11 January 1863

¹ Neal mentions Lot’s siblings and in-laws: Addison (“Dick”) Howe Jackman (1826-1909) was married to Lot’s sister, Rebecca (“Becca”) Abraham (1832-1915) in the mid-1850s; Noah Johnson (1825-1920) was married to Lot’s sister, Sarah (“Sallie”) E. Abraham (1836-1912) in 1860; and Elijah (“Lige”) Roberts was married to Katherine (“Katie”) Abraham (1841-1871) in 1863.

² There is a Martin V. Farris enumerated in Henry County, Iowa, in 1863. This may have been Martin Van Buren Farris, b. 1839 in Indiana.

12 February 1863

¹ This must have been John C. Worth (b. 1805 in Germany) who resided in Jackson Township, Henry County, Iowa in the 1850s. His is the only family by the name of Worth in the county at that time.

² This may have been Soloman Stabler (b. 1813 in Pennsylvania) who resided in New London, Henry County, Iowa.

³ This was Collin Forbes (1803-1884), who resided in Center Township, Henry County, Iowa in the 1860s. James Forbes, mentioned in the letter, would have been 17 in 1863. This is most likely the Uncle Collin mentioned in the first paragraph. Collin’s wife was Jane Johnston of Fountain County, Indiana.

7 March 1863

¹ Samuel (“Sam”) Willeford, Jr. (1843-1909) was the son of Samuel Willeford (1815-1899) and Rhoda H. Jackson (1815-1899). He married Sarah A. Bailey in 1862. He enlisted with the 4th Iowa Cavalry, Company D in November 1861 but was mustered out on 6 February 1863 at Helena, Arkansas, just weeks before this letter was written.

² Andrew John Kerr (1835-1867) was Neal’s brother-in-law. He married Philena Alden in 1860. In September 1862, John Kerr enlisted for three years in the 25th Iowa Infantry, Co. H, which was organized at Mt. Pleasant. He was mustered out of the service on 22 February 1863 at Young’s Point, Louisiana — after less than six month’s service.

³ Red-headed Percilla Crawford Parcells married Neal’s step-brother, Isaac Newton (“Newt”) Rhodes (1836-1919) on 22 February 1863 in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. She was born in 1844 in New Jersey. She died on 29 August 1888 in Iowa. A portion of Newt’s obituary reads:

Born in Warren County, Ohio, April 9th,1836, he came with his parents to Iowa in 1851 and settled on a farm west of Mt. Pleasant where he has made his home until the time of his death. Raised as a Methodist he, in his younger life, was an active and ardent worker in this church and will be remembered by his former associates as a man to be depended on for any work that he might be called on to do. About the year 1878, he was converted to and embraced the Seventh Day Adventist faith, since which time he has been well known among the members of this church as a faithful worker in support of the principles that he believed to be right, and an advocate of the sublime truths as taught by the Divine Master of the Universe.

Intensely patriotic to his government at all times, he has the distinguished honor of being one of the first to enlist on the first day of Lincoln’s call for volunteers and left for the front at once as a member of Co. I, First Iowa Infantry, serving continuously with this regiment until mustered out when he re-enlisted in the 14th Iowa, and there served with an honor to his country until the end of the war, taking part in practically all the campaigns that his regiment was engaged in. [Daily News (Mt. Pleasant, IA) 9-3-19]

16 April 1863

¹ The Die Vernon steamboat apparently plied the waters of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. She is mentioned in the 15 September 1863 issue of the Illinois State Register (Springfield, IL) as lying at the wharf in St. Louis when the four steamboats — the Imperial, Hiawatha, Jesse K. Belle, & Post Boy — went up in flames and drifted down river. Though the flames spread “with amazing celerity”, the Die Vernon “marvelously escaped.”

² Neal’s step-brothers — Isaac Newton (“Newt”) Rhodes (b. 1836), Milton Rhodes (b. 1838), and [John] Wesley Rhodes (B. 1843) — all served in the 14th Iowa Infantry. Wesley was wounded, Newton and Milton were taken prisoners at Shiloh but escaped from Macon, Georgia.

³ Aaron J. Newby was 26, and living in Glasgow, Jefferson Co., Iowa, when he enlisted in Co. M of the 4th Iowa Cavalry on 30 October 1861, when the regiment was first organized. On 27 November 1861, while in Camp Harlan, he was elected as the 2nd Lieutenant of Co. M. He was assigned on detached duty as the Post Adjutant at Benton Barracks in St. Louis from March 1862 to December 1863. On 15 December 1863, Newby was discharged from the 4th Iowa Cavalry, and commissioned as the 1st Lieutenant and Adjutant on the Field & Staff of the 11th Missouri Cavalry. His orders read: “…mustered out as 2nd Lieutenant of the 4th Cavalry, and commissioned 1st Lieutenant & Adjutant of 11th Regiment Cavalry Missouri Volunteers by His Excellency, H. R. Gamble, Governor of Missouri, to fill a vacancy vice Parsons, promoted and mustered in upon the service to take effect Dec 15, 1863.” Newby tendered his resignation on 23 January 1865 and left the Army.

