IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.
updated 08/24/2019

Clayton county Civil War Soldiers

of the

Twenty-first Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry

Historical information, notes & comments, in some cases correcting the record
Soldier biographies written by Carl Ingwalson

Surnames P

Carl will do look-ups in his extensive records of the 21st Iowa and he is always willing to share what he has.
His email address is on the Look-up Volunteers page.
If any of these biographies are copied, please give credit to Carl. Copyright info. at bottom of page.

Carl's notes:
There are three published rosters for the 21st Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry. They're significantly different and all three contain numerous errors, in large part since they were relying on handwritten records, handwriting was often difficult to decipher, some men could not read or write, and others sometimes did not know how to spell their own names or altered the spelling from time to time.

a. Nathaniel B. Baker, Report of the Adjutant General, Volume I (Iowa State Printer 1863). Baker's roster was prepared while the war was still in progress, many had not yet enlisted, and there were errors for those who did enlist.
b. George Crooke, The Twenty-First Regiment of lowa Volunteer Infantry (King, Fowle & Company, 1891). Crooke's roster has limited information and was prepared at a time when record keeping wasn't the best. While he was a member of the regiment, he was absent for almost ten months and probably for that reason some of his narrative is also wrong.
c. Roster and Record of lowa Soldiers, Volume 3; by Guy Logan (Iowa State Printer 1910). The most recent of the three rosters, part of a massive state effort to accurately reflect those who served and, I thought, the most likely to be accurate.

I have researched the regiment for more than thirty years and visited most sites that were visited by the regiment. Each of these biographies is based on that research, the soldier’s records and records of his comrades that are on file with the National Archives & Records Administration, records and diaries on file with the State Historical Society of Iowa, original letters by members of the regiment, county histories, other original source documents and relevant online information.


Palmer, Francis H.
Co. G, age 21, born in New York, residence Clayton co.

08/13/62 enlist as 5th Corporal
08/22/62 muster in Co. G
09/09/62 muster in Regiment
02/24/63 promote to 2d Corporal
05/17/63 wound at Big Black
09/18/63 discharge at Davenport

This is from the R&R. I have not verified the information. Palmer was a cousin of George W. Penhollow who was also in the regiment.


Patterson, Edward J.
Edward J. Patterson was born in the farming community of Jefferson, New York. On August 14, 1862, he was a 24-year-old farmer when he was enrolled at McGregor by Postmaster Willard Benton in what would be Company G of the 21st regiment of Iowa’s volunteer infantry. Edward was described as being five feet, ten inches, tall with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion.

Company officers included a Captain, two Lieutenants, five Sergeants and eight Corporals. It was mustered in on August 22, 1862 with Edward as 7th Corporal. It had a total of eighty-six men including commissioned and non-commissioned officers and privates. He received the normal $25.00 initial payment of the $100.00 enlistment bounty plus a $2.00 premium. The balance of the bounty would be paid on completion of his service. When all ten companies were of sufficient strength, they were mustered in as a regiment at Dubuque on September 9, 1862. Although other published numbers are different, an analysis of those on the regiment’s rolls shows that it then had a total complement of 985 men, officers and enlisted.

On September 16, 1862, loaded on a paddlewheel steamer and two barges, they started south for initial service in Missouri. On February 24, 1863, Edward was promoted to 4th Corporal, but he was not well and the Company's bi-monthly muster roll for the period ending February 28, 1863, indicated he was sick and left behind in a Houston hospital while the regiment moved to West Plains and then to Ironton.

After recovering his health, he rejoined the regiment and, during the Vicksburg Campaign, was with it for the Battle of Port Gibson on May 1, 1863, an assault at the Big Black River Bridge on May 17, 1863 (during which the regiment suffered seven killed, eighteen mortally wounded, and at least forty, including their Colonel, Sam Merrill, who incurred non-fatal wounds), an assault at Vicksburg on May 22, 1863 (during which the regiment suffered twenty-three killed in action, twelve fatally wounded, and at least forty-eight whose wounds were non-fatal), and the subsequent siege. On May 31, 1863, while the siege was in progress, Edward Patterson was reduced to the ranks for reasons not specified.

Following the siege at Vicksburg and a subsequent siege of the state capitol at Jackson, the regiment went downstream and made camp in Carrollton, Louisiana. While there, Edward again became sick and was admitted to the Carrollton Convalescent Camp followed by the Convalescent Camp in New Orleans. He rejoined the regiment on February 14, 1864, at Indianola, Texas, and remained with it through its subsequent service including an Alabama expedition against Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely (although the regiment was not involved in assaults on either fort) and the city of Mobile in the spring of 1865. He was mustered out with the regiment at Baton Rouge on July 15, 1865.

From Baton Rouge they traveled north by river steamer to Cairo and rail to Clinton where Edward and others still on the muster rolls were discharged on July 24, 1865. From there the men, sometimes alone and sometimes in small groups, made their way back to their homes and families, some of whom had moved during the war. An historical sketch of the regiment would say:

"In the generations to come, those who can trace their lineage to the men who belonged to the Twenty-first Iowa may well claim kinship with as heroic a race of men as the world has ever known - the men who helped to save the Government whose principles must, sooner or later, be adopted by the people of all countries who are capable of self-government and appreciation of the blessings which it confers, - that form of government that inspires its citizens with a patriotism like that which animated the soldiers of the Union Army from 1861 to 1865." Roster and Record Of Iowa Soldiers, Volume III (State Printer, 1910).

Edward Patterson reportedly died on May 23, 1911. He is buried in the Iowa Veterans Home Cemetery in Marshalltown, Iowa. Edward’s gravestone has his surname as “Pattison,” but that spelling does not appear in his military records. Seventeen muster rolls and his Descriptive Book, have his surname as “Paterson.” His surname is shown as “Patterson” on his Muster-in Roll, four muster rolls, the History of Clayton County (1882), and rosters by the Attorney General (1863), by George Crooke in his history of the regiment (1891), and by the state in its Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers (1910).


