John, This Is Your Daughter: Or, How a Timeline Uncovered a Family Story

John Peter Kingery managed to stay out of the Civil War until the 18th of August, 1864. He and his wife Elizabeth Jane had only been married for three years. They had 15-month-old son and Elizabeth Jane was pregnant with their second child. And when I say “pregnant,” I mean she was very pregnant.

Mary Kingery, daughter of John Peter and Elizabeth Jane, was born 1 September 1864. That’s a mere 14 days after John enrolled.

John probably saw his baby daughter before he left for his service with the 173rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The 173rd didn’t muster in until 18 September. John likely didn’t leave for Gallipolis, where the 173rd was mustering, until a few days before.

Imagine what Jane (as everyone called her) went through. A young mother with a toddler and a brand new baby, and her husband is going off to war. By 1864, the war effort is boding better for the Union cause, but it certainly wasn’t a guarantee of safety for anyone who was serving at the time. What were the weeks like for her as she waited for John to return home?

Did she get a letter when John was admitted to the hospital in January 1865? Did she know about the fever and the disease that caused his hair to fall out and his legs to swell “to unusual size”? John stayed in the hospital in Nashville until March. Did Jane learn that he had been furloughed home because of his illness? I almost hope that she didn’t, because on the way home, he became more ill and ended up in the military hospital in Cincinnati, and was there for several more days. He didn’t make it back to Lawrence County until sometime in April.

We’ll never know exactly what happened at his homecoming. But it isn’t hard to imagine that he spent some time reintroducing himself to little Mary, who had grown from a newborn when he left to a 7-month-old — an eternity to a baby. 

(NOTE: If John and Jane sound familiar, you might remember the story of Jane’s death and her burial as an indigent widow.)

Genealogical Tip:
This story was buried in John’s pension file. I didn’t find it until I put together a timeline of events as they were listed in the pension. Among the events:

  • 18 August 1864 – enrolled in the 173rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, per service record abstract from the War Department, in John’s pension file
  • “about the 22nd day of August 1864” – enrolled, per John’s “Declaration for an Original Invalid Pension”
  • 1 September 1864 – birth of Mary E. Kingery, per John’s pension questionnaire, dated 23 March 1915

At first, I didn’t think that John was home when Mary was born. I needed to establish two dates: Mary’s birth and when John actually left. John’s list of his children wasn’t written until 1915. How accurate was his memory? After all, he wasn’t exactly sure when he enrolled, and in one place in his pension, he lists his marriage to Jane as being in 1862, when the marriage record from the Lawrence County Probate Court clearly shows it was 1861. (At least he had the month and the day right.)

Mary later married John C. Stumbo. The 1900 census lists her birthdate as September 1864. Other censuses are also consistent with a birth in late 1864.

So when did John leave for service with the 173rd Ohio? Enrolling doesn’t necessarily mean that he left right away. There was often a delay between the time a man enrolled and when the regiment mustered in (when it officially came together). According to the Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, the 173rd didn’t organize until September; Company E, John’s company, didn’t muster in until 18 September. In all likelihood, John didn’t leave Lawrence County for Gallipolis until closer to mid-September.

Moral of this story: Always create a timeline for your ancestors. Sometimes there is a story just waiting to be teased out.


  • Kingery, John P. Civil War pension file. 173rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Application 574110, Certificate 428276.
  • Kingery, John P. 1870 U.S. Census. Windsor Township, Lawrence County, Ohio. Page 604.
  • Roster Commission. Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion. Vol. 9. Cincinnati: Ohio Valley Press, 1889.
  • Stumbo, John C. 1900 U.S. Census. Mason Township, Lawrence County, Ohio. ED 71, sheet 2A. (Showing Mary Kingery Stumbo’s birthdate.)


4 thoughts on “John, This Is Your Daughter: Or, How a Timeline Uncovered a Family Story

  1. Judy Webster

    Well said! I have solved lots of genealogical problems by creating timelines. I was interested in your reference to pension records. I have a special interest in unusual archival sources, including pension records. I have indexed many of those sources for the benefit of other family historians, and about 53,000 names are on my Web site. Some are also on FindMyPast.

  2. DanaDana

    I haven’t used timelines much, but after reading two of your posts where timelines helped you to ‘see’ something new, I think I’ll give it a try! I can’t wait to get started!


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