Friday, October 31, 2008

Benjamin Gilden

Benjamin Gilden was born January 28 or February 3, 1840 in Norfolk, England, the son of Robert (d. 1877) and Susan (Grimes, d. 1892).

Benjamin’s family left England and immigrated to America eventually settling in Orleans County, New York by 1850. Around 1855 Benjamin left New York and moved westward, settling in Paris Township, Kent County along with his brother Robert. (In 1860 there was one Robert Gilden living in Carlton, Orleans County, New York.)

He stood 5’11” with gray eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was a 21-year-old farmer living in Paris or Grand Rapids, Kent County when he enlisted in Company A on June 10, 1861. He was reported as a pioneer, probably detached to the Brigade, from July of 1862 through October. According to his friend and comrade George W. Blain of Company K, Ben suffered from chronic diarrhea most of the summer of 1862 “and [it got] so bad at last that he was compelled to give up and go to the hospital in the fall. He was indeed reported absent sick from November of 1862 through February of 1863, and again on April 3, 1863. According to Blain Ben returned to the regiment smetime in the spring of 1863. He reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Grand Rapids, presumably returned home on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and rejoined the Regiment on or about the first of February.

Benjamin was shot in the left leg on May 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia, apparently hospitalized shortly afterwards. Another Third Michigan soldier, George Blain saw Benjamin in the field hospital on May 6. He “was talking with Comrade Gilden on [the morning of the 6th] in regard to his wounds. He had a very bad wound in the left side of the head almost directly over the left ear [and] also a bad wound in the left knee so bad he had to be carried [and] could not walk. Ben was still absent wounded when he was transferred to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864.

In early August he was furloughed from the hospital and arrived back at his home in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, August 10.

This morning [wrote the Grand Rapids Eagle] Benjamin Gilden, a battle-scarred veteran hero of that once proud and invincible command arrived, and though sick and alone, his gallant service in freedom's cause covers him with glory, and involuntarily makes all loyal men feel like taking off their hats in reverence, not only for him, but for the wooden crutch even which enables him to move about upon his shattered limb. Young Gilden was wounded in that terrible battle of the ‘Wilderness’, and has since that time been lying in hospital at Philadelphia and Detroit, having just recovered sufficiently to enable him to return to his home. Who will not welcome him and all other hero warriors with warm hearts and open arms?

Benjamin probably remained at home for most of the remainder of the year, but as of December 26, 1864, he was at St. Mary’s hospital in Detroit, possibly awaiting final disposition. He was discharged as a Corporal on January 10, 1865, at Detroit, for “gunshot wound of left leg, ball entering just below the patella [kneecap], passing through the ligament rendering him permanently lame.”

After his discharge Benjamin settled back in Grand Rapids and lived out the rest of his days in Grand Rapids and Paris Townships. He was living in Paris, Kent County when he married New York native Mary C. Rosenkrans Hamblin (b. 1841), the widow of William Hamblin, formerly of Company F, Third Michigan infantry and who was killed in action in June of 1864 near Petersburg, Virginia, on December 7, 1865; they had one child, an adopted daughter Jennie (b. 1882).

In 1870 Ben was working as a farmer and living with his wife in Dorr, Allegan County. He was living in Grand Rapids and working as a farmer and living with his wife in 1880 and in December of 1883 when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and was drawing $2.00 per month for a wounded left leg (pension no. 41,960).

Benjamin was residing in Paris in 1887, in Grand Rapids in 1889 when he attended the reunion at Gettysburg and in 1890. In 1889 he was reported as working as a milk peddler and living on Wealthy Avenue one mile northwest of the Grand Rapids city limits. He was living in Grand Rapids’ Tenth Ward in 1894 and served as alderman from the Tenth Ward for two terms. He also served as a deputy sheriff, and as bailiff in Judge Grove's court for two years, and was a member of Grand Army of the Republic Custer Post No. 5 in Grand Rapids and the East Paris church.

He was residing in Paris in 1897 when, during the 26th annual Old Third Michigan infantry Association reunion (held in December), a committee of three men, George Judd, Byron Pierce and Wilson Jones, was chosen to petition the government on behalf of Gilden’s wife in securing an increase to his pension. Gilden and his wife were then living in Paris Township and he was reported to be “palsied in tongue and limb”; apparently he had suffered two major strokes since 1896, which had rendered him speechless.

Gilden died of acute paralysis on Friday afternoon, October 14, 1898, while eating dinner at his home in East Paris; the cause of the paralysis was attributed to heart disease. His funeral was held on Sunday morning, October 16, at 11:00 a.m. at the East Paris church, and he was buried in Oak Hill cemetery: section H lot no. 8.

His widow received pension no 473474, drawing $30.00 per month by 1927. She was residing at the Soldier’s Home when she died in 1927.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Freeman Gilbert

Freeman Gilbert, also known as “Gilbert Freeman,” was born January 27, 1847, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, or Ohio, the son of Norton (1814-1903) and Mehitable (Whitman, 1817-1878).

New York native Norton married Massachusetts native Mehitable in 1839, near Cleveland, Ohio, where Norton owned property. In 1851 Norton moved his family to Byron, Kent County, Michigan, where they were still living in 1860.

Freeman stood 6’0” with gray eyes, dark hair and a light complexion, and was a 17-year-old farmer possibly living in Byron or perhaps in Oakfield, Kent County when he enlisted in Company K on January 23, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered the same day. He joined the Regiment on February 17 at Camp Bullock, Virginia, was captured on May 6, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia, and confined at Andersonville prison in Georgia. He was transferred as a prisoner-of-war to Company I, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864.

Norton was still living in Byron in 1870 and by 1890 he was probably living in Corinth, Kent County.

Freeman died of scorbutus on July 4, 1864, at Andersonville prison. He was reportedly buried in Andersonville National Cemetery: grave no. 2862; there is also a marker for him in Gilbert cemetery, Kent County; see photo G-182.

No pension seems to be available.

Norton and Mehitable were still living in Byron in 1870; by 1890 Norton was living in Corinth, Kent County.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Asa B. Gilbert

Asa B. Gilbert was born 1829 in Washtenaw County, Michigan or in New York.

In 1850 there was one Asa B. Gilbert, age 31 and born in New York, working as a farmer for one James Tyler in Freedom, Washtenaw County.

Sometime in the early 1850s Asa married New York native Mary Elizabeth Barrett (b. 1835), and they had at least three children: Myron C. (b. 1854), Junelia (b. 1857) and Owen (b. 1861).

By 1860 Asa was working as a day laborer and sawyer living with his wife and children in Algoma, Kent County; that same year Wilbur Wait, who would also enlist in Company F, was boarding with Asa and his family.

Asa stood 5’8” with blue eyes, brown hair and sandy complexion and was 32 years old and may have been living in Grand Rapids, quite possibly in the area of Lamphamville and Rockford, when he enlisted in Company F on May 13, 1861, possibly with Wilbur Wait.

Asa was reported sick in the hospital in July and August of 1862, but eventually recovered and rejoined the Regiment. He reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Caledonia, Kent County, was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough, probably at his home in Michigan, in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.

Asa was shot in the right arm on May 6, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia, subsequently hospitalized and was probably still in the hospital when he was transferred as Sergeant to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. He was sent to Mower hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 20, and transferred to Islington Lane hospital in Philadelphia on January 21, 1865, where he died of smallpox on March 9, 1865. He was originally interred on March 11 in Glenwood cemetery: no. 56 or 54, and then reburied in the Philadelphia National Cemetery: section B, grave 644.

In April of 1865 Mary applied for and received a widow’s pension (no. 54880). It is possible that she subsequently remarried and is the "M. E. Valkenburgh" listed as guardian for Asa’s minor children pension applications in 1866 (no. 76307).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

William Gibson

William Gibson was born 1837 in England.

William left England and immigrated to the United States, eventually settled in western Michigan.

By 1860 William was a mill hand working at Henry Beidler’s mill in Muskegon, Muskegon County.

William stood 5’7” with brown eyes and hair and a fair complexion, and was 24 years old and still residing in Muskegon County when he enlisted in Company H on April 28, 1861. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers,” was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.) He was wounded by a gunshot to the left arm on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, and subsequently reported hospitalized from August through September, on detached service, probably in the hospital, in October. Indeed he probably remained hospitalized until he was discharged on February 27, 1863 at the Convalescent Camp, Virginia, for “tuberculosis contracted since enlistment and loss of use of left arm from gunshot wound received” on May 31, 1862.

William may have settled for a time in the area of Cleveland, Ohio (he listed Cleveland as his mailing address on his discharge paper).

According to one source William is buried in Homer, Calhoun County.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Byron D. Gibson

Byron D. Gibson was born 1836 in either New York or Union City, Darke County, Ohio, the son of Archibald K. (1805-1871) and Phebe (b. 1815).

Byron’s parents were both born in New York and presumably married there. Archibald was living in Clinton County, Ohio, in 1830 and 1840. In any case, the family left Ohio and Clinton County in moved to western Michigan, eventually settling in Grand Rapids, Kent County. By 1860 Byron was a painter working with his father and living with his family in Grand Rapids’ Third Ward.

Byron was 25 years old and probably still living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. He was discharged on July 29, 1861 at Arlington Heights, Virginia for “a deformity of the right foot from injury received three years” before he entered the service.

After he left the army Byron returned to Kent County and may have reentered the service as a 26-year-old Private, residing in Kent County, who enlisted at Marshall, Calhoun County, on December 14, 1861, in Company B, First Michigan Engineers & Mechanics. Company B was commanded by none other than Captain Baker Borden who had commanded Company B, Third Michigan infantry and who, like Byron, had been discharged for disability earlier in 1861 only to reenter the service. Moreover, it seems Byron’s father had enlisted in Company B, First E & M in September of 1861. Byron was mustered on December 23, and discharged for disability at Shiloh, Tennessee, on April 26, 1862.

It is almost certain that the Third Michigan Byron Gibson, who had once again returned to his home in Kent County, reentered the service in M company, Seventh Michigan cavalry on April 26, 1863, at Ada, Kent County for 3 years, and was mustered June 17 at Grand Rapids, crediting, listing Ada as his place of residence (Archibald himself was living in Ada, Kent County by 1870).

Byron was at a dismounted camp in October of 1863 (probably as a result of illness), and on detached service from August of 1864 through May of 1865. It is not known if he was on duty with the regiment when it participated in the Grand Review in Washington on May 23. On June 1 the Seventh was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Byron along with the veterans and recruits were consolidated on November 17, 1865, into the First Michigan cavalry, Byron probably going to Company I. First Michigan cavalry, served on duty in the District of Utah from November of 1865 until March of 1866. In any case, Byron was absent sick in December of 1865, and was mustered out with the regiment on March 10, 1866 at Salt Lake City, Utah.

Byron eventually returned to Michigan and in 1870 he was working as a painter and living with or working for George Kerr, a sawmill proprietor and farmer in Golden City, Jefferson County, Colorado. That same year Archibald was working as a painter and living with his wife and son Charles -- who was a druggist -- in Ada; he died in Ada, Kent County in 1871.

