Tag Archives: Civil War

Eber Johnson and the Effects of War (52 Ancestors #7)

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This is not Eber Johnson. (I wish I had a photo of him!) But this photo makes me think about what life was like after the war. (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.)

This is not Eber Johnson. (I wish I had a photo of him!) But this photo makes me think about what life was like after the war. (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.)

Eber Johnson was not a rich man. Sober and industrious, he was a veteran of the 1st Ohio Heavy Artillery. Though he served in the Civil War for less than a year, those months took a toll on him. According to John Murnahan’s affidavit in Eber’s pension application, “Since his return from the U.S. service he is still a sober man but unable to perform any manual labor to amount to anything.”

Eber, my great-great-grandfather, was a farmer, which means that the 1860 and 1870 agricultural schedules can shed some light on how Eber made his living before and after the Civil War.

In 1860, Eber primarily raised Indian corn, oats, and wheat. He didn’t have much livestock: 2 horses, 2 cows, 4 sheep and 11 swine. Compared to his immediate neighbors1)Compared to 3 households on either side of him in the agriculture census., he was just about average.

By 1870, things had changed. He had more cattle (7 heads of “other”), more sheep (up to 18), and a brand new crop: $150 worth of orchard goods. His value of “homemade manufacturers” went up as well; it was $10 in 1860, but $70 in 1870.

Could this shift toward more reliance on livestock and homemade products be a result of being disabled in the war? Were orchard goods grown because they would be easier — less physically demanding — to raise year after year?

Eber Johnson died January 25 18942)Per his Civil War pension file. and is buried in Locust Grove Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio3)FindAGrave memorial. Also have personally visited his grave. You can read more about his experiences in the Civil War here.

1860 agriculture schedule

Part of the header of the left-hand page of the 1860 agriculture schedule.

References   [ + ]

1. Compared to 3 households on either side of him in the agriculture census.
2. Per his Civil War pension file.
3. FindAGrave memorial. Also have personally visited his grave.

Stephen Amos Hibbs: Bridge Burner, Literally (52 Ancestors #1)

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Stephen Amos Hibbs was the brother of my 3rd-great-grandmother Martha (Hibbs) Mason. He was born in 1826 in present-day West Virginia, the son of John and Jane (Amos) Hibbs.

West Virginia was formed in 1863 when the western counties of Virginia decided that they didn’t really want to secede from the Union. But just because they opted to become a Union state doesn’t mean that they were 100% behind the Union cause. Far from it. The state was pocketed with Confederate sympathizers. Among them: Stephen A. Hibbs.

On 1 May 1863, he was captured by Union forces for being a “bridge burner.” His record in the Union Provost Marshals’ Files notes that he was a “rebel.” Page 1 of the record names him as “Stephen A. Hibbs / Cit.” (short for “citizen.”) This last term isn’t indicating his citizenship (as in voting rights, etc.) It’s an indication that he was a civilian, rather than a member of the Confederate army.

Stephen A. Hibbs, Union Provost Marshals' File Of Paper Relating To Individual Civilians, National Archives microfilm M345, page 2. Downloaded from Fold3.com.

Stephen A. Hibbs, Union Provost Marshals’ File Of Paper Relating To Individual Civilians, National Archives microfilm M345, page 2. Downloaded from Fold3.com.

How do I know this is 1863 when there is no year on the record? It’s stated that he was captured in “Marion Co., Va.” — not West Virginia. West Virginia didn’t become a state until 20 June 1863, making that the latest that this record could have been (accurately) created. (Yes, there’s the possibility that they wrote “Va.” out of habit, kind of like how it’s usually February before you start writing the correct year on your checks.) It also states that he was 37 years old. Census records consistently place his birth year in 1826. 1826 + 37 = 1863.

After the war, Stephen left Marion County, West Virginia and settled briefly in Warren County, Illinois. He then moved to Wayne County, Iowa, where he was a practicing physician and cattle farmer.1)Biographical and Historical Record of Wayne and Appanoose Counties, Iowa (Chicago: Inter-State Publishing, 1886), p. 395. Available on Google Books.

