Showing posts with label Civil War. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Civil War. Show all posts

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Adding Context for 3D View of Ancestors, Part 1

Last week, I finished a 40-page booklet about hubby's 18 Civil War ancestors. Even though these ancestors died generations ago, each lived a unique life that I wanted to honor and memorialize in this family history booklet.

Yet when I sat down to write, I had only bare-bones facts from the US Census, Civil War pension records, and similar sources.

To engage my readers (younger relatives of today and descendants in future generations), I needed to flesh out these skeletons beyond just names and dates. My goal was to provide a more three-dimensional view of each ancestor's life.

This first part of my new blog series examines how an ancestor's family situation can add an important dimension to understand his or her life. Later posts in this series will look at community, society, and history as context for understanding ancestors.

Ancestors in Context: Family Situation

Here are some of the elements of family situation I examined to understand the life of Benjamin Franklin Steiner, born in 1840 in Crawford County, Ohio. He was my husband's second great uncle, and he served for nearly three years in the 10th Ohio Cavalry, fighting for the Union side.
  • Birth order - He was the seventh of nine children, and the fifth of six sons. But since his father was a tailor, not a farmer, having a lot of boys didn't necessarily help the household prosper. It probably meant mouths to feed. Perhaps this is why I found Benjamin not at home in the 1860 US Census but living 40 miles away with a carpenter's family, and working as a laborer at the age of 20. Then I looked further.
  • Parents - Benjamin's mother was listed as head of household in the 1860 US Census, no occupation. Benjamin's father died before the Census. Still at home with his Mom were a 25-year-old son who was a carpenter; a 21-year-old daughter whose occupation was "sewing;" and three children under the age of 15. I think this explains why Benjamin wasn't living at home--he needed to board elsewhere and make money while one of his brothers remained at home to be the chief breadwinner for the family.
  • Siblings - One brother was a carpenter, one a plasterer, one a grocer, one a butcher, and one a farmer. After serving in the Civil War, Benjamin first started farming. With his second family, he tried brick and tile making before returning to farming. Both of these occupations he would have seen first-hand. Interestingly, none of the children chose to be a tailor like their father.
  • Spouse and children - In 1861, Benjamin married a farmer's daughter. He was 21, she was 23. They had one son before Benjamin went to war in October, 1862. It must have been difficult for his wife and child, on their own, financially and emotionally, while Benjamin was in the military. When he returned, he and his wife had two more children. Only months after the third child was born, Benjamin's wife died. He remarried three years later, to a widow bringing up three children on her own. Now Benjamin was supporting a wife, two children, and three stepchildren, which may be why he changed occupations to try brick and tile making. Once the children were all grown and gone, he went back to farming in his later years. 
Benjamin's life took many twists and turns, with both ups and downs, I realized as I looked at his changing family situation. This gave me a better appreciation of who he was and the decisions he faced--fleshing him out as a 3D human being, beyond the basics of birth, marriage, and death.

More about context in Part 2.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Trouble Finds Lemuel C. Wood Senior and Junior

Neither Lemuel C. Wood Senior (let's call him "Capt. Wood") nor his son, Lemuel C. Wood Junior (let's call him "Junior"), actually made trouble for anyone, except for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Unfortunately, trouble came looking for them.

Capt. Lemuel Wood, Sr. (1792-1870) Hubby's 3d great uncle

Capt. Wood was a successful mariner based in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, at the major whaling port of New Bedford. He also owned 13 acres of farmland and livestock worth about $9,000 in 1860 (nearly $280,000 in today's dollars), according to that year's Census.

Sadly, the captain's first wife, Mercy Bowditch Taber, died of consumption in 1856. A year later, in 1857, he married Rosetta Howland Ellis, who died of either consumption or palsy in 1859 (records are inconsistent). One year after that, he married Julia Lambert Sampson--and she survived him by 21 years. In order to collect his Civil War pension, she had to prove that her first husband died (at sea during a whaling trip) and that Capt. Wood's previous two wives had died. Quite a fat file of paperwork and a lot of trouble, but she won her case.

Capt. Wood answered the call for Union service during the Civil War. According to some war records, he was commander of the USS Daylight. (Other pension records call him the "acting master" of the Daylight.) He was already in his 60s, with decades of experience on the water.

The USS Daylight sailed along the coast of Virginia and North Carolina, part of the Union blockade against the Confederacy. After the ship was damaged by Confederate gunfire, she was repaired and reassigned to the James River from October, 1864 to May, 1865, after the war ended.

Doctor's note attesting to Sarah H. Wood's deadly illness
Capt. Wood returned home at war's end. In 1870, a few months before he died at the age of 78, he told the Census his occupation was "mariner." He left his widow Julia an estate of $13,450--worth more than $270,000 today.

Lemuel C. Wood, Jr. (1828-1898) Hubby's 1c3r

The Captain's son and namesake, “Lemuel Junior,” first went into business as a merchant. At the age of 28, he married Sarah Howland Wood, on June 26, 1856. By the time their first child was born in 1857, the birth record recorded Junior’s occupation as “gentleman.” He and Sarah had four five children in all, but only two survived to adulthood. Two died within weeks of each other, one of "brain fever" and one of consumption. So tragic.

At the start of the Civil War, Junior became an acting paymaster for the Union Navy. He resigned that post in June of 1862. On September 22, 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company I, 3d Massachusetts Infantry, and was mustered in the next day. At the time of this enlistment, he said his occupation was “farmer.” On December 3, 1862, Junior was working as a hospital steward at Plymouth, North Carolina, according to his Civil War records.

Trouble hit Junior's family while he was at war in North Carolina. His wife Sarah was fatally ill with consumption. Letters written to her husband’s commanding officers requested that Junior be given a month of furlough to be at her side.

After weeks of letters back and forth, Junior was granted a month's furlough on April 5, 1863. It was just in time: His wife Sarah died on April 14th.

Junior returned to North Carolina after his furlough. His nine-month service with the 3d Massachusetts Infantry ended when he was mustered out on June 26, 1863. Then he joined the 23d Unattached Company Massachusetts Infantry as a sergeant for 100 days. According to the 1890 Veteran’s Schedule, he had dysentery and was “brought home sick.” From April to September of 1865, Junior was an acting assistant paymaster for the Union Navy, stationed aboard the USS Nantucket.

