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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Three Hastings Brothers of Farmer Serve in the Civil War


 This stone standing in Farmer Cemetery has two small stones beside it for Father and Mother, Harvey Hastings (1809-1891) and Sarah Ann Conkey (1820 - 1885).
The Hastings family were part of the exodus from New York to Farmer Township. The Hicksville News reported on October 4, 1883:

"Mrs. Sarah Hastings came to Milford (twp.) with her husband, Harvey Hastings, in 1837, and in 1842, removed to Farmer, where she continued to reside till her death on the 14th or 15th of August this year.  Mr. and Mrs. Hastings were the first settlers in the Farmer farm."

The family was in Farmer Township for the 1850 census; Harvey was farming on a farm worth $200.  Three of the oldest children were born in New York: Emily, 13; Charles, 12; and Ellen, 9.  The rest were born in Ohio: George, 8; Mary, 5; Delos, 3; and Cornelia, 1.  This indicated that the family probably moved in 1841 or 1842.  Later the family would add twin boys - Albert and Alfred - and a youngest brother, Orville.

Three of the older sons - Charles, George, and Delos - would enlist and serve in the War of the Rebellion and survive.

 In 1860, Charles, at 23, lived apart from his family with the Stone family in Farmer Township. He was a laborer with a personal worth of $30, working on the farm of C. Stone and his wife, Ellen, Charles' sister.  Stone had land valued at that time at $1800.  
Charles' own parents, Harvey and Sarah, still lived in the Farmer area with land valued at $2000,and Charles' brothers, George and Delos, were still at home, along with the younger children.  

On December 9, 1863, Delos, who was probably about 16, enlisted into the 111th regiment, Company F of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served in the Atlanta campaign and throughout Tennessee and North Carolina.  On January 1, 1865, he was promoted to full Corporal in Company D of the 183rd Regiment.  He mustered out on July 14, 1865, having not been wounded in battle.

When the 25th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company B, came home on a 30 day furlough in February, 1864,  they were on the lookout for new recruits.  All the veterans had reenlisted, but recruits were needed to fill the losses they had suffered after serving three years in the war.  Charles Hastings was one of the soldiers who enlisted into the company as a private on February 27, 1864. He rose quickly in the ranks as he was promoted to full corporal on March 16, 1864, and full sergeant on February 1, 1866.  His brother, George, enlisted on the very same day into the same company and regiment.

Company B was sent to near Hilton Head, South Carolina via New York and Washington D.C.  The first summer was rather easy, reported Captain Luther Mesnard in his diary.  In the fall, they passed inspection with praises for the fine group of disciplined soldiers they were, and just like that, they were sent to face their first battle at Honey Hill.  They were ambushed as they marched along a fairly open road, and it was a startling awakening for many of the soldiers.  Mensard reported:

My boys had been under fire but once before and then at long range when at Spanish Wells, and not worth mentioning, and now, they were very much affected.  Two or three vomitted from sheer fright, while all, even the old veterans, looked very solemn.  We deployed and were in the second line of battle as we advanced.  It soon became hot and the colored regiment in front hesitated.  I suggested to Colonel Haughton that we take the advance which we did through dense timber and bushes where we could see nothing.  It was hot,the shell over head and the bullets like hail, and soon a line of rebs seemed to rise in front of us, give us a volley and run.  This staggered my company and one or more companies to our right...
The loss in my company was five men killed or wounded and twenty men wounded, a loss of fifty percent of the men engaged.  Loss of our regiment, 126, killed or wounded, including Major and Adjutant killed."

This was the first real taste of war for Charles and George.  The regiment would fight mainly in South Carolina with the occupation of Charleston in 1865, as one of their major duties.  George later was transferred into the 86th Ohio Infantry, Company E.

No 1870 census entry could be conclusively matched with this particular Charles Hastings.  But, in 1880, he was found in York County, Nebraska, at the age of 42.  Farming next door to him were his two brothers, Delos A.and George W.  Charles was single, and actually no marriage of record was ever found for him.  One source noted that their brother, Albert, also went to Nebraska - Chester County - and he died there.

