Henry Maloney Oral History

The following is from the (unpublished) nine-page, printed recollections of John Henry Maloney, M.D. (1918-2001):

"Mention should be made of Henry,1 son of William.2

"About 1861, Henry and his brothers decided to build a ship, load her with lumber, take her down to New Orleans and sell both the lumber and the ship. So, sometime in 1863, Henry and crew sailed and were never heard of and presumed lost at sea with all hands.

"Then, 49 years later, without any notice, who arrived on the new railroad, but Henry who announced he had come home to die.

"He and his trunk were taken to the old home and the relatives gathered to view this modern day Lazarus. He offered little information and that had to be dragged out of him with difficulty.

"By the end of the week, the following story had been pieced together.

"Uncle Henry was totally unaware that a civil war had begun in the U.S.A. He arrived in New Orleans after a relatively easy voyage and within a few days the North succeeded in blockading the port. Blow 2: the Confederacy impounded ship and cargo without recompense. Blow 3: Henry was forcibly inducted into the Southern Army.

"One incident that Uncle Henry told, was always retold by mother3 in hushed tones.

"One night, with two other soldiers, he came upon a squalid hut. He sneaked up and peered in the window. There, by the light of an oil lamp, he saw [a] Southern Officer questioning a black woman who had been nursing a baby. Suddenly the officer seized the baby, ran it through with his sword and abruptly departed.

"His stint in the Confederate forces ended as suddenly as it began. One Sunday morning while on a patrol, he came to a delightful creek. He hadn't had a bath in over three months. He stripped off and jumped into a pool. A few minutes later, he looked up to see a Northern officer and several men regarding him with contemptuous amusement. The officer said not a word but beckoned him ashore. Thus, he was taken prisoner of war, balls naked.

"He was shipped to a prisoner of war camp in the north. It may have been Andersonville4 because his description of the haste in building new barracks is much as [no author named]5 describes it in his work on the period. After watching the shoddy construction from a small window in his cell, Henry prevailed upon the commander to use his talents and promised him a few straight walls for a change. Henry eventually headed a crew of men who kept building, as the Confederacy gradually fell apart in 1865, and the prisoners poured in.

"After the surrender, and in view of the fact that Henry was really a foreign national, the commander arranged that Henry be paid something for all the work he had done.

"For some reason, which only God above knows, Henry, at this time. took all his wages and went west to British Columbia, which was then opening up, and took out a grant of land there. And there he went and began farming. He was then 36 and had never married, nor did he ever. In time, the plot next to his farm was taken up by a family whose name I once knew but now forget. They had a little daughter who often used to skip over to Henry's farm and talk to him, bring[ing] him something baked by her mother. He grew very fond of this girl and when he decided to return to Barachois to die, he gave her his farm.

"The foregoing part of the story, though in greater detail, had been arrived at on the fourth night of his return.

"It was at this stage that Lewis,6 unable any longer to control his impulsivity, broke out with: 'But Uncle Henry, for God's sake, why didn't you write?'

"And Uncle Henry gave him the answer nobody there ever forgot: 'I never thought of it.'"

Quoted with the permission of the family of Dr. John Henry Maloney.

1Henry Maloney (1829-1914).
2William "Bill" Maloney (1790-1864).
3Hildred Elizabeth McAuley (1892-1975), wife of Valentine Maloney (1885-1951).
4This seems unlikely. As a prisoner of the Union forces, Henry would have been held in one of their prisons. "Andersonville, or Camp Sumter as it was officially known, was one of the largest of many Confederate military prisons established during the Civil War. It was built early in 1864 after Confederate officials decided to move the large number of Federal prisoners kept in and around Richmond, Virginia, to a place of greater security and a more abundant food supply. During the 14 months the prison existed, more than 45,000 Union soldiers were confined here. Of these, almost 13,000 died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding, or exposure to the elements." (National Park Service, US Department of the Interior, Andersonville Web site.)
5Perhaps it was Mackinlay Kantor. Andersonville. Toronto, ON, Canada; Signet, 1964.
6Lewis Maloney (1873-1945) is the nephew of Henry and the uncle of Dr. Maloney.

Last Updated: 2014-07-10
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