Friday, August 31, 2007

George A. Bennett

George A. Bennett was born 1839 in New Haven, Connecticut.

George left Connecticut and moved westward, eventually settling in western Michigan.

He was 22 years old and probably living in Muskegon County when he enlisted as Second Sergeant in Company H on May 13, 1861, and was probably related to brothers George W. and Jonas Bennett who also enlisted in Company H. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers”, was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.)
George was reported as having deserted on November 26, 1861, as did George W. Bennett also of Company H. It is quite likely that George A. was related to brothers George W. Bennett, who enlisted at the same time as Second Corporal of Company H and Jonas Bennett who also enlisted in Company H.)

In any case, while he was away from the regiment -- presumably as a deserter -- George married Helen Dean (b. 1836) on March 30, 1863, in Freeport, Stephenson County, Illinois. George eventually returned to the regiment from desertion under President Lincoln’s proclamation of amnesty on April 7, 1863, at Camp Pitcher, Virginia (oddly enough so did George W. Bennett).

George died on August 8 or 10, 1863, of typhoid fever at Frederick, Maryland, and was buried on August 11 in “Area O Hospital cemetery” (now Mt. Olivet cemetery) in Frederick. His remains were reinterred in Antietam National Cemetery (grave no. 2557).

In 1864 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 23,479).

Helen remarried James D. Cheeseman (d. 1916) in 1866 in Muskegon, Muskegon County. She was residing in Muskegon in 1919.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Charles Bennett

Charles Bennett was born 1843 in Eaton County, Michigan, probably the son of Lyman (b. 1814) and Irene (b. 1815).

New York natives Lyman and Irene were married probably in New York where they resided for some years. They left New York sometime after 1839 and by 1840 Lyman had settled his family in Oneida, Eaton County, Michigan. By 1850 Charles was attending school with his older siblings and living on the family farm in Oneida. By 1860 Charles and his two sisters Sarah and Elizabeth were living with the Allard family in Eaton Rapids, Eaton County.

Charles was an 18-year-old farmer who stood 5’9” with brown eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion, probably living in Eaton County when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. He was discharged for consumption on July 29, 1861, at Arlington Heights, Virginia.

It appears that after being discharged Charles returned to Eaton County where he married New York native Lucinda Warren (1844-1912) in Eaton Rapids on March 23, 1862. They had at least three children: Emily (b. 1866), Burton (b. 1868) and Mary Jane (b. 1870).

Charles reentered the service in Company K, Seventh Michigan cavalry on March 26, 1864, at Eaton Rapids for 3 years, crediting Eaton County, and was mustered April 9 at Jackson, Jackson County. From September through November of 1864 he was on detached service, then reported AWOL from January of 1865 through April of 1865, and absent sick from May through September. According to a statement he made in March of 1868, on or about April 15, 1865, while serving with the Seventh Michigan cavalry near Point-of-Rocks, Maryland, he contracted hip disease. He was subsequently sent to Judiciary Square hospital in Washington, DC, until the middle of June when he was transferred to Douglas Hospital in Washington. He also claimed to have remained at Douglas Hospital until he was discharged.

And indeed, it is reported in one source that he was discharged for disability on August 10, 1865. Other records, however, note that on November 17, 1865, he was transferred to Company C, First Michigan cavalry -- along with the veterans and recruits from the Seventh Michigan cavalry. The First Michigan cavalry served was on duty in the District of Utah from November of 1865 until March of 1866. In any case, Charles was absent sick as of December 31, 1865, at Washington, DC, and subsequently mustered out with the First Michigan cavalry on March 10, 1866, at Salt Lake City, Utah.

After he left the army Charles returned to Eaton County, settling in Eaton Rapids where he remained until August of 1867 when he moved to Walton Township, in Eaton County, and he worked as a farmer for a number of years. He was still living in Walton in 1868, but by 1870 Charles and Lucinda moved their family back to a farm in Eaton Rapids, and were probably residing on Lake Street by 1874.

In 1865 Charles applied for and received pension no. 90715.

Charles died, presumably at his home on Lake Street in Eaton Rapids, on June 2, 1874, and was presumably buried in or near Eaton Rapids.

His widow applied for and received pension no. 169991. She was living as a widow in Dimendale, Eaton County, in 1880, along with two of her children. She eventually remarried in 1883 to one Henry Geissbrook (d. 1899), in Alaidon, Ingham County. Subsequently a pension was filed on behalf of at least one minor child and granted (no,. 203663). By 1901 Lucinda was living in Corunna, Shiawassee County.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Alonzo H. Bennett

Alonzo H. Bennett was born 1830 in Orleans County, New York, the son of Matthew (b. 1798).

In 1830 there was one Matthew Bennett living in Barre, Orleans County, New York. In any case, Matthew eventually took his family and left New York, settling in western Michigan. By 1850 Alonzo was attending school and working as a laborer and living in Hastings, Barry County, with his father who worked as a laborer and one Ester Bennett (b. 1828) and six-month-old Henry Bennett.

Alonzo married New York native Alma Sheldon (1837-1922), on February 6, 1853, at her family’s home in Hastings, and they had at least two children: Clarence (1855-1940) and Frank L. (b. 1857).

The relationship between Alonzo and Alma was a rough one, at least for her. Apparently Alonzo was a chronic alcoholic and on numerous occasions threatened his wife and children. According to a statement Alma made in 1864, not long after they were married, in the winter of 1855 he

turned her out of doors calling her all the vile names he could seemingly think of such as whore, and other terms by which he could most deeply injure and wound the feelings of [his wife], that at this time [she] was compelled to seek shelter and lodgings at the home of her mother who resided in the village of Hastings, that she at that time remained with her mother for several week and finally returned to the house of her husband upon his promising to treat her better in the future. . . . Some time after Alonzo came one evening in a state of intoxication and demanded of [his wife] five dollars in money, being the money he had given her before that time, he told [her] that if she did not give it to him he would take her life and seized [her] in a violent manner and treated her so cruelly and threatened her in such a manner that [she] was compelled to leave her house and again seek safety from him with her mother, at which time [she] remained some eight weeks, when . . . Alonzo by his promises and persuasion again induced her to return with him, but [she] had not been back with him three days before he again commenced his ill-treatment and abuse of [her] calling her a whore and seeking opportunities to do it in a public manner, and accusing [Alma] of being improperly with and having improper intercourse with different men, among whom he named his own brother Luther Bennett.

By 1860 Alonzo was working as a shoemaker and living with his wife and two children in Hastings; next door lived a plow maker named Washington Bellows who may have been the the same George W. Bellows who also served in the Old Third from Hastings.
Alonzo was 33 years old and residing in Hastings when he enlisted as a Private in Company F, Eighth Michigan infantry on August 30, 1861, and was mustered on September 23. He was discharged for disability on February 13, 1863, at Detroit.

Alonzo returned to his home in Michigan and resumed his previous bad habits. Finally in September of 1863 Alma took her children and left Alonzo for good. And in November she sued for divorce on the grounds that he was habitually and chronically drunk and neglected and abused his wife and children and was an adulterer. During the divorce hearing on January 13, 1864, according to one Mortimer Buck, who had known Alonzo for some fifteen or sixteen years, during the last three or four years or more Alonzo was seen “frequently and habitually intoxicated.”

Furthermore, he stated that Alonzo “during this time had pretended to live with his wife. Sometime in September last or thereabouts I was standing on the steps of Hadley’s mill in the village of Hastings” when he saw Alonzo

pass along the road going east and some ten or fifteen minutes afterwards I saw Mrs. Ellen Low passing up the road after him, This was sometime in the afternoon. Seeing the defendant pass, followed by Mrs. Low I had some suspicions and Mr. John Buckle with whom I was in company and myself concluded to follow them: we passed on up the road and saw her in conversation with the Bellevue mail carrier who was then coming in from Bellevue with the mail to Hastings. While she remained in conversation with him we stopped and were concealed from her sight about ten or twelve rods back. After she got through talking with the mail carrier she pass on east out of town and the mail carrier came into the village. She passed on out of the village and turned into the brush on the right hand side of the road on Mr. Renfield’s premises. I turned into the woods where she had turned off from the road and looked in the bushes on the south side of the road for them and in about five minutes I came right on them. When I first saw her she was on her feet and leaving somewhat hastily. I think they had discovered me. [Alonzo] was lying on the ground [and] on discovering me asked me what I would have. I replied “not anything.” I only wanted to satisfy myself. He said “what are you going to do about it?” I replied that I was satisfied and turned and left him lying on the ground. The place where I saw them was about ten rods from the road in the thick brush. I regard [Alonzo] as a disreputable character and a person not fit to have the care and custody of a family of children. I had heard stories about Mrs. Low that she was a bad character and she was in the habit of calling at my house. I wanted to satisfy myself if those stories were true, if she was a bad character and therefore I followed them having seen Bennett pass that way which was unusual for him and followed soon after by her.

In his sworn testimony Mr. Buckle affirmed Mr. Buck’s statement, adding that for some seven years Alonzo “has spent pretty much all his time lounging at groceries and saloons drinking liquor. He is a low disreputable character and I think is not a fit person to have the care of children.”

Alonzo and Alma were divorced on January 25, 1864 and Alma was awarded custody of their three children.

Alonzo was 34 years old and probably living in Maple Grove, Barry County when he enlisted in Company E on February 8, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Maple Grove, and was mustered the same day. (His father was living in Hastings in 1864.) Alonzo was admitted to Third Division hospital in Alexandria, Virginia on February 27, 1864, suffering from chronic alcoholism and returned to duty on May 2.

He was listed as missing in action on May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania, Virginia, and in fact had been taken prisoner. He was transferred as a prisoner-of-war to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and was eventually exchanged at either Savannah, Georgia or Charleston, South Carolina. By the end of the year he was at Annapolis, Maryland, where he was furloughed from Camp Parole, Maryland on January 16, 1865.

In February Alonzo was home in Hastings, and then reported to Detroit Barracks on March 3, and on March 29 was sent back to Camp Parole, Maryland where he was discharged on May 30, 1865, by general order no. 77.

It seems that Alonzo eventually returned to his home in Barry County. By 1870 he was working as a shoemaker for and/or living with a boot and shoe dealer named William Darling and his family in Hastings. Next door lived Edwin Mallory who had also served in the Old Third; in 1870 his son Clarence was working as a farm laborer for the Phillips family in Rutland, Barry County.

Alonzo died on April 4, 1875, presumably in Hastings and according to one source Alonzo is buried in Barry County.

By 1880 Clarence was working as a servant for the Seth Stone in Hastings and Frank was working as a laborer and living with the Ezra Fifield family in Hastings; no mention is noted in 1880 for either Alma or Alonzo. (Curiously, there is one Alma Bennett, 1838-1922, buried in Riverside cemetery in Hastings; Clarence too is buried in Riverside. Note that Evaline Fifeld was a witness at the wedding of Alma and Alonzo in 1864)

In 1890 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 376970). She was living at 800 Jefferson Street in Grand Ledge, Eaton County, in 1917. Alma was buried in Riverside cemetery, Hastings: 2-I west, NW 1/4-1; both sons are also buried in Riverside Cemetery as well.

Monday, August 27, 2007

John Henry Bender

John Henry Bender was born 1844 in Medina County, Ohio, the son of Joseph (1805-1881) and Lydia (Steaton, b. 1809).

Pennsylvania native Joseph married New York-born Lydia and they eventually settled in Ohio and settled in western Michigan sometime in the early- to mid-1850s. By April of 1859, Joseph, who had apparently been an invalid for a number of years, was reportedly suffering from chronic rheumatism and unable to perform any form of labor whatsoever, and Lydia was dependent upon her younger son John for her sole source of support since her oldest son George Hiram had married and left home, moving to Holland, Ottawa County, probably to work as a farm laborer.

John subsequently went to work for his older brother George in Holland and he continued to work for George off and on through 1861. In 1860 and 1861 he also worked for Peter Ball of Jamestown, Ottawa County and the Fleetwood family in Salem, Allegan County through 1861. John was also listed as living with his parents in Jamestown in 1860.

John stood 5’8” with hazel eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was 18 years old and possibly working in Georgetown or living in Jamestown, Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company I on April 4, 1862, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered on April 9. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County.) He soon joined the regiment on the march along the Virginia Peninsula, and on May 16, 1862, he wrote to his mother and sister from Cumberland Landing on the Pamunkey River.

