Monday, September 24, 2007

Noel George Bernier

Noel George Bernier, also known as “George Barnier”, “Beamier”, “Bearnier” or “Beaumier”, was born on December 8, 1835, in Cap-St.-Ignace, Montmagny County, Quebec, Canada, the son of Francis M. and Marie Elizabeth.

Noel, or George as he was generally known, left Cap-St.-Ignace, and immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan by 1857. Three years later he was working as a mill hand in the city and living at the David Cable boarding house at Sebastopol, on the north side of Muskegon Lake.

He stood 5’10” with gray eyes and brown hair and was 26 years old and living on the north side of Muskegon Lake 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.)

George was a wagoner in December of 1862, and serving with the Brigade wagon train in March of 1863, but was absent sick in May, and remained absent sick through August, reportedly detached as a nurse in the division hospital. In fact, George was apparently treated for “intermittent fever” on January 30 and 31 and again from March 11 to 13, 1863. He was subsequently treated for chronic diarrhea from the end of April through May.

However, according to a report written by Captain Thomas Waters of Company H, on August 10, 1863, at camp near from Sulphur Springs, Virginia, George, was a nurse at the First Division hospital, of the Third Corps, located “near Potomac Creek station was on or about the 14th day of June last sent to Alexandria with the sick and wounded. He was then relieved from duty and ordered to report to his Regiment for duty. He was last seen by a member of the Company in the streets of Frederick, Maryland, drunk. This on or about the 7th of July, 1863.” This apparently occurred as the Regiment was returning to Virginia from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The provost marshal’s office in Washington reported on August 22, 1863, that one Captain James Smith from the provost marshal’s office in the Forty-fourth district, Frederick, (Maryland presumably) “is directed to take measures for the arrest of the [Barnier who was a] deserter, and report action to their office.”

It is not known whatever became of this particular incident, but George was treated for gonorrhea from September 19-22, 28 to October 2, October 7-10, 25, 26, November 1 to 6 and to the 14th, from the 15th to 23. He was again suffering from intermittent fever and gonorrhea in late November. In March of 1864 George was reported as a teamster detached as of January 8, 1864, serving with the Brigade wagon train.

According to Ben Tracy, who was formerly in the Third Michigan and by the spring of 1864 was acting assistant quartermaster for the Second Brigade, to which the Third was then attached, George was thrown from a horse and injured sometime around April 19, 1864. George reportedly broke his right arm just above the wrist. He was reportedly being treated for syphillis from April 22-30, 1864, and was also undergoing treatment for his fractured radius. In May he was sick in the hospital in Washington, DC, and was mustered out of service on June 20, 1864.

After his discharge from the army George returned to Muskegon where he lived for many years and worked variously as a carpenter and shipbuilder. He married Sophia Roslie DeGraff (her maiden name may have been Boolinstes) on July 2, 1872, in either Zeeland or Holland, Ottawa County. George was living in Muskegon in May of 1880 when he joined Grand Army of the Republic Kearny Post No. 7 in Muskegon. That same year he was reported as working as a carpenter and living in Lakeside, Muskegon County, with his wife

He was living in Muskegon in 1883, 1890 and 1899 and probably still residing in Muskegon when he was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 4105) on September 19, 1903, listing his occupation as a laborer. When George was admitted to the Home he also claimed that he was married, however he listed his nearest relative as one Charles Miller of Muskegon (probably the same Charles Miller who had also served in Company H during the war).

George lived in the Home off and on splitting his time between the Home and Muskegon. He was honorably discharged from the Home on March 10, 1904, and was living in Muskegon from 1905 through 1911, probably at 730 or 750 Lake Street. He was readmitted to the Home on March 9, 1915, and was discharged on August 16, 1916, at his own request.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and he may have been a witness for Jackson Bennett’s pension application. In 1864 George applied for and received a pension (no. 86,538), drawing $6.00 per month by 1883, and he suffered from a fractured his right forearm which he claimed he received during the war (see Tracy’s statement above).

At some point after his discharge from the Home in 1916 George went to live with his nephew, Zephirin Bartet in Quebec.

George died of “old age” on January 27 or 28, 1918, at his nephew’s home in Cap-St.-Ignace, Montmagny County, Quebec, Canada and was buried in the parish cemetery there.

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