Friday, February 25, 2011

Sidney Clopton Lanier 1842-1881

While working on my Lanier family ancestral lines, I discovered I was related as a third cousin to the poet Sidney Lanier. The following is a brief biography on a fascinating man.

Poet, Playwright and Confederate soldier. Sidney Clopton Lanier was born Feb. 3, 1842, and reared in Macon, Bibb County, Georgia. His father was Robert Sampson Lanier, a respected lawyer in Macon. His grandfather was Sterling C. Lanier, owner of hotels and resorts in Tennessee and Georgia.

Sidney Lanier became known through his poetry as a spokesman for the his beloved days of southern antebellum and the defeated Confederacy. He was an 1860 graduate of Oglethorpe University and tutored there until the Civil War. He supported the secession of Georgia. In June 1861 he joined the Macon Guards (which became Company I of the 4th Georgia) and was assigned to the Virginia theater through most of the war. On March 9, 1862, he witnessed the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac. He transferred to mounted signal duty in late summer 1862, and served on the staff of Major General S. G. French. In May 1863, he visited the battlefield of Chancellorsville, which inspired his 1865 poem, The Dying Words of Jackson. He later served variously as a scout, courier, and signalman aboard blockade runners until being captured at sea on November 2, 1864. He was sent to Point Lookout Prison, Maryland, where he sat out the end of the war.

His 1867 novel of the war period, Tiger-Lilies, and his poems brought his antebellum views of the South before the Northern and Southern public. The novel also dealt with prison life. His more popular poems reflected these sentiments but were sometimes racist. They included: The Raven Days, Civil Rights, Betrayal, Corn, Laughter in the Senate, and The Revenge of Hamish. Before pursuing writing full-time, he practiced law, and wrote in 1878 the poem, The Marshes of Glynn, which endeared him to his native state. In 1879 he became a lecturer at John Hopkins University. While a prisoner of war during the Civil War, his health was permanently impaired and he died of consumption (tuberculosis) in Lynn, North Carolina.

The largest lake in Georgia is named in his honor (Lake Lanier) as is the longest spanning bridge in the state. There are numerous schools, parks, dams, streets and a county in Georgia named in his honor. Texas has honored him as well throughout Austin and San Antonio's Lanier High School is named in his honor.

Sidney Clapton Laniar died September 7, 1888 while in Lynn, North Carolina and his body was transferred to the Greenmount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. He left a widow Mary Day and four sons, Charles Day Lanier, Sidney Clopton Lanier Jr., Henry Wysham Lanier, and Robert Sampson Lanier (I). Each son lived to adulthood and settled in the northeast.

Family Group Record
Husband: Sidney Clopton Lanier
Born: 3 Feb 1842, Macon, Bibb County, Georgia
Died: 7 Sep 1881, Lynn, Polk County, North Carolina
Buried: Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland
Father: Robert Sampson Lanier (1819-1893)
Mother: Mary Jane Anderson (1822-1865)
Marriage: 19 Dec 1867 Place: Macon, Bibb County, Georgia

Wife: Mary Day
Born: 10 Jun 1844, Macon, Bibb County, Georgia
Died: 20 Dec 1931 , Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut
Buried: Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland
Father: Charles Day (1801- )
Mother: M.J. Unknown (1817-Bef 1880)


1 M Charles Day Lanier
Born: 12 Sep 1868 , Bibb County, Georgia
Died: 1945 , Poss. Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut
Spouse: Mary Field (1873-1962)
Marr. (poss.) Connecticut

2 M Sidney Clopton (Jr.) Lanier
Born: Sep 1870, Bibb County, Georgia
Spouse: Maude Elizabeth Mason (1868- )
Marr. Date: 1903

3 M Henry Wysham Lanier
Born: 28 Jun 1873, Bibb County, Georgia
Died: 1958
Spouse: Josephine Ledyard Stevens (1873- )
Marr. Date: 1897, Poss. New York

4 M Robert Sampson (I) Lanier
Born: 14 Aug 1880 , Bibb County, Georgia
Died: 1912
Spouse: Anna K. Goldsborough
(record revised 25 Feb 2011/MGHVH)
tombstone marker via find-a-grave