When he first left the service, Junior took a job as a grocery clerk and hired a housekeeper to care for his children. Eventually, he remarried in 1894, to Emma Louise Small Sherman, listing his own occupation as nursing (remember, he was a hospital attendant during the Civil War). Junior died four years later, at the age of 70, in Fairhaven, his birthplace.
You know I married my husband for his fascinating ancestors! This week's #52Ancestors blogging prompt is "troublemaker."

Monday, August 3, 2020

Writing About a Civil War Ancestor to Engage Readers

Union Christian College
Researching my husband's Union Army ancestors, I'm trying to wring every detail from every source to make these brief family history profiles come alive and engage readers.

Even though my main focus is their Civil War experiences, I want to portray them as real people with real lives and show descendants how family history and American history are intertwined.

Jacob Wright Larimer's Early Years

Today I've been looking at Jacob Wright Larimer (1846-1876), who was my husband's first cousin, four times removed.

From Census documentation, land records, vital records, and newspaper research, I learned Jacob was the next-to-youngest child of Moses Larimer and Nancy Blosser Larimer. Moses was himself the son of an "Ohio fever" pioneer, going on to become an Indiana pioneer farmer.

Unfortunately, Moses died at age 53, leaving his widow Nancy with two teen sons and two teen daughters at home. Seeing a non-family "farm laborer" also in the household during the 1860 Census, I conclude that the Larimers hired someone to help Jacob and his brother work the land.

Civil War History and Family History

According to Civil War chronology, President Abraham Lincoln called for more Union recruits in December of 1864. Jacob and his brother were among the Hoosiers who responded: They enlisted in January of 1865, among the 1,013 men who formed the new regiment known as 151st Indiana Volunteer Infantry.

I consulted multiple sources to follow Jacob and learn what this Union Army regiment did during the Civil War: Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana; Wikipedia; Indiana Historical Bureau; National Park Service; and Fold3 records.

Jacob and his regiment never engaged in any battles, although the 151st Indiana Infantry did serve on patrols and on garrison duty in Tennessee. Jacob was mustered out in Nashville in September of 1865.

For other ancestors who had extensive Civil War experience, I've pieced together their military actions in a way very similar to the case study provided by NARA here.

Jacob's Post-War Life

From BMD and Census records, I found that Jacob returned home and married Susanna Puterbaugh on November 25, 1866. The couple, both in their twenties, had a son and a daughter (plus a third child who didn't live to adulthood). They made their home in Peru, Indiana.

The 1870 Census showed Jacob working as a sewing machine agent. This was interesting because he came from a long line of farmers. On the other hand, sewing machines for the home were fairly new and increasingly popular, so this sounds like a good career move.

Another clue was more surprising: Through Ancestry, I found Jacob listed in the 1871-1872 yearbook for Union Christian College. UCC was a coeducational college that offered four courses of study: academic  (literature, math, history, writing), classical (Latin, Greek, related history, higher math, earth sciences), scientific  (chemistry, physiology, higher math, languages), and music (primarily piano but "vocal music is taught gratis.")

College and Civil War Pension

How did a married man with a family find the money and time to pursue an academic course of study at college? According to the yearbook, tuition for one term was $6 (worth $126 in today's dollars).

In addition, the yearbook states: "Soldiers who were disabled in the defense of our Government, during the late rebellion...are entitled to instruction free of charge."

Even though I have no record of Jacob Wright Larimer claiming invalid status, it is possible he could demonstrate to the college that he was disabled and therefore entitled to free tuition. And then there's a question about distance: Using online mapping, I calculated that the college was 180 miles from Jacob's home. Would Jacob really be able to remain away from his family for months at a time in the early 1870s, when his children were under the age of ten?

Sadly, Jacob died at the age of 29 in May of 1876. His Civil War Pension record indicates that his widow Susannah filed for his benefits. Given Jacob's early death (alas, no death cert and so far, no obit), I wonder whether some disability stemming from his military service contributed to his early death.

Soon, widow Susannah found work as a seamstress. Knowing that her late husband's occupation was sewing machine agent, perhaps she used one of his sewing machines to support her two children?

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Beyond Civil War Service and BMD

Searching for Larimer name inside
"History of Miami County, Indiana"
I'm still working on my booklet about my husband's Civil War ancestors. In addition to birth, marriage, and death dates plus considerable readily-available information about their military service, I want to paint a fuller picture of each man's early life. That means going beyond the basics, beyond the Census, to learn more.

The Larimer Brothers Enlisted Together

For instance, I'm writing a page each about Harvey Heath Larimer and Jacob Wright Larimer, brothers who enlisted together in the 151st Indiana Volunteer Infantry in 1865. Harvey was the baby of the family, barely 17 when he left Indiana with the infantry regiment. Jacob was not even 19 at the time. Both came home safely--their regiment was never in a formal battle!

I knew these young men were born in the 1840s and grew up on their father's farm in Miami County, Indiana. I have their Census info, but little else for the early years and the immediate aftermath of their service. So I wondered: What was the area like? What was the Larimer family's involvement in Miami County during that period?

Adding Local Color

A simple online search turned up an 1887 history of that county, available for free and name searchable. Not only does the book describe the county's development over time, it also features a number of Larimer entries (see excerpt at top) from the period I'm exploring. The content is quite informative, although the exact dates are not always accurate (I compared with other documentation).

Thanks to this book, I learned more about Harvey and Jacob's father as an early settler...about their mother joining the first Methodist Church...about sister Sarah's marriage, one of the first in their township...about brother George building the first hotel in town as the railroad was being completed. And so on.

Interesting background (taken with a grain of salt) that helps me write an engaging narrative which I hope descendants will actually want to read!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Looked for Civil War Service, Found Flu Victim

Civil War record of John W. McClure - including date/place of death
In my quest to investigate the Civil War veterans in my husband's family tree, I spent hours tracking down the Union Army service of his Indiana-born 2d great-uncle, John N. McClure (1840-1919).

John, his older brother Theodore Wilson McClure (1834-1927) and his younger brother Train Caldwell McClure (1843-1934) all enlisted in the Union Army. My research shows that their lives diverged after the war.

