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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Lay W. Richardson - G.A.R., Bishop Post

Born in St. Lawrence County, New York, on Christmas Day, 1830, Lay Whitney Richardson came at some point to Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, by the time of the 1860 census. He lived in a hotel run by Samuel and Roseanna Steedman and worked as a collector - no explanation was given for that occupation.  Lay was 29 years old, single, and had $200 in personal items.

When the Civil War began, Lay enlisted almost immediately on April 22, 1861, into Company F, 14th Ohio Infantry for a three month stint.  He served there until August 13, 1861, three months and 21 days and attained the rank of Sergeant.

Then, after a short furlough, he reenlisted and reported again into the Ohio Volunteer Infantry as a veteran soldier. He joined Company G, 68th O.V.I. where he remained for the next three years, two months and 23 days until his mustering out at Toledo, Ohio on January 3, 1865 as a Lieutenant.  

On August 4, 1864, he wrote home to his sister, Eliza, from Atlanta and the horrible battle there.  With permission from one of his descendants, I offer this letter here as he wrote it with no corrections except for spacing for easier reading:

"Camp 68th Regt OVI, Near Atlanta,Ga., August 4th, 1864  

My Dear Sister 

Your welcome letter bearing date July 10th but post marked 20th came safe to hands on the 26th.  I was glad to hear from you and to learn you were all enjoying so good health and were getting allong so well   

your letter found me in very good health but prety well worn out by constant fatigeuge  Knight watching fighting as we had just passed through a severe battle in which our corps divis brigade and regt were all engaged with considerable loss

it was a severe contest as the enimy made a desperate effort to turn and cut off the left wing of our army from the right which consised of our 17th corps under Blair and the 16th under Gen Dodge 

One had got within 1 1/2 miles of the city of Atlanta and in some places our line was not over 3/4 of a mile from the out skirts of the city  The rebs had laid a trap to take us in by letting us come up that close with little resistance during the knight of the 21st   

they massed nearly all their force on our left and on the 22nd   
about 11 pm they came down on our left flank in full force expecting to crush us cut us off from the rest of the army  capture our train and take us prisoners or drive us into the Chatahousee river

They made a desperate charge and did take us a little by surprise at first but our men met them and stood their ground and fought like tigers which saved our army from a severe repulse  
the enemy completely failed in their object and were forced to retreat with very heavy loss 3 times as much as ours
They left the most of their dead and wounded in the field in the front of our lines
it was a hard sight the next day to witness

Our regt lost about 65 in all killed wounded and missing
My co lost 2 killed and 8 wounded 
The capt was slightly scratched and left the field and the co with me as I was the only comsd officer left with them and have been since and it has confined me very close
The capt is more able for duty now and has been all that time than I am
The col says he shal come to the co and I guess he will know

This campaign has been a very hard one and we all feel prety well worn out
We have the city of Atlanta pretty well surrounded now and have had several prety hard fights lately and have come out victorious Everytime and I think the enimy has prety much concluded they can not drive us back as they have tried it very hard all most every day for the last week and have been badly whiped every time 
we keep closeing in around them more and more every day

I think the object is to capture their main force if possible and so end the war in this department as I think we could take Atlanta now any day
Well now I shal have to close 
our corps now occupy the centre and are about 2 miles from the city
it has been very qiet with us for several days and we have had a prety good chance to rest which we could appreciate if we remain where we now are on the line
I dont think we will have much to do as the fighting I think will mostly be done on the right and left

I got a letter from Boyd dated 16th July was qite well
I also get letters from home qite often
You and E must write oftner to me

Ps Direct Lieut L. W. R. Co. G 68th OVI, 2 Brigade, 3 divis, 17 a.c., Atlanta, Ga"

The city was actually surrendered on September 2, 1864, a major boost for the Union forces.
Pension Card
 When he returned from the war, he married Mary Metz on March 28, 1866.  The couple settled in Defiance.  By the 1870 census, Lay was 38 and Mary was 30 and they had two young daughters, Florence - 3 and Hattie P. - 2.  Lay worked for the Internal Revenue as an assistant assessor. 

Living on Canal Street in Defiance in 1880, Lay and Mary had expanded their family to include Ralph and Nelly.  Lay worked as the pension agent for the area; many veterans were filling out pension applications in 1880.  

Being a pension agent was not always easy. There were many opportunities for fraud in the system and, because of the plethora of complaints, pension authorities became very exuberant in looking for such cases.  Lay Richardson was caught up in this wave and found himself in court over it. 
 The Defiance Daily Crescent reported on May 16, 1895 on the dispute:

  Lay Richardson was not found guilty of fraud, except for one minor incident, and, in a letter to the editor of the Defiance Republican Press, he expressed his opinion of the system and its flaws.