† The Marine Hospital was in the southern portion of St. Louis, below the Arsenal grounds, occupying an elevated and healthy position overlooking the river. It was a beautiful brick structure, built by the United States in 1854, and devoted to the care and attendance of sea-faring men.

14 May 1863

¹ Mt. Alden is probably the location of the Alden family homestead in Washington County, Ohio. There is a location known as “Alden” on today’s maps approximately 4 miles above Marietta on the Muskingum River. The elevation is given as 610 feet.

² Neal is referring to her paternal grandfather, Jonathan Alden (1785-1867). His home was probably at Mt. Alden.

³ Neal’s “Uncle Gilbert” is Barnabas Gilbert Alden (1821-1904) of Salem, Washington County, Ohio. He was married to Betsey True (b. 1824) and they had at least two children: Alice (b. 1845) and Warren (b. 1847). At the time of Neal’s visit to Washington County in 1863, Gilbert was on an extended furlough from the service convalescing at home. He was a 2d Lieut. in Co. H, 92nd Ohio Infantry. He returned to his regiment in mid-August 1863 but was mustered out in October 1863 at Chattanooga, Tennessee, on account of failing health.

† Jane Beery (1840-1922) was Neal’s friend from Henry County, Iowa. Jane was the daughter of Levi L. Beery (1814-1893) and Margaret Short (1818-1890).

3 June 1863

¹ Samuel (“Sam”) Rhodes (1829-18xx) was Neal’s cousin and step-brother — the son of John Wesley Rhodes (1800-1811) and Neal’s Aunt Sarah Thompson (1809-1847). After Sarah died (1847) and Neal’s father died (1850), Neal’s mother, Demaris, and Sam’s father, (John) married each other in 1851. Sam’s older brother, Clarkson Rhodes (1827-1881) went south before the war and became a captain in the Confederate Army during the Civil War according to one source. According to Military Records, Sam enlisted as a private in Company E, 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry, on 5 February 1863. He was later promoted to Corporal before mustering out of the service on 20 July 1865 at Fairfax Court House, VA. Regimental records indicate that Co. E, F, L, and M were formed at San Francisco, California in February 1863, left San Francisco for Readville, Massachusetts, in late March, and joined the regiment at Readville in mid-April 1863. They were known as the “California Battalion.”

² The Pixley Family that Neal visited in or near Marietta must have been Neal’s second cousin, Argulus Pixley, Jr. (1812-1894) — the son of Argulus Pixley (1773-1850) and Abigail Alden (1776-1857). Argulus, Jr. married Sarah Watkins (1814-1857) and had 6 children, the five youngest being young women about Neal’s age.

³ Neal’s “Uncle Rufus” was Rufus Gustavus Alden (1834-1897). Rufus was a half-brother to Neal’s father, Zephania. He was a son of Jonathan Alden (1785-1867) and Jonathan’s second wife, Orpha Rice (1796-1865). Rufus married Sophia Eliza Stacy (1834-1916) in May 1857. The children living at the time of Neal’s visit were: Clark Stacy Alden (1858-1866; drowned in Muskingum River), Charlie Rice Alden (1859-1879), and Russell True Alden (1861-1938).

† Neal is probably referring to the large mound, 30 feet high and 375 feet in diameter, that was in the center of the cemetery at Marietta. The mound was built by the Adena culture between 800 B.C. and 100 A.D.

15 June 1863

¹ Neal’s reference to a view from the cupola of the Insane Asylum” is no doubt responding to Lot’s mentioning in his recent letter having done so at the asylum north of Jackson, Mississippi. In his 1863 diary, Lot mentions returning to Asylum cupola on 11 July to view the fortifications surrounding the besieged city of Jackson, Mississippi.

24 June 1863

¹ Neal’s “Uncle Moses” was Moses True (1810-1885). Moses was married in 1836 to Mehitable Alden (1816-1897) — a sister of Neal’s father Zephania. Moses and Mehitable had several children: Melvin Clark True (1839-1920), Wilbur Loraine True (1841-1894), Hiram True (1844-1905), Abby Louisa True (1850-1881), Lucy Bryant True (1858-1878), and Julia Lucretia True (1862-1944). Moses True lived in Lower Salem near the Muskingum River where he engaged in the lumber business. Moses had three sons (Neal’s cousins) who served in Ohio Regiments during the Civil War:

Melvin C. True enlisted as a sergeant in Co. G, 36th Ohio Infantry in August 1861. He was mustered out of the service on 14 September 1864.