The 1880 Agricultural Census of York Township, Nebraska, listed four brothers there.  Delos had 120 tilled acres and a farm valued at $2000, while Charles had 130 tilled acres with a value of $1500.  Both also had undeveloped land.  Albert and Alfred, the twins, were also living there, both having farms with much less land tilled - 11 acres for Albert and 37 for Alfred.  They all grew corn, wheat and barley and had a few poultry.  On the 1880 Federal Census, George was living with Delos, both unmarried.

The www.findagrave.com researcher noted that Delos went to Nebraska in 1872 and built a sod house there which he lived in for ten years before building a better frame home for his family.  He married Laura Fightmaster, and was a very successful farmer there.  He died and was buried in Arbordale Rural Cemetery, York County, Nebraska.

It appeared that Charles, however, moved on to Colorado where he was located in the 1900 U.S. Census of Buckhorn, Larimer County. He rented a farm and lived alone at the age of 62.  And that is where the trail ended.  All attempts to find a date of death or burial place were unsuccessful, but it is most probable that he was buried out west somewhere.  

Brother George married in 1884 and lived in Walnut Creek Township, Webster County, Nebraska by 1900 with his wife, Alice, born in Indiana.  George, 54, and Alice, 41, lived with their children: Nellie, Mamie, Walter, William T., George.  In 1910, they were in the same place, but the census noted that it was George's second marriage.
Chester Cemetery, Thayer County, Nebraska

Five Hastings brothers obtained undeveloped land in Nebraska through the Homestead Act of 1862.  All went to the Land Office in Lincoln, Nebraska, to make their claims (applications on Ancestry)  Charles and Delos arrived there and made application on December 13, 1875; it was 1876 before it was processed and the land received.  Albert and Alfred arrived in 1878, Alfred applied in March 16 and Albert on March 28.  George waited until December 16, 1878 to make his claim.  The men were entitled to 160 acres (1/4 section) of undeveloped land.  They were required to file the application papers, pay the filing fees, and improve the land within five years - building a dwelling and starting to farm.  After that time, they could file for their deed of title.

Much remains to be learned of this Hastings family, but it will be left to the family researcher to verify the information above and add to it.  Mysteries remain to be solved!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Defiance County Pioneer - Gabriel Fish

"Gabriel Fish was born in Austentown, Mahoning Co., Ohio, July 14, 1837.  He came to Defiance county more than half a century ago.  On the 10th day of November, 1860, he was united in marriage with Martha G. Miller.  Five children were born to this union, two of whom preceded their father in death.

Son, Carlos (Carl) Fish died on August 10, 1905. (Note on the tombstone, the Knights of Pythias shield and vine with five pointed Bethlehem stars indicating divine protection and guidance.) Another of Gabriel's children, Albertie, born in 1867, died in 1876. 
He has bought timber and been engaged in manufacturing for more than 30 years, in which business he was very successful, the present plant furnishing employment to a greater number of men than any other industry of our city.  He has meant a great deal in a business way to Hicksville and community, especially.  His familiar form will be missed greatly, as has been frequently expressed during his sickness and since his death.  He was a member of the K of P lodge for more than 20 years.  He has also been a member of the Masonic order for a brief period of time.

He began his religious life before his marriage when a very young man.  He has held membership since in the Presbyterian and United Brethren churches, being a member of the latter at the  time of his death.  His religious life was not without its failings, but perhaps none were more conscious of his failures than himself.  One day in the house of worship, he publicly referred to his mistakes, but expressed his purpose to strive on, saying, when he fell, he would get up and go on again.  To his pastor and some of his relatives during his recent illness, he bore positive testimony of his reconciliation with his God, saying, he was not lost and that he was prepared to meet his Savior.