In 1888 Phebe was living in Michigan when she applied for and received a widow’s pension (no. 255411) for her husband’s service in the First Michigan Engineers & Mechanics (he was Drum Major). In 1890 Phebe was probably boarding at 325 N. Lafayette Street in Grand Rapids.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

August H. Gerths

August H. Gerths, also known as “Gerlhs,” was born 1841 in Holstein, Germany.

August left Germany and immigrated to America sometime before the war broke out, eventually settling in western Michigan. (By 1860 there was a 10-year-old girl named Caroline Gerths, born in Holstein, living with 32-year-old Catharine and her husband Peter Boos; Catharine had also been born in Holstein.)

He was 20 years old and probably living in Muskegon County when he enlisted with the consent of the Justice of the Peace in Company C on May 13, 1861. (Company C was made up largely of German and Dutch immigrants, many of whom lived on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. This company was the descendant of the old Grand Rapids Rifles, also known as the “German Rifles,” a prewar local militia company composed solely of German troopers.) He was sick in the Regimental hospital in July of 1862, and admitted to a general hospital in Washington, DC, on October 14, 1862, suffering from chronic rheumatism.

August died of “chronic diarrhea” on December 9, 1862, in ward 1, bed 53, at the Patent Office hospital in Washington, DC, and was buried the same day in the Military Asylum cemetery (Soldier's Home National cemetery), Washington: section H no. 3876.

No pension seems to be available.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

John Germain

John Germain, also known as “German,” was born 1830 in Tompkins County, New York.

In 1830 and in 1840 there was a James German living in Caroline, Tompkins County, New York. In any case, John left New York State and moved west, eventually settling in Detroit, Michigan.

He stood 6’0” with hazel eyes dark hair and a dark complexion, and was a 31-year-old farmer and machinist possibly living in Detroit’s Fourth Ward when he enlisted in Company F on August 22, 1862, at Detroit, crediting the Seventh Ward. He joined the Regiment on September 8 at Fairfax Seminary, Virginia, and was absent sick in the hospital in October. According to Company F commander Captain Israel C. Smith’s report on Germain written on January 31, 1863, “Since the time he joined the Regiment he has been unfit to perform the duties of a soldier. He has a lame shoulder and cannot carry his knapsack, gun and accouterments on a march, and in my opinion will never be able to perform the duties of a soldier.”
John was discharged on February 11, 1863 at Camp Pitcher, Virginia, and according to the Regimental surgeon, Dr. James Grove, he suffered from “chronic inflammation of the liver. He has been in the hospital since Dec. 20th and was on sick report for some time previous. He is now entirely unable to perform any duty.”

John eventually returned to Michigan and by 1890 he was living in Leighton, Allegan County.

He was probably married to Franciska (born in Switzerland).

He received pension no. 253480.

Friday, October 24, 2008

John George

John George was born in 1842, possibly the son of Elizabeth .

John was 19 years old and living in Muskegon County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company H on May 13, 1861. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers,” was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.) Although first listed as missing in action, he was in fact killed in action on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run.

He was presumably buried among the unknown soldiers whose remains were reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery.

There was one Elizabeth George who was receiving a dependent mother’s pension no. 99,686 (dated September of 1867) and living in Muskegon County in 1883, drawing $8.00 per month.

(Curiously there is one “John George” buried in the Grand Army of the Republic section of the Ludington city cemetery, Mason County.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Israel S. Geer

Israel S. Geer, also known as “Greer” and “Gear,” was born in 1826, possibly in Sheldon, Genesee County, New York and possibly the son of Israel T.

Both of Israel’s parents were reportedly born in Vermont. Israel S. was probably living in Sheldon, New York in 1840. By 1849 he had settled in Hastings, Barry County, Michigan where by 1850 he was working as a clerk and either living with or employed by an innkeeper named Nathan Barlow. Israel was married to Michigan-born Margaret Young (d. 1859), and they possibly had one or perhaps two children: Nellie (b. 1855) and possibly also Willie (b. 1856). In any case, both children were living in Hastings in 1860 with their maternal grandmother, Nancy Young and her family

He was 35 years old and probably living in the Hastings area, Barry County, Michigan, when he was elected Third Sergeant of the Hastings Rifle Company in April of 1861. Although the company was disbanded shortly after it arrived in Grand Rapids to become part of the Third Michigan infantry then forming at Cantonment Anderson just south of the city, Israel eventually enlisted as a Sergeant in Company D on May 13, 1861. He was soon afterwards detached as Sergeant Major.

Israel was promoted to Second Lieutenant of Company C on August 1, 1861, replacing Lieutenant Felix Zoll who had been promoted, and on December 25, 1861, Geer was promoted to Captain from Second Lieutenant, replacing Lieutenant Max von Kraus. He was present for duty from January of 1862 until March 28, 1862 when he was admitted to the Chesapeake hospital at Fortress Monroe, suffering from febris remittens (fever), and he returned to duty on April 18. However, on April 27 he was admitted to the Third Corps hospital at Yorktown suffering from dysentery, but was returned to the Regiment three days later. He was present for duty through December of 1862, in January of 1863 was on a leave of absence and was subsequently under arrest for overstaying his leave.

On February 11, Lieutenant Colonel Byron Pierce, then commanding the Third Michigan, wrote to the acting assistant Adjutant General in Washington, requesting Geer “be ordered before the military board, he having been absent on leave for fifteen days and having overstayed his leave seven (7) days.”

On March 9, 1863, Assistant Adjutant General Thomas Vincent wrote to Pierce informing him “The proceedings of the Court of the case of Captain I. S. Geer, of your Regt are approved by the Secretary of War. The bar to his receiving pay is hereby removed.” It is unclear what the “proceedings” consisted of or what had transpired in the case, but it seems fairly certain that Geer received a Regimental court martial for overstaying his leave. He was present for duty from March through June, 1863, and was detached on July 27 for recruiting service in Grand Rapids where he arrived on or about the first of August, assigned to “commanding organizations of detachments for old Regiments.” He was still reported in September as being in command of Company C.

On February 6, 1864, Israel was relieved from “duty in charge of barracks” and “ordered to report to Detroit and await the arrival of a detachment en route to the Army of the Potomac, which he will join and proceed to join his Regiment on March 8, 1864.” The detachment “was ordered forward March 11, 1864,” but on March 1 Geer sought a medical leave of absence, and he asked Dr. B. Gilman, post surgeon at the draft depot in Grand Rapids, to provide him with a certificate. Gilman wrote that he found Geer to be suffering from ‘valvular heart disease” and not ready to resume his military duties for at least another ten days. By March 21 Geer was back with the Regiment when he wrote to one of the staff officers at Third Corps requesting permission to visit the Irish Brigade in the Second Corps “on important private business.”

On May 6, 1864, Israel was commanding Company C when he was severely wounded in the right leg and taken prisoner at the battle of the Wilderness, Virginia. In fact, several days after he had been captured his leg was amputated. George Lemon of Company H wrote home on July 6 saying that Geer had been taken prisoner at the Wilderness, and Dan Crotty of Company F wrote after the war that at the Wilderness Captain Geer “received a severe wound, and had to be left to the tender mercies of the enemy, driving us over the same ground they had to skeedaddle over only a short time before.”

According to one source, “His wound was received very peculiarly. He was standing in line of battle in the place assigned a company commander of infantry, directly in the rear of the first sergeant. A minnie ball struck the sergeant in the leg, causing him to fall and giving him a wound from which he lost a leg. The same ball passed through the sergeant’s leg and struck Capt. Geer in the leg, causing a wound that cost him also his leg, if we remember rightly. Both men recovered after much suffering.”

Geer was subsequently confined at Lynchburg, Virginia, Macon, Georgia, and at Libby prison in Richmond. He was taken from Staunton, Virginia, to Richmond on September 8. It is assumed Israel was transferred as a prisoner-of-war to the Fifth Michigan infantry on June 10, 1864, when the Third and Fifth were consolidated into one regiment.

Theodore Castor of Company C had also been wounded and taken prisoner at the Wilderness, and many years after the war Castor described how he found Captain Geer in the prison at Lynchburg. As several of his comrades helped him out of the wagon when the got to the prison (he too had suffered an amputated leg) “the first thing I noticed was that somebody was calling my name. I looked around and up and I saw Captain I. S. Greer [Geer] who had lost his right leg the same time I did and whom I had not seen or heard of since the day we were wounded at the Wilderness, and it sounded like a voice from home.”

During his stay at Lynchburg, Castor had struck up a relationship with one of the local women in Lynchburg, Lydia Hicks, and she visited him regularly at the prison.

I and my companions had a good time from that time on. The girls [Lydia and her sister] and Nero [their servant] kept us supplied with reading matter and a daily paper printed on brown tea paper -- the size of a sheet of legal cap, and a full meal for the three of us every night. And in a few days I found out where the extra dish that Nero fetched in every night went to. Nero made a mistake and handed me the wrong letter and when I read it early in the morning I found out that it was directed to Captain I. S. Greer [Geer] who was in another room on the same floor and Captain of my company, and found out that he was corresponding with Lydia's sister. After I had been there about a month Lydia's mother came one day to the office and pleaded with Doctor Drummers for permission to come and visit us and as it was against the rules for anybody to visit us, she failed but got a promise and Doctor told her what day to come back when he would be at liberty and he would take her around. So when the appointed day came she was on hand and her and the Doctor came up. The Doctor took out his watch and give her ten minutes time to talk to us and pleaded with him and got his consent that if she got two pair of crutches and give them to Nero that he would see that I and Captain Greer [Geer] got them, when he called up Nero and told him when he got the crutches to bring them to his office and he would see that we got them all right as the guards wasn't allowed to let anything pass through the line what was intended for the prisoners.”

Castor was subsequently transported from Lynchburg to a variety of other prisons throughout the south before ending up in Richmond awaiting parole.

And one morning we were turned out and told that those that were able to walk to work their way to the steamboat which lay below the Navy Yard and about one mile from Libby Prison. And those that wasn't able they hauled there. When I got to the boat I heard somebody call my name and looking up saw Captain I. S. Greer [Geer] waving his hand to me. He had stayed in Lynchburg all this time and had come from there that morning, and when I got to him he told me all about the good times he had with the Hicks family. And all I could tell him was that I seen more of the C.S. and more hardships and spent more money than any body on the boat.

Israel was paroled at Varina, Virginia on September 12, 1864, and admitted to Division no. 1 general hospital at Annapolis, Maryland on September 14 with a gunshot wound to the right thigh lower third. He was transferred as a paroled prisoner-of-war on September 20 to the general hospital at Camp Parole, Maryland, and given a leave of absence for 48 hours to visit Washington on September 20. He reported back to Camp Parole on September 21, and was mustered out of service the same day.

After he was mustered out Geer returned to western Michigan, and by October was in Grand Rapids. Captain Geer “is again with us,” wrote the Grand Rapids Eagle on October 27, “and though minus a leg lost in the service of his country, under the old flag, he had not lost any of his patriotism nor love of country, and will, we understand, return to duty in some department of the service as soon as he gets a cork walker to take the place of the lost portion of his leg.” According to the Evening Leader, “it was the custom of Capt. Geer and Sergeant Castor to take turns carrying that wicked minnie ball, a year at a time. It is considerably flattened and deformed from striking the bones of its brave victim[s].”

