I Spy a Former Spy

Cover of Book The Mysterious Private ThompsonIn the late-nineteenth century, a former spy for the Union Army lived in La Porte. The most remarkable fact about this person is that the spy was a woman who posed as a man so that she could join the Union army during the Civil War. Her birth name was Sarah Emma Evelyn Edmonson (sometimes listed as Edmondson). She joined the 2nd Michigan Volunteer Infantry under the alias Frank Thompson. She became a spy and completed 12 secret missions behind enemy lines, using various disguises. She wrote the book Memoirs of a soldier, nurse, and spy: a woman’s adventures in the Union Army by Sara Emma Edmonds. 

Other books about the topic are: The Mysterious Private Thompson: the double life of Sarah Emma Edmonds, Civil War soldier by Laura Leedy Gansler, Behind rebel lines: the incredible story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War spy by Seymour Reit, and Frank Thompson: her civil war story by Bryna Stevens. 

After the war, Sarah Emma Edmonson married Linus Seelye and had two sons. They moved to Texas and settled in La Porte.  She died in La Porte on September 5, 1898. To read her obituary and other articles about Sarah Emma Edmonds Seelye please ask for the vertical file about her at the information desk.

Also, the story of Sara Emma Edmonds is included in the film Full Metal Corset: secret soldiers of the Civil War by Indigo Films for the History Channel; the library is listed in the credits for that production for providing information about Mrs. Seelye during her La Porte years.