Penhollow, George W.
Internet sources indicate that George W. Penhollow was born on December 6, 1842 in Ellington, Chautauqua County, New York, but he was listed as being a twenty-one year old farmer when he enlisted on August 15, 1862, in what would be Company G of the 21st Regiment of Iowa's volunteer infantry. He was described as being 5' 5" tall with black eyes, red hair and a light complexion. While the state's Roster and Record (1910) lists his residence as McGregor, the Company Muster-In Roll says he enlisted at Millville in Millville Township and his Descriptive Book says he enlisted at New Stand in the eastern part of Elk Creek Township.

George was mustered into the company on August 22, 1862, and was paid the $25.00 advance on the $100.00 enlistment bounty and a $2.00 premium. The regiment was mustered into U.S. service on September 9, 1862, received its training in Dubuque, and left for war on a rainy September 16, 1862 on board the Henry Clay, a paddlewheel steamer (described by some as being an "old tub") and two barges lashed to its sides.

Every two months Company Muster Rolls reported the presence or absence of soldiers as of the last day of the bi-monthly period. George was marked ''present" during the regiment's early service in Salem, Houston, Hartville, West Plains and Ironton, Missouri. On December 10, 1862, while in Houston, he wrote to his sister and told her he had let his cousins read one of her letters and they "grited their teeth and almost swore vengance on those Northern traitors can it be Possible that these United States must all be Drownded in Blood if such is the case I might as well be here as anywhere else." "I keep my health first Rate so far," he said.
On February 28, 1863, George was reported sick in quarters at Iron Mountain, but was well enough to continue with the regiment through the end of August 1863. During that time they traveled down the Mississippi from Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, to Milliken's Bend, Louisiana, before embarking on a march under General John McClernand, a war Democrat from Illinois, as part of Ulysses S. Grant's massive army focused on capturing the rebel stronghold at Vicksburg. Walking, wading and occasionally crossing bayous on small boats, they made their way south before, on April 30, 1863, crossing the river to Bruinsburg. As Grant's point regiment, they continued inland, passed the ruins of the Windsor mansion, and drew first fire near the Abram Schaefer house, a residence still standing. (www.NatchezTraceTravel.Com)

On May 1, 1863, they participated in the all-day Battle of Port Gibson. On May 16th they were held in reserve during the Battle of Champion Hill but, on the 17th, together with the 23rd Iowa, led an assault on rebel defenses at the Big Black River. Allowed to rest after suffering heavy casualties, they were not present during the federal assault at Vicksburg on May 19th, but did participate, and again suffered heavy casualties, in the assault of May 22d. During the ensuing siege, George Penhollow was promoted to 7th Corporal. When the siege ended on the Fourth of July, they left immediately in pursuit of Confederate General Joe Johnston east to Jackson. After returning to Vicksburg, they left on August 13th, went downstream, debarked on the west bank and, on August 15th, made camp in Carrollton, not far from today's Tulane University.

While there, George became ill and, on August 31st, was granted a 30-day furlough to go north to regain his health. Apparently not able to leave until September 18th, he returned to his home in Mallory Township and there, on October 13, 1863, he died from chronic diarrhea contracted in the military. He was buried in Brown Cemetery, Colesburg, near a brother who had died in 1861.

George's parents, Richard and Mercy (Bates) Penhollow, received the $75.00 balance of George's enlistment bounty, the balance of his accrued monthly pay, and another $100.00 authorized by a postwar act for parents of deceased soldiers.

In 1873 George’s nineteen year old brother, Jason Penhollow, died and joined his brothers in Brown Cemetery. This made life on the farm more difficult for Richard and Mercy. By 1887 many of their other children were married and had families of their own to support and Mercy applied for a pension as a "dependent mother." She hired attorneys in Des Moines and secured affidavits from Dr. Stedman and Captain Craig, and, on August 31, 1887 signed an application saying six of her children had been under sixteen when George died. He left no widow or children of his own and she had been partially dependent on him for her support.
Pension records are lacking their usual detail but, five years after the application was received, it was still pending when George's father died on January 10, 1892. He too was buried in Brown Cemetery.

More affidavits were submitted - one by Mercy's daughter Amanda Melvina, one from a son-in-law (Jesse Holtzman, husband of her daughter Helen), and several by family friends who knew of her marriage to Richard, the birth of George, and her current financial circumstances. In October her claim was submitted by an Examiner and, on November 22, 1892, a certificate was issued entitling her to a monthly amount of $12.00 retroactive to August 4, 1890. Mercy was still receiving the pension when she died on September 26, 1894. She is buried with her husband and sons in Brown Cemetery on the east side of Colesburg Road north of town.


Pettis, Robert 'Bob'
Born in Ohio, Robert “Bob” Pettis was living in McGregor and working as a nineteen-year-old porter when he volunteered for service during the Civil War. While his military tombstone has “W” as a middle initial, that initial seems to appear nowhere else. Robert’s Muster-In Roll, Muster-Out Roll, six bimonthly muster rolls, an Attorney General roster (1863), the History of Clayton County (1882), and a postwar history by George Crooke (1891) all have “M.” Two bimonthly muster rolls, his Descriptive Book and an Inventory have “N.” A government index of Card Numbers recognizes the difference and has both “M” and “N.”

In Clayton County, McGregor postmaster Willard Benton actively recruited volunteers. On August 14, 1862, in McGregor, he enrolled Robert Pettis, Linus “Line” McKinnie, Tim Hopkins, and at least thirteen others in what would be Company G with Benton as Captain. Many soldiers, especially before battles, wrote their names and family contact information on their knapsacks or on pieces of paper they kept with their possessions. Each man also had a Company Descriptive Book (a precursor to today's dog tags) and Robert was described as being 5' 8'' tall with black eyes and hair and a dark complexion.

At Dubuque, on August 22nd, the company was mustered in as Company G with Benton as Captain. On September 9th, all ten companies were mustered in as the state's twenty-first regiment of volunteer infantry. In 1863, Nathaniel Baker, the state's Adjutant General, reported 980 on the initial roster. George Crooke reported 1,152 in his 1891 narrative, but that included men not on the rolls on September 9th. Similarly, the state's 1910 Roster& Record reported 1,152. The numbers vary due to different reporting methods, the inclusion of some who were discharged or deserted before September 9th, the omission of some who were not physically present on the 9th, and other reasons. An analysis of all rolls indicates the correct number, both officers and enlisted, was 985.