He was back in Hastings by March 25, 1865, and he married his second wife, Mary L. Young (1843-1926), on May 28, 1865; he was 39 years old she 22. (She was most likely the sister of his first wife Margaret Young; both are buried in the same lot as Israel.)

By 1870 Israel was working as a farmer (he owned $12,000 worth of real estate and another $1,000 in personal property) and living with his wife Mary and his two children in Hastings. (His daughter Nellie was working as a domestic.) Israel was living in Hastings in 1874, and on Broadway in the Fourth Ward in 1880 working as the Justice of the Peace and living with his wife and his daughter Nellie. Indeed, he probably lived in Hastings the rest of his life. By 1881 Israel was a police justice in Hastings.

In 1865 Israel applied for and received a pension (no. 43971). He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association. Politically, he was a member of the Greenback Party.
Israel died of Asiatic cholera on August 7, 1881 in Hastings, and was buried on August 8 in Riverside cemetery, Hastings: block A-south, lot no. 4, grave NW 1/4-1; see photo G-296.

His widow was residing in Michigan in 1885 (?) when she applied for and received a pension (no. 255939). By 1889 she had moved to Grand Rapids and was living at 50 state Street; the following year she was residing at 82 Charles Street. However, by 1926 she was living at 119 N. Broadway in Hastings where she died.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sylvester Gay

Sylvester Gay was born in 1829 in Pennsylvania.

Sylvester was 32 years old and probably living in Allegan County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company I on May 13, 1861. According to one source, he was among the second wave of recruits to come out of Ottawa County and did not in fact enlist until the end of May, along with Albert Hamlin, Calvin Hall, Nelson Davis and David Davis, Joseph Payne, Albert Gardner, James Rhodes, Perry Goshorn, Joseph Solder (Josiah Schuler), Quincy Lamereaux, William Suret and John Ward.

He was reported absent sick in a general hospital from August of 1862 through October of 1863, although he may in fact have been transferred to the Veterans’ Reserve Corps on July 1, 1863, at Washington, DC.

Sometime in the fall of 1863 Sylvester was arrested, charged with being drunk while on duty and court-martialed at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He was confined at Harrisburg for seven months, and in March or April of 1864 was confined in the Old Capitol prison in Washington, DC.

On May 16, 1864, Michigan Congressman Francis Kellogg, from Grand Rapids, wrote to the Secretary of War requesting him to investigate Gay’s case.

Kellogg had been told that Gay had been imprisoned without a trial. “Sylvester Gay,” Kellogg wrote, “formerly of the Third Michigan infantry -- latterly of the Invalid Corps is in the Old Capitol Prison whither he was sent April 28th without sentence. Previous to this he had been imprisoned seven months at Harrisburg -- all if I am correctly informed before any trial. His crime was being intoxicated while on duty I am told. All pay and allowances stopped & part of his family at home have been sent to the Poor House. Has he not been punished enough -- Mr. Secretary please have his case looked into -- perhaps you will think best to order him where there is fighting to be done.”

On May 18, 1864, a colonel from the War Department replied to Kellogg.“I have the honor,” he wrote, “to acknowledge the receipt of your communication to the Secretary of War in which you request inquiry to be made into the case of Sylvester Gay of the Vet Reserve Corps, confined in the Old Capitol Prison, and, as you are informed, without having had a trial. In reply I beg to inform you that it appears that the soldier was tried by Court Martial at Harrisburg, Penn, convicted and is now serving imprisonment under sentence.” According to a War Department letter of November 4, 1864, Gay was discharged on September 24, 1864.

It is unknown if Sylvester ever returned to western Michigan. By 1870 he was working as a saddler and living with a farmer named Thomas Hanley in Nawakum, Lewis County, Washington Territory. By 1880 he was working as a harness maker and living as a single man with the Alpheus Wooster family in Mason, Washington.

However, in the Grand Army of the Republic Annual Encampment Journal for 1888, one James Gay of Alaska, Kent County, Michigan, published an inquiry seeking the whereabouts of Sylvester Gay, formerly of Company I, Third Michigan infantry, who was supposed to be living near Seattle, Washington territory. In fact, he was still living in Washington in 1907 when he applied for and received a pension (no. 1151514).

Sylvester died in May of 1909.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

George W. Gates

George W. Gates was born 1835 in Ontario County, New York.

In 1850 there was a 17-year-old named George Gates living with the Nathan Brundage family in Hopewell, Ontario County, New York.

George married New York native Maria (b. 1839), probably in New York, and they had at least two children: Elizabeth (b. 1858) and Stella (b. 1862).

He and his wife moved from New York to Michigan sometime before 1858 and by 1859-60 George was working as a carpenter and living on the northwest corner of Scribner and Crosby Streets, on the west side of the river in Grand Rapids. In 1860 he was a carpenter living in Walker, Kent County and in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward with his wife Maria and one child. (Curiously the child’s name in Walker was Elizabeth while the girl’s name in Grand Rapids was Almena.)

George stood 5’9” with blue eyes, dark hair and a light complexion and was 26 years old and probably still living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. (Company B was made up largely of men from Grand Rapids, and many of who had served in various local militia units before the war, in particular the Grand Rapids Artillery, under Captain Baker Borden, who would also command Company B.)

He was shot in the right shoulder, on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run, and subsequently sent to Carver hospital in Washington, DC where he remained until he was discharged for a “gunshot wound of right shoulder resulting in complete loss of motion in the right arm” on January 15, 1863.

In February of 1863 George applied for and received a pension (no. 15629).

George returned to Michigan after his discharge from the army and by 1870 he and his wife and one child were living in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward where he worked as a carpenter (he possessed some $3,500 in real estate). He was apparently working as a carpet sweeper manufacturer and living with his second (?) wife, Pennsylvania native Libbie (b. 1848) and their son Deroy (b. 1873) in Grand Rapids in 1880.

George may have been living in California when he died probably in 1894.

In any case his widow Libbie was residing in California in August of 1894 when she applied for and received a pension (no. 486750).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Charles Gaskill

Charles Gaskill, also known as “Gascal” and “Gaskell,” was born in 1842.

Charles was 19 years old and probably living in Watertown, Clinton County, Michigan, when he enlisted with the consent of the Justice of the Peace in Company G on May 10, 1861. According to Frank Siverd of Company G, in early June Charles was sick with the measles. He was, Siverd was quick to add, “well cared for. [Regimental Surgeon D. W.] Bliss leaves nothing undone that will contribute to the comfort of the sick. To prevent the disease spreading, as soon as the first symptoms appear,” Bliss had Gaskill, along with several others “removed to the house of a physician, some three miles from camp.”

Charles recovered sufficiently enough to leave Michigan with the regiment on June 13, 1861, and was nearly killed in a shooting accident in early August. Frank Siverd wrote on August 7 “An accident occurred this p.m. which came near proving fatal to Gaskill, of our company. A musket charged with ball and buckshot was carelessly fired by a member of Co. B. The charge riddled two tents. The ball struck Gaskill on the back part of the head and made a flesh wound several inches long. One of the shot took effect in the elbow of [Eli] Corey, formerly of our company, but now of B. Corporal [Joseph] Stevens and a number of others were sitting in the same group with G. and C. and their escape is miraculous.”

Charles Church of Company G also related the story in a letter to his father. He said that Gaskill was shot accidentally by a man from Company B who “was cleaning his gun and he took a cap and snapped it on his gun and off it went. The buck shot scattered all around and one hit Gascal [sic] in the head and the others with the ball went through a tent tearing and shattering a gun stock. . . .” According to Church, Gaskill was “not dangerously hurt” and was up and around the camp.

However, Charles survived the accidental wounding only to be killed in action on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia.

Homer Thayer of Company G wrote on June 3 that Color Sergeant Charles Foster of Company G had been “the first to fall. He was bravely holding the colors, and by his coolness and courage, doing much to encourage the boys to press on. Orderly E. F. Siverd was soon after wounded, but still did his duty and urged his comrades on. Soon after this Corporals Case B. Wickham, John Blanchard and Nathaniel T. Atkinson, and privates Samuel Dowell and Charles T. Gaskill received fatal shots. Atkinson and Dowell were brought from the field before they died. All have been buried, and their resting places marked with aboard giving the name, company and Regiment.”

Charles was presumably among the unknown soldiers buried in Seven Pines National Cemetery.

No pension seems to be available.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Samuel Smith Garrison

Samuel Smith Garrison was born May 26, 1836 in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, New York, or Lodi, Seneca County, New York, the son of Robert Tate Garrison (1811-1867) and Jane Eliza (Dubois, 1815-1885).

His parents were married in Seneca County, New York in 1833 and settled first in Lodi, Seneca County, in Poughkeepsie in 1836 and then back to Lodi where they lived for some years. Robert moved his family from Lodi to Tompkins County, New York in 1843 and then on to Michigan in 1854 eventually settling in Baltimore, Barry County, by 1857. By 1860 Samuel was living and working with his family in Baltimore, Barry County where his father operated a substantial farm.

Samuel was 25 years old, stood 5’7” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and probably working as a carpenter and living in Hastings, Barry County when he enlisted in the Hastings Rifle Company in April of 1861. The company was disbanded shortly after it arrived in Grand Rapids and its members distributed to other companies of the Third Michigan infantry then forming at Cantonment Anderson just south of the city, and Samuel eventually enlisted in Company F on May 13, 1861.

He was reported as a Regimental teamster in July of 1862, was soon detached from the Regiment in August, probably to Brigade headquarters, and from September through December was employed as a teamster in the Brigade wagon trains. By February of 1863 he was a teamster at Third Corps headquarters, was back serving in the Brigade trains from March to April, and was a teamster for the Corps from May through July. He was a teamster serving with the First Division ammunition wagon train from September of 1863 through May of 1864, and was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.

After he left the army Samuel eventually returned to Barry County where, with the exception for about three years he spent in Detroit, he lived the rest of his life.

Samuel married Vermont native Emily or Emma A. Palmer (1843-1907) on August 20, 1865, in Baltimore, Barry County and they had at least five children: Mason (b. 1866), John (b. 1870), Sarah M. (b. 1871), Jay (b. 1874) and Edna (b. 1873).

By 1870 he was working as a farmer (he owned $1000 worth of real estate) and living with his wife and children in Baltimore, Barry County. He probably resided in Baltimore Township during the 1870s. He eventually settled back in Hastings and was living in the Second Ward in 1880, working as a carpenter and living with his wife and children. He was residing in the First Ward in 1890 and the Second Ward in 1894. (In fact, in 1890 Samuel was living near Henry Bailey, who had served in Company F, Third Michigan.) In 1911 he was residing at 528 Dibbs, in 1921 at 820 Michigan Avenue, in 1923 at 620 N. C Street and in 1925 at 520 N. East Street and in 1927 at 320 N. East Street; indeed he probably lived in Hastings until he died in 1927.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and Grand Army of the Republic Fitzgerald Post No. 125 in Hastings. In 1889 he applied for and received a pension (no. 504619).

Samuel was probably a widower and probably died on or about September 7, 1927, and he was buried on September 8 in Riverside cemetery, Hastings: block F-south, lot no. 6.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Riley Garrett - updated 1/29/2012

Riley Garrett was born in August of 1846 in Ohio, the son of Robert (b. 1804 in New York) and step-son of Eurana C. “Ranie” Stillwell (b. 1820 in New York).

