Sunday, March 2, 2014
# 4 John M. Hannah--I Lied About my Age
# 4 John M. Hannah--I Lied About my Age
This week’s ancestor is John M. Hannah. John’s parents were James and Nancy (McKee) Hannah. While the exact date his birth cannot be verified, he was born in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania about 1799. The 1810 census finds his family living in Sugar Creek, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. However, by 1820 James was living in Union Township in Brown County, Ohio.
On April 22, 1822, John M. Hannah and Charity Mears were married by the Reverend Rankin, a noted abolitionist. In about 1830 John M. and Charity along with their five children: Sarah, Nancy, Elizabeth, George, and Oliver moved to Edgar County, Illinois. By 1838, four more children had been born: Mary Sayres, Albertine, Catherine, and John Wesley. In 1842 Charity Mears Hannah died and was buried in the McKee Cemetery in Edgar County.
Over the years, John bought land from private individuals and in the Public Domain Land Sales. The land clustered in the northeastern section of Edgar County, mostly in Prairie and Ross Townships. The Non-population Schedule for 1850 lists John as having 150 improved acres and 200 unimproved ones with a cash value of $2500. That year the farm produced 3000 bushels of Indian corn, 30 bushels of wheat, and 150 bushels of other crops.
When the Civil War began, John enlisted in the Illinois 79th Volunteers, Company A, with the rank of Sergeant. According to the Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois,
The Seventy-ninth Illinois Infantry was organized at Camp Terry, Mattoon in Coles County, Illinois and mustered into service on August 28, 1862. The men volunteered from Edgar, Randolph and Vermilion counties-Company A, Douglas County-Companies B, E, G and part of K, Edgar County-Companies C, D and H, Clark County-Company F and part of I and Coles County-part of Company K. The Regiment was ordered to Louisville, Kentucky on September 13, 1862. October 1 the Seventy-ninth began a march through Kentucky—Frankfort to Perryville to Crab Orchard to Lebanon, Bowling Green and finally arrived at Nashville, Tennessee on November 7. They remained at Nashville until December 26 when they were ordered to Murfreesboro, Tennessee…”
On December 12, 1862, John was discharged due to disability and old age. What I find so interesting is that on his Civil War records his age at enlistment is 45, while his age on his discharge papers is 63. 63 is the correct age. Further, the reasons for his discharge were disability and old age. That leads to the interesting questions of what was going on. According to “And Your Age is..” (http://emergingcivilwar.com/2011/12/01/and-your-age-is/), it was not unusual for men who were younger than 18 or older than 45 to lie about their age. Thus, young men stated their ages as older and older men stated their age as younger. Commons reasons were financial and philosophical. John was a prosperous farmer so financial gains do not seem to be a viable explanation. Philosophical reasons seem more likely, particularly when you remember that he was married by the John Rankin, a Presbyterian minister and an active conductor on the Underground Railroad. Consequently, he may have decided to serve because he opposed slavery. However, we will really never know.
John died in 1865 and is buried in Paris Cemetery in Edgar County. Probate documents from the Edgar County Court indicate that his children who were then living in Edgar County, e.g. Albertine Hannah, Mary Sayres Hannah, Catherine Hannah O’Hair, Sarah Hannah Mitchell, George Newell Hannah, and Charity Conrey (daughter of Nancy Hannah Conrey, deceased), sold 258 acres of land owned by John M. Hannah to Zachariah Riley for $3,200. (Oliver Hannah was deceased and John Wesley had moved to Butler, Missouri.). Whether or not John Wesley received any inheritance is unclear.
If I were able to speak to him, I would ask why he moved to Edgar County and why he lied about age when enlisting in the Civil War.