His death, which followed 18 days of severe affliction, was due to a complication of difficulties which no medical or surgical skill could remove.  He passed away from us Friday morning, December 4, 1908, at ten minutes past seven at the age of 71 years, 4 months, 20 days, leaving as near relatives, his faithful wife, 3 daughters, two residing here and one at Palisade, Colorado, ten grandchildren, 2 sisters, Mrs. Gilbert of Hicksville, and Mrs. Noble of Ft. Wayne, 3 brothers, namely, Watson Fish of Detroit, Michigan; Simon Fish of Nebraska; Joseph Fish, of Hicksville; with many other relatives and friends who mourn his removal.

Funeral services were held at the U. B. church Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock, conducted by Rev. J. F. Miller.  The spacious building was crowded and many were unable to get in.  The employees of the Fish-Miller factory attended the services in a body as did also the Masonic order and the K. of P. lodge, the former holding a service at the church, and both orders observing their ritual at the vault where the mortal remains were deposited."

www.findagrave.com  - Forest Home Cemetery, Hicksville, Ohio

The three daughters who survived their father were Orpha, Alda, and Anna.  Alda was in Colorado with her husband, Ulysses Grant Meek, at the time of her father's death.  His wife, Martha, lived twenty more years and is buried beside him.

Source: Obituaries: Pioneers of Northwest Ohio, Volume 1.  Carma Rowe Estate (Johnson Memorial Library).  No date.  p. 207.
 Copies available at Defiance Public Library and Hicksville and Sherwood branch libraries.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Let's Have Some Buckeye Beer

 A Fourth of July Special ...

For many years, Lloyd V. Tuttle contributed historic photos and information to the Defiance Crescent-News for his column, "A Backward Glance."  Defiance has had several breweries in its day, but Tuttle wrote on December 23, 1963, about Buckeye Beer and the bottling company here.

"WITH 70 places selling beer in Defiance back in the old woodworking days when the town's population was about 7000.  There was a large per capita consumption of beer in the community.  The town had a brewery which was large for those days, but it also had a thriving bottling works as shown in the picture.

This plant was located at the southwest corner of Perry and 1st Sts. where the two story building of the Bowden Chevrolet is located. It was operated by the Widmer Brothers.  The picture was taken in 1881.

ON THE SEAT of the horse-drawn wagon is Dan Widmer.  Holding the left horse is John Widmer, and holding the right horse is the brewing company agent (unidentified).  On the seat of the mule drawn wagon is William Dirr, and holding the left mule is Barney Frank.  On the right of the mules on the sidewalk is the dog, Nero.  Standing in the one-horse wagon, back of the mules, is John E. Widmer.  The boy standing on the platform is Alva C. Widmer and the man standing on the platform is Sam Winkler.

The data was furnished by John E. Widmer, Jr.  The picture was brought in by Virgil E. Widmer, 428 Nicholas St."

Monday, June 25, 2018

Simon Girty - An Old Account

Malden, , Essex County, Ontario

Occasionally, someone will query as to whether they are related to Simon Girty or not.  Numerous family trees exist online following his five children and their descendents; whether correct or not is always the question.  

Most known in these parts is the existence of "Girty's Island," a piece of land in the Maumee River, a part of Flatrock Township, Henry County.  The writings about Simon Girty and this island are so, so numerous, but this account, published in the April, 1938, quarterly edition of The Historical Society of Northwestern Ohio, was especially entertaining.

Girty's Island

The four Girty brothers, forerunners to the James brothers, the Younger brothers and the other desperadoes of the west, terrorized the entire northwestern country in the period between the revolution and the war of 1812.

From the west side River road (424), near Napoleon, the long island in the Maumee where they had the headquarters for their sallies against the white settlers can be seen.  On this island George Girty lived with his Delaware Indian squaw and it was there she bore him five or six children.

Blue Jacket, famous chief, had his own village nearby on the Maumee while further downstream were the trading posts of Alexander McKee and Matthew Elliott, who like the Girty brothers, were 'renegade' Americans.

The Girtys were George, James, Thomas and Simon.  It is Simon Girty who has occupied the spotlight of the paleface historians and for two generations his whispered name was enough to send a chill up the spines of the pioneers and their families.