Did his Southern sympathies cause him strife after the war? (His sister Martha was married to a Union soldier. That could have made for an awkward Christmas dinner… ) Is that what precipitated his move west? Or was he simply looking for more opportunity for himself and his family than what was available in Marion County? Either way, it looks like he made a fresh start.

A Note About the Other Stephen A. Hibbs

Many people have combined this Stephen with the Stephen A. Hibbs who served with the 7th Iowa Infantry. That is a different Stephen A. Hibbs. According to his pension file, he was born in 1845, much too late to be the same one.2)Stephen A. Hibbs, Civil War pension file, application 1196430. Available online at GenealogyCenter.info.

Stephen Amos Hibbs in Review

Stephen Amos Hibbs first married Malinda Yost. After her death, he married Eliza (Blue) Glover, the widow of Stephen Glover. In 1865, he and his family moved to Warren County, Illinois and to Wayne County, Iowa in 1868.3)Biographical and Historical Record of Wayne and Appanoose Counties, Iowa (Chicago: Inter-State Publishing, 1886), p. 395. Available on Google Books. He died 11 March 1902 and is buried in Southlawn Cemetery, in Seymour, Wayne County, Iowa.4)Dr. Stephen Amos Hibbs memorial, FindAGrave.com.

References   [ + ]

1, 3. Biographical and Historical Record of Wayne and Appanoose Counties, Iowa (Chicago: Inter-State Publishing, 1886), p. 395. Available on Google Books.
2. Stephen A. Hibbs, Civil War pension file, application 1196430. Available online at GenealogyCenter.info.
4. Dr. Stephen Amos Hibbs memorial, FindAGrave.com.

Philip Mason: Civil War Vet… and Ladies Man? (52 Ancestors #32)

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For Veterans Day, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight Philip Mason, my third-great-grandfather and veteran of the 14th West Virginia Infantry. Philip was born 20 November 1834 in Monongalia County, (West) Virginia, the son of John and Elizabeth (Everts) Mason.

Philip married Martha Hibbs in 1858 in Marion County, (West) Virginia. (Of course, theirs would be among the three marriage records on the page that don’t have the exact date filled in. Thanks, Marion County clerk.) Martha died in 1893.

Not too surprisingly, Philip remarried after Martha’s death. On 3 July 1894, he married Amanda D. Lowers in Ritchie County, West Virginia.

Philip Mason and Amanda Lowers

Philip Mason and Amanda Lowers

As was typical for widows of Civil War veterans, Amanda applied for a widow’s pension after Philip died in 1909. It was in her declaration for a widow’s pension that I got a bit of a surprise:

philip-mason-pensionPhilip and Amanda were married on 3 July 1894. (Yes, I knew that.) Amanda D. Mason was divorced from Weeden N. Lowers on 21 June 1894.

What? Not only was Amanda married before, but she divorced her husband a mere 12 days before marrying Philip.

I haven’t tracked down the divorce file for Amanda and Weeden, but the dates makes me wonder how it played out that Philip married Amanda just 12 days after the divorce was finalized. Was Philip a bit of a ladies man?

Philip died 10 January 1909 in Washington County, Ohio and is buried in the veterans section of Oak Grove Cemetery in Marietta.

Great-Grandpa Was Inked! (Robert Young – 52 Ancestors #27)

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Clara (Mason) and Robert Andrew Young. We believe this photo was taken around the time of their wedding in 1903.

Clara (Mason) and Robert Andrew Young. We believe this photo was taken around the time of their wedding in 1903.

My great-grandfather Robert Andrew Young was a hard-working, responsible man. He was the only surviving child of Thomas and Ella (Steele) Young; his two younger sisters died in childhood.