In 1900, the enumerator assumed Lay's name was Lawrence and wrote it that way on the census, but the age of 69 and the fact that wife Mary, 62, and daughter Nellie were there confirmed Lay's presence.  Still working, now as a real estate agent, Lay was very active in the workings of the Bishop Post.

Lay Richardson died on March 25, 1912.  His obituary provided a wonderful photo of him as a young man as well as a detailed history of his life.  In the Daily Crescent-News on March 26, 1912:

www.findagrave     Old Riverside Cemetery

(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!)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hill Cemetery and the Baptist Church, Highland Township

The declining population of some rural churches is not a new phenomena, nor is it a new worry.  The story of the demise of this Highland Township church is a sad one.  Thankfully, the existence of Hill Cemetery nearby keeps the history before us.  The cemetery is located on the north side of Bowman Road, just east of Hill road in Highland Township.

From The Rural Rambler (S. H. Green), Crescent-News -
November 16, 1932:

The Highland Baptist church has been abandoned.  The neat, white frame structure stands empty at the foot of the sand hill on which the graves of the pioneers lie.

Many things have entered the lives of the congregation to cause the forsaking of the church house.  Members have moved away.  Their children have married into other denominations.  More distant churches have attracted some.  The church is not centrally located and is on an out-of-the-way road.  Children have decided to go to Sunday school where their classmates attend.

So the whistling winds of winter will whirl about is eaves and chant a dreary monotone across the snow-covered markers of the dead.  No more will the light from its radiant windows sweep out against the evergreens that stand on God's acre.
No more will its doors swing open to admit the solemn procession of the dead as a hushed congregation awaits the reading of the last rites before committing a friend to the earth.

Somehow it always seems fitting to see a church nestled close against a rural graveyard as though it was a holy sentinel standing watch above the nerveless forms of those who have passed beyond.
And thus it cannot but cast a tragic air about the casual passerby who sees its vacant windows staring blankly as though it were now become as lifeless as the silent forms that rest beneath the earth near by.

Church Built in 1887
In 1856 John R. Myers and his brother-in-law, J. E. (Jerry) Wellman, came into Highland township with their families from Clermont county.  These folks, in company with other pioneers, established a Free-Will Baptist congregation which held regular meetings in the Wellman home until the school house, now vanished, called the Oak Grove School, was erected on the road to the east of where the Highland Chapel Presbyterian now stands.

Highland Chapel was erected about 1879 or 80 and the Free Will congregaton held services there as well as in the Ayersville Methodist and Mt. Calvary Evangelical churches until in the summer of 1887, under the pastorate of the Rev. M. M. Dodge of Latty, the church was erected to be dedicated in October by the Rev. Ransom Dunn of Hillsdale, Mich.

The site of the church was deeded to the congregation for as long a time as it would be used for this purpose by H. J. Hill, father of David Hill, who resides on the hill just above the church.

Early Pastors Listed
Rev. Mr. Dodge, in addition to his ministerial duties, operated a saw mill at Latty and sawed the timbers for his new charge without cost to his congregation.
Numbered among the pillars of this early church we find such names as John Rhamy, J. K. Andrews, John Wiler, Robert Scott and James Harper.

Some of the pastors who occupied the handsome new pulpit, handmade by father of E. B. Smith of Highland township, were Rev. J. J. Mawhorter, J. J. Rendell, S. H. Dull, J. W. Haggerty, David Tucker and M. S. Waller.

B. F. Myers of Highland has a feeling of especial sadness at the closing of this rural church which, though it has seen the funerals of many, many pioneers,never had the pleasure of seeing a bride before its altar in a wedding ceremony.

Order Bell on Honeymoon
For when Mr. and Mrs. Myers were on their honeymoon many years ago, they stopped at the Van Dusen foundry in Cincinnati and ordered the church bell cast and the Sunday ringing of the bell, as it called the worshipers in, had a double significance to this worthy couple...
Today the old church stands idle.  The equipment has all been donated to the First Baptist church in Defiance and a chapter in rural worship is closed.

First Burial
The church cemetery, commonly referred to as the Hill cemetery, was started 35 years before the church was erected.  The first grave in the wilderness graveyard was dug for Jane Hill, first wife of Harvey J. Hill, and mother of David Hill, who died on Jan. 27, 1852, aged 28 years, 1 day.

The second was dug for the infant daughter of H. J. and J. Hill, who died on July 27, 1852 aged six months.  The row of small headstones extending from the parents' tomb record grief in three decades: 1852, 1862, 1872.

