Lake Norman & Mooresville

Connected to history: Daughter of a Civil War veteran

Ruth Pasour Gryder's father was wounded 148 years ago.

On Aug. 9, 1862 Pvt. David Rufus Pasour, then a 24-year-old in the Confederate States Army, was shot during a battle against Union forces at Cedar Run in northern Virginia. Pasour, who lost his arm as a result of that Civil War battle 148 years ago, is the beloved father of Ruth Gryder, a resident of Cornelius in 2010.

Gryder, who will turn 94 in September and who has lived in Cornelius for more than 60 years, shared some stories about her father recently. Living children of Civil War soldiers are rare these days. Her stories help capture first-hand accounts of history.

Not far away, youngsters ages 8 to 14 recently finished up Civil War camp at Latta Plantation. Gryder smiled broadly when told about the camp.

That's one way of learning history. Listening to Gryder is another.

Gently holding her father's powder horn and his Southern Cross of Honor, Gryder passes on stories that her mother told her about his injury and other sacrifices:

"He lay on the battlefield for three days. Maggots got in the wound and saved his life by stopping the infection. He never took a disability pension. He said other men needed it more than him. His brother Ephraim was killed at Chancellorsville. They found him up against a tree."

David Pasour was born in Dallas, N.C., on Oct. 28, 1838. He enlisted in the Confederate Army on July 3, 1861, and mustered with "B" Company of the 28th Regiment of North Carolina. He was discharged on Feb. 2, 1863, after losing his arm to amputation as a result of his wound.

Following the war, Pasour served as a clerk for Gaston County. He married Minnie Maxwell in 1915 as a robust 77-year-old, and a year later, his young bride delivered Dorothy Ruth.

Pasour died when his daughter Ruth was young, but she remembers him well.

"He was tall, slender and well-dressed. We would walk in the woods. He liked to walk in the woods and work his garden. He would do exercise," Gryder recalled.

One of Gryders' photos depicts a young Pasour in his pressed, gray dress uniform. His rifle is cocked, with the butt held in his right hand and the barrel resting on his left arm. His face is young and smooth with the hint of a grin floating above the idea of a beard.

A later photo depicts Pasour and his young wife with daughter Ruth, about age 2. He is lean and stoic with his amputated right arm hidden by Ruth, who stands on a stool.

She lights up with pride when she speaks of her father.

"I'm proud of him. I jumped up and down and cried at his funeral," she said.

Gryder loves travel and poetry. Her poems are pressed alongside her father's letters in the family album.

Gryder lives with her sister-in-law, Mano Fincannon, and their 24-hour live-in helper, Gail Miller, in the Cornelius home that she and her late husband Theodore built 60 years ago. Theodore and Ruth met when they were 14, and both worked at various jobs in local textile mills. He died in 2005. Their son Dennis lives in Florida.

"I've grown so much in spirit and mind because of these women," said Miller. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't learn something from them."