I received your kind letter on the 14th and was glad to hear from you. I am very well now, I was taken sick on the boat going from Alexandria to shipping point; I was taken to Fortress Monroe hospital and was there one week with a bad cold. Now we have pretty hard times; now we are on the march for Richmond. There is some nice land here. I never saw so much wheat on the ground. There is nothing but wheat on the ground. We live hard now while we are on the march. I think that we will be home the 4th of July if we do not have to follow them all over the southern states. It is warm weather here now. I do not know how long we shall stay here nor where we shall go. I know that I did not do right by going off as I did. I have learnt something since I left home which will be a good lesson for me. I shall be contented when I get home if ever I do. The country is well watered here. I have not seen a maple tree since I came to this part of Virginia. The soil is sandy with [Jack] pine growing all over the ground. I saw mud until the day that the battle of Williamsburg. We started from where we camp[ed] [a]bout ten o'clock in the morning and went 10 miles in mud up to our knees. We was fetched up in line of battle, the orders was [sic] countermanded and we was [sic] marched down into a swamp and he stood there in the mud [a]bout a hour, then we went back to where we left our knapsacks, about 2 miles and camped. It was 12 o'clock before we got to lie down. We laid down upon nothing but pine bows to lay on and then all wet. The next morning we got [up] and got grub and started for the battle field. We was [sic] marched through where the dead and wounded was [sic] dying. It was hard for me to look at the dead; you know that I never saw many dead persons.

In late June of 1862 John was reported to be suffering from “fever” and sick in the hospital at Bottom’s Bridge, Virginia. And in fact, he died of typhoid fever on August 9, 1862, at either Hanover or at Harrison House hospital, at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, and was presumably buried at Harrison’s Landing.

Joseph and Lydia were probably living in Summer Township, Gratiot County in the 1870s, when Lydia applied for a dependant mother’s pension no. 210594.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Wilbur Bement

Wilbur Bement was born 1834 in New York, the son of Levi H. (b. 1800) and Elizabeth (Briggs, b. 1809).

Massachussets native Levi married New Jersey-born Elizabeth and they eventually settled in New York by 1834 and resided there for some years. Levi moved his family from New York to Georgetown, Ottawa County, Michigan, along with his brother Harley Sr., and by 1860 Wilbur was working as a teamster and living with his family in Georgetown. Next door was the Davis family; three of their sons would join Company G of the Third Michigan in 1861. Nearby was the large farm of George Weatherwax who would also join the Third Michigan, becoming the first Captain of Company I.

Wilbur married his next-door neighbor, Michigan native Martha A. Davis (b. 1844), on July 4, 1860, in Georgetown, and they had at least five children: Elmer (b. 1860?), Eva (b. 1870), May (b. 1872), Vida (b. 1878) and Gracie (b. 1886). (Martha was the sister of James, George and William Davis, all three of whom would join Company G, Third Michigan infantry in 1861).

Wilbur was 27 years old and probably living in Lamont or Georgetown when he enlisted as wagoner in Company I on May 13, 1861, along with his first cousin Harley Jr. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County.)

Wilbur’s sister Clarinda was mentioned by Captain Stephen Lowing of Company I, in a letter home in in January of 1862. Lowing wrote to his brother-in-law Frank Bosworth that apparently Jackson Meeks of Copany I, had gotten Clarinda “into trouble” and was seeking a transfer to another unit to avoid having to return to Ottawa County.

Wilbur was detached from the company sometime during the winter of 1861-62 and appointed Chief Wagoner probably around February of 1862. He was absent sick in the hospital in August of 1862, apparently recovered and returned to duty probably driving wagons. From March of 1863 through May he was reported detached with the Brigade wagon train, probably as a teamster. In June he was reported AWOL, but the following month was absent with leave (possibly on furlough to recover his health), and in November was back with the Regimental wagon train. He was absent sick in the hospital by May of 1864, and was mustered out of the service on June 20, 1864.

Following his discharge Wilbur returned to Ottawa County,and by 1870 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife, one child and his mother in Georgetown. By 1880 Wilbur and his family were living in Wyoming, Kent County. He was living in Ottawa Station in 1888 and in West Olive in 1890. He may have been a member of Grand Army of the Republic Thuskittle Post No. 388 in Allendale, although this is not certain, and he his pension application (no. 782,109) was still pending in 1891.

Wilbur died of “exhaustion” as a result of chronic diarrhea, on March 16, 1891. He was buried in Old Georgetown cemetery, Ottawa County.

His widow received pension (no. 320020), drawing $12.00 per month by 1907, the same year she remarried Simon Gristwood.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Joseph W. Bement

Joseph W. Bement was born 1844 in Lewiston, Niagara County, New York, the son of Leonard or Leonidas (b. 1804) and Mary (b. 1805).

Massachusetts native Leonard married New Yorker Mary probably in New York where they lived for some years. (Leonard may have originally been married to a woman named Sarah.)
By 1840 Leonard was living in Lewiston, New York. He eventually settled his family in western Michigan, and Joseph was probably living with his family in Grand Rapids in 1858 when he was reported as a member of William Barnhart’s Coronet Band, which had just enrolled as the band for the Fifty-first regiment of Michigan state millitia, headquartered in Grand Rapids By 1860 Joseph was living with his family in Grand Rapids’ Third Ward, and his father was working as an attorney in the city. (In 1863 Leonard had his office on Canal st.)

Joseph stood 5’8” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was 17 years old and living in Kent County (possibly Grand Rapids) when he enlisted in the Regimental Band as a Musician Third Class, on June 10, 1861. He was discharged as member of the Band on February 28, 1862, at Camp Michigan, Virginia, reportedly per the general order abolishing the Regimental Bands in the Army of the Potomac.

After his discharge from the army Joseph returned home to Grand Rapids where he reentered the service, along with Theodore W. Bement (possibly an older brother), in Company H, Fourth Michigan cavalry on July 19, 1862, for 3 years, crediting Grand Rapids, and was mustered on August 28 at Detroit where the regiment was being organized. The regiment left Michigan on September 26 for Louisville, Kentucky and participated in numerous actions throughout Tennessee during the fall of 1862.

He was detached to the Quartermaster department in December of 1862, and absent sick in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in May of 1863. By November of 1863 he was on detached service, in March of 1864 absent with leave, and in October of 1864 on detached service at Chattanooga, Tennessee. In January of 1865 he was serving with the Band, a position he held until he was mustered out on July 1, 1865, at Nashville, Tennessee.

It is not known if Joseph returned to Michigan after the war.

No pension seems to be available for his service in either the Third Michigan infantry or the Fourth cavalry.

His father Leonard was still living in Grand Rapids’ Third Ward in 1870, and had apparently remarried to New York native Hannah (b. 1804). Curiously, also living with them was a 6-year-old boy named Joseph (b. in Michigan). By 1880 Hannah was listed as head of the household and Joseph, her grandson was still living with her.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Harley C. Bement

Harley C. Bement was born January 3, 1835, in Prattstown, Steuben County, New York, the son of Harley (1797-1882) and Eliza (Briggs, 1805-1856).

According to a family source, Harley (elder) was about 14 years old when he enlisted “in Capt. Hugh "Henry" R. Martin's Company, 13th U.S. Infantry at "Skenactady" New York, commanded by Colonel Christie,” during the War of 1812. “Records indicate service in the battles of St. Johns Canada, Little York (later Toronto) under General Pike, Fort George, 2nd Battle of Queenstown, Burlington Heights, Eldridge's Defeat, Wilkerson's Defeat and Plattsburgh. He served as a second sergeant and was honorably discharged July 1815 by a proclamation of the President of the United States while home on furlough at Onondaga, New York.” According to the family history,

In or about the year 1832, he left Bath, Steuben County, New York, and settled for a time at New Haven, Macomb County, Michigan, later moving on to Ingram County, Michigan and became one of the early pioneers of Central Michigan. The family existence was primitive with Harley, an excellent hunter, often providing game for food. Michigan was yet a Territory and their nearest neighbor was four miles away. The area Indians were harmless but given to dishonesty. Apparently he was quite the "Old Boy", often very ornery and few got along very well with him. In June 1839 Harley purchased 40 acres in Putnam Township, Livingston County, and sold it in October same, for a tidy $400 profit. In 1840 they resided in Handy Township, Livingston County where he helped build the first sawmill. In 1844 he owned 80 acres in Leroy Township, and purchased additional land in 1847. Sometime before 1850 his family made a western mover to Georgetown, Ottawa County, where he farmed and lumbered. For eight years prior to the Civil War he ably administered the law as a Justice of the Peace. While at Georgetown, Harley and Eliza were devout members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Eliza died in a disastrous home fire in June or October of 1856. He then married, 27 Feb 1857, Mrs. Anna M. (Wood) Parker, the widow of Ezekiel W. Parker of Ohio. As a resident of Alaiedon Township, Ingham County in 1858 he purchased 40 acres, selling it later that year. In June of 1858 his son Harley C. Bement married Anna's daughter (his step sister) Marinda Parker at Georgetown.

On 19 Jan 1863, in his middle sixties but apparently in excellent health and residing at Georgetown, he enlisted in the Civil War at Grand Rapids. He was assigned to Company F, 7th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry (Capt. Mann) and served as a Ferrier, later changed to Private's rank, in charge of horses in transit from Michigan. On 26 Mar 1863 after an extremely tough winter camp at Washington, D.C., he was admitted to the Washington Columbian Hospital suffering from diabetic complications and diarrhea. On 12 May 1863, at the age of 66, he was discharged from that hospital and the army for disability, suffering from bronchitis and chronic diarrhea, with the comment that he "should not have been enlisted".

His last two decades are cloaked in mystery. Apparently he never recovered from his war exposures and privations and was unable to do a days work thereafter. His daughter Hannah indicated that he was forced to break up housekeeping because of his Civil War disability. According to the 1870 Census records, at age 74, he resided at Leroy with his son Silas; Anna's whereabouts then are unknown. In the 1880 Census (age 86, MA/CT), and an old record book, he resided at least three months in the Ottawa County Poorhouse, and was listed as a Pauper. Anna later applied for his military pension, being turned down more than once, but finally receiving $8 per month a few months before her own death.

Little documentation is available on Harley Bement in the original chronicles. Almost all of the preceding documentation was gathered by Spencer Leigh BeMent of Ann Arbor, Michigan who is believed to be Harley's second great-grandson. He indicated that little was known about Harley's parents and the early facts about him are vague and inconsistent. His birth era and the naming of his children provide some evidence that he is from the Samuel/Silas line. He may be an undeclared last son of Samuel or the first child of Bingham, or one of several other assumptions that are still being explored.

In 1836, when Harley C. was only a year old, his family moved to Michigan from New York, settling in what would become Macomb County. “At first,” wrote one postwar biography, “the family were obliged to go to Mt. Clemens for their flour, and the father frequently carried it on his back the long distance of fifteen miles. The Indians, who were numerous, were usually harmless, although driven to dishonesty, and upon one occasion during the absence of the family stole everything the house held, even carrying away the clothing of the mother and children. The father followed the Indians two days and recovered their table-knives, all ground to fine points, and his wife's silk dress, which had been cut short in the skirt to be worn by the Indians. The daughters’ dresses were served in like manner, and everything which had been carried away was more or less injured.”

Around 1839 or 1840, Harley’s family moved to Ingham County, where his father “assisted in building the first sawmill erected in Hardy, Livingston County, and which was on the County line of Livingston and Ingham counties.” By 1850 Harley (elder) and his brother Levi had moved their families to Georgetown, Ottawa County where Harley Sr. engaged in farming and lumbering. Harley Jr. was educated in the common schools and spent most of his time working on the family farm and in the lumbering business prior to the war.
Eliza died in a fire in June of 1856 and in 1857 Harley Sr. remarried Anna Wood Parker. (Mrs. Parker was the mother of Benjamin Parker who would also serve in the Old Third during the war.)

Harley Jr. married his stepsister Miranda A. Parker (d. 1916) on June 14, 1857, and they had at least 11 children: Elemuel (b. 1858), Harley G. (b. 1860), Medona or Dora (b. 1863), Clemens (b. 1866), Benjamin (b. 1867), Pearl (b. 1870), Priscilla (b. 1873), Anna (b. 1874), Albert (b. 1879), Charles (b. 1881) and Maud (b. 1883).

By the time the war broke out Harley (younger) was living in Georgetown, working a farm next to Stephen Lowing who would serve as Lieutenant and then Captain of Company I; in fact according to Lowing Harley was working for him by the spring of 1861.

Harley Jr. stood 6’0” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was 27 years old and working as a farmer living in Georgetown, Ottawa County when he enlisted as Fifth Corporal in Company I on May 13, 1861, along with his first cousin Wilbur. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County.)
Harley Jr. was wounded three times on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run: first, through his left hand; second, before he could get off the field he was shot in the fleshy part of the right thigh; and third, he was hit by a grape shot, which struck him in the back, tearing his cartridge box into pieces. According to Harley, he was struck by a minie ball in the left hand “and by the same ball at the same time in his left elbow . . . said ball struck near the knuckle of the second finger of his left hand passing through the back of his hand lengthwise passing to and striking his left elbow.” He was eventually hospitalized in New York City and was discharged for disability on December 11, 1862, at Bellevue hospital in New York City.

