My Civil War Research began with George Washington

Pvt G W Lowery Co. A 81st Penn Inf

Pvt G W Lowery Co. A 81st Penn Inf

George Washington Lowery that is! He’s my g-g-grandfather who fought in the Civil War. He was 38 years old, with six children when he joined the 81st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in July 1864. After brief military training he joined the 81st in Petersburg, VA, during that long nine month siege. In the following spring of 1865 the war again heated up. During the last few days of March and the first week of April, my g-g-grandfather George Washington Lowery along with much of the Second Corps, pursued General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Norther Virginia, west across the state.

My ancestor saw more fighting in one week than the previous months combined. They battled the Confederates at Five Forks and Sutherland Station. They clashed at High Bridge and then onto Farmville where a battle at the Cumberland Church on April 7, 1865 left G. W. Lowery wounded in the chest. Just two days before Appomattox.

Thankfully I can say my story doesn’t end there on a battlefield in central Virginia. My Civil War soldier was sent to Carver Hospital in Washington and two months later recovered enough to be discharged. He was mustered out of the army two weeks after that. The war for him was finally over.

George Washington Lowery went home to Franklin County, Pennsylvania and resumed his life. Good thing, because my great-grandfather Charles was born to George W. and his wife Barbara in 1871, six years after the end of the Civil War.

Ancestors In A Nation Divided

I’ll bet George would be surprised to learn my search to know more about his Civil War service turned into regular blog posts and even a book!

If you’re interested in learning more of your Civil War ancestor’s story check out Ancestors In A Nation Divided – Kindle. Also in paperback. Great research help as you seek your veteran’s place in our country’s history.

George S. Van Meter #52 Ancestors

#52 Ancestors in 52 WeeksWith Memorial Day only one week away I thought I’d dedicate my #52 Ancestors post to the Civil War veterans in my family. Memorial Day originally called Decoration Day was set aside to honor and remember Civil War soldiers. Today we remember all veterans who have served our country through the decades. Since I’ve already written about my direct ancestor George W. Lowery here my next couple #52 Ancestors posts will remember my first cousins 4x removed who both fought and died in the Civil War, James and George Van Meter.

George S. Vanmeter born in 1841 was the third of seven children to parents John and Rachel Stevenson Vanmeter. John and Rachel had deep roots in Putnam County, Ohio. Both were born there, they married there and started their family there nestled in a prosperous farming community. (John’s brother James is my 3x great grandfather.)

George’s closest friend and playmate growing up may well have been his brother James. Only 22 months younger, I’ll bet James and George were close. Their reliance on each other may have been strengthened when the family left their home, grandparents, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins to live in Lucas County, Ohio. Quite a distance from their relatives and friends, the family farmed in their new location. Their close family ties came to a screeching halt when John the family patriarch died in 1851.

Cannon at Battle of Five Forks Virginia

Cannon at Battle of Five Forks Virginia
Photo Credit: Cindy Freed

George was only 10 years old when his father died. Along with his siblings he brought his father’s body back to Putnam County to be buried. Laid to rest among family members John Vanmeter’s death rocked this family to its very core.

Mother Rachel could not support her seven children ranging in age from 13 years to baby John just over one year old. The children were sent to live with aunts and uncles in the area. Their family was broken apart.

George and James lived in different households for a few years. Living with extended family I think they were able to see each other at church and other gatherings. Yet those years separated didn’t diminish their brotherly love. Continue reading

What Do You Do When Your Civil War Ancestor Isn’t Quite the Hero You Thought He Was?

This was previously published in the Going In-Depth October issue. You can find the entire issue here.

Gettysburg National Battlefield

Gettysburg National Battlefield Photo credit: Cindy Freed

Has this happened to you? After a little bit of research have you found an ancestor that didn’t quite live up to your expectations? It happened to me. You may have heard my story before but let me give you a little background. Like any self respecting family historian or genealogist I spend a good deal of time in cemeteries. I’m really fortunate enough to live in the same area my ancestors lived. I’m the seventh generation in one line of my family tree to live in this area so that translates into many ancestors buried close enough for me to visit. My sister and I joke about one small cemetery, Rockport Methodist in Allen County Ohio, where we believe we’re related to at least half the people buried there.

James R Van Meter Co. A 4th OVC

James R Van Meter Co. F 4th OVC Photo redit: Cindy Freed

It was on one of my excursions to Rockport a couple years back that I came across a Civil War soldier with the same surname as my 2x great grandmother. He was barely 21 years old when he died during the war. I hated to think that he probably didn’t leave a wife or children and that without descendants his memory was lost soon after his death. I knew he was a collateral ancestor but that didn’t matter. I was going to research James R Vanmeter and tell his story. He didn’t serve his country at its most crucial time to be lost to history. Right? So I took up the task of remembering James R. Vanmeter.