Riley’s family moved from New York and settled in Ohio sometime in the 1840s, and Riley may have been living in Sub-division 2 of Muhlenberg, Kentucky in 1850. Robert eventually left Ohio (or Kentucky) and by 1855 had settled his family in Michigan. By 1860 Riley was working as a farm laborer and attending school with his younger siblings and living on the family farm in Jamestown, Ottawa County.

Riley stood 5’4” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was an 18-year-old farmer probably living in Jamestown, Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company I on December 18, 1861 for 3 years at Grand Rapids, crediting Ottawa County, and was mustered the same day. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County.)

He was transferred to Company I 5th Michigan Infantry upon consolidation of the 3rd and 5th Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and was reported on detached service from August through October. In November he was on detached service as a nurse at City Point hospital, and was mustered out on December 8, 1864 near Petersburg, Virginia.

Riley probably returned to Michigan after the war. (His parents may have been living in Grand Rapids’ 3rd Ward, Kent County in 1870.)

He married Ohio native Lucy or Lucia Clark (1850-1875), and they had at least two children: Harley (1868-1872) and Harry or Harold (1872-1851).

Riley may have been living in Michigan in 1872 when his son Harry was born, but apparently moved out west soon afterwards. In any case, Lucy reportedly died in Kansas and by 1880 Riley was a widower and working as a farmer in North Fork, Sweetwater County, Wyoming. By 1890 he was living in Lander, Fremont County, Wyoming.

Riley married Missouri native Sarah Jane Coats Westbrook (1864-1930) at West Plains, Missouri, on May 28, 1900; she had been widowed twice before. They had at least one child, a son: Riley E. Garrett (1904-1905).

Sarah and Riley were living in Lander, Wyoming in 1900.

In 1892 he applied for and received a pension (no. 849810), drawing $12 per month by 1906.

Riley died on January 8, 1907, in Lander, Wyoming. According to the Wind River Mountaineer

Mr. Garrett died at his home on Lower North Fork at three o'clock Tuesday afternoon, being taken sick at an early hour that morning of neuralgia of the stomach. All was done for him that possibly could be, but the science of doctors could not prevail, and he was gathered to the home of his fathers.

The funeral took place on Thursday from the Methodist Episcopal church in Lander, and in honor to the deceased Mayor Johnson issued a proclamation requesting that all business houses remain closed during the hours from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The funeral was largely attended, not only by friends and neighbors of the deceased on North Fork but by the people from Lander and other portions of the county as well, all of whom were anxious to show their respect to the deceased.

Mr. Garrett was one of the pioneers of Fremont County, and left a substantial ranch on North Fork to show for his industry and integrity. He leaves a wife, son and other relatives to mourn his taking away. The memory of such men as Riley Garrett is all the monument necessary on this earth.


Riley buried along with his son in Mount Hope Cemetery in Lander.

In 1908 his widow was living in Guthrie, Oklahoma, when she applied for a pension (no. 892,849). It was rejected on the grounds that she had married Riley after 1890.

Friday, October 17, 2008

George Garner

George Garner was born in 1838.

George was 23 year sold and probably living in Muskegon County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company H on May 10, 1861. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers,” was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.)

He was wounded on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, and died of his wounds probably on June 19, 1862, in Chesapeake hospital at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. George was originally buried on the grounds of Chesapeake hospital, and was possibly among the unknown soldiers reinterred in Hampton National Cemetery.

No pension seems to be available.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Alfred A. Garlock

Alfred A. Garlock, also known as “Alford,” was born 1843 in Rockford, Winnebago County, Illinois, the son of John (b. 1817) and Mahitable (b. 1818).

New York native John and Canadian Mahitable were married sometime before 1836, and probably in Canada where they were living when their son Alanson was born in 1836. They eventually moved to Illinois and by 1850 Alfred was living with his family in Burritt, Winnebago County, Illinois. Just before the war broke out Alfred left Illinois and moved to Michigan, making his home with James Benedict in Lyons, Ionia County.

Alfred was an 18-year-old broom-maker probably living in Lyons, Ionia County when he enlisted with his parents’ consent as a Musician in Company E on May 13, 1861; Company E was composed in large part by men from Clinton and Ingham counties, as well as parts of Ionia County. (He is not found in the 1905 Third Michigan Regimental history; but he is found in the 1905 Regimental history for the Tenth Michigan cavalry; see below.)

Alfred was taken sick in the summer of 1861 soon after arriving in Virginia with the regiment, and was sent to Columbia College hospital in Washington, where he remained for about three weeks.

He was reported missing in action on July 1, 1862, and in fact had been taken prisoner at White Oak Swamp, Virginia (he may also have received a bayonet wound on the same date).

He was confined in both Libby and Belle Isle prisons at Richmond, Virginia, and paroled at Aiken’s Landing, Virginia on September 13. According to the Richmond Dispatch of September 15, 1862,

Three thousand three hundred of the Yankee prisoners left Richmond on Saturday for Varina to be exchanged. – Such as could not walk were conveyed away in wagons. The officers, of which there were 61, went in carriages, provided for the purpose. As the long line filed past the C. S. Prison, on Cary Street, they greeted their less lucky compeers with a feeble cheer. A small cavalry escort accompanied them down. Another large gang were started for Aiken’s landing, on James River, yesterday morning. During Saturday and Sunday five thousand two hundred and twenty-eight were sent away. This leaves on hand only about seven hundred, a good many of whom are in the hospital under treatment for wounds or disease, who were unable to bear removal. Three Yankee women and eight Yankee deserters, or rather men who came over to us and professed to be such, were sent from Castle Thunder. Though these deserters professed to have left their brethren in great disgust, they were very willing to be sent back to the North. The departure of the prisoners will save the Confederate Government an expense of about $4,000 per day, which was the average that their food as soldiers cost.

He was officially returned to the Regiment on September 28 at Upton’s Hill, Virginia, and was probably sent to Camp Banks, near Alexandria, Virginia, on or about October 28, and was present at Camp Banks on November 17.

Alfred claimed later however that he and some 6000 others were paroled at about the same time and sent to Annapolis, Maryland, where they spent 10 days “huddled together . . . without tents or provisions, living on crabs, lobsters and oysters.” It was “during this time he was bitten by a large tarantula on the left leg. The leg swelled badly from this . . . and made him very sick, so that he did not know anything for the most of the balance of the day. He was treated by a citizen physician of Annapolis” and “was laid up for 12 or 14 hours. This resulted in a feeling of numbness of the leg extending from his foot to the ends of his fingers on the left side. . . .” After about 10 days or so near Annapolis he was sent to Camp Parole, near Alexandria, Virginia.

He returned (again officially) to the Regiment on December 20 at Camp Pitcher, Virginia, and was subsequently absent sick or wounded in a general hospital through January of 1863. In fact he claimed that he remained at Camp Parole until he was discharged on January 13, 1863, at Camp Banks, Alexandria, Virginia, for a spinal injury previous to enlistment.

After his discharge from the army Alfred returned to his home in Ionia County and by April of 1863 was working on a farm for Jacob Benedict in Ionia County. He remained with Benedict until he reentered the service as Sergeant in Company G, Tenth Michigan cavalry on October 12, 1863, at Muir, Ionia County, crediting Lyons, and was mustered on October 14 probably at Grand Rapids where the regiment was organized between September 18 and November 18, 1863, when it was mustered into service. It left Michigan for Lexington, Kentucky on December 1, 1863, and participated in numerous operations, mostly in Kentucky and Tennessee throughout the winter of 1863-64. Most of its primary area of operations would eventually be in the vicinity of Strawberry Plains, Tennessee.

Alfred was acting Sergeant Major from June of 1864 through October, and by February of 1865 was on recruiting service in Michigan. In March he was at the dismounted camp at Knoxville, Tennessee through April, and was discharged on May 1 to accept promotion to Second Lieutenant of Company L, commissioned to date January 7, and mustered on May 2, replacing Lieutenant Botsford. He remained on detached service at the dismounted camp in Knoxville, and was detached to General Upton’s escort from July 15, 1864.

Although Alfred was seriously injured when kicked by a horse in his left side on or about August 20, 1865. While he was at Sweetwater, Tennessee, he was detailed to go and get some horses in the possession of various cavalry regiments at Sweetwater. “While in the discharge of this duty in command of a squad of men, an officer called his attention to a horse tied up and asked him if that was a government horse and” when he walked around “to ascertain of he was branded he was kicked by the horse rendering him unconscious and he remained so until the following morning.”

Alfred was discharged on October 2, 1865, to accept the promotion to First Lieutenant of Company G, commissioned to date March 1, and was mustered on October 3 at Memphis, replacing Lieutenant Soule. He was mustered out at Memphis, Tennessee on November 11, 1865.

After the war Alfred returned to Ionia County and made his home with Jacob Buck until February or March of 1866. In the spring of 1866 he went to work in Bigole’s sawmill at Muir, Ionia County, and remained there for three years. In the Spring of 1869 he went to Maple Corners, Portland Township, Ionia County, and remained there less than three years whenhe moved 2 miles north of Portland and remained there about three years. He then moved to Sebawa, Ionia County, and was there about 9 years when he moved to Sebawa Corners, where he was living by 1885.

He was married to New York native Eliza A. (b. 1844).

By 1870 he was working as a farm laborer and living with his wife in Maple Corners, Portland Township, Ionia County. By 1874 was residing in Sebawa, and by 1880 he was listed as a retired grocer and living with his wife in Danby, Ionia County. He was residing in Sebawa in 1885when he was reported as a Justice of the Peace and Notary Public, in 1888 and 1890. He owned a house at Emert’s Corners and a farm just east of the Corners. For a time he lived in Portland, Ionia County, and was probably appointed postmaster of that village in the mid-1880s, a post he held until July 3, 1897.

He was prominent as a Democrat in the Portland and Sebawa areas especially, “and was one of the influential men of his section, filling the office of justice of the peace for several terms and doing much of the legal work of the community.”

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, a Mason and Odd Fellow. In 1877 he applied for and received a pension (no. 327097).

Alfred died at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 2, 1904, at his home in Sebawa, and the funeral was held at the house on Wednesday, October 5. He was buried in the Danby cemetery: section 2, lot 94, grave 2.

In late October of 1904 his widow who was living in Michigan applied for and received a pension (no. 596183).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oliver Gardner

Oliver Gardner was born 1844 in Ionia County, Michigan, the son of Joseph (b. 1818) and Miranda (b. 1818).

Canadian-born Joseph and Miranda were married presumably in Ontario, Canada, where they resided for some years. Between 1843 and 1844 the family settled in Michigan, and by 1850 Oliver was attending school with his siblings and living on the family farm in Keene, Ionia County. Oliver was still attending school with his siblings and living with his family in Keene in 1860.

