Birthdays…

In all the research I have done on my ancestors I have only run into one who shares the same October 31st birthday as me, Clayton Webb, my 4x great grandfather on my mother’s maternal side, born in 1779. The only other ancestor who comes close is my paternal grandfather Clarence John, he was born the 29th.

General Clayton Web has been written about by our Shaw relatives in their ancestor books and in the Riggs book put out by Alvy Ray Smith a few years ago, and I don’t really want to give a synopsis of his life – at least not at this time. I though I would just share his will, which I acquired earlier this year, and found a little different from the usual wills I have read from our ancestors:

Last Will and Testament of Clayton Webb
Filed April 22, 1850
Re-Recorded Vol. 1 Page 335

Be it remembered that I Clayton Webb of the County of Hamilton and State of Ohio being in the fifty third year of my age in perfect health and of sound mind and memory do make and publish this my last will and testament (any other I have not made)

1st I direct that my beloved wife Jane have the sole direction as to the place and manner in which my body shall be interred

2nd I direct that all my lawful debts should I leave any at the time of my decease be punctually paid, after which

3rd I give and bequeath all my estate both real and personal amounting by estimation to five thousand dollars to my beloved wife Jane, believing her fully as capable of acting with judgment and impartiality in the distribution thereof among our children as I am or would be should I survive her, I am led to this step from the following reasons —

1st I have full confidence and ever have had in her fidelity economy industry judgment and affection for our children
2nd It has been by her exertions as well as mine by laboring hard for thirty two years that we have acquired what little property we have, and I have always thought it a hardship where both have equally strove to obtain an independence so necessary in the decline of life that any distinction should be made on the death of either —
3rd From long experience in settling up estates and making divisions among the heirs I am led to believe that generally speaking there is not that ardent and lasting affection in children towards parents, that parents have towards their children. How often have I seen families of children go by the ears in presence of their widowed mother before the corpse had scarcely time to rest in the grave. How often have I seen mothers wheedled out of the small pittance allowed them by law and turned out of doors by unfeeling children; and although I now apprehend no such conduct from my children, I think it my absolute duty to remove the temptation.
4th I further will that should my wife Jane after my decease think proper to intermarry with any person (which I think very impobable) the person so intermarrying with shall have no control over nor inherit any part or parcel of the property herein bequeathed, and should there be any law or usage that would make such person’s claim paramount to this my last will and testament whereby he might inherit possess or control for any period of time the property herein bequeathed then this my last will and testament to be null and void to all intents and purposes

I also request my son-in-law John Magill to advise with and assist his mother-in-law in all matters and difficulties that may arise or grow out of the execution in this instrument of writing —

To the care and protection of his mother I comit our little son John now about ten years old the only one of our children who is not of age–

Written with my own hand without cosultation. In witness whrereof I Clayton Webb the testator have herunto set my hand and seal this eleventh day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty two.

Signed sealed and acknowleged
in presence of us who have
subscribed in presence of each
other

J H Gerard
J M ?han [can’t read signature, too light on photocopy]
Henry Debott

Clayton Webb ss1

I was amused by his point in his 3rd reason for giving his wife Jane the power of monetary distribution. But I was especially please by the respect he had for, and the power he was willing to give to, his wife with no prejudice whatsoever regarding her sex. A very 21st century man.

Clayton died April 8, 1850 in Hamilton County, Ohio. After many years of faithful service to his country as a soldier, judge, county commissioner, and member of the Ohio legislature as Senator and Representative.

Building Clayton was conducting Ohio State business in, as a Senator and Representative in the 1820s.

Brother in arms…

Mary (Schaal) and Augustus C. Johns, (I believe this
 photo was taken at their home in Minnesota),
early 1900s.

My g-g-grandfather Fredrick William John had a younger brother Augustus, (who went by the surname Johns after he arrived in America). He was also a soldier in the Civil War. In fact he enlisted August 13, 1862 with Company F of the 21st Wisconsin Infantry, under the command of Col. B. J. Sweet. He was living in Oakfield, Dodge County, Wisconsin at the time. His brother F.W. didn’t join up until several years later.

Augustus, a cooper by trade, had only been in America a year when he met and then married Maria Schaal in Dodge County in 1856. When war broke out in 1861, according to his wife Maria, Augustus enlisted because of their deep belief in the inherent evilness of slavery. She recalls his leaving:

“We had just built us a 5 room cottage but the upstairs was still un-plastered. My husband left me with this cottage, a cow, a few chickens, and three children, the eldest a little over four years old. My husband was so afraid he would miss the train, that was to take him to war, that he sat up all the previous night!”

