Born in Kent, England, on October 15, 1847, George Solly (Solley) immigrated to the United States in 1856, as he reported to the census, or 1857, the date on the ship, the John Bright, list. He came with his parents, John and Mary, and sister, Jane. The family settled in New York where they were enumerated on the 1860 and 1870 censuses.
When George was only 17, he enlisted in Company I, 61st Regiment, New York Infantry. The muster rolls of New York indicated his enlistment was on October 8, 1864. This would have been right before his birthday on October 15, so by the time he reached the company in Virginia, he probably would have been of age.
|New York Civil War Muster Roll for the 61st Infantry|
George caught up with his company in Virginia and engaged in some battles there, most notably Petersburg and the pursuit to Appomatox where Lee finally surrendered in April, 1865. The 61st then marched to Washington, D.C. before the mustering out on July 14, 1865.
By 1869, George, 22, had married Julia, a New York born girl of about 17, and they were enumerated in the 1870 census in Victor, Ontario County, NY. They lived with the Milo Webster family and worked for them. George was a farm laborer and Julia, a domestic servant. At some point before 1875, Julia died, and George remarried to Rachel Frederick in Paulding County, Ohio.
In 1880, George (Sollely) and Rachel were settled in Auglaize Township in Paulding County. At that time, George was 29 and farming, along with helping to raise two young sons - Alfred 2, and Richard, 5 months. It was 1900 before the census person found the family in Defiance, but they could have moved there much sooner. George could not be located on the 1890 Veterans Census which would have helped determine his residence.
Newspapers indicated that he had been a storekeeper and a rural postman in the past. In 1888, one paper noted that "George Solley has thawed out and is "on the warpath" selling the Triumph steam washer." So although listed as a farmer, he also had some side jobs.
In 1900, George and Rachel had all four of their children at home. Richard, 20 and divorced, worked as a day laborer, while John, 18, was a printer. Mary, 11, and Mamie, 9, were at school. Where was Alfred? Rachel reported on this census that she had four children and all four were living. On this census, George listed no occupation at the age of 53. Was he ill?
On September 26, 1905, George was admitted to the Old Soldiers Home in Sandusky, Ohio. The records revealed that George had a myriad of health problems, the most serious related to his heart. His next of kin was noted to be Rachel Solly, born in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, on September 26, 1843. At someone's request, he was discharged on August 14, 1906. It appeared he had a second stay there later, discharged on July 14, 1921.
In 1910, he and Rachel lived alone in Defiance Township, still with farming as an occupation, but the 1920 census indicated they had moved to Defiance. By the time of Rachel's death in January, 1924, the couple lived at 1056 Grove Street. The Crescent News published Rachel's obituary on January 3, 1924.
George, 83, left alone, moved in as a lodger with Mary C. Wilder, 45, a widow and her two daughters, Florence and Lucille. This is where the census taker found him in 1930. George lived until June 3, 1934, age almost 87. His death certificate indicated he died of a cerebral hemorrhage and arteriosclerosis. His daughter, Mary McKellips, of 1012 Sunday Street was the informant. The veteran soldier was buried with his wife in Riverside Cemetery.
|Crescent News, June 8, 1934|
(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!)