Initially, I had few specifics about John's military record, let alone his post-war experiences. The trail had gone cold after 1910, when he told the Census he was a Union Army vet. His wife was a widow in 1920, living in the Indiana State Soldiers' Home. This helped me narrow his possible death date to after April 15, 1910 (Census Day) and before January 1 of 1920 (Census Day)

I used a wide array of resources to dig into his history, including Ancestry, Indiana state military databases, Find a Grave, Family Search, Fold3, and newspaper databases. I needed every one of those resources to uncover his past, trace his movements, and learn where, when, and why he died.

Civil War Records

John enlisted as a private in Company A of the 89th Indiana Infantry on December 28, 1863. This was the same regiment in which his brother Train served. Three days after enlisting, John married Rebecca Jane Coble (1846-1928) before shipping out with his unit.

The 89th Indiana Infantry was involved in the Battle of Nashville; the siege and occupation of Mobile, Alabama; the Red River campaign to take Shreveport; and the capture of Fort Blakely, Alabama. According to Indiana's Civil War database, John later transferred to Company E of the 26th Indiana Infantry (which occupied Mobile, Alabama) and was discharged on January 15, 1866.

Shown at top is the best Civil War record I found. It reported his invalid status in 1874 and . . . his death date and place in 1919. This allowed me to find John's obit and then his Find a Grave memorial.

From the Hoosier State to the Beaver State

The obit published in the Oregon Journal of April 30, 1919 was headlined: "Civil War Veteran of Forest Grove Dies at His Home." In addition to providing an exact birth and death date, and confirming his military service with the 89th and 26th Indiana Infantries, the obit said he had moved to Oregon eight years earlier. No cause of death listed, and only one son mentioned in the obit.

What was he doing in Oregon? Looking at his children in the 1910 Census, I noticed his youngest daughter was in Oregon. So that's most likely why John and his wife Rebecca moved to there.

There was NO John N. McClure on Find a Grave in the cemetery mentioned in the obit. There was a John V. McClure. Turns out, his gravestone is incorrectly marked but this is definitely the correct man. Thanks to the kind Find a Grave volunteer who created John's memorial and fleshed it out, I now could see his death certificate.

Death During the Pandemic

I was surprised to learn what happened to this ancestor in 1919. The date should have been a clue, given that we are currently living through a pandemic being compared to what happened a century ago.

John N. McClure died of influenza, at age 78, in the midst of the flu pandemic of 1918-9. 

This ancestor grew up in the early settlements around Wabash, Indiana, survived dozens of Civil War battles, returned to farming, later worked as a railroad engineer, and was part of the boom times in Oregon. RIP, Great-Great-Uncle John, you will not be forgotten.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Hubby's Ancestors in the Civil War: Part 3, Teenaged Thomas

After taking steps to identify potential Civil War veterans in my hubby's family tree, I found 21 likely possibilities to investigate.

I used Ancestry's Civil War collections, Family Search records for Massachusetts, state records, newspaper databases, city directories, and other sources to get a better picture of these ancestors' lives.

One by one, I'm writing about these ancestors for a family history booklet for the grandsons who are riveted by the Ken Burns Civil War documentary.

My first ancestor of focus was a teenager from the Wood branch of the family tree.

Thomas F. Wood of New Bedford

Thomas F. Wood (1843-1925) was my husband's 1st cousin, twice removed. He was born and buried in the whaling center of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Pvt Thomas F. Wood
Civil War documentation
The son of tinplate worker Isaiah Wood and Mary T. White, Thomas also became a tinplate worker during his teenage years. When the Civil War erupted, Thomas took up arms (with his parents' permission, as shown on the documentation at right).

Private Thomas F. Wood of the Militia 

Searching local newspapers of the time, I found Thomas listed as a private in a local volunteer militia group called the New Bedford City Guards.

This militia was soon recruited into the Union Army for a nine-month enlistment. Thomas joined Company E of the Massachusetts 3d Infantry Regiment. He was mustered in on September 23, 1862 at Camp Joe Hooker, Lakeville, Mass, 20 miles north of his home in New Bedford. (This camp, named for "Fighting Joe" Hooker, even had its own newspaper, the Camp Gazette!)

Civil War Service in the Mass 3d Infantry Regiment

Thomas and his fellow soldiers were moved further north to Boston, where they boarded steamers and disembarked days later at New Bern, North Carolina. His regiment made several expeditions in the area, including Foster's Expedition to Goldsboro, North Carolina in December of 1862. This operation successfully burned down a bridge to disrupt key supply lines of the Confederacy.

In April of 1863, Thomas and his regiment helped to provide relief to Union Army troops at Little Washington, North Carolina. According to another Union soldier's diary of the time, the massed Union forces engaged with the Confederate Army on April 9, 1863 and used artillery to push back the Southern troops.

Thomas was mustered out of the 3d Regiment on June 26, 1863, again at Camp Hooker in Lakeville, Massachusetts. But that wasn't the end of his Civil War service.

Civil War Pension Card for Thomas F. Wood
of New Bedford, Massachusetts
Civil War Service in the 15th Unattached Company

Thirteen months after Thomas left the 3d Mass Infantry Regiment, he enlisted as a sergeant in the 15th Unattached Company. This 100-day enlistment began on July 29, 1864. He was mustered out on November 5, 1864.

Sgt. Wood served with the 15th at Fort Warren on George's Island, an important post guarding the entrance to Boston Harbor.

Post-War Life

After his military service, Thomas returned to civilian life. In the 1865 Massachusetts Census, he was again a tinplate worker, living at home with his parents. He married Ellen L. Dean in 1868.

Changing his career with the times, Thomas became a steam and gas fitter (according to 1900 Census). His Civil War pension card indicates that he filed for invalid status in 1905.

In his 60s, he was a partner in a steam factory (1910 Census). He did not list any occupation in the 1920 Census, when in his mid-70s, but he did say he owned his New Bedford home "free"--without a mortgage.

After Thomas's death in April of 1925, his widow Ellen L. Dean Wood received his Civil War pension until she died on July 1, 1926. Her death date was shown in the city directory of New Bedford, Massachusetts (see below).