To spur enlistments, the federal government provided a $100 bounty. Initially it was to be paid when the soldier completed his term of service but, on July 7, 1862, at the request of Secretary of State Seward who thought it of "vital importance," Congress agreed $25 could be paid in advance, the balance on discharge. A $2.00 premium would be paid to anyone who secured a recruit, or to the recruit himself if he appeared in person. Like other enlistees, Robert Pettis was paid the full $27 and he was with the regiment when it left Dubuque on a rainy September 16th on board the four-year-old paddlewheel steamer Henry Clay and two barges tied alongside.

During the regiment’s initial service in Missouri, Louisiana and Mississippi, Robert maintained his health better than most and was marked "present" on all of the bimonthly Company Muster Rolls. During the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign the regiment served in a corps led by General John McClernand. The Descriptive Book indicates that Robert participated in the May 1, 1863 Battle of Port Gibson, a May 17th assault at the Big Black River, and the subsequent siege of Vicksburg. He was also present on May 16th during the Battle of Champion’s Hill when the regiment was held in reserve. Robert was unscathed during the campaign, but thirty-one of his comrades were killed in action, thirty-four were mortally wounded, and at least one hundred two suffered wounds that were non-fatal but, in many instances, led to amputations or other problems that caused them to be discharged from the military.

Immediately after Vicksburg's surrender, the regiment joined General Sherman in a pursuit of Confederate Joe Johnston. Johnston had been monitoring the rear of the Union line at Vicksburg but, with its surrender, he had ordered his army to withdraw east to Jackson. The Federal troops were in hot pursuit and the Confederates did their best to delay them with periodic skirmishing and by destroying sources of fresh water which became hard to find "as the rebels had destroyed all the water tanks by throwing dead cattle in them." After a brief siege and occupation of Jackson, the federal troops returned to Vicksburg with most arriving by July 23rd. By then they were exhausted, there were many stragglers and their health had suffered greatly. Muster rolls indicate Robert was “present” through June 30th but, unlike other actions, do not indicate that he participated in the expedition to Jackson.

On August 13, 1863, those still able for duty boarded transports and headed downstream to New Orleans, while the sick and wounded were transported north to general hospitals in Memphis, St. Louis, and Keokuk so they could receive better medical care. Robert Pettis was among the sick. He was conveyed by river transport at far as Memphis where he was admitted to the 500-bed Webster General Hospital. It was there, on August 23, 1863, that Robert died, one of at least sixty-five men in the regiment who succumbed to chronic diarrhea, a debilitating camp disease contracted from unsanitary conditions and the contaminated water they often had to drink. An inventory of his personal effects included a dress coat, blouse, two shirts, "trowsers," a blanket, a knapsack and $23.50. Robert is buried in the Memphis National Cemetery.

A year earlier Robert had enlisted in the army with Linus McKinnie and Tim Hopkins. Tim had returned to McGregor after being discharged for disability in January, but Linus was still with the regiment in September when he learned of Robert’s death, wrote to Tim, and remembered their friend:

"The mention of “BOB’ among us causes a gloom and sadness to fill the hearts of all, which time can only wear off as but few possess the peculiar character for familiarity that he did." (North Iowa Times, October 14, 1863).


Phelps, Barna W. 'Barney'
Barna W. Phelps, son of Porter and Mary (Hatch) Phelps was born in Fredonia, Chautauqua County, New York. His gravestone and obituary give his birth date as October 5, 1822, but Jessie, one of his daughters, said her father was born January 15, 1822. In military and pension files, his age given at various times correlates with neither of these dates.

Jessie also gave her father’s name as “Barna” (not “Barney” as on his gravestone). His name appears 135 times on pension documents, always as “Barna” who signed seven of the documents.

On September 10, 1846, Barna and seventeen-year-old Louisa (according to Barna and property records) or Louise (according to her gravestone) A. Miller were married in New York. In March, 1854, he acquired a farm at 2897 Ball Road, Arkwright, New York, but that October he sold it. The History of Clayton County (1882) says he went to Dubuque in 1854 (his obituary says 1855) and, from there, walked to Strawberry Point, bought a farm, sold it the next year, and returned to New York. While there, he served part of the time as postmaster in Arkwright, but he soon moved back to Iowa and settled in Clayton County. Living in Strawberry Point he formed a partnership with Braton Bushee who, like Barna, had emigrated from Chautauqua County. The two men “established a butcher shop, and also handled butter and eggs. They ran a line of teams from McGregeor to [Strawberry Point] carrying their produce to and from the markets.”

Barna and Louisa had three children - Philander (born about 1848), Forrest I. (born in 1853) and Charles A. “Charlie” Phelps (born in 1854 or 1856). On May 15, 1860 (according to her gravestone) or May 4, 1859 (according to the History), Louisa died and was buried in Strawberry Point Cemetery.

Barna said he next married Susan Caroline “Lina” Genung on September 14, 1861. Records say their first child, Matie D. Phelps was born on May 29th of the same year which may or may not be an accurate date.

In the fall of 1862, Barna was one of four men who actively recruited local men for what would be Company B of the 21st Iowa Volunteer Infantry. The company was ordered into quarters at Camp Franklin in Dubuque on August 16th and mustered in on August 18th with a total of ninety-nine men. The four organizers drew straws to determine company officers with William Crooke becoming Captain, Charles Heath 1st Lieutenant, Henry Howard 2nd Lieutenant and Barna 1st Sergeant, also known as the Orderly Sergeant. On September 9, 1862, ten companies were mustered in as a regiment with at least 225 of its members having emigrated from New York. They were still at Camp Franklin when Barna became ill and, on the 14th, was granted a four-day furlough and stayed with Joseph and Mary (Gunung) Rawson in Brush Creek.

The regiment started south on September 16th and traveled down the Mississippi to St. Louis and then by rail to Rolla, but Barna was not with them. Still sick, he had forwarded a Physician’s Certificate saying more time was needed for him to regain his health. He was not with the regiment when the October 31st muster roll was taken at Salem, but was on the way and had reached St. Louis where an order was signed for transportation to Rolla.

