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Friday, October 5, 2018

Sylvester Donley - Civil War Soldier Buried in Farmer Cemetery

In 1850, Sylvester Donley was a thirteen year old boy, who lived with his parents, William and Melinda, and his siblings - Cynthia, John, and Eliza.  The family lived in Washington Township and farmed on real estate valued at about $200.

 By 1860, the family had moved to St. Joseph Township in Williams County, with their post office as Edgerton.  Sylvester was 23.  Within the next year, he would be enlisted in the Union Army.

His first enlistment was into Company K, 21st Regiment, Ohio Infantry, on July 8, 1861.  It was supposed to be a three month enlistment, beginning in Findlay, and then moving to Camp Chase near Cleveland.  Just before Sylvester's enlistment, the group was sent to West Virginia where they found the Confederates and fought them.  Then the group returned to Ohio on a steamer, back to Gallipolis where they did reconnaissance work and had one skirmish while defending the Ohio border.  On August 12, 1861, Sylvester mustered out at Columbus, Ohio

He probably went home before he reenlisted the next year on August 23, 1862, into Company D, 124th O.V.I.  There he served until the end of the war and on July 9, 1865, he mustered out in Nashville, Tennessee.  This unit fought in some of the most well known battles in the south, including Lookout Mountain, Chickamauga and the Siege of Atlanta. The 1890 Veterans Census noted that he was wounded in the left ankle.  Sylvester mustered out as a Corporal on July 9, 1865.

Helen Jennette "Nettie" Carlisle became Sylvester's wife before 1870, and they settled in California Township, Branch County, Michigan.  Sylvester, 32, and Helen, 22, had children Albert, 4; Angelia, 2; and Edward, 8 months, according to that census.  Sylvester worked as a day laborer and they owned no house or land, they reported.

By 1880, they were back in Defiance County, this time in Farmer Township, with the addition of Mertie, age 6.  Sylvester was a farm laborer.   He died a rather early death on March 19, 1897, in Evansport, at the age of 59.

The Bryan Press ran the obituary of Sylvester Donley on April 1, 1897:

"Died.  March 18, 1897, at his home in Farmer township, Sylvester Donley, aged 53 years, 3 months, and 21 days.  

Mr. Donley was born in Williams county, Ohio, on November 23, 1837.  He enlisted in Co. K, 21 O.V.I., was discharged July 8, 1861, reenlisted August 23, 1862, in Co. D, 124 O.V.I. and served until war ended, and was discharged July 9, 1865.  He was a member of Cervin (Lewis) Bowker post G.A.R. and sergeant of that post at time of death.

He leaves a wife and six children.  The funeral sermon was preached at Farmer by Rev. Bartlett, of Edgerton, and the text was the latter part of first verse of the thirty-eighth chapter of Isaiah: 'Thus saith the Lord, set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live.'  One of the best and most impressive sermons followed this text.

Then the body was laid to rest in Farmer cemetery.  One by one the members of the G.A.R. are crossing the bourne to that undiscovered country from whence none ever return ..."


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