From 1926 City Directory of
New Bedford, MA

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Hubby's Ancestors in the Civil War: Part 2 (Mayflower Connection)
In Part 1 of this series, I applied multiple criteria to screen for potential Civil War ancestors in my husband's family tree: (1) organizing male ancestors according to birthdate to identify those of military age in the 1860s, (2) eliminating men who died before the war and who were not in America at the time, and (3) prioritizing ancestors closer to the main tree.

This reduced the number of possible Civil War veterans to research from 71 men to 33 men.

Next, I peeked at the 1910 U.S. Census to see which ancestors said they were veterans--a clue, not definitive evidence. This gave me positive clues for a good number, but what about those not alive in 1910?

Quick-and-Dirty Search for Civil War Activities

For ancestors who died before the 1910 Census, I did a quick-and-dirty search on Ancestry. Did these men register for the Civil War draft? If so, did they actually serve?

Between checking the 1910 Census and my quick-and-dirty search, I reduced the number of possible Civil War veterans from 33 to 20 [correction: 21, now that I've identified Lemuel C. Wood, Jr. as a vet]. This list included great-great uncles, cousins of various types, and two men married to great-great-aunts.

Mayflower Connections 

Along the way to profiling my husband's Civil War veterans, I filled in many blanks on the family tree and looked at family connections to prioritize my research.

A name that made the initial list due to his birth year was Thomas F. Wood (1843-1925), my husband's 1st cousin, twice removed. He was born and died in the whaling center of New Bedford, Massachusetts, the son of Isaiah Wood and Mary T. White.

As I climbed Thomas's family tree, I saw that his grandfather Isaiah Wood was descended from Mayflower passenger Mary Norris and her husband, Thomas Cushman of the Fortune. Thomas's grandmother Harriet Taber was descended from Mayflower passenger Francis Cooke.

Having made these connections, I immediately determined that Thomas F. Wood was to be the focus of my first Civil War investigation. More in Part 3!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Which of Hubby's Ancestors Were in the Civil War? Part 1

The 1910 US Census asked about veteran status.
UA = Union Army service during the Civil War.
Thank you, Ken Burns, for getting the younger generation interested in ancestors who fought in the U.S. Civil War!

A young relative just mentioned watching the popular Ken Burns documentary series The Civil War for the first time.

Me: "Hey, I'm writing a family history booklet about your Civil War ancestors."

Young relative: "Wow, we had ancestors in the Civil War?"

Me: "More than one! Wait till you hear their stories." [Doing the genealogy happy dance--a descendant asking about ancestor stories!]

First Step: Who Was Old Enough to Serve?

From previous research, I'd already identified 10 ancestors of my husband who served in the Union Army. That was just a start.

Now I needed to go through his family tree in a systematic way to see who else might have served in the Civil War. Given the migration patterns in my husband's family (including Ohio Fever that attracted Northeastern ancestors to settle the Ohio River area), I expected to find NO service for the Confederacy, only for the Union side.

My first step was to use RootsMagic7 to sort the family tree by birthdate. I printed the report and used a red pen to mark men eligible for the draft or enlistment. As a rough guide, I was going to investigate those born between the mid-1820s and the late 1840s.

The initial list included 71 men of eligible age for military service.

Second Step: Ancestral Relationship and Location

After deleting a few male ancestors who died just before the Civil War, I examined ancestral relationships and locations. My goal was to eliminate men who had an indirect connection to the family tree and men who lived in another country during the Civil War years.

Name by name, I dropped ancestors such as "father-in-law of niece of 1c2r" as well as ancestors who arrived in America after 1865.

This shortened the list to 33 male cousins and great-great-uncles of eligible age who were living in the United States from 1860 to 1865.

Third Step: The 1910 US Census Clue

Before doing serious Civil War research, I took a quick shortcut to see, as a clue in the 1910 US Census, which of the men on the list had indicated they were veterans.

This clue only works if the male ancestor was still alive in 1910 (he served as late as 1865, so he would not be a spring chicken). And of course it only works if the man or his relative knew enough to tell the enumerator about his military service. Remember, this is a CLUE, still to be verified by further research.

See the snippet at top? The 3d column from the far right on the 1910 Census was a question about whether the person was a veteran.

For Union Army veterans, like my husband's ancestor in this example, the enumerator would write "UA." The National Archives posted this list of veterans' codes for 1910:

  • "UN" for Union Navy
  • "UA" for Union Army
  • "CA" for Confederate Army
  • "CN" for Confederate Navy

In Part 2, I'll describe my next steps in determining which of my husband's ancestors were in the Civil War, where, and when.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Union Army Pensions and Reunions Were Both Newsworthy

Train Caldwell McClure (second from left in top row) at Union Army reunion on Aug. 18, 1922
In researching Union Army veterans in my husband's family tree, I was interested to see newspapers reporting on military pensions. Not surprisingly, Civil War reunions were also newsworthy, especially decades after the war's end.

Train Caldwell McClure's Union Army Pension

Hubby's great-great-uncle Train Caldwell McClure (1843-1934) enlisted in Company A of the 89th Indiana Infantry Regiment at the end of July, 1863, in his hometown of Wabash, Indiana. He was mustered out in Mobile, Alabama, on July 19, 1865, having fought in key battles such as capturing Mobile and defending it from the Confederate Army.

On November 22, 1892, the Indianapolis Journal reported that Train was one of dozens of Indiana veterans to be granted military pensions for their Civil War service.

On July 15, 1898, the Indiana State Journal reported on new pension amounts. Train's pension went up from $6 monthly to $8 monthly (see excerpt at left).  In today's dollars, $8 = $247. Not such a tiny pension after all.

Train Caldwell McClure's Civil War Reunions

Train went home to Wabash, Indiana after the war. He married Gulia E. Swain (1847-1920) in 1867. As their family expanded to four children, he operated an oil mill (extracting oil from crops) and later worked as a janitor.

According to news accounts, Train participated in more than one Civil War reunion of Union Army veterans. At top, a clip from the News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Indiana, dated September 23, 1922, shows Train with a dozen other vets at a luncheon reunion on August 18, 1922. The caption notes that their ages totaled 1,040 years. This was nearly 60 years after the Civil War ended, and veterans were all in their 70s and 80s by then.