In early December when the regiment was still in Salem, a comrade, Thomas McNary, had gone for a walk, become lost and suffered through a cold night. He was incoherent when he returned the next day and was conveyed with other convalescents to Houston. In a postwar affidavit supporting Barna’s pension claim, William Crooke recalled that he and Barna had helped care for Thomas who was suffering from “lung fever” and Thomas received “great care and constant personal attention of the claimant during many hours; that the air inhaled by said Claimant was rendered exceedingly offensive by the disease of said McNary; that claimant remained with said soldier until he died on the 16th Dec. 1862.”

On February 7, 1863, Charles Heath submitted his resignation for "private matters” and was honorably discharged. Henry Howard was then promoted to 1st Lieutenant and Barna to 2nd Lieutenant with Captain Crooke making the routine certification that Barna “does not use intoxicating liquors to such an extent as to interfere with the discharge of his duties as an officer or as to set a bad example for those under his command.”

Barna’s Descriptive Book does not indicate that he participated in any engagements of the Vicksburg Campaign, but he was marked “present” on the April 30, 1863, muster roll at Bruinsburg and the June 30, 1863, roll at Vicksburg. During that time the regiment participated in the Battle of Port Gibson on May 1st, an assault at the Big Black River on May 17th, and an assault at Vicksburg on May 22nd. On June 6th, during the siege of Vicksburg, Barna was examined by William Orr, the regimental surgeon, who certified that Barna was having “repeated attacks of Intermittent Fever attended with symtoms of an allarming character and that he is now prostrated by the effects of said disease and is unfit to discharge the duties of his office.” Barna submitted his resignation the same day and was discharged on the 8th.

The History of Clayton County says that, for the next two years, he was extremely weak and unable to perform manual labor, but he then bought a farm that he worked for eight or nine years. On June 13, 1872, he applied for an invalid pension and gave his address as “two miles south of the town of Strawberry Point in Section 34 Township 91 Range 6 West.” He said he was suffering from chronic diarrhea contracted in the military where he was first treated in a hospital at the rear of Vicksburg and that he now had resultant piles and spinal disease.

The regiment’s first reunion was held in Dubuque for two days starting on September 16, 1872 - ten years to the day from when it had left the city and started south. Barna was one of many who attended the reunion.

His pension claim was supported by affidavits signed by Dr. Alexander Wiltse and by former comrades William Crooke, Gilbert Cooley and William Orr but, in 1873, Dr. A. B. Hanna, an Elkader pension surgeon, said he examined Barna and said, “I find no abnormal condition whatever” and there was “no general emaciation as would be in case of chronic diarrhoea.” Barna’s application was denied.

Over the next several years, Barna secured affidavits from Mary Rawson (who recalled that after Barna’s return from the South, “we thought his recovery doubtful”), Dr. C. H. Rawson, Phebe Wiltse, O. S. Blackmon, George Guning, Almon Rawson (who said Barna had gone to Almon’s father’s house when discharged and was “much reduced with chronic diarrhoea”) and Ed Rice, several of whom were related to Lina and all of whom testified to Barna’s continued suffering. In 1881, Barna was examined by pension surgeon C. H. Rawson of Strawberry Point and this time the results were different. Dr. Rawson said Barna had chronic diarrhoea “to some extent” and several related medical problems and was partially unable to earn a living by manual labor. On May 25th of that year, almost ten years after he first applied, Barna was granted a pension of $4.00 monthly retroactive to June 9, 1863 (the day after his discharge).

Barna was listed as a grain merchant when the History of Clayton County was published in 1882. The following year, on December 5th, the Strawberry Point Post 259 of the G. A. R. was organized with Barna as one of its charter members. Two years later the name was changed to the Henry Howard Post to honor Barna’s comrade who had been killed more than twenty years earlier at the Big Black River.

In 1886, with an address in Strawberry Point, Barna’s age was given as sixty-four when he applied for an increase. In 1890, he applied again and gave his age as sixty-five. Trying to help her husband, Lina wrote to Congressman David Henderson who had served in the state’s 12th Infantry and helped others secure pensions. Barna, she said, was then in a Chicago hospital, “health very poor.” David said he would make sure the claim was “carefully examined.” In 1891, saying he had lived in Strawberry Point since leaving the service Barna submitted another request for an increase. Dr. H. Newell Dill, Almon Rawson, Dr. C. H. Rawson, Dan Haxton and former comrades Abe Treadwell and James Hicks all testified to his frail health.

His request for an increase was denied but, giving his age as seventy-two Barna applied again in May, 1895, and listed his residence as Waucoma, where he became a member of the Sutherland Post of the G.A.R.

Four months later, on September 29, 1895, Lina died. She is buried in Madison, Ohio, in Middle Ridge Cemetery where her parents are buried.

Barna continued to pursue a pension increase, but it took another application and another affidavit before he was approved in 1898 for an age-based pension of $12.00 monthly. He died of pneumonia on February 7, 1901, in Chatsworth, Iowa, and was buried in Strawberry Point Cemetery with services conducted by the G.A.R.

With three children (Philander, Forrest and Charlie) from his marriage to Louisa and one (Matie) from his marriage to Lina, Barna had had three more children with Lina: Louie A. born November 2, 1866, Roy Orlando born May 28, 1870, and Jessica “Jessie” born September 1, 1873.

Mattie’s burial was not found, but Philander died in 1850 at age two years, four months, and was buried in Laona Cemetery, Laona, New York. Charlie died in 1913 is was buried in Strawberry Point Cemetery. Forrest died in 1918 and was buried in Lincoln Memorial Park, Portland, Oregon. Louie died in 1944 and is buried in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, Los Angeles, California. Roy Orlando died in 1960 and is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Dyersville, Iowa, and Jessie died in 1943. She is buried in Restland Memorial Cemetery, Dallas, Texas.


Pitt, Robert
Robert Pitt was born in Canada West as the province of Ontario was then known. He moved to the United States, married and, while they were living in Ohio, his wife gave birth to two children - Anna Mary on April 2, 1847, and William Henry on January 3, 1850.

On January 30, 1851, he married Susan Hamilton in Ohio City, one of the oldest neighborhoods of Cleveland to which it would be annexed in 1854. In addition to Anna and William from his prior marriage, Susan said she and Robert had five children - Susan Isabel (also shown as Isabelle) on March 3, 1852, Catharine “Kate”Arminda on September 26, 1854, Robert Edgar on February 19, 1857, John Hamilton on February 23, 1859, and Nancy Eliza on September 26, 1861.

