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Soldiers' Biographies N - Z

Table of Contents
  
   John S. Nichols
   Philip O'Brien
   James H. Ostrander
   Solomon Ostrander
   Byron O. Palmer
   Aurelius Parkhurst
   Stephen V. Percival
   Edward Pierson
   William Platt
   Orson Prouty
   Alexander J. Ritchey
   George Robinson
   Mason Safford
   Merrick Searl
   George W. Shane (not Shaw)
   Henry T. Shier
   Robert O. Sinclair
   William H. Sinclair
   Sanford Smith
   Benjamin Stadler
   Hiram M. Towne
   Franklin J. Tubbs
   Cary F. Underhill
   Philip Vahue
   Absolom Walker
   Martin Wall
   Joseph Watson
   William B. White
   Henry W. Wilber
   Phillip Wilking
   George Winter
   Hiram Wiser
   Ira Wright
   Henry H. Zupp

We are always seeking information, photographs, letters, etc. about any of the men who served Battery C.  Please contact us at Robinsonsbattery@aol.com.  Thank you.

John S. Nichols

John Nichols was 18 years old when he enlisted in Quincy on February 9, 1864.  He remained in the Battery until the close of the War.  It should be noted that another John Nichols, also from Quincy, served in Company G of the 4th Cavalry.  

In a somewhat unusual twist, John’s father, James K Nichols, claimed a father’s pension on what appears to say February 12, 1877.  This would suggest that John had already died and that he was single as his widow would otherwise likely have claimed a pension.  

John was laid to rest in Lakeview Cemetery in Quincy, MI.  

Philip O'Brien

This image of Philip was taken between 1890 and 1900.

Cheboygan News 
               February 20, 1901
 

Golden Wedding              
The home of Mr. And Mrs. Philip O’Brien was the scene of quite a pleasant gathering Monday afternoon. It was the occasion of the Fiftieth anniversary of their wedding. The aged couple were united in marriage at St. Ignace by Fr. Pierrie. A number of their friends sprang a neat surprise on them by invading their home. They came to offer congratulations and present them with articles of silverware and china.            

It was a jolly gathering, and Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien made their guests perfectly at home. Those who were present were: Mesdames Lighthall, Geyer, Vincent, Braham, Lamont, Taggart, Kriedeman, Gilmore, and J. Smith.    




Cheboygan Democrat        February 23, 1901

  
Mr. and Mrs. Philip O’Brien Celebrate the 50th Anniversary Of their Marriage              

Fifty years ago Monday Mr. Philip O'Brien and Miss Margaret Hughes having decided that they would join fortunes for life, started out over the ice for St. Ignace, the nearest place where they could find a priest to marry them.                      

The journey would appall the modern young couple bent on matrimony, but they were both young, strong, and vigorous, and used to the hardships of pioneer life, and did not regard the journey as very serious. They were married by Fr. Perriett, Charles Bellant, another of our old pioneers, being the best man at the ceremony. Returning, the couple settled down and have lived here ever since, except during the war when Mr. O’Brien enlisted and served until he lost his arm.            

The couple have a universal acquaintance among the old settlers, who congregated at the family home Monday evening to help them celebrate the happy event, and they did it in great style.            
The couple have been blessed with four stalwart sons and a daughter, all but one being alive and well today, and all but one live in Cheboygan.  More information is available on the Letters and Obituary pages

James H. Ostrander

James Ostrander first enlisted in Company H of the 4th Michigan Infantry.  At the time of original enlistment, he was a 19 year old resident of Hillsdale County.  Just a few months later, he received a disability discharge on September 6, 1861.   Whatever the disability, James reenlisted in Coldwater on February 10, 1864, this time joining Robinson’s Battery where he served until the close of the war, mustering out in Detroit on June 22, 1865.  

Shortly after joining the Battery, James, a New York native, married Mary Adeline Kent on February 20, 1864 in Branch County.  The Ostranders lived in Litchfield, Hillsdale County, MI until sometime after 1870. At the time of the 1880 and 1900 censuses, James and his family were found in Hobart, Lake County, Indiana.  At some point, the family was in Nebraska as James filed his pension request from that state but they eventually moved back to Indiana as James died there on November 4, 1902 and was buried at Hobart Cemetery, Hobart, Indiana. 

The pension record index card shows both units on the same claim and wife Mary filed the widow's pension from Indiana.  For some reason, only service in the first unit was mentioned when she placed the headstone order.  As to the corporal rank on the headstone, that is a mystery! 

In the 1880 census, James is listed as a grocer. In the 1900 census, he is listed as a bee tender.  James and Adeline had sons Melvin, Charles, William, Howard and George and a daughter Cora.  Son Melvin and his wife, Dea, had no children.  In the 1920 census, Mary Adeline was living in Chicago, IL with widowed son Melvin, son George (who is listed as married but with no wife present) and son Howard, Howard's wife, Althea and their son, also Howard.               

Solomon Ostrander

Solomon Ostrander,  was born in Stillwater, NY in 1817 to Thomas and Alida  Ostrander.  He was a mason by trade.  He married his first wife,  Harriet Wright Smith, around 1837 in New York.  They had five children; Thomas, Mary, Eliza, Silas and Charles. 

After his wife passed away, and the older children were married or on their own, and the two youngest boys were living with their grandmother in Halfmoon, NY, Solomon moved to Michigan (about 1855).  He took up residence with his second wife, Margaret DuBois, in Allegan, MI.  Solomon and Margaret had a daughter, Sarah, in 1857.

Mr. Ostrander enlisted in Battery C of the 1st Michigan Light Artillery at Grand Rapids, MI at the age of 44 on November 20, 1861 and mustered out December 18, 1864.  After Solomon's return from the  Civil War, he and Margaret had two more children; Conrad and Solomon. For several years later in life, Solomon lived at the Michigan Old Soldier's Home.

Solomon's son by his first wife, Silas Wright Ostrander, also served in the Civil War.  He served with the 1st New York Mounted Rifles, Companies K and I.  Neither Silas nor his father knew the other had served in the War until Silas moved to Allegan to join his father.  Silas later moved to Gladwin, MI and is buried in the McClure Cemetery there.

Solomon Ostrander passed away on December 31, 1895 and was buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Allegan, MI.  Recently a military stone was placed on his grave through the efforts of the General Benjamin Pritchard Camp 20, Department of Michigan, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War; the grave was rededicated on October 4, 2008 (see the Reenactment Gallery for photos of the event).

Biography information courtesy of Patricia Smith, great great granddaughter of Solomon Ostrander

Byron O. Palmer

 "The History of Eau Claire County, 1914, Past & Present", pages 685 & 686:  

Byron O. Palmer was born in Madison, N. Y., and came to Wisconsin in 1847, locating in Fond du Lac County.  He was educated in Michigan, and after coming to Wisconsin, was engaged in school teaching until the breaking out of the Civil War.  In 1861, he enlisted in Company D, Fourteenth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, in which he served until after the battle of Shiloh, when his term of enlistment expiring, he was discharged.  He reenlisted in Battery C, First Michigan Light Artillery, and took part in the battles of Resaca, Dalton, Dallas, Kennesaw mountain, Decatur, Atlanta and Bentonville.  He was with General Sherman on his famous march to the sea. 

In 1872 he located at Fairchild, Eau Claire County, and for a time taught school, subsequently opening a drug store, which he successfully conducted until failing health compelled him to sell out, and disposing of his interest to R. E. Arnold, he retired.  He took an active interest in all public matters, and any enterprise for the betterment of his city and county, received his hearty co-operation. He was a member of Brooklyn Lodge, No. 169, A. F. and A. M., and Major Payne Post, G. A. R., Fairchild.  In 1879 he was united in marriage to Miss Margaret, daughter of David W. and Margaret (Cooper) Cole.