Not only was she now alone to take care of the homestead, but she was three months pregnant at the time.

The 21st organized itself in Oshkosh to start its journey to the front. They arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio, by way of Chicago and Indianapolis, on September 13, 1862 about noon. As the enemy forces were marching upon Cincinnati and Louisville, they were ordered to report to Gen. Wallace at Covington, Kentucky, so they quickly crossed the Ohio river, at which time they were assigned to the 3rd division of Gen.Wallaces Corps and proceeded to take positions in the trenches. The 21st was at that time 960 strong.

On their arrival at Cincinnati, Col. Sweet reported to Gov. Solomon of Wisconsin that “everything in the way of equipping the men seems to be in a state of uncertainty and confusion. We have no tents. They cannot give us any here.”

In fact, the 21st was organized so quickly that the men hadn’t even had time to practice drills in their rush to the battlefield. And they had no tents, no clothes, no guns. While the Union Army was in a hurry to recruit men to fight the war, they didn’t seem to be well prepared to arm and supply them. It was a good thing they brought their own rations, otherwise they wouldn’t have been eating either.

The next morning the 21st was going to be sent to the front two miles away. Col. Sweet was hoping that they would have a few moments to drill the men “and teach them the whole art of war.”

After arriving at Covington’s front, they spent their time changing positions twice over the next few days and sitting around in the trenches. On the 17th were then ordered to report to Louisville, Kentucky. They were to report to General Sheridan, who was commanding the Army of the Ohio. They remained in the area until October 1st. The men were marched to the trenches at 3:00 every morning and stayed until 6 am, changing position from one side of the city to another over the course of their stay. It was at this time that they finally obtained tents and were now thoroughly equipped for field duty. However, because of the constant marches, trench duty, the company paperwork and organization of the regiment, they had only been drilled three or four times.

Their assignment now was to the 28th Brigade commanded by Col. John Starkweather, part of Rousseau’s Division.

On October 1 they proceeded to march to route out the rebel army from the state of Kentucky. Eight days of intense heat and very little running water. at the end of which they engaged in the Battle of Chaplin Hills. They arrived at the battlefield about 4:00 in the afternoon on the 8th of Oct where they were immediately ordered to take position in a cornfield at the extreme left of the line of battle, a battle which was in the midst of action and had been for some time. General Jackson’s Division was in the immediate front of their position. Many of the 21st were shot down while getting into position, the bullets passing through the front and hitting whomever was behind. Because of the Jackson line in front of them they were unable to fire back at the enemy, unless they wanted to decimate their own troops. Eventually, as the battle progressed, the 21st was facing the enemy line and fired, it was “only when overpowered by superior numbers” did the regiment commense its retreat behind a new line of battle.

After this battle over the next month they marched to Lebanon, Kentucky, and then on to Bowling Green. From Bowling Green they headed to Mitchellsville Station, Tennessee, then on to Nashville, at which time they set up camp. Then on December 26th they marched with the army in its advance upon the rebels who were at Murfreesboro 30 miles from Nashville.

On December 30th while the army was taking position at Stones River the brigade of which the 21st regiment was a part was positioned on the extreme left flank covering the Jefferson Pike. At 7:00 in the morning, as the brigade train was approaching, it was attacked from the rear by Wheeler’s Confederate cavalry which consisted of about 3500 men. The Union regiment lay in two lines nearest to the point of attack and immediately proceeded double quick by the left flank down the road past the train to drive the revels from the line, but not before twenty one of the wagons were driven off and set on fire. The 21st at once formed line on the side of the road for protection of the trains which passed on. Wheeler’s cavalry charged upon the regiment but was unable to dislodge them and fell back out of musket range. The Union army was finally able to place some battery in a convenient enough spot to cause the rebels to retreat in haste and confusion. But, not before they were able to take 64 sick men, teamsters, and conveyances from the brigade train. One of those men captured was Augustus.

Augustus was, at this point, being listed in the rolls as “prisoner at Jefferson on 30th of December 1862” until September of 1863, at which time he finally shows up as “in the hospital at Stevenson, Alabama.” It appears that he was a prisoner at least through May of 1863. The records do not indicate when he was released, nor when he entered the hospital, but at least by September he is now free from imprisonment with the rebels and recovering in a hospital. It is possible that he was part of a prisoner exchange between the two armies as there is no indication that he was ever in a particular prison during the war.