Train also went from Wabash, Indiana to Washington, D.C., to attend the First Reunion of the Survivors of the Army of the Tennessee on September 21-23, 1892. I located his name among the attendees from the 89th Regiment (above) in a book about the reunion (via Google Books, see cover at left).

Wabash to Washington is a trip of 600 miles. Since Wabash was a major railroad hub, Train could change trains [no pun intended] and arrive in Washington without too much hassle.

BTW, Train is not as uncommon a name as I originally thought. I wrote five years ago about how he came to have that name.
"Newsworthy" is this week's prompt for #52Ancestors.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Ancestors Who Served in the Military, Honored on This Memorial Day 2020

Capt. John Daniel Slatter
World War I, Camp Borden
In my husband's family tree, many ancestors served in the military during wartime.

Searching for clues to their service, I've checked enlistment records, pension files, 1910 Census (which asked about Civil War participation), 1930 Census (which asked which war served in), Fold3, obituaries, death certs, newspaper articles, and beyond.

On this Memorial Day 2020, I'm honoring these military veterans and continuing to look for additional clues to other ancestors who served. I'll add names as I locate more veterans in hubby's family tree.

War of 1812
* Isaac M. Larimer - hubby's 4th g-grandfather
* Robert Larimer - hubby's 4th great-uncle
* John Larimer - hubby's 3d g-grandfather
* Daniel Denning - hubby's 3d great-uncle
* Elihu Wood Jr. - hubby's 3d great-uncle

Union Army, Civil War
* James Elmer Larimer - hubby's 1c4r
* Isaac Larimer Work - hubby's 1c4r
* John Wright Work - hubby's 1c4r
* Train Caldwell McClure - hubby's 2d great uncle
* Benjamin Franklin Steiner - hubby's 2d great uncle
* Samuel D. Steiner - hubby's 2d great uncle
* Hugh Rinehart - hubby's 2d great uncle
* Ira Caldwell - hubby's 1c3x
* John N. McClure - hubby's 2d great uncle
* George H. Handy - hubby's 1c2r

World War I
* John Daniel Slatter - hubby's great uncle
* Albert William Slatter - hubby's great uncle
* Arthur Albert Slatter - hubby's 1c1r
* Albert James Slatter - hubby's 1c1r
* Ernest Slatter - hubby's 1c1r
* Albert Matthew Slatter - hubby's 1c1r
* Frederick William Slatter - hubby's 1c1r

World War II
* John Hutson Slatter - hubby's 2d cousin
* John Albert Slatter - hubby's 2d cousin
* Albert Henry Harvey - hubby's 2d cousin
* Harold McClure Forde - hubby's 2c1r
* Albert Lloyd Forde - hubby's 2c1r
* Joseph Miles Bradford - hubby's 2c1r

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Why I Love the 1900 and 1910 US Census

Is it wrong to play favorites? I have two favorite years in the U.S. Census: 1900 and 1910.

As shown above, these are favorites because of the specific questions asked during those two Census years. The answers that ancestors gave were clues to further researching their lives. Here are just two examples.

1900 US Census Clues: Farkas Family

As enumerated in the 1900 Census, my maternal great-grandfather Moritz "Morris" Farkas (1857-1936) was a boarder in the household of a Roth cousin. His birth year is shown as 1857. The month is not indicated (it's omitted from many on this page).

Thanks to this Census hint about birth year, I went looking for Moritz's birth in the Hungarian records a few years ago. At the time, I had to request FHL microfilm #642919 of Jewish records gathered at Fehergyarmat, Hungary. Very exciting to find him there (as "Moses Farkas") after two hours of cranking the microfilm reader at a nearby Family History Center!

1910 US Census Clues: McClure Family

Here's the 1910 Census for my husband's great-great uncle Train Caldwell McClure (1843-1934). Look way over to the right on this record and you'll see "UA" in the column reserved for recording veterans. UA = Union Army!

I searched for and found his Civil War service in Company A of the 89th Indiana Infantry. Train entered the Union Army on August 3, 1862, and was mustered out nearly three years later on July 19, 1865 at Mobile, AL, according to the Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana.

These are only two examples of why I love the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Census. For now, these years are my favorites.

But in April of 2022, I'll have a new favorite: The 1950 U.S. Census, which will be released that year with a lot of detailed information about my ancestors. I can't wait!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Cousin Aaron Work, Fire Insurance Agent

RootsMagic 7 "find everywhere" search box
For this week's #52Ancestors challenge, I used RootsMagic7 to identify anything in the Wood family tree related to the word "fire."

Find fire everywhere

Under the search menu, I typed the word fire (no quote marks) in the "find everywhere" search box (see purple arrow).

After I clicked OK, the software needed about a minute to present a brief results list showing where the word fire appeared in any data field (name, address, occupation, detailed notes, etc.).

Results from any data field

RootsMagic 7 "find everywhere" results

The first result was an ancestor involved in a lawsuit with the Calif. Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Assn. Not the kind of thing I was looking for this week, but something to follow up in local newspapers of the time.

The second result was an ancestor who flew spitfires in WWII. Not what I wanted for this week's challenge, but an interesting topic for a future blog post.

The third result was my husband's distant cousin, Aaron Work, who was a fire insurance agent. The closest I can get to fire--and an interesting cousin I wanted to know more about.

Aaron Work and Aaron Work

Aaron Work (1837-1924) was my husband's first cousin, four times removed, the son of blacksmith Abel Everett Work and Cynthia Hanley Larimer (she was hubby's 4th great aunt). He was born in Rush Creek, Ohio, named for his grandfather Aaron Work (1778-1858). When only a tyke, Aaron's pioneering parents moved the family to Elkhart county, Indiana.

First cousins Aaron Work and Aaron Work 
As a young man, Aaron and his first cousin, Aaron Work, went to Florence township in St. Joseph county, Michigan, to find work. As shown in the 1863 Civil War registration ledger directly above, both Aaron Works told the authorities that they were "citizens of Indiana."

So far as I can determine, Aaron never served in the Civil War. His obit refers to health problems plaguing Aaron much of his life. Two of his younger brothers fought for the Union, and both died while in the service during the Civil War.

Aaron Work, fire insurance agent

A few years after working in Michigan, Aaron returned to Elkhart county, Indiana, and married Amanda Elizabeth Walmer (1845-1910). According to Aaron's obituary, and confirmed by 1870 US Census records, Aaron was originally a grocer. In the 1880 US Census records, he was a coal dealer, and then served in town government for a time.