After his discharge from the army Harley “returned at once to his home and family in Michigan” and “devoted himself to farming and threshing, and for seven years farmed for Edward Cole, of Ottawa County, hauling logs and lumber from the woods to the sawmill.” Indeed, by 1880 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Georgetown, Ottawa County.

In 1875, Harley “went to Utah for the purpose of mining, first stopping at Salt Lake City. He remained in Utah one summer, but not finding his mining venture a success returned home and engaged in farming in the Township of Croton,” Newaygo County. In 1882 he moved to a farm of 80 acres in Georgetown (at the southeast corner of Pierce Street and 92nd avenue), Ottawa County. “At the time Mr. Bement purchased his Allendale Township homestead, the land was entirely unimproved, but” by the late 1880s “contained 50 highly cultivated acres. In February, 1892, the residence and contents were entirely destroyed, and since then our subject has erected a handsome two-story frame building at a cost of $1,100.” Aside from the year spent in Utah in 1875, Harley lived all his life in the Allendale and Zeeland areas.

In 1883, Harley’s son Clemens (named after Harley’s brother who had died during the war) was thrown from a horse, and suffered a head injury that left him an invalid for five years, two of which he spent flat on his back unable to turn or move. However, “Science restored him in great measure to health, but excellent care and a large outlay of money was needed to save his life and give him permanent relief.” Harley’s family was, noted one source, “widely known and highly esteemed, occupy positions of useful influence and command the confidence of many sincere friends.” The same year in which his son was injured Harley was residing in Allendale drawing a pension of $6.00 per month (no. 10,487), and increased to $24.00 by 1916.

He and his wife were both members of the First Christian Church of Georgetown, and he may have been a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association. He was a member of Grand Army of the Republic Thirkittle Post No. 388 in Allendale, in which he served as Post Commander for two years; he may also have been a member at one time of Weatherwax Post No. 75 in Grand Haven, Ottawa County.

Harley was a widower when died in Zeeland, probably at the home of his son Albert, of “general old age” and chronic cystitis a widower, on November 5, 1916, and was buried in Allendale cemetery.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Edmund Dewey Bement - updated 12/6/2008

Edmund Dewey Bement was born on March 22, 1835, in Palmyra, Wayne County or Lowville, Lewis County, New York, probably the son of Edmund Collins (1817-1875) and Sally Ann (Ranier, 1817-1887).

New York natives Edmund (sometimes referred to as “Edwin”) and Sally (or perhaps “Sarah”), were married probably in New York and resided in Wayne County and possibly also in Lewis County as well. When he was less than two years old Edmund’s family left New York and moved to LaGrange, Lorain County, Ohio, where he grew up, and indeed the family remained in LaGrange between 1838 and 1850. In fact Edmund’ s parents were living in Ohio when they died.

Edmund (also referred to as “Edward”) left Ohio and moved westward, and around 1855 settled in Charlotte, Eaton County. He lived in Charlotte for about two years before settling in Oneida, Eaton County, Michigan sometime around 1857. With the exception of the time he spent in the army and a few years in Grand Ledge, Edmund lived in Oneida for nearly his entire life. Edmund was living and working as a carpenter in Oneida in 1860.

Edmund was still living in Oneida when he married Ellen Augusta Jones (1836-1881) on December 24, 1857. They had at least 11 children: Edward P. (1859-1878), Mrs. Luella Wright (1860-1943), George Burton (1861-1931), Mrs. Betsey or Bettie Ann Mitchell (1864-1956), Mrs. Mae Dodge (1866-1920), Mrs. Nettie Marietta (1868-1944), Mrs. Ida Emma Donovan (1870-1920), Elizabeth “Lizzie” (1872-1879) Mrs. Jesse Laura Palladay (1874-1908), Mrs. Edna B. Potter (1876-1935) and Mrs. Mariam Augusta Chesley (1878-1972) -- the last ten being born in Oneida.

Edmund stood 6’0” with gray eyes, dark hair and a light complexion and was 27 years old and working as a carpenter and mechanic possibly in Oneida when he became a substitute for one Calvin Troop, who had been drafted on February 10, 1863, for 9 months from Watertown, Clinton County, crediting Watertown. However, Edmund never joined the Regiment, and there is no service record found in the Third Michigan records at the National Archives.

In fact, he was drafted (or perhaps enlisted) for nine months in Company G, Twelfth Michigan infantry, on February 10, 1863, and probably joined the regiment near Middleburg, Tennessee where it remained through May. It subsequently moved to Memphis, Tennessee and then to Vicksburg, Mississippi on June 3 and participated in the siege of Vicksburg and capture of the city on July 4. In late July the regiment moved to Helena, Arkansas and to Clarendon in mid-August and to Duvall’s Bluff on the 22nd. It participated in Steele’s expedition to Little Rock September 1-10 and in the capture of that city on September 10. Edmund was present for duty until September or October when he was reported sick in camp at Little Rock, Arkansas or in the hospital at Duvall’s Bluff, Arkansas. He was mustered out at Little Rock on November 20, 1863, at the expiration of his nine-months’ term of service.

After his discharge, Edmund returned to Grand Ledge, Eaton County where he reentered the service on February 16, 1865, for one year (age 28), in Company I, Eleventh Michigan infantry (reorganized), at Grand Ledge, crediting Oneida, and was mustered on March 7, probably at Jackson, Jackson County, where the regiment was (re)organized from January 4 to February 26, 1865. Four companies left the state for Nashville, Tennessee, on March 5 and six companies left Michigan on April 1 for Chattanooga, Tennessee. The regiment was moved to east Tennessee in late April and was on duty guarding the Chattanooga & Knoxville railroad until July when it moved to Knoxville where it remained until August 3. It was then moved to Nashville. In August of 1865 Edmund was serving in the pioneer corps, and he was mustered out with the company on September 16, 1865, at Nashville, Tennessee.

After the war Edmund returned to his home in Eaton County and by 1880 was residing on a farm in the west half of Oneida, Eaton County, along with his wife and children. He eventually settled in Grand Ledge. He was residing in Grand Ledge’s Second ward in 1894, and indeed he lived the most of his life in Grand Ledge and for many years worked as a carpenter.

Aftr his is wife Ellen died of dropsy in Oneida in 1881 he married New York native Frances Pauline Burnham Reed or Ferris (1850-1904) on April 12, 1885, in Grand Ledge. (She had been married to a Mr. Reed or Reid in 1865 and had one child by him, a son Charles.)

In 1920 Edmund was living in Oneida; also living with him was his daughter Edna Potter.

Edmund received pension no. 426950, drawing $72 per month by 1926.

Edmund was a widower when he died of senile gangrene, possibly at his home in Grand Ledge, on October 19, 1926. Prayer services were held at his home in Oneida at 1:15 and funeera services were held at 2:00 at the Congregational church with Rev. Latham presiding. Stewart Blair and Mrs. Colville sang.

Edmund was buried in Oakwood cemetery in Grand Ledge, Eaton County.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

George Washington Bellows

George Washington Bellows was born about 1807 in Essex or in Milton, Chittenden County, Vermont, the son of Jotham (1776-1860) and Polly (Wheeler, b. 1780).

Massachusetts native Jotham Jr. married native Polly in 1800 in Worcester, Massachusetts and they lived in Massachusetts for some years before moving north to Vermont sometime between about 1803 and 1805 when their daughter Susan was born. The family living in Vermont for several years before moving west to New York state, eventually settling in Orleans County where they lived for many years (in fact Polly died in Clarendon, New York 1854 and Jotham Jr. died in Clarendon in 1860). George was reportedly the twin brother o Joseph Cheney Bellows.

By 1850 George, also known as “Washington” was probably the same Washington Bellows, born in New York, and working as a furnanceman and living with a tavern keeper named Horace Perry and his family in Murray, Orleans County, New York. One Jotham Bellow (b. 1776 in Massachusetts was also living in Orleans County (in Clarendon), and a brother of George’s named Jotham Bellows (born about 1823 in New York) was reportedly still be living there in the mid-1880s. Also living in Clarendon, Orleans County in 1850 were David Bellows (b. 1800 in Massachusetts) and Edwin (b. 1823 in New York). In 1850 another brother, Joseph and his wife Lucy Ann were living in Eaton, Madison County, New York (as was another brother or cousin Alfred and his wife Abigail). Joseph and Lucy were still living in Eaton, New York in 1860 (although they too would eventually settle in Eaton County, Michigan within the next decade).

“Washington” left Vermont and moved west, eventually settling in western Michigan. In fact, he appears to have settled in Barry County and by 1860 he was working as a plow maker and living in Hastings, Barry County. And further, he was probably the same “W. Bellows” who was possibly living in Hastings, Barry County and who was a fifer in the Hastings Rifle Company in April of 1861. However, when the Hastings company came to Grand Rapids in late April to join the Third Michigan regiment then forming at the fairgrounds, Bellows was not among them.

In any case, “Washington” stood 5’8” with blue eyes, gray hair and a fair complexion, and was a 57-year-old plow maker or mechanic possibly living in Hastings or Eaton County when he enlisted in Company E on February 8, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Manistee or Stronach, Manistee County, and was mustered the same day. Shortly after arriving in Grand Rapids he was given a ten-day furlough and went home to Hastings where, he claimed in later years, he was engaged in “drumming up recruits and playing for different squads of soldiers”.

George went on to say that “it was a very cold day in Feby. [and] we were taking a squad of recruits to Grand Rapids in a Band Wagon. I contracted a very severe cold. . .” He nevertheless departed Michigan for Virginia where he joined the regiment. He said after the war that not long after he arrived in camp “while our Regt was at or near Alexandria, Va., through hardship and exposure I again took a violent cold which seemed to settle on my lungs and in fact over my whole body. I was sent to the Grosvenor Hospital in Alexandria.” He was reported as being admitted to Third Division hospital at Alexandria, Virginia in late February suffering from “intermittent fever” -- malaria -- and was treated with cathartics and quinine sulfate; he was then transferred to Fairfax Seminary hospital, Virginia on March 31, 1864. (“Washington” listed his nearest relative as a brother Jonas or Jonah living in Hastings. In 1864. Jonah Bellows, who was married to Ervilla, was living in Eaton County in 1850 and 1860.)

George remained in the hospital for some 2 or 3 weeks before he was transferred to the Fairfax Seminary hospital some three miles from Alexandria. He was reportedly transferred to Washington Square hospital, where he remained until about May 3 and was then sent to the Chestnut Hill hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He remained there until sometime in July, and was diagnosed with acute bronchitis.

While he was absent sick George was transferred to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry, upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864.

Sometime late in July he was sent back to Washington and then to Camp Distribution near Alexandria. From there he was sent to rejoin his regiment near City Point, Virginia, possibly in late August.

George was present for duty with the regiment (now the Fifth Michigan) during the raid on the Weldon Railroad, near Petersburg, Virginia, in December. As the Fifth Michigan was returning from the raid, on or about December 10 or 11, George later claimed, he and several others found themselves “ahead of the regiment. There was trouble anticipated and we were hurried up so as tyo get within our lines, it was after dark, the road was nearly made [completed], and full of stubs [stumps], and in my hurry and not being able to see my way very well, I caught my foot on one of those stubs which threw me suddenly and violently forward on my hands and knees, and sending my knapsack and traps over my head. I found I was hurt and afterwards discovered that I was ruptured.”

George was mustered out as a Musician on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war George returned to Michigan, and according to David Leach, who also served in Company E (both Third and Fifth infantry regiments) they came home together to Hastings. Leach recalled that George remained in Hastings (and that he saw George every day during that time) until the early fall when “he left for his sister-in-law’s home. . . .” This was Lucy Ann Bellows, wife of Joseph Bellows, who testified in the late 1880s that George came to her house in the fall of 1865 and remained with her until the summer of the following year, and that he was suffering from lung ailment.

George himself claimed that upon his discharge from the army he returned not to Hastings but Eaton Rapids, Eaton County (which is where Joseph and Lucy Bellows were living in 1870), where he lived until the winter of 1866, doing light manual work, and that in 1867 he moved to Tompkins, Jackson County where he resided for 3 or 4 years, working an 80-acre parcel of land. In a statement he gave in about 1885 he claimed that he owned some land in the vicinity of Berryville, Jackson County which someone else had laid claim to and he had to spend nearly all of his money available to settle that claim and that he worked the land for some 4 or 5 years.

Welcome Chesbro stated in 1883 that George in fact boarded with him in Tompkins off and on during 1866 and 1867. In 1869 or 1870 he sold out and went to live in Onondaga, Ingham County, and for several years lived with William Swift and his family in Onondaga. George may very well have lived off and on between Eaton Rapids and Onondaga. By 1880 he was back in Eaton Rapids living with his sister-in-law Lucy Bellows (who was listed as head of the household). He probably resided in Eaton Rapids, for some years, working as a laborer and also as a mechanic.

