Phelps descendants (l to r): Katharine Donnelley, Montgomery Brookfield, Holly Brookfield, Lisa Donnelley, John Shevlin, Malcolm Montgomery, Ellen Rose, and David Zogbaum.
The placing of the Mary Whitney Phelps marker was possible due to the great success of this book, Marking Civil War History in the Ozarks: A Guide to Civil War Markers and Monuments in Twenty-Four Southwest Missouri Counties. To date, we have sold or distributed 800 copies. The project, begun in 2009, involved many members of the Tent, who spent countless hours and drove many miles to locate and photograph markers in their chosen counties. Completed in 2010, the book was published just before the start of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Our members purchased and donated many books to libraries in their counties. The book has been profitable, not only to our Tent, but with other non-profit organizations through consignment sales.
Proceeds from the sales of the book have financed the purchase and ceremonial expenses associated with this marker and also the Civil War Orphans’ Home marker, which was placed on the grounds of Sunshine Elementary School at Sunshine Street and Jefferson Avenue, Springfield, Missouri, on September 30, 2011.
Mary Whitney Phelps Marker
(two sided marker)
Location: Northeast corner of Virginia and Brookside in
Phelps Grove Park,
Springfield, Greene County, Missouri
Placed by: Mary Whitney Phelps Tent No. 22
Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865, 2012
MARY WHITNEY PHELPS
Born to a sea captain in Portland, Maine, this energetic redhead was orphaned at a young age, when her father died at sea and her mother died soon thereafter.
Mary wed John Smith Phelps, a young lawyer, in Simsbury, Connecticut, in 1837. The couple settled in Springfield, Missouri, the same year. During John’s prolonged absences as a statesman, Mary bore the major responsibility for farm management and dedicated herself to operating local schools.
During the Civil War, Mary not only collected and transported supplies to Union armies at the battles of Wilson’s Creek and Pea Ridge, she also nursed wounded and dying soldiers. When she learned that General Nathaniel Lyon’s body had been abandoned in Springfield, after the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, she made arrangements for a coffin and concealed the body until relatives arrived from Connecticut to claim it.
In 1866, the United States Congress recognized Mary’s service during the Civil War and awarded her $20,000. She continued working with area orphanages and started a new school that ultimately served 250 orphaned children by 1868.
When the war ended, Mary became associated with the Confederate Burial Association. The association brought the remains of the Confederate soldiers who died at Wilson’ Creek to a new Confederate Cemetery adjoining the Springfield National Cemetery. She also became a member of the National Woman Suffrage Association serving as vice president in 1869.
Mary Whitney Phelps is buried beside John in the Phelps’ plot at Hazelwood Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri.
PLACED IN 2012 BY THE MARY WHITNEY PHELPS TENT NO. 22, DAUGHTERS OF UNION VETERANS OF THE CIVIL WAR, 1861-1865
The Dedication Celebration
The Mary Whitney Phelps Tent No. 22 greeted the Phelps descendants with a reception at The Tower Club on Saturday, April 28, 2012. The descendants, who came from Alaska, Montana, Virginia, New York, Arizona, and Connecticut, were given a tour of Springfield, which included Christ Episcopal Church, Phelps Street, Phelps School, the Orphans Home Marker at Sunshine School, Phelps Grove Park, the Phelps plot at Hazelwood Cemetery, and Springfield National Cemetery.
The marker honoring Mary Whitney Phelps was dedicated April 29, 2012. The event was held at nearby Trinity Lutheran Church. The festivities began with demonstrations of Civil War-era crafts. The Missouri State University Brass & Sass provided lively Civil War era music. Many members of Tent No. 22 as well as other Civil War re-enactors were dressed in period clothing.
The Phelps descendants and their spouses were introduced: John and Carole Shevlin, David and Ann Zogbaum, Montgomery and Eileen Brookfield, Malcolm Montgomery, Ellen and Brian Rose, Katherine Donnelley, Lisa Donnelley, and Holly Brookfield.