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Woman sleuths into Civil War stories

Woman sleuths into Civil War stories, for better or worse
Sunday, April 04, 2004

By Joe Smydo, The Post-Gazette

George "Fisher" Moyers received a respectful salute when he died in 1936, his obituary asserting Canonsburg's last Civil War veteran earned his nickname when he joined the Union Army at 13.

Early in the war, the obituary said, the boy was fishing in his native Bedford County when he asked to accompany passing soldiers. "All right, fisher," one reportedly said, "come along."

Bunk, says Gina Nestor, Canonsburg's resident Civil War detective.

Nestor, 48, has spent months crawling among tombstones and poring over aged archives to compile a more accurate record of Canonsburg residents who served in the Civil War, bringing credit to some, deflating a few. Her painstaking research on 250 soldiers will appear in the May issue of The Jefferson College Times, newsletter of Jefferson College Historical Society.

She found misspelled names, cases of mistaken identity and other errors in respected source material from the Civil War period. She found some mistakes repeated when historians used each others' work. She found inaccurate dates on tombstones. Under her scrutiny, tall tales collapsed like the Rebel line at Gettysburg.

The Civil War is a favorite topic of professional and amateur historians, with some records as heavily trodden as battlefields. Yet Nestor found so many errors, she asked herself, "Is anything right?"

Nestor hopes her work will aid genealogists and historians. But, she said, correcting the record also is a way to honor those who served.

"It's my passion," Nestor said.

Moyers' obituary indicates he served with Company C, 205th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, from 1861 until the war ended in 1865. But Nestor found enlistment records showing Moyers joined the unit Aug. 26, 1864, when he was 16 and the war nearly over.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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