In 1880 he applied for and received a pension (no. 381,972).

George claimed that since the war he had been generally incapable of doing anything but light work, and that “because I am poor, [and] have no home and considerable [sic] of an invalid, I find many ready to take advantage of me [and] get me to work for them and then pay me scarce anything and sometimes refuse altogether.” He added that “among such are my own nephews, Ransom and Benjamin Bellows [Jonah’s sons] for whom I have worked a great deal and for a hard summer’s work they would put me off one of them with $5, the other $9.00 and the summer of 1884 I worked all summer planting & hoeing and cutting summer’s wood for said Benjamin Bellows and all he would pay me was about $2.50 and then made application to the Probate Court of the County of Eaton, Mich., for the appointment of a guardian for me, as an incompetent and a spendthrift.”

Indeed, about 1884 or 1885, “said probate judge did without giving me any opportunity of making any defense . . . although I appeared in person and with my attorney for that purpose did, as I understand, appoint David B. Hale as my guardian.” (He may have been the same David Hale who was born about 1820 in Vermont and working as a farmer in Hamlin, Eaton County in 1880.)

George went on to protest this action as “uncalled for and unjustified” since he was in fact not “a resident of’ Eaton County but of Ingham County “at that time. And I would further show that I am aware that I am getting infirm with age, 77 past, and health quite feeble.” He then asked the court to consider “if it is necessary for me to have a guardian to which under the circumstances I have no particular objection I would respectfully suggest that I should be allowed at least the right to select my own – and have in my own mind made choice of Mr. Pomery Van Riper, present postmaster of Onondaga” in Ingham County, and “a man without reproach and expect to make application to the Probate Court of said County of Ingham for his appointment.” (Van Riper was in fact living in Onondaga in 1880.)

On November 10, 1885 George was admitted to the Michigan Soldier’s Home (no. 73); he listed himself as a single man and his nearest relative as a brother “Jotham” Bellows who was living in Orleans County, New York in 1885.

(Jotham Bellows, b. c. 1823, and his wife Harriet and their children were living in Eaton, Eaton County, Michigan in 1870. He is not listed in the 1880 census for either Michigan or New York state, although one source does report that he died in Clarendon, Orleans County in 1895. Indeed Jotham is reported as buried in Robinson cemetery, Clarendon, Orleans County, New York, alongside another Jotham (1776-1860) and his wife Polly (1780-1854). In any case, in 1880 Jotham’s wife Harriet and their daughter Laura were living with Harriet’s father, Richard Brown, in Eaton, Eaton County.)

George probably died in Grand Rapids (see his probable death certificate in book 3 page 173 for Kent County), on May 28, 1889, and was buried in Valley City cemetery (present-day Oak Hill south), in the Custer GAR post lots, section E, grave 12. Although he was apparently never a member, the records of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association reported that George was dead by 1906. In any case, he is not listed in the MSH burial cards.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ambrose David and Emer A. Bell

Ambrose David Bell was born June 6, 1837, probably in St. Lawrence County, New York, the son of David (1806-1855) and Lucy A (Blodgett, 1812-1898).

According to one source, Vermont-born David moved to Rutland, New York with his family in about 1807. In 1830 there was a David Bell living in Lyme, Jefferson County, New York. In 1840 there was a David Bell living in Massena, St. Lawrence County, New York, and one in Henderson, Jefferson County, New York. David married Massachusetts native Lucy A. (her father had settled in Jefferson County, New York when she was still a girl), and they resided in the vicinity of St. Lawrence County for some years.

In 1851 David and Lucy moved their family westward, settling first in Hillsdale County and in about 1854 in Casnovia, Muskegon County. David purchased 160 acres of land on sections 20 and 29 in Casnovia, and began to clear the property but died in February of 1855, wither in Muskegon County or in Jefferson County, New York.

By 1860 Ambrose was working as a teacher and farmer and living in Alpine, Kent County with one Francis Haynes, a machinist. By the time the war broke out he may also have been living with one Nels Cummings, possibly in Muskegon but probably in Grand Rapids, Kent County, and was probably working primarily as a teacher. It was probably while living in Alpine that he met Michigan native Laura Brewer, who would eventually become his wife.

Ambrose stood 5’11” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was 23 years old and probably still living in Kent County when he enlisted in Company F on May 13, 1861, along with his younger brother Emer.

Ambrose was quick to write to his family how disenchanted he had become with human nature, but was buoyed by his faith in God. Sometime in the summer of 1861 he wrote one of his older brothers, Goodloe, who was also a teacher back in Michigan.

I received your letter of the 14th also Catherine’s and Nettie’s. I was so overjoyed that I could scarcely wait to read them separately. Dear Brother I see you have a disposition to rally me a little. You talk of Mounted Batteries as familiarly as though you had been to Bull Run. I was not taken by surprise knowing your disposition and being familiar with such attacks. I am pretty well prepared to meet them. I must admit however in the way of a compliment that I do decidedly admire your military style But seriously I hope the avenues leading to my heart are not so completely closed and barricaded by its love for another as not to admit the affectionate approach of a dear Brother especially when he carries a flag of truce. The subject of religion which pertains to our future happiness is a subject of vital importance to every one and never can be exhausted, never be it.
Dear Brother since I left home and have had an opportunity of witnessing the weakness and wickedness of man, the Wisdom , greatness and goodness of God has become more apparent to my mind and I am going to make a great struggle to lead a different life but it seems to be a very hard place to begin and any encouraging words from you will be appreciated. I can not write but little at a time on account of my hand trembling. I have been sick but am getting most well. It has been a lonesome time I assure you to me, and to make it still more gloomy it has rained most of the time. I found that little Bible you gave me a good companion. When I was able to read I also obtained a few good books. Then I would read your letters over. My condition while sick was made as comfortable as could be expected under the circumstances. When you spoke about good advice my conscience smote me that I never had tried to follow it better. You said you have been to Nels Cumming’s. I hope you will get my things together and take care of them. I have written a letter to Edwin and Nels both but have received no answer. They probably never received them. You write that your work drives you. I wish Emer and myself could be there to give you a boost with it. I do not understand about my school money. I thought there must certainly be $10 or $12 due after the debt for the watch was satisfied. I supposed also that I had fully settled with the McLains, John and Oliver both. I allowed John his school bill, gave Oliver an order and was to pay Elder Norton the balance due and I supposed there would be money enough coming to do it. I wish you would tell John and Oliver to make out their bills and give them to you and send me a copy. John is such an awful bungler. I am fully confident that I do not owe either of them one cent. I am real glad you got my Dulcimer though I should thought it would have tired you to death to have fetched on your shoulders You can get new strings for a dollar and then it will pay you. Job has just brought me a letter from Helen and one from Thomas Symons (sp?). You say you think you shall go to Mr. Brewer’s. There is a likeness there of myself and Emer both in one dose. I have sent Laura one from Washington and I want mother to have that one. You need not say anything about it unless she does. I will write to her about it. I suppose you have got the flute. When we go to Washington again we will try and send home some of our likenesses. Please write whether Mister Jackson paid that note or not and also how my business stands with Nelson whether my cutter has been taken care of or not, not as I can do much about these things except as they go to pay whom I owe. I think I shall be able to send home some money. I see you are as deeply interested in Education as ever. Your method of unifying those letters to make words I like first rate. I can imagine just how Eva looks when she is talking to Clare. I could not help but laugh at her skits(?). I would not take a dollar apiece for those letters.
You said you did not receive an answer to the other letter you wrote. I wrote an answer but I guess it did not go through. I prized that letter very much. I have read it over many times. It was so full of feeling and good advice that it brings the tears to my eyes every time I read it. I will try and be good. You wanted I should describe a rebel flag. I can’t very definitely. The day we had the battle they did not come out of the woods but once and then there was so much smoke and confusion we could not see anything. When the firing ceased we could see them from our lines but could not see to distinguish the Color. I looked through a glass. I could see two black stripes on a white groundwork with something black in the corner. There was another incident occurred after the battle which made me think of your dream. I will write about it in the next. I am writing this against the Doctor’s wishes and I can not write as much as I would or I would like to. I would like to be there to go with you visiting schools. I like the plan of noting the progress of each class. I am glad to hear Nettie has good luck in teaching. When I come home I’ll examine those maps you have been getting up. All I have to do now is to lie on my back and think of past present and future. [I] speculate a great deal. I know but little what’s going on outside. The boys come to see me often. Emer is here now. He is well and hearty. Tell Min if she wants to help the south she better come right off for they will need her pretty soon. There is a large cherry tree just before the hospital tent. I lay and watch that as the wind shakes the leaves and think of home and friends. Every thing sounds melancholy. The sound of the band, the wind as it sighs through the trees and even the singing of the birds has a mournful sound. This is very disconnected. I don’t know as you can make out head nor tail to [it]. I have had the fever and the headache so much that I don’t know as much as usual.. Do write often. We prize your letters above all others. That little paper you sent we read very carefully and consider it of great importance to us.
I shall always remain your affectionate Brother Ambrose

That same summer Ambrose was also taken sick, although by no means seriously, and he remained with the Regiment. On September 5, 1861, Ambrose wrote Goodhoe from Camp Arlington, Virginia, that he and his brother Emer both took the temperance pledge that summer as well.

Your letter has reached us and we have enjoyed the pleasure of reading it, though I was considerably mortified about some things in relation to my things at Nell’s and what Mrs. Scribner said in relation to my dulcimer. But to begin with what I want to thank you a thousand times in relation to the instruction and good advice given in your letter concerning a medicine and its effects on the system. I read it carefuly and am convinced of its reasonableness. I have read considerable of this theory, But always being blessed with good health thought little of it. I have recovered pretty much from the effects of the disease But as you have truly said I believe the medicine has been the greatest thing to my system and reading your letters
It has struck me in a new light and it seems just as plain as daylight. And I almost shudder to think of the thousands that are killing themselves daily by not understanding these principles. I am surprised at my own carelessness in relation to these things. But I think I have received an important lesson and I shall profit by it. There is a great many things we have to submit to that is very injurious to my health that can not well be avoided such as not getting enough sleep, irregularity of meals and other habits of life. At times we have very rigorous exercise for the body and at other times but very little to do. Emer and my self have bound ourselves not to drink anything but cold water. And we are going to be as careful of ourselves as we can. That little trunk belongs to Marcus if he wants it. I supposed he gave it to me. About the 1.75 going to Eliza Page More - I had supposed we paid. At least I gave Captain Smith credit for it. Mrs. Scribner’s bell was broken last winter and I owe her or promised to pay her $1.00 for. But I came away in such a hurry that I forgot. My cutter I consider worth $30.00 in cash. My clothes if you can get them without too much trouble do it. If you can’t, let them go. They’re not of much account. I think had 2 pair of overalls, 2 pair of pantaloons 2 vests 3 coats 1 pair of wool mittens 3 shirts. I think Laura has some of my School Books. We will send you some liknesses And you can send them to Catherine if you wish.
I sold some things to that district over there when school was over. 1 clock some curtains, wash basins, in all amounting to $5.00 and they said I should have my pay this fall if the director will know about it. I allowed John McLain his school bill. I don’t remember the amount. I think 3 or 4 dollars. I suppose this covered the whole amount. If it does not he must have charged me $3.00 for the use of his horse once. The amount going to Elder Norton is all right for Oliver and he shall have it. You need to pay John everything now, as you have the charge of my business. I wish if it is not too much trouble you would when convenient take the cutter to your house and sell it if you can. If not keep it under shelter until I come home. When I came away from the Rapids I did not take my watch for fear of losing it. I let Laura take it home. If you teach school and would like the use of it you can have it. I think I can send you some money by the way of Mr. Kendell of Grand Rapids . What I have more than I need to use, I’ll send too, for I may lose it. You can use it in canceling the debt to Velt Cummings. If you know the exact amount going to Velt I wish you would send a statement in a letter. You may think [it] strange but there has so much transpired since I have been here that I have partly forgotten about the amount that is due Velt. The amount Miss Scribner claims for is wrong. The amt. was allowed her out of what the Cop owed me for work. She asked me one day if I was going to leave my Dulcimer
I don’t remember just how I did answer her. I might have told her she could. I have received a letter from Elder Norton. It was a good kind letter. Dear Brother you wanted I should write in confidence. I feel that I could confide in you to any extent. There are two things which occupy my mind and some times I am sorely troubled about it and I wish I could see you and have a long talk with you. One thing I have resolved to try and do and that is to live as a good Christian. It seems a hard place to begin But I am disgusted with this world and its wickedness. I read my Bible and see such beauties in the Saviour’s life that I am going to try to be his follower. Sometimes it seems that I am so wicked that I never could be forgiven. But I am bound to struggle against every opposing obstacle and conquer if I can. I wish I was where you could help me. Another thing I would speak about is my love for the only one that ever had the power to awaken the flame within my breast. I have loved almost madly which was wrong. And I have thought she loved me too. It was breathed in every word of her letters at first. But lately though she continues to write as regularly as usual there is a difference in the tone or else I have changed. I will write more next time. The drum has given the call to go out on picket and I shall have to close. This is abrupt but I must go. We are in a good deal of danger now posts being the advance. Write as soon as you get time. I will write more next time.