Oliver stood 5’7” with brown eyes and hair and a light complexion, and was an 18-year-old farmer probably living in Lowell, Kent County or Ionia County when he enlisted with his father’s consent in Company G on April 4, 1862, at Lowell for 3 years, and was mustered the same day at Detroit. (He was possibly related to John Gardner of Company D whose father too was Canadian.) By early August of 1862, Homer Thayer of Company G reported that Oliver, who had been sick recently, was recommended for a discharge. In fact, Oliver remained with the Regiment and was wounded on July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, after which he was hospitalized, possibly in Philadelphia. He eventually rejoined the Regiment, and was shot in the left arm on May 6, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia.

He was subsequently admitted to Armory Square hospital in Washington, DC where he died from his wounds on June 4, 1864. Oliver was buried on June 6 at Arlington National Cemetery, section 27, grave no. 521 .

No pension seems to be available.

In 1870 his parents were living on a farm in Saranac, Ionia County.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

John Gardner

John Gardner was born 1839 in Washtenaw County, Michigan, the son of Henry (b. 1812) and Elizabeth (b. 1811-1879).

Canadian native Henry married English-born Elizabeth and immigrated to the United States and eventually settled in Washtenaw County, Michigan where they were probably living in 1840. By 1850 Henry was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Putnam, Livingston County where John, the oldest of seven children, attended school. By 1860 John was working as a miller for and/or living with William Reeves, a farm laborer in Boston, Ionia County. His mother and several siblings were still living in Putnam in 1860.

John stood 5’6” with hazel eyes, black hair and a light complexion, and was 20 years old and probably still living in Ionia County when he enlisted in Company D on May 13, 1861 (and was possibly related to Oliver Gardner of Company G; Oliver’s father was Canadian). John was reported as a company cook in July of 1862, as a water carrier in August and he reenlisted on December 23, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Boston, Ionia County. He probably returned home on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and returned to the Regiment by the end of January 1864.

In February of 1864 John was reported to be “taking care of public animals,” probably at Brigade headquarters, and was still on detached service at Brigade headquarters when he was transferred to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. He remained on detached service through July, in September of 1864 he was reported absent sick and he remained absent until he was discharged on June 13, 1865, at Harper hospital in Detroit, for “chronic diarrhea of one year’s standing.”

John listed Putnam, Livingston County as his mailing address on his discharge paper. He died shortly after coming home in 1865 and was buried in Sprout cemetery, Putnam Township, Livingston County.

No pension seems to be available.

His mother and several siblings were living in Putnam in 1870, and by 1880 his father Henry was living in Putnam (listed as a single man) as were his brothers Henry and William.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Joel W. Gardner

Joel W. Gardner was born 1833 in Russia, Herkimer County, New York, the son of Gilbert and Orvilla (d. 1870).

Gilbert was living in Russia, Herkimer County, New York in 1830. Joel left New York and moved westward, eventually settling in Ottawa County, Michigan. By 1860 he was working as a “chopper” or lumberman and living at the Ewing boarding house in Blendon, Ottawa County. (James Hanna, who would enlist in Company K, was also a chopper living at Ewing’s).

Joel stood 5’6” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was 28 years old and possibly living in Grand Rapids or in Georgetown, Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. Joel was with the regiment at Camp Michigan in Virginia when he wrote home to his parents on March 5, 1862.

It has been some time since I have wrote to you; although I have wrote a number of letters to Sally, the last I have not received any answer from. It is not because I have forsaken you that I have not wrote before. I have a good deal of writing to do more than I can find time to do. I am well and hope this will find you enjoying the same blessing. We are very busy just now making preparations to march. We expect to take up the line of march tomorrow morning if the order is not countermanded on account of the weather which is very bad for camping out. It rains most every day and is cold. The roads are almost impassable for foot men. . . . We shall be obliged to camp in the open fields with but one blanket to cover us from the inclement weather. We shall not return to camp till the war is settled. We have got a hard place to march through but we have got a strong army and a resolute set of men & with God’s help we will put them [rebels] down. But be assured of one thing. This campaign settles the war in Virginia. It may cost us some hard fighting and many valuable lives but that is the common casualty of war. I hope the time is [not] distant when the war will be brought to a close and I can have the privilege to once more visit my home and the scenes of my early days. I am in tiptop spirits and my health is better than it has been in a long time.

I have sent you forty dollars [by express mail]. I shall be anxious till I hear from it you will please let me know the earliest opportunity that the next pay day I shall draw fifty-two dollars. I have sent Harriet $20.00 twenty dollars if anything should happen that I should not return you may write to him and he will send it to you. I have a deal owing owing to [me] in Michigan but it can’t be collected at present if I get it at all.

There is not much more I think of to write so I will close by saying good by for this time.

From your affectionate son, Joel W. Gardner.

And on April 4, Joel wrote home shortly after the regiment left its winter quarters and began the spring campaign down the Virginia “Peninsula.” The regiment was in camp near Hampton, Virginia when he wrote his father

It is with pleasure I sit down to answer your letter of the 17th. It came to hand the second of this month. I was glad to hear from you that you were all well and also that you received the package safe. I had some apprehensions about it. There has been a good deal of money lost by sending it by express and I did not get it insured but it is just as well as it has turned out.

We left Camp Michigan the fourteenth of March and [arrived] at Fortress Monroe. . . . There must be quite a contrast between the weather there and here. When we arrived here the Peach[es] and other fruit trees were in blossom. There is a . . . scarcity [?] of fruit in this part of the country.

[T]he coast winds and storms are extremely cold and disagreeable. Our tents are field tents which are pieces of linen cloth about six feet square made with buttons and button-holes so we can fasten them together. We roll them up and carry them on our knapsacks. We are getting a large army at this place, a hundred thousand strong. The call has been given for brigade drill and I must finish this tonight.

[With the drums and bugles that I can scarcely think of much more to write. We are preparing to march early tomorrow morning. . . My health is not quite as good as I could wish it just at this time. I have been having the chills, have taken a bad cold but am some better now. You must [not] worry about me, I shall get along well enough I guess.

There is a great deal I should like to write but I can’t, . . I have not time nor room. Sally must excuse me for not writing to her this time. I will try and write to her next time. I have also received a letter from William and Lucy but be obliged to neglect answering it this time. I am sorry but I can’t help it. Tell them to write again and I may have a better [chance] to answer it.

I wish you to write to me as soon as you get this and have Sally write too. Tis getting late and I must close.

Please excuse the pencil writing for I could not get ink to write with.

Tell Gouvenour [?] Conklin I have [written] to him and have not received an answer. Guess he has forgotten me.

You will please excuse all mistakes. This from your affectionate son, Joel W. Gardner.

And on April 25 from the regiment’s camp near Yorktown, Virginia, Joel wrote to his father,

You will find enclosed within twenty dollars. We have received two months pay today. I have saved out six dollars to use in case I should need it.

I am not very well today. You must excuse me for not writing more this time. We are at work night and day building fortifications. We are getting along very rapidly with out work. It will be some days yet before we have much of a battle.

I have not time to write more at present. Write as soon as you get this. Good by for this time. This from your son Joel W. Gardner.

Direct as usual to Washington. I wrote to Sally but have not received an answer. Please write soon as you get this and oblige, Joel.

He was reported absent sick from July of 1862 through April of 1863. He eventually recovered, returned to duty and on December 23, 1863; he was a Sergeant when he reenlisted at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Grand Rapids. He was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.

Joel was transferred as a Sergeant to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864.

He was shot in the head on June 22 while on picket duty near Petersburg, Virginia. He died either in the field on July 1 or in a field hospital on September 18, 1864, and was originally buried just south of Petersburg on the Westbrook farm or in the back of the Wood house, in the Fair Grounds hospital cemetery, near Petersburg, Virginia. In any event, he was reinterred in Poplar Grove National Cemetery: grave no. 1511 (original division D, section D, no. 173).

His father applied for and received a pension (no. 167975). By 1874 his father was living in Potsdam, St. Lawrence County and in 1882 in Richville, St. Lawrence County, New York.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Benjamin C. Gardner

Benjamin C. Gardner was born 1841 in Shiawassee County, Michigan, the son of Edward (b. 1817) and Lucy (b. 1814).

New York native Edward married Massachusetts-born Lucy sometime before 1837 when they were living in New York. Between 1837 and 1839 Edward moved his family to Michigan and by 1850 Benjamin was living on the family farm in Chester, Ottawa County. In 1860 Benjamin was attending school with four of his younger siblings and working as a farm laborer and living on the family farm in Chester.

Benjamin stood 5’10” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was a 20-year-old farmer probably living in Chester, Ottawa County when he enlisted with his parents’ consent in Company K on May 13, 1861. In February of 1863 he was reported as a guard at the Division hospital, and was a recipient of the Kearny Cross for his participation in the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, on May 3, 1863. He was absent sick from November 4, 1863, through May of 1864, and was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.

After his discharge from the army Benjamin may have returned to Michigan and in 1865-66 was possibly living in Grand Rapids at 64 Bridge Street on the west side of the river.

(In 1870 there was a Benjamin Gardner, age 30 and born in Michigan, working as a farm laborer and living with his wife Saxony-born Betsey and their 11-month-old daughter Mary (b. 1869), with the John Boser family (b. 1825 in Saxony) in Elmwood, Leelanau County.)

In 1870 Benjamin’s younger brother Martin was still living in Chester, Ottawa County. It is possible that his father had remarried (to another Lucy) and was working as a laborer and living with his wife and young daughter in Parma, Jackson County in 1880. Interestingly, in the Grand Army of the Republic 1888 “Encampment Journal,” a man named Nelson Eayes, of Onowa, Iowa was seeking the address of Benjamin C. Gardner, formerly with the Third Michigan infantry.

No pension seems to be available.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Alfred M. Gardner

Alfred M. Gardner was born 1839 in Perry, Wyoming County, New York, the son of Alanson (b. 1801) and Marillinette (b. 1808).

Alfred’s parents were both born in New York and presumably married there sometime before 1829. By 1850 Alanson was working as a carpenter and Alfred was living with his family and attending school with three of his younger siblings in Perry, New York. Alfred eventually left New York and moved west, settling in western Michigan by 1860 when he was a lumberman and farm laborer working for and/or living with Dennis Sutherland, a farmer in Ganges, Allegan County.

Alfred stood 5’9” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was 22 years old and still residing in Allegan County when he enlisted in Company I on May 13, 1861. According to one source, he was among the second wave of recruits to come out of Ottawa County and did not in fact enlist until the end of May, along with Albert Hamlin, Calvin Hall, Nelson Davis and David Davis, Joseph Payne, James Rhodes, Perry Goshorn, Sylvester Gay, Joseph Soler (Josiah Schuler), Quincy Lamereaux, William Suret and John Ward.

He was wounded by a gunshot to his leg above the knee at about 4:00 p.m. on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, and was subsequently hospitalized as a consequence. By early August he was a patient at the hospital on David’s Island in the East River, New York harbor. He was still a patient at David’s Island when he wrote home to his parents on October 5, 1862.

