Thomas Rowling was born in 1836 in Chatham, Ontario, Canada.
Thomas left Canada and by 1860 he was sawing in a mill in Georgetown, Ottawa County, and living at the same mill boarding house with: John Finch (Company I), Albert Hayes (Company I), Joseph Ledbeter (Company B), Benjamin Parker (Company I), James Parm (Company I), Alfred (Company F) and William Tate (Company I), John M. Taylor (Company I).
Thomas stood 5’10” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was 25 years old and reportedly residing in Kent County when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. He was discharged for measles on July 29, 1861, at Arlington Heights, Virginia. In 1898 Rowling claimed that “Chronic diarrhea struck me in the spring of 1861 at Washington City. I was in the Third Michigan infantry and it lasted me during the entire war. I took the measles at Grand Rapids, Michigan in the year 1861, in June. The measles settled in my eyes & they have been affected ever since, at times they pain me all the time.” He added that “After the Bull Run fight I was discharged, went home, got better & enlisted in Oct of the same year in Company E of the 2nd Michigan cavalry.”
Thomas returned to western Michigan and reentered the service as a Private in Company E, Second Michigan cavalry on August 30, 1861, at Muskegon, Muskegon County for three years, crediting Wright, Ottawa County, and was mustered October 2 at Grand Rapids. The regiment left Michigan for St. Louis, Missouri, on November 14, 1861 and was on duty at Benton Barracks in St. Louis through February of 1862. It participated in the siege of New Madrid, Missouri, the siege and capture of Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River, in the siege of Corinth, Mississippi, and was assigned to Louisville in September of 1862. It participated in the battle of Perryville on October 8 and numerous actions in eastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia through the winter.
He was absent sick from October of 1861 through December and present for duty through April of 1862. He said years later that “rheumatism first struck me in the left leg at New Madrid, Mississippi in the year 1862,” and on June 30 he was in a hospital near Farmington, Mississippi, but had returned to the Regiment by August where he remained through October of 1863. He was a teamster in January of 1863 and with the wagon train at Knoxville on December 31, and reenlisted as company wagoner, on January 5, 1864, at Honey Creek, Tennessee.
Thomas was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and probably returned to duty on or about the first week of February, although he was reported as a teamster with the Regimental wagon train guard until mid-February when he was apparently absent sick with dysentery from February 19 to March 19, probably at the depot in Nashville. He returned to duty, was present in April, and discharged on June 15, 1865, at the cavalry depot in Edgefield, Tennessee, for chronic opthalmia and dysentery.
It is not known if Thomas ever returned to Michigan, and he probably remained in Tennessee following his discharge.
He married Tennessee native Margaret Harshaw (1839-1883), although he later denied the first marriage.
In the late 1860s he was residing in Sumner County, Tennessee sometime, but by 1870 he and Margaret were living in Morgantown, Butler County, Kentucky. In 1880 he was working as a laborer and living with his wife Margaret in Civil District 9, Sumner County, Tennessee. He was living in South Tunnel, Tennessee in 1884, in Fountain Head, Sumner County in 1890, and in Portland, Tennessee in 1898.
Thomas married his second wife Mrs. Matilda Aldridge Harshaw on November 30, 1884, at South Tunnel, Tennessee.
In 1889 Thomas bequeathed in his will 45 3/4 acres to his son-in-law James Honeycutt and his wife Rebecca Jane, who was also Thomas’ stepdaughter, providing that James “binds himself to support my wife Matilda Rowling one-half the time after my death. . . .” In 1890 he was living in Sumner County, Tennessee. By 1900 he and Matilda were living in Civil District 14, Sumner County, Tennessee; also living with them were his stepdaughter Rebecca Honeycutt and her three children.
Given “the uncertainty of this frail and transitory life,” on September 15, Thomas bequeathed 35 acres of land to be used to pay off his debts and doctor bills, with the remainder to be given to “my beloved wife Matilda,” and another 42 1/2 acres to “my beloved stepdaughter” Rebecca Honeycutt “to take care of her mother during her life.”
In 1874 he applied for and received pension no. 442,180.
Thomas died on December 26, 1900, and was buried in Fountain Head, Sumner County.
Matilda was still living in Tennessee in 1901 when she applied for and received a pension (no. 542637).