Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Friday, December 12, 2014

#41--John Wesley Hannah--Applying for a Pension

This is the last installment in my entries about John Wesley Hannah and his service in the Civil War.  After John‘s resignation in 1865 as Captain of Company D of the Illinois 62,  he returned home  to Edgar County, Illinois to take care of his business.  I am not sure when he moved, but by the following year, he was in Butler Missouri.  There, he married Jennie Willie( # 20 Romance in Real Life--Jennie Sophia Willey and John Wesley Hannah), and raised five children.  John built and was the proprietor of the Palace Hotel (# 5—Build Me a Palace—John Wesley Hannah)

Since he was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Butler, I assumed that he lived there until his death.  However, once I received his application for a pension, I discovered that that assumption was not true. His pension request was filed in November of 1897 in St. Sterling, Kentucky where he was living with his oldest daughter, Gertrude Hannah Turner.  On his application, he said that he suffered from rheumatism, heart trouble, paralysis, and general disability.  Those conditions were confirmed, under oath, by his son-in-law and the individual who was taking care of him.  Both individuals indicated that these difficulties were not due to "vicious living."

Initially, the Bureau of Pensions ordered John to appear for a physical exam in Butler, Missouri. That order was appealed because Butler was no longer his home.  Hence, he was examined by three physicians in St. Sterling who concluded that he was “permanently disabled in a degree requiring the regular aid and attention of another attention and is entitled to a pension of $72 a month.”  Further, they concluded that his illness during the Civil War was the cause of his present illnesses.  John lived several more months and died on March 10, 1898 in Mt Sterling.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

#40--John Hannah--Civil War Soldier--Serving in the Trans-Mississippi Theater

When I think about the Civil War and the battles, I think about battles in Virginia, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.  However, as I followed John Wesley Hannah as a soldier, I found a different part of the war—one that was played out in the west and is known as the Trans-Mississippi Theater.  That theater consisted of the area west of the Mississippi River, including the states of
Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, and part of Louisiana as well as Indiana Territory (Oklahoma).  That is the place that John Wesley Hannah and the Illinois 62 spent two years. 
The 62nd remained at LaGrange, Tennessee until August 19.  However, on July 18, John applied for a 20 day leave because of his health.  His application was approved by the camp surgeon, Dr. Cameron, who stated that John has had “bilious remitting fever” for the last four weeks, had to stay in his room, and would benefit from a different environment.  I had no idea what “bilious remitting fever” was, but from several online sources about diseases during the Civil War I learned that it was relapsing fever characterized by vomiting bile and diarrhea.
From August 19 to the 28th, 1863 the 62nd was involved in General Steele’s Campaign against Little Rock, moving first to Memphis, Tennessee, then to Helena, Arkansas, which was held by Union forces.   Believing that attacking Helena would take pressure off Vicksburg, Confederate General Holmes and his troops attacked that town on July 4, 1863.  While the Confederates had more troops and took some fortification, they were repelled by the Union forces, which remained in control of Helena.  This is an important battle in the War, one which I had never heard of, probably because it occurred on the same day as the battle at Gettysburg. 
The 62nd was next involved in the battle of Little Rock.   According to the National Park Service Battlefield Protection Program:
 On September 10, 1863, Maj. Gen. Fred Steele, Army of Arkansas commander, sent Brig. Gen. John W. Davidson’s cavalry division across the Arkansas River to move on Little Rock, while he took other troops to attack Confederates entrenched on the north side. In his thrust toward Little Rock, Davidson ran into Confederate troops at Bayou Fourche. Aided by Union artillery fire from the north side of the river, Davidson forced them out of their position and sent them fleeing back to Little Rock, which fell to Union troops that evening. Bayou Fourche sealed Little Rock’s fate. The fall of Little Rock further helped to contain the Confederate Trans-Mississippi theater, isolating it from the rest of the South. (http://www.nps.gov/abpp/battles/ar010a.htm)
The 62nd remained at Little Rock.  From his muster roll, it appears that John was the commanding officer of Company K from October 22 to December 22 as he was he entitled extra pay for those duties.  On January 9, 1864 John along with the other soldiers re-enlisted as a veteran organization.  On April 25, 1964, the 62nd moved to Pine Bluff Arkansas.  On August 31, 1864, John Wesley mustered out as a 1st Lieutenant, was promoted to Captain and became commander of Company K.  On August 12, 1864, John along with the other veteran soldiers returned to Illinois for a veteran furlough.  The furlough lasted until November 25, 1864, when he returned to Pine Bluff.
On February 5, 1865, John was detached from duty to serve as the Provost Marshall in Pine Bluff.  I was not sure what exact a provost marshal did, but the following explanation from Family Search (https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Union_Provost_Marshals%27_File) was extremely helpful: 

The provost marshals who served in territorial commands, armies, and Army corps were the military police. They sought out and arrested deserters, Confederate spies, and civilians suspected of disloyalty. They also investigated the theft of Government property, controlled the passage of civilians in military zones and those using Government transportation, confined prisoners and maintained records of paroles and oaths allegiance,

John continued as Provost Marfshall through June of 1865.