Yours in Brotherly love
and friendship
Ambrose Bell.

Two weeks later Ambrose wrote Goodloe,

Dear Brother
I feel so much in debt to you for letters that I began to despair of ever discharging it. You have two ahead and one of yours is worth 2 of mine but I will write as fast as I can. That poetry was so good I can scarce express my admiration. When I read it the tears came in to Emer's eyes. I am glad we have in you a friend who can appreciate this. My last letter I had to close rather hurriedly as you perceived. I think I mentioned toward the close of my last that I thought Laura’s letters were becoming cold. I think it was nothing more than my jealous imagination. I have received one from her since. It was filled of that sentiment of kind regard and affection which can come only from the hearts that love us. She sent me some beautiful poetry which displayed a refined taste. One piece was about placing one's trust in the Savior. I think that she is a girl who is naturally possessed of fine feeling and warm sympathies and very impulsive. She has a detestation for any opera song. But being of a cheerful disposition is very fond of amusement. She is not very decided but chooses rather to lean on someone who she can trust. She is very quick to detect deception, passionately fond of poetry and music. Hers is a strange blending of qualities. But I think enough of good ones if she was rightly influenced to make all that is noble in woman. One thing is certain with all of her faults I love her passionately or may almost worship. This Dear Brother is the result of my acquaintance with Miss B. You have expressed a desire to make her acquaintance and I should be highly pleased to have you. The fates seem to be against you. I will endeavor to do all in my power to effect it. You say she seems to avoid connection? She undoubtedly feels considerable embarrassment. She has quite an exalted view of your qualities and placing a very humble estimation on her own she seems to think you will misjudge. This is all the reason that I know of. She is possessed of so much good feeling that it almost leads to rudeness. Sometimes she says she is so wild that you will think she is a perfect Barbarian. But enough of this. I suppose you worry. I should write all of the news. Sometimes I think I will sit down and write just what transpires in a day and since we have been on picket I have no doubt it would be interesting. I think then I will give a description of some of the wild and romantic places which we meet with here in Virginia. The are lots of little incidents transpiring every day of interest. Of course that must be in such a large Army as we have. I wish you could be here just a week But I suppose you are so busy keeping Bachelor Hall you could not leave. I should think you would be lonesome. You will know how to appreciate a wife when she comes back. I can imagine just how you look seated by that little pin table eating some Graham Bread of your own making. Oh how I wish I could drop in at the back door and take you by surprise, how your eyes would stick out, eh. I suppose your imagination is lively enough to picture us dressed in soldiers clothes, beards grown to a terrible length, we lay crouched behind trees watching the enemy line and in nights peering out into the darkness to catch a glimpse of any object moving or straining our ears for the slightest sound. I tell you these are long nights. The other night our post came near the mill where the Mich first had a skirmish and took 160 lbs of flour as the commerce [spoils] of the war. Eli Hamblin and Job Brewer served on the post with me. Emer had to go farther up on the line. In the morning we saw a large clear stream darting over the rocks a little ways off. Leaving our dirty friend Eli on the post, we thought we would go down and bathe. It was a wild lovely place. The huge rocks piled up on one side and the dark forest on the other while the enemy was directly in front. After bathing we rested ourselves on a rock and talked over old times. Finally we started for our post. As I stepped on to the beach I took up a hand full of sand and said I would send some of the sacred soil of Virginia home for a curiosity. Just then a ball whistled over our heads warning us of danger. We quickly repaired to our guns and looked behind the bushes for a sesesh but could not find any. Em had a brush that night on his post. He shot one sesesh but don’t know whether he killed him or not. There was six on the post. They all run except Em and two other boys. Two of them that run were sergeants and they were so scared that therefore Em had to post pickets next morning. Our officers put on considerable strength at Camp Anderson But get them out here and some of them are not worth a straw. Job makes a good soldier. A great many of the rich planters have moved into the City of Washington. Everybody expects this portion of the country where the two great Armies lay is to be the battleground. Some of them have left their furniture. The soldiers sometimes go into the houses and plunder whatever they want. It is Sunday today. I can hear in the distance the band at Fort Albay playing Old Hundred. It sounds lonesome. Tell Laura when you see her she had better get a rifle and come out here. Our boys get shots at sesesh 25 rods and don’t touch them. I suppose they are nervous. I hope you will stick to your resolve of writing as often as you can. I would like to get a letter from you every week if possible. We have just received our pay from the U.S. It amounts to 22 dollars. We can take our choice, have gold or treasury notes. I took a 10 dollar note and am going to send it to you in a letter. Write all of the news. Write all about what is going on. I had to write this lying on the ground and I don’t know as you can read it. I will try to do better next time. Write as often as you can.

And on September 28 he wrote his older brother from camp near Arlington heights,

I have received your welcome letter of the 21st and hasten to answer it. I am very glad you write and wrote as you did in relation to the matters which in brotherly love I confided in you. It has relieved my mind of a great many undefined apprehensions and given me new ideas which explain a great many things which I did not understand before. And I truly feel that I have a disintereted [impartial] friend in whom I can confide unhesitatingly. You spoke in your letter about a certain feeling of sensation in relation to matters of such a delicate nature that we feel indignant if a person approached us in a rough careless manner. But when we know we have a friend that is worthy of one’s confidence and is capable of understanding our feelings even to the finest shade and is truly a sympathizer it is a relief to unburden ourselves to such a one. And we do not feel it trespass for them to enter upon the sacred soil of our daydreams, aspirations, anticipations, and disappointments. My Dear Brother you do not know how happy I am that you understand me and can appreciate my feelings I have opened my heart to you knowing that you would not betray the confidence. And I know also if I did (open my heart) you would know better how to advise me. Therefore, I shall reserve nothing from you, my true friend. The importance of being a Christian I consider paramount to all others though I succeed poorly indeed. There is so much to vex, and try the patience, so much to annoy that I have formed such a passionate fondness for things of a worldly nature that it is almost impossible to wean myself. But I am going to study my Bible daily and keep trying. If I was living in the middle of good people their influence would weigh heavily But it is just the opposite. I believe that Laura loves me with her whole nature. But how far outside influences may yet control her I am not prepared to say. I know there is great power in the cunning Deceit of woman to injure anyone if they once undertake it and I have no doubt that I have some enemies back there who would take advantage of my absence to injure me all they could. Jealousy is one of the meanest of all passions. We all have our share though I must say that I believe some are doubly supplied. It seemed from the tone of Laura’s letters, some of them, that there was something she wished to speak about and yet durst not for fear of offending. If I could see her and have a talk I could find out all. But if I don’t lookout I shall not write any news. The day before yesterday Emer got to talking to the Bugler of our Regiment. His name is Paine. He is Chandler Bells’s wife’s brother. He was acquainted with all of our folks in NY, and while speaking of Uncle Allen’s boys he said Spencer Woodward was in the NY 25 which was stationed within about 50 rods from us. We went right over, then had no trouble finding him but he was not the Spencer of our boyhood days. He had grown to be a man and had whiskers, He looks like little Allen some. I should not know him to meet him anywhere. He said he had been in our regiment several times and had seen me but did not know who I was. We had passed each other on picket every day for weeks. We sat down in his tent and had a good long long talk. We made him commence and tell us all which had transpired since we left them which has been 11 years. In the next I will write. I shall not have time to in this. We have taken Munson’s Hill and drove the whole rebel Army towards Richmond. The Stars and Stripes float over their batteries and we hold possession of their advanced lines. Hurrah! McClellan out-generaled them. They retreated without fighting. There was not a man in our regiment hurt. I don’t believe there was 30 killed on our side. You will get it in the papers. You must write as soon as you get this, if you can read it. I don’t believe you can. I had to write in such haste. I had 23 minutes to write it in. Goodbye for this time.

On October 14, he wrote:

I imagine this is another opportunity of writing to you but you never [will guess my experience of yesterday. We have moved to a] camp down the river and had an opportunity of seeing the place where [Gen Washington lived.] I believe this hill where we are encamped is called Rosehill. It overlooks Alexandria and Washington and down in the distance the Potomac looks like a broad sheet of silver as it winds its course among the trees. I often think of our studying about it in Geography. Our Brigade in now in General Fitzgibbons’ Command. He is called a good officer. We are on night duty again. We went out for the first time day before yesterday. It was a beautiful cool day. We started about 7 o’clock then about 1 mile have camp set.
Came suddenly upon the brow of a hill which over looked on an extensive flat. And I thought how beautiful. The roads were fringed with beautiful trees and now and anon buried amid green foliage would be a noble mansion. You can form no conception without seeing it. To the left and just visible was the Potomac and Mount Vernon. The land as far as the eye could see was once Washington’s farm and part of it still belongs to the estate. All the people through here were from the north of NY and Pennsylvania and strong union. There were no marks of the devastating influences of War and the people live quietly at work putting in crops. This is decidedly the most interesting part of Virginia that I have seen. We reached our post about 11 o’clock. It was on the corners of the Algonguin and Mount Vernon roads. Here were two large oaks whose long branches crossed over nearly a quarter of an acre.
General Washington has leaned against them many times in the afternoon. We visited Mount Vernon. As we approached the place a feeling of awe seemed to be universally prevailing in our whole party. We went along the old carriage road and when we reached the river Court or garden we let down our arms and went to the grave. Everything seemed so sacred that we almost spoke in whispers. As we were going down, our guide pointed out a tree which the general had set out with his own hands. It was a magnolia tree set about 40 rods from the house. It is surrounded by monuments with inscriptions of names of the family. Washington’s coffin of white marble is just within the vault separated from the outside only. I could almost touch it with my hand. His wife’s coffin is within about 8 feet of his. I stood and gazed on the resting place of this hero a long while. While I stood the past came up before my mind and I turned and threaded my way along some of the favorite walks where Washington used to take his morning exercise. I almost expected to meet him at some corner. Everything as much as possible remains as the General left it. I went into the hall. The gentleman who stays at the house showed us into the dining room. There was the General’s pistol holsters. Washington’s harpsichord -- I touched the keys. There was only one which would sound, his surveying implements were also there. I have only commenced, and I shall close this sheet. I don’t believe you can read this. I had to write it on duty and you can judge of the confusion.

On February 8 he wrote one of his sisters,

I received your letter of the 11th and will hasten to answer it for if the reception of my letters gives you half the pleasure that it does me to receive yours I know it will be a welcome messenger. It is the custom of most letter writers to commence on the weather and end on summing up the general news giving a list of the names of all married and those who expect to be. Since the war broke out however a new topic has been furnished -- plenty of material though that is being somewhat exhausted. I shall not confine myself to either. I believe I can always find enough to write to those we love. It does me more good to get one letter from a person who I know takes an interest in my welfare and what they say comes from the heart, than it does to get 50 formal ones. The news which we get is of the most welcomed kind. Our troops are welcomed at every point and as soon as the roads get passable so that we can go to Richmond the war will close and we will come home. It is dark and gloomy today. The rain is falling making music on the shakes. It reminds me of the song “Rain on the Roof.” The distant booming of the cannon from Rebel Batteries on the Potomac makes very good artificial thunder as it is at their expense. I have spent all the forenoon in writing a piece for the Eagle or rather against a piece for the Eagle entitled the “man plan.” I expect I am taking up an arguement against the Editor. But we will not tamely submit to such abuse without resenting it. He may not publish [it]. I read the manuscript to some of the officers this forenoon. And they said if he did not publish it They would tar and feather him when they got back. Emer and myself are both well and would like to come to one of Goodloe’s geography classes. I would give my commission to see him But I will patiently wait a few weeks longer. Give my respects to all -- I will not urge you to write for I know you will as often as you can.
Remember me as your affectionate
Brother Ambrose Bell

On March 4, 1862, Ambrose was with the regiment at Camp Michigan when he wrote to his brother Goodloe.

