Descendants’ Profiles – Mary Braxton

Mary Braxton

This profile was published in “Grand Review Times: A Call for the Descendants of USCT Troops from Camp William Penn 1863 to the Harrisburg Grand Review, 1865,” a supplement that appeared in the March 22, 2010 issue of ShowcaseNow! Magazine. ““Grand Review Times” is avalible for download as a PDF file here. (Adobe Reader must be installed on your computer in order to read this document.)

Mary Braxton has been a lifelong resident of Harrisburg and counts at least four veterans of the United States Colored Troops among her ancestors. Ms. Braxton is a graduate of John Harris High School and the Thompson Business College. She worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare for 35 years and is looking forward to a family reunion in July that will tell her even more, she hopes, about the ancestors who fought in the battles and skirmishes of the Civil War.

In particular, she is interested in her great-great grandfather, George Hezekiah Imes, who was born October 8, 1844 in Franklin County. Ms. Braxton learned that his family moved to Lehigh County when George Hezekiah was a toddler and in 1862 the family purchased a farm there. Soon after he was permitted to, her great-great grandfather enlisted at White Hall with the Lehigh 43rd and served in Company D as a sergeant. Among his military records she found evidence he was an eyewitness at Appomattox Courthouse when the treaty was signed to end the war. Following the surrender, she recounts, her ancestor was sent to the Mexican border on the Rio Grande River to monitor the movements of French troops. He was mustered out of the service on October 20, 1865 in Brownsville, Texas.

This veteran had a bright and hopeful outlook and followed opportunity wherever it took him. In 1886 during duties as a school teacher and a principal in Steelton he threw his hat in the ring for the state lieutenant governor, because, Ms. Braxton, says, he was told that a black man should have a role in the state government. He was visiting his parents in Juniata County, she says, when he died unexpectedly on August 24, 1892. He was buried in Lost Creek Cemetery in Juniata.

At least three relatives of George Hezikiah Imes and Ms. Braxton also served with the USCT. James Imes enlisted with the Pennsylvania USCT and later served with the 9th Infantry, Company K. He became one of the storied “Buffalo Soliders.” Another relative, Henry Imes, served with the USCT and was killed in action on August 17, 1864 at Dutch Gap, Virginia and another cousin, Esau Imes also served his country in the quest for freedom and solidarity.

Ms. Braxton is looking forward to her family reunion at Williamsburg, Virginia this summer and later in the year she plans to join in the observances taking place in her own hometown, including the reenactment of the Grand Review and all the activities taking place November 1-7.

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