Frances Kefauver Sill, 97, Civil War enthusiast, writer

November 19, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Frances Kefauver Sill, a Civil War buff and free-lance writer, died Friday from complications of a broken hip at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. She was 97.

Mrs. Sill, who lived in Ruxton for many years before moving to Pickersgill Retirement Community in Towson in 1990, traced her interest in the Civil War to her youth.

She was born Frances Rutledge Kefauver in Martinsburg, W.Va., and grew up in Roland Park. As a young girl, she visited her grandmother in Martinsburg and became intrigued by the woman's stories of Civil War days.

Her maternal grandfather had fought for the Union and, after being taken prisoner, was sent to Libby Prison in Richmond, Va. Other family members served in the Confederate Army with Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson at Chancellorsville.

In an op-ed page piece published in The Sun in 1995, Mrs. Sill recalled a 1919 visit to her grandmother's.

"Having just been immersed in Civil War history at school," she wrote, "I was proud Grandmother had played so active a part in the war we can't forget. She told of nursing the wounded in the hospital in Frederick, where schools, even churches, were turned into hospitals. She told of the horror at the sight of the dying, their agonizing pain. She was only 17."

She recalled her grandmother's anguish over what the Civil War had done to families on both sides of the conflict."`My dear, the Civil War was fought in the South's backyard. It was very personal. Maryland was split, a border state. There were fathers against sons, brothers against brothers,' " she told her granddaughter.

Mrs. Sill enjoyed escorting family members on a yearly visit to the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pa.

In another reflective piece, Mrs. Sill recalled Christmases of her youth.

"I remember wrapping our gifts in red and white tissue paper. I often bought a tie at Hutzler's or O'Neil's for $1.50 or two monogrammed handkerchiefs for 50 cents each. I remember going with Mother to deliver baskets of food and toys for families in need," Mrs. Sill wrote.

Mrs. Sill was a graduate of Roland Park Country School and operated a nursery school before her marriage in 1925 to Edward W.R. Grieves. He died in 1937.

Her marriage to Charles R. Posey ended in divorce. She was married in the 1960s to James M. Sill, who died in 1979.

She had served as treasurer of the Women's Auxiliary at Rosewood State Hospital and had volunteered with Planned Parenthood.

Mrs. Sill was a member of St. David's Episcopal Church, 4700 Roland Ave., where services will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

She is survived by a son, James R. Grieves of Guilford; a daughter, Ann Egerton Cherry of Roland Park; a stepson, John Carlyle of Los Angeles; five grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

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