Later in life, according to city directories of the late 1800s and early 1900s, Aaron became a fire insurance agent. His 1900 and 1910 US Census entries show his occupation as "insurance agent, fire."

By the time of the 1920 US Census, Aaron was 83, widowed, and living as a roomer with an ironworker and his sister, not related to the Work family. Aaron continued to suffer from health problems, including mitral regurgitation. He died of lobar pneumonia in 1924, at the age of 87.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Work Brothers in the "War of Rebellion"

Elkhart, Indiana family reunion 1903

The Work family was so-called "Scots-Irish" (or "Scotch-Irish") from County Antrim, Ireland, cousins of and intermarried with the Larimer family. The Larimers are my husband's direct ancestors.

The newspaper snippet at left also mentions the Short family, which intermarried with the Work and Larimer families. The Short and Work families have been mentioned as cousins to the Larimers when all lived in the old country.

Over time, by researching members of the Work and Short families, I may find clues that will lead me to the hometown of the Larimer family.

From Ohio to Indiana

I've been taking a closer look at two brothers from the Work family who served on the Union side during the Civil War. These brothers were hubby's 1st cousins 4x removed, and both enlisted at the same time in 1862.

Isaac Larimer Work (b. 1838) and John Wright Work (b. 1841) were the second and third sons of Abel Everitt Work (1815-1898) and Cynthia Hanley Larimer (1814-1882). Born near Bremen, Fairfield county, Ohio, the boys were still young when their parents moved the family to Middlebury, Elkhart county, Indiana.

In their early 20s, the brothers studied at Hillsdale College in 1861, as the page here shows. The following year, the Work brothers were among the roughly 400 students of this famously anti-slavery college who enlisted to fight for the Union in the Civil War.
Hillsdale College 1861

Company I, 74th Regiment, Indiana Infantry

Back in Elkhart county, Indiana, Isaac and John joined Company I, 74th Regiment, Indiana Infantry, in August of 1862.

Within months, Isaac became a corporal, John was a private. Both found themselves in battle as their regiment saw action very quickly.

Alas, Isaac died at the age of 23 in a hospital in Gallatin, Tennessee. Whether the death date in the military record was correct or the newspaper account below from the Goshen Times (Indiana) was correct, I don't know.

In fact, I've seen several different death dates for Isaac L. Work. The news article agrees with the death date recorded on Isaac's gravestone and transcribed in the U.S. Civil War Roll of Honor (which indicated either Dec. 29th, 1862 OR January, 1863). His cause of death was shown as "diarrhea." In the Indiana digital archives, his death date is shown as November 23, 1862.

Sadly, Isaac's brother John died in Gallatin, Tennessee, from a case of "chronic diarrhea," at age 24. His name and cause of death appears in the handwritten list of Indiana volunteers who died in the Civil War.

There, his death is shown as January 15, 1863. On the Roll of Honor, his death date is transcribed from his gravestone as January 5, 1863.

When their father Abel Everett Work died in 1898, his obituary said that sons John and Isaac had "lost their lives in the war of rebellion." The boys didn't live to see slaves freed and the Union reunited, but their parents and all their brothers did.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

James Elmer Larimer's Civil War Telescope

Civil War telescope of James E. Larimer

James Elmer Larimer (b. 1840 in Pennsylvania, d. 1923 in Elkhart, Indiana) was my husband's first cousin, 4x removed.

James's father died at age 40, having been accidentally thrown from a horse.

His mother later left Indiana to go with her brother to gold-rush California, and never returned east. She fretted about leaving her children behind, but was determined to pioneer in California with her family.

James was a child at the time, and he didn't join his mother. His siblings went west to California after they were grown, but not James. Just months after the start of the Civil War, he enlisted in the Union Army.

James E. Larimer in the Civil War 

Thanks to documents such as his pension record, I can see James enlisted in Company A, Ohio 17th Infantry Regiment, on 13 Aug 1861. He was 21 years of age, and had no way of knowing that he would remain in the Union Army (with different units and at different ranks) until just after the war ended, in the spring of 1865.

Civil War Pension record for James E. Larimer and his widow, Rhoda Amelia Ward Larimer
The Larimer Telescope

Not long ago, I heard from a collector who was researching the name engraved on a Civil War-era telescope: J.E. Larimer.

From the engraving, it appears to be the telescope used by my hubby's cousin, James E. Larimer!

At top, a view of the telescope when extended for use. Below, the telescope retracted. At right, part of the engraving, which also mentions the 17th Regiment, Larimer's unit.

Thanks to Justin McLarty for these photos of the telescope, which is now more than 150 years old.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Targeted Search on HeritageQuest

HeritageQuest, "powered by Ancestry," has a lot to recommend it to genealogy researchers at all levels. Most libraries offer HQ as part of the free ProQuest databases available for access to cardholders, in the library or from home. It is so convenient to fire up my laptop at any hour, log into HQ using my library card number, and search whenever I wish! Did I mention it's FREE?

At top, a brief list of what you can find from the search page on HQ. The site is uncomplicated and easy to navigate. Anyone who's ever used Ancestry will find the search interface familiar. Even if you've never used Ancestry, it will take about five seconds to figure out the HQ search forms. And remember, this is FREE.

What I find especially helpful is that HQ offers quick access to targeted genealogy databases without digging down through catalog listings. This is how I get the most out of Heritage Quest, by searching only one database or set of records at a time to narrow the results to the more likely possibilities.

Here's an example: I wanted to look for one of my husband's ancestors who I believed had served in the Civil War. He died in 1924, so I decided to search in the 1890 Veterans' Schedule. Yes, this special schedule did survive, even if nearly nothing else from that 1890 US Census survived! So not only will I find out whether this guy served in the war, I'll also find out when--and get his 1890 location as an important bonus.

I plugged in his full name (Benjamin Franklin Steiner), date/place of death, and added his wife's name. It wasn't necessary to have all those elements, but it helps narrow my search, at least in the beginning.

In fact, only a few results popped up--but one was exactly what I needed. 

The schedule lists Benjamin F. Steiner, living in Oceola, Ohio, in 1890. He served as a private in Company L, 10th Ohio Cavalry, from 1862 to 1865.

