|Member of Hancock Post, Sherwood, OH|
The date of Emanuel Byers' birth is a little fuzzy - his tombstone stated October 29, 1839 and someone reported on the 1900 U.S. Federal Census that he was born in February, 1840. Either way, he started life in Crawford County, the son of George Washington Byers and Mary Homan Byers.
He enlisted when he was about 22 or 23 years old, on August 15, 1862, in Toledo, into Company F, 111th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He appeared on the Civil War draft registrations as living in Washington Township in June, 1863, Emanuel was a farmer, then 25, married, and was in service already, it stated.
He reported in the 1890 Veterans Census that he had been wounded, but no other information could be determined. A look at his complete pension record would solve that mystery. He served until the end of the war, mustering out on June 27, 1865, at Salisbury, North Carolina, having served two years, ten months and twelve days.
Emanuel Byers claimed two marriages when asked on the 1910 census, but perhaps there were three. After all, he did report that he was married in the 1863 draft registrations. Two are well documented, but the earliest is a mystery unless he once lived in Kansas in 1860 with a wife named Rhoda and a child. That Emanuel Byers was also born in Ohio and was of the correct age, but more evidence would be needed to support that theory.
His marriage to Esther L. Wilson on September 3, 1883 was documented in Defiance County, but apparently, the couple had lived together quite awhile prior to that date. By the 1880 census, Emanuel Byers, 52 (an age error) lived with Esther, 20, his wife in Steuben County, Indiana. They had two children: Mirtie B., 4, (meaning the child was born when Esther was about 16) and George E, 2. Living with them was Rachel Wilson, 18, sister-in-law, and John W. Wilson, 16, brother-in-law. It was an age difference of about 20 years between husband and wife. As it turned out, Emanuel had not been completely truthful with his child bride.
In 1897, Esther filed for divorce from Emanuel and the notice appeared in the Defiance Daily Crescent on February 13, telling her story:
In addition, in a companion newspaper article, Esther claimed that Emanuel was extremely cruel and "called her vile names and otherwise abused her...That defendant owns real estate to the value of $500 in Delaware Township and personal property worth $150 and also draws $12 pension per month." So she requested custody of the youngest child and alimony based on the values stated.
But, then the pendulum would swing the other way. It seemed that perhaps neither party was as morally upright as each claimed. By March 13, 1897, one month later, the cross-complaint of Emanuel Byers against Esther appeared in the Defiance Daily Crescent:
In May, 1897, several papers reported the result of the divorce which was granted on the grounds of adultery. Judge Hockman heard the case and found for the defendant on his cross-petition, saying, "There were several grounds on which the defendant proved his right to a divorce." (Defiance Daily Crescent, May 8, 1894)
The 1900 census of Delaware Township, Defiance County, showed Emanuel with his next wife, Bertha (Rollins) Byers, his bride of about one year. Emanuel, 59, and Bertha, 23, had one child - S. Bryan, two months old. Also with them was Alice, Emanuel's daughter from his first marriage, who was single and 18. Emanuel worked as a day laborer and owned his own home.
He appeared last on the 1910 census at the age of 69, with Bertha, 36. Now the son was called Noble N., 10 years old, and a daughter, Elva, was 7. Emanuel lived on his own income and Bertha worked as a dressmaker at home.
In 1915, Bertha would suffer two great losses - the death of Emanuel on May 20, 1915, at the age of 75, and the death of her son, Noble, on Christmas Eve, 1915, of an accidental gunshot when he was just 15.
Emanuel was buried in Farmer Cemetery, while Noble was buried in Sherwood Cemetery.
"Mr Byers of Sherwood, who recently departed this life, was laid to rest in the Farmer Cemetery, Sunday, May 23."
The Defiance Democrat reported Noble's death on December 30, 1915 on the front page:
|Buried in Sherwood Cemetery|
Bertha lived on until 1923, when she died on October 27 at the age of 44 years, 11 months and 26 days. She was buried in Sherwood with her son.
|Buried in Sherwood Cemetery|