In April, 1865, the men who were not veterans were ordered back to Illinois for mustering out.  Those that remained were consolidated into seven companies.  John Wesley became to Captain of the new Company D and also continued as Provost Marshall.  On July 8, 1865 the 62nd became part of Brigadier General Bussey’s command at Fort Gibson, Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory.
On September 14, 1865 John Wesley resigned as Captain of Company D, 62nd Illinois.  He gave two reasons:  one that he has served for four years in the regiment, and second that his business at home required his immediate attention.  He also indicated he had been paid through April 30, 1865, had returned all the property owned by the government, and that he did not owe the Government any money.  He also stated that at the time of his resignation the company consisted of the following:  3 Commissioned Officers and 88 enlisted men.

I am not sure exactly why John resigned.  Since he referred to personal business, I am assuming he is referring to his father’s death which occurred in 1865.  Therefore, he needed to return to his home in Edgar County, Illinois to deal with his father’s affairs and the farm.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

#39--John Hannah-Civil War Veteran, Serving in the the Western Theater

Flag carried by the 62nd Illinois
This is the second part of my blog on John Wesley Hannah and his service in the Civil War.  Since I have a good deal of information about him and not a lot of time right now, I decided that breaking this up into three entries would be appropriate.

While John returned to his home in Edgar County after his 3 month enlistment, he continued to be involved in the war efforts.  According to his biography in the History of Bates County, John was instrumental in organizing Company K of the 62 Infantry.  On December 9, 1861, John joined the Illinois 62 in Coles County, Illinois.  On April 10, 1962 John Wesley Hannah was mustered in as a2nd lieutenant for 3 years, receiving $105.50 for each month of service.  Twelve days later, on April 22, 1862, the company moved to Cairo, Illinois, then to Paducah, Ky., May 7 and to Columbus, Ky., June 7, 1862.  The 62nd then moved to Crockett Station, Tennessee, where its task was to guard the tracks of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad.  A little research about railroads during the Civil War, and I found that troops and supplies were moved by rail.  To keep the enemy from destroying the tracks, they were guarded by troops.  

The 62nd stayed in Tennessee through the Fall of 1862. On December 3, the 62nd moved to Jackson Tennessee, and then on to Grand Junction.  In December of 1862 the 62nd was involved in the raid by General Grant on Holly Springs.   After Holly Springs had been captured on December 13, 1862 General Grant left about 200 men there and returned to Jackson, Tennessee and then on to Grand Junction.  A week later on December Van Dorn for the Confederates retook Holly Springs, and paroled 170 men, including the Major and 3 Lieutenants, from the 62nd.  Van Dorn also destroyed all the regimental equipment, supplies, and papers.  I do not know whether or not John was one of the lieutenants that were captured and paroled.

Harper’s Weekly described the events at Holly Springs as follows:

WE publish …illustrations of HOLLY SPRINGS, Mississippi, lately occupied by our troops. This little town, one of the prettiest and most salubrious in the State of Mississippi, was for a long time occupied by the rebel army of the Southwest. They were driven out of it early last month by General Grant, who pushed through it and on to Oxford. Since then the rebels, or rather some guerrilla band claiming to act on behalf of the rebels, fell upon a couple of companies of infantry whom General Grant had left at Holly Springs, captured and paroled them; so that, to the best of our knowledge, at present Holly Springs is in the hands of the insurgents. It is situate on the line of the Mobile and Ohio railway, and is about twenty miles south of Grand Junction, and twenty-eight miles north of Oxford.

Railroad Depot
Rebel Armory

Holly Springs

After their defeat at Holly Springs, the 62nd remained at Grand Junction until April 18 when it moved to LaGrange, Tennessee.  From January 5 until February 28, 1863, John was on detached service as Field Officer of the Day at Jackson, Tennessee.  On June 7, 1863, John was promoted to a 1st Lieutenant.  He also was due extra pay as the Company’s Bounty Officer.  During the Civil War, money (bounty) was paid to men who enlisted and I assume John was the person who recruited for Company K, Illinois 62 and paid the bounty to them.

