A Soldier’s Story: Francis O. Cheney of Co. B, 192nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry on this Civil War Saturday

On this Civil War Saturday our guest contributor is Deborah A. Carder Mayes. Debbie is a genealogist, writer and speaker. She’s sharing her Civil War ancestor, her great grandfather Francis O. Cheney with us today. There’s more info about Debbie at the end of this post but first let’s learn this Civil War soldier’s story.

**Several years ago, I joined the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Any woman whose direct ancestor served in the Union forces during the Civil War is eligible to join. Joining DUVCW is a great way to honor your ancestor and assure that he is not forgotten.

Most of the able-bodied men in my family living during that time served. Here is a little info on my great grandfather, Francis Owen Cheney, who is the ancestor I honored by joining DUVCW.

Civil War Saturday - Francis O. Cheney

Francis O. Cheney

Francis Owen Cheney was born on October 25, 1847 in McLean County, Illinois. His great uncle, Jonathan Cheney was the founder of the town, Cheney’s Grove in McLean County. Many of the Cheney family, including William and Rebecca (Love) Cheney followed Jonathan to Illinois. Three of their eight children were born there before they made their way back to Ohio where they remained for the rest of their lives.

On May 20, 1869, Francis, who was known as Frank, married Martha Jane Uncapher in Marion County, Ohio. She went by her middle name, Jane. She was the daughter of John M. Uncapher and Barbara A. Rimmel and was born on February 2, 1851 in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. Her family was Pennsylvania Dutch and she spoke their German dialect fluently.

Francis and Jane had nine children, Una Belle, Elizabeth Etta, Hillis Ray, Emma O., Silas, Haymond William, Elmer Albertus and Francis Elzie, who were twins, and my grandfather, Earl J. Cheney.

After the war, Francis lived most of his life in Allen County, Ohio but he lived in Marion County, Ohio for about two years and in Morgan, Cooper, Lafayette, and Benton Counties in Missouri for four years. Francis and Jane lived in Missouri shortly after they married. They probably went there because land was cheap. Either they were homesick or they did not prosper in Missouri because they returned to Ohio by 1872 where they moved to Allen County and remained.

While on duty at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in March, 1865, Francis, a private in Co. B, 192nd O. V. I., was disabled by disease of the lungs, heart, fever, and pleurisy and treated at the hospital in Harper’s Ferry. He was discharged at Winchester, Virginia on September 21, 1865.

In 1891, he was a resident of Allentown, German Township, Allen County, Ohio. He was 5′ 9″ and had a fair complexion, light hair, and hazel eyes. He weighed 145 pounds. In 1899, when he was a resident of Shawnee Township, Allen County, Ohio, he was 5’7″. He applied for a veteran’s pension and received $8 a month. He was still a resident of Shawnee Township in 1902 and remained there until his death. In 1912, his pension was raised to $13.50.

Pvt. Francis O. Cheney Shawnee Cemetery, Allen County, Ohio

Pvt. Francis O. Cheney Shawnee Cemetery, Allen County, Ohio

Francis died on November 20, 1912. After his death, Jane moved into the home of her son, Francis Elzie Cheney, in Lima, Ohio. She died on November 27, 1931. Francis and Jane are buried together, a few feet away from his parents, in Shawnee Cemetery, Allen County, Ohio.

You can read learn more about Debbie, her writing and programs on her site:
Rambling Along the Ancestral Trail – Deborah A. Carder Mayes Genealogy & Family History.(http://cardermayes.weebly.com/blog) Debbie’s passion for genealogy began over seventeen years ago when she started exploring her family history. She soon became active in her local genealogical community.

In 2001 as a library volunteer, Debbie began helping others with their own family research. She began presenting lectures and workshops in 2004 and researching for clients in 2008. Currently, Debbie is a writer for the In-Depth Genealogist magazine, and their blog Going In-Depth. She also writes for her own genealogical blog, and is writing a book on her father’s family history.

**This post, Military Monday-Francis Owen Cheney, can be found on Debbie’s blog under the category, Ohio Civil War Ancestors and was posted on April 7, 2013.

I see the soldiers, do you?

DUVCW Ohio Dept Convention - Sally in center

DUVCW Ohio Dept Convention – Sally in center

Many of you know that I belong to the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865 (DUVCW). Our members are direct descendants of honorably discharged Union soldiers. Our goal is to “keep green the memory” of our Civil War ancestors.

Now I’ve been a member of the DUVCW for 18 years. I’ve been fairly active in my local group, called a tent, for the last 10 years.

All tents in our state meet yearly for a State or Department convention. The Ohio Dept. convention this year was lucky enough to have the DUVCW National Senior Vice President join us. Sally, was a lot of fun and we enjoyed her participation in the convention.

I had the good fortune to speak with Sally several times over the three day convention. Sally is a former history teacher and very knowledgeable about the Civil War.

One of our conversations will forever be etched in my mind. Sally had heard me give a brief description about my book, Ancestors in a Nation Divided, to the members. I credited a visit to Gettysburg as the turning point in my life when I became committed to Civil War research. Specifically I talked about standing on Seminary Ridge and actually feeling the devotion to “the cause” that brought those soldiers there.