Wilber [or Wilbur] L. True enlisted as a private in Co. H, 92nd Ohio Infantry on 8 September 1862. He mustered out on 25 October 1863 at Camp Gallipolis, Ohio.

Hiram True enlisted as a private in Co. A, 129 Ohio Infantry on 7 July 1863. He mustered out of the service on 8 March 1864.

4 July 1863

¹ Alice Alden (1845-18xx) was Neal’s cousin — the daughter of Barnabas Gilbert Alden (1821-1904) and Betsey True (b. 1824) of Salem, Washington County, Ohio.

14 July 1863

¹ Neal’s uncle, Rufus Gustavus Alden, was married to Sophia Eliza Stacy (1834-1916). I assume this Stacy farm refers to Sophia’s father, John Stacy (1797-1876) who was living in 1863 with his second wife, Clarissa Phillips Frost (1806-1872).

² Confederate General John Hunt Morgan led a cavalry raid into Indiana and Ohio during the summer of 1863 designed to strike fear in the civilian population. The raiders entered Ohio on 13 July 1863. They crossed the Muskingum River just south of Zanesville. In Ohio alone, Morgan’s raiders stole 2,500 horses and robbed over 4,000 homes and businesses. They were finally captured in Columbiana County.

³ Warren Alden (b. 1847) was the Neal’s 16 year-old cousin — the son of Barnabas Gilbert Alden (1821-1904) and Betsey True.

16 August 1863

¹ Susannah (“Susan”) Abraham (1831-1907) was Lot’s sister.

² Neal’s “Uncle Philander” was Philander Alden (1830-19xx), a younger brother of Rufus Alden. Philander was a son of Jonathan Alden (1785-1857) and Orpha Rice (1796-1865). Philander married Mary Elizabeth Gould in 1853. Philander’s twin was named Philetus Alden (1830-1906).

³ Lt. John T. Tucker (1836-1863) served in Co. D, 4th Iowa Cavalry. He was wounded severely in the right thigh on 8 November 1862 at Marianna, Arkansas, but survived only to die of a “congestive chill” on 19 July 1863 at Milldale (near Vicksburg), Mississippi. Lt. Tucker was from Washington County but living in Henry County, Iowa, when he enlisted. His parents were Thomas Francis Tucker (1813-1895) and Rozilla (Zylah) Harris (1815-1846). He was married to Matilda Shafer.

17 August 1863

¹ Eunice M. Kelly (1843-1898) was the daughter of John Kelly (1815-1867) and Sarah Palmer (1811-1901) of Mount Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa. The Kelly’s relocated from Marietta, Ohio to Mount Pleasant in the 1850s. Eunice married Robert A. Chandler (1842-1918) in 1870. Robert was a Civil War Veteran, having served in Co. I, 14th Iowa Infantry for three years.

² Henry Leander Abbey (1835-1874) was the son of John Billings Abbey (1805-1876) and Abigail Harriet Kingsbury (1804-1844) of Baltimore, Henry County, Iowa. Leander married Margaret E. Wilson (1840-1908) in December 1864.

³ James (“Jim”) McGavic (1830-1863) enlisted in Co. G, 11th Iowa Infantry in 1861. Jim died of dysentery on 26 July 1863 at Black River Bridge, Mississippi. Jim was originally from Virginia but was residing in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, at the time of his enlistment.

24 August 1865

¹ Maj. Cornelius F. Spearman served with Co. D, 4th Iowa Cavalry. His obituary reads:

Major Cornelius Spearman who lived to the ripe age of 91 years and 25 days, had a very interesting life’s history. He was among those who sought wealth in California’s gold fields in early days, was a soldier in the Civil War and was identified with pioneer days.

His birth occurred in Morgan County, Ill., Feb. 3, 1831 and was the son of James D. and Cynthia Frogg Spearman, the former a native of North Carolina and the latter of Kentucky. The parents when removing to Iowa settled at Middletown, Iowa in 1840. They came to Center township near Pleasant Hill, Henry County where he resided until his father’s death in 1846 and his mother died in 1870.

Cornelius Spearman acquired his elementary education in the country school, afterwards attending Howe’s Academy. In 1852 he and two brothers and a brother-in-law went to California with ox teams they were on the way 3 months. They reached Nevada City and were engaged in mining for two and one half years. Selling this mine they started home by steamship but the boat struck a rock on Point Conception on the coast of Lower California. They were rescued by a mail boat and landed at Santiago. Mr. Spearman embarked from San Francisco on another boat and traveled by boat and land by way of Nicaragua and New York, came to Burlington by rail then by stage to Mt. Pleasant.

In the fall of 1861 he enlisted as a member of Company D, 4th Iowa Cavalry, which he raised and was elected Captain in 1863 was promoted to Major, serving three years as defender of the Union Cause.