The family of nine was living in Iowa and Robert was working as a farmer when he was enrolled in the Union army by McGregor postmaster Willard Benton. He enlisted on August 15, 1862, at New Stand in eastern Elk Township, Clayton County and was described on the Muster-in Roll as being forty-one years old and five feet, ten inches, tall (about two inches taller than average) with blue eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion.

He was mustered in with Company G on August 22d and was one of 985 men who were mustered in on September 9th as members of the 21st Regiment of Iowa’s Volunteer Infantry. Training was received at Camp Franklin in Dubuque until they left for war on September 16th on board the Henry Clay and two barges tied alongside. After one night on Rock Island, they continued their trip, debarked at Montrose due to low water, traveled by train to Keokuk, boarded the Hawkeye State, reached St. Louis on the 20th and walked to Camp Benton. The next day, following an afternoon inspection, they walked to the rail depot and, about midnight, left for Rolla.

A month later they started the first of many long marches. Leaving Rolla on October 18th, they walked south to Salem and then Houston, Hartville and back to Houston. From there they walked another fifty miles to West Plains, not far from the Arkansas border, and then, a few days later, started to the northeast. Along the way they walked through Thomasville, Eminence, Ironton and Iron Mountain until, on March 11, 1863, they walked into the old French town of St. Genevieve and pitched tents on a ridge about one-half mile north of town.

So far, Robert had been marked “present” on all bimonthly company muster rolls and had maintained his health well although twenty-seven of his comrades had died and many more had been discharged. The regiment still had 883 on the rolls, but many were unable for duty due to illness or to wounds received when a wagon train was attacked on November 24th and a battle was fought in Hartville on January 11th. From Ste. Genevieve they were transported downstream to Milliken’s Bend where General Grant was organizing a large army for the purpose of capturing the Confederate stronghold at Vicksburg. Leaving on a rainy April 12th, they walked and waded south, along roads, across plantations, and through swamps and bayous roughly paralleling the west side of the Mississippi.

On April 30th, they crossed to the Bruinsburg landing on the east bank and started a nighttime march inland. As the army’s point regiment, they encountered enemy pickets about midnight near the Shaifer house and briefly exchanged ineffective gunfire until men on both sides rested in line of battle. On May 1st, Robert participated in the day-long Battle of Port Gibson. On the 16th, the regiment was present, but held in reserve, during the Battle of Champion Hill. It was hard for men to stand and listen to the sounds of battle, knowing others were dying. “Those who stood there that day will,” said William Crooke, “surely never forget the bands of humiliation and shame which bound them to the spot, while listening to the awful crashes of musketry and thunders of cannon close by."

After the battle, they helped gather arms and guard prisoners, and two companies engaged in light skirmishing, before they moved on and camped near the Edwards rail station. The next day they were rotated to the front of the army and, with the 23rd Iowa, led an assault on entrenched Confederates at the Big Black River. The assault was successful, but the regiment lost seven killed in action, eighteen who had wounds that would soon prove fatal and at least forty who had non-fatal wounds. While other regiments moved on to Vicksburg, the Iowa regiments that led the assault were allowed to remain, bury their dead and care for the wounded including their severely wounded Colonel, Sam Merrill. Robert Pitt was detailed to work in the field hospital and, once the siege line had been established around the rear of Vicksburg, was sent to Haynes’ Bluff north of the city. There, on June 6, 1863, he died from erysipelas. The place of his burial is unknown, but many who died during the campaign are buried in the Vicksburg National Military Park.

On October 10, 1864, thirty-five-year-old Susan Pitt said she and the children were residents of Mallory Township in Clayton County when she applied for a widow’s pension. Witnessing the application was Augustus Mallory, an early settler for whom Mallory Township was named. By then, Anna and William from Robert’s first marriage were seventeen and fourteen, while the ages of the other children ranged from twelve-year-old Susan Isabel to three-year-old Nancy Eliza.

To secure a widow’s pension, Susan had to convince the Department of the Interior’s Pension Office that she had married Robert, they had lived as husband and wife and she had not remarried. This she did by securing a certified copy of their marriage record and through sworn affidavits from friends and neighbors. The Adjutant General’s Office confirmed Robert’s service record and Captain John Craig, then with the regiment still fighting in Alabama, signed an affidavit regarding Robert’s death. On June 13, 1865, Susan was admitted to the pension rolls at a rate of $8.00 monthly. On July 15th Robert’s comrades in the 21st Infantry were mustered out of service at Baton Rouge.

Despite pension payments, many widows had difficulty supporting themselves and their children and were forced to place some or all of the children in orphanages. The Soldiers Orphans’ Home in Cedar Falls began admitting orphans in September 1865 and records for the home indicate that “up to” February 20, 1867, five of Robert’s seven children had been admitted - William (16), Susan (13), Catherine (11), Robert (8) and John (7). It’s not known when they left the home and not mentioned were the oldest of the children, Anna, and the youngest, Nancy.

In 1869, saying she was a resident of Colesburg, Susan requested an increase of $2.00 per month for each of the children who were under sixteen when their father died. To prove their birth dates, that they were Robert’s legitimate children and that none had been adopted by others after his death, she secured affidavits from women who had assisted with their births - Elizabeth Cuppett, Huldah Nichols, Sarah Hubbard, Emily Wiltse and others. It took several years and many affidavits but her application was finally approved on July 8, 1873, and a new certificate was mailed on July 29th. Nancy Eliza had died in 1868, but the government granted pensions for Susan, Catharine, Robert and John. By then, three of them were over sixteen, but the pension amounts for all four were retroactive to July 25, 1866.

The amount awarded to Susan for John would continue until his 16th birthday while Susan’s widow’s pension would continue until her death in 1894 by which time it had been increased to $12.00 monthly.


Pool, John C.
John and Barbara (also shown as Barbra) (Crowner) Pool had four sons. George was born in 1837 and Albert in 1843. One son has not been identified, but the fourth and possibly the oldest was John C. Pool who was born on January 5, 1829, in Jefferson County, New York. The boys' father served as a Supervisor from the town of Champion and, in 1851, was an Assemblyman in the state’s 74th legislature.