Photo courtesy of John Hughes

Aurelius Parkhurst

Aurelius is listed on the original battery roster as Arylus.  According to Isabelle Wells, a Parkhurst descendant,, he more or less deserted the Battery when he had family problems at home.  Then he needed the money, so joined Co F of the 11th MI to get the bounty money.  He joined as "Chester" Parkhurst (a variant of his middle name of Celester) and served there March to September of 1865.  When he tried to get his pension, apparently they discovered his desertion from the Battery and his sort of false name when he had joined the 11th Mi and denied him!

His home was destroyed by fire in the 1880s and he lost all his war related papers. He had two other brothers who also served in the Civil War.  He died on May 27, 1914 at the Kalamazoo County Insane Asylum.  The 11th Michigan is on his military issue tombstone.  He is buried in the Riverside Cemetery, Allegan County, Michigan.

Stephen V. Percival

Stephen Percival was born in New York on May 16, 1840 and lived there until he was 14 years old when his family moved to Michigan.  He enlisted in Battery C, 1st Michigan Light Artillery on Nov 25, 1861 and was honorably discharged on June 22, 1865 at Detroit, MI.  In 1867, he joined the Sprague Lodge I00F at Decatur, MI and remained a member the rest of his life.

In 1870, he married Mary J. Comstock of Nicholville, MI.  They moved to Ida County, IA in March of 1873 and remained there the rest of their lives. Stephen and Mary had 13 children: Walter Percival who died in infancy; Coral Bennett Percival; Maud Koppenhaver of Garrison, ND; Blanch Carter of Sioux City; Merton, Floyd, Anna, Hattie, Amos, Florence, Ethel, Asa and Edith.  In 1891, he became the janitor of the courthouse.

He died on March 13, 1908 at his home in Ida Grove, IA after a short illness from pneumonia.  He was buried in Ida Grove.

Edward Pierson

Edward Pierson tells many of the events during the war in his letters.  After the war, he married a local girl, Helen Buddington, on October 12, 1867. They had two sons and two daughters. Edward and Helen moved south to find a home “where it doesn’t frost every month”  living variously in Gordon, Stephenville, and Thurber, TX (1890 Vet. Census),at Ft.Scott, Kansas and eventually Ferndale, CA by 1901.   

Helen Pierson died in April of 1912, and by 1915 Edward was living in Eureka, CA. The Piersons and the Townes had kept in touch over the years. In 1919, a few years after Dewitt Towne died, widower Edward made a trip to Castle Rock, CO to visit widow Julia. Edward caught two things on that trip, a slight case of the influenza, from the pandemic that swept the world that year, and a bride. He was 74 years old and she was 79.   They moved to San Diego, CA and in 1921 Julia (Towne) Pierson passed away. Edward, lived alone for two years before he married for the third time to Alice Ryan, a twice-widowed woman.  

On March 14, 1929, while in the U.S. Navy Hospital in San Diego, Edward Pierson slipped away from this earth at the age of 85 years. Edward’s body was cremated on March 18, 1929.

William S. O. Platt

William Stephen Oliver Platt was born August 15, 1847 in Coventry, Summit County, Ohio, and he died January 6, 1912 at Geneseo, Rice County,  Kansas.

William was the eldest child of William and Elizabeth Platt who were from Pennsylvania, and had moved to the Akron, Ohio area where William was born.   In 1860 the family had moved to Pulaski, in Jackson County, Michigan.   

William enlisted in Battery C, Michigan 1st Light Artillery on February 11, 1864 at Coldwater, Michigan.  He mustered out with the unit on June 22, 1865 at Detroit, Michigan.

By 1878 he had moved to Ohio, married and had a daughter.  Then by 1885 he moved again, this time to Ellsworth County, Kansas and married Isabella (last name unknown).  They had a daughter and remained in the county where he was a farmer until his death.

Photo courtesy of Lois Meeth

Orson Prouty

Captain Robinson certainly had his hands full with Orson.  He always seemed to be in trouble.   In the Battery Muster roll dated Nov./Dec. 1862, he was listed as “Present,” but in the remarks section there is noted: Deserter by Gen Order No. 73 Hd.Qrs Army of the Miss June 19, 1862 Returned to the Battery Dec. 1, 1862.  

In the Muster Roll dated May/June 1863, he is again marked “Present” but the remarks add: Stop $10 of monthly pay by sentence Court Martial G.O. No.31 Hd.Qrs Fullers Brig. June 18, 1863.   Then in the March/April 1864 Roll, it was noted that a pay stoppage of $1.00 for the loss of Haversack and Canteen, order of Capt. R. [Robinson].  He, however, obviously was willing to fight for his country as the Roll for July/Aug, 1864 notes: Killed in Action July 7 at Sandtown Ferry Ga. Final statements forwarded.  

From the obituary of Mrs. Leander S. Prouty, Orson's mother, published on January 22, 1886 in the Allegan Journal and Tribune:  "One son, Orson, was killed instantly by a shell in the battle of Sandton (Sandtown) Ferry, Georgia in the summer of 1864." 

Map of the area at left

Ed. - Orsen’s Court-martial record contains a letter (at left and below): 

[See also An Interesting Incident in George Robinson's biography below]

 









Head Quarters 3rd Mich Battery L.A.
Memphis, Tenn., June 14th 1863  

Charges and Specifications against Orsen Prouty a private of the 3rd Mich Battery  

Charge
Violation of the 21st Article of War,
Specification= in this that the said Orsen Prouty, did on or about the 13th day of June 1863, in the evening absent himself from the camp of his Battery without the leave of his superior Officer this at Memphis, Tenn.  

Geo Robinson Capt
Comdg 3d Mich Battery L. A.  

Witness; Sergeant Henry Shier
Corporal Asa Estabrook  

Ed. - Justice was quickly meted out - on June 15, the Court-martial convened and Orsen’s case was second one heard that morning, although Orsen wasn’t the only cannoneer being tried that day.    

Case 2d  

Proceedings of a Military Court which convened at Head Quarters Col. John W. Fuller at Memphis, Tenn by virtue of the following order.  

Head Quarters Fullers Brigade
Memphis, Tenn June 15th 1863  
Special Order No. 128  

No Field Officers of Michigan Light Artillery being present, Major M. Churchill, 27th Ohio Vol. Inftry is (under General Order No. 9 War Dept) appointed to try Private Charl Dufree 3d Mich. Battery Lt. Arty and each other prisoner as may be brought before him.

By order of  Col. John W. Fuller 
John W. Orr 
A.A.A.G.  

9 o’clock A.M. June 15th 1863 
The Court convened present to the foregoing order and attended to the trial of Orsen Prouty, Private 3rd Michigan Battery Lt. Arty. Who was called before the court and having heard the order appointing the court read, was asked if he had any objection to being tried before said court and replied that he had not.   The prisoner, Orsen Prouty, Private, 3rd Mich Battery Lt. Arty was arraigned on the charges as above,  

To which charges and specifications the prisoner pleaded the following;
Of the Specification of the Charges,  Guilty
On the Charges, Guilty

Capt. Geo Robinson, Comndg 3d Mich Battery Lt. Artillery, called and duly sworn and testified as following in regard to the general character a soldier, of Private Orsen Prouty, 3d Mich Battery Lt. Arty: The prisoner belongs to the 3d Mich Btry Lt. Arty is a good soldier, not in the habit of committing breach of military discipline, do not remember ever having to punish him except putting him on extra duty for missing a roll call or something of the kind.  

First Sergt. Henry Shier, 3rd Mich Battery testified, after being duly sworn, as to the general character of Private Orsen Prouty, 3rd Mich. Btty, as a soldier as follows:  Prouty is a fair soldier when sober, but gets intoxicated occasionally & when in that condition does not do his duty very promptly and is disposed to be noisy, & boisterous, though not vicious.

The Court after maturely considering the ……..accused, find the Prisoner Orsen Prouty 3d Mich Btty Lt. Arty as follows:  Of the Specifications of the charge:  “Guilty”  Of the charges:   “Guilty”   And do therefore sentence him, Orsen Prouty, Private 3rd Mich Battery to forfeit Ten Dollars of his Monthly Pay.  