On Nov. 15, 1860 he was united in marriage to Miss Julia A. Coiner, daughter of Christian and Elizabeth Coiner.

Major Spearman was called upon to mourn the death of his wife, June 17th, 1878, leaving seven children, all of whom have preceded him to the better land, but Allie wife of Geo. H. Smith, Frank on a farm near home. Major Spearman was a member of McFarland post No. 20 Grand Army and maintained cordial relations with all army comrades. He leaves two children, six grandchildren and seven great grandchildren and one sister, Mrs. James Holland to mourn his loss. He was laid to rest beside his wife and children at Pleasant Hill, March 1, 1922. [Undated obituary, probably from ‘Mt. Pleasant News’, March 1922]

2 September 1863

¹ Priscilla E. Andrews (1844-1924) was the 19 year-old daughter of Chester Newell Andrews (1816-1886) and Ann Sophia Ramsey (1815-1888) of Rawles, Mills County, Iowa. Priscilla married Nov. 20, 1867, at Hillsdale, Iowa, to Warren W. Davis, who was born March 6, 1844, at Quincy, Ill., and died Sept. 30, 1919, at Portland, Ore. Priscilla died Feb. 20, 1924, at Glendale, California.

2 September 1863

¹ Neal’s cousin, Milton Rhodes (1838-1922) — formerly of the 14th Iowa Infantry — was offered a commission as a Captain of Co. A in the 57th Regiment, US Colored Infantry. This unit was organized 11 March 1864 from the 4th Arkansas Infantry (African Descent). The unit served garrison duty in Helena and Little Rock, Arkansas, and was engaged in minor skirmishes in Arkansas until mustered out in 1866.

² John William Alden (1840-1915) was the son of Paschal Alden (1810-1873) and Asenath Newland (1809-1864). Paschal was the older brother of Neal’s father, Zephania. Regimental records confirm that John W. Alden served as a private in Co. B, 89th Indiana Infantry.

21 September 1863

¹ This is probably a reference to Sam Rhodes, Neal’s cousin (and step-brother), who served in the California Battalion (Co. E) of the 2d Massachusetts Cavalry. See footnote in 3 June 1863 Letter.

² Amon Logsdon Ogg (1837-1923) was a 24 year-old Ohio native residing in Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa when he enlisted as a private in Co. D of the 4th Iowa Cavalry in late 1861. He was promoted to 1st Sergeant on 1 July 1862 and was wounded on 8 November 1862 in action at Marianna, Arkansas. He was later promoted to 2d Lieutenant on 2 February 1864 and mustered out with his company on 8 August in Atlanta. He was married to Mary McCoy (1842-1918) in 1859. After the war, Ogg entered the insurance business in Indianola, Iowa. [Ogg’s wife, Mary McCoy, was probably a cousin of Lot Abraham as Lot’s mother was also a McCoy and from Guernsey, Ohio.]

³ Hugh Marion Pickel (1841-1921) was the son of Rufus and Emiline (Lotspeich) Pickel. He entered the service as a private in Co. D, 4th Iowa Cavalry and emerged a 1st Lieutenant. After the war he resided in Des Moines, Iowa.

27 September 1863

¹ Andrew John Kerr (1835-1867) was Neal’s brother-in-law. He was the son of Andrew Kerr (1805-1839) and Sarah Porter (1804-1893). John was married to Philena Alden (1840-1888) in 1860. I have not yet learned the circumstances surrounding John Kerr’s death; family records indicate he drowned in the Des Moines River near Murray, Minnesota in April 1867. After John’s father died in 1839, his mother remarried to Mathew McDowell in Venango County, Pennsylvania and came west to Center Township, Henry County, Iowa in 1856 where Mathew purchased 130 acres of partially improved land. John and his two older brothers, Joseph (b. 1829), and David (b. 1832) made the journey with their mother and step-father.

7 October 1863

¹ Edward Payson Howe (1838-1915), the son of Samual Luke Howe (1808-1877) and Charlotte Perrin (1811-1896), was married to Francis (“Frank”) C. Fowler on 30 September 1863 in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Francis must have died prior to 1870, however, as Edward remarried in that year to Ella Powers Sunderland (1840-1904).

² Franklin Rhodes (1835-1890) was Neal’s cousin (and step-brother). Franklin is enumerated in 1863 Draft Registration Records as a 29 year-old single man residing in Jefferson, Shelby County, Missouri. Once source says that he relocated to Kansas Territory before the war and fought with a Kansas Regiment but I cannot corroborate that from military records.

³ Jane Boyles (1839-18xx) was the wife of James L. Boyles (1829-18xx). The Boyles had at least three children by the time Neal wrote this letter in 1863: Elizabeth Boyles (b. 1858), Priscilla S. Boyles (b. 1860) and James William Boyles (b. 1861). Census records suggest the Boyles were originally from Pennsylvania, then in Iowa in 1856, in Virginia in 1860, but back in Iowa by 1861. Jane’s maiden name is not known.