I had begun to despair of receiving any more letters from you but I was happily transported. You can’t imagine how happy I was to get a glimpse of that familiar handwriting on an envelope once more. O how I wish I could see you my best of Brothers. I fear I never learned to appreciate you when at home. If I ever live to return I know I shall be a different Boy. There is so much I wish to say that I do not know what to say first. The whole Army of the Potomac are under marching orders and we have our things packed and only waiting for the orders forward. I hope you will hear a good report of the gallant deeds when we get into action. But I did not calculate to make this a news letter. I want to have a talk with you. I have some plans for the future and I want to confide all to you. Laura wrote me that you talked some of teaching a select school and she said she wished to attend but her father was opposed to it. She said she placed implicit confidence in me and would follow my advice in everything for she believed I loved her and advise nothing except for her interest. I believe Laura has become convinced there is something of more importance in the world than folly and if she only has a kind and guiding hand to help her more the whole future course of her life might be changed. I know of no other person in the world in whose care I would trust so delicate a duty except in yours. You must know my anxiety about her when I tell you that I love her with all the ardor of my nature. You know what kind of companions she has been surrounded with from her childhood up. . . . She is not so much to blame. She is willing to do any thing I want her to. I am convinced that all fine, high, and noble enjoyment is of an intellectual kind and if she wants to go to school I want to have her. I wrote to her that you was my confidant and advisor and I hoped you might become hers.
If you can get her confidence you will succeed and there can be no better opportunity than in the capacity of pupil and teacher. She says she is afraid of you because you are so much better and know so much more than she does and thinks of course you must dislike everybody that goes to dances but if she only would get acquainted it will be all right. I wish you should get a place for her to board. (Use your own judgment about that) furnish her with all the books she needs allow her school bill and I will pay the lot to you. Watch over her health, be particular about her physical education. When you see her, tell her she has a place to board and her school bill is paid and she will be furnished with books. I will write to her so she will understand about it. Now Goodloe I know I am asking a great thing of you, more than I shall ever be able to pay. I know I have never done anything to deserve such a favor.

For reasons that remain unclear, although possibly as a consequence of being taken ill once again, and by the middle of April of 1862, Ambrose had been detailed as a provost guard. In fact he may have been detached from the regiment even sooner.

He was at Camp Huntington, possibly on the Virginia “peninsula” when he wrote his brother on April 2.

Dear Brother

I have written 2 or three letters which I have received no answer to but I am going to improve every opportunity to write which I have. I have just received a letter from Laura. She said Eva was quite sick. I have been concerned about her ever since. I hope she is not dangerous. Dear little Eva -- how much I would give to see her. I am very anxious to hear from you and I look every day for a letter. Write to me all about your school and other business and how your health is. I should think you would have a very pleasant school, Laura speaks very highly of it. She thinks it is the best school she ever attended. You must not work too hard. Oh how I do wish your health was good. I don’t know but I shall per chance to go to the last day. How I would like to drop in on you unawares. It would be such a pleasant surprise. But I must not be too confident of returning, You know it was natural for me to look on the bright side. Now Good, if you think of anything that I don’t (do) right about you must talk to me about it without fear of hurting my feelings. I know that you are a true friend and will not advise against my interest. There is some talk about our getting our pay in a few days. I shall send my money by express this time.
I am going to be very serious hereafter. I am always making resolutions but I am going to live up to this one. I wish you could be here just one day to see our army before it moves. You can form but a poor idea without seeing it of the amount of Artillery. You will pass battery after battery. There seems to be no end to it. Yesterday I went through the ruins of Hampton. It makes me think of pictures I have seen. Here in the ruins is the oldest church in America. The bricks were brought from England. It was built after the old style and very solid since the walls were quite perfect yet. I cut a splinter off the cornice which I will send to you. There is a black marble slab over a grave of an English woman who was buried in 1701. I found a little piece broken off which I will send. I like to wander amid the ruins. They call up so many thoughts but I must give give my respects to all of the scholars. Write as soon as you get this. Don’t forget now for I am anxious to hear from you.
Remember me as your affectionate Brother
Ambrose

Two weeks later, on April 16, he wrote Goodloe from Yorktown.

Dear brother
I have received your kind letter of the 3rd. It seemed almost like a visit of a friend. It is the only letter I have received from you in a long while. Oh how I wish I could see you if it were only for an hour. Dear Brother, I think I fully appreciate your feelings and if I were near to sympathize and pour out in confidence my own feelings to one I know could understand me. It would be a sweet privilege. I often think shall we ever be permitted to meet again? There is so much I would like to say. When I think how often I have slighted your good advice and disregarded your Brotherly Councils (sic) my heart is too full for utterance. I feel that I could fall on my knees and ask your forgiveness. But let the past be the past. The future is yet before me and though not very bright at present I think the dark clouds have already commenced breaking away. We are now at York Town where the last battle of the revolution was fought and who knows but it may be the last battle field of the rebellion
If it is we shall soon be home. I have been detailed by the General from our regiment as
Provost Guard and am staying at present at Mr. Moreland’s. He has quite a pleasant family. Since I have been here I have seen McClellan often. He spoke to me once which you know is considered quite an honor with us soldiers. I think he is a man which will prove equal to the occasion. God grant he may. I think we shall have a long siege here. The place is strongly fortified and the enemy have concentrated their forces at this point.
Excuse Me if I do not write much for I am so hurried that I can’t even write intelligible. I have been unwell for several days but am much better. My hand is not very steady. The artillery in booming away on the right making the house tremble to its foundation. Emer is well. Write soon. I must close. Goodbye.
Your affectionate Brother
Ambrose

Excuse this apology for a letter. It is the best I can do.
Adieu

By May of 1862 Ambrose was a nurse in the hospital at Newport News, Virginia, and on detached service in August. Apparently he had in fact been struck down with the fever, and by mid-summer was still recovering his strength. He wrote to his brother Goodloe from Newport News, Virginia, on July 12.

Dear Brother

Emer sent from the Regiment 2 letters from you which were written to me. They are the first I have received in a long time. I am sorry that I have not received all you have written. I prize them so very highly. When I open the desk and my eye rests on that familiar handwriting I can almost imagine you are going to speak to me. I cherish your letters so fondly that when I do not receive any I read over the old ones. Emer writes that he lost about a dozen letters in the last engagement which were written to me by you and Laura. I am very sorry that I could not have read them. But I thank kind providence that his life was spared. I feared almost to look in the papers for fear I should see his name among the killed or wounded. But he writes that he has escaped without the slightest injury. To relieve your anxiety in relation to myself I am happy to say that I am quite smart and have a good appetite. I fear however that this last run of the fever in connection with the Doctor’s medicine has ruined my constitution. I can not make any exertion without being completely exhausted. I would give $500 if I was as robust as when I left home. I don’t think I shall get tough while I remain here. This Southern climate does not seem to agree with me, though they say this is the healthiest place in Virginia. I am much more contented than when I wrote you last. I applied once to go to my Regiment But the Doctor would not listen to it. I now have charge of the Commissary department 2nd Division and am acting as commissary sergeant. I get $21 per month. I have two Negroes to do all of the heavy work. All I have to do is to take charge. I have an office by myself and live first rate.. I have a set of china dishes and a linen table cloth. They were given to me by one of the boys who was going home. They are secesh so of course I shall consider them borrowed until after the war. [The doctor said the Reason he gave me the situation was because I did not drink whiskey. So much for temperance.] I have besides a library belonging to some Southern gentleman who has gone to the war. General Burnsides’ troops have arrived here and encamped back of the village. The General is a fine-looking man. His fleet lies in the River opposite this place. General Reno and staff have taken quarters next door to us. I got a job of General Dix last Monday, went up to Yorktown, had a pleasant trip up the bay. I visited our old campground and fortifications. Everything was deserted and lonely. I wish you could have been with me.
There was two men here yesterday from Michigan to look after the sick and the wounded. They made a great many inquiries about our sickness and treatment. They seem to be the right kind of men for the business. About my coming home I should like to come very much but I suppose they will keep me here. One thing is certain I shall never be able to do any heavy duty any more. It seems just as though I should get well if I should go home. I try to live according to the rules of health but it doesn’t seem to do any good. I go to bed at 9, get up precisely at 5, take a salt water bath in the James R., Breakfast at 6, dinner at 1, supper 6. I take a walk night and morning to a farm house after milk. I spend the most of the day in my office Reading after I make my reports. Now, Good, I wish you was here to stay with me. I have not got anyone to tell my thoughts to. No one congenial to sit down and have a good talk with. I get lonesome. I am not going to give up trying to get a furlough yet. There’s lots gone home to recruit who are much better than I am. Things are so unequal here perhaps I may accomplish some thing through the influence of the men from Michigan. If I can’t get home you must come out here and see me. It won’t cost over $25 to come here and I can let you have plenty of money to return as soon as I get my pay and more, too. Emer has sent me $5, as from the Regiment I have over 5 months pay coming to me and I shan’t want to use much of it. I suppose I shall have to close. I have not wrote half what I wanted to and what I have is so disconnected that I don’t believe you can read it. I have been interrupted so many times. A Negro will come along - - “”Massa haven’t you got some old pair to give a poor mortal.” Another by the time he is gone will want to know if you don’t want your boots blackened. Newport News is alive with them that have fled here for safety. Poor things. I suppose they want to show their gratitude some way. It is ‘most time for church and I shall have to get ready. I read a chapter in the little Bible you gave me night and morning. Oh, I do wish I could have a chance to talk with you. Writing is so slow. I suppose it will 30 days, long days, before I get an answer from you I have not received but one letter from Laura since I have been sick. I think the most direct way -- you must direct to Brigade Hospital, Newport News, VA. Don’t put on the Company or Regiment. If you do it will go wrong. The next time I write I will give you a description of Newport News. Give my love to Catherine. Ask her to write. Tell Laura I am going to write her soon. I remain your affectionate Brother
Ambrose Bell

By the end of the year he even offered to try and get Goodloe a job as a “government clerk aboard the steamer City of Hudson.” On December 7, 1862, he wrote from Craney Island, Virginia,

Dear Brother Goodloe

I have just received an answer to mine of the 9th. I will start still another. It seems from your letter that even the elements are working against me. I am feeling much better today than usual. I have just returned from Fort Monroe via of Norfolk and feel somewhat fatigued but I have made a firm resolve never to delay again unless sickness prevents. I believe it is generally the case that when we have so much we wish to write we never write much of anything. I was much interested in what you said about your school and could not help noticing Mr. Wells name mixed up in your affairs again. You remember you did not say what the plot was which Julie revealed. I would like to know what it was. Now about coming down here you must come. I want to see you very much and this will be the only chance I shall have until after the war if I ever live to see that time. I will try to get you a place as government clerk aboard the steamer City of Hudson. The pay is $70.00 per month. I shall do all I can with influence of those I am acquainted with to obtain this. General Dix has shown me some favor that is through the influence of others and I think he will accept any one on the recommendation of Doctor Brown. If you do come down don’t forget and fetch Emer’s likeness with you. I will let you know about a place next letter. I will also send the money as soon as you determine on coming. I have just sent $200 to Baltimore for goods but I have still enough left. I wish Laura could come down with you. I suppose that would be impossible. Please let me know in your next. I have got money enough for both of you. I am afraid if I don’t see her down here I shall never see her. You could at least make me a good visit and then return. Money would be nothing in comparison with seeing you. I would give all I’m worth and what I could earn for the next 10 years, Goodloe. It would seem like the realization of a fond dream could I see you and Laura both. It seems I should be willing to die contented could this boon be granted to me.
Craney Island is now a Countraband Depot. The President has just sent two men down here to see about colonizing them and then will be tried the great experiment of what the Colored People are to be and what position they are to occupy in society hereafter. There are a large number here already and more coming every day, I have got to go up to the Dismal Swamp Springs for juniper water and the boat is waiting for me. I will write again as soon as I know what I can do for you. Until then I bid you good-bye hoping we shall soon meet.
Your affectionate Brother
Ambrose Bell

PS Give my love to Catherine, Claire and Eva Annette Laura and all the rest. Tell Kate I will write to her tomorrow.

Ambrose allegedly deserted at Upton’s Hill, Virginia, probably in late September of 1862, but was restored to the rolls on March 23, 1863, at Camp Sickles, Virginia. In fact, it appears likely that he was still on detached service serving with the Commissary at the time. (There was great confusion during this period in the record-keeping of the Third Michigan Infantry and several dozen men were mistakenly reported as deserters on September 22, 1861 at Upton Hill, Virginia.)

By April he was reported on detached service guarding “contrabands” (runaway slaves) at Newport News, although he had in fact been serving at Craney Island Contraband Depot since late in 1862. Indeed, even as early as mid-summer of 1862 he had written home how he pitied the poor runaway slaves, the “contraband,” who flooded into the Union camps. He told Goodloe on July 12 that “A Negro will come along - - ‘Massa haven’t you got some old pair to give a poor mortal.’ Another by the time he is gone will want to know if you don’t want your boots blackened. Newport News is alive with them that have fled here for safety. Poor things. I suppose they want to show their gratitude some way.”