The "remarks" section had nothing about him, although others were noted as being disabled due to various ailments. But now I know he was in Oceola in 1890, and I can look for city directories, newspaper stories, and other sources of additional information from that time and place.

FREE, easy to use, loaded with valuable databases--lots to like on HeritageQuest!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Honor Roll Project, Part 3: Newtown, CT, Gulf War and Civil War

In Newtown, Connecticut, the stately memorial at the head of Main Street includes plaques with names of men and women who served in our country's military over the years. As part of Heather Rojo's Honor Roll Project, I'm transcribing the names and including photos to pay tribute to these brave people.

This is Part 3 of names from Newtown. Part 1 covers those who served during the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, and the Mexican Border War. Part 2 covers those who served from 1944-1971.

Here are the names of those from Newtown who served during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, 1990-1991:

Check, Emory T. (Army)
Demand, Dana B. (Air Force)
Denslow, Alan L. (Navy)
Evans, William (Navy)
Fischer, Lawrence B. (USMC)
Godfrey, Kenneth C. (Air Force)
Gottmeier, Richard P. (Army)
Hannah, Stephen (Army)
Hayward, Brian P. (Air Force)
Knapp, Letitia Renee (Army)
Knapp, Robert D. (Army)
Kieras, Christopher (USMC)
Killing, Robert E., Jr. (USMC)
Klewicki, John E. (Army)
Leavitt, Brian (Air Force)
Leedy, Roberta C. (Army)
Mead, James g. (Navy)
Schaedler, David A. (Army)
Schmidle, Paul W. (Navy)
Schmidle, Robert E. (USMC)
Swart, John J. (Army)
Sturges, Donald (Navy)
Wade, Brian (Navy)
Waller, Darrick (USMC)
Wrinn, Johnathan (Air Force)

And here are the names of Newtowners who served during the Civil War:

Adams, James
Alldis, Frederick G.
Andress, David
Banks, Allen
Banks, Edward A.
Beers, Hawley
Beers, James M.
Benedict, Edwin
Benedict, Henry W.
Bigelow, Henry B.
Bissell, Henry
Blake, Martin
Blakeslee, George B.
Booth, Charles, Jr. 
Booth, John W.
Booth, Starr L.
Botsford, Gideon B.
Botsford, Israel C.
Bradley, George A.
Bradley, Thomas
Brewster, John H.
Brisco, Ephraim
Briscoe, Charles
Briscoe, George
Briscoe, Gustavus
Brown, George W.
Brown, Jeremiah
Brown, Jerome
Bruno, Gottfried
Bulkley, George
Burritt, Charles H.
Butcher, Charles
Camp, Daniel B.
Camp, George B.
Carley, Edward
Carmody, Michael
Casey, Barney
Cavanaugh, Michael
Chipman, Charles C.
Clark, Allen B.
Clark, Newell
Clark, Robert
Clinton, George
Coger, Henry B.
Coley, George S.
Colgan, Matthew
Conger, Charles T.
Conley, William
Connell, William
Cornell, Hiram
Cunningham, John
Curtis, Charles G.
Curtis, Jasper L.
Curtis, Joseph
Curtis, William
Curtis, William E.
Davis, Daniel
Davis, William
Dayton, Charles W.
Dick, Charles L.
Dimon, Arthur
Downes, Munroe D.
Downs, Oliver
Downs, Smith
Dunn, Hugh
Dunning, Edward A.
Edgett, Seneca
Edwards, Levi H.
Egan, James
Ellwood, Frederick
Ellwood, William
Evans, James
Evarts, George A.
Fairchild, Alpheus B.
Fairchild, Henry W.
Fairchild, Jerome B.
Fairchild, Lewis
Fairchild, Lewis H.
Fairchild, Reuben A.
Fairchild, Robert B.
Fairchild, Theodore B.
Fairman, Arthur
Faulkner, John
Flannery, Patrick
Foote, John G.
French, David R.
Gage, George R.
Gannon, John
Gilbert, Charles E.
Gilbert, Henry A.
Gilbert, Horace 
Gillette, David A.
Glover, Henry J.
Glover, Martin V.B.
Gordon, James
Gordon, William A.
Greene, John W.
Griffin, John
Groever, Paul
Guernsey, Truman
Hall, Henry C.
Hall, James P.
Hawley, Charles E.
Hawley, David B.
Hawley, George
Hawley, James
Hawley, William G.
Hayes, Dennis
Hickey, John
Hubbell, George S.
Hubbell, John P.
Hull, Andrew C.
Jackson, Henry J.
Johnson, Henry
Johnson, Jacob
Johnson, Thomas
Jones, Charles
Jones, David W.
Jones, John
Kaine, Patrick
Kane, Daniel
Kane, James
Kane, John
Keenan, Michael
Kelly, Bernard
Kelly, James
Knapp, John S.
Lake, George
Lattin, John O.
Lewis, George H.
Lillis, Griffin P.
Lillis, John
Lillis, Martin
Lynch, Patrick
Manley, Henry T.
Matthews, Benjamin W.
May, Charles
McArthur, William L.
McMahon, Michael
McNerney, Thomas 
Merritt, Charles
Meyer, Fritz
Monson, Charles
Nash, Adelbert
Nichols, Beach
Nichols, Elijah B.
Nichols, Harmes L.
Nichols, Henry E.
Nichols, James
Northrop, Alpheus
O’Brien, David
O’Brien, Thomas
O’Halloran, Michael T.
Olmsted, Peter D.
Parker, James
Parsons, Charles M.
Payne, Charles H.
Payne, David S.
Peck, Albert W.
Peck, Austin L.
Peck, Chester D.
Peck, David M. 
Peck, John F.
Peck, Nelson J.
Peet, Benajah H.
Pete, Elijah S.
Peterson, Arlan
Peterson, Carl
Platt, Francis W.
Platt, Orlando M.
Ramsay, George W.
Reed, Hawley
Reicker, Edward
Rigby, Matthew
Riley, James
Roberts, Charles H.
Root, Nathan H.
Ryan, Michael
Sanford, Andrew W. 
Sanford, Julius
Schriver, Andrew
Seeley, Eli B.
Seeley, John D.
Shaughnessy, Lawrence
Shepard, Charles
Shepard, Charles S.
Shepard, Hall
Sheridan, James
Sherman, George H.
Sherman, Ira
Sherwood, Charles R.
Smith, Frederick E.
Smith, John
Smith, Pearl
Smith, William A.
Spencer, George H.
Spitzler, Gottlieb
Spring, Charles
Squire, Cyrenius N.
Squires, George D.
Stuart, Louis L.
Sullivan, James
Tappan, John
Tappan, Robert
Taylor, Ammon
Taylor, Milton C.
Taylor, Roswell
Tongue, Elam M.
Tongue, Hanford
Troy, Edward
Twitchell, Franklin S.
Tyrrell, Stephen
Urmston, Thomas D.
Walsh, John
Weed, Daniel B.
Weed, Joseph B.
Weible, Christian
Wenzel, Frederick
Wheeler, Cyrus W.
White, Joseph
Williams, George W.
Wood, Smith B.
Wooster, Charles 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Pvt. Harvey Heath Larimer