Simon Girty
 Girty was painted blackest by Theodore Roosevelt in his Winning of the West, but this portrait of him, though it carried out the white men's tradition, was as inaccurate as much of Roosevelt's observations concerning this part of the country at the time.

Later research has disclosed a Simon Girty given over both to the cruelties and the kindnesses of the forest life, more able and therefore more to be dreaded than his contemporaries, but a man in whom patient search is bound to reveal at least a few virtues to set off against his violent years.

From Fort Pitt at the head of the Ohio, the Girtys, McKee and Elliott had fled when it became apparent that the revolution was to be a success and that men loyal to King George were not likely to be popular in Pennsylvania.  Every act they committed, whether it was to stand by while white men were sacrificed in an Indian execution at the stake, to lead a party of Indians, tomahawks in hand, against a frail white settlement or to set afire the log cabins and the cornfields of the pioneers, were inspired by the same partisanship as existed on the other side.

To the whites who had come swarming across the Alleghenies,the only good Indian was a dead Indian.  They looked upon the loyal British partisans as nothing less than friends, simply because they happened to be allied with their enemies.

From the standpoint of justice, neither the redcoats nor the deerskin pioneers gave a hang about the Indians.  Both were out to get from them what they could, the British by plying them with rum and blankets and the Yankees by pouring into them not unequal quantities of white moonshine and lead. 

The wars that waged constantly about the Maumee valley from 1778 - 1795 were never instigated by the red men.  On the one hand, pioneers hungry for land pushed their way north of the Ohio to the lake country.  On the other, British military commanders, using men like the Girty brothers for their agents, stirred up the Indians on every pretext to make raids.  At one important conclave of the Indians, no white man save Simon Girty was admitted.

It is from a boy captive, Oliver Spencer, that we get the most authentic, if not the most flattering picture of Simon Girty.  It should be borne in mind that Spencer, his mind filled with terror and hatred of the Indians, was no impartial observer.  In fairness also it should be recalled that more than once Simon Girty saved the lives of 'enemy' whites, such as Simon Kenton, when the Indians were ready to torture and do away with them.  The boy Spencer describes him:

'Simon Girty...his dark shaggy hair, his low forehead, his brows contracted, and meeting above his short, flat nose; his gray sunken eyes averting his ingenuous gaze; his lips thin and compressed, and the dark and sinister expression of his countenance, to me, seemed the very picture of the villain.

He wore the Indian costume, but without any ornament; and his silk handkerchief while it supplied the place of a hat, hid an unsightly wound in his forehead.  On each side in his belt, were stuck silver-mounted pistols, and at his left hung a short, broad dirk, serving occasionally the uses of a knife.'

Not a pleasant parlor companion, certainly.  Yet whether villain or romantic figure, Girty with hs brothers has left his name on the Ohio landscape, a memorial to the deep impression of terror he inspired in his own generation."

In 1951, the Crescent-News reported that a descendant of Simon Girty was in town, Mr. Warren Bruner.  Simon Girty, he said was his great-great grandfather through a marriage between his grandfather, a Bruner, and the granddaughter of Simon Girty.  For a full account, check out the article in the library - the Crescent-News of January 29, 1951.  Bruner did mention that Simon's brother, Thomas, had a trading post on the west bank of the Auglaize above the Fort grounds.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Austin Theodore Fordham -Civil War Soldier Buried in Farmer Cemetery

Fordham was a member of the Farmer. G.A.R.

Another New York native who became a resident of Farmer Township in Defiance County was Austin Theodore Fordham.  Born in Plattsburgh, New York, on May 6, 1823, Austin was the son of Theodore and Fidelia.  In the 1850 and 1860 censuses, Austin was found as "Theodore."

In 1845, he married Adelia Aldrich, known often as Delia, and they settled near his parents in St. Lawrence County, New York.  In 1860, Austin Theodore was 37 years old and lived with his wife and three children, Ella A., 11; Sarah J., 9; and Thomas A. 7.  He was a farmer.

He was forty years old when he enlisted on December 17, 1863 at Hermon, New York, into Company L, 14th New York Volunteer Heavy Artillery.  Instead of being enlisted, it might have been Fordham's good judgement to take the bounties offered to volunteer for the 14th.