Augustus continued his service with the Union Army until he was mustered out at the end of the war.
The following excerpts are from Maria’s interview:

“And news of big battles came. My husband was in Murphysboro, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and marched with Sheridan eastward to the sea. We had always written each other once a week, but now all news of Sherman’s army ceased and I heard nothing from my husband for weeks. When a letter came from my husband, I used to put it under my pillow and pray to the Father not to let my babes become orphans as I had been. When I nursed my baby, the hot tears rolled down my cheeks and my baby looked up as if she wondered why I wept.

My husband drew $13 a month as a soldier. Of this he kept $3 for his own use, and sent me $10 every month. Also, he washed shirts for the other soldiers who did not like to do such work, and who did not save their money. These shirts would get full of vermin and had to be washed in boiling water. My husband got 10 cents for each shirt he washed. All that he earned this way, he saved up and sent me a $50 gold bond and a gold ring that he purchased with these savings. He wrote that the food the soldiers got was not good. “I get only cow tail to eat”, he said. So I sent him a box of food once, but the freight on it was $9, which I found hard to pay.

Still with Sherman, my husband marched to Washington, and was mustered out. He came home by way of Milwaukee, where he bought a cheap linen duster to protect his cloths. The night I expected him, I never went to bed. When he got in at the station, he started right for our cottage, and the neighbors said his feet never touched the ground, because he flew to his family. He was neatly shaved and clean — cleanest of the whole company that returned. I had just lain down when the train pulled in, and the children ran in to say, “There is a soldier coming.” A moment after that, my husband came in with the children clinging to him. My little 2 year old, Flora, who had never seen him, was clinging to him, too! Then, for the one time in my life, I fainted!!!”

Marie never mentions Augustus’ capture in her memoirs.

During the month of travel to the battle that would imprison Augustus, he also served as a Provost Guard, these were the military police of the Union Army during this particular war. On the field they were also the security detachment for Division and Corps Headquarters. They protected Headquarter’s units, provided men to guard captured Confederates on their way to the rear, and provided security against Confederate guerrillas and raiders. In Augustus’s case he was probably handpicked by his CO as a temporary measure to fill in a spot as needed. The position was a well respected one by the Union troops.

Cherry pickin’…

Fred Hamm

Because I knew so little about my great grandfather Fred Hamm, I have spend an inordinate amount of time over the years trying to figure him out. In the course of my search into the details of his life I have filled in quite a few gaps. My latest foray in this endeavor was trying to learning a little about his life in his last years.

Fred is buried in Bailey’s Harbor, Door County, Wisconsin. According to one of his obituaries he had been working at Martin Orchards before his illness. This was the, if not one of the, largest cherry orchards in the world. The cherries were definitely world renowned in the early to mid 1900s. Martin Orchards is located about 4 miles outside of Sturgeon Bay and covers over 700 acres, (or at least did in the early part of the 1900s). Fred had been in Door County for about 11 years before his death, maybe he had answered one of these ads that was placed in the local paper:

While Fred was working at the orchard in the mid 1940s World War II broke out, and after the US became involved German prisoners of war started arriving in Wisconsin. One of the places they were sent was Martin Orchards.

Here is a picture of prisoners arriving at the train depot in Sturgeon Bay. They were going to be harvesting cherries, apples, and potatoes and helping out with other field work. Apparently the POWs picked a little over half a million pails of cherries in Door County during their stay. 
I wonder what Fred thought about these Germans and if he ever spoke with them.
Dale and I took a trip up to Bailey’s Harbor a few years ago in the hopes of finding Fred’s grave, but we had no luck. It appears that there is no headstone for him at the cemetery.

Life in motion…

I was going through my video files recently and thought to myself, “Jen, why are you keeping all these videos and not doing anything with them?” So Self and I decided to post them all on my flickr account, for everyone to enjoy or not. After all they are homemade videos the curse of family gatherings where everyone groans “Not again!!”

The videos are all pretty short no longer than 3 minutes, as that is the time constraint anyway at flickr. There is one of my niece, when very young, backyard entertainment, Obama’s visit, parents, and others.
So have fun. Meanwhile, I am still working on trying to get more interesting items into this blog, but research isn’t panning out, or I have hit a road block or two.

By the way the user name is bumanns. Enjoy!