Sunday, November 18, 2007

Isaac J. Botruff

Isaac J. Botruff was born 1840 in Livingston, Columbia County, New York, the son of Adam (b. 1815) and Barbara (Hammer, b. 1818).

New York native Adam married Pennsylvania-born Barbara and settled in New York where they lived for some years and were possibly living in West Sparta, Livingston County in 1850. In any case the family moved from New York to Michigan between 1853 and 1854, settling in Algoma, Kent County, and by 1860 Isaac was a farm laborer working and living with his family in Algoma.

Isaac stood 5’11” with blue eyes, light hair and a dark complexion and was 21 years old and working as a shingle maker (or shoemaker), possibly still living in Algoma, when he enlisted in Company C on May 13, 1861. (His sister Elizabeth married Henry Magoon, of Company F.) He was present for duty through the end of 181, but sick in his quarters during January and February 1862, and from March 16 through April was absent sick in the hospital at Alexandria. He eventually returned to the Regiment and served as a pioneer from June through October of 1862. For reasons unknown he was absent during July and August of 1863, but had returned to the regiment by September and was present for duty through the fall of the year.

Isaac reenlisted on December 23, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Grand Rapids and was subsequently absent on veterans’ furlough in January of 1864, probably at the family home in Michigan. In any case, he returned from furlough by the end of January and was wounded by a gunshot in the right thigh during the Wilderness campaign of early May, 1864.

Isaac remained absent wounded, probably in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from May through August and was transferred to Company I, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. He returned to duty from Mower hospital in Philadelphia on September 19, 1864, although according to his G.A.R. records at some point he enlisted in the VRC. (The VRC was made up of men who while ambulatory were generally incapable of performing regular military tasks due to having suffered debilitating wounds and/or diseases and were assigned to garrison the many supply depots, draft rendezvous, camps, forts, prisons, etc. scattered throughout the northern cities, thus freeing able-bodied men for regular military duty.) Other records, however, report that he remained in the Fifth Michigan until he was mustered out of service on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war Isaac returned to Michigan, and on August 1, 1865, married a widow (?) by the name of Melissa Helsel Morningstar (born in Ohio, 1845-1908), in Grand Rapids, and they had at least seven and possibly eight children: Mary (b. 1867), Florence (b. 1869) and possibly Frank (b. 1869), Dora (b. 1872), Nellie (b. 1874), Charlie (b. 1877), Elmore (b. 1880) and Frank S. (b. 1890).

By 1870 Isaac was working as a farmer living with his wife Melissa and two children in Algoma, Kent County; also living with them was a 6-year-old boy named Norman Morningstar. Isaac’s parents lived next door and living with them was a 22-year-old farm laborer named William Morningstar. By 1880 Isaac had moved to Nelson Township, possibly Sand Lake, where he was working as a laborer and living with his wife “Jane M.” (b. 1835 in Ohio) and six children. By 1883 he was living in Sand Lake and drawing $2.00 per month for a gunshot wound to the right thigh (pension no. 175,177, dated October of 1880). He was still living in Sand Lake in 1884 and working as a laborer.

He was still living in Sand Lake in 1887 when he attended the annual reunion of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association (although he was not a member of the Association). It is quite likely that he had moved to Grand Rapids by November 15, 1888 when he became a member of the Grand Army of the Republic Watson Post No. 395 in Grand Rapids, and listed his occupation as a laborer.

In 1889, Isaac was living at 741 South Division Street in Grand Rapids, working as a laborer, boarding along with his wife Melissa. The following year they were both living at 758 South Division and Isaac was working as a machinist for the Grand Rapids Planing Mill Co. (Curiously, however, the City Directory for 1890 lists “Miss Melissa Botruff”. In any case, Melissa is never mentioned again.) In 1891 and 1892 Isaac was still working as a machinist but apparently living alone at 103 Wallen, and in 1893 one Charles Botruff was boarding with Issac on Wallen Street. Isaac remained in Grand Rapids on Wallen Street until 1894 when he apparently moved to Heath Township in Allegan County, and quite possibly worked a small farm in Heath. He was suspended from the Watson GAR Post on November 7, 1895, (probably for failure to pay his dues).

Isaac was still residing in Allegan County when he died on January 1, 1898, in Heath and was buried in Riverside cemetery, Hamilton, Allegan County.

His wife received a widow’s pension (no. 478346). Melissa remained in Heath until her death in 1908.

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