Monday, February 23, 2009

Ira Hiler

Ira Hiler was born in 1836 in Ohio, the son of Eleazer (1791-1873) and Harriet “Hattie” (Sturdevant, b. 1805).

New York natives Eleazer and Harriet were married, possibly in New York but they soon settled in Ohio. By 1850 Ira was attending school with his two younger siblings and living with his family in Norwich, Huron County, Ohio. Ira left Ohio and came to western Michigan sometime before 1861, probably to Grand Rapids. (His father was residing in Grand Rapids’ Second Ward in 1870.)

Ira was a 25-year-old laborer possibly living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861. (Company A was made up largely of men from Grand Rapids, and many of whom had served in various local militia units before the war, specifically the Valley City Guards, or VCG, under the command of Captain Samuel Judd, who would also command Company A.)

Apparently sometime during the late spring or early summer of 1862 Ira was taken ill to the hospital. Charles Wright, also of Company A and a good friend of Hiler’s, wrote home on July 9 that “Ira Hiler is here now,” presumably meaning that he was back with his company. In any case, Ira was working as a company cook in December of 1862, and was apparently present for duty when he was taken prisoner on May 3, 1863, at Chancellorsville, Virginia.

He eventually returned to the Regiment on October 31, and was absent with leave from November through December of 1863. Although Hiler was officially reported as sick in the hospital in April of 1864, Wright wrote home to his sister Moriah on April 5, 1864 that he was in fact back with the company. Wright also added that Ira was not married, possibly in an attempt to induce Charles’ sister or one of her friends to write to Hiler. In any case, Ira was in the hospital absent sick in May, and was mustered out of service on June 20, 1864.

Charles Wright attempted to remain in touch with Hiler following Ira’s discharge, and on July 21, 1864, he wrote home asking his family “Where is Hiler? Ask him to write if you see him.” But as of October 2 Wright still had not heard from Hiler.

By 1865 Ira was living in Grand Rapids, and he married Michigan native Roxy Ann Coon (b. 1844) -- she was possibly related to Jesse Coon of Company K -- on September 12, 1866; they had at least three children: Georgiana (b. 1867), Frank (b. 1871) and Hattie (McKay, b. 1876).

By 1870 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and one child in Wacoustra, Bath Township, Clinton County. (His father was still living in Grand Rapids’ Second Ward that year.)
Ira eventually moved back to Kent County and was residing in Courtland Township working as a farmer in 1880, in Cedar Springs, Kent County from 1881 to 1883, and in Courtland, Kent County (where he was farming) in 1885 and 1890.

Ira was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 4672) for the first time on June 12, 1906, when he was drawing $12.50 in 1906 (pension no. 1,121,963), increased to $15.00 in 1908, then to $20.00 in 1910, $30.00 in 1913 and $40.00 in 1918. Ira was discharged from the Home on June 28, 1915, readmitted on May 4, 1917, discharged on June 20, 1919, and admitted for the final time on June 7, 1920.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and a charter member of Grand Army of the Republic Jewell Post No. 62 in Cedar Springs serving as chaplain of the post in 1882, as well as a member of the Union Ex-Prisoners of War Association (Michigan chapter). Ira was also a Protestant and for many years worked as a carpenter.

Ira died of general arteriosclerosis at 7:30 p.m. on June 9, 1920, two days after his readmission to the Home, and was buried on June 12 in the Home cemetery: section 7 row 13 grave 27.

His widow applied for and received a pension (no. 595829).

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