Jan Koivunen from jan's Flower Shoppe in Gladstone has in interest in genealogy.
Jan Koivunen from jan's Flower Shoppe in Gladstone has in interest in genealogy. Matt Taylor GLA260418GENE

Gladstone florist uncovers amazing war history

JAN Koivunen is excited by the way history comes alive with a personal connection.

She said every family has a story to tell.

Ms Koivunen runs Jan's Flower Shoppe in Gladstone and has recently uncovered two amazing stories from her family's history.

Emma Drury and Jan Koivunen florists at Jan's Florist shop working on wreaths for Anzac Day.Photo Mike Richards / The Observer
Emma Drury and Jan Koivunen florists at Jan's Florist shop working on wreaths for Anzac Day.Photo Mike Richards / The Observer Glen Porteous GLA230418WRTH

The first is of two brothers serving in opposing American Civil War armies.

The second (inset below), is of a bush poet being compared to Henry Lawson or A.B. 'Banjo' Patterson.

Ms Koivunen said her great-great-grandfather, Doctor David Fairley, a surgeon, left Glasgow, Scotland, for America in the mid 1800s.

He enlisted as a private in the Union Army in 1861 and fought in the Civil War.

His brother John Spencer Fairley emigrated from Scotland in 1851 and settled in New Orleans, America.

"My great-great-grandfather's brother had several businesses in New Orleans and when war broke out he joined the Confederate Army," Ms Koivunen said.

John was aide de comp to Confederate general William H. C. Whiting.

He also served under general Wade Hampton III, who later became governor of South Carolina.

Meanwhile, David served under a Union colonel, who himself served under general George Armstrong Custer.

Ms Koivunen said it was quite possible her ancestor met the famous general.

"(David) started the war as a private and at the end of hostilities he was promoted to captain," she said.

"I have the original parchment given to David Fairley by then US President Andrew Jackson for bravery."

Ms Koivunen also discovered, through family letters and war records, that the brothers fought against each other at the Battle of Spottiswood Church and the Battle of Gettysburg.

She said that after the war, David's arm was amputated due to bullet wounds.

This didn't slow him down. He re-enlisted into the cavalry to fight Native Americans on the frontier alongside General Custer.

Ms Koivunen said fate played its fickle hand.

 

Fairley was on a month's leave and died in a train accident, missing the infamous Battle of Little Big Horn and general Custer's last stand.

 

 

Ms Koivunen encouraged anyone with a keen sense of family history research to contact the Genealogical Society Gladstone District on 0415353557.