Monday, December 20, 2010

Taylor brothers: Chauncey Brewer, James Mortimer, John Abram and Martin Van Buren - updated 4/9/2015

The Taylor brothers were the sons of the son of James Hough (born 1811 in Ontario, Canada, died 1873 in Michigan) and Harriet Brewer (born 1811 in New York, died 1854 in Michigan).
    James married New York native Harriet on November 11, 1832, in Wilson, Niagara County, New York. and came to Michigan sometime before 1834, and by 1840 had settled in Oakland County. At some point after 1843 James moved his family again, and by 1850 had settled in Eagle Township, Clinton County. After Harriet died in May of 1854, James remarried to Chloe Stansell in July and the family settled in Allendale, Ottawa County. James was serving as a Justice of the Peace in Ottawa County by the early 1860s.

Chauncey Brewer Taylor was born on May 1, 1843 in Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan.

Chauncey stood 5’9” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was an 18-year-old farmer probably living in Allendale when he enlisted in Company I on May 13, 1861, along with his older brothers James and Martin. Another older brother, John A., would join them in 1862. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, many from the eastern side of the County.)

Chauncey was reported sick in the hospital in November of 1862, but eventually returned to duty. He was with the regiment while it was in winter quarters at Camp Bullock, Virginia, near Washington, DC.

On February 12, 1863, he wrote to Catharine Hamilton, a young friend in Grand Rapids.

With pleasure I pen you a few lines this evening to let you know that I am still well and able to take my share of the confiscated property that is to be found in this state, and also, somebody else’s share, if they only let it lay out in the dew, so that it will stick to my hands. I do not mean to insinuate that I ever steal anything, for you know I do not, but I sometimes buy a pig, or a sheep, or a chicken when the owner is gone to mill.

You know I do not take anything that I cannot carry, unless there is someone to help me.

But enough of this.

I arrived in camp the night of the ninth and I have been so lonely ever since that I don’t know what to do with myself.
You see there is no one that knows that I have returned to the army as yet and I have not got any mail until this evening, and that was from home, and I have to find something to busy myself about, and so I have taken to writing to my friends that are far away.

I have written twelve letters since I came here and have worked all the time. The sun gives me lite so I could work to get my house built, so to do nothing but write.

There is nothing to do in camp for me now but to tend to my correspondences.

Catharine write to me as soon as possible for you do not know how I love to get letters from my friends, and I will gladly reply, and as often as you wish to write, and perhaps oftener. Catharine, if you only knew how much joy it is to the joy forsaken soldier to read the letters from friends . . . and to get letters from anywhere, you would write very often, I am sure.

And I hope you will not fail to write, as it is and then I will try to tell you how pleasant it is, and more. I will promise to prove to you that it is very pleasant by showing you how constant I will be and prompt to answer every one you write.

Now how is the rest of the young people that I am acquainted? How is Olive and Louisa and Mr. Barker [?] and all the friends. Please give my kindest regards and best wishes to them. Say to them that I should like to hear from them very much.

Hoping this may find you in good health and to hear from you I remain, Your true friend, Chauncey B. Taylor.

Although Chauncey was reported AWOL in August of 1863, he had returned to duty by the time he reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Hamburg, Livingston County. He was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough, probably in Michigan, in January of 1864, and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February. He was transferred as a Musician (probably a bugler) to Company I, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and was listed on detached service from September through October of 1864. He was reported as a nurse in City Point hospital, Virginia in November and serving with the Quartermaster department in December of 1864, possibly as a nurse, and in March of 1865 was in the Division ambulance train. He was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war Chauncey returned to his home in Allendale where he lived briefly and possibly worked as a carpenter.

He  married  Sarah Ellsworth (b. 1859)
--> on August 26, 1865, in Allendale, and they had at least two children: George (b. 1877) and John L. (b. 1879). Sarah and Chauncey eventually divorced.
He  moved  to Cheboygan, Cheboygan County, and was living in Evart, Osceola County in 1877 when he became a member of Grand Army of the Republic Sedgwick Post No. 16 in Evart. By 1880 he was working as a common laborer and living with his wife Sarah and their two sons in Munro, Cheboygan County; he was living with Alonzo Carter. He eventually moved on to Wisconsin, living variously in Columbia, Neillsville in 1900 and 1905 and Eau Claire.