As I began my research I was sure James had succumbed to wounds while in battle. He died during the war on February 18, 1864. I was swept away by my own thoughts of his youthful courage and patriotism. I diligently searched the Soldiers and Sailors database, Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. I soon found he served with Co. F 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (OVC). I found a couple amazing books outlining the history of the 4th OVC. The first was The Invincibles – The Story of the Fourth Ohio Veteran Volunteer Cavalry 1861 – 1865 by Nancy Pape-Findley. The other I found online in Google Books. It was while reading the The Story of the 4th Regiment Ohio Veteran Volunteer Cavalry by Lucien Wulsin I had my first inkling James wasn’t who I’d built him up to be in my mind.

I found the 4th OVC was on furlough when James died. He had reenlisted in January 1864 and was able to go home with a return date of March 7, 1864 to Camp Dennison. Okay so he didn’t die on a battle field riddled with bullets. He died at home. Still his death had to be valiant, right? Due to some kind of injury due to enemy fire.

Civil War, Genealogy Research

James R Van Meter letter to mother. Image in author’s collection

I took a shot and researched James in the Civil War veteran’s pensions. I didn’t expect a thing since he was not married yet found a card on him. Rachel Milliken had filed for a pension on James’ service. His mom’s first name was Rachel but last name was Vanmeter not Milliken or so I thought.

This tidbit that some person had filed for a pension on James’ military service led me to request his pension file from the National Archives. I waited anxiously. What was I thinking? I still wasn’t exactly sure how James and I were related. Shouldn’t I be spending money on my own direct ancestors instead of chasing someone else’s?

When all 64 pages of James Vanmeter’s pension file came I couldn’t wait to get into it and what I read made it worth every cent I spent. It contained blockbuster information. Drunkenness, divorce, illness, death. Lots and lots of letters from James’ mom to the pension board as she pled her case for a pension, even two letters she had received written by James while with the 4th! I was ecstatic! Continue reading

He Couldn’t Stay Away – A Civil War Soldier’s Story

Honoring 4th OVC members George S and James R Van Meter

Honoring 4th OVC members George S and James R Van Meter

Do you remember a post I did a little while back called Checking a Goal Off My To-Do List? I was researching a Civil War soldier who’s surname was one of my family lines. Not only did I fill in the blanks on the soldier I was researching (James Vanmeter) I found he had a brother who also served in the Civil War. George Vanmeter’s story is even more compelling than James!

George S. Vanmeter born in 1841 was the third of seven children of parents John and Rachel Stevenson Vanmeter. John and Rachel had deep roots in Putnam County, Ohio. Both were born there, they married there and started their family there nestled in a prosperous farming community.

Certainly George’s closest friend and playmate growing up was his brother James. Only 22 months younger, James and George were close. Their reliance on each other was strengthened when the family left their home, grandparents, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins to live in Lucas County, Ohio. Quite a distance from their relatives and friends the family farmed in their new location. The close ties to each other that would develop in Lucas County came to a screeching halt when John the family patriarch died in 1851.

George was only 10 years old when his father died. Along with his siblings he brought his father’s body back to Putnam County to be buried. Laid to rest among family members John Vanmeter’s death rocked this family to its very core. Continue reading

Civil War soldier Absolum Tudor – his story

As historians we read about Civil War battles and casualties at times without realizing the humanity involved. Those vast numbers become real people when we tell their stories. I’d like to share the “human side” of the Civil War by telling soldiers’ stories. Today’s blog post is by guest Loreen Ridge-Husum telling her ancestor’s story.


TUDOR FAMILY and the CIVIL WAR

by Loreen Ridge-Husum

Prologue

My 5th Great-Grandfather, John Tudor, was a native Virginian who moved to North Carolina and survived three tours of duty with the NC Militia during the Revolutionary War. He was then lured to Madison County, KY, by the promise of fertile and affordable farm land. This is significant to the Civil War stories about three of John Tudor’s grandsons, born and raised in Kentucky, who joined the Union Cavalry and fought against the states of their American origins, with significant events in both North Carolina and Virginia. I am descended from a sister of the three brothers in these stories.

ABSOLUM TUDOR (1837-1864)

Absolum was the youngest child of John Hooker Tudor and Phoebe Frier. His name has been spelled so many different ways, but he spelled his own name “Absolum” so that is what I use. Based on census and military records to determine his age, he was probably born between July and November 1837. Absolum was about 24 or 25 years old when he enlisted in Company A of the 11th Kentucky Cavalry in the summer of 1862. He mustered into service as a Sixth Corporal on September 22, 1862 in Louisville, KY.

Joining the Kentucky Cavalry meant leaving behind an 18-year-old wife and two small children. His daughter Alice was two, and his son Elvada was not quite four months old. The last known record of his residence was an 1860 census showing Absolum and his wife living with his widowed mother, Phoebe, and helping her run the family farm. All of his siblings had moved away from the family home. Continue reading