Have you ever sat and listened to your grandfather tell stories about his past or the family and wondered, did any of that really happen?
Mike Yancey of Cordova, Tenn., loves to tell tales of the days gone by. But one yarn he spun not to long ago, caught everyone by surprise.
It wasn't about him, but about his father, a solider in the Confederate Army.
He looks almost like any other customer but when Yancey walks into Classic Arms in Cordova, he's anything but.
"Been coming in here for years. Helps behind the counter," said Jay Hill, owner.
Hill loves the free labor. More than the help, he loves the stories. Every 90-year-old man has stories.
Yancey loves to talk about guns. His favorite is a .38. He served for 23 years in the Navy during World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
"Yeah, we had submarines trailing us," he said. "Oh yeah, we was on our P's and Q's all the time."
But then one day, he told a story no one could believe.
It was about his father.
"He was a Confederate soldier. Civil War," he said.
Hill could not believe it.
"I was like, 'yeah right.' Is this a joke?' You hear of people who's father fought in World War I or World War II," Hill said. "But when he said Civil War, I said, 'are you sure?'"
FOX13 News went to Yancey's hometown of Ripley, Miss., and found out, Sure enough Yancey is the son of John Samuel Yancey, a Private of the Mississippi Partisan Rangers of the Confederate Army. The unit was eventually folded into the regular Confederate Army as the 7th Mississippi Calvary near the end of the Civil War in 1864 after the Battle of Manassas.
The 7th Calvary fought in several battles in the Mid-South, including the Battle of Tupelo and the Battle of Shiloh.
"He never did get hurt or anything," Yancey said. "He was lucky. His luck rubbed off on me!"
John Samuel Yancey was lucky alright. He married Mike's mother when he was 78 and she was 23, not that uncommon for the times.
"Oh people used to tease her, you know, 'why did you marry that old man?,'" Mike said. "She said, 'I'd rather be an old man's darling than a young man's slave.'"
Even though Mike was only a young child, he can remember a few things about his father.
"We lived out in the country, out there close to that cemetery where he's buried," he said. "He had an orchard where he raised apples, peaches and strawberries, and he had a one-horse buggy. He would load that up with baskets of fruit, and take them into town and sell them on the square.
"He said come on, we going to get our picture made," Mike recalled. "He took me over to the photo lab, a jewelry store over there where the man did photo work. That's the picture of me and him together. He was more like a buddy, you know? A kid, and carried me with him most everywhere he went. He'd go into town in that buggy and I'd go with him."
When Mike was only 5, he lost his buddy. John Samuel Yancey died in 1928.
Mike is in select company. According to records of Union and Confederate heritage groups, Mike is one of 54 sons and daughters of men who fought in the Civil War still alive in the United States.
These days, Mike spends a lot of time trying to keep his family's legacy alive. It's not hard to find the name Yancey when you make the drive to Ripley. But it isn't for Mike to pass along the family stories to his grand kids.
"Talk to here about things, the Civil War and such, and she says I don't know what you are talking about!"
Guess he'll have to save those stories for his captive audience at Classic Arms.
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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