Friday, September 12, 2008

Leonard Fleck

Leonard Fleck, also known as “Flake,” was born March 31, 1838 in Camden, Hillsdale County, Michigan, the son of John (b. 1805).

Leonard’s father was born in Pennsylvania and the family probably moved from Ohio (where his older brother George was born) to Michigan sometime between 1830 and 1838, and by 1850 John was working as a farmhand for one Benjamin Bradley in Camden, while Leonard was attending school and living with the Edwin Merriman family in Reading, Hillsdale County. By 1860 Leonard was working as a day laborer and living with George and his family in Fairplains, Montcalm County. His father had apparently married New York native Mary (b. 1834) in about 1853 or 1854, and was working as a farmer and living in Sidney, Montcalm County in 1860.

Leonard stood 5’8” with a dark complexion, dark eyes and dark hair and was 20 years old and residing in Greenville, Montcalm County when he enlisted in Company F on May 13, 1861. He was a company cook in August of 1862, and in September was Adjutant’s clerk.

He was wounded on May 3, 1863, at Chancellorsville, Virginia, and subsequently hospitalized serving as a nurse in July. Leonard soon returned to the Regiment and was wounded again, this time in the left ankle, on November 27, 1863, at Mine Run, Virginia. He was sent to the “Methodist church” hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, and remained there for some three months when he later claimed he was returned to the regiment where he remained until he was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit. (It is in fact uncertain whether he did return to the regiment since his service record does not list him as present on duty at that time.)

In any case, following his discharge Leonard eventually returned to Montcalm County

Leonard was reportedly living in Sidney, Montcalm County when he married another Sidney resident, Ohio native and widow Elizabeth Barret (b. 1839) on January 1, 1865, in Montcalm County. (Her first husband, Sylvester Barrett had died in early 1864 while in the army, and she was left with two children from her previous marriage. Leonard had apparently adopted them by 1870.)

By 1870 Leonard was working as a farmer and living with his wife and her two children in Sydney, Montcalm County. He probably lived the remainder of his life in Montcalm County working for many years as a farmer and carpenter.

According to Elizabeth they separated around 1871 (in fact they separated on October 15, 1871). She claimed that “he ran around with other women” but that “he was good in other respects.” She added that about 20 years later “he tried to have me take him back and acknowledged the fault was his.” After they separated Leonard went to live with his brother George and his family in Fairplains, Montcalm County. He never did get a divorce.

Nevertheless, he married his second wife, Lydia Butler on November 16, 1879, also in Montcalm County. She too had been married before and had at least three sons by her previous marriage (William, Edwin and James).

It is not known what became of Lydia, but Leonard married his third wife, one Amanda Wisel around 1880 and was possibly living in Six Lakes, Montcalm County around that time as well. Amanda herself claimed in 1904 that she and Leonard were married ‘about 25 years ago.”

A half-brother Roswell Fleck claimed that he had heard Leonard lived in Grand Rapids for a year or two and while there he married a woman named Carrie Mason but that they separated soon after returning to Greenville, Montcalm County and she moved back to Grand.

By 1880 Leonard was working as a farmer and living with his wife and step-sons in Belvidere, Montcalm County, and in 1883 he was living in Greenville, Montcalm County.

It appears that sometime in the mid-1880s Leonard served time in prison in Michigan. His first wife Elizabeth claimed that Leonard had been in the jail at Stanton, Montcalm County for about six months and in the prison at Jackson for two or three years; all of this reportedly happened sometime in the early to mid-1880s. This was substantiated by his niece, Euphenia Briggs, who testified in 1904 that Leonard was sent to Jackson state prison for some two or three years.

He was living in Greenville in 1890 when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and in Montcalm, Montcalm County in 1894.

In 1883 he applied for and received a pension (no. 255848).

Leonard reportedly took up with a woman named Stella Benjamin and the two of them apparently stayed together until his death in 1900.

Leonard died of acute bronchitis in Montcalm Township on March 4, 1900, and was buried in the Grand Army of the Republic section of Forest Home cemetery in Greenville.

In December of 1903 his first wife Elizabeth applied for and received for a widow’s pension based on the military service of her first husband, Sylvester Barrett.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Steve, Thank you so much for your narrative. I am a descendent of Sylvester Barrett, Elizabeth's first husband who was killed in the Civil War. The behavior noted in the narrative describes Elizabeth's son by Sylvester very well and I now understand where he might have seens Leonard as a role model to emulate in the absence of his father. I had suspected that Elizabeth had trouble with men circulating through a widows life being the poor role model, but it appears to have been his step father. If you want to enchange any additional information, I can be reached at, Mike