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Robert Dumville Windes Jr (1830-1911): Poet

photograph: Robert Dumville Windes Jr (1830-1911)

Robert Dumville Windes Jr was a great-grandson of Robert Dumvill (c1735-1819), and a grandson of Sarah Dumville (born c1775) and Enoch Windes (1765-1834). Robert Dumvill (c1735-1819) had migrated with his wife Mary McGill (c1750-1819) from Belfast, Ireland to South Carolina in about 1770. Sarah was one of their three daughters.

Sarah and Enoch Windes migrated west with Sarah's father Robert, from Society Hill, South Carolina to Grainger County, Tennessee, and on to Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. Sarah and Enoch Windes had twelve children, including Robert Dumville Windes Sr. 'Dumville' was used as a middle name for two generations.

Robert Dumville Windes Jr was born on 19th February 1830 and raised in the plantation society of Louisiana. He fought in the Civil War, during which he was trapped for thirty-eight days in the siege of Fort Hudson, Louisiana.

The themes of his writings were the Civil War, Native America and Classic Greek. His writings about the Civil War were somewhat bitter. He published two volumes of poetry, Osbulbaha (c1890) and Athenaios (c1911). They are rarely found today. He died on 7th December 1911.

George Windes' Story of 'Osbulbaha'

Researching at the Family History Library in 1984, I found a history of a Louisiana village Bayou Chicot. It revealed an obscure branch of my family that had lived there 100 years. The last family member, Robert D. Windes, had died in 1911. He was a bachelor poet and a Civil War veteran.

I contacted the history's author, a 93-year-old retired schoolteacher. She had a faded photo of Bob and recalled that his funeral was held in the parlor of her father's home. Laughingly she stated "Bob was well educated and could translate Greek and Latin all day long, but had trouble in recognizing his own mules."

Through the years the legacy has grown. Two diaries concerning Bob have been located. We now know that he was trapped 38 days at the Siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana, in 1863. His Negro servant, Rice, would slip to the river after dark to catch fish for Bob's starving battery. Over the years I've told family members about him and we've read his poetry. We've visited the site of his old plantation and shared his history with the current owners. My intent was to try to keep knowledge of his family from being lost forever.

In 1999 I was given a reward for my labors. A 300-year-old oak tree at the plantation was registered in Bob's name in a National Trust. But a second reward was yet to come. A few months ago my son logged on to a computer auction site to buy music tapes and invited me to check the site. I moved to the book area and was amazed to find an original book of poetry entitled 'Osbulbaha' ('mocking bird' in Choctaw) offered for sale. The auction was closing in four days. There were no bids.

I bought it for $5. On the title page, dated 1891, is found the autograph of its author: Robert Dumville Windes. There are only four known copies that exist!

The photograph and the information for this page were provided by George Windes of Yorba Linda, California.

See also:

Enoch Windes (1765-1834), grandfather of Robert Dumville Windes Jr

The Windes of Bayou Chicot and Holmesville, Louisiana

The Windes of Society Hill, South Carolina

Richard Andrew Dumvill (c1765-1836), cousin of Enoch Windes' wife Sarah Dumville.