$552 BOUNTY!
To Garrison Forts.
$552 BOUNTY!
United States Bounty, $402.
A State Bounty of $150 paid to every Soldier who Re-enlists, of which $30 will be paid in Advance, and the balance when the Regiment is organized. New Recruits will receive $75 State Bounty, of which $10 will be paid in advance, and the balance when the Regiment is organized. One month's pay, $18, in advance, to all who enlist, and $2 premium. Rations, Clothing, Lodging, and Pay begins with enlistment. No Marching. No Knapsacks to shoulder. The Best Branch of the Military Service.
Headquarters, Recruiting Station, Genesee street, opposite Bagg's Hotel, Utica.
E. G. MARSHALL, Col. 18th N. Y. Vols., Commanking [sic] 14th N. Y. Artillery.
C. H. CORNING, 6th Regular Infantry, Lieut. Col. 14th N. Y. Artillery.
W. H. REYNOLDS, Major.
First Lieut. LOUIS FAASS.

In December 1863, Company L was already at Fort Hamilton in the New York harbor, with its major assignment to provide defense for the city of New York.  During that time, the unit was assigned to serve with various brigades, with their most known battles being Spotsylvania and Petersburg.  Austin was mustered out with his company on August 26, 1865, in Washington, D.C.

Sources cite that it was 1867 when Austin and Adelia moved their family to Farmer Township.  In 1870, three children lived with them: Thomas A., 17, a stable boy at the hotel; S. Jennie, 19, a domestic servant at the hotel, and Ida A., 9, a school girl.  Austin resumed his farming career and appeared in the 1880 and then the 1890 Veterans' censuses.

By 1900, Austin was 77 years old and still listed farming as his occupation.  Delia was 74, but she lived only 3 more years, passing away in 1903.  Her obituary appeared in the Defiance Express on June 10, 1903:

At some point, Austin moved in with his daughter, Sarah J. and her husband, Emory O. Stone.  It was there he was found in the 1910 census, still in Farmer Township.

Austin T. Fordham died on July 11, 1912, and his obituary appeared in the Bryan Democrat on July 19.


Austin T. Fordham, son of Thomas S. and Sarah J. (Roberts) Fordham, was born in Plattsburgh, New York, May 6, 1823, and died at his home in Farmer, Ohio, July 11, 1912. His age being 89 years, 2 months and 5 days.

On September 21, 1845, he was united in marriage to Adelia Aldridge and to this union six children were born of whom two died in infancy.  His wife departed this life June 3, 1903.  Those left to mourn his loss are two sons and two daughters, nine grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren and many friends.

In the autumn of 1861, he enlisted in Company F, 14th New York volunteer heavy artillery and served till the close of the war.

In the spring of 1867, he came to Farmer, Ohio, and has lived in that vicinity ever since.  When but a young man,he united with the Disciple church, but in later years he joined the Seventh Day Adventists and observed Saturday as the Sabbath.

At the time of his death, his home was with his daughter, Mrs. E. O. Stone.  His home having been with Mr. and Mrs. Stone since the death of his wife.  He was laid to rest in the Farmer Cemetery Sunday afternoon." 


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Peter Minsel - G.A.R., Bishop Post

Peter Minsel served during the entire Civil War, enlisting as a 19 year old on September 5, 1861.  The young German immigrant, born in 1842, mustered into Company G, 38th Ohio Infantry as a private, enrolling for three years and then reenlisting.  He and his fellow soldiers were sent to Kentucky to places like Wildcat and Camp Dick Robinson, then to Tennessee, before moving into Mississippi in 1862.  He was at Corinth and Chickamauga, Mission Ridge, and, of course, Atlanta.  He lived and saw war for about four years before mustering out at Louisville, Kentucky on July 12, 1865

In the Official Roster of Ohio's Soldiers, his last name was spelled Mensil.

Peter's name did appear in the draft registrations of 1863, but he was already serving at that time.  He was an unmarried farmer of 21 in those records.

