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.)
Darlene Colon lives and breathes history. Her work hours as well as her leisure hours are filled with historical matters. She has found through her research that the stories of her family are woven into dozens of stories putting them directly into the main stream of Pennsylvania and American history.
It was not long after the list of 100 USCT Veterans was posted, one worker noted recently, that Ms. Colon found one of her ancestors and was able to piece together his story with things she already knew about eight or nine other ancestors she had traced through records in archives and libraries and other places where she could find creditable sources.
A resident of Lancaster, Ms. Colon is a member of the Pennsylvania Past Players, a living history group created by the Cultural and Heritage Tourism Office of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Tourism. In this group of highly-trained, professional actors Ms. Colon portrays the renowned Lydia Hamilton Smith, the “colored woman” who lived with Thaddeus Stevens (dying, incidentally with an estate of roughly a half million dollars, according to Ms. Colon.
Demonstrating her ability to engage and share what she knows, she speaks about her great-great-grandfather, Abraham Quamony, as if she knew him and recites his service record with ease: A resident of Conestoga, he was born in March, 1837. He enlisted in the 24th Regiment on February 13, 1865 at Philadelphia, probably at Camp William Penn. He became a corporal and he saw service around the Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia area.
Abraham Quamony was mustered out of the service in October, 1865.
Ms. Colon’s great-great uncle, John Thompson who lived in Colerain Township, Lancaster, became a member of the 3rd USCT, Company B. He enlisted in June, 1863, Ms. Colon says, and was the son of Ezekiel Thompson, one of the resistance fighters at Christiana in 1851. The so-called Christiana Riots are believed by many, Ms. Colon suggested, to be one of the most important moments in history leading to the Civil War.
Irony runs through and through Ms. Colon’s stories and she is amazed sometimes at how people and things are interconnected.
In the case of her ancestor Ezekiel Thompson, for example, she learned that the lead lawyer in representing the African men against slave hunters was none other than Thaddeus Stevens, the lawyer who studied law in York, practiced in Gettysburg and set up residence in Lancaster. The same Thaddeus Stevens who championed equal rights and advocated for a public school system – at one time a school teacher, at another an iron master and another a Congressman. At his side, of course, was Lydia Hamilton Smith, known wide and far for her intelligence and style.