Past and Present of Isabella County, Michigan
By the Hon. Isaac A. fancher
Today is Washington’s birthday anniversary and our minds naturally recur to the to the events of that time and the life of the Father of his Country. Who can dare to divine what this country and nation might or would have been had it not been for that great man, and his leadership in the tremendous events that followed during his active life. He helped to carve out and preserve, all things considered, the greatest nation on earth.
Isabella county can not boast of any great events in the Civil War for which she can take credit, but she can claim that according to her population at that time she gave more men in proportion to her population than any other county in the state, if not in the nation. Her total population in 1860 was but one thousand four hundred forty-five, divided about equally between whites and Indians. The government took from us about sixty-seven Indians who enlisted in the various departments of the army, many of them going into the service as sharpshooters. Of the whites, the record shows that fifty-three enlisted into the army under the enrollment system, and that six re-enlisted in the field, and that the product of the draft was twenty-six, besides one drafted man commuted. There were of the one-year men forty, and of the three-year men forty-six. The total credit under the enrollment system was eighty-six and those enlisting before September 19, 1863, were Fifty-one, making a total of one hundred thirty-seven.
The number enrolled for draft September 10, 1862, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, was two hundred seventy-one. Another enrollment was made in the summer of 1864, divided into two classes; for the first class there were one hundred fifty-three, and in the second class, sixty-one. The order was then made to draft one-fifth of the first class so enrolled. In June, 1864, the draft took place.
The credits then stood for Isabella, the number enlisted prior to January, 1864, as sixty-one and from January to October 31, 1864, fifty-five, with three more that were credited as having enlisted prior to January 1, 1864, making a total of one hundred nineteen. The enrollment for draft stood, December 31, 1864, as one hundred twenty-three and the quota under the call of December 19, 1864, was fifteen for Isabella County.
There has always been in the county a sentiment and belief that the county of Isabella did not get her proper credits for all the men that enlisted and entered the army, but that quite a number were virtually sold or given to other counties and that they received the credit that Isabella should have been entitled to. Let be as it may, there were times during the continuance of the. Civil war that there was scarcely an able-bodied man left in the county. Who can estimate or measure the privations that the families of the soldier underwent while the head of the family was away fighting for the perpetuity of the government? Could the reader of this article have been here and seen the various families of the soldier who had gone to the front, living in the woods in a little log hut, with barelv the absolute necessities of life, digging her fire wood from under the snows in the winter and caring for the cow in the stable or hunting the cow in the summer in a pasture as vast as the boundaries of the township or county, trudging through the woods and listening for the sound of the bell jingling from the neck of the almost entire support of herself and little ones. Or while she was sitting in the corner of her cabin, waiting and watching for the mail carrier, who should bring her a letter from her husband, with the pittance that Uncle Sam should have given him for his services in defense of his country; or to watch the tears trickling down her cheeks when the carrier goes by, leaving her neither money nor tidings of the dear one at the front. In our prosperity today, I fear we think too lightly of
the days long gone by when the boys were at the front and the families dependent upon them were left behind to get along as best they might. Many of our best and most able-bodied men went to the front, and many failed to return; they remained a sacrifice to the cause of freedom.
This day the remnant left of those brave boys of the sixties are now holding a meeting in commemoration of the birthday of the Father of our Country. The post of Mt. Pleasant has invited the Shepherd post, with the Relief Corps, to meet with them and to be their guests, to sup with them and enjoy such hospitality as they have, and none can have better. They are enjoying the music, the speeches and the children's presentations. Yet every meeting finds their ranks thinner than they were at the last one, and some sadder faces on account of the absence of one dear to them who has ceased to answer the roll call.
The people at home tried to make the burden a little less to those who went to the front, or at least some them. The board of supervisors, February 8, 1864, passed a resolution granting a bounty of two hundred dollars to each one who enlisted and was credited or who was drafted and credited and accepted. One hundred dollars was to be paid in one year and the other one hundred dollars to be paid in two years.
A REMARKABLE RECORD.
