Today is Part 2 of my “pet” research project. I’ve found a very young Civil War veteran’s grave. He died during the war and I felt a pull to research him. If you’d like to catch up you can read the first post here.
So I have James R. Vanmeter without documented history showing up in my g-g-g-grandparents home in 1860. Apparently his father has died and his mother has remarried and trying to collect a pension from his death as a soldier in the Civil War.
Now knowing that James’ mother is living I go back to the 1850 Federal Census using a wildcard several ways when spelling the last name, Vanmeter. No luck. Nothing. So I decide to look through every surname beginning with the letter “V” in Monroe Township and all bordering townships. I WILL find James and his family. Nothing there either. Are you kidding me!!! Yet another family of aliens dropped from the sky into Ohio! I’m disgusted and need to take (a break and) another direction with my research.
So I go back to James’ military life. I read several online histories of his regiment. On closer inspection I find that when he joined in 1861 he spent several months in camp. Along with the other recruits, it took more than three months to “drill, mount, and equip” the men for battle. Finally they head off to war by December 1861. There are battles, plenty of war to endure, and re-enlistment in January of 1864. Finally the men get a furlough and are to report back to Camp Denison March 1, 1864. So James must have been home on furlough when he died February 18, 1864. Oh wow! He didn’t die on the battlefield but at home. I hope near his family. What an incredible piece of his life revealed to me!
I also find while reading regiment histories that Nancy Pape-Findley wrote a book: The Invincibles, The Story of the Fourth Ohio Veteran Volunteer Cavalry, 1861-1864. I’m going to see if my local library has it. I want to get a real feel for James’ war experience.
Eureka! My library does have it but it’s out on loan. So I put a hold on it and only have to wait a few short days to get a hold of the book.
Now this is the good part! I get the book, leaf through the rosters and see listed right above my James R. Vanmeter, a George S. Vanmeter. They are in the same company, they enlist the very same day. George is three years older than James. Brothers? Cousins? Another piece in James’ life?
I start to research George S. Vanmeter with the hope he is connected to James. Thank the genealogy gods! I hit the jackpot!! After going through the usual Soldiers and Sailors System, Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org, I go to Fold3 and find a treasury of info on George! A pension file! He is indeed James brother. He enlisted with James, was injured, sent home, he married, had a child, reenlisted and died on a battlefield near Florence, AL. I learned who these boys parents were and that they had four siblings. I also found where they were living during the 1850 census, when their father died, who mom remarried and sadly that George’s wife must have freaked out. She left their little girl when she was only seven years old, went to Chicago and was never heard from again.
All this info was in handwritten affidavits by two sisters and a family friend for George’s daughter as she applied for her father’s pension.
OMG!! I am doing my happy dance. Wildly doing fist pumps and thanking the genealogy gods! I never find this much info in one place!
Two papers in George’s file reference James. One that they enlisted together at Rockport and secondly that James died at home on furlough. I am relieved James was mourned at his passing. He had a mother and four sister in the area but, I am saddened that this family like so many lost two young men to the war.
By this time you know I have adopted James and George. They are my first cousins 4x removed. Their grandparents and my 4x grandparents are the same, but these guys are mine just as if I were a direct descendant. This blog post is my first chance to remember them, their story and their place in history. I’d like to do more but I’m not sure yet what avenue to take. Any suggestions?
P.S. If you happen to have the book, The Invincibles, The Story of the Fourth Ohio Veteran Volunteer Cavalry, 1861-1864 by Nancy Pape-Findley I’d be interested in buying it. Please send me an email and always thanks for stopping by again for Civil War Saturday!