Dear parents,

I received your some time ago and I hope you will pardon me for not answering sooner. At present my health is very good. The abscess on my head is nearly healed up and my wound has healed nicely but my thigh is quite sore and I am still obliged to use a cane. It will be some time yet before I shall be able to join the regiment again. The doctor says he is afraid that my head will break out the second time but I do not think I shall have any farther [sic] difficulty from that source. I do not know whether all hospitals have the same rules and regulations in regard to money, clothing, watches etc. belonging to deceased soldiers or not but I think it is a general rile throughout the U.S. which is the same one as the one in this hospital. When a soldier dies in this hospital every thing is carried to headquarters to the surgeon in charge for safekeeping. His money, watch, etc. if he has any is put into a safe furnished for that purpose and his clothing is packed, labeled and sent to the storeroom. A memorandum of both is taken and sent to his friends or relatives to know what disposal shall be made of them and they are dispose of according to the wishes of his friends. You may perhaps ask how do they know where to direct to his friends.

When a soldier enters a hospital the recording clerk comes around takes your name, co., regiment, place of enlistment, age, rank, married or single, and where to direct a letter to his friends. He also inquires if they have any money or other valuables you wish to deposit with the surgeon in charge. If they have he takes them to headquarters and the head surgeon gives them a receipt. After this is done he brings around cards and nails up to the head of each one’s bed with their name, co., regiment, disease and the time they are admitted into the hospital. You will see that after they are through asking questions they know very near as much about a soldier as he knows himself.

I think perhaps they have written to some of his Spencer’s relatives. You can find out by writing to the surgeon in charge of U.S. Hospital at Harrisburg Landing. There [is] nothing on the Island but a hospital. When I first came to the Island there was but one house here and that was a dwelling house. The soldiers were quartered in tents. Since that time the government has expended about $25,000 for hospital buildings and they still keep building. There are at present about 1,500 [men] quartered in tents and as many more quartered in the new buildings that are finished. I heard today that we were all going to be moved from the tents to the buildings before the 15th of this month on account of the cold weather. W have just had our equinoxial rain storm and that together with the cold sea breeze off the Long Island Sound has made the tents very uncomfortable for the past week.

We are not allowed to leave the Island unless we have a pass from the surgeon in charge. They will not grant a pass for only six days. This one reason why I have not made Henry a visit and another is I have not the funds to make the trip. I have 7 months pay due me which I am expecting to get in a few days.

It is quite pleasant here on the Island. All the vessels and steamers going to Boston, New Haven, and Portland also the steamships going to England pass within half a mile of the Island. The Great Eastern has passed here three times since I have been here. I have heard nothing of Perry Goshorn being wounded the second time. In regard to the subject you spoke of the latter part of your letter I will simply say that I have never laid up any hardness towards you. I should [have] liked very much to have been there and seen Dennis [Sutherland?] shake. I should [have] had a hearty laugh to [have] heard his teeth chatter. I could have paid him off in his own coin. Give my love to all, yours truly, Alfred

Alfred remained hospitalized until he was discharged for “deafness” as well as a “flesh wound,” on December 31, 1862.

Following his discharge Alfred returned to Allegan County, probably settling in Ganges.

He married Ohio native Lydia A. (1841-1924), on November 23, 1864, in Otsego, Allegan County.

Alfred died on November 14, 1865, at Saugatuck, Allegan County. He was buried in Taylor cemetery, Ganges next to two of his sisters (Lydia is also buried with him).

In 1870 his parents were residing in Allegan village, Allegan County. By 1880 Lydia was working as a schoolteacher and living with Alfred’s brother John and his family in Pine Plains, Allegan County.

In 1886 his widow, who was living in Michigan, applied for and received a pension (no. 290083), drawing $30 per month by 1924. She was living in Otsego, Allegan County in 1890. It is likely that she lived in Allegan County the rest of her life.

Friday, October 10, 2008

William S. Gallup

William S. Gallup, also known as “Gallop,” was born 1841 in Michigan, the son of Jonah or Josiah (b. 1799) and Hannah (b. 1810).

Sometime between 1835 and 1837 Josiah and Hannah, along with their two children, James and Martha, left England and immigrated to the United States, settling first in New York. By 1850 William was living with his family on a farm in Ionia County, Michigan, and by 1860 William was a farm laborer working for and/or living with Frederick Smith, a farmer in Lyons, Ionia County.

William was 20 years old and residing in Ionia County when he enlisted in Company E on May 13, 1861. (Company E was composed in large part by men from Clinton and Ingham counties, as well as parts of Ionia County.) In March of 1863 he was absent sick, but soon afterwards returned to the Regiment, and on May 3, 1863, was wounded in the left thigh at Chancellorsville, Virginia.

On June 9, he left for home on sick furlough, and in fact he remained absent wounded until he was transferred to the Veterans’ Reserve Corps in Washington, DC, on November 26, 1863. (According to Andrew Kilpatrick, also of Company E, William was in a “convalescent camp’, possibly in Alexandria, Virginia, in mid-November of 1863.)

William eventually returned to Michigan where for many years he worked as a carpenter. He was living in Lyons in 1883 and by 1888 he was living in Greenville, Montcalm County. Two years later he was residing in Grand Rapids, in the Tenth Ward in 1894 and probably at 327 Broadway in 1895. He then apparently moved to Muir, Ionia County where he was living from 1906 to probably 1909.

He was married to Mary G. (1843-1914).

In 1866 he applied for and received a pension (no. 78,659), drawing $4.00 per month in 1883 for a wounded left thigh. He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and Grand Army of the Republic Dresser Post No. 100 in Lyons.

William was probably still living in Muir when he died on May 16, 1911, and was buried by the County as an “indigent soldier” in Muir cemetery: grave no. 253.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Oscar N. or O. Gaines

Oscar N. or O. Gaines was born 1843 in Michigan or in New York.

Both of Oscar’s parents were reportedly born in New York. In 1860 Oscar was a farm laborer working for and/or living with Isaac Keeler, a farmer in Thornapple, Barry County, along with another future member of Company K, Edward Bugbee.

Oscar was an 18-year-old farm laborer probably living in Middleville, Barry County when he enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861. Whiel the details are unclear, he was transferred to the First United States cavalry on December 17, 1862, and probably joined the regiment somewhere along the Rappahannock River in late December.

The First U.S. cavalry participated in Stoneman’s raid April 29-May 8, 1863, the battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1-3 and subsequent pursuit of Lee’s forces back to Virginia. It was assigned to the defenses of Washington in September, participated in the Mine Run campaign of November 26-December 2.

In any case, Oscar enlisted (or perhaps reenlisted) in Company H, First United States cavalry on February 12, 1864.

The regiment also participated in Custer’s raid into Albemarle County February 28-March 1, 1864, the battles of the Wilderness May 5-7, Todd’s Tavern, May 7-8, Sheridan’s raid to the James River May 9-24, the battle of Cold Harbor May 31-June 1, Sheridan’s Trevallion raid June 7-24 and the siege of Petersburg from mid-June to August. It was then assigned to a role in Sheridan’s Shenandoah campaign August 7-November 28.

During his service in the cavalry he reportedly suffered from what was described as a “mild form of insanity,” and was discharged on February 12, 1866, at New Orleans, Louisiana.

After his discharge from the army Oscar eventually returned to Michigan, and settled in Ludington, Mason County, where he may have worked as a farmer.

He was married to New York native Emma (b. 1843).

By 1880 he was working at “driving a team” and living with his wife Emma on Filer (?) Street in Ludington.

Oscar was admitted as a single man to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 88) on November 24, 1885, and reportedly had no pension. (That same year he listed his nearest living relative as residing in Mishawaka, Indiana.)

Oscar died of “disease of the brain” on September 11, 1887, at the Home and was buried in the Home cemetery: block 1 row 4 grave 11.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Henry Gabel

Henry Gabel was born in 1819.

In 1850 there was a Henry Gabel, born around 1819 in Germany, who was apparently married (?) to German-born Hannah, (b. 1827), and living in Texas, Wayne County, Pennsylvania.

Henry was 42 years old and probably living in White River, Muskegon County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company E on May 13, 1861.

(Interestingly, he did not enlist in Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers,” which was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties. If he was born in Germany or central Europe it is interesting that he did not join Company C, which was made up largely of German and Dutch immigrants, many of whom lived on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. This company was the descendant of the old Grand Rapids Rifles, also known as the “German Rifles,” a prewar local militia company composed solely of German troopers. In any case, Company E was composed in large part by men from Clinton and Ingham counties, as well as parts of Ionia County.)

Henry was reportedly killed in a railroad accident on March 1, 1862, near Alexandria, Virginia.
While it is possible that Henry was aboard a train near Alexandria when he was killed, most likely he was struck by a train near the Third Michigan campsite. The regiment was still in its quarters at Camp Michigan at the time he was killed, and would not break camp for the spring campaign until the middle of the month. In any case, the regiment would not be put aboard railroad trains but would march to ship transports in Alexandria.

Henry is possibly buried among the unknown soldiers at Alexandria National Cemetery.

No pension seems to be available.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

William Furgeson

William Furgeson, also known as “Ferguson,” was born 1828 in Pennsylvania.

William left Pennsylvania and moved west, eventually settling in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan, where by 1860 he was working as a day laborer and living at the Pratt boarding house.

William was 33 years old and probably still living in Muskegon when he enlisted in Company H on May 13, 1861. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers,” was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.) He was shot in the leg at Second Bull Run, on August 29, 1862, and subsequently sent to Judiciary Square hospital in Washington, DC, where he died of his wounds on September 19, 1862. William was buried the same day in the Military Asylum cemetery (Soldier's Home National cemetery), Washington.

No pension seems to be available.

Monday, October 06, 2008

James Furgeson

James Furgeson, also known as “Ferguson,” was born around 1842.

James was reportedly 19 years old (and probably younger) and residing in Ionia County when he enlisted with the consent of the Justice of the Peace in Company E on May 13, 1861. (Company E was composed in large part by men from Eaton, Clinton and Ingham counties, as well as parts of Ionia County.) He was discharged on September 1, 1861, on account of being a minor.

As far as is presently known, James was the only soldier of the Third Michigan infantry to be discharged because he was underage, that is under the age of 18 – and as a consequence of a writ being presented to the army, presumably by a parent or guardian who did not give his or her permission for him to enlist.

Furthermore, it does not appear that James reentered or tried to reenter the military, at least from the state of Michigan, although this cannot be confirmed at present. Nor is he found in any of the census records for Michigan for 1860 (under either Ferguson or Furgeson).

No pension seems to be available.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Charles W. Furber

Charles W. Furber, also known as “Ferber,” was born 1842 in Ohio, the son of Charles (b. 1808) and Mary (b. 1817).

Charles (elder) left England and immigrated to the United States where he met Ohio native Mary. They were married sometime before 1840 when they were living in Pennsylvania. By 1844 they had moved to Ohio where they resided for some years. Charles and Mary took their family and moved to Michigan from Ohio sometime between 1848 and 1850 when Charles (younger) was attending school with his siblings and living with his family in Leighton, Allegan County where his father was a farmer. By 1860 Charles was a farm laborer living in Leighton on the family farm.

He was 19 years old and probably living in the vicinity of Hastings, Barry County when he enlisted in the Hastings Rifle Company in April of 1861. The company was disbanded shortly after it arrived in Grand Rapids and its members distributed to other companies of the Third Michigan infantry then forming at Cantonment Anderson just south of the city. Charles eventually enlisted with his guardian’s or parents’ consent in Company K on May 13, 1861. He was wounded, probably only slightly, on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run, but he was nonetheless sent to Carver Hospital in Washington, DC, and then to a hospital at Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland. In October he was reported absent sick in a general hospital where he remained through May of 1863.

