchased the tiny house for $100 and renovated it for them before going to work for one of the area farmers, living away from home most of the time.

The family moved to Washington, DC, around 1902 or 1903 and Daniel was born on Half Street in that city in December of 1903. Sometime after Dan was old enough to start school they moved to Culpeper, Virginia, where they remained for several years. All of the children attended public school there but it is not known when they returned to Washington, D.C.

Sometime after 1910 they moved into a house at 102 Ridge Road in the Benning section of SE Washington. The family lived there until Ben’s death on November, 18, 1919. It is not known whether Carrie and the children managed to keep the house after Ben’s death but it was necessary for Dan to quit school and find work to help with the family finances. After all of the children reached adulthood, married and left, Carrie moved into a small house behind the home of her daughter, May Agnes and May’s husband, Milford Cleveland, at 107 Ridge Road. She remained there, off and on, until May and Milford bought a new home in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She then moved into the home of her daughter, Mary, and her husband William Denham, which was located nearby at the corner of Ridge and Bowen Roads. She lived there until her death on September 13, 1974.

Benjamin Franklin Barham is buried in the Confederate Circle, Section 16, Grave 195-A, Arlington National Cemetery.

Carrie Lee Woodard Barham is buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Suitland, Maryland.

DATE OF DEATH: 11/18/1919


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