You get a sense of his nature when you read Ella’s Civil War widow’s pension. Robert and his wife Clara took care of Ella in her final days. Robert wrote this letter to his congressman on 18 Apr 1940:

My mother was a soldiers widow… She kept her own house until two years before her death. Doctor’s bills, fuel bills and necessaries of life soon eats up 40 dollars [Ella’s monthly pension], so when she died there was $116 doctor’s bill. The last 14 months she lived she was helpless and had to be cared for like a baby. My wife took the best of care of her… I am a poor man, have raised a big family and trying to pay for a little farm. I am not able to meet these bills but I am the only child and am responsible for all mother’s debts. The New Deal might be O.K. but I prefer a square deal…

My dad remembers his Grandpa Young as hard-working and fairly no-nonsense. Once when Dad and his siblings were visiting their Grandpa and Grandma Young in rural Ross County, they came across a big Mason jar filled with some clear liquid tucked in a tree in the woods. This seemed pretty strange to the kids, so they took it back to their Grandpa.

“Where did you find this?”

“Tucked in a tree in the woods.”

“Which tree?”

As Dad said, there were miles and miles of trees surrounding their house and they had explored all day. How were they to know which tree it was?! Grandpa Young was concerned that the moonshiner would find that his stash was gone and come looking for whoever took it. Since they couldn’t return it, Grandpa Young went out back and without saying a word, poured the whole jar of moonshine on the ground.

Recently, Ancestry updated its collection of World War II Draft Registration Cards. (They added Ohio! Yay!) What is online is the 1942 Fourth Registration, often called “The Old Man Registration,” as it included men born on or between 28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897. Robert fits in this category.

It’s tempting to skip a record like this when you know so much about the person already, but I’m a firm believer that you never know what you might find. Yes, I found Robert’s draft registration right where I expected it: Granville, Licking County, Ohio. What I didn’t expect was on the back of the card:

Page 2 of Robert A. Young's draft registration card. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942, Ancestry.com.

Page 2 of Robert A. Young’s draft registration card. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942, Ancestry.com.

Tattoo on left forearm?! Sure, today everyone and their brother (and sister) have ink, but back in the day, that was pretty much reserved to soldiers and sailors. Robert was neither.

I called Dad and asked him about his Grandpa Young’s tattoo. Did he remember it? What was it?

“I didn’t know he had one. Being a farmer, he kept his sleeves rolled down all the time.”

Robert Young, ever the responsible one. Did he keep his sleeves rolled down to avoid sunburn? Did he keep them rolled down to hide his tattoo from his neighbors and friends (and maybe his wife)? I don’t know. I do know this:

  1. Never skip a record just because you think you know what it’s going to say.
  2. Always go to the next image when you’re looking at digital images. This wonderful little gem of information was on the back of the card.

Robert Andrew Young died 8 July 1953 in Newark, Licking County, Ohio. He is buried next to his wife Clara in Wilson Cemetery.

Robert and Clara Young's grave, Wilson Cemetery, Licking County, Ohio. Photo by Amy Crow, 13 September 2014.

Robert and Clara Young’s grave, Wilson Cemetery, Licking County, Ohio. Photo by Amy Crow, 13 September 2014.

Fleeing the War? James R. Steele, 1827-1902 (52 Ancestors #13)

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We usually can’t know with certainty what our ancestors’ motivations were for some of their actions. The best we can do is examine the facts and come up with a theory that fits. That is what I have with James R. Steele, my 3rd-great grandfather.

James was born in 1827 in Maryland or the District of Columbia, depending on which census you read. He married Mary E. Belt on 19 July 1849. They lived in Washington, DC in 1850 and 1860. It was in DC that their first five children were born, including my great-great grandmother Ella Steele. James was a carpenter.

By 1862, the family had moved from Washington to Ohio and by 1870 were living in Lawrence Township, Washington County, Ohio. What would make a journeyman carpenter pack up his family and move away from an urban area where he almost certainly had business contacts and settle in a small town two states away?

In a word: War.

If you lived in Washington, DC in 1860, there is no way you could avoid knowing what was happening. Talk of secession and war had been circulating for months. Lincoln’s election fueled the flames of rhetoric. South Carolina seceded 20 December; five more states seceded in January 1861. Rhetoric and politics turned to action on 12 April 1861 with the firing upon of Fort Sumter.