In fact, on December 7, 1862, Ambrose wrote Goodloe that “Craney Island is now a Countraband Depot. The President has just sent two men down here to see about colonizing them and then will be tried the great experiment of what the Colored People are to be and what position they are to occupy in society hereafter. There are a large number here already and more coming every day, . . .”

In mid-February of 1863, Ambrose wrote home that “ just as comfortable as heart could wish. I do not have any laborious work to do. When I come home at night I find the evening paper laying on the stand ready for my perusal. The first thing however which attracts my attention is a nice warm supper which Castor (my colored cook) never forgets to have ready. I have two flutes, a violin, and a clarinet and lots of sheet music. I go to bed at 9, get up when I get enough. I bathe 2 times per week and have my meals regular. I am very careful not to eat too much and avoid grease of all kinds. I try to keep a cheerful heart and clear head. (With the help of a fine comb) And above all things a clear conscience.” He added that he lacked “but two things to make me happy. That is a wife and religion. I do not use the word religion in this connection to make light of it. Far from it. I speak candidly.”

Ambrose was, he wrote home in early September of 1861, troubled by only two things.
One concerned his religious faith. He stated flatly that he was “resolved to try and do and that is to live as a good Christian. It seems a hard place to begin But I am disgusted with this world and its wickedness. I read my Bible and see such beauties in the Saviour’s life that I am going to try to be his follower. Sometimes it seems that I am so wicked that I never could be forgiven. But I am bound to struggle against every opposing obstacle and conquer if I can.” He added to his brother Goodloe, “I wish I was where you could help me.” And in late September her wrote Goodloe, “ The importance of being a Christian I consider paramount to all others though I succeed poorly indeed. There is so much to vex, and try the patience, so much to annoy that I have formed such a passionate fondness for things of a worldly nature that it is almost impossible to wean myself. But I am going to study my Bible daily and keep trying. If I was living in the middle of good people their influence would weigh heavily But it is just the opposite.”

The other thing which sorely bothered him was his “love for the only one that ever had the power to awaken the flame within my breast. I have loved almost madly which was wrong. And I have thought she loved me too. It was breathed in every word of her letters at first. But lately though she continues to write as regularly as usual there is a difference in the tone or else I have changed.”

He was deeply in love with Michigan native Laura Eliza Brewer (b. 1843 in Alpine, Kent County), sister of Job Brewer who was also serving in Company F and who was a friend of the Bells.

Ambrose expressed his deepest feeling for Laura in his letters to his brother, whom he held in high esteem and whose opinion he obviously valued. On September 19, Ambrose wrote of Laura, that he thought her recent letters “were becoming cold”.

I think it was nothing more than my jealous imagination. I have received one from her since. It was filled of that sentiment of kind regard and affection which can come only from the hearts that love us. She sent me some beautiful poetry which displayed a refined taste. One piece was about placing one's trust in the Savior. I think that she is a girl who is naturally possessed of fine feeling and warm sympathies and very impulsive. She has a detestation for any opera song. But being of a cheerful disposition is very fond of amusement. She is not very decided but chooses rather to lean on someone who she can trust. She is very quick to detect deception, passionately fond of poetry and music. Hers is a strange blending of qualities. But I think enough of good ones if she was rightly influenced to make all that is noble in woman. One thing is certain with all of her faults I love her passionately or may almost worship. This Dear Brother is the result of my acquaintance with Miss B. You have expressed a desire to make her acquaintance and I should be highly pleased to have you. The fates seem to be against you. I will endeavor to do all in my power to effect it. You say she seems to avoid connection? She undoubtedly feels considerable embarrassment. She has quite an exalted view of your qualities and placing a very humble estimation on her own she seems to think you will misjudge. This is all the reason that I know of. She is possessed of so much good feeling that it almost leads to rudeness.

And by the end of September, 1861, Ambrose was convinced that Laura loved him “with her whole nature. But how far outside influences may yet control her I am not prepared to say. I know there is great power in the cunning Deceit of woman to injure anyone if they once undertake it and I have no doubt that I have some enemies back there who would take advantage of my absence to injure me all they could. Jealousy is one of the meanest of all passions. We all have our share though I must say that I believe some are doubly supplied. It seemed from the tone of Laura’s letters, some of them, that there was something she wished to speak about and yet durst not for fear of offending. If I could see her and have a talk I could find out all.”

Ambrose could not get Laura out of his mind. In March of 1862 he wrote home to Goodloe that he had “plans for the future” and wanted to confide in his brother.

Laura wrote me that you talked some of teaching a select school and she said she wished to attend but her father was opposed to it. She said she placed implicit confidence in me and would follow my advice in everything for she believed I loved her and advise nothing except for her interest. I believe Laura has become convinced there is something of more importance in the world than folly and if she only has a kind and guiding hand to help her more the whole future course of her life might be changed. I know of no other person in the world in whose care I would trust so delicate a duty except in yours. You must know my anxiety about her when I tell you that I love her with all the ardor of my nature. You know what kind of companions she has been surrounded with from her childhood up . . . . She is not so much to blame. She is willing to do any thing I want her to. I am convinced that all fine, high, and noble enjoyment is of an intellectual kind and if she wants to go to school I want to have her. I wrote to her that you was my confidant and advisor and I hoped you might become hers.
If you can get her confidence you will succeed and there can be no better opportunity than in the capacity of pupil and teacher. She says she is afraid of you because you are so much better and know so much more than she does and thinks of course you must dislike everybody that goes to dances but if she only would get acquainted it will be all right. I wish you should get a place for her to board. (Use your own judgment about that) furnish her with all the books she needs allow her school bill and I will pay the lot to you. Watch over her health, be particular about her physical education. When you see her, tell her she has a place to board and her school bill is paid and she will be furnished with books.

Sometime in early March of 1863, Laura came to Norfolk, Virginia where Ambrose was stationed on detached service, and they were married on March 6, 1863, at the Hotel Norfolk in Norfolk, the Rev. Knapp, chaplain of the Seventeenth Iowa infantry performing the ceremony. (Another member of the Old Third and a good friend, Charles Miller, was a witness.) They had at least six children: twins Emer (1866-1946, and probably named after Ambrose’s brother who died in the war) and Emma (b. 1866), Byron L. (b. 1868), Anna (between 1870 and 1872), Jennie (b. 1871) and David Arthur (b. 1873).

In the spring of 1863 Ambrose reported home that there were about 40,000 contrabands already at Newport News. “We are going to take up three thousand acres of land on the banks of the Elizabeth and James Rivers for the contrabands. It is land which formerly belonged to rebels who are in the army. It is beautiful land and pleasantly situated. Most every plantation has an elegant Mansion on it. Yesterday I brought up 30 horses and carts on the City of Hudson for the farms. There are about 200 ploughs coming and more horses. We have taken up 5 farms already and have been to see two others.”

Ambrose had been to Baltimore on a recent visit and “Had a very pleasant time. Went up the bay by moonlight. I wish you could have been along. We had such nice music.”

On April 29, 1863, Bell’s immediate superior Captain James Curry wrote to Chaplain James Ferre (or Ferree) in charge of the contraband department in Washington, praising Bell’s past work at Fort Monroe, Virginia. According to Curry, Bell had been assigned to the contraband department sometime in August or September of 1862 and in the spring of 1863 was apparently going to be transferred. Bell “has been assiduous in the performance of the peculiar and often thankless duties assigned to him” and that he “is well adapted for taking charge of contrabands -- faithful and zealous -- and has their welfare at heart. If it is practicable for you to have him assigned to a contraband depot wherein his services can be seen -- you will confer a favor on the writer, and the recipient of your kindness -- will I am certain -- be ever grateful.”

However, Bell was again reported by the Regiment as having allegedly deserted (again) on May 1 at Washington, DC. According to Chaplain James Ferre, Bell had in fact been working for the contraband department. Ferre, writing to the United States Quartermaster General on May 26, 1863, said that Bell “went into the US general hospital at Newport News Va during last August [1862] and remained there until the November following when he was . . . detailed by order of Gen Dix to assist Dr. Brown in the care of contrabands at Portsmouth, Va. where he acted as Commissary Sergeant until some time in the present month [May].” On May 11, Ferre added, Bell “was ordered to rejoin his Regiment,” but upon “his arrival there he called upon me and presented me with accompanying letter from Captain Curry,” who was Commissary of Subsistence.

Ferre then proceeded to describe that he had applied to Major General Hitchcock to keep Bell as an assistant, but he had just received word that day from the commanding officer of the Third Michigan that Bell was a deserter “and ordering me to arrest him.” He then arrested Bell who was “now confined to the limits of the camp where he will await the decision of the authorities in his case. From the date of my application for his detail until today he has been assiduously and with remarkable efficiency assisting me in the various and numerous duties of this camp and if he can be ordered from arrest placed on duty again would be of very good use in . . . this capacity far more than as a private in the field.”

He added that “I assure you he is not a deserter in intention. That his delay here was upon the suggestion of Captains Curry & Wilder and myself, which suggestions were based upon the conviction that he was unfit for field duty and that he was peculiarly well qualified to assist in the management of the contrabands. His great desire seems to be to be where he can be of the most use to his Govt. . . . Thus far his deportment has been that of a perfect gentleman, a faithful agent and an uncommonly efficient businessman. I have seen nothing about him that indicated any desire whatsoever to shirk any duty or any responsibility, but in all things he seems exactly the opposite.”

Bell was restored to the company rolls on August 5 at Sulphur Springs, Virginia, but Ferre wrote on August 18 that Bell was sick and unable to join his Regiment and that there had been no word from the Third Regiment regarding Bell’s future. Bell was reported as having deserted a third time, on September 9 at Culpeper, Virginia, and in fact had been confined to the military prison in Washington on September 28, 1863 charged with black marketeering.

On Monday, October 26, 1863, Ambrose was court martialed at Washington, DC, for black marketeering. Specifically, he was charged with “conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline,” in that “the said Ambrose D. Bell, Private in Co. C, Third Mich. Vols, did, at some time, date unknown, during the month of July 1863, abstract from the Commissary Store rooms of the Contraband Camp, Washington, DC, the following property of the United States. To wit, One (1) barrel of rice, one (1) box of candles, and parts of two (2) bags of coffee, and did transfer and sell, the aforementioned articles, to one B. S. Jackson of the firm of Jackson Bros & Co., No. 333 Penn. Avenue, receiving therefrom, a certain unknown sum of money, which he appropriated to his own use.”

Bell pled not guilty to both charge and specification. When the trial commenced the first to be called to testify was Joseph B. Holt, a witness for the prosecution.

Question: What is your name, and what position do you hold?
Answer: Joseph B. Holt. Assistant Superintendent of the Contraband Camp, Wash., DC.

Question: Do you know anything in relation to Private Ambrose D. Bell?
Answer: I know the man; he was assisting as Assistant Superintendent in the Contraband Camp in June, when I first went there.

Question: Do you know anything in relation to a theft, said to have been committed by the said Ambrose D. Bell?
Answer: I know not personally as to his taking the things. I would state, that there was a great complaint made by the contrabands of receiving short rations and such. Private Bell had charge of the Commissary Department at that time. Captain Fure [sic], Commander of the camp, and myself could not decide what caused the deficiency of the articles. In the latter part of July or the first of August the driver informed us --

OBJECTION - Court cleared except for the members of the Court and the Judge Advocate. The objection was not sustained; evidence received as incidentally connected with subsequent testimony. Prisoner, Counsel and witness were recalled.

Answer: The driver informed us that he had taken three loads of stuff from the camp, by order of Private Bell, assisted by two other contrabands. We questioned the others, and found that they had assisted the driver of the cart. The driver told us to whom he had delivered them. I took him with me one day to show me the place. He took me directly to Mr. Jackson’s store 333 Pennsylvania avenue. Mr. Jackson admitted that he had received stores of that kind after dark. When Private Bell came to me to get a recommendation to go before the board to be examined, he admitted the charges and gave as an excuse “that a young man at Finley hospital had told him they did so there”. As soon as the charges had been preferred against him, the Commissary was placed in my charge [and] I found a deficiency in certain articles.

Question by Court: what charges do you refer to when you say that the prisoner “admitted the charges”?
Answer: In regard to taking these commissary stores.

Question by the Court: About what time was it, that this admission of the accused was made to you?
Answer: It was the 25th of August.

Question by the Court: About what time was this discover made that commissary stores had been sold to Mr. Jackson?
Answer: The 24th of August.

Question by the Court: What induced the accused to admit to you that he had taken these goods and sold them?
Answer: When Private Bell came to me to get a recommendation to go before the board to be examined, I told him, that since we had found out that he had taken the goods, I could not give any such recommendation.

Question by the Court: Was there anything said on your part to lead or tendency to lead the accused to believe that an admission on his part would be to his advantage?
Answer: There was not.

Question by the Court: Was there anything said, by which it would appear, that the accused understood that he might commit himself by such admission?
Answer: No sir, nothing said in relation to the matter.