Chauncey married his second wife Mary Dunn Sullivan on November 15, 1891, in Leelanau County (they, too, were divorced).

He was married a third time, on June 28, 1893 to Frances L. Stolliker; this also ended in divorce. He had at least three more children: Joseph B., Louisa B. (b. 1898) and Chauncey Jr. (b. 1901), the last two by Florence.

Chauncey was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, a Protestant and he received pension no. 802,503, drawing $25.00 in 1914, raised to $40.00 by 1920.

--> was living in Farmington Waupaca, Wisconsin in 1910 and probably living in Wisconsin in 1911 when he was admitted to the Northwestern Branch National Military Home in Milwaukee, but was discharged and admitted as a single man to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 6717) on October 8, 1914,and discharged at his own request on September 20, 1915. He was readmitted on October 6, 1916, discharged on October 9, 1918, and admitted for the final time on July 8, 1920.
Chauncey died of acute dilatation of the heart on April 20, 1920, at Blodgett hospital in East Grand Rapids, and was buried in the Michigan Soldiers’ Home cemetery: section 7 row 13 grave no. 34.

In 1924 his widow applied for a pension (no. 1222681), but the certificate was never granted.

James Mortimer Taylor was born in 1838 in Detroit, Michigan.

James stood 5’11” with blue eyes, brown hair and was 23 years old and probably living in Allendale when he enlisted in Company I on May 13, 1861, along with his younger brothers Chauncey and Martin. Another older brother, John A., would join them in 1862. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County.) By late April of 1863 he was sharing a tent with his two brothers John and Martin.

During the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, on May 3, 1863, when General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was wounded, James and several other men of the Third Michigan became separated from the regiment. In 1888, Taylor wrote to the editor of the National Tribune, the newspaper for the Grand Army of the Republic,

I notice quite a number of articles in The National Tribune of late concerning the death of Stonewall Jackson. I was present at the time Stonewall Jackson was killed. I was a member of Co. I, 3d Mich., of the Third Division (the Red Diamond), Third Corps. Our corps that day had been thrown out nearly five miles in the advance of the main army, following, as we then supposed, Lee’s retreating army; but, as we soon learned, it was one of Jackson’s ruses to draw us out while he made his flank attack upon Gen. [O.O.] Howard’s (Eleventh) Corps. In the afternoon we fell back nearly three and a half miles to within about one and a half miles of our main army, where we found ourselves cut off, with Early’s and Jackson’s troops between us and our army. We formed in line for battle in a large cleared field, where our brigade lay in two lines about 12 feet apart. While we were in line there some person on horseback dashed by us, jumping the rear line about 30 feet to my right, passed between the two lines -- about 60 feet apart, jumped the front line and dashed into the woods to the front and left of where I lay, he coming from the direction of [confederate Gen. Jubal] Early’s command and going toward Jackson’s.

From the description I had of Gen. Jackson I always believed that it was he.

Shortly afterwards, about 11 o’clock, [Gen. David] Birney’s whole division moved forward to that famous night charge, [Gen. Hobart] Ward’s brigade leading, ours following, and Graham’s following us, with orders to make as little noise as possible until we came upon the enemy; then make all the noise possible, both with our guns and throats, which we did to the best of our ability. In this charge we got separated, part swinging to the right and part toward the left. I was near the center, and after the first heavy firing had abated I found myself between two fires. While taking my bearings, the firing having ceased, and studying in which direction to go, I heard a shot, followed by a light volley but a short distance away, and immediately heard the Johnnies saying “the ____ Yanks have killed Jackson,” when I lit out in the opposite direction, and finally came out where we started from.

