by: Treelines Team
On this season's first episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" singer Kelly Clarkson learned about her three times great-grandfather, Isaiah Rose, who led an extraordinary life in service of his country.
Kelly's mother had already done the initial research to connect their family tree back to Isaiah, leaving it to Kelly to learn the details of Isaiah's life.
At the Ohio Historical Society, Kelly sees records related to Isaiah's Civil War Service. Right after the war started, he enlisted April 23, 1861 for three months, and on December 17, 1861 he re-enlisted for three years (when it was apparent the war would drag on).
Kelly was very proud that her ancestor showed so many signs of eagerness to fight for the Union cause.
In July he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Decatur, part of Sherman's four-month campaign to capture Atlanta, and imprisoned in the infamous Andersonville Prison. Kelly read this description of conditions written by a prison who arrived around the same time:
"As we entered the place, a spectacle met our eyes that almost froze our blood with horror, and made our hearts fail within us. Before us were forms that had once been active and erect;—stalwart men, now nothing but mere walking skeletons, covered with filth and vermin. Many of our men, in the heat and intensity of their feeling, exclaimed with earnestness. "Can this be hell?" "God protect us!" and all thought that He alone could bring them out alive from so terrible a place. In the center of the whole was a swamp, occupying about three or four acres of the narrowed limits, and a part of this marshy place had been used by the prisoners as a sink (latrine), and excrement covered the ground, the scent arising from which was suffocating. The ground allotted to our ninety was near the edge of this plague-spot, and how we were to live through the warm summer weather in the midst of such fearful surroundings, was more than we cared to think of just then."
Miraculously, he escaped on December 1st of that year!
Unfortunately his travails did not end there. While approaching the Union lines on January 11, 1865, he was mistaken for a Confederate soldier and shot in the leg. The injury would plague him for the rest of his life.
In his later years Isaiah became a public servant. In an 1886 article praising his work as sheriff and reflecting on the certainty of his re-electation, Isaiah is quoted as saying he believes that "public office is a public trust."
Later, he was elected to the Ohio State Senate. As a fiery temperance advocate, he was not your typical unassuming freshman senator. Kelly literally sat at Isaiah's former desk in the senate building as she learned about the bill he put forth to help eliminate saloons. It finally passed in the last year of his term, which greatly excited Kelly.
Unfortunately, the opponents of his bill organized to defeat his bid for re-election that same year.
Kelly respected that her ancestor went down fighting for what he believed in. All his life he was "relentless is his morals and his beliefs," she effused.
He died eight years later on Thanksgiving day 1916. Nearly a century later, his descendant -- and we television viewers -- can take pride in the service of a true "American idol."