It may be a little irregular, but I think that I shall be pardoned
introducing this bit of history for the benefit
of the younger generations who know little if anything about war, and because the soldier is a citizen of Isabella county. He was a member of the One Hundred and Fifty-first Regiment, New York State Volunteers, First Brigade, Third Division, Sixth Corps, Army of the Potomac, and these are the battles he was engaged in: Brandy Station, Virginia, June 9, i863; Wapping Heights, Virginia, Julv 20, 1863; McLean's Ford, Virginia, October 5, 1863; Catiet's Station, Virginia, October 15, 1863; Kelly's Ford, Virginia, November 7, 1863; Mine Run, Virginia, November 26, 1863; Locust Grove, Virginia, November 27, 1863;also Wilderness Virginia, May 5, 6, 7, 1864; Spottsylvania Court House 1864; Spottsylvania, and Laurel Hill, Virginia, May 10 and 21, inclusive, 1864; North Anna, Virginia, May 22 and 26, inclusive, 1864; Tolopotomy, Virginia, May 27 and 30, inclusive, 1864; Hanover Court House,Virginia, May 31, 1864; Cold Harbor, Virginia, June 1, 2, 3, 1864; before deep Petersburg, Virginia, June 17 and July 5, inclusive, 1864; Weldon Railroad, Virginia, June 21, 22, 23, 1864; Monocacy, Maryland, July 9, 1864; Snickers and Gap, West Virginia, August 11, 1864; Berryville, West Virginia, August 10,1864; Winchester, West Virginia, August 11, 1864; Middletown, West Virginia, August 12, 1864; Strausburg, West Virginia, August 13, 1864; Charles- town,West Virginia, August 2 1, 1864; Lectown, West Virginia, August 28-29, 1864; Smithfield or Berryville, West Virginia, September 3, 1864; Opequon Creek, West Virginia, September 19, 1864; Fisher Hill, West Virginia, September 22, 1864; Mount Jackson, West Virginia, September 24, 1864; Strausburg, West Virginia, October 14, 1864; Cedar Creek or Sheridan's Ride, West Virginia, October i8, 1864; Appomattox, Virginia, April 9, 1864; Sailor's Creek, Virginia, April 6, 1865; Petersburg Works, Virginia, March 25, 1865, and fall of Petersburg, Virginia, April 2, 1865. This is a part of the war record of William H. Salsbury, of Deerfield township, Isabella county. And a most remarkable record it is.
During 1863-4, after many had enlisted and the call was made for more troops, the people became very much exercised, as it began to look as if a draft was sure to follow. The government was sending out recruiting officers and one came to Isabella county to see what could be done here. He escorted through the settlements by S. Woodworth, who enlisted with others and went to the front. They held war meetings, where the men were persuaded to join the army of the United States. The first war meeting was held at the house of Azariah Dunham, in the township of Lincoln, he having the most commodious one of the settlement, and, although it had neither door or window in it, answered the purpose and the meeting was the means of several enlisting. The meeting had been well advertised, as they had distributed notices in and had nailed them to the trees along the trail through the timber, so that a good crowd was secured. Chairs in those days were scarce, so that logs were sawed off into blocks and they were placed on end around the inside of the building, and sap troughs, with a few loose boards placed upon them, were also in use for seats. For lights, there were a couple of tallow dips sputtering on a rough pine table, so that, all in all, we were all well accommodated. Old patriotic songs were sung, speeches made and papers read to show how things were going at the front and to what straits the country was put to on account of the treason of the South. The songs were sung with a zest, the deep bass, the tenor and the masculine soprano, with the inspiration of Old John Brown in their hearts, made the woods ring with the old patriotic songs, and when any one stepped forward and signed the roll there came up such a shout as can only be heard connected with patriotism. These meetings were kept up at different places in the county, at Salt River and in the township of Chippewa, until nearly every able-bodied man had signed for the army.