To be continued

Thursday, November 20, 2014

#38--John Wesley Hannah --Civil War Veteran, Serving in Illinois

Since Veterans’ Day was last week, I thought I would blog about one of my veteran ancestors—John Wesley Hannah.  I knew that my great grandfather, John Wesley Hannah (1838-1899) had fought in the Civil War.  So when I wanted to know more about what he did and where he went, I did two things:  I got his records from the National Archive and also began to research the history of his units.  There is an incredible about of information on the Civil War on the internet, but I primarily used Ancestry.com and the sites that focused on units on Illinois that I found on the internet.   By putting the sources of information together, I have some idea of where he and his company were, and what he was doing.  So my blog focuses on John Wesley in the Civil War.  Because I have a great deal of information about John and his service, I plan on using two to three postings to cover it.

But first, a little background information.  John Wesley Hannah was born in Prairie Township, Edgar County, Illinois, near the current town of Chrisman on February 9, 1838.  He was the youngest son of John M. and Charity (Mears) Hannah.  In about 1830 his parents moved to Edgar County from Brown County, Ohio.  In 1850, he was living with his two older brothers (George Newell and Oliver) and three sisters (Albertine , Mary Sayres, and Catherine), his mother having died in 1842, when he was four years old.  His three sisters, Elizabeth, Sarah Ann, and Nancy, had married and were living in Edgar County.  In 1860, John was living with his father, his sister, Albertine and his niece, Charity Conrey, whose parents had died .    His sister, Mary Sayres,  had also died.   It is presumed that as a child John helped on his father’s farm, attended school in Prairie Township, and then school in Bloomington, Illinois.  According to the 1860 Census, John was a student of medicine. 

Abraham Lincolcn
On April 15, 1861, President Lincoln issued a proclamation asking each state to raise their militia to defeat the states that were trying to succeed from the United States.   Therefore, Governor Yates convened the Illinois legislature to organizing the militia.  Since it was believed that the war was not going to last too long, men were asked to enlist for a period of 3 months.

 John W. Hannah joined the 12th Infantry Illinois at Paris, Illinois for a term of 3 months on April 18, 1861.  He was mustered in at Springfield, Illinois on May 2, 1861.  At the time of his enlistment, he was described as 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall with dark hair and grey eyes.  His occupation was a farmer.  

Ship at Warf at Cairo
The 12th was moved to Cairo, Illinois where it performed garrison duties until the soldiers were mustered out on August 1, 1861. I thought Cairo was a strange place to spend three months as a soldier, but I found that the city sits where that the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers converge.  Controlling that spot mean that whoever held it would be able to control traffic, and hence move troops and supplies, on the river.  On August 1, 1861, John mustered out and returned to Edgar County.  For his service, John received $13.00 per month.

To be continued next week--

Thursday, November 6, 2014

#37--Michael Metcalf--Have a seat

Time for a little some thing different—a piece of furniture.  Several  years ago, I was in Dedham, Massachusetts at the Dedham Historical Society, where I was able to see the Metcalf chair.  Michael Metcalf, the owner of the chair,  was my 8th great grandfather.  I thought it was a pretty impressive and attractive antique chair.  However, when I searched for information about it, I learned a great deal more. According to The American Promise (2012), the carvings on the back of the chair are like those on a gravestone—wings symbolizing the soul’s ascent into heaven, Michael Metcalf’s initials and the date.  In addition, there is a storage compartment under the seat of the chair, presumably for the storage of books and the sides of the chair are solid, which makes the chair warmer than if the sides were open.  Something that would be important in New England winters.

So just who was Michael Metcalf?  A little online research gave me a great deal of information about him.  He was born in Tatterford, England about 1590.  In 1616 he married Sarah Elwyn and together they had  11 children.  Michael was a successful  dormix (damask cloth)  weaver, employing over 100 people.  More importantly, he was a Puritan and was persecuted for his beliefs by Bishop Wren, who took away his property  and charged him with treason.

In his own words:

"To all the true professors of Christ’s Gospel within the city of Norwich:

. . . I was persecuted in the land of my father’s sepulchres, for not bowing at the name of Jesus, and observing other ceremonies in religion, forced upon me, at the instance of Bishop Wren, of Norwich, and his chancellor Dr. Corbet, whose violent measures troubled me in the Bishop’s Court, and returned me into the High Commissioner’s Court. Suffering many times for the cause of religion, I was forced, for the sake of the liberty of my conscience, to flee from my wife and children, to go into New England; taking ship for the voyage at London, the 17th of Sepr 1636; being by tempests tossed up and down the seas till the Christmas following, then veering about to Plymouth in Old England, in which time I met with many sore afflictions."

"Leaving the ship, I went down to Yarmouth, in Norfolk county, whence I shipped myself and family, to come to New England; sailed 15th April, 1637, and arrived three days before midsummer, with my wife, nine children and a servant."

