Joel N. McLenithan was born on July 28, 1836, in Toledo, Ohio, probably the son of Norman (d. 1882) and Mary (Dean, 1815-1857).
The McLenithan family moved to Michigan sometime between 1836 and 1839 (it is possible that Norman emigrated from Ireland or Scotland), and Norman was probably living in Kent County by 1840. By 1850 Joel was living with his family in Grand Rapids where his father worked as a teamster.
In 1856 Joel was living in Newaygo County when he married his first wife Amelia Terwilliger, and they had at least two children: Henrietta (b. 1857) and Carrie A. (b. 1861). Amelia and Joel divorced around 1878.
In 1859-60 Norman McLenithan was working as a mail carrier and living on the east side of Sheldon between Wealthy and Wenham avenues in Grand Rapids. On July 27, 1860, the Enquirer reported that Norman “McLenathen, who was arrested in Adrian about two months ago, charged with running off with property upon which there was a chattel mortgage,” had escaped from Kent County Sheriff Anson Norton [brother of Everson who would also enlist in the Third Michigan] while on his way to Grand Rapids by jumping from the train near Saranac. Norton, however quickly recaptured McLenathen at St. Charles in Saginaw County and returned him to Grand Rapids.”
By 1860 Joel was working as a farmer and living with his wife and child in Paris, Kent County.
He stood 5’8” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was 24 years old and probably living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861, while his younger brother Stephen enlisted in Company K. (A younger brother Samuel O. or D., who served in the Sixteenth Michigan infantry, died in Grand Rapids in 1880.)
Joel was on duty at Brigade headquarters from October of 1862 through November, and a nurse in the Division hospital from December of 1862 through July of 1863. From September through November Joel was on special duty at Third Corps headquarters. He was supposedly absent on furlough in December of 1863 through January, implying that he had reenlisted in late December, although he did not reenlist until February 8, 1864, at Camp Bullock, Virginia, and was subsequently absent on veteran’s furlough, probably until about the first week of March.
In March he was absent sick (having probably just returned from furlough), but he soon returned to the Regiment and was shot in the left leg on May 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia. On May 13 he was admitted to Mt. Pleasant hospital in Washington, DC, with a gunshot wound of lower third of the left leg fracturing the tibia “about half way between the knee and ankle.”
He was still absent in the hospital when he was transferred as absent wounded to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry in June, and was sent home on furlough probably from the hospital for 40 days from June 27, 1864. However, he may in fact have never returned to the eastern theater, and was admitted (date unknown) to St. Mary’s hospital in Detroit and transferred to Harper hospital in Detroit on December 20, 1864. He was discharged from the army on January 28, 1865, for “a gunshot fracture of the left tibia at middle third rendering him permanently lame;” in fact, his leg was eventually amputated in 1887.
(Franklin Everett in his Memorials of the Grand River Valley, mistakenly lists Joel as having died in Detroit on January 28, 1865. It is possible that it was in fact his brother Stephen who may have died in Detroit, although there seems to be no other evidence of this.)
Joel listed Grand Rapids as his mailing address on his discharge paper, and from 1870-71 he was living at 65 Monroe in Grand Rapids. He soon afterwards moved to the west side of the Grand River and in 1872-73 at the southeast corner of Fifth and Stocking Streets. On May 8, 1873, the Grand Rapids Democrat reported
an action of assault and battery on complaint of Mrs. McLanahan, wife of the respondent before Judge Bubbington yesterday. Prosecuting Attorney Burlingame for the people and Col. Leffingwell for the defense. A jury was summoned by Constable Bailey, who had the case in charge, consisted of the following: Lowell Hall, H. M. Hindsill, H. Jewett, C. A. Robinson, Warren Crippen and Daniel W. McNaughton. The witnesses for the defense [?] were the complainant, Mrs. Margaret Williams, mother of the complainant, and Mary McLanahan, daughter of the parties, a handsome little girl aged 14 years. The parties had been married 17 years, Mrs. McLanahan being a widow at the time of the marriage. They had been residing on Stocking Street. Mr. McLanahan offered no evidence but his own statement. The testimony showed much family discord, not unaccompanied by pushing, punching, knocking pipes out of mouth. After arguments by Counsel, the jury . . . returned into court with a verdict of guilty. The Justice imposed a fine of $5 and costs, amounting in all to $16.68, and in default of payment thirty days in jail. McLanahan was given until 8 o’clock this morning to produce the money.”
In 1873-74 Joel was working as an expressman and living at 106 Canal Street, and from 1874-75 he was employed as a contractor living at 128 Canal. From 1875-76 he was working as a grader and living at 11 Ionia Street, and in 1878 he was working in Grand Rapids as a laborer.