When Sally and I talked later she said she understood how I felt that day seven years ago in Gettysburg. Her father was a Civil War buff and when she was a child he took the family on many vacations to different battlefields. On every visit her dad would gaze out across the battlefield and say to her, “Sally can you see the soldiers?”

Of course at the time she was too young and didn’t understand what he was saying. But she looked me in the eye that day and said, “I see them today and I know you do too.”

Her comment nearly brought tears to my eyes. I see the soldiers. I see them when I go to Gettysburg, Chickamauga or follow my great great grandfather’s footsteps across Virginia just like his regiment did as they pursued Lee the final week of the war.

I see the smoky haze from continual artillery fire. I can feel the soldiers, their loyalty to their flag and their determination to fight for it. I do see the soldiers.

Something clicked with me during Sally’s comment as I realized that I see the soldiers. It sounds silly but the light bulb went off in my head. I knew right then I’m supposed to remember these soldiers and tell their story. My job is to make sure they are not lost to the pages of history.

So recharged and energized I want to remember our Civil War ancestors, research them, write about their lives and experiences and never forget that we stand on their shoulders today. I’m working on some ideas to do just that. I’m hoping that maybe you’ll give me a hand. Until then . . . .

I see the soldiers, do you?

 

Civil War Quick Tip: Take a look at the FamilySearch Memorial Day post

Memorial Day CrossesI hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. and that you got the chance to honor our fallen soldiers either in a moment of silent tribute or by visiting a cemetery.

Memorial Day is a holiday that has its roots in the Civil War. It was originally known as “Decoration Day” and folks both north and south set aside a specific spring day to pay tribute to their fallen veterans by decorating their graves.

FamilySearch.org did a neat blog post on May 22nd. They asked family historians to share stories of their favorite Civil War ancestor. I was honored to be among the four and wrote a short piece about my own Civil War ancestor. You can find that post here.

Along with some really moving stories about Civil War soldiers, FamilySearch gives several suggestions for Civil War research in their vast databases. You’re sure to find a tip, a record set, or a new search idea that will help you find more on your Civil War ancestors.

So please take a look at the FamilySearch post, “Family Historians Share Stories of Their Favorite Civil War Ancestors” and maybe leave a comment about your favorite or most interesting Civil War ancestor either on their blog or right here in my comments. I’d love to read about your own favorite or interesting Civil War ancestor.

Remembering His Ultimate Sacrifice

As we celebrate this Memorial Day weekend I thought I’d dedicate my posts to the Civil War veterans in my family. Memorial Day originally called Decoration Day was set aside to honor and remember Civil War soldiers. So in this post I want to remember my first cousin 4x removed who both fought and died in the Civil War George S. 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.

When politics became tumultuous in the early 1860’s and war became a reality the Vanmeter brother’s were quick to answer the president’s call for troops. Together both young men, George 20 years old and James now 18 joined Co. F 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry in the village of Rockport. They enlisted on September 6, and mustered in November 12, 1861.

The boys enlisted to serve their president, their country and maybe even to make their late father proud. Although in the same company their time spent together soon ended as James was sick often with lung disease and spent much time in and out of the hospital. George went on serving gallantly with the 4th.

Photo Credit: Cindy Freed

Photo Credit: Cindy Freed

The next events of George’s life can only be stated as facts without a lot of details. He married Samantha Allison January 27, 1862 in Allen County, Ohio. Perhaps he had permission to leave his company long enough to go home to wed. Next George is listed in the hospital on May 14, 1862 in Murfreesboro, TN and then discharged with a surgeon’s certificate of disability on June 16, 1862. His service to the 4th OVC complete. Going back home to join his bride, George and Samantha become the proud parents of a daughter Louisa on April 24, 1863.

George’s story doesn’t end here following a long, happy life and a house full of children. Whether he missed the camaraderie of his cavalry mates, had an overwhelming urge to preserve the union or he was pursued by a persistent enlistment officer, George did reenlist. This time in Co. G 9th OVC. He was mustered in as a private on October 9, 1863 just 16 months after receiving his discharge from the 4th.

Spending a couple of months at Camp Dennison the newly formed unit joined the regiment and was assigned patrol duty along the Tennessee River at Athens and Florence Alabama. On April 12, 1864 Co. G was spending the night on a farmer’s property near the river. George Vanmeter and a couple other men were on picket duty. The 27th and 35th Alabama completely surprised the men of the 9th OVC killing the three soldiers on picket duty and capturing the larger part of Co. G along with their horses, mules and supplies.

In that instant Samantha Vanmeter became a widow and Louisa a few days from her first birthday was fatherless. George Vanmeter was another casualty in the War Between the States.

In a strange twist of fate George’s brother James died seven weeks earlier at home on furlough. He succumbed to the continued illness and lung disease that wracked his body during his military service.

It’s not known where George Vanmeter is buried. His death is listed as “near Florence Alabama”. Perhaps he’s in an unmarked grave in a local cemetery or his final resting place is close to where he fell. In any event George gave “his last full measure” to his country.

So as celebrate Memorial Day tomorrow I want to remember my 1st cousin 4x removed George S. Van Meter. A casualty of the Civil War. A hero in his own right.