It is possible that he returned to duty and was either wounded on May 3, 1863, at Chancellorsville, Virginia, or became ill sometime in May or early June; it is also possible that he never returned to duty but simply transferred to another hospital.

In any case, on June 7, 1863, he was reported in a general hospital in Alexandria, Virginia where he remained through December. But according to Andrew Kilpatrick, also of Company E, Charles was present for duty with the regiment when he was nearly killed in a diving accident while the men were swimming in Hegemon Creek. According to official records, however, he remained hospitalized, as a Corporal, until he was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.

It seems quite likely that Charles was so seriously injured in his diving into a submerged tree stump in the River that he never recovered.

In 1865 Charles applied for and received a pension (no. 51797). He apparently returned to his family home in Allegan County where he died on October 5, 1865, presumably from wounds or sickness contracted while in the army, and was buried at Hooker cemetery in Leighton. (However there seems to be no marker for him or his family.)

His parents were still living in Leighton, Allegan County in 1870 and 1880.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fernando P. Fulford

Fernando P. Fulford, also known as “Pulford,” was born 1832 in Erie County, New York.

Sometime before 1860 Fernando left New York and settled in western Michigan, and by 1860 he was living and working as a clerk at Chauncey Allen’s hotel in Muskegon, Muskegon County, where he was also possibly working as a carpenter.

In any case, Fernando stood 6’0” with black eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was 32 years old and probably still living in Muskegon when he enlisted in Company H on January 29, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Muskegon, and was mustered the same day. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers,” was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.)

He joined the Regiment on February 17 at Camp Bullock, Virginia, and was killed in action on May 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia or on May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania, Virginia. He was presumably among the unknown soldiers buried at the Wilderness.

No pension seems to be available.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Fritz

Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Fritz, also known as “Fritts,” was born 1843 in Medina, Ohio, the son of John (b. 1816) and Parthenia (Irish, b. 1827).

Pennsylvania native John married Ohioan Parthenia, presumably in Ohio where they settled and resided for some years. Sometime after 1853 the family left Ohio and settled in Michigan. By 1860 Ben (known as “Franklin”) was attending school with three of his younger siblings and living with his family on a farm in Alaiedon, Ingham County. (Next door lived the Nelson Irish family, presumably Parthenia’s younger brother.)

Ben was an 18-year-old carpenter probably living with his family in Ingham County when he enlisted with the consent of the Justice of the Peace in Company E on May 13, 1861.

Some years after the war Benjamin recalled his first Fourth of July in the army, when he met President Lincoln. In June of 1861, Ben wrote in 1886,

we went to Washington, and encamped about four miles up the Potomac River on the Maryland side. On the 4th of July four of the young kids of Co. E, of whom I was one, were strolling up the River road, when we met a large cab driving toward the city. Two colored men sat on the driver’s seat, in suits of dark blue, with large plain brass buttons and plug hats. One of the boys remarked: “They think they are h__l don’t they? Let’s have some fun with them.” All agreed, and as they came up we kept the road. So did they. The team came to a halt, and a voice form the cab said, “What’s wanted?” and when we looked that way, there was a silver-haired man looking out the door. We told him we wanted to take a ride with him to Washington to see Old Abe. Thereupon he stepped out of the carriage saying, “Didn’t you ever see him?” and was followed by another man, and then another, until four men stood in front of us four boys. I had only noticed that they were fine-looking men, when the first one said: “Soldiers, I introduce to you the President of the United States; also, Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War; Hon. Wm. H. Seward, and myself, Hon. Gideon Wells.” The President stepped forward, shook hands with us and laughed at the joke; but our situation was beyond the laughing point, and soon there were four silly looking kids going for camp at quickstep gait.

Ben was reported on detached service in November and December of 1861, and from January of 1862 through April was present for duty. On June 30, 1862, he was reported missing in action at White Oak Swamp, Virginia, and subsequently returned to the Regiment on August 28 at Upton’s Hill, Virginia. He was again reported missing in action at Aiken’s Landing, Virginia, on September 13. In fact, he was taken prisoner on July 1 at Malvern Hill, Virginia, and paroled on September 8 or 18. According to the Richmond Dispatch of September 15, 1862,

Three thousand three hundred of the Yankee prisoners left Richmond on Saturday for Varina to be exchanged. – Such as could not walk were conveyed away in wagons. The officers, of which there were 61, went in carriages, provided for the purpose. As the long line filed past the C. S. Prison, on Cary Street, they greeted their less lucky compeers with a feeble cheer. A small cavalry escort accompanied them down. Another large gang were started for Aiken’s landing, on James River, yesterday morning. During Saturday and Sunday five thousand two hundred and twenty-eight were sent away. This leaves on hand only about seven hundred, a good many of whom are in the hospital under treatment for wounds or disease, who were unable to bear removal. Three Yankee women and eight Yankee deserters, or rather men who came over to us and professed to be such, were sent from Castle Thunder. Though these deserters professed to have left their brethren in great disgust, they were very willing to be sent back to the North. The departure of the prisoners will save the Confederate Government an expense of about $4,000 per day, which was the average that their food as soldiers cost.

Apparently, shortly after he was released from captivity, Ben was transferred to the regular cavalry. His service record states that he was a “paroled prisoner [and] has been exchanged and enlisted in regular cavalry [on November 5] and discharged from this Regt. Never reported for duty since exchange.” The War Department noted in his pension record, however, that he was discharged on November 5, 1862, “by reason of enlistment in the mounted service U.S.A., under G.O. 154, A.G.O. of 1862.”

For reasons that remain unclear, and apparently without being discharged from the cavalry, Fritz enlisted in Company L, First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics as a Private on July 15, 1863, at Clinton, Lenawee County, for 3 years, listing Clinton as his place of residence, and was mustered the same day at Detroit, crediting Clinton. He was reported on the rolls as present in July and August of 1863 and to April 30, 1865, and, according to one Benjamin Craig, also a member of Company L, Fritz was sick with jaundice in the summer of 1864 at Stevenson, Alabama. Craig also testified that Fritz had” the chronic diarrhea in December of the same year at Murfreesboro, Tenn.,” and further that he “Never saw Frank Fritz after December, 1864.”

According to several other postwar affidavits by former comrades in the E & M, Fritz contracted “rheumatism” in his back and hips while being exposed to the rain in late April of 1865, near Roanoke, North Carolina. He was absent in May and June, and under arrest in July and August of 1865, and absent in the military prison in Nashville, Tennessee from July 26, 1865, probably as a consequence of his having deserted from the regular army. In any case he was mustered out with his company at Nashville, Tennessee on September 22, 1865. According to the War Department, Fritz had enlisted in the Engineers and Mechanics in violation of the old Twenty-second (new Fiftieth) Article of War, “being a deserter at large from the mounted service U.S.A.”

After the war Benjamin returned to Michigan, probably to Ingham County, very possibly to the Mason area, where he worked as a farmer many years. In 1870 he was working as a farm laborer and living with his parents in Mason, Alaidon Township, Ingham County. (His parents were living in Alaiedon, Ingham County in 1880.0

According to a statement given in April of 1893, Jerome Loomis of Mason testified that he and Fritz had lived as neighbors “just across the public road, for the past twenty years.” Henry Every, also from Mason, claimed he had lived near Fritz as a neighbor for some fifteen years. Benjamin was living in Mason in 1886 and might have been living in Lansing in 1888. Ben gave his residence as Lansing when he transferred his Grand Army of the Republic membership from Phil McKernan Post No. 53 to Charles Foster Post No. 42 in Lansing in June of 1884 (the transfer was granted in September of that year).

He married Michigan native Ruth H. or A. Jeffreys (b. 1851) on June 3, 1878, in Clinton County, and they had at least one child: James P. (b. 1879). It is possible that Ruth was his second wife.

By 1880 Ben was working as a farm hand and living with his wife and son in Greenbush, Clinton County; also living with them was his daughter: Martha B. (b. 1867).

It is unclear what became of his relationship with Ruth since it seems that he was working as a farmer in Alaidon, Ingham County when he married a widow who had been working as a domestic, Canadian-born Sarah Fraser Rose (b. 1861) on March 25, 1894, at Mason. (Ben was residing in Alaiedon in 1894.) They were residing in Morrice, Shiawassee County in June of 1895.

In 1889 Ben applied for a pension (no. 713769), but the certificate was never granted.

Ben died on July 31, 1895, possibly in the vicinity of Morrice, and was presumably buried near Morrice.

His widow Sarah was living in Morrice, Shiawassee County when she applied for a pension (no. 619547) in September of 1895, but the certificate was never granted. Sarah remarried one C. B. Grinnell on January 18, 1896.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Henry M. Frisby

Henry M. Frisby, also known as “Frisbie,” born 1842 in Caneadea, Allegheny County, New York, the son of Victor (b. 1816) and Jerusha A.

Both New York natives Victor and Jerusha were probably married in New York where they resided for some years. By 1850 Victor was reportedly living in Hume, Allegheny County. Sometime between 1853 and 1859 the family moved to Michigan and by 1860 Henry was living with his family in Carlton, Barry County.

Henry stood 5’6” with gray eyes and a light complexion and was 19 years old and possibly living at home with his family in Barry County or perhaps residing in Ionia County working as a laborer when he enlisted in Company D on May 13, 1861. He was reportedly hospitalized shortly after the battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, in Annapolis, Maryland, probably suffering from consumption. Indeed he was discharged for consumption on December 19, 1861, at Camp Michigan, Virginia.

Although Henry listed Saranac, Ionia County as his mailing address he apparently returned to his family home in Carlton, Barry County in December.

Henry reportedly died, probably of consumption, on January 17, 1862, and was buried in West Carlton cemetery.

His family moved to Bellevue, Clinton County in 1866, but were living in Croton, Newaygo County in 1870. In 1880 his mother applied for and received a dependent mother’s pension, dated 1882 (. no. 230076). Jerusha died probably in early 1896.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Alexander and George French, Jr.

Alexander French was born 1843 in St. Lawrence County, New York, the son of George Sr. (1803-1853) and Sally (Freeman, 1805-1860).

New York native George Sr. married Vermonter Sally Freeman around 1825 and they soon settled in Essex County, New York. Between 1836 and 1840 they settled in St. Lawrence County, New York. Between 1846 and 1850 the family moved westward and by 1850 had settled on a farm in Cannon, Kent County, Michigan where Alexander attended school with his siblings and his older brother George Jr., who would also join the Old Third, worked as a laborer. George Sr. died in Algoma in 1853. In the fall of 1854 Sally remarried one Silas Moore in Big Rapids, Mecosta County. By 1860 Alexander was a day laborer living with his older brother George and their younger sister Margaret, and living with their mother in Big Rapids. That same year Sally died in Big Rapids.

Alexander stood 6’3” with blue eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion, and was 18 years old and living in Mecosta County when he enlisted with the consent of the Justice of the Peace in Company K on May 13, 1861, along with his older brother George. On September 15, from Washington, Alex wrote to his brother (probably Zerah) back in Mecosta County,

The object of this letter is to inform you that one of boys here wants to buy land of [from] you on my recommendation. I drew him a map of your village as near as I could from memory and he says that if he could get a lot right north of mine that he would pay the gold all within this payment and the next [referring to his army pay?]