Susannah Dart was born to Elijah S. (also shown as Edwin) and Betsy Dart on March 24, 1834, in Oneida County New York.

In the prewar years, there was heavy westward emigration from upstate New York with many settling in Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Pool and their sons, George, Albert and John, moved to Highland Township in Clayton County as did Susannah Dart and her parents. On February 12, 1854, John (25) and Susannah (19) were married by Rev. J. G. Whitford, a Methodist Episcopal minister in Volga City. The marriage was reported in The Clayton County Herald on March 3rd. John and Susannah had four children - Amelia born December 25, 1854, Alice born August 26, 1856, John E. born August 8, 1859, and George A. born September 21, 1861.

It was in April of 1861 that Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter and, in July, the North had suffered an unexpected loss at Bull Run. Initial enlistments were insufficient and President Lincoln called for another 300,000 volunteers with Iowa to provide five new regiments in addition to those already in the field.

On August 14, 1862, John was enrolled at Elkader by Elisha Boardman into what would be Company D of the 21st Regiment of Iowa’s volunteer infantry. The company was mustered in at Camp Franklin, (on Eagle Point north of Dubuque) on August 22nd. On September 9th, with a total complement of 985 men, including commissioned and non-commissioned officers, they were mustered in as a regiment. John was described on the Company Muster-in Roll of that date as being 5' 6” tall with blue eyes, sandy hair and a light complexion; age thirty-three; occupation farmer. With their services much in demand, there was time for only brief training before they were ordered to war.

It was a miserable rainy morning, September 16, 1862, when the regiment left Camp Franklin at 10:00 a.m. and marched through town while families, friends and local residents watched. Women sent cakes and cheese and others tossed apples. From the levee at the foot of Jones Street those able for duty boarded an overly crowded Henry Clay and two open barges tied alongside, "packing ourselves like sardines” said Jonathan Merry. On the way south, they spent one night on Rock Island, later transferred to the Hawkeye State, arrived at St. Louis on the 20th, left on the 21st and arrived in Rolla by train on the 22nd.

Their initial service was in Missouri and John did well. He maintained his health, was present on all bimonthly company muster rolls and was promoted from Private to 8th Corporal, 7th Corporal and, on March 10, 1863, to 6th Corporal while the regiment was en route to Ste. Genevieve. On April 11, 1863, at Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana, he was promoted to 5th Corporal. On May 17, 1863, at the Big Black River in Mississippi, he was promoted to 4th Corporal. During the ensuing siege of Vicksburg, he was promoted to 3rd Corporal and, on June 22d, to 1st Corporal

During that time he had participated in a one-day battle at Hartville, Missouri, on January 11, 1863, a one-day battle at Port Gibson, Mississippi, on May 1, 1863, and an assault on Confederate lines at Vicksburg on May 22, 1863. On the June 30, 1863, Company Muster Roll, John was noted as being “sick in Division Hosp near Vicksburg.” With the city’s surrender four days later, the Union army gained clear access to the Mississippi River both above and below the city and many of the sick and wounded were transported to general hospitals at Memphis, St. Louis and Keokuk.

Still sick, John was taken on board the hospital steamer City of Memphis as it prepared to head upstream. On July 17, 1863, he died from the debilitating effects of chronic diarrhea, an illness that killed at least sixty-five members of the regiment. While all sources agree he died on the City of Memphis, the location of the steamer on the date of his death is uncertain. Two books, George Crooke’s “Narrative” (1891) and the state’s “Roster and Record” (1910), say he died at Memphis, but that’s not reflected in the actual, and more contemporary, government records. One Pension Office circular (1863) says he died “at St. Louis” while another circular (1872) says he died somewhere “Between Vicksburg & St. Louis.” The undated Certificate for Government Undertaker was addressed not to Memphis, but to John A. Smithers, the undertaker in St. Louis.

A monument with his name and the dates of his birth and death is in Union Grove Cemetery, Darlington, Wisconsin, but it could be a cenotaph. A Casualty Sheet indicates his personal effects (cap, blouse, two flannel shirts, a pair of shoes, a pair of socks, blanket, oil cloth, knapsack and $22.00 in bank notes) were “turned over to his father.” Many similar records indicate personal effects were “mailed to” or “expressed to” a relative, but the reference to John’s effects being “turned over” implies his father may have been present. If such were the case, his father could also have taken the body north to Darlington where he and Barbara were then living.

On October 31, 1863, Susannah applied for a widow’s pension for herself and two children under sixteen, seven-year-old Alice who was living with John’s parents in Darlington and twenty-two-month-old George who was still with Susannah in Highland Township. Their other two children, Amelia and John E. Pool, were deceased. Records were reviewed by the Adjutant General’s office and by the Surgeon General’s office and several supportive affidavits were filed. John’s father said he met Susannah in June 1854 and both she and his son had told him they married, although no county record could be found. Rev. Whitford said he had married them. Susannah said there was no public record or certificate of marriage, but thought Rev. Whitford’s evidence should be sufficient. On June 8, 1865, Susannah was admitted to the pension rolls retroactive to July 17, 1863, at $8.00 monthly.

On May 28, 1866, John Pool was appointed Guardian of his two grandchildren while Susannah, still in Clayton County, sought an increase in her pension and continued to pursue a pension for her children. On February 12, 1867, she signed an affidavit reciting the “‘Family Record’ as written in the Holy Bible” that listed names and birth dates for herself, John and their children. Pheba Lewis said she had assisted with the birth of George while another witness, Mary Ann Green, said she had assisted as a midwife when Alice was born. On April 27, 1868, with Elkader’s Realto Price as her agent, Susan was granted an additional $2.00 monthly for each of her two children.

On March 9, 1871, in Des Moines, Susannah married James W. Fry with the ceremony being performed by Joshua Hatch, mayor of the city. Due to her remarriage, Susannah’s pension was terminated, but those of her children would continue until their sixteenth birthdays. She died on December 30, 1889, and is buried in the Old Penn Center Cemetery, Earlham, Iowa.