† Cousin Melvin Clark True (1839-1920) served in Co. G. 36th Ohio Infantry. Though Neal does not reveal the engagement in which Melvin was wounded, it was probably at the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia (19-21 September 1863) in which his unit participated.

‡ Neal’s cousin in Memphis, we learn from a previous letter, was John William Alden (1840-1915) serving with Co. B, 89th Indiana Infantry. See: 2 September 1863 Letter.

19 October 1863

¹ William Milo Stone (1827-1893) was Iowa’s 6th Governor. When the Civil War broke out, Stone enlisted as a private in the Union Army. He was quickly promoted to captain, and then major, of Company B, Third Iowa Infantry. He fought and was wounded at the Battle of Liberty, but returned to fight at the Battle of Shiloh, where he was taken prisoner. Stone was paroled by Jefferson Davis and sent to Washington, D.C. to negotiate an exchange of prisoners; after initially failing to reach an agreement, he returned to Confederate captivity, was again paroled, and was released after an exchange agreement was reached. In 1862, Stone was promoted to colonel of the 22nd Iowa Infantry. He led that unit in the Vicksburg Campaign, and was again wounded at the Battle of Vicksburg.

Stone was named the Republican nominee for Governor in June 1863, and resigned from the Union Army in August. He was elected by a large margin in the general election, defeating Union general James Madison Tuttle. He was reelected in 1865. Stone was a friend of Abraham Lincoln and was present when Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre; Stone helped carry the wounded Lincoln across the street.

After leaving the governor’s office in 1868, Stone served one term in the Iowa House of Representatives (1877–78), and was appointed Assistant Commissioner and then Commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office. He died of pneumonia in 1893 in Oklahoma, and is buried at Graceland Cemetery in Knoxville, Iowa.

1 November 1863

¹ Neal’s cousin Wilber L. True (1844-1894) served in Co. H, 92nd Ohio. We learn from this letter that Wilber has been in a hospital at Gallipolis, Ohio for a year recuperating from a wound that has crippled one of his arms. Company records indicate he was mustered out on 25 October 1863 at Gallipolis on receipt of a surgeon’s certificate of disability. The records don’t reveal how or where Wilber received his wound; the only engagement in which the 92nd Ohio participated in late 1862 was at Pocataligo Creek, Virginia. An 1890 Veteran’s Schedule lists Wilber but the field in which the soldier’s disability is customarily completed is curiously blank.

On 22 September 1867, Wilber True and Sarah White were united in marriage by Rev. Charles Ruchman in Washington County, Ohio. In the 1880 Census, however, Wilber was enumerated in the household of his father Moses in Lower Salem, Ohio, where his occupation is given as “farmhand.” When Wilber died in 1894, his widow, Mary C. (Warwick) True (1858-1914), filed for a Widow’s Pension.

23 November 1863

¹ This was probably Alpheus Cornwell who served in Co. D of the 4th Iowa Cavalry. Neal’s information was inaccurate, however. Alpheus served out the remainder of the war with his unit and lived until 1909.

² This must have been Robert Kirtley of Henry County who enlisted in Co. H, 25 Iowa Infantry. He died at Corinth, Mississippi.

³ This was probably John Walker Andrews (1838-1925) of New London, Henry County, Iowa. He was the son of Isaac Andrews (1806-1878) and Harriet Farr (1811-1882). Walker served in Co. D, 4th Iowa Cavalry.

† Unfortunately I have not been able to definitively confirm the identity of these individuals. For example, a search of the Co. K roster, 4th Iowa Cavalry, did not reveal any cavalrymen named Jackson — first or last name. Perhaps Neal was referring to DeWilder C. Jackson of Mt. Pleasant who served in Co. H. Also, the Maggie Todd–John Bennet marriage in 1863 remains a mystery. I could find no marriage records to confirm this; only a single, scant, and unsourced genealogical entry on Ancestry.com that lists a Margaret Jane Todd (1844-1931), a native of Pennsylvania, who married a John Bennett, a native of Springfield, Illinois, in 1867 (though their first child’s birth is given as 1865). Perhaps this is the couple that Neal referred to. They resided in later years in Webster County, Nebraska.

30 November 1863

¹ Aaron J. Newby (1837-1901) married Mary Frances Howe (1842-18xx) on 19 November 1863 in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. For more on Newby, see 16 April 1863 letter.

² Neal is most certainly referring to Lydia Frazier (1846-1863) who died on 5 November 1863 in Mt. Pleasant. She was the daughter of Elijah and Orpha (Pidgeon) Frazier of Salem, Henry County, Iowa. Neal’s words are cryptic, mystifying, and imply foul play with respect to Lydia’s death. More research is needed on this tragic event.