M. Churchill
Major 27th Ohio Vol. Infy
Comding the Court


Alexander J. Ritchey

Thanks to research done by John Hughes, another man who served with the Third Battery, but wasn't listed in the Official Roster, has been discovered.

Alexander J. Ritchey was born on February 14, 1841 in Washington County, Pennsylvania.  He enlisted in Company F, 63rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry on October 10, 1861 in Marietta, Ohio.  He was twenty years old when he enlisted as a private. His father enlisted a year later. He was shot in the left shoulder and was listed as badly crippled. He was discharged on December 21, 1864 in Savannah, Georgia.

The following excerpts are from his military pension records: his personal description is as follows: age 40 years; height, 5 feet 8 inches; complexion, dark; hair, dark; eyes, dark. That while a member of the organization aforesaid, in the service and in the line of his duty at Marietta, in the State of Ohio on or about the -- day of January 1862 he contracted Measles and while suffering from said disease he caught cold giving him Lung Fever with Typhoid Symptoms totaling disabling him at the time, affecting his lungs and since causing Rheumatism & Kidney Disease. He was treated in hospitals as follows: treated by Surgeon Monahan, now dead, from about June 1862 to (?) 1862 and by Dr. Gilbert, now dead, while home on sick leave in 1862. That he has not been employed in the military or naval service otherwise than stated above except on detachment duty in the 3rd Michigan Battery from about Aug 1862 to 1864. That since leaving the service this applicant has resided from discharge to 1884 at Constitution in the State of Ohio and his occupation has been that of a Cooper." Attested to by Thomas Vanwey and Fred Miller.

Louis Schmidt, 1st Lieutenant, Co. F 63rd OVI on March 11, 1879 "states on oath, that Alexander Ritchey of Co. F 63rd Ohio Inf. Vols. at Decatur, Georgia about July 22nd 1864 was wounded in battle by a gunshot in the left shoulder - totally disabling him for duty at the time." [Ed. - Alexander Ritchey would have been on detached duty with Battery C, Michigan Artillery during this battle.]

George Robinson

George Robinson is reflected throughout this history of Battery C, and much of what has been told here comes to us through his letters and orders. He was a 28 year old steam engine machinist from Detroit when he enlisted as First Sergeant of the Battery on September 15, 1861. He suffered a serious injury to the base of his skull when he was knocked from his horse while the Battery was near New Madrid, Missouri, in March of 1862, but recovered in the saddle.

On July 15, 1862, he received a commission as senior Second Lieutenant. When the first captain, Alexander Dees, resigned because of poor health, he recommended Robinson as his successor, and George became Captain of the Battery on November 20, 1862. On July 2, 1864, he was put on special duty as Chief of Artillery for the Fourth Division, Sixteenth Corps; and on October 13th, he was placed on detached duty as the Assistant Artillery Inspector General for the Seventeenth Army Corps under the command of Brigadier General Thomas E. G. Ransom.

He was discharged at the expiration of his term of service, December 18, 1864, primarily because his physical condition was deteriorating from the injury received in 1862. After his discharge, he came back to Detroit and his old job. He married in 1868 and had two sons; in 1873, the family relocated to Chicago.

By 1877 George's paralysis was so far advanced that he could no longer work, and he filed for a governmental pension, citing his war-time injury as the cause of his ill health. He died on August 7, 1883, only 48 years old. Although his wife, Marie Louise Robinson, survived until 1941, she never remarried. They are buried together at the Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.

Portrait photograph of George Robinson in uniform, from the Civil War 3rd Michigan Cavalry picture album. Handwritten on front: "Yours &c, Geo. Robinson." Printed on back: "Detroit, J.J. Bardwell, photographer, Michigan."

Burton's Photographic Collection

This seated photo and the standing photo of Robinson, in part above and in whole on the homepage, were probably taken at the same sitting in Detroit in 1864 while the Battery was home on veteran furlough January through March. He wouldn't have had time to get back to Detroit after his Dec 22 discharge at Savannah, GA.

An Interesting Incident

As to what exactly happened and why, we may never know but several versions of an interesting incident involving Captain Robinson follow:

The last paragraph in one of Benjamin Stalder's letters, he mentions something that occurred at Memphis.  Apparently the boys of the Battery were being a bit of a handful for the newly promoted Captain. Shortly after the Battery was placed on duty in Memphis, TN, the farm boys were quite taken by the ready supply of whisky, women and the other distractions that a big city offered. Midway through June, Benjamin Stalder, Orson Prouty and several others apparently left the camp, visited some of the places of “entertainment” and returned to camp under the influence. When one of the Sergeants ordered Benjamin and Orson to saddle the horses the next morning, they, at the least, proved to be insolent and were put under arrest. Based on the letter dated June 27, there were quite a few in that same detention. Stalder and Prouty were eventually court-martialed and fined for their disobedience.     

But an interesting thing happened.  Stalder talks about “an accident happened the other day that give this Company Joy.”  He describes Robinson taking out his revolver and threatening to have any man that runs shot. Then after a period of time, he relents and sends the men back to their tents, but something happens immediately thereafter...

We next hear from the Captain himself.  In his pension records there is a bit of information that may explain what happened on that day in Memphis.  Robinson was interviewed by a government examiner regarding injuries suffered while in the service.  

Robinson - Did you ask me whether I was injured in anyway after I got my fall from the horse at Birds Point?
Special Examiner - I did, and I understood you to say you were not.
Robinson - That is a mistake, I was. I was accidentally shot in the left leg, at Memphis, TN - don’t remember the date. The revolver was in my own hand at the time…..       

So, apparently the “accident” that Stalder mentions in his letter occurred when Captain Robinson shot himself in the leg with his own revolver!  And in full view of the miscreant men.   

Our last entry about this incidient is from the media.  This is an excerpt from a column published in the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune on July 6, 1863  …There are no Michigan troops in this place (Memphis, TN) except the 3rd Battery of Light Artillery, which is attached to the Ohio Brigade, commanded by Col. Fuller. I visited them yesterday, and found the boys all in good health and spirits. Capt Robinson, who commands the battery, lately met with an accident, which came very near being serious. He was inspecting his revolver, when it accidentally went off, making quite a ugly hole through the fleshly part of his leg. He is doing well, however, and will probably be up again in a few days.

Fortunately, he did recover enough to maintain his command and the rest is history.

George Robinson later in life from the collection at the Michigan State Archives (HAL collection)

Mason Safford

Mason Safford enlisted in March of 1864. He was wounded at Kennesaw Mountain in November of that year, but survived and returned to his home in Michigan.

The photographs of Mason and his identification badge have been made available through the courtesy of Dale R. Niesen.

Merrick Searl

This is from page 307 of the History of Ingham and Eaton Counties, Michigan by Samuel W. Durant; chapter on the history of Vevay Township [near Lansing, Michigan].


George W. Shane (not Shaw)

Thanks to genealogist, Deb Gosselin, for researching this Battery member's history.

I believe our "George W Shaw" may have been "George W Shane" all along.  Here's the scoop:

Enrollment record appears as George Shaw.  This is an index and I have no visual of the record.    Pension index card is indexed as George W Shane and filed in 1879.  It is hard to read but I would call it Shane and not Shaw.   
Cemetery index shows him dying in 1927 and buried in Oakwood Cemetery with no stone.  I assume that means the people who did the work for the Eaton County Genweb checked the cemetery burial card.  
1920 census for Grand Ledge has an 87 year old George W Shane, born Pennsylvania.  His age would match that for our George who enrolled in 1864 at age 30.   The name is clearly Shane on the census record.  
The 1910 census has a spot for whether or not someone served in the Civil War and it is blank for George Shane BUT the census taker seems to have just ignored that column. George Shane is in Grand Ledge.  He is also in Grand Ledge in the 1900 census.  
In the 1880 census, that George Shane is in Williamston, Ingham Cty with wife Eunice and twin sons Willard and Willis.  
1870 census: Williamston  (also sons Henry and Adalbert).  
Then we get to the critical 1860 census and I find G W Shane in Leslie with wife E A, son H P and sons D D.  So I have no doubt that this is our guy.  There is simply no George W Shaw who fits anything at all.  So I think we have a wrong name for this fellow thanks to bad indexing in the enrollment records.