CROSS EXAMINATION:

Question: Was accused arrested at your instance, if so when?
Answer: He was not. I cannot state the time when he was arrested.

Question: Were you in charge of the Commissary Stores at the time the alleged embezzlement was committed?
Answer: I was not.

Question: Upon receiving information of the probably guilt of accused, why did not you arrest him?
Answer: It was not my business to do so.

Question: In the confession of the accused to which you allude, did he enumerate the articles alleged to have made away with, if so, name the article he confessed to have taken.
Answer: I do not think the articles were mentioned. He first mentioned those he had taken from the commissary, and sold to Mr. Jackson.

Question: Have you ever said to accused, or his friends, that if accused would go back to his Regiment the charges would not be preferred, or withdrawn or anything of that kind?
Answer: I told him, I think, at that time, if he would settle up, pay for that was taken from the Commissary, and go back to his Regiment, that if we could, consistently, refrain from preferring the charges, we would do so.

Question: Was this consideration had at the time of the confession of which you speak?
Answer: I think it was.

Question: Have you tried to induce the accused to resign his appointment he holds from the President of the United States, by offering to interfere in his behalf on this present trial?
Answer: I told some of his friends, that if the charges could be withdrawn the ends of justice satisfied, to resign all claim to a command in the Regiment, settle everything at the camp and return to his Regiment, I would be willing to have him do so.

Question: To what Regiment do you refer when you say if the prisoner would resign in the Regiment?
Answer: the Second Regiment Colored Troops.

Question: Why did you wish him to resign his appointment?
Answer: Because I told him in my first conversation with him, that he would be under ten times the temptation then, than that he was in the position that he accepted at the time, and also that it would be unjust to those placed under his command.

Jerry Gorden, Colored, a witness for the prosecution, was duly sworn, and testified as follows:

Question by Judge Advocate: What is your name, and what do you do?
Answer: Jerry Gordon, do nothing now, have been sick for some time.

Question: Where do you live?
Answer: At the Contraband camp.

Question: Did you ever drive a cart for the Commissary Department of the contraband camp?
Answer: Yes sir.

Question: Were you driving there in the month of July?
Answer: Yes sir.

Question: Did you know Private Ambrose D. Bell of the Third Mich Vols, who was assisting as Commissary there?
Answer: Yes sir.

Question: Did you ever haul away goods from the camp, by order of Private Bell?
Answer: Yes sir.

Question: Where did you haul them to?
Answer: I hauled three loads into Penn. ave.

Question: Where at, and who to?
Answer: Don't know the man's name, it was in Penn. avenue, third down below 7th Street.

Question: Do you know what you took them there for?
Answer: I don't know, I asked a young fellow and he told me, and he said for the harvest.

Question: What do you mean by “harvest”?
Answer: I thought it was for cutting wheat or mowing meadow, that's what we call “harvest”.

Question: What kind of goods did you haul there?
Answer: I recollect one barrel of rice the last load, some rice and some coffee on the second load, I don't know what the other load was, nor what was in the box neither, I think it was corn or oats in the first load, I'm most certain.

Question: Did you go with Mr. Holt, to show him where you had taken these goods?
Answer: Yes sir.

Question: Did Private Bell ever tell you what you took these goods there for?
Answer: No sir, he told me to keep it dark, that it was not any of my business.

Question by the Court: Was the place you took these goods a store?
Answer: Yes sir.

Question by the Court: Who told you to take the Commissary Stores to the store on Penn. avenue?
Answer: Mr. Bell told me what place to go to.

Question by the Court: Did any person go with you, from the contraband camp, to the store where you left the commissary stores, when you took anyone of the three loads; if so, who?
Answer: On the first load Mr. Bell and another young man, went with me, the very first load; the second load a young fellow by the name of George Ransom, a colored man, he went with the second and third time.

Question by the Judge Advocate: Did Private Ambrose D. Bell pay you anything for taking these three loads; and if so how much?
Answer: Yes sir, he gave me a dollar for the first three loads, and promised me a pair of shoes.

Question: What time, and about what date, did you take these stores, to the store in Penn. avenue?
Answer: It was in July, I do not know what time, it was done in three weeks’ time, right straight after one another.

Following testimony, Bell wrote in his own defense a lengthy letter to the Court explaining his side of the case.

Believing that in judging of an action [he wrote] the motive that produced it should first be taken into consideration -- I proceed to make the following statement. I have been in the service of the United States government for nearly two years and a half, and during that time, I have endeavored to discharge faithfully the duties of a soldier. The period of one year I spent in the field, in the Third army Corps, under the command of Major General Kearney [sic]. And I have no doubt that if you would make inquiries, you would find that during the time I was with that army corps (which was then on the Peninsula) the record of my conduct was unexceptionable. Having been taken sick, I was sent to Newport News. When I became convalescent, I was detailed by Gen. Dix to serve under Dr. Brown, who had charge of the Contraband Department. I soon became aware that it was the general custom to sell any surplus rations that might be on hand. -- and having done so at a fair market price, I understood that the proceeds were to be appropriated to the use of the contrabands -- and that the manner of doing so was left to the discretion of the party in charge. When I commenced duty in the contraband camp at Wash., DC it was under the command of Capt. [Chaplain] Furee [Ferree]. I had been under the immediate supervision of Mr. Nichols -- whom I succeeded. I immediately commenced my duties and worked diligently, improving both the camp and the contrabands. The officer in command expressed himself satisfied with the manner in which I exerted myself. -- I found in the commissary a small quantity of surplus provisions namely 1 bbl rice, a small quantity of coffee, 1 box of very inferior candles, and a few split peas. There was also about fifty (50) cans of extract of coffee -- which I distributed instead of other coffee -- I had inquired of my predecessor the manner of feeding the contrabands, and was informed they were fed by families. I did not change the method, but I increased the quantity; thereby diminishing the surplus. Under such treatment I soon had the satisfaction of hearing from the colored people, that they were fed better than they had been before. -- I asked my assistant what disposition had formerly been made of the surplus rations and from him I first learned that they were usually sold. I then spoke to Capt. [Chaplain] Furee [Ferree] about the matter. He said that he was ‘trying to get a communication -- but -- if I do not succeed I think it would right to sell them’.
Gentlemen, you can now see the whole substance of Mr. Holt's charges -- I do not know whether it would be proper in this statement to revert to that gentleman's motives. For my part, I can conceive none, unless, it be that Mr. Holt chaffed that I should perform for privates pay thirteen ($13 dollars) per month, duties for which he received seventy five ($75.00). 00 I will now close by reciting the substance of a conversation I had with Mr. Holt at the contraband camp, about one month before I was placed under arrest; and when it was first understood that I was to receive a lieutenancy. Mr. Holt wished to know if I were going to return to my Regiment. I told him ‘no’, that I had intended to try for a commission. He then told me that he did not think that Capt. [Chaplain] Furee [Ferree] would not recommend me, and that if I persevered he would prefer charges against me. I then told him, that I had acted in good faith and would risk the result.

He then changed his plea from not guilty to specification and charge to a guilty plea to both.

On October 28 Bell’s counsel, T. H. Ford, wrote to the Court and stated that he regretted “to say that of the guilt of my client there is not reasonable doubt” but he thought the facts “and curious times” would mitigate the offense. Further, he felt compelled to turn his “client over to your mercy, knowing full well that everything will be done that can be consistent with your important duties, to soften the rigor of the law to a repentant man.”

He was nevertheless found guilty on both charge and specification and sentenced “To forfeit all pay and emoluments now due him; and, that may become due to November 1st, 1863, and to forfeit ten (10) dollars of his monthly pay, hereafter, for six months, and to be returned to his Regiment for duty.”

Ambrose was released from military prison on November 12 and restored to the company rolls by order of the War Department on November 22. Curiously, Ferre recommended Bell for an appointment to the United States Colored Troops, and on November 12, the same day he was ordered released from prison he was recognized as having recently been so appointed. That appointment, however, was revoked the very next day, on November 13, 1863, under Special Orders No. 504, War Department, which further ordered Bell to rejoin his Regiment at once or be considered a deserter.

He did rejoin the Third Michigan and in fact he reenlisted on December 23, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Lowell, Kent County. Ambrose was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough for 30 days in January of 1864, and if so probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February. (Interestingly, there was one “A. Bell” who was serving as a guard at Camp Lee in Grand Rapids in mid-February of 1864.)

According to his service record he was apparently detached to the Division hospital on May 25, 1864, and in fact would probably remained on detached service until he was mustered out of service. Bell was subsequently transferred to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and the same month he was reported absent sick and on detached service in Division hospital. (He may have briefly been a prisoner-of-war in July.) He may in fact have returned to Michigan to recover his health.

C. W. Foster, the assistant Adjutant General of volunteers, informed Michigan Governor Austin Blair on July 2, 1864 that the Secretary of War wished to inform the governor “that the disability in the case of Private Ambrose D. Bell . . . has been removed, and that no objection now exists to his being commissioned by you in any Michigan [colored] Regiment.” For whatever reasons, however, Bell was never commissioned, and he was reported as a nurse in Division hospital where he remained through March of 1865.

Ambrose was possibly living in Grand Rapids in mid-March and reported as having returned to the Fifth Michigan on April 15, 1865, but was also reported in May as still serving as a nurse in a hospital. Either way, he was mustered out on July 5, 1865 at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

It is likely that Ambrose returned to Michigan where he lived for many years after the war. (His mother or stepmother remarried in 1869 to one John Brown.) He and his wife were probably living in Casnovia, Muskegon County, in the summer of 1868 (when Byron was born and in 1870 they were living in Casnovia next door to John and Lucy Brown. By 1873 Ambrose had moved to Big Rapids, Mecosta County (where David A. was born). By 1880 Ambrose was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in West Branch Township, Missaukee County.

In late April or early May of 1883 he was living in Star City, Missaukee County when he was arrested for trespassing on government lands in Missaukee County, but was acquitted on May 4. “The jurors”, reported the Grand Rapids Eagle of May 5, “came to the conclusion that the complaint was made by persons who were inclined to malice against Bell.”

He was still living in Star City in 1885 and in 1890 he was living next door to Charles Miller, also formerly of Company F. However, that same year he was also reported as living at 212 N. Division in Grand Rapids. He also lived for a short time in Spring Lake, Ottawa County and probably in Muskegon and Mecosta counties. Ambrose and Laura were divorced in 1890, due, according to Charles Miller and his wife Annette, to “the unsettled, irrational state of [Ambrose’s] mind.”

Shortly afterwards Ambrose may have moved to the southern part of the United States, and was possibly living in Alabama or Mississippi when he married Jessie V. Middleton (b. 1839), on January 6, 1892, at Mobile, Alabama; they had at least one child, a son Harleston Middleton (b. 1893). They too, were subsequently divorced. Sometime in the early 1890s Ambrose, along with two another brother Chauncey were reportedly living in Mississippi.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and in 1890 he applied for and received pension no. 733521, drawing $6.00 per month by 1902.

Ambrose eventually returned to northern Michigan, probably to Missaukee County (his sister Annette was living there in the early 1890s) and for reasons unknown was committed to the Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane in Traverse City, Grand Traverse County, where he died on July 30, 1902. His remains were returned to his family home in Missaukee County and he was buried in Star City cemetery (as is his son Emer).

His widow was living in Star City when she applied for a pension in 1904; she was still living there in 1916.

Emer A. Bell was born 1841 in New York, son of David (1806-1855) and Lucy A. (Blodgett, 1812-1898).

According to one source, Vermont-born David moved to Rutland, New York with his family in about 1807. In 1830 there was a David Bell living in Lyme, Jefferson County, New York. In 1840 there was a David Bell living in Massena, St. Lawrence County, New York, and one in Henderson, Jefferson County, New York. David married Massachusetts native Lucy A. (he father had settled in Jefferson County, New York when she was still a girl), and they resided in the vicinity of St. Lawrence County for some years.

In 1851 David and Lucy moved their family westward, settling first in Hillsdale County and in about 1854 in Casnovia, Muskegon County. David purchased 160 acres of land on sections 20 and 29 in Casnovia, and began to clear the property but died in February of 1855, either in Muskegon County or in Jefferson County, New York.

By 1860 Emer was a farm laborer living with and/or working for the Edwin Cummings family in Sparta, Kent County.

Emer was 20 years old and living in Alpine, Kent County when enlisted in Company F on May 13, 1861, along with his older brother Ambrose. Emer was killed in action on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run, and probably buried among the unknown soldiers whose remains were reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery, although there is a memorial to him in Bell cemetery, Casnovia Township, Muskegon County.

In 1891 his mother (or stepmother) remarried one John Brown in 1869, and was residing in Mill Creek, Kent County, when she applied for a dependent mother’s pension no. 320,503.