31 December 1863

¹ Neal was misinformed. Lot’s brother, John Abraham, did not marry Margaret (“Maggie”) R. Slater (1845-Bef1930). Maggie was the daughter of Thomas Slater (1801-1885) and Eleanor Pottenger (1806-1878). Maggie married Thomas J. Yount (1841-1900) in April 1875.

9 March 1864

¹ Neal is probably referring to Sherman’s raid into Mississippi — sometimes called the Meridian Campaign — which consumed most of the month of February 1864. The 4th Iowa Cavalry participated. See Lot Abraham’s 1864 Diary.

18 April 1864

¹ The New Gospel of Peace, according to St. Benjamin, was published in 1863 by New York Publisher Sinclair Tousey. It is a political (Anti-Copperhead) humorous satire that tells the tale of Lee’s invasion into Pennsylvania in mock biblical language.

² Though she does not identify her by name, the aunt that Neal visited in Martinsville, Ohio, was Malvina Charlotte (Alden) Clark (1836-1904), the wife of John Septimus Clark whom she married in August 1860. Malvina had two girls by her first husband, Caleb Oliver Robinson (1830-1858). The girls were Frances Dudley Robinson (1854-1860) and Addie Elenora Robinson (1856-19xx). John and Malvina had one child named Ethel May Clark, born in Belmont, Ohio on April 28, 1864 — just days after Neal’s visit.

³ The suspension bridge over the Ohio River at Wheeling was completed in 1849. The island has been called by various names throughout its history, including Zanes Island and Madison Island. It is now referred to as Wheeling Island. It is a large island in the Ohio River near Wheeling.

9 May 1864

¹ The Battle of Fort Pillow (also known as the Fort Pillow Massacre) was fought on 12 April 1864 at Fort Pillow on the Mississippi River in Henning, Tennessee. The battle ended with a massacre of surrendered Federal black troops by soldiers under the command of Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

² Neal was caring for her Aunt Mehitable (Alden) Moses (1816-1897), the wife of Moses True (1810-1885) of Lower Salem, Washington County, Ohio. Their eldest son, Melvin Clark True, is the soldier that Neal often called “her favorite cousin.”

23 June 1864

¹ Neal’s comment lacks specificity but she is probably referring to the engagement at Guntown in which the 4th Iowa Cavalry participated. Lot mentions in his diary that he wrote letters upon the unit’s return to Memphis on 14 June 1864.

² Though Neal does not mention her uncle’s name, he may have been Paschal Alden (1810-1873) who is known to have moved to Noblesville, Indiana. The Anderson depot would have been within 15 miles from to Paschal’s home. Paschal was Zephaniah’s older brother.

25 June 1864

¹ Lot’s diary corroborates Neal’s claim that he wrote her on June 17th. Lot wrote the letter from Memphis where access to good mail service enabled the letter to reach Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, in only a week.

² Neal is probably referring to her friend, Henry Leander Abbey (1835-1874). He was the son of John Billings Abbey (1805-1876) and Abigail Harriet Kingsbury (1804-1844) of Baltimore, Henry County, Iowa. Leander married Margaret E. Wilson (1840-1908) in December 1864.

³ Neal’s uncle, Asa Thompson (1829-1895), was 20 years younger than her mother. He was married to Emma Ables (1828-1910) at Mt. Pleasant in 1850. By 1864 when this letter was written, they had four children: Augustus (b. 1851), Katie (b. 1853), Thomas Edward (b. 1860), and John A. (b. 1862). We learn from this letter the Thompson family resided in Canaan, Henry County, Iowa, though they later moved to Kansas.

4 July 1864

¹ The secessionist government was often referred to as a “hydra-headed monster” by the northern press.

² Pauline Willeford (1832-18xx) married David Smith Hitt (1822-1893) in June 1849 in Henry County, Iowa. On-line genealogical records for this couple are scanty and say nothing about their having lived in California in the 1850s.

8 July 1864

¹ This may have been Mary Thompson (b. 1842), the daughter of Neal’s uncle, John Wesley Thompson (1811-1847) and Margaret S. Van Horne (1819-18xx) of Zanesville, Ohio.