After a few days orders came to go to the front and the sad leave-taking on was had. The oxen were hitched to the old double wagon, the family placed thereon and a start was made to the Indian Mills, where the enlisted were to meet and from there were to go down the Chippewa river on a raft provided for their journey. The roads were trails through the woods across the swamps and over the corduroy,it recalls to memory the parody on Poe's "Raven":
"Once upon a spring time dreary,
While we plodded, weak and weary,
Over many a bog and muddy hole,
Of the treacherous roads of yore,
While we bumped and splashed and floundered
Through the swamps that we encountered,
Oft we stopped awhile and pondered
And sometimes I fear we swore."-E.L.W.
After an all-day's journey over these delectable roads, we arrived at our destination and put up for the night. In the morning all was made ready for the soldiers' departure. The raft that had been made to float them down the river was loaded with the luggage, blankets, rations and bedding. When at last all was ready, the bank of the river was lined with the families and friends of those departing, the last kiss was given, the last goodbye was said and the raft was made loose, swung out into the current of the stream and they were afloat. Then it was that the wife and family realized what war meant and sobs could be heard, and tears were shed as they turned away from the shore of the river and once more were afloat on the shore of time, little knowing what the tempest of war would bring to them. In that company were Samuel Woodworth, Daniel McLarn, Alonzo Holland,, Joseph Atkins, with probably some others.
Here is a partial list of those who went into the army from Isabella: Joseph Miser, Azariah Dunham, A. J. Goodsell, Samuel Loveland, H. S. Bouton, Samuel Woodworth, Lucky Doolittle, D. H. Nelson, Willard McQueen, Thomas Campbell, Daniel Brickley, C. B. Young, Henry Cannute, Calvin Bigelow, George Bellinger, Monroe Kinter, Benjamin Cahoon, H. 0. Bigelow, Martin Cop (died in Andersonville prison), Orin Johnson, C. C. Foutch, David Foutch, William Cowden, Jacob Armstrong, Frank Cushway, William Froggett, Daniel Robbinson, John Mouser, William McClintic, George Scott, Charles Hall, Hiram Ellsworth, Hart Ellsworth, Adelbert Martin, Paul Smith, Harvey Wardwell, Steven Losey, Calvin Losey, Horace Bellinger, Warren Wing, George H. Stockharn, Daniel Maclarn, Keit Landon, Lien Landon, Charles Dunham, Stephen Murthy, Northrop, Leonard Ives, Jacob Smith, James Hoag, Andrew J. Gould, Caswell, Lou Holland, Little, Jake Smith, R. Kyes, Charles Crippin, Newton Merrill, Neat Beach, Richard Wonch, George Gruber, Andrew Childs, David Black, Samuel Titus, Peter Hawley, Charles Handy, Henry Kinter, Andrew Condon, Oscar Condon.
WOMAN'S RELIEF CORPS.
In connection with every well regulated Grand Army of the Republic post there is a Woman's Relief Corps. The Wa-ba-no Woman's Relief Corps No. 56 was organized September 11,1885, by Emma Stark Hampton, deputy to president, with fifteen charter members, as follows: Mrs. Ellen A. Hicks, Mrs. Sarah Churchill, Mrs. Maria Brown, Mrs. Minnie E. Woodworth, Mrs. Ella Bowen, Mrs. Adaline Sanderson, Mrs. Alice J. Conlogue, Mrs. Lydia A. Pferdsteller, Mrs. Dora Whitney, Mrs. Cora J. Ralph, Mrs. Nora S. Love, Mrs. Helen J. Watson, Mrs. Olive Simonds, Mrs. Kate Harris, Mrs. Stella Jeffords.
The first officers elected were: President, Mrs. Ellen A. Hicks; senior vice president,Mrs. Sarah Churchill; junior vice-president, Mrs. Nora S. Love; secretary, Mrs. Kate Harris; treasurer, Mrs. Ella Bowen; chaplain, and Minnie Woodworth; conductor, Mrs. Dora E. Whitney; guard, Mrs. Marie Brown.