Additional data in a separate note: Plus, George Shane's wife Eunice turns out to be Eunice Ann Delamater, sister of our Battery member, William Henry Delamater!  Old George remarried at the ripe old age of 87 in 1920!  Eunice had died in 1911. So, while George may not have been the last to die, he lived to be quite old. 

The following biography on him (and on son Delbert, not Adalbert) confirms for certain that he is our fellow!  See left from: The past and present of Eaton County, Michigan, historically together with biographical sketches of its leading and prominent citizens and illustrious dead. Michigan Historical Publishing Association, Lansing, MI, pp. 541-2. 



Henry T. Shier

Henry Tice Shier,aged 32, of Ypsilanti, enlisted as a Corporal on October 7, 1861, and was promoted to First Sergeant in 1862. June 30, 1863, he was commissioned as senior First Lieutenant. One Section of the Battery was under his command at the Battle of Decatur, Georgia; see An Encounter at Decatur for his report of the action. He was acting commander of the Battery during George Robinson's service at the corps level, until discharged at the end of his term of service, near Savannah, Georgia, on December 19th, 1864. Family tradition reports that Henry had a fine first tenor voice and was active in the Battery's glee club.

This photograph was taken November 2, 1865, the day of Henry's marriage to Cynthia Marie Preston; he was 37, she was 25. The Shiers farmed near Rawsonville, Michigan, until 1872, when they followed Henry's brothers to homestead in Saline County, Kansas, chosen in part to comply with Cynthia's requirement that there be good schools and a Presbyterian church near their new home. Henry and Cynthia turned the farm over to their son George in 1901, when they retired to nearby Salina. Henry died in 1907, and Cynthia in 1911; they are buried at the Poheta Cemetery in Salina.

The Battery thanks George and Quita Shier for graciously permitting the use of the photograph and information about the Shier family.

Robert O. Sinclair

CDV image, front and back, courtesy of John Hughes







Robert O. Sinclair, of Jonesville, age 25, enlisted in Company C, 7th Michigan Infantry on June 19, 1861, and was discharged to accept commissions in the Battery. He accepted a rank of senior Lieutenant, maintaining that position until he resigned on June 26, 1862. A letter of Robert's written in 1918 in which he recounts (years later)  to his nephews some of his experiences in the Civil War follows:


"You will have read of Pittsburg Landing, Island No. 10, New Madrid, etc. Now go with me again as we have disembarked and are making for the south-east and in the enemy country. We will take a walk of a few miles to the front." He then tells a little what it was like out there and finished: "I have lost my dates but this is months and more months since we left St. Louis and in the hot season of a hot country. A distant cousin and supposed friend but a jealous friend had written home a scurrilous letter as to the action of my company which I never made an effort to correct, as it would have been as useless as to expect a man to put out a mile of prairie fire, and as I had been sick for months with camp trouble I resigned my position and went home. It so happened later that I never met that snake and likely it is better, far better."

(From a correspondence with F.Sinclair Oswald)

William H. Sinclair

Colonel William Henry Sinclair was born at Akron, Ohio on October 31, 1839. His family lived in Jonesville and he was educated in the public schools.  On May 30,1861, at the age of 21, he enlisted as a private in Company C, Seventh Michigan Infantry as a fifer. He was appointed corporal in the same company in July 1861; promoted to sergeant major of his regiment August 12, 1861; promoted to second lieutenant and assigned to Battery C, 1st Michigan Light Artillery September 9, 1861; promoted aide-de-camp on the staff of Brigadier General Stanley in May 1862; promoted first lieutenant of Third Michigan Battery July 15, 1862; promoted to captain November 5, 1862; promoted to major and assistant adjutant general of volunteers to date from May 8, 1863; commissioned colonel by brevet March 13, 1865 and promoted to full colonel on May 12, 1865. 

He served in the following sieges, skirmishes and battles of the Civil War:

     Island No 10, March and April 1862
     Corinth, May 1862
     Iuka, September 19, 1862
     Corinth, October 3 and 4, 1862
     Stone River (at Murfreesboro, Tennessee), December 1862 and January 1863
     Farmington, Mississippi, May 28, 1862
     Franklin, Tenn., December 12, 1862
     Manchester Pike (near Murfreesboro), January 6, 1863

This is a letter written by William Sinclair on June 4, 1863 to General John Robertson regarding his appointments.  The body reads:

I have the honor to inform you that I was appointed a Captain and A.A. Genl of Vols. Nov. 5th 1862 and a Major and A.A.Genl of Vols May 8th 1863 and I have on each appointment been assigned to duty on the staff of Major General D. S. Stanley Chief of Cavalry Dept. of the Cumberland.


An active staff officer, he fought in the campaigns of the western theater and had his horse shot out from under him twice. He wound up the war in the occupation army sent to Texas. A natural staff officer with a gift for the complex regulations and paperwork requirements of the army, he came to the attention of the Texas Bureau head, Brevet Brigadier General E. M. Gregory, in February 1866. On September 1, 1866 Sinclair’s volunteer commission ran out, and he was mustered out of the army.

Not wanting to lose a valuable staff officer to the exigencies of the demobilization, his supervisor strove to have him retained, if not in a military capacity, then as a civilian. The army refused to modify its demobilization orders, despite the fact that Sinclair had letters of recommendation from Major Generals George H. Thomas, David S. Stanley, William S. Rosecrans and others, asking that he be kept on as a military officer. Commissioner Howard agreed to Sinclair’s appointment as a civilian under the new Freedman's Bureau act of 28 July 1866, and he was appointed the subassistant commissioner for Galveston, although the position was merely a paper one as he functioned on the headquarters staff as a "special agent" on traveling duty.

Sinclair handled a multitude of tasks while acting in various capacities (subassistant commissioner, acting assistant adjutant general, special agent, acting assistant commissioner, acting assistant inspector general) for the Freedman's Bureau. He escorted insane and physically helpless freedmen to Bureau medical clinics, searched subdistricts for lost relatives, referred cases to local subassistant commissioners, reviewed matters already decided by field agents, investigated cases of alleged brutality toward Union soldiers held prisoner by Confederate forces in wartime Texas, traced down missing bounty checks for black soldiers, communicated with Bureau personnel on various command levels on behalf of the assistant commissioners, escorted one of Howard's inspector generals about the state and served on various boards that decided the fair rents to be paid by the Bureau for the buildings it used. 

Late summer was not a good time to be in Galveston, especially that year of 1867. The town was filled with yellow fever victims and the disease spread daily. Within a month, the Bureau and army commands had been devastated. Several officers had died including General Griffin. Army doctors were in short supply and Sinclair obtained permission from Commissioner Howard for the Bureau men (but not their families) to employ civilian doctors (but not nurses) and bill the government. Sinclair asked that, because of the scope of the illness, the ordinary rules be waived, nurses be allowed and family members' care be absorbed by the government. He forwarded the expenses for himself and his family which totaled $312. Under Howard's intercession, the government paid all legitimate medical bills of surviving Bureau personnel and their families but disallowed the amounts Sinclair and his brother-in-law claimed “for Ice, Brandy and Lemons, and Nurse hire, &c.”

Sinclair was elected a member of the Twelfth Legislature of Texas and served a single term as state representative; he did not seek reelection. The house chose him as its speaker on May 10, 1871 after Ira H. Evans was ousted from that office due to a factional quarrel. The Twelfth Legislature, passed a series of measures, known collectively as the "Obnoxious Acts," that were anathema to most unreconstructed Texans. Of more lasting significance, however, the same legislature provided for compulsory education and established the state's first genuine free public school system. It also chartered the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas.

As a citizen of Galveston, Sinclair made several important contributions to the city's business life that help give a different cast to the usually derogatory term “carpetbagger.” He organized an electric company, an ice company, a street railway company and the Beach Hotel, an early resort of elaborate architecture that catered to the city's growing recreational trade.

