By Miriam Raftery
Photos: Norm Case examines Civil War drum played at the Battle of Shiloh (photo, left) by his ancestor, Philo L. Case (photo, right)
May 28, 2017 (Ramona)--Philo Case, a drummer in the Union Army, played the long roll that called troops to arms during the battle of Shiloh, one of the bloodiest conflicts in the Civil War. This Memorial Day weekend, his drum is on display at Hatfield Creek Winery in Ramona at 2 p.m. each day.
Norm Case, Philo's descendent, shared the amazing history handed down through his family -- a tale that includes not only Civil War stories, but also a mystery involving another branch of his family tree that includes the niece of John Wilkes Booth. Case says she's told him her family has kept a secret for generations--claiming her uncle came to Yakima, Washington and asked that his presence be kept secret -- after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
History books teach us that Booth was chased down and shot in a burning barn, but the only photo of his body vanished shortly after a cremation was ordered. A Texas doctor later said that a patient he treated claimed during delirium to be Booth. Could Booth have escaped and someone else died in his place? His descendants say he lived out the rest of his days and was eventually buried in Washington state. They want DNA testing on the remains reputed to be Booth's, but so far, permission has not been granted.
View our video of Norm Case talking about his fascinating family history and the beautiful drum that Philo Case played at Shiloh:
But that's not all. Norm Case and his partner, Elaine Lyttleton, also discovered parts of a Navy plane that crashed in 1961 in what is now their vineyard. After a fire burned through their property, they discovered dogtags from the pilot, Lt. Commander Vernon Thompson, whose body had never been recovered. He was filling in for a flight instructor with a family emergency that fateful day, when for uknoown reasons the Grumman F9F-8T Cougar jet crashed, killing Thompson and his student, Ensing Dennis F. Cubbison.
With help from the military, Case was able to track dowon Thompson's daughter, who remembered seeing smoke from the plane and knowing her father was gone. She grew up without learning anything about him, and was grateful to come to Ramona and receive his dogtags in person.
We walked to the heart of the vineyard, where a plaque has been installed beside small fragments of metal, all that remains of the plane. Erected by Case and Lyttleton in 2010, it commemorates the fallen Navy pilots, reading, "In gratitude for their sacrifice."
Being here held special significance on Memorial Day weekend, a time to honor and remember all who fallen in service of our country.
You hear more of Norm Case's recollections, visit the memorial in the vineyard, and taste some memorable wines again on Monday, May 29th. The Civil War drum, a museum-quality treasure, along with Civil War guns will be on display at 2 p.m.
Wines and Civil War drums aren't the only vintage items here. There's also a carriage house, where we were fortunately to be invited to view a full restored Model-T Ford.
Hatfield Creek is one of several wineries participating in the Ramona Valley Vineyards Association "Summer of Wine" kick-off with special tastings and more. For full details visit http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/wineries-kick-ramona-valley-wine-count....