Now what I want of you is to write and tell me if any of those along north of mine is vacant and if they are tell the lowest figure that you will take for them. He is a boy about my age and he says that he tries to keep his money here that he will spend it sure and if he sends it home there will be nothing sure about finding it when he gets there now. I would like to have you be as easy as you can be with him for he is a poor boy like myself.

If those lots are not vacant tell in your next the nearest to mine that is vacant; tell me something more than just the number of the lot and block you know you can tell me where they lay so that I can tell him.


His name is Walter Wait; he is six feet two inches and a half tall. You can depend upon him and most of your money is ready now.


Write as soon as you receive this and let me know all about it. You will probably get thirty dollars ($30,00) from me at the same time you get this or the mail before for I have sent it already.


There is nothing more to write at present that I can think of so I will close by telling you that I intend to have you clear off my lots as fast as I get more [?] from the United States.


Alexander was present for duty with the regiment when it began the spring campaign, up the Virginia “Peninsula.” On May 3, 1862, from a camp near Yorktown, Virginia, he wrote home to his brother Zerah in Mecosta County,

As I feel in writing this morning I will endeavor to write a few lines to let you know that we [Alex and his other brother George] are all well and I also have some other good news to write. Last night an [sic] balloon went up and reported the rebels evacuating the works in the front of our camp and of course something was done right off and the result is the 40th New York, 37th New York and the 5th Michigan are in possession of the enemy fortifications. . . . The 37th and 5th both belong to our brigade and they are going and coming from the first they have taken possession of all the time. This morning was the first real hearty cheering that I had heard for some time and now the bands are playing the national airs for the first time since we have been here. They were not allowed to play any doe fear they would discover our camps in the swamps and shell us out.

More good news still; the order has just come to have two days rations on hand in the shortest possible time. This you will see means up and after them. “GOOD.”

You have of course heard of the capture of New Orleans by Farragut & Porter. If you have not I can tell you that the Crescent City is ours. But there is too much excitement here at present for me to speak of other places & we are looking for the order to march every minute. There was three of our regiment wounded on picket day before yesterday, slightly. Probably the next time you hear from me will not be dated at this place but you must direct the same as usual.

There is too much excitement to write; drums are beating, bugles are blowing and the boys are cheering. VMJ [?] is cooking as hard as he can getting ready for a start. Our Big Rapids [boys] are all touch as bucks. . . .

Give my love to all your family. I will write again as soon as circumstances will permit. . . .

It seems as though everything is going in favor of the North lately and it seems as though it is impossible to get defeated in any place. They evacuated New Orleans, Beauregard is evacuating Corinth & Magruder is evacuating Yorktown. Banks & McDowell is coming up in his [Magruder's?] rear and two divisions left this army five [?] days ago and crossed the York River and marched up the James [?] on the other side & on the whole I think if they don’t get bothered some in their retreat I am mistaken. Porter’s division is in line and ready to start after them. Professor Lowe and his balloon is already high above their fortifications watching their movements & McClellan is bound to skin them. I believe we can trust him.

According to Wallace W. Dickinson, also of Company K, during the battle of Fair Oaks, on May 31, 1862, Alexander “was among the sharpshooters, and came out without a scratch.”

Alexander was wounded in the right hand on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run, and by the second week of September he was in Wolf Street hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. He was still in the hospital when his brother George wrote to another brother back in Mecosta County that during the battle at Second Bull Run “Alexander was hit on the right hand and lost his third finger. He is in the hospital at Alexandria, and is doing first rate.”

Alexander eventually rejoined the Regiment but sometime, probably in early spring of 1863, he was taken ill and was eventually hospitalized, probably in Washington. He was given furlough, probably in late March or early April and quite possibly returned home to Michigan to recover his health. According to a lady friend in Washington, writing on April 20, 1863,

I should have written to you before this, but as I did not know exactly how to direct. I thought if you should improve sufficiently you [might?] return before it reached you, but as your furlough has expired and you have not come I fear your health has not improved much -- we feel very anxious about you -- as your brother says that he has not heard from you but once since you left.

We have had a few spring days which I hope will produce a good effect on invalids. My oldest brother is quite sick with erysipolas [?]. The other one comes home every two or three weeks. Capt. Benedict is still with us as he has been very sick since you saw him.

Annie received a letter from your brother on Saturday. He says his health has much improved and that they were off to drive in pursuit of the rebels. How much I wish this war was over, I have nothing of interest to write you. Annie sends her respects to you. You must get real strong before you return -- for although we would like very much to see you, we are not willing to see you return to the Reg without being strong enough to stand what is before.

Although he might have been wounded again, slightly, in May of 1863, and although he was listed among those recipients awarded the Kearny Cross for participation in the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, on May 3, 1863, in fact it seems he did not return to the regiment until on May 4. In any case he was listed as hospitalized in September.

Sometime in the fall he returned to duty and was wounded a third time, on November 27, 1863, at Mine Run, Virginia.

Alexander died from his wounds on December 5, 1863, at Alexandria, Virginia, and was buried the same day in the Military Cemetery (now National Cemetery) in Alexandria: grave no. 1091, later reconfigured as section A, grave no. 1091,

There seems to be no pension available.

George French Jr. was born December 13, 1833, in Essex, Essex County, New York the son of George Sr. (1803-1853) and Sally (Freeman, 1805-1860).

New York native George Sr. married Vermonter Sally Freeman around 1825 and they soon settled in Essex County, New York. Between 1836 and 1840 they settled in St. Lawrence County, New York. Between 1846 and 1850 the family moved westward and by 1850 had settled on a farm in Cannon, Kent County, Michigan where George Jr. worked as a laborer and his younger brother Alexander, who would also join the Old Third, attended school with his siblings.

George Sr. died in Algoma in 1853. In the fall of 1854 and Sally remarried one Silas Moore in Big Rapids, Mecosta County. By 1860 Alexander was a day laborer living with his older brother George was a day laborer living with his younger brother Alexander and and their younger sister Margaret, and ltheir mother in Big Rapids. That same year Sally died in Big Rapids.

George Jr. was 28 years old, stood 6’2” tall with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and living in Mecosta County when he enlisted on April 20, 1861, as Fifth Corporal in Company K on May 13, 1861, probably along with his younger brother Alexander. By mid-September George was in the hospital.

George eventually recovered from his illness and rejoined the regiment. On September 25, 1862, the Mecosta County Pioneer reprinted several extracts from a letter by George to another brother (probably Zerah) back home in Mecosta County. He described the recent engagement at Second Bull Run, on August 29, 1862.

We left Harrison’s Bar the 15th of August, landed at Alexandria on the 22nd, took the cars for Manassas on the 23d where we arrived in the afternoon. We were on the march night and day until the 29th, when we met the enemy in force near the old battleground on Bull Run. We fought him two days, got flogged, and fell back to Centreville, rested one day, and had another fight two miles from Centreville [Chantilly?]; but this time the rebels got the worst of it, for we drove them off the field killing a good many and capturing some prisoners. Our loss was 700 killed including Gen. Kearny and a Brigadier General belonging to Burnsides’ army. Our division, having lost its general and some other officers, and most of its privates, moved into camp near our old ground at Fort Lyon, within two miles of Alexandria.

The Third Regiment went into the fight with 233 men and out of that number there was 139 killed, and badly wounded. Alexander [French] was hit on the right hand and lost his third finger. He is in the hospital at Alexandria, and is doing first rate. Bob Misner got a charge of buckshot in the hand, but it did not hurt him much. The rest of the Big Rapids boys came off Scott free, unless we count George Cochrane, who is among the killed. We were all in the fight, and what any of us God only knows, for it was a horrid place. There was rebels on the left and front of us, and on the right was a battery throwing an enfilading fire of grape, canister and shell, while a fancy Pennsylvania Regiment was firing on us from behind. Poor old Third! she caught [hell] then. Our United States flag was shot to bits, until there was not a piece as big as your hand left; and finally the standard was shattered and left on the field covered with the blood of the men who had so proudly borne it through all the battles of the Peninsula. Our State colors fared but little better, but we brought it off with us.

George was reported sick in a hospital in Washington, DC from September 16, 1863, through May of 1864, and at one time he may have been charged with desertion, but that charge was later removed. He was mustered out as a Sergeant on June 20, 1864.

After his discharge from the army, George returned to Big Rapids where he married Michigan native Phebe or Phoebe A. Bigelow (1843-1899) on March 1, 1865. (She was half-sister of Stephen Bigalow, who had been a musician in Company H, Old Third Michigan. And in fact, George and Stephen worked together off and on in the Big Rapids area for a number of years.) According to one source, the couple were married “At the residence of Dr. D. F. Woolley on Wednesday evening the 1st by Rev. H. Lucas. . . . we must congratulate our friend George on this happy event in his life, and hope he will find the new campaign in which he was enlisted more delightful than his three years with the army of the Potomac.”

By 1870 George was working as a carpenter and living with his wife in Big Rapids’ Fourth Ward. He lived in Big Rapids until about 1874 when he moved to Cheboygan, Cheboygan County. He may have returned to Big Rapids in 1879. In any case he was reportedly working as a laborer and listed as divorced and living with the Barney Jehnzen family in Big Rapids in 1880 he was reportedly in Big Rapids in 1882; for many years he worked as a lumberman.

He was residing in Cheboygan in 1883 and 1885 when he testified in the pension application of John Shaw, formerly of Company K. By 1890 he had moved to Saugatuck, Allegan County but in 1907 was residing in Walker’s Point, Mackinaw County and may have returned to Cheboygan by 1908. In fact according to one source he settled in Cheboygan about 1890 and bought a saloon there, running that business along with his lumbering interests. He may also have lived in Detroit for a time. He was also engaged for some years in lumbering interests on Bois blanc island and in the summer of 1909 moved to Pattersonville (presumably in the vicinity of Cheboygan; this place no longer exists), to live with his widowed sister, Mrs. Cook, at a house on North st where he was residing by 1910.

George and his wife separated sometime around 1875. In fact there was a bill of complaint for divorce filed in Big Rapids in 1878 and the divorce was granted in February of the following year. In 1879 Phebe (who apparently remarried to someone named Alley or Allye) was graduated from the University of Michigan’s homeopathic department with a degree in medicine and returned to Big Rapids. According to the local newspaper, “By close application and persistent effort she succeeded standing at the head of her class, which is gratifying to her many friends in this city.” She practiced in Big Rapids for seven years before moving permanently to Grand Rapids.

George was living in Big Rapids in December of 1868 when he was elected an officer in Big Rapids chapter no. 52, R.A.M. and in Lodge no. 171, F.A.M. and he was still living in Big Rapids in 1875. He was also a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and he was a member and served as the Chaplain of the Ruddock GAR post in Cheboygan (?).
In 1890 he applied for and received a received pension (no. 648,307), drawing $15.00 per month by 1907 and $20.00 per month by 1910.

George died of pneumonia at his home on North Street in Pattersonville, on March 8, 1910, and the funeral was held on March 11, under the auspices of the Masonic lodge in Cheboygan and the GAR. He was presumably buried in Cheboygan.