On January 31, 1865, my husband's 1st cousin 4x removed, Harvey Heath Larimer (1848-1893), enlisted as a private in Company C of the 151st Indiana Infantry, signing up in Peru, Indiana, close to his birthplace. He was days away from celebrating his 17th birthday. He enlisted at the same time as his older brother, Jacob Wright Larimer (1846-1876) and they served side by side during the Civil War.

Harvey served in the Union Army for less than 8 months and was discharged in Nashville, TN, in mid-September of 1865 (along with his Brother Jacob). Harvey was in and out of the home for disabled war veterans later in his life and finally died of heart and lung problems in the Indiana Sate Hospital in Lafayette on November 18, 1927.

Harvey has been memorialized with a Find A Grave page detailing his war experience. I am requesting corrections and links to add to the F-A-G information about his life and family. This is my way of honoring Pvt. Harvey Heath Larimer, who enlisted on this day 152 years ago, and preserving the history of the Larimer family. I'm also editing relationship links for his brother Jacob Wright Larimer's F-A-G page.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Train McClure's Civil War Reunion in Wabash, Indiana

Since today is the day in history that President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in 1863, I want to say a few words about hubby's Civil War veteran, 1st great-grand uncle Train Caldwell McClure (1843-1934).

Train enlisted on August 3, 1862 in the Union Indiana Volunteers, 89th Regiment, Infantry. He served as a private and remained with his regiment until he was mustered out on July 19, 1865 at Mobile, Alabama. In three years of service, Train marched through Tennesee and other Southern states as his regiment fought in the Battle of Nashville, Battle of Arkansas Post, Battle of Fort Blakely, Battle of Munfordville, and Battle of Pleasant Hill.

Two years after Train was mustered out, he married Guilia Swain (1847-1920) and they settled down in Train's hometown of Wabash, Indiana for the rest of their lives. Their four children were: Frank, Harry, Jesse, and Bessie.

Above is a photo of Train McClure (standing, 2d from left) at a reunion of Civil War veterans in Wabash in September, 1922.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

52 Ancestors #26: Private Hugh Rinehart of Company I, 15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Great-grand uncle Hugh Rinehart (1839-1917) was a younger brother of hubby's great-grandma Elizabeth Jane Rinehart. He was born in Ashland County, Ohio.

In the 1860 census, Hugh was listed as a 20-yr-old "farm laborer" living in Crawford county, Ohio, with his parents (farmer Joseph C. Rinehart and Margaret Shank) and four younger siblings (Mary, 18, occupation "sewing;" Joseph, 16, "farm laborer;" Sarah, 13; Nancy, 9).

When the Civil War broke out, Hugh enlisted as a private in Company I, 15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, for a 90-day period in 1861. His particular company included a lot of men from Wyandot County. After being formed, the 15th Infantry guarded the B&O railroad in West Virginia, among other duties.

When Hugh's initial enlistment was up and the regiment was being reformed for three more years of active duty, Hugh took his leave and returned home. Within a week, he had a marriage license to marry Mary Elizabeth McBride (1842-1918). Hugh and Mary had two children: Clara and Charles (another child died young). He became a carpenter in the Wyandot/Crawford county area. Later, he filed for invalid status based on his Civil War service.

Hugh and his wife Mary are buried in Marion cty, Ohio, and his tombstone in Grand Prairie Cemetery reflects his Civil War service.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Military Monday: Major James Elmer Larimer

This morning I heard from a gentleman who found me through this blog.* His family has some wonderful historic treasures: A cache of Civil War letters written by James Elmer Larimer to his mother, Asenath Cornwell Larimer, and Asenath's journal chronicling her trip to California in the Gold Rush era. Are these Larimers related to hubby's Larimers?

Yes! And they're listed in the book Our Larimer Family by John Clarence Work, which traces this branch of the Larimers, starting with Robert Larimer's shipwreck enroute from North Ireland to America in the early 1700s.

Of course I dropped everything to check out James Elmer Larimer and his parents, James Larimer and Asenath Cornwell Larimer...and quickly discovered that James Elmer Larimer had quite a distinguished career in the military and afterward.

Above is the first of several pages about Major James Elmer Larimer from the 1915 book History of Dearborn County, Indiana (read or download it here). He enlisted in Company A, 17th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, on April 16, 1861. He rose through the ranks, serving bravely, and eventually became a first lieutenant in command of four companies of the 23rd Missouri Volunteer Infantry. He was in the first battle of Bull Run, and in many other famous battles (Hoover's Gap, Stone's River, siege of Atlanta, and on).

After the war, President Grant appointed him U.S. gauger and in that capacity, Major Larimer foiled a number of frauds (but not all--see this Wikipedia entry). Next he became publisher and editor of the Lawrenceburg Press in Indiana. The Dearborn history sums him up this way:
"His favorite sport is baseball. His church--all of them. His bible--"The Book" and Emerson. His reading--everything, but preferably scientific. His friends--every good man or woman. His hopes--the best of what he has been. He hates--a human skunk or fox. His pride--that he has lived through 75 years of more valuable achievement by man than all the race had previously accomplished."
James Elmer Larimer was my hubby's first cousin, four times removed, and that makes us proud. 

* Larimer ancestor landing page, a big plus!