The cemetery is a beautiful place occupying a ridge of nearly pure sand with a huge white oak along the road and clusters of native trees growing on either side of the quiet plot of the dead."

Some Early Postmasters in the Small Towns of Defiance County

In the early days before rural free delivery, mail could be picked up at a designated local store or a home in a particular village.  The postmasters were appointed, and in this list below, surprisingly, one will find quite a few women listed. 
Many of the small villages no longer exist, but may be found on the old plat maps.

Postmasters and Date of Appointment from the original book of the Appointments of U. S. Postmasters:

Adams Ridge
John Conn - Sept. 24, 1869
John Curtland - June 6, 1881
John Davison - Oct. 31, 1881
John L. Davison - Nov. 28, 1881
Albert Rowe - June 23, 1884
Philip Schwartzel - Aug. 4, 1885

Eneas F. Palmer - Nov. 20, 1871
Jonathan M. Viets - Aug. 2, 1876
Nathan A. Boutell - Oct. 7. 1879
Mrs. Rachel Boutell - (date unreadable)
Alfred C. Henry - Aug. 23, 1889

Charles F. Clemmons - Oct. 9, 1869 
Wm. W. Warren - Mar. 31, 1874
Chas. F. Clemmons - Mar 24, 1875
Daniel Bruner - Dec. 15, 1879

John F. Culler - Sept. 22, 1870
George W. Dickerhoof - May 22, 1885
Rudolph J. Battershell - May 14, 1886
Miss Rosa Miller - Nov. 11, 1886
John F. Haller - Nov. 30, 1889
William Battershell - July 3, 1890

John Cameron - Oct. 30, 1865
Robt. B. Cameron - Sept. 6, 1875
Alvara Cameron - June 1881
Henry F. Toberon - June 1885
Asa Toberon Jan. 7, 1886
Thomas E. Snider - Jan. 23, 1888
Frederick Speiser - Apr. 4, 1888
Enoch B. Mapes - Aug. 23, 1889 

John Norway - Apr. 10, 1866
Emory E. Martin - Aug. 21, 1885
Mrs. Belle Bowker - May 21, 1889

Mrs. Julia C. Donafin - Feb. 16, 1870, reappointed in 1883
Jacob Wesner - July 3, 1886
John Berger - Aug. 7, 1890

George W. Chapman - Feb. 23, 1866
John D. Pearson - Aug 23, 1880
Post office closed on Feb. 5, 1884.  Mail to Farmer.

David E. Welker - Mar 8, 1870

Philip Crago  - Dec. 11, 1877
Philip M. Crago - Dec. 31, 1877
Jacob Warner - Apr. 28, 1885
John Paxton - July 22, 1889

William McCaller - Feb. 20, 1869
Bella B. Beebee - Aug 12, 1874
Mrs. Elizabeth Osmun - Sept. 30, 1875
Wm. M. Haller - June 6, 1876
Closed Apr. 16, 1883.  Mail to Cicero.

Johnson Miller - Oct. 24, 1874
Geo. Rock - Feb. 4, 1876
M. H. Robertson - Jan. 15, 1884
William W. Heuff - Dec. 8, 1885
John Rock - June 17, 1889
T. Maud Boor - May 15, 1891

White City
Saul D. Snyder - July 6, 1875
Jos. Howard - Feb. 24, 1876
Closed July 5, 1876.

Mark Center
Mrs. Marietta Kyle - July 6, 1875
Saul D. Snyder - Feb. 24, 1871
Josiah Kyle - Sept. 1876
Reinhart F. Hecht - Nov. 15, 1878
Miss Matilda Knight - Apr. 9, 1885
Mrs. Matilda Clapper - Apr. 14, 1886
Julia S. Long - Dec. 14, 1887
Ida Rice - June 3, 1890

Simon P. Seiple - Jan. 26, 1876
Welcome G. Mason - Oct. 13, 1879
Joseph Otte - Apr 1, 1881
Edward H. Trowbridge - Nov. 20, 1882
Andrew M. Haight - Jan. 15, 1884
Conrad Moore - June 18, 1885
Charles G. Shasteen - Aug. 23, 1889

Delaware Bend
Daniel Haynes - May 21, 1877
Wallace D. Haynes - Aug. 28, 1877
Mail to The Bend - Oct. 8, 1878

The Bend
Wallace D. Haynes - Oct. 8, 1872
James Haynes - Jan 17, 1881
John Breno - Apr. 27, 1881
James Anderson - July 18, 1889
John Breno - Mar. 4, 1891

Frederick Harmening - Apr. 7, 1879

Wm. F. Moats - Oct. 11, 1889

Geo. W. Speakman - Mar. 3, 1890