John C. Pool’s surname is spelled “Poole” on the monument in Union Grove Cemetery and the same spelling is on the stone for his parents. That spelling, however, appears nowhere in records relating to John’s government service. It is spelled “Pool” in all 16 places where it appears in his military records and all 117 places where it appears in pension records. Susannah signed her name as “Pool” on all five affidavits she signed relating to her pension claim, John’s father signed his name as “Pool” on the two affidavits he signed, Rev. Whitford used “Pool” in three affidavits relating to the marriage, the Letters of Guardianship signed by Judge John Ecker have the surname as “Pool” for both children and for John’s father, and the family Bible has “Pool” for John, Susannah and all four of their children. It is also spelled “Pool” in the 1881 History of Lafayette County, Wisconsin.


Pool, Robert James
Robert James Pool, son of Adam and Temple Pool, was born in Jennings County, Indiana, in May 1835. Mary Ann Sawvell, daughter of John and Catharine Burger Sawvell, was born in Harrison County, Ohio, on February 1, 1841. On September 13, 1862, Robert and Mary Ann were married by a court commissioner in Prairie du Chien. Robert (known by his middle name to his friends) was a resident of Clayton County where the couple made their home along Roberts Creek.

Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. The ensuing war quickly escalated and on July 9, 1862, Governor Kirkwood received a telegram asking him to raise five regiments in addition to those already in the field. Even though the fall harvest was imminent, the Governor assured President Lincoln that Iowa would meet its quota. In addition to the regular monthly pay of $13.00 for privates, volunteers would receive a $100.00 enlistment bounty with $25.00 paid in advance and the balance on honorable completion of the soldier’s service.

On August 11, 1862, at the Grand Meadow Depot between Luana and Postville, Robert (27), Jim Bethard (24), James Rice (24) and John Mather (21) enlisted in the Union army. On the 12th David Shuck (18) enlisted at McGregor and on the 13th James “Frank” Farrand (20) enlisted at Gem in Marion Township. All six were farmers enrolled by attorney William Crooke in what would be Company B of the 21st Iowa Volunteer Infantry with Crooke as Captain. Jim Bethard’s wife, Caroline (“Cal”), knew them all. Jim Rice was her brother. John Mather was her cousin and the others were neighbors. In letters to Cal, Jim called them the “Roberts Creek Crowd.”

They were ordered into quarters at Camp Franklin in Dubuque on August 16th and mustered in as a company two days later. On September 9th, with a total complement of 985 men, ten companies were mustered in as a regiment. They left for war on the 16th, arrived in St. Louis on the 20th and left on the 21st, but James Pool was ill and left behind. On October 15th, from Rolla, Jim wrote to Cal and let her know that “James Pool is still in the hospital at St. Louis.” On the 18th he said, “I have not heard anything from Pool lately.” James recovered his health well enough to rejoin the regiment soon thereafter and was marked “present” on the October 31st muster roll taken at Salem, Missouri.

From there they moved to Houston and then Hartville where they were dependent on supplies brought from the railhead in Rolla. The large army wagons “carried 4,500 pounds of freight at two and a half miles per hour when conditions were favorable.” In November, conditions were not the best but, with supplies dwindling, a wagon train with teamsters and guards from several regiments, made its way from Rolla to Houston. Some delivered their supplies to troops stationed there, but others headed for Hartville and, on November 24, 1862, camped in Hog Holler next to Beaver Creek. About 7:00 p.m. they were attacked. Three members of the regiment were killed in action, two more were mortally wounded and at least thirteen suffered other wounds. James Pool was among at least ten from the regiment who were captured and immediately paroled.

Under rules then in effect, paroled prisoners were not to take up arms again until they were “exchanged” and members of western regiments often spent their paroles at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis. On December 28th, Jim Bethard told Cal that “James Pool is here with us he will go to St. Louis before long the colonel has given the paroled prisoners of our regiment their choice to go to St Louis or take up arms again.” It’s not clear if James went to St. Louis to await an exchange or remained with the regiment but, on the December 31, 1862, muster roll at Houston, he was marked “present.”

From there they walked south to West Plains and then northeast through Thomasville and Eminence. While approaching Ironton, Jim Bethard was detached to accompany an ambulance train into town where the sick and wounded could receive better care while the rest of the regiment camped outside of town. On February 24, 1863, replying to a letter from Cal, Jim said, “you wanted to know if James Pool was dead I have not heard from him since I left the regiment last thursday he was then marching in rank with knapsack on his back looking as well as ever I saw him.” On the 28th, all six of the Roberts Creek crowd were present and able for duty at Iron Mountain. Jim told Cal that “James Pool is here with us and in tolerably good health all paroled soldiers have been exchanged and ordered to return to duty and Pool has shouldered his musket again.”

From Iron Mountain they walked into the Mississippi River town of Ste. Genevieve where they arrived on March 11th and camped on a ridge north of town. Downstream, at Milliken’s Bend, General Grant was organizing an army to capture Vicksburg and one by one the Ste. Genevieve regiments and the ten companies of the 21st Iowa left to join him. Company B left on board the Ocean Wave on April 1st, but this time Robert Shuck and James Pool stayed behind. Suffering from typhoid fever, they were taken on board the hospital ship Nashville. That’s where they were when they died, David on April 21st and James on May 1st. By the end of the war, at least twenty-four of their comrades had also died from the effects of typhoid fever.

On June 4th, while on the Vicksburg siege line, Jim Bethard told Cal, “I have not heard a word from Pool since we left the bend he was there in the hospital.” On the 7th, he said “no word from Pool yet.” On the 16th, he said James “died the 1st of May on board the floating hospital at Millkens bend.” On June 19th, Cal’s cousin, John Mather died from chronic diarrhea. “Three of the Roberts creek crowd have now gone to their long homes and three are still spared Jim Rice Frank Farrand and myself,” Jim said. “I think it is no more than fair that half of the crowd should be spared to return to their homes.” Those three did survive. David Shuck and John Mather are buried in the Vicksburg National Cemetery. James Pool’s grave has not been located.

James and Mary had no children, but twenty-two-year-old Mary was eligible for a widow’s pension. On June 29, 1864, more than a year after her husband’s death, she was living in Leavenworth, Kansas, when she applied. Records received from the government are minimal, but show that a county registrar confirmed her marriage, the Adjutant General confirmed James’ service and the Surgeon General confirmed his death. Mary was granted a pension of $8.00 monthly, payable quarterly, retroactive to May 1, 1863. No further record was found.