17 July 1864

¹ “Old Jonathan” was undoubtedly the same Jonathan Jones who was born a Quaker near Freeport, Harrison County, Ohio, on 12 Feb 1815, making him almost 50 years old when this letter was written. A descendant wrote of him that he was “disowned by the Quakers as a teenager, [yet] he nevertheless moved with his Quaker parents, Isaac and Mary Millison Jones, and his six siblings, to Salem, Henry County, Iowa, probably in the spring of 1840. They were joined shortly by members of the Buffington, Jackman, and Millison kindred who shared the same origins in Pike Run Twp., Washington Co., PA. Jonathan soon bought land and moved to the site of Pilot Grove in Lee County. About 1843, he married (1) Eleanor Steele (b. abt 1820), of currently unproved Ohio parentage. They had six children, three surviving infancy. The three who did not were Abigail 1845 (10 mo 28 days), Henrietta 1851 (1 yr 8 mo 2 days), and William 1853 (6 mo 10 days). They are buried in the Old Pilot Grove Cemetery with their mother, the first four interments there. After Eleanor died in 1858, the year Pilot Grove was platted, Jonathan married (2) Sarah Buffington from Cincinnati about 1866. Sarah was his first cousin once removed (his maternal grandparents and her paternal great grandparents held in common). They had three sons, William Harry, Walter Clyde, and (Dr.) George Washington Jones. The family moved to Keokuk, Iowa, in 1874. Jonathan died there in 1883.”

From Neal’s letter we learn that Jonathan took a wife named “Mrs. Boyle” before he married his cousin Sarah. That marriage apparently ended in divorce. The daughter of Jonathan’s who accompanied them to the circus in West Point, Iowa, was probably Hariet Jones (1845-19xx) who later married a Goodell. Hariet recalled that her father’s house served as the post office and the stage stop between for a service that ran from Salem to West Point, Iowa. [Source: 1893 letter edited by Gair Tourtellot (2008)]

² Cyrus Lewis Garretson (1839-1889) was born in Darby Creek, Franklin County, Ohio (west of Columbus).

³ Once again, the rumors of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s death proved false; he lived until 1877. After the war, Gen. Sherman investigated the allegations against Forrest for the ordering the murder of black Union soldiers who had surrendered at Fort Pillow in April 1864. He concluded there was insufficient evidence to charge him with war crimes. Forrest went on to organize the Ku Klux Klan following the war.

† Gold was discovered on Orofino Creek (Idaho) in the fall of 1860.

31 July 1864

¹ Company records don’t indicate what happened to Sam Rhodes (b. 1829) in the aftermath of this July engagement but he was not killed as Neal apprehended. He mustered out of the service with his unit in July 1865. [See footnotes on Neal’s letter of 3 June 1863.] The engagement is not identified by Neal but it was undoubtedly the raid on Washington D. C. in which confederate forces under Jubal Early nearly marched into the streets of the Nation’s capital. Fierce fighting in the streets at the margin of the city finally turned back the confederates.

² Union Leagues were started all over the North during the Civil War to promote loyalty to the Union and the policies of the Lincoln administration.

31 January 1865

¹ While teaching school among the quakers in or near Salem, Henry County, Iowa, Neal apparently resided with the Pidgeon family whose farm was located a little south of Salem. Isaac Marion Pidgeon (1793-1876) and his wife Phoebe Kester (1799-1872) had 11 children, though at least three had died and several had married before Neal boarded with them in 1865.

8 February 1865

¹ Margaret B. (“Maggie”) Bartlett (1846-1915) was the sister of Catherine Margaret (“Kate” or “Kitty) Bartlett (1842-1901) who married Lot’s brother, John McCue Abraham on 5 February, 1865, just three days before this letter was written. The Bartlett sisters were the daughters of John William Bartlett (1807-1885) and Catharine Carmichael (1808-1879) who married (1830) in Dearborn County, Indiana, and emigrated to Iowa in 1854.

John and Kitty Abraham lived in Henry County until the spring of 1881 when they relocated to Nebraska, settling in the Elkhorn River Valley of Douglas County. In this family photograph taken in 1898, John and Kitty are shown (lower left) with their children.

² The Prairie Flower was a novel written by Emerson Bennett in 1849. The subject was the Oregon Territory though Bennett had never traveled there himself.

19 February 1865

¹ The identity “Miss Packer” — the Salem schoolteacher — remains a mystery though it it clear Neal was brought in to assist her in controlling the unruly scholars. Neal likened her role as that of a “thresher machine” — used but briefly in harvesting the crop. Though she may have envied Miss Packer’s education, Neal finds Miss Packer’s lack of experience in “taming a few of” Salem’s “unfledged hopefuls” frustrating.

² William A. Saunders (1818-1865) was the son of Gunnell Saunders (1783-1848) and Polly Mauzy (1784-1851). William followed his brothers to Iowa from Illinois in 1845 and then married Louisa Dickey (1826-1904) in 1850. He was a merchant in Mt. Pleasant until his death on 14 February 1865. William and Louisa had five children though only the child who was born 6 months after his father’s death survived infancy to become an adult.

³ Capt. James Thomas Drummond (1824-1890) married Susan Parr on 5 February 1865. Susan was Drummond’s second wife. He was first married in 1847 to Eliza Ramsey in Indiana and came to Iowa with his family of three children in 1854. A Mexican War Veteran, Drummond quickly responded to his country’s call by organizing the company that was designated as Co. K in the 4th Iowa Cavalry during the Civil War.

