Monday, May 22, 2023

My Blacksmith Ancestor-in-Law in the Union Army

You know how I love tracing in-laws of my ancestors? That's how I unexpectedly found George Washington Chapman (1836-1912), the only US Civil War veteran in my family tree (so far). Today's post honors his service as Memorial Day approaches, originally known as Decoration Day to remember US Civil War veterans.

Since all four of my grandparents were immigrants from Eastern Europe who arrived in America from the 1880s to the 1900s, I never thought I'd find any ancestor who served in the US Civil War. But here he is: the grandfather of Charlotte Chapman, who married my great uncle Fred Farkas in Chicago in 1930. 

First Ohio Cavalry blacksmith

According to his obit, George Washington Chapman enlisted in the First Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, Company D, on November 6, 1861, and mustered out on November 6, 1864. He reenlisted for another year and was in the battles of Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and the siege of Vicksburg.

Above, a pension index card for George, showing he was a Blacksmith with Company D of the Ohio Cavalry. He applied for invalid status in 1877 and after he died in 1912, his widow Anna Warnes Chapman (1849-1927) applied for a widow's pension. By the way, George's son Elwood Austin Chapman (1875-1955) also became a blacksmith.

Checking Find a Grave and Fold3

George's Find a Grave site shows his tombstone, engraved "Co. D. 1st O. Vol. Cav." I found info about George's unit on Fold3, indicating that the youngest age at enlistment for this company was 17, the oldest was 47. The Fold3 regiment history shows George likely participated in many famous US Civil War battles, not just those mentioned in his obit.

Saluting ancestor-in-law George Washington Chapman with appreciation for his years of service. And finding his service is a great reminder: expect the unexpected in genealogy!


  1. It must have been a happy surprise to find a Civil War connection. I like his name, George Washington Chapman. I have several men on my tree also named George Washington.

  2. AnonymousMay 23, 2023

    This is unexpected! I'm glad you dug deep to find his service.

  3. AnonymousMay 26, 2023

    Congrats on the find! I have a similar situation, and just found my first Civil War vet this year.

  4. What a fun find! I have 2 direct ancestors who were Civil War Veterans, Vriginia/West Virginia, and some collateral relatives, Michigan and Ohio. I haven't dug too much into all the military records, just skimmed them...I don't know why, but I'm not that interested in military history for some reason; although, the records are great for finding other info, including info to help solve brick walls. ;)