Soon after divorcing his first wife in 1878 he may have married Olevia or Levia Bennett (b. 1838) on October 24, 1878, in Grand Rapids, and they too may have eventually divorced. In the late 1870s Joel moved to Pentwater, Oceana County, where he was living in 1880 with his wife “Livia” and working as a laborer. He was still in Pentwater in1883, then in Muskegon, Muskegon County in 1885 and 1886, and in West Carlisle, Kent County in 1888.
The wound in his leg had never fully healed properly, plaguing him for years, and his leg was finally amputated on February 8, 1887.
In 1865 he applied for and received a pension (no. 40,381, dated 1865) at the rate of $8.00 per month in 1865, reduced in March of 1872 to $6.00, but subsequently increased in October of 1886 to $30.00, then $36.00 in June of 1887 following the amputation of his leg.
Joel was residing in Wyoming, Kent County in 1888, at 114 Ellsworth avenue in Grand Rapids by August of 1889, and was employed as a furniture repairer in Grand Rapids in 1891 and living at 25 Grandville avenue.
He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and Grand Army of the Republic Custer Post No. 5 in Grand Rapids.
Joel was married a third time, on August 1, 1891, to Susan Anise McDonald Sink (b. 1850) in South Bend, Indiana (she had been divorced in 1891 from John F. Sink).
By 1892 he was a chair caner living at 22 Crawford Street in Grand Rapids and in 1894 he was living either in Grand Rapids’ Eleventh ward or in Wyoming, Kent County. The following year he was employed as foreman for the Michigan Chair co. and living at 48 Crawford Street; by 1896 he was working as a janitor and living at 39 Umatilla Street. In 1897 he returned to his old job of chair caner and worked at that trade from 1897 to 1899, residing at 991 Hall Street.
Joel moved to South Bend, Indiana in 1900 where he probably lived the remainder of his life. He was residing in South Bend in 1915 and 1917; his widow was residing in South Bend, Indiana in 1919
Joel died of pulmonary tuberculosis on December 12, 1917, in North Liberty, St. Joseph County, Indiana. According to his death certificate, Joel was buried in Sumption Prairie cemetery in North Liberty: section A, lot 57, grave no. 2, although there is a government marker for him in Fulton cemetery: section 1 lot 28 (along with a brother and his mother).
In 1918 Susan was probably living in Indiana when she applied for and received a widow’s pension (no. 870258).
Stephen O. or D. McLenithan was born in 1844 in Michigan, probably son of Norman (d. 1882) and Mary (Dean, 1815-1857).
The McLenithan family moved to Michigan sometime between 1836 and 1839 (it is possible that Norman emigrated from Ireland or Scotland), and Norman was probably living in Kent County by 1840. By 1850 Stephen was living with his family in Grand Rapids where his father worked as a teamster. In 1859-60 Norman was probably working as a mail carrier and living on the east side of Sheldon between Wealthy and Wenham avenues in Grand Rapids. By 1860 Stephen was a farm laborer working for and/or living with one L. Wilbur, a wealthy farmer in Paris, Kent County; his older brother (?) Joel lived two houses away.
Stephen stood 6’0” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was 17 years old and possibly residing in Grand Rapids when he enlisted with the consent of the Justice of the Peace in Company K on May 13, 1861; Joel joined Company A. Stephen was a company cook in October of 1862, a cook at Corps headquarters from December of 1862 through January of 1863, reported AWOL from February through March and a cook at Corps headquarters from April through July.
He was shot in the left hand on November 27, 1863, at Mine Run, Virginia, and admitted on December 5, 1863, to Third Division hospital at Alexandria for a “gunshot wound of left hand, fracturing thumb.” The digit was eventually amputated on December 9, 1863, and he was furloughed from the hospital on January 29, 1864, returned to the hospital on March 2, returned to duty on May 28, and was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.
Stephen returned home to Grand Rapids where he reportedly reentered the service in Unassigned, Tenth Michigan cavalry on March 9, 1865, for 1 year, crediting Grand Rapids Second Ward, and was mustered on March 14. He was honorably discharged on May 6, 1865, at Jackson, Jackson County.
He is reportedly buried in Fulton cemetery, Grand Rapids: section 1 lot 28 (along with his brother Joel and his mother).
(Perhaps the marker in Fulton cemetery is a memorial to Stephen, although the burial records indicate that someone was actually interred in lot 85. The index of gravestones, in the Local Historical Collections of the Grand Rapids Public Library, lists Joel, one “S. O.” of Company K Third Michigan and their mother Mary, who died 1857, as buried in lot no. 85 in Fulton; no other burials are noted. However, the cemetery burial book lists Joel, Mary and one “Samuel” as buried in Fulton cemetery, yet there is no marker for Samuel, who died in November of 1880. Curiously, the cemetery records list Samuel’s death date as well as his birth date, but not Stephen’s.)
No pension seems to be available.