The corps has been kept up ever since it first started and has been a source of much good, especially to the old soldiers and their families, as well as to the public. There is never any great doings by the Grand Army Post that they do not have some prominent part to perform, and especially when they desire to have a good dinner or supper, then the ladies of the corps are very much in evidence. For instance, at the last gathering of the post they invited the Salt River or Shepherd post to be present and be guests of the Wa-ba-no post. A sumptuous feast was set before them by the Woman's Relief Corps of Mt. Pleasant and they also furnished a good portion of the entertainment in the way of singing, marching, with the drill of the young girls, dressed in low, appropriate dress, with their flags unfurled to the breeze, which made a fine appearance and pleased the audience very much.
The officers of 1911 are as follows: President, Rebecca Gardner; senior vice-president, Dora -E. Daggett; junior vice-president, Mary Weller; secretary, Emily Tottu; treasurer, Ellen A. Hicks; chaplain, Margaret Mull; conductor, Janette Johnson; assistant conductor, Mary Skidmore; guard, Ada Coffin; assistant guard, Lucinda Dush; patriotic instructor Sarah Hoag; press correspondent, Ella Fonch; musician, Lydia Brownstetter; color bearer No. 1, Jennie Brownstetter; color bearer No. 2, Rebecca Wells; color bearer NO. 3, Anna E. Lea; color bearer No. 4, Malissa Stevenson. The present number belonging to the corps is 45. The object's of these auxiliary organizations are grand and noble. They are to specially aid and assist the Grand Army of the Republic and perpetuate the memory of their, heroic dead; to assist such Union veterans as need our help and protection, and to extend Heedful aid to their widows and orphans; to find them homes and employment, and assure them of sympathy and friends; to cherish and emulate the public deeds of our army nurses and of all loyal women who rendered loving service to our country in her hour of peril; to maintain true allegiance to the United States of America; to inculcate lessons of patriotism and love of country among our children and in the communities in which we live; and encourage the spread of universal liberty and equal rights to all.
WA-BA-NO POST, G. A. R.
Wa-ba-no Post No. 250, Grand Army of the Republic, was organized at Mt. Pleasant on the 24th day of April, 1884, with thirty-seven, charter members as follows: William T. Whitney (since dead), John A. Harris, Warner Churchill. George W. Whitney, Archie McSwain, Ira Watson, Henry Walsh, Samuel Woodworth (since deceased), L. C. Griffith, Moses Brown (since deceased), John Richmond (now deceased), George Priest, George W. Myers (since deceased), Fred Pferdsteller, George Francisco, Frank W. Ralph, George L. Granger, John Block, Samuel Hague, Charles T. Whitney (since deceased), Samuel W. Morrison, Charles Jeffords, James Long (since de- ceased), William H. Richmond (now deceased), A. A. Loveland, John J. Kitchen (now deceased), John J. Bastella, H. 0. Wheelan (lately deceased), William H. Carpenter, J. J. Stoner, M. Hungerford, J. Brownstetter, Charles Bennett, J. N. Drake, Daniel Covert (Indian), John Neebes, and John Mull, since deceased Since the organization was effected there have a number joined them, until now they number about sixty members. They have lost quite a number by death and removal, especially within the last few years. As we look over the post as they are gathered, we plainly discover that the time of most of them is quite limited, when they too will answer the last roll call on earth and take their departure for the unknown.
The officers of the post for the year 1911 are as follows: Commander, Samuel W. Morrison; senior vice-commander, Warner Churchill; junior vice-commander, J. Manchester; adjutant, John A. Harris; patriotic instructor, H. Edward Deuel; chaplain, Lafayette Hall; surgeon, James Hoag; quarter-master, Charles Jeffords; officer of the day, Sylvester Johnson; officer of the guard, Joseph Brownstetter; quartermaster sergeant, James Slater; sergeant, Mr. Crosby.
Too much can not be said in behalf of the members of the post. They were men that enlisted because the government needed their assistance and their reason was not of the mercenary kind, as the pittance of pay would be of no influence for them to leave home and friends for the vicissitudes and dangers of war and go to the front and there take their place in fighting ranks, with the positive knowledge that many of them would never return to their home and friends.
RALPH ELY POST NO. 150, G. A. R.