Capt [Thomas] Tait [sic] and eight others got together from my regiment that night. We got an early breakfast, while the Captain said he would look for the regiment. We swallowed our grub in a hurry, in anticipation of hot work as soon as daylight came; and before sunrise the rebs were peppering it to us form three sides, when, you bet, we did some tall running just about that time. It has always been a mystery to me how we ever escaped form there. I can look back now, and as I imagine I see those long strides and lying coat-tails, I think we must have outrun their infernal lead, to which I attribute our miraculous escape.

We came out at the Chancellor House, after which we found our regiment at the point or curve of our line, about a half mile to the right of the Chancellor House, where we made another charge, led by Maj. [Moses] Houghton in his short-sleeves, a revolver in each hand, and we took in about 500 prisoners in short order. We remained at this point until the close of that battle.

This Spring [1888], I took a trip down through Arkansas. Six miles south of Clinton I took dinner with an old Johnny by the name of Samuel Shannon, of Co. I, 19th Ga., and two other ex-Confederate soldiers who served in Lee’s Army of Virginia. Mr. Shannon was present when Jackson was shot. He held Gen. Jackson’s horse as Jackson mounted and started to the front where he received the shot, as claimed by Comrade Sweet, shot by Rankin, followed by a light volley. Mr. Shannon is positive he was not shot by their men, but by our men; which, with my own knowledge, forever settles with me the manner of Gen. Jackson’s death. Mr. Shannon also says that Jackson passed from Early’s command through our corps that night to his command, which I fully believe.

James was absent sick in the hospital from June of 1863 until he was transferred to the Veterans’ Reserve Corps September 30, 1863, and was possibly stationed in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (He apparently served in Company B, Ninth VRC.)

He married Henrietta Clum in September of 1863, possibly while he was posted with the VRC in Pennsylvania.

James was eventually discharged from the army and returned to Allendale where for some years he farmed on the northeast corner of Eighty-fourth Avenue and Buchanan Street. He was probably still living in Allendale in 1870 when he applied for and received a pension (no. 131252).

In late 1876 or early 1877 James and his brother Martin moved to Kansas to join another brother, John A., and by 1880 James was farming in Ness County, Kansas and living with his wife. James remained in Kansas from 1877 until about 1887 when he moved to Arkansas with John A. where they lived until 1902 (in 1900 James was living in Springdale, Arkansas).

Both James and John A. then moved to the Oakland, California area (Martin returned to Ottawa County) and by 1911 James was residing at 626 Fifty-ninth Street in Oakland, California. On October 8, 1919 James was admitted as a widower (his nearest relative was C. H. Taylor in Oakland) to the National Military Home in Sawtelle, California.  He was discharged at his own request on November 1, 1919. In 1920 he was lodging with the Krijczk family in Alameda, California.

 In 1920 he was lodging with the Krijczk family in Alameda, California.

James was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association.

James died on September 11, 1923, in Oakland, and was buried in the Soldiers’ Home in Oakland.

John Abram Taylor was born on April 3, 1835, in Michigan.

John A. was 26 years old and living in either Allendale or Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company I on November 5, 1862, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Grand Rapids, joining his three younger brothers Chauncey, James and Martin. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County.)

John A. joined the Regiment December 26, 1862, at Camp Pitcher, Virginia, and by late April he was sharing a tent with his two brothers James and Martin. John was shot in the right shoulder on May 2, 1863, at the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, the bullet exiting near the upper part of his arm. He was subsequently hospitalized, and transferred to Seventy-eighth Company, Second Batallion, Veterans’ Reserve Corps on January 15, 1864, at Washington, DC.

He was eventually discharged from the VRC and returned to Allendale.

In January of 1865 he married Amanda Jane Todd (1850-1909), and they had at least three children: Charles H. (b. 1866), Frank J. (b. 1871) and Anna M. (b. 1873). Following the death of Amanda, John may have married a third time to Susan McFarline.

In 1867 John applied for and received a pension (no. 82351).

John was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and worked as a farmer on 78 acres in section 9 until about 1876 when he moved his family to Indiana and then on to Kansas, where he was joined by his two brothers James and Martin. All three brothers remained in Kansas from 1877 until about 1887 when they moved to Arkansas. They were living in Little Rock in 1900 and in about 1902 both James and John moved to the Oakland, California area, where John worked for some years as a cabinet-maker; brother Martin returned to Ottawa County.  John was living as a widower in Oakland, California in 1910.