In the 1880s, after a team from Austin defeated the New York Giants and prompted baseball enthusiasts in this state to establish the Texas League, Sinclair was president of a group of stockholders that helped to organize the Galveston franchise. In April of 1888, the Galveston team played its first game, losing on the road to Houston, 4-1. During that inaugural Texas League season, Sinclair and his associates introduced to Galveston two modern baseball accoutrements: the promotion of a Ladies' Day to increase attendance and the use of an outfield tally board, supported by telegraph communication, to keep fans abreast of games being played elsewhere in the league.

An active joiner, Sinclair was a Mason, a Shriner and a member of veterans’ groups like the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, the Army of the Cumberland association, the Busch Zouaves of Saint Louis, Missouri and the Grand Army of the Republic. Community leaders characterized him as “generous to a fault, always just, kind and true.” But in 1895 his wife, Loraine Phoebe Bartholomew died. The lonely Sinclair was never the same. He left his three sons in Galveston, journeyed to Jonesville, Michigan to visit his mother, and traveled in the Rocky Mountains.

He next went to New York City where he entered into a road-building venture. His first business trip was to Rochester to examine a new highway. On January 11, 1897 Sinclair had lunch with his colleagues. He complained of feeling a bit stuffy. The men adjourned their meeting, agreeing to resume at three o’clock that afternoon. When Sinclair failed to show, one of his associates went up to fetch him. A knock at Sinclair's locked door brought no response. One of the hotel staff brought up a ladder and, looking through the transom, saw Sinclair’s body collapsed on the floor near a desk, upon which lay an unfinished letter. Forcing the door, the party found that Sinclair had died of a heart attack. He was just fifty-seven years old. He was buried next to his wife at Lakeview Cemetery on January 17, 1897.

In Honor of Mrs. Sinclair's 90th Birthday

This Mrs. Sinclair was William's mother.  This article appeared in the Jonesville Independent on March 14, 1907.

"Dee-lighted!" President Roosevelt's favorite saying, would but faintly express the grateful pleasure enjoyed by Mrs. William Sinclair Friday afternoon, March 8, when a number of lady friends took possession of her home on Maumee St. and made her the guest of honor at a formal recognition of her ninetieth birthday. It was no pretended "surprise" function, often practiced, of which the beneficiary is always cognizant and looking forward to for lo these many days, but an unsigned voluntary expression of the high esteem in which a worthy nonagenarian is regarded by a wide circle of friends.

Cake and coffee were served, and the memorable occasion was a unique one for both the recipient and the participants, for such a distinction as ninety years is but seldom vouchsafed to individuals, and it is equally seldom that individuals are permitted the privilege of participating in an event of such a character. About fifty friends, ladies and gentlemen, called to extend greetings to Mrs. Sinclair and express their congratulations and good wishes, which were sincere and cordial and afforded unbounded pleasure to all alike. Besides numerous gifts of choice fruits and rare blossoms the guests bestowed other and more enduring reminders of the occasion. Among the older friends who called were Mrs. A. J. Baker, aged 86, and Mrs. Geo. C. Munro, aged 81 years.

Mr. and Mrs. Walter I. Owen of Detroit received a brief announcement the previous evening and the following morning took the first train for this place in order to be present. Mrs. Owen is a granddaughter of Mrs. Sinclair and was formerly Miss Minnie White of Wheatland, also formerly a resident of Hillsdale. There was a pleasing incident of the day which Mrs. Sinclair related to a representative of the Independent. When Mr. Ephraim Gregory and Mrs. Robert Gregory were here in February to attend the funeral services of their mother they brought their old friend, Mrs. Sinclair, whom they had not seen for many years, fifty beautiful carnations, the aged lady related and efforts to preserve the flowers for her natal day had been signally rewarded, as the carnations were as fresh as when brought.

Mrs. Sinclair is a remarkable woman for her years. She lives all alone and personally performs all her lighter household duties, getting about as readily as a great many women of fifty or sixty years. Her recollection of past events is surprising, which she relates in an interesting manner, and her mental faculties give but slight evidence of the lapse of nine decades. Mrs. Sinclair was Miss Melissa Van Hyning previous to her marriage, and was born in Akron, Ohio. In company with her husband, who departed this life about 24 years ago, they came to Jonesville and lived upon what is now the A. H. Dudley farm, east of town, about fifty years since, and built the house which yet remains.

Afterward Mr. Sinclair bought a farm west of town, in the A. J. Baker neighborhood, and here also built a fine house, where the family lived for a number of years. With true mother pride Mrs. Sinclair takes pleasure in recalling incidents in the soldier record of her son, Colonel William H. Sinclair, afterwards of Galveston, Texas, who died ten years ago. "He enlisted as a fifer in the Seventh Michigan," she remarked, "and came out a colonel, which is good enough for almost anybody. Playing the fife caused bleeding at the nose, and he was transferred to the ranks as a Private."

She stated further that after her son had risen to the rank of major he was transferred to Gen. Stanley's staff, commanding the fourth army corps, army of the Cumberland, and in the battle of Davenport's Valley, near the Alabama line, he had two horses shot from under him. In 1863 Maj. Sinclair was married to Miss Loraine Bartholomew of this village. Of their three sons Stanley Sinclair, the youngest, was a soldier in the Spanish-American war, and is now a first lieutenant in the regular army. The other two sons are prominent in the business affairs of Galveston. The father at the time of his enlistment in the Seventh Michigan infantry was a clerk in the drug store of the late R. S. Varnum, in the same store now conducted by Mr. Varnum' s three sons.

The Texas Freedmen's Bureau

Excerpt from “Who Was the Real Head of the Texas Freedmen's Bureau?: The Role of Brevet Colonel William H. Sinclair as Acting Assistant Inspector General.” Military History of the Southwest, Vol. 20(2), Fall 1990, pages 121-156 written by William L. Richter

San Augustine, Texas, 1868

It was a hot, humid, August day. In the distance a storm threatened. Down the rutted road from the northwest came a solitary rider. He was tired, covered with the dust and sweat of his trip. As he rode into town, a crowd was waiting. "The Grand Cyclops has come," someone shouted. "Oh, Hell no," came another cry, "he is only one of the Grand Cyclops Reynolds' Cyclops(es)." The crowd laughed and hooted. The rider, William H. Sinclair, the acting assistant inspector general for the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands in Texas, ignored the banter and rode on. "I know how to excuse ignorance and ill-breeding," Sinclair sniffed in his report of the incident to Brevet Major General J. J. Reynolds, his superior and the current assistant commissioner, the man in charge of Bureau activities in the state.

Later, as Sinclair returned to his hotel room that night, he heard someone clicking his tongue three times from the bushes nearby. Inside the hotel, when he asked about the noise, a fellow Unionist warned him that it was the mimicking of the sound made by the cocking of a revolver or rifle hammer - a Ku Klux warning. Sinclair was not surprised. The "Kluckers," as the Klansmen were known locally, were on the move in 1868, seeking to neutralize once and for all the advocates of the post-Civil War political and social upheaval known as Reconstruction. Their rivals included the United States soldiers who occupied the defeated Confederacy, the local whites who had stayed loyal to the Federal cause and the newly freed Negroes who believed in the promises of emancipation. Most important, they wanted to stymie men like Sinclair, the Federal agents of the Freedmen’s Bureau, a quasi-military agency charged with the task of easing and speeding the transition of the former slaves into free American citizens endowed with equal civil rights, administering plantation lands abandoned during the war, and assisting Loyal refugees to return home for a new start.

But the weight of evidence in the instances considered below favors Sinclair as the policy initiator. He was the man who went into the field and investigated the problems of the Bureau, which generated his reports and recommendations, which the assistant commissioners endorsed through their directives. Sinclair also handled the hiring and orientation of Bureau employees, and that made his influence on the field operatives even more important. He was often the only staff officer the men in the field saw after their initial hiring and briefing at state Bureau headquarters, thus magnifying his influence on the state Bureau policy even more. Add to this the long tenure and constant support of his brother-in-law as headquarters clerk, and the role of Sinclair becomes crucial to understanding Texas Bureau operations during Reconstruction.

