Our Founder, Grace Darling Seibold
by Ruth Stonesifer, Past National President
Having done some extensive genealogical research about my own family, I got curious about where Grace Darling Seibold, our founder, was buried. Since she lived in DC, I thought this was a good place to start my search. After not finding much on the Internet, I went back to Headquarters to see if there was some information. In our records was an old yellowed newspaper article containing all the leads I would need for an adventure.
"Mrs. Seibold Rites Slated for Monday "1947" Funeral services will be held at 2 pm Monday at Hines funeral home for Mrs. Grace Darling Seibold, 78, organizer and first national president of the American Gold Star Mothers. Mrs. Seibold, wife of George G. Seibold, died at 3 pm Thursday at her home, 756 Rock Creek Church Rd NW following an illness of more than two years. Burial will take place in Rock Creek Cemetery. Mrs. Seibold requested a short time before her death, that money her friends might spend on flowers be contributed to the American Cancer society."
"Her father, Gen Edward Washburn Whitaker, was chief of staff to Gen. George A. Custer during the Civil War. General Whitaker is said to have arranged the conference between Gen. Robert E Lee and Gen. U.S. Grant which resulted in the Southern surrender. She organized the Gold Star Mothers after WWI. Her son First Lieut. George V. Seibold, an aviator, was killed in France. The Washington chapter of the Gold Star Mothers is named in her Honor."
"She was a member of Calvary Baptist Church 8th and H Streets NW, The North Star Union, Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the American Legion Auxiliary, the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Ladies Auxiliary of the International Typographical Union. Her husband was secretary of Columbia Typographical Union here between 1904 and 1926. A native of Hartford, Conn., she was brought to Washington by her family at the age of 2."
"Besides her husband, she leaves a daughter, Mrs. William G. Nelson, Jr. of Roanoke, a son Louis Edward Seibold of Washington, a Sister Mrs. Charles T. Chaplin of Washington and two grandchildren."
The next morning, I plugged in her old address to see if her house was still there after 60 years. Just down from Walter Reed Hospital is Rock Creek Church Rd. Her house appears to have been turned into three apartments but it struck me as I drove away-- it was painted Gold, a very appropriate color.
I knew the Cemetery was my next destination. Diane M. Gouin in the office found the grave site of Grace D. Seibold behind the building in section "O" number 319. I felt as though I had found a long, lost relative as I approached the grave site. Her foot stone is simply engraved with Grace Darling Whitaker, Wife of George, 1870-1947. Carol has scheduled the foot-stones to be brought up to ground level. I hope to get permission so we as her organization can install a Gold Star Mother and Father Grave marker the next time we are in DC. I think some yellow roses are long overdue.
But I was still curious when I read the information about her father in her obituary, I thought that maybe this was just one of those stories you hear about in your family. My relatives were supposed to have landed with Lafayette. I typed "Edward Washburn Whitaker" into Google and his grave site in Arlington came up with an entire bio and picture. He was a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. Our Founder came from good New England stock starting back in the American Revolution.
Edward Washburn Whitaker was born on June 15, 1841 in Killingly, Connecticut. He was the son of George Whitaker and Mary (Colgrove) Whitaker. Edward was one of sixteen children (eight brothers and seven sisters). He was educated in the public schools in Ashford, Connecticut and in an Academy in Olneyville, Rhode Island. Edward is a descendant of Richard Whitaker and Rebecca (Cooper) Whitaker of Rehobeth, Massachusetts. Edward’s great-grandfather was Lieutenant Richard Whitaker, an officer in the Revolutionary War.
Edward was one of four brothers who enlisted in Union Regiments in the Civil War. Edward and Daniel enlisted together in Connecticut or New York regiments, William in a New Hampshire regiment, and George enlisted in a California unit and served in New Mexico. Edward fought in 82 engagements during the course of the war. He was slightly wounded at Falling Waters, Maryland, by shrapnel. While running at a gallop at Five Forks, Virginia, his horse fell on him, and caused him to have a lifelong groin and back injury. Edward was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions at Reams Station, Virginia, on June 29, 1864. At the age of 23 he was the youngest General in the War of the Rebellion.
In his HISTORY of the FIRST REGIMENT Connecticut Volunteer CAVALRY, Brevet Brigadier General Erastus Blakeslee writes of Edward Whitaker: "Captain Whitaker of the First Connecticut Cavalry, on Wilson’s staff, was dispatched to General Meade for succor. With forty men of the Third New York he dashed through the enemy’s lines and reached headquarters with fourteen men and two prisoners. But it was too late. Wilson burnt his ammunition and baggage wagons, left his ambulances, spiked his guns and retreated in hot haste."
During the Civil War, Edward and his brother Daniel had written 83 letters to their sister Adeline (Whitaker) James and their mother. The letters were donated to the Connecticut State Library on 9/4/1934 by Adeline James. On June 7, 1865 Edward married Theodosia Davis in Washington, DC. They had at least three children; Clara b. 1866, Thea b. 1868 and Grace, b. 1870. Four of Edward"s sisters became teachers in the south after the Civil War. After the war, Edward was appointed Superintendent of the U.S. Capitol Building, and later (1869) Postmaster of Hartford, Connecticut. (Appointed by President Grant). He was an insurance agent and a patent attorney in his later years, living in Washington, D.C. He was disabled most of his life by a heart condition brought on by malaria contracted shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg. Edward died on July 30, 1922 and was buried in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemetery. His wife Theodosia who died on January 3, 1937 is buried with him. He earned the Medal of Honor in the Civil War while serving as Captain, Company E, 1st Connecticut Volunteer Cavalry at Reams Station, Virginia, June 29, 1864. "While acting as an aide, he voluntarily carried dispatches from the commanding general to General Meade, forcing his way with a single Troop of Cavalry through an Infantry Division of the enemy in the most distinguished manner, though he lost half of his escort." The Medal was presented on April 2, 1898.