Friday, July 20, 2007

Baxter G. Barris

Baxter G. Barris, alias “Henry W. Parker”, was born January 5, 1844, in Bloomfield, Oakland County, Michigan, the son of William J. (1810-1895) and Mary (Croninger, 1813-1896).

New York native William married Ohioan Mary, probably in Ohio, in 1833 and resided in Ohio for some years. Between 1840 and 1844 they moved to Michigan and eventually settled in Oakland County sometime. By 1850 William had settled his family in Howell, Livingston County where he worked as a farmer and Baxter lived with his family -- although he was too young to attend school with his older siblings. By 1860 Baxter was working as a farm laborer and attending school with his younger brother Ransom and living with his family in Cascade, Kent County.

Baxter stood 5’6” with blue eyes, dark hair and fair complexion and was 17 years old and may have been living in Whitneyville, Cascade Township when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861, with the consent of the Justice of the Peace. He was listed as absent sick in the hospital in October of 1863, and in a hospital in Washington, DC, from November through May of 1864. He was mustered out of service on June 20, 1864.

It is not known if Baxter returned to Michigan after his discharge. We do know that sometime in the second half of 1864 he reentered the army as a Private in Company H, Nineteenth U.S. Infantry, under the name of Henry Parker. Baxter claimed after the war that “the reason he enlisted under an assumed name was that he did not want any of his relatives to know that he entered the army again as a private soldier and that he was under the influence of liquor at the time he re-enlisted in the regular army.”

"Henry" was reportedly present with the regiment at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, in 1864, and from October 27-29, 1864, he was treated for constipation. He soon returned to duty but was absent sick on December 2, 1864, and again he probably returned to duty. He was probably on duty with the regiment at Augusta, Georgia in 1865, at Fort Gibson and Fort Arbuckle, Maryland (?), sometime after the close of the war.

He was again treated for a medical problem (circumstances unknown) on December 15 and 17-18, 1865. He was also treated for another unknown illness on March 3, 1866 and for intermittent fever on August 4 and again August 8-9 and August 28-31, September 1-19, 21-26, 29-30 October 12-14 and November 6, 1866. "Henry" was discharged on October 17, 1867, at Camp Burnt Chimney, Arkansas (which may have been near Van Buren, Arkansas).

Baxter probably remained in Arkansas where he resided the rest of his life. Shortly after he left the army he settled in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and, for reasons unknown, took the alias of Henry W. Parker.

In the late 1880s he went to work for the Ketchum Iron Works in Fort Smith, but in May of 1890 he was struck with what he claimed was “paralysis”, and although the extent of his illness is unknown, it appears he suffered a stroke.

He was still living in Fort Smith in 1890 when he applied for a pension (no. 1059158) but the certificate was never granted. By March 26, 1900, he was residing at 223 10th Street in Fort Smith.

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