"…my enemies conspired against me to take my life, and, sometimes, to avoid their hands, my wife did hide me in the roof of the house, covering me over with straw."

Michael Metcalf and his family made their home in Dedham, Massachusetts.  He signed the Dedham Covenant, was made a freeman, and was elected a selectman.  Between 1656 and 1661, he was the town school teachers.  Michael Metcalf died on December 1664.

If I were able to talk to Michael Metcalf, I would have several questions for him.  Who made the chair?  Where did you get it and how much did you pay for it?  I also would like to know what he kept in the compartment of the chair and if they were books, which books they were.  I also would like to know his experiences as a teacher in Dedham.

The American Promise, Volume A: A History of the United States: To 1800
 By James L. Roark, Michael P. Johnson, Patricia Cline Cohen, Sarah Stage, Susan M. Hartmann

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#36--Charles Minarcik--Fighting with General Custer or Not?

Several years ago I found a picture of my great grandfather, Charles Minarcik, in an old photo album.  He was in his army uniform and I had heard that he had fought with General Custer.  I found that puzzling as I thought that Custer and all his soldiers died in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.   Searching for information about him using Ancestry and Google, I I cleared up the confusions over his service in the army.  So today, he is the focus of my blog.

One of the problems of having an unusual name is that is can be spelled in several ways as I blogged about (Joseph Minarzick—How Do You Spell that Name).  Fortunately Charles had better luck in getting his last name spelled fairly consistently and that made my life easier.

In the 1870 census Charles is listed as living in Manhanttan, New York, the oldest son of Joseph Minarzick and Regina Wendel along with their 8 other children.  By the 1880 census, Charles is listed as the head of the family, which consisted of him and 4 of his younger siblings.  Their grandparents—the Wendels-- were living in the same building.  Presumably both his parents died, although I can find no record of their deaths, and his other siblings either died or married.  On May 15, 1872, Charles enlisted in the2nd Regiment Calvary for 5 years.   I think that is a strange choice for someone who lived in New York City, and makes me wonder how and when he learned to ride a horse.

According to the news article about his death, while in the army, he was involved in the first survey of Yellowstone Park.  That park is one of my favorite national parks and I am delighted that he had a part in its exploration.   Charles was also involved in engagements with the Sioux Indians and Cheyenne Indians under General George Crook.  However, Charles did not fight with General Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  Rather he was in the company of soldiers who were to join Custer’s forces.  However, they were delayed and unfortunately, when they arrived at the Little Big Horn, they found that Custer and his men had been killed.
Their only task was to bury the dead.  Charles was promoted to a first sergeant and received a metal for distinguished service.

After his enlistment in the army ended, Charles returned to New York, where he worked as a furniture carver.  In 1883, he married Elizabeth Lang and with her had four children:  Christina, Edward, Charles, and Regina.  Charles died in 1923 and is buried in Evergreens Cemetery in Queens, New York.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

#35--Chester Ingersoll Richards and William Fisher Richards--Where Did You Get Those Middle Names?

This week I am focusing my blog on something I found interesting about two of my great uncles:  Chester Ingersoll Richards and William Fisher Richards.  I wondered about  their middle names.  As far as I knew, we had no close relatives with those names.  I wondered where those names came from.

To help me figure out what was going on. I decided to research middle names and their history.  From what I read, middles names were not used in the United States until after the Revolutionary War.   At that point wealthy families began to give their children middle names.  By the time of the Civil War, middle names were common.

Parents pick middles names for their children in a variety of different ways.  Some use a family name like the mother’s maiden name or the names of the father and mother’s parents.  Others use a name that they like, but would not make a good first name.  Another choice is to pick the first or last name of an individual they would like to honor.

So what about my two uncles and their middle names?  Two of my blog entries shed some light on where those names came from.  While working on the blog about my grandmother’s wedding (#17—Gertrude Richards—Saying I Do?), I found the announcement in the newspaper and among the guests were several Fishers—“Mr. and Mrs. Irving Fisher, Dr. Fisher, Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Fisher.”  With a little more research, I found that the Richards and Fishers were cousins and that they were both in the same business—shoes.    Hence William Richards’s middle name came from a relative, and one that coincidently, was in the same business.

I really stumbled upon the source of Chester Richards middle name.  I was working on my entry about my great grandfather, Abiathar Richards and his shoe business (i#29  Abiathar Richards --Do You Have a Glass Slipper?), when I found an article that talked about his very early years in the shoe business.  It appears that J. D. Ingersoll was one of the first people he worked for in the shoe business and I assume that Chester’s middle name was chosen to honor him.

So it appears that William’s middle name came from a relative, and William’s from a business associate.