When Virginia seceded in April 1861, the District of Columbia was in a rather precarious position. Suddenly, the capital of the United States was bordered by a state that had just seceded. To make matters worse, although Maryland remained part of the Union, its southern sympathies were strong.

We will likely never know for sure why James and his family moved from Washington, DC to Ohio. But it isn’t hard to imagine that he saw the situation and decided that the risk of Washington becoming a battleground was too great.

Washington, D.C., 1862. Park of artillery (Excelsior Brigade) at Washington Arsenal. Photo by Mathew Brady. Downloaded from the Library of Congress; no known restrictions on publication.

Washington, D.C., 1862. Park of artillery (Excelsior Brigade) at Washington Arsenal. Photo by Mathew Brady. Downloaded from the Library of Congress; no known restrictions on publication.

James apparently stayed out of the Civil War. There is no listing for him in the 1890 veterans schedule in Ohio or Virginia (where he and Mary moved by 1900). There is no mention of service in his obituary. No listing for him or Mary has been found in the Civil War pension index. (Admittedly, he could have served without later applying for a pension.) But this also makes sense if he left DC to try to keep his family safe. If you’re trying to flee the war, you probably wouldn’t enlist in it.

Another avenue to pursue is James’ religion. He and Mary were married by a Rev. Mr. Evans. If that is Rev. French S. Evans, he appears to be associated with the Methodist Episcopal Church. James is buried in Timber Ridge Primitive Baptist Cemetery in Frederick County, Virginia. But even if James was a pacifist, I don’t believe that would have required him to leave Washington, DC.

James R. Steele died in Whitacre, Frederick County, Virginia on 4 April 1902.

Resources:

  • James Steele household, 1850 Federal census (population schedule), 4th Ward, Washington City, District of Columbia, p. 304a, household 1104, family 1141.
  • James Steele household, 1860 Federal census (population schedule), Washington, District of Columbia, page 204 (written), household 1346, family 1408.
  • James R. Steele household, 1870 Federal census (population schedule), Lawrence Township, Washington County, Ohio, page 44 (written), household 316, family 318. [Note: Son Harvey, age 8, is the first child listed as being born in Ohio. This would place the family’s move between 1860 and 1862.]
  • Jas. R. Steele FindAGrave memorial. Photo of his tombstone is on Ancestry.com.
  • National Genealogical Society, “The National Intelligencer, 1800-1850” online database. [Cites marriage of James R. Steele and Mary E. Belt married 19 July 1849; 21 July 1849 issue.]

Civil War Tombstones: A Quick Primer

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After bragging on my daughter last week for knowing the difference between a Union and a Confederate tombstone, I thought it would be good to look at government-issued Civil War tombstones in a bit more detail.

In a nutshell, the difference between Union and Confederate tombstones is the top of the stone. Union tombstones, such as that of Chas. Fetters, have rounded tops. Confederate tombstones, like that of Sgt. R. Shipp, have pointed tops.

Tombstone of Sgt. R. Shipp, Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery. Photo by Amy Crow, 8 Oct 2004.

Tombstone of Sgt. R. Shipp, Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery. Photo by Amy Crow, 8 Oct 2004.

Tombstone of Chas. Fetters, Stones River National Cemetery. Photo by Amy Crow, 4 June 2005.

Tombstone of Chas. Fetters, Stones River National Cemetery. Photo by Amy Crow, 4 June 2005.

A common question about tombstones such as Chas. Fetters’ is “How do you know what war he was in?” It’s a good question, since U.S. government-issued tombstones (other than Confederate) have this same basic shape. The answer lies in the shield.

The shield surrounding the name and the state (and, in this case, the grave number) was used by the federal government for graves of two wars: the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Graves of Spanish-American War veterans should have “Sp. Am. War” inscribed on the stone, though this was occasionally missed.

I Think My Ancestor Was in ZZ Top (52 Ancestors #4)

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Thomas Andrew Young, my great-great grandfather, was born in Washington County, Ohio 30 August 1847 and I suspect he was a founding member of ZZ Top.