John A. died on August 27, 1915, in Oakland, and was reportedly buried in Mountain View cemetery in Oakland, California. Curiously, however, the dates of birth & death are left blank in the space reserved for them on his headstone. It is possible that he was buried in another location, possibly with his third wife.

Martin Van Buren Taylor was born on October 3, 1840, in Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan.

Martin may have been living in White Lake, Oakland County in 1860.

Martin stood 5’7’ with blue eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion and was a 20-year-old farmer probably living in Allendale when he enlisted in Company I on May 13, 1861, along with his younger brother Chauncey and older brother James M. Another older brother John A. would join them in 1862.  (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County.)

In 1896 Martin told of how the Regiment was given a furlough just before leaving Michigan in June of 1861. “After our enlistment we were quartered in barracks in Grand Rapids” where they waited “to be mustered in the United States service. About three days before [June 7] the muster in [June 10] we were granted furlough for three days to go home and as soon as we returned from this furlough we were discharged from the state service and immediately mustered in the United States service.” He explained that “the furlough we were granted was not a written furlough, the men were merely told that those who wanted to, could go home for three days before being mustered in the United States service.”

Martin was promoted to Corporal on July 1, 1862, and to Sergeant on November 1, 1862 (see his wartime journal he kept regarding company logistic details). He was reported AWOL in February of 1863, but apparently nothing came of this charge, however. Martin apparently returned to Michigan sometime in late February of 1863.

By early March he had returned to the regiment in its winter quarters at Camp Pitcher, near Washington, DC. On March 9, he wrote to two female friends, Kate and Catharine Hamilton of Grand rapids, how much he enjoyed his recent trip back home.

I must say that I never did enjoy myself better in my life than I did that Monday eve [?] and Tuesday morning I went to the . . . school [and was] well until I came to part with my sister at the depot and there I kept up good spirits as long as I was in their presence but it was lonesome enough to sit in the cars and rehearse the proceedings of the past two weeks or so. But I was not entirely alone as Lieutenants [Thomas] Tate and [Andrew] Nickerson & Sergeant [Charles] Van Dusen all of this regiment were just returning to the regiment.

I came via Canady [sic] and NY city. I left the Rapids on Tuesday morning [and] arrived at Washington on Thursday morning. I went to the Provost Marshal [and] got my transportation pass for to return to my regiment the next day. Stayed with my brother [?] that night . . . . I was a little tardy in getting to the boat the next morning consequently did not leave Washington until yesterday morning. Arrived in camp in the afternoon. You could only imagine how lonesome I was. I know you would pity me, the fact is it was a rainy day & the regiment was nearly all out on picket. They did not return until Tuesday. The time did seem long to me & you young people around there were the subjects of my thoughts a good share of the time.

I feel a little more at home now [that] the boys are here. But still I would give (now) all of my old shoes to be back there & free from the army [and] have peaceable times again.

Now you said you would write if I would, pray do so. You cannot imagine how much consolation it is for a soldier to hear from his friends while away off down here in an enemy’s country weith no associates but soldiers.

I would be very much obliged to you for your picture, iff you feel so disposed as to send them.

Give my respects to all the inquiring friends, if any there be.

By late April the regiment had changed its location and the men were busy constructing new quarters for themselves. Still, Martin took time to wrote to his friends, the Hamilton sisters in Michigan, to express his condolences on the recent death of their father.

Permit me once more [he wrote on April 21] to address a few lines to you in reply to your ever welcome letter of the 24th ult. which was happily received and eagerly perused. But sad was the news it contained. I tell you girls I did feel sad to hear of the death of your poor father. To think that you should be left without a father to counsel and guide you. As you know that ll young people no matter what time[of life] do need a counsellor for many a young person has been ruined by being left alone in this dark world & not seeing . . . full enough.

I know full well how to sympathize with you dear friends.

I presume you can remember when my mother died, it was on the 7th day of May, 1857.

So I was quite a small boy then.