24 February 1865

¹ Neal is referring to oil boom that struck the Duck Creek valley north of Marietta, Ohio, during the winter of 1864-65. Land sales skyrocketed as eastern papers published stories of the rich oil- producing region. At first, mostly bottomland real estate rose in value but in the spring of 1865 even hillside farms were being sold for a substantial profit to oil speculators — some of it belonging to Neal’s relatives.

² Bentonsport, Iowa — a small village on the Des Moines River — was once an important river-port stop used by steamers.

12 March 1865

¹ Eliza Jane Willeford (1837-1865) was the daughter of Baley Willeford (1810-1890) and Sarah (“Sally”) Hunt (1808-1880) of Tippecanoe, Henry County, Iowa. The Willeford’s were neighbors to Rev. Samuel Thompson (Neal’s uncle and father-in-law). Sam Willeford, mentioned elsewhere in these letters, was a nephew of Baley Willeford. Jane and her brother John D. Willeford (1808-1880) were both residing with their parents in July 1864 when Neal visited them on their farm (see letter of 4 July 1864). Jane died on 8 March 1865 at the age of 27.

² Neal’s grandmother was Orpha (Rice) Alden (1796-1865). She died 4 March 1865.

³ George Jordan Sharp, Jr. (1836-1865) was the son of George J. Sharp (1809-1875) and Mary C. Edmundson (1808-1838). George enlisted in Co. D, 4th Iowa Cavalry as a corporal and rose to the rank of 2d Lieutenant before mustering out in July 1863. [See Capt. Lot Abraham’s 1863 Diary.] He died on 9 March 1865 in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

23 April 1865

¹ The great cavalry expedition — later coined “Wilson’s Raid” — was orchestrated by Brig. Gen. James H. Wilson (who commanded the Cavalry Corps of the Military Division of the Mississippi, but was attached to Thomas’s army). Gen. Thomas ordered Wilson to lead a raid through Alabama and strike the arsenal at Selma where Confederates still maintained a military base in March 1865. After capturing the Selma Arsenal, Wilson’s horsemen went on to victory in the Battle of Columbus, which is often referred to as the last battle of the Civil War as it was fought on 16 April 1865 after Lee’s surrender and President LIncoln’s assassination.

² The Course of Time was a ten-book poem in blank verse written by Scottish poet Robert Pollock. It was first published in 1827. An illustrated edition was published in 1857 which renewed its popularity.

28 May 1865

¹ Neal’s grandfather was Rev. Samuel Thompson (1782-1867).

4 July 1865

¹ The “sick woman” Neal was referring to was the wife of David Z. Frick (1818-18xx), a resident and former mayor (1852) of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Though twenty years older than his wife, David was married to Lucinda Pixley, the daughter of Benjamin and Lydia (Conner) Pixley. Lucinda died on 18 July 1865 as Neal will tell Lot in her letter of July 22nd. Lucinda’s death may have been from complications related to childbirth as her infant son, Charles Frick, died on 21 May 1865 within two weeks of his delivery.

² Mag’s “lover” Enoch may have been 2d Sergeant Enoch A. Sexson (1841-1921) who served with Lot Abraham in Co. D, 4th Iowa Cavalry.

9 July 1865

¹ Neal is referring to the Benjamin F. Pixley family of Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa. Benjamin was a wagon-maker and wheelwright who was born in Marietta, Ohio in 1810. He married Mydia V. Conner in 1833 and came to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa in 1843. Their children were Theodore, Francis, Waldo, Webster, George, and Zella. We learn from this letter that Webster or “Web” (1845-1916) met his future wife, Emma Faulkenberry (1848-1880) while being held a prisoner of war in Columbus, Georgia. Web served with the 17th Iowa Infantry throughout the war. They were married in 1866.

22 July 1865

¹ Joel Jones (1826-1918) was the husband of Caroline Rhodes (1830-1908). Caroline was the daughter of Neal’s aunt Sarah Thompson (1809-1847) who married John Wesley Rhodes (1800-1881).

² These cousins of Neal’s from Zanesville, Ohio, were probably Mary Thompson (b. 1842; the daughter of John Wesley Thompson and Margaret Van Horne) and Frances or “Frank” Thompson (b. 1846, the daughter of Samuel Thompson and Sarah Laudner).

27 July 1865

¹ Thomas Nicholson (1820-1907) was the son of John and Sarah Nicholson of North Carolina. Thomas and his wife Margaret Maxwell lived in Indiana for a time before relocating to Henry County, Iowa.

² Neal is referring to the Iowa Lunatic Asylum that opened in Mount Pleasant in 1861. Portions of the facility were not completed until 1865.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s