Thomas was the son of John and Jane Mary (Douglass) Young. Among his 11 siblings were his two worthless brothers John and Douglass. Thomas lived his entire life in Washington County, with the exception of 1903-1906 when he and the family lived in Reynolds Store, Frederick County, Virginia.

He served in the Civil War for a brief period. He enlisted in the 189th Ohio Infantry on 20 February 1865 and was discharged in September of that year. For his service and subsequent disabilities of “heart trouble, rheumatism, throat trouble, chronic diarrhoea and deafness in left ear,” he originally drew a pension of $6/month. This was raised periodically. By the time he died in 1920, his pension was $19/month. His widow Ella (Steele) Young, whom he had married 10 August 1879, drew a pension of $40/month.

So, why do I think Thomas Andrew Young was one of the founding members of ZZ Top? Compare his photo (circa 1910) on the right to that of two members of ZZ Top (shown on the left).

Thomas Young, circa 1910.

Thomas Young, circa 1910.

ZZ Top by Renato Cifarelli. Used under Creative Commons license.

ZZ Top by Renato Cifarelli.
Used under Creative Commons license.

 

Thomas Andrew Young died in Washington County, Ohio 23 October 1920 and is buried in Lynch Cemetery. Ironically (or maybe not so ironically), his cause of death was “cancer of the face.”

Sources:

  • Young, Thomas A. Civil War pension file application 1122569, certificate 1000598.
  • Young, Thomas A. Death certificate #36644 (1920), Ohio Historical Society, Columbus.
  • Young, Thomas A. and Ella M. Steele marriage record, vol. 6, entry #5819, Washington County, Ohio marriage records.

An Industrious Sober Man Was Eber Johnson

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When we think of the Civil War, we tend to think of the participants in two groups: young soldiers in combat and old white-haired veterans who later sat around telling tales of their days in the war. What is often overlooked is the toll — both physical and mental — that the war took on those who returned home.

When he enlisted he was a farmer and has always followed said occupation. Don’t think that his disease has been aggravated in the least by intemperance or any bad habits as Mr. Eber Johnson was always regarded as an industrious sober man prior to his enlistment.┬áSince his return from the U.S. service he is still a sober man but unable to perform any manual labor to amount to anything.

Those words are from John Murnahan in his affidavit on 11 March 1886, filed as part of Eber Johnson’s application to obtain a Civil War pension. Eber, my great-great-grandfather, had been a private in Company D, 1st Ohio Heavy Artillery. He enlisted in October 1864 at the age of 41 (older than most enlistees). He was discharged 25 July 1865. Though he served just nine months, the war had a devastating effect on him.

After his death in January 1894, Eber’s widow Ann M. (Stephens) Johnson applied for a pension. In her application, she states:

My property consists of forty one acres of land with a cheap frame house and log barn left to me by my husband in his will. Valued at about 200 dollars. My tax on said property is $4.50 annually. I have no personal property outside of my household goods. I have no income of any kind outside of the third I get off of the 41 acres of land.

What happened that caused Eber to go from an industrious man to not being able to perform manual labor, to the point that his widow was left with just 41 acres of land and “a cheap frame house”? Those of us looking back can’t be completely certain, but in Eber’s mind there was no doubt as to what caused his physical decline. It was one long, arduous march from Knoxville to Bean Station, Tennessee in December 1864.

That it was on a forced march from near Knoxville to Bean Station, Tenn. It was in the middle of Winter and we had to leave our overcoats, knapsacks, etc and it was so severely cold that the water would freeze to our pantaloons.

Whether or not that one march was the direct cause of Eber’s decline is a matter of debate. One thing is certain: the Eber Johnson who returned home in July 1865 was not the same man who left in October 1864.

Eber’s pension application was eventually approved. The amount: $12 per month.

eber-johnson

Eber Johnson’s signature. Declaration for Original Invalid Pension, 23 May 1885. Pension application 541396.

Reference:
Eber Johnson, Civil War Pension file, application 541396.