And notwithstanding I have a good step mother, yet it does not seem like home.

I am sorry that I did not go on and see your father when I was there. But I suppose that all is for the best, so says the scripture. The old must die and the young may die. We know not how soon it may be the fate of one of us to follow him. But we must hope for the better. Look always up on the bright side and make ourselves as happy as possible for this is a world of sorrow and trouble at the best. Well I must change the subject for I am incompetent of advising you feel as though I needed some one to aid me in this unfriendly world.

However girls do the best you can and I will try and do the same.

We have changed our quarters since I wrote you before. We are about two and a half miles from the old camp. It is a very rolling country. Our camp is situated on the side of a hill in a little pine grove surrounded by hard wood such as oak, hickory, beech, a little holly and . . . good spring water. Our houses are all nearly of a size neatly arranged in line by company in columns at company distance. The streets between the companies are turnpiked with . . . sidewalks (four feet in width) in front of the houses. My tent mates are Brothers John & James. Our house is built of three-inch plank . . . 10 ft. 6 in long by 6 ft 8 in wide [and] 5 ft high. A good door on wooden hangings [with a] better floor than the most of the Virginia houses have. A neat little table fastened to the side of the house by leather hinges and a large arm chair of our own manufacture. And what makes it so comfortable and pleasant in the evening is the . . . little fire place. All who call on us say we have the most comfortable house in the camp.

Martin was promoted to First Sergeant on March 1, 1864, and was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.

Following his discharge Martin returned to Michigan and married his first wife Aliccia M.atilda Brennan (1848-1911) in December of 1864, and they had at least seven children: William A. (b. 1865), Harriett Elizabeth (b. 1870), Florence E. (b. 1873), Annie E. (b. 1875), Ella Maud (b. 1878), Bertha R. (b. 1880) and Nellie A. (b. 1883.

He and Alicia were living in Georgetown, Ottawa County in 1870 and in Kalkaska, Kalkaska County in 1870. They may have lived for a time in Wyoming, Kent County, but sometime in late 1876 or early 1877 Martin and his brother James joined their brother John A. in Kansas.

By 1880 Martin was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Ohio, Morris County, Kansas. Martin remained in Kansas from 1877 until perhaps late 1886 or early 1887 when he probably moved back to Ottawa County. He was reported living in Eastmanville and in Allendale in 1888, in Conklin, Ottawa County in 1890, in Wright, Ottawa County in 1894 and by 1896 he was living in Grandville, Kent County, working as a lumberman, carpenter and farmer.

Martin was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, a Protestant and he received pension no. 738,771, drawing $12.00 in 1910, increased to $30.00, then $40.00 and finally to $50.00 by 1918.

Martin was still living in Grandville in 1906 and in fact resided in Grandville until he was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 5707) on July 26, 1910, and discharged at his own request on October 14, 1915. He was readmitted on May 3, 1917, discharged on March 5, 1919, and eventually moved out west.

On December 15, 1919, he was admitted as a widower to the National Military Home in Leavenworth, Kansas, and discharged at his own request on July 11, 1921. (Virtually the same dates apply to his admission and discharge form the NMH in Los Angeles.) By 1920 he was living in the National Military Home in Malibu, Los Angeles County, California. He was soon back at his home in Grandville and was again admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home on April 12, 1921, and discharged for the final time on November 16, 1923. He was readmitted to the Leavenworth Home on September 1, 1925 and discharged at his own request on October 15, 1925.

Martin married his second wife Ohio native Mary Jane Way Bremner (b. 1850) in 1923, and by 1925 had reportedly moved to La Honda, California. By 1930 he and his wife Mary were living in La Sierra Heights, Temeschal Township, Riverside County, California; also living with them was Mary’s daughter from a previous marriage, Elizabeth Bremner (b. 1891 in Michigan).

Martin died on June 12, 1930 in Arlington, California, and his body was sent back to Michigan where he was buried in Grandville cemetery.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can learn more about James Hough Taylor and his sons John, James, Martin and Chauncey (and the rest of their family) at

There are photos of Martin at and Chauncey at