A Civil War era autograph book belonging to Kate Souder of Loudoun County, has been returned to Lovettsville, and was opened by her great-grandson, William A. George Jr., (below) at a ceremony at the Lovettsville Museum on Saturday, Nov. 8. The autograph book has messages and signatures from about 30 of Kate’s friends, most from the 1860s, but one from as late as 1896.
The book was made available on eBay by a seller in Sacramento, California. Lovettsville resident Melani Carter saw the item and immediately informed the Lovettsville Historical Society; Society officials, recognizing the name, quickly notified Mr. George, who determined to purchase it and donate it to the Lovettsville Museum so it could be on display for the public. "I’m glad everything is getting back home," Mr. George said after examining the book. Mr. George was raised on the George farm on Irish Corner Road just outside of Lovettsville, but now lives in Alexandria. He is active with the Historical Society.
"Kate" Souder was Mary Catherine Souder (1844-1915) of Lovettsville, who married Mark M.G. Rodeffer (1838-1928) in February 1866, at her parents' house in Lovettsville, with the pastor of the German Reformed Church (now St. James United Church of Christ) officiating. Afterwards, they were both steadfast members of New Jerusalem Lutheran Church, where their children were baptized.
Mark Rodeffer had grown up in the Shenandoah Valley, and went to Mississippi at the beginning of the Civil War. He enlisted in the Confederate Army there; later he transferred to the Army of Northern Virginia and joined Chew’s Battery, part of the "Laurel Brigade." According to Mr. George, there he became friends with Americus Souder, who took Mark home with him on leave, where Mark met Kate Souder. Kate and Mark had at least seven children, one of whom, daughter Lillian, married into Lovettsville’s George family.
Although Mark remained loyal to the Confederacy for the rest of his life, he did assist some neighboring Union veterans with their pension applications later in life, said Ed Spannaus of the Historical Society, who cited as an example an 1881 pension application by John P. Allender of Bolington, who had served, along with other Loudoun Unionists, in the Potomac Home Brigade in Maryland.
The Lovettsville Historical Society and Mr. George will put the autograph book on display in the near future, with transcriptions of the messages contained therein.
The Society is committed to retaining and acquiring historical artifacts and memorabilia from the Lovettsville area, so that they can be seen and appreciated by the public.