Peter could not be located in the 1860 or 1870 censuses; he may be recorded, but the many spellings of his name seemed to hincer his discovery.  Minsel, Minzel, Mensel, Mencel, and so on...  However, his bride-to-be, Anna Gehring (Gearing, Goehring) was found in 1870 living with her mother and stepfather, Julie Ann and George Buckmaster.  Their farm in Noble Township was home to their children: William, 16, Laurella, 13, and Lucetta, 13 (twins?).  Anna Gearing, 27, and her brother Jacob, 18, who were half siblings to the previously named children, each had a personal worth of $100.  Perhaps this was an inheritance from their deceased father, Godfried, who died in 1851. Also with them was Peter Corwin, age 4, a child who was taken in.

Anna Gearing, born in Henry County on December 22, 1842, married Peter Minsel, born on August 2, 1842, on October 3, 1871.  They eventually settled into a home in Highland Township.  Both age 37, in 1880, they had no children, but took in the child, Peter Corwin as their ward.  An article in a 1902 local paper also noted that the couple took in "Paul Davis' daughter to raise." 

In December, 1892, the Defiance Democrat reported that Anna Minsel was very sick.  She passed away in January, 1893.

December 15, 1892
Brunersburg Cemetery
"Mrs. Peter Minsel, Highland Township, died Saturday morning and was buried this morning at Brunersburg."  Defiance Daily Crescent, January 16, 1893.

Further obituaries stated that she died of cancer at the age of 50 years and 21 days.  The funeral was held at her residence with these pall bearers serving - 
J. W. Myers, A. C. Henry, L. D. Blue, Jacob Adams, John Lengler, Henry Shotz. 

In that same year, Peter married Amanda Adeline Doenges on September 23, 1893, in Defiance, Ohio.  She was the daughter of John Doenges and Adeline Kleinhen, born in Germany.  She was approximately 22 years younger than Peter.  The 1910 census states that he was 67 and she was 45.  

In October, 1911, according to the Defiance Democrat, the Minsels lost their home to fire.
"The farm residence of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Minsel of Highland Township was destroyed by fire Wednesday morning.  Mr. and Mrs. Minsel were in a corn field seven miles from home when the fire was discovered by Mrs. Norton, a neighbor.  She gave the alarm by telephone and the neighbors came to the rescue and saved part of the furniture.  The upper part of the house was totally destroyed, the fire evidently having been burning some time before it was discovered.  The loss is $2500, covered by $1400 insurance on the house and $300 on the furniture.  Mr. Minsel will rebuild at once.  The Minsel home is seven miles southwest of Defiance."

 Peter Minsel was active in the city, having served on the city council at least in 1885.  He took part in G.A.R. programs and did his part for the organization.  On August 19, 1922, he died in New Bavaria, Ohio.

Defiance Crescent News, August 19, 1922

Defiance Crescent News, August 22, 1922

Brunersburg Cemetery

Amanda Minsel lived until September 30, 1935, living a social life within the city, growing flowers and learning beekeeping, competing in the local and state fairs, and participating in several social clubs.  Lottie Mansfield was her sister, and they did many things together; Lottie was the reporter on Amanda's death certificate.  Amanda's funeral was held at Lottie's home at the corner of Jefferson and Fifth Streets.

St Zion Cemetery, Putnam County, Ohio

(This is part of a series on Civil War veterans of Defiance County who were part of the G.A.R., Bishop Post, that headquartered in the city.  Formed in 1879, the post was named after a local man, Captain William Bishop, Company D, 100th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Army who died as a result of wounds received in battle.  The veterans' photos are part of a composite photo of members that has survived.  If you have other information or corrections to add to the soldiers' stories, please add to the comments!)

Friday, May 18, 2018

Vacation and a Summer Schedule 2018

Image result for on vacation clipart 

This blogger will be on vacation for a couple weeks, starting May 21st, with new posts resuming around June 11th.  

Then in the summer, expect one post a week as things slow down and we all can enjoy beautiful weather.