This post was organized June 8, 1883, and the following charter members were mustered in by comrades of Post No.101, of Ithaca, Michigan: George Fouts, Sol H. Fordyce, P. Childs, R. Wellman, B. Struble, B. A. Cohoon, F. E. Hibbard, J. M. Kinter, John H. Hillikee, Sidney Clark, Austin Campbell, W. H. Kinter, George Gruber, Monroe Loomis, Henry Fuller, Ransom Kyes, C. W. Smith. The past commanders are George W. Fouts, B. Struble, R. Wellman, A. C. Vredenburg, J. B. Northrop, Thomas Pickett and F. E. Hibbard. The roster of this post numbered, in 1897, seventy-seven members.
Quite a number have since been dropped or have died. Quite a number of the members of that time were enlisted or drafted and joined Michigan regiments; among these are Henry Austin, private Company D, Eighth Michigan Infantry; Calvin Bigelow, private Company B, Twenty-third Michigan Infantry; John Bronk, private Company E, Twenty-third Michigan Infantry; Daniel Brickley, private Company F, Twelfth Michigan Infantry; B. A. Cohoon, sergeant Company K, Eighth Michigan Infantry; A. J. Condon, private Company D, Eighth Michigan Infantry; Philander Childs, private Company C, Eighth Michigan Infantry; Austin Campbell, private Company C, Eighth Michigan Infantry; Henry Chadwick, private Company E, Eighth Michigan Infantry,; Alonzo Converse, private Company G, Fifth Michigan Infantry; Edward Case, private Company 1, Ninth Michigan Infantry; Henry Fuller, private Company H, Twenty-sixth Michigan Infantry; Jason Hunt, private Company G, First Michigan Artillery; W. H. Harrison, private Company D, Second Michigan Infantry; William Jostin, private Company K, Eighth Michigan Infantry; W. H. Kinter, private Company F, Fifth Michigan Infantry; J.M. Kinter, private Company C, Eighth Michigan Cavalry; Monroe Loomis, private Company H, Eighth Michigan Infantry; Theo Morton, private Company, A, First Michigan Engineering and Mining Corps; F. M. McClintic, private Company A, Twenty-eight Michigan Infantry; Joseph Myers, Company 1, third Michigan Infantry; Levi Nichols, corporal Company G, Thirtieth Michigan Infantry; A. C. Vredenburg, private Company G, Twenty-ninth Michigan Infantry; C. A. Vredenburg, private Companv E, Eighth Michigan Infantry Jeremiah Vining, private Company I, Twenty-fourth Michigan Infantry James Vining, private Company I, Ninth Nlichigan Infantry; Richard Wonch, private Company I, Twenty-third Michigan Infantry; Eugene White, private Company C, Eighth Michigan Infantry; Solomon Wolf, private Company, C, Eighth Michigan Infantry.
The present officers of this post are: Commander, J. B. Struble; senior vice-commander, William Joslyn; junior vice-commander, Joseph Moore; adjutant, N. Willoughby; quartermaster, B. A. Cohoon; officer of the day, William Swix, chaplain, Henry Barret; officer of guard, Sherman Allen; quartermaster sergeant, R. Wellman; sergeant major, G. W. Fouts; color bearer, S. H. Fordyce.
This is a good strong post and has in it a large number of patriotic citizens, men holding some of the best and most responsible places in the community. When you see them together you will notice that they are all on the shady side of life and that they can not stay much longer to enjoy the honors which is their due for the gallant work they did in the defense of their country. It will not now be long before the most of them will have answered the last toll call and will be where the tumult and strife of battle will be no longer heard. May the United States government and all that are now living and enjoying the freedom they fought for, see to it that not one of them shall suffer for the necessaries of life and the care they merit when the final call shall come.
Connected with this post is the usual Woman's Relief Corps. This was first organized August 7, 1890, and the charter members were Myra E. Wellman, Catherine Shepherd, Harriett Bigelow, Addie Picket, Addie Hance, Emma McClintic, Mary E. Fouts Mary 0. Struble, Dora Cohoon, Mary Northrop, Carrie Struble, Luda V. Moore.
The names of this list is a sure guarantee that the post has a grand
auxiliary body, one that will perform all that is found by them necessary to be
done for the relief and care of the needy or distressed.
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