Possehl, Carl Joachim Jr.
Carl Joachim Possehl (Sr.) was born on March 25, 1813. His wife, Minnie, was born December 17, 1815. A daughter, Sophia D. Possehl, was born on June 9, 1841, and a son, Carl Joachim Possehl (Jr.), was born two years later. The family emigrated from Germany to the United States (where their surname was frequently misspelled) and by 1861 owned forty acres in Clayton County that were assessed at $170.00.

Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter on April 12th of that year and war followed. As it progressed into the following year, the Possehl family was living in Volga Township with a post office address at Littleport. On July 9, 1862, Governor Kirkwood received a telegram asking him to raise five regiments as part of the President’s call for 300,000 three-year men and, on August 10th, nineteen-year-old Carl Possehl was enrolled at McGregor in what would be Company B of the 21st Regiment of Iowa’s volunteer infantry. Carl was described as being 5' 11” tall with blue eyes, a fair complexion and auburn hair.

At Camp Franklin in Dubuque, the company was mustered into service on August 18, 1862, and the regiment on September 9th. On September 16th, after brief and largely ineffective training in the ways of war, they crowded onto a tightly packed Henry Clay and two barges tied alongside and started south. They spent one night on Rock Island, transferred downstream to the Hawkeye State due to low water at Montrose and reached St. Louis on September 20th. The next day, after a morning inspection, they marched to the depot and, about midnight, boarded rail cars usually used for freight and livestock. They reached the railhead at Rolla the next morning.

Water at their first campsite “oppressed the senses like the breath of sewers” so they moved to a site about five miles southwest of town. From there they started a march south on October 18th, reached Salem on the 19th, left on November 2nd and reached Houston two days later. On the 13th, they were on the move again and, on a rainy November 15th, arrived in Hartville.

While there, wagons were sent to Rolla to pick up food, mail, arms and other provisions. The large army wagons typically “carried 4,500 pounds of freight at two and a half miles per hour when conditions were favorable” but, even with less weight, winter weather and bad roads made the round trip a slow one. On November 24th, teamsters and guards on their way from Rolla were camped along Beaver Creek when, just as they were finishing dinner, they were attacked. One man was killed, two were fatally wounded and at least three suffered less serious wounds. This convinced Colonel Merrill to move the regiment back to the safer confines of Houston.

To bolster meager rations or merely make a boring diet more palatable, regiments often engaged in foraging or "jayhawking." Officially sanctioned foragers (also called “bummers” and “smokehouse rangers”) appropriated meat and grain and gave written receipts to be paid in Rolla on proof of loyalty, but much foraging was not authorized. Hungry men far from home and anxious for action sometimes engaged in wholesale looting and destruction of property although General Warren imposed heavy discipline on those who were caught. On January 5, 1863, Company B’s Jim Rice, John Mather, Carl Possehl and several others were sent on a foraging expedition into the nearby hills.

On January 8th, word was received in Houston that a Confederate column was headed for Springfield and a relief force was quickly organized. Twenty-five volunteers and one officer were requested from each of the ten companies. Their popular Lieutenant Colonel, Cornelius Dunlap, was in command of men from the 21st Iowa who were joined by a similar number from an Illinois regiment, two howitzers under William Waldschmidt and cavalry. The 21st’s colonel, Sam Merrill, led the combined forces. On the 9th, with wagons to help carry muskets, food and accouterments, they set off on the “double quick” and, recalled William Crooke at their 1889 reunion in Strawberry Point, soon met the foraging party returning to camp - “‘can't I go? can't I go?’ meet with stern negatives. The detail is already filled, and fresh men are needed for the long journey, not tired ones. But one brave, resolute heart finds a less resolute one and effects an exchange - Alas! for him - Alas! for them, whose only son he is.” Jim Bethard, a private in Company B, said “there was one of the foragers turned and went with us.” That man was Carl Possehl, the “only son” of Carl and Minnie Possehl.

On the 10th, they passed through Hartville and camped southwest of town along Wood’s Fork of the Gasconade River. Unknown to the Federals, the Confederate column led by John Marmaduke, had already attacked Springfield and, joined by another Confederate column, was camped not far away. On the morning of the 11th, bugles blew. Each side heard the other. Pickets fired and before long both sides rushed to Hartville. Confederates arrived first and took a position on a hill east of town. The Federals positioned themselves along a low ridge to the west. Several times the Confederates charged and each time they were driven back.

The battle lasted most of the day but eventually, with ammunition running low, Colonel Merrill ordered a withdrawal to the north. Men in his own regiment did not get the message and soon found themselves alone to face the still-charging enemy. Cornelius Dunlap, although wounded, continued in command and they were able to hold out for the rest of the day before following Merrill north to Lebanon. The regiment’s casualties were three killed in action, one who was mortally wounded and at least thirteen who suffered less severe wounds. Jim Bethard wrote to his wife on the 16th that “one man of Co. B by the name of Carl Perchell from strawberry pt. was shot dead by my side.” An inventory said Carl’s personal effects (a dress coat, cap, pants and underwear) were “sent by Express to his father at ‘Elkport Clayton Co. Iowa.’” He was buried locally, but later moved to the National Cemetery at Springfield, Missouri, and that’s where Carl Possehl, a forager who had pleaded to join his comrades on the way to Hartville, is now buried beneath a stone that says “Carl Pehssehl, Iowa.”

Carl’s parents had relied on him for their support. His father was forty-nine years old, but in poor health. Minnie was forty-seven. Their forty acres were assessed in 1864 at $174.00 but, “unable to improve and cultivate” it, they sold the land, used the proceeds for their support and moved to Guttenberg. Five years later they returned to Littleport and, over the next several years, the health of Carl (Sr.) deteriorated. Suffering from “sciatic rheumatism in his right hip,” he was bedridden most of the time.

On August 26, 1881, Minnie applied for a dependent mother’s pension. Dr. William Hoffbauer said Carl was “always a sick man and partly paralyzed his right leg is 2 inches shorter than the sound one.” Christian Behrens testified that their son had given his parents “all of his earnings” and said he would “have to support his father and mