Thursday, May 22, 2014

Emma Elizabeth Sanderson, Civil War Poet (52 Ancestors, week 19)

Emma Elizabeth Sanderson > Elmira Lyons > Lillian Emma Ransom >  Charles Lloyd Walters
Emma Elizabeth Sanderson is the daughter of Loren Sanderson and Almira Allen. She was born on June 18, 1847 in Oriskeny, New York. She married John Lyons in 1864. John enlisted in naval service in the Civil War in September of 1864 and by the end of the war, he was serving in Texas. After the war, the couple settled in Leroy and later Marengo, Iowa, both in Benton County. Emma’s parents and family also settled in Benton County. Emma gave birth to 7 children, 6 who lived to adulthood. Emma and John both died on the same day, May 2, 1914, Emma being seized with grief over the death of her husband. They are buried in the IOOF Cemetery in Marengo. Emma’s marker includes the symbol of the Women’s Relief Corp. 

The following is a poem that Emma is said to have written while waiting for John to return from the Civil War. As far as I have seen and can tell it is an original. (If anyone knows differently, please let me know)

Poem by Emma Lyons                    Utica, New York, June 7th, 1865

He is coming home today
Yes, he's coming home, my darling,
From the field where fiery wars
Holds his carnival in horror
Of the dear old Stripes and stars
and impatiently I'm waiting,
While the tedious hours delay,
For my gallant sailor lover
Who is coming home today.

Oh, my eyes were dim and tearful
As I watched him go away,
Looking oh, so brave and fearless
But he's coming home today.

How my cheeks turned pale with terror,
How my heart stood still with fright,
When they told me how he'd battled
In the thickest of the fight,
And I prayed that God would shield him
In the terrible affray
And forbid the balls to harm him.
But he's coming home today.

He is good as he is gallant,
And has such a charmed air.
And such mischief making glances
And such waves of curling hair
Oh my life is full of gladness
And my heart with pleasure gay
For my Johny true and faithful
And he's coming home today.

Sources: Census records from Ancestry; family photos, letters and stories


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Hi! My name is Melvin Gresham. Emma and John Lyons are my great grandparents. My mother was Mildred Ransom. I have a letter that John sent to Emma on July 31, 1865 while he was on the USS Grand Gulf in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Brownsville, Texas.

    1. Hi Melvin, Sorry I haven't replied to your comment. It has been a while since I've posted here and didn't see it until now.
      I have copies of letters John sent to Emma on May 22 and 27, 1865, also from the Grand Gulf. I would love to share information! You can find my email by viewing my complete profile above.

    2. Glad to hear from you Nellie. I would be happy to share information with you. I can send you a copy of the letter I have. I can also send you pictures of his compass that he carried throughout the Civil War.

    3. Wonderful! Can I get an email address from you? I have some photos of John, the letter text and copies of one of his journals. My address is
      Someday I will have to wrote a post here about John, but until then, I look forward to hearing from you!