During the years that Sinclair served in the Bureau, he influenced the assistant commissioners and the subassistant commissioners in many ways—so much so that he, in effect, ran the day-to-day operations of the Texas office. During the Gregory administration he served as assistant adjutant general and regularized the paperwork and office routine at Bureau headquarters and took on the supervision of hiring, orienting , and firing personnel. But not until the arrival of Kiddoo did Sinclair’s influence spring to the fore.

In addition to his prior duties, Sinclair became the new assistant commissioner’s confidant and right-hand man. He assumed the Galveston field office, at least on paper, although he acted more as a special traveling agent in reality. He journeyed throughout Texas investigating suspect field agents and recommending the replacement of the incompetent and corrupt. He determined rents paid for Bureau buildings, supervised the sale and shipment of the 1866 cotton crop, and established many of the Bureau’s regulations to protect the interest of the black laborer. He suggested the changes in labor contracts that became Bureau Circular Orders No. 25. And most important, Sinclair wrote the influential Circular Letter of 31 December 1866 which established headquarters’ method of keeping track of field agents and their operational successes and difficulties for the rest of the Bureau’s tenure in the state.

When Griffin replaced Kiddoo as the Bureau head, Sinclair’s influence continued. Operating as acting assistant inspector general, Sinclair fought for the equipping of the often ill-supplied field agents with better offices and clerical materials. He warned of the malevolent influence of state officials in the labor contract process and sought to gain more influence for the subassistant commissioners. More important was his investigation of the state penal system, which he branded as discriminatory against freedpersons. This ran Sinclair afoul of Governor Throckmorton, whom the inspector worked to get replaced by providing much information upon which the governor’s eventual removal was based. His tour of the field operations in northern Texas led to many personnel and subdistrict boundary changes and revealed a lot about racial conditions in the state in 1867. He also called for the Bureau’s active participation in the voter registration process to guard against Conservative economic intimidation of the blacks as electors.

Upon Griffin's death and Reynolds's assumption of command, Sinclair insured a continued role for himself, his brother-in-law, and other civilian employees in the new administration. Because of General Reynolds's interest in Texas politics, he gave Sinclair a free hand at Bureau headquarters, causing radical Republicans to blame Reynolds' compromising, moderate stance on party issues on the behind-the-scenes influence of Sinclair and Bartholomew. Sinclair again warned of the negative influence of the legal system against the achievement of black economic and political rights, secured a modification of General Orders No. 4, which made the subassistant commissioners the referees of the whole political appointment system on the local level, and called for the intervention of the army in securing a fair voting process. His tour of eastern Texas led to the issuance of a directive against the Ku Klux Klan in late 1868.

He also tracked down and sold abandoned lands, exhorted agents to better efforts on behalf of the freedmen, and culled out incompetent, corrupt, and drunk agents. Sinclair’s influence over the hiring and replacement of field agents actually increased under Reynolds, and the inspector even issued his own orders on hiring and firing. After the demise of Bureau field operations in 1868, Sinclair worked to improve the education of the freedpeople and their children. Admittedly, it is hard to say with certainty how the Bureau would have gone without Sinclair’s guiding hand. But the available evidence suggests the following: during the Gregory term, without Sinclair’s belated arrival the Bureau would have fallen apart from administrative neglect. The Kiddoo regime is harder to assess, but given Sinclair’s creation of the reporting system in December 1866, his field work, and his supervision of the annual payments to freedmen, the same might be said.

Although General Griffin was the best administrator of the assistant commissioners, his actions would have been merely hostile fulminations against rebel rule without Sinclair’s field work and staff coordination, as evidenced by the Bureau's collapse upon the General's death and Sinclair’s bout with yellow fever. Griffin's successor, General Reynolds, was more interested in state politics, so he really left most of the Bureau work to Sinclair, who acted to guarantee a moderate Republican influence in the staff and field, much to the disgust of more radical Republican elements in and out of the Bureau.

Although Sinclair suffered from a condescending view of black people and was not always successful in all that he tried, he was ever an important element in the Bureau's accomplishments in Texas, both from the force of his character and the longevity of his service. He was the man who ran the show in the name of the assistant commissioners, established a crucial link between the men at headquarters and the men in the field, and, after his Bureau service ended, became a selfless contributor to the improvement and development of his adopted southern home. His Bureau service is instructive as to how much influence a capable subordinate officer can have in a military or quasi-military organization—so much so that, instead of acting assistant inspector general, Sinclair might better have been carried on the roster as acting assistant commissioner.

Information and photos courtesy of Mrs. Adrian Sinclair Balch

Sanford Smith

Sanford Smith was the 9th of 11 children born to the Smith family that resided in Attica, NY.  The family later moved to Jackson, MI.  Most of the children migrated to Detroit, MI, and raised their families there.  Sanford lived with his older sister Gertrude and her husband, Daniel Pratt.  Daniel was a jeweler and taught Sanford the trade.

Twenty year old Sanford Smith enlisted in Company E, Third Cavalry, Sept. 17,1861, at Jackson, MI, for 3 years.  He mustered out Oct. 3, 1861 and transferred to Battery C, First Light Artillery, Dec. 1, 1861.  He re-enlisted December 29, 1863 at Prospect, TN, and mustered out Jan. 1, 1864.          

While in Corinth, MS, on Oct. 3, 1862, Pvt. Sanford Smith sustained a bayonet wound to his lower back when his battery was overrun by the Confederate forces.  He never fully recovered from his injury and was in great pain but continued with Battery C until he was captured by Confederate forces at Goldsboro, NC, March 24, 1865.  He was paroled on March 30, 1865, and sent to Camp Chase, OH and mustered out June 10, 1865.  There is also a reference in his Military Record that indicates he spent two weeks in the hospital at the infamous Anderson Prison, GA.  

At war's end, Pvt. Smith lived with his parents in Detroit, MI and continued working with his brother-in-law, Daniel Pratt.  On July 19, 1868,  Pvt. Smith married Mary McNamee.  Later, they had one son, George A. Smith.  Pvt. Smith’s wife, Mary, died on March 6, 1877, in Detroit, MI.  Because of the bayonet wound he suffered, Pvt. Smith lived in constant pain for the rest of his life.  He was one of the few soldiers of the US Civil War to sustain a bayonet injury and survive. Pvt. Smith died in Detroit, MI, on November 24, 1894, at the age of 53.  
        
Information and photo were kindly supplied by Pvt. Sanford Smith's great great grand nephew, Jerry Radloff.

Benjamin Stadler

Photo provided by Pam Evener, whose husband, Richard F. Evener, was the great grandson of Benjamin F. Stalder; Richard's father, Frank, was the son of William & Laura (Stalder) Evener and Laura was the daughter of Benjamin & Sarah (Carr) Stalder.  They had 2 sons and 8 daughters.  This image shows Benjamin and Sarah seated with their daughters in a row behind and a daughter or possible grandaughter between them.  Judging from the clothing, this was taken in the early 1900s.  See also his obituary.

Hiram M. Towne

Hiram M. Towne enlisted in the Battery as the Quartermaster Sergeant on October 1, 1861 at the age of 23. He fulfilled this position until he received a commission as junior Second Lieutenant on February 20, 1864. In June, he was commissioned senior Second Lieutenant, and was commissioned as senior First Lieutenant on December 19. He mustered out with the Battery on June 22, 1865. Hiram died on August 25, 1920 in Detroit, MI.

Hiram's brother, Dewitt Clinton ("Clint") Towne, also served in the Battery.  Another brother, Thomas Martin Towne, was a composer (most famous for the song, "Old Abe, the War Eagle") who enlisted in a Wisconsin unit later in the War. Please see this website.  We are fortunate to have many of Hiram's Letters to his niece, Carrie, in Massachusetts, which paint a picture of army life and the Towne family.

A lot of detective work by our battery historian, Deb Gosselin, revealed why Hiram was probably so close to her.  Hiram was born November 1, 1837 in Colrain, Massachuetts, the youngest child of Arad Towne and Tryphenia McLoud (thus his middle name).    Towne family genealogies list his oldest sister Cleora (born 1820) as  married to a man named David Brown and some records claim that she had died in 1845 when Hiram was just 8 years old.  However, Augusta C[leora] Brown  is alive and well in the 1860 census and living with Arad and Tryphenia Towne along with her husband, David, and children George (age 13) , Ada  (9), and Charles (age 1) and Hiram's uncle Hiram McLoud.  George and Ada are mentioned in one of Hiram's letters.   While this Cleora is listed as Hiram's sister in most records, Hiram refers to her as Aunt Brown so she must in fact be a much younger sister of his mother's.

Sister Maria Louise (born 1822) had died in 1830 before Hiram was born.  Sister Tryphenia (born 1830) had died in 1839 when Hiram was 2 years old.     The sister who survived the longest was his sister Nancy Streeter Towne, born about 1825 who, on August 23, 1848, married a man named Hollis Thompson in Hartford, Connecticut.  On October 22, 1849, they had Carrie Anna Thompson, probably in Colrain, Massachusetts.  The 1850 census for Colrain shows Hollis and Nancy Thompson with a one year old daughter shown as "Connannah"  Thompson.  Somewhere shortly thereafter Nancy died, leaving little Carrie without a mother. 

Hiram was only 12 when Carrie was born and about 13 when sister Nancy died, so it seem logical that as the last remaining close female in the family, Carrie probably felt more like a sister than a niece to young Hiram.  Hiram and his family were also in Colrain at this time. This is the Carrie to whom Hiram was writing.  He even makes reference in one letter to the fact that her mother "although dead" was still remembered in Ypsilanti.  I have no idea when she could have been there but perhaps they were there briefly before Nancy died.  In fact, odds are that Nancy died in Michigan based on that tidbit.  

By the 1860 census, Hollis Thompson had remarried a woman named Maria (or Mariah)  and they were living in Gardner, Massachusetts (near Colrain),  Hiram calls this town  "Garden"  in his letters.    Carrie was 11 years old and there are no other children in the family. In 1860, Hiram and brother Martin were in Detroit and the widower, Clinton, was in Iowa with his young son, Clifford.   I note with interest that Hiram refers to a wife of Clinton's dying in 1862 so he must have had a wife that I did not know about or else the information on his second wife, Sarah Barker, is incorrect.    

In the 1870 census, Hollis and Mariah Thompson were still in Gardner, Massachusetts (same county as Colrain) and Carrie is still single and age 20.   Carrie now has a 5 year old sister named Sarah.   By the 1880 census, Carrie had married Albert Houghton Rolfe and they had two children, Nancy and Charles, and were in Templeton, Massachusetts.  

In the 1900 census Carrie and her  family are back in Gardner.  Nancy and Charles appear to be Carrie's only 2 children to have survived as she is listed as the mother of 3 children with 2 living.   In the 1910 census, Carrie and Albert are still in Gardner with daughter Nancy.  Son Charles is not in the household and I can't find him anywhere.  Carrie is still listed as the mother of 2 living children though.  I did find a WWI draft card for a Charles Albert Rolfe in Chicago that fits the month and year of Charles's birth. 

In the Massachusetts death records, Carrie A. Rolfe died of breast cancer on  April 21, 1912 in Gardner, Massachusetts. So, sadly, Hiram outlived poor Carrie.  She was buried in the Crystal Lake Cemetery in Gardner.  Her husband Albert was still alive as of 1915 (when the death index stops) but was probably gone by 1920 as daughter Nancy is alone then.

Franklin J. Tubbs

It appears Franklin may have gone by his middle name, Joseph.  His tombstone, when it was legible, had a death date of January 11, 1875  which matches the one shown for a Joseph Tubbs per the Branch County Clerk’s office. Joseph had a son named Franklin J Tubbs, Jr.  We must assume that our soldier’s  real name was Franklin Joseph Tubbs.   His wife, Emily claimed a widow’s pension but not until 1882.  However, she is listed with her parents in the 1880 census.

Cary F. Underhill


Philip Vahue

Philip Vahue, a farmer from Allegan, Michigan, has the distinction of being the oldest man to serve in the Battery. He and his wife Arminda and their children came to Allegan from Vermont in 1854. Although about 54 when the war broke out, he lied about his age (the roster shows his claimed age of 44) and enlisted in the Sixth Michigan Infantry. However, he was not allowed to muster in because his teeth were so defective that he was unable to bite the end off a cartridge! This was not an impediment to artillery service and he joined Battery C.

His biographer states that he served as "baggage master" (probably a teamster) for about 14 months before being mustered out on account of illness. The Vahue family serves to illustrate the close relationships among the many men from Allegan County who volunteered for the Battery in 1861. Philip and Arminda's son Orson married Ella Nichols, believed to be the sister of Edward Nichols, who died of disease while in service with the Third Battery in 1862.

The Battery thanks genealogist Deb Gosselin for researching this entry.

Absolom Walker

Absolom enlisted in Co. M, 3rd Mich Cavalry on August 29, 1861 at Bloomingdale, MI for 3 years, at age 21 as a saddler. He mustered in October 3, 1861 and transferred to Battery C, First Michigan Light Artillery on November 28, 1861.  He was discharged for disabilities at Detroit, MI on August 25, 1862. He re-entered service in Co. M, 3rd Mich. Cav. on February 26, 1864 at Kalamazoo for 3 years. He mustered in on February 29, 1864 and mustered out at San Antonio, TX on February 12, 1866.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is not listed on the original Battery roster but research in the National Archives has proven that he, indeed, served with the Battery.

Name: Martin Wall
Side: Union 
Regiment State/Origin: Michigan 
Regiment Name: Batt'y. C, 1 Michigan Light Art'y. 
Regiment Name Expanded: 1st Regiment, Michigan Light Artillery 
Rank In: Private 
Rank In Expanded: Private 
Rank Out: Private 
Rank Out Expanded: Private 
Film Number: M545 roll 45

Martin Wall’s (Wool) birth date was calculated from his death certificate as January 7, 1839.  He was born in New York to German immigrants Peter and Mary.    He is first shown in records in Livingston County, Michigan in 1850.    He enlisted on August 8, 1862 Hamburg, Michigan, transferred to U S VRC September 30, 1863 and was discharged on July 1, 1865.  

Martin married Eliza J. Pripps on September 24, 1902 in Bay County, Michigan.   Martin died at the Michigan Soldier’s Home in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Feb. 8, 1919 and is interred there.   His stone only indicates his 26th Michigan service.

Joseph Watson

On August 31, 1861, 23 year old Joseph joined and was enrolled the 3rd Regiment Michigan Cavalry at Jackson, MI. He traveled to Grand Rapids to muster in, but on December 1, he was transferred to Capt. Dees’s Co. Horse Artillery by  Regt’l order  No. 24. Joseph served as a private in the Battery, being engaged in battle at New Madrid, Mo. and Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River. In the May/ June Roll, under the remarks section:  Died of wounds received in Action May 28, 1862 at Farmington, MS.  

William B. White

Biographical information for Hutchinson County, South Dakota from A. T. Andreas' "Historical Atlas of Dakota," 1884.  

WILLIAM B. WHITE, Postmaster and merchant, Olivet, was born in Scotland, in 1840. He emigrated to America in 1847, his parents locating at Burlington, Vermont, where he was raised. In 1847 he went to Michigan and in 1861 enlisted in the Third Michigan Battery, serving over three years. He was Sergeant of Battery C, in which he had command of a detachment.

After coming out of the army, he became a resident of Cleveland, Ohio, remaining there and at other points in the state until 1873, when he came to Dakota and located in Hutchinson County, where he was among the first settlers, taking a claim that was known as Maxwell City. There were but four houses between his place and Yankton, thirty miles distant. In 1874 the town of Olivet was platted by Mr. Jones, Mr. White laying out twenty acres as an addition.

He then built a store and put in the first stock of goods in the place and the first stock above Yankton. In 1874 he was appointed Postmaster, which position he has held continuously since from 1874 to the present time [Ed. - 1884]. Mr. White served as County Treasurer, and from 1876 to 1879 as Probate Judge and Justice of the Peace. Mr. White has a small farm well supplied with fruit, which he has planted since he came here, and has a fine grove, besides good buildings, etc. He was married in the fall of 1866, to Miss Mary Carlton, of Ohio. They have eight children - Alice, Fred, John, Matilda, Bessie, Minnie, Willie and Grace.

Our genealogist, Deb Gosselin, was able to add information about Mr. White after the biographical entry above: there was one more child, a son Ralph.  By the time of the 1900 census, the oldest three children were gone from home, but all the rest were still with the parents.  By the 1910 census, only son William was at home.   The Whites stayed in the Dakotas through 1910 but were in Zephyrhills, Pasco County, Florida in the 1920 census.  Mary filed a widow's pension claim in 192? (can't read the year). The National Archives record show that William White died on December 19, 1922 in Clearwater, FL.

This carte de visite of William White taken in 1861 when he enlisted in the United States Army.  He enlisted for three years, finishing in November 1864. White is wearing the regulation uniform coat issued to the light artillery. He does not have NCO stripes, so this, as confirmed by family, was taken before he was promoted to Corporal on July 23, 1862. Note the Bummer style cap and the watch chain on the front of his trousers.

Photo courtesy of Peter Weber, great grandson

The faint signature at top is in William White's own hand.

Henry W. Wilber

Excerpt from Memoirs of Lenawee County, pages 275 - 7



Philip Wilking

Philip Wilking was born in Marietta, Ohio on October 16, 1842 to German immigrants.   Philip’s father, Peter, and grandfather Daniel, came to the U.S. on November 8, 1833 with his father and siblings from Germany, landing in the port of Baltimore.  The family settled in Washington County, Ohio by 1840.  Peter had been born on March 21, 1814 in Germany and died in Washington County, Ohio on January 3, 1862.

On July 18, 1861, Philip enlisted as a private in Co. G, 39th Ohio Infantry.    He transferred out of Company G on August 2, 1861.   He was promoted to Full Blacksmith on March 29, 1862.  

He transferred into Company Battery C, 1st Light Artillery Regiment Michigan on August 8, 1862 and mustered out of Battery C on June 22, 1865 at Detroit, Michigan.

After his service he went to Detroit where he ran a blacksmith business until his death in July 1910.  He married Mary Jane Cole on October 7, 1877 in Detroit and fathered 3 children.  Philip first appears in an 1869 Directory for the City of Detroit.  

This ad is from the 1881 City of Detroit Directory. 

George Winter

While a native of New York, George Winter is one of the few members of the Battery who lived in Branch County before the war and returned there after to spend the remainder of his life.  George’s father, Jonathan, was a native of England and his mother, Evalyn Lewis, of New York. 

In the 1860 census, George (born abt 1842) wass living in Quincy, MI as a farm hand with the Morris Crater family.  On August 6, 1862, George married Eliza Ann Gardinier, daughter of William Henry Gardinier and Susan Alger.  On February 4, 1864, George joined the Battery and served until the end, mustering out in Detroit on June 22, 1865.  

George and Eliza appear in the 1870 and 1880 census in Algansee Township with sons Jesse Jay (born about 1866), Fred (born about 1868) and Frank (born about 1875). George was a farmer.   On August 4, 1888, Eliza passed away. George remarried on April 14, 1889 to Velnette Cook, daughter of Charles and Sally (Chase) Cook.  Such prompt second marriages were commonplace especially if minor children were involved.  George and Velnette had daughter, Mary, about 1890.  

The 1890 veteran’s census indicates that during the war, George was “kicked by a horse causing defective sight.”   It is presumed this was one of the Battery horses that would have drawn the artillery.  In the 1900 census, George and Velnette lived in Hillsdale with George listed as a day laborer.  In the 1910 census, George is back in Algansee Township living with son Frank and his wife Mary and their children (Harlow and Eliza).  His wife, Velnette, is not listed in the household. However, she claimed a widow’s pension after George’s death so they were apparently still married.  

George passed away February 5, 1917 and was laid to rest in the Lakeview Cemetery in Quincy, MI.

Photo courtesy of E. MacIntosh

Hiram Wiser

Hiram Wiser was born in Webster County, New York in 1829. He married Sally Ann Davis and in 1853 traveled by ox-cart to settle in Quincy, Michigan. He was 35 years old, married and a father of five children (the youngest was barely two years old) when he left his family at their home in Quincy, MI and traveled the 40 miles up to Camp Blair at Jackson, MI.                         

There Hiram enlisted into the ranks of the Third Michigan Battery on January 21, 1864. The Civil War had been ongoing for two and a half years, and the thrill of adventure and glory that filled the volunteers of ’61 had been supplanted by the grim reality of what war really meant.

When President Lincoln called for additional volunteers to fill the ranks of the army, the men who answered that call knew that they would face death, disease and a hard life in the field. Yet, men like Hiram listened to the plea for volunteers, weighed their family’s futures and stepped forward to serve their country in its time of trial.

In February, Hiram joined a number of other new recruits and veteran artillerymen and traveled to Prospect, Tennessee where the Battery’s camp was located, and began to train on the cannon.  He moved with the Battery when it joined the Army of the Tennessee and fought throughout the Atlanta Campaign, the Savannah Campaign (the March to the Sea) and the Carolina Campaign.  Hiram was with the Battery in North Carolina (17th Army Corps) when Confederate Gen. Joe Johnston surrendered his Army.

It was during the subsequent rapid marching to Washington D.C. for the Grand Review, that Hiram suffered injury to his legs and feet, which caused him to require the use of crutches or a cane to assist him for the rest of his life. After Hiram was mustered-out at Detroit, MI. on June 24th, 1865, he returned to Quincy and resumed his former life as best that he could. He returned to Quincy, MI. (Branch Co.) to work for a freight company operating a dray for many years.  Several more children were born to Hiram and his wife Sally Ann (Davis) Wiser in the years following bringing the total to two sons and six daughters.

Hiram became active in the Grand Army of the Republic, joining the Cyrus O. Loomis Post #2 in Quincy and may have attended a National Convention as a Delegate during the 1890’s. His GAR medal is shown at left. 

Hiram was not in very good health as a result of his time in the service which kept him from doing manual labor. As a result, at the age 64, he applied for an invalid pension which he received for the remainder of his life. He died on August 10, 1912 and was buried in Lake View Cemetery in Quincy, Michigan.



Below is a photograph of Mr. Wiser wearing this, and a second, medal.



All photos provided by Georgia Provencial

This photo shows Mr. Wiser at an older age.  The upper medal is the one seen above.  A close-up version of the two medals is below.




Close- up of Hiram Wiser's medals

Ira Wright

Based on research up to August 2009, Ira Wright appears to be the Battery's "Last Man Standing."  He, as best we know to date, was the last original member of the Battery to die.

He was from Coldwater, MI and enlisted at the age of 19.  He became Quartermaster Sergeant on June 9, 1864.  He died on October 25, 1934 in Milwaukee, WI and was buried at that city's Wood National Cemetery.

Henry H. Zupp

Henry H. Zupp is not listed on Battery C's original roster but research of the National Archives records shows that he served with Battery C as well as Company F, 2nd Michigan Cavalry.  He appears to have married Sarah Ramalia, a sister of Israel and Jacob Ramalia, also Battery members. 

The 1890 veteran census shows him to have been wounded in the right hand and says he had "transferred to veteran reserve corps."  It appears that he moved to Jackson County to live with his son, Jacob, before his death.  The photo of Henry at left shows him in a post-War uniform, probably masonic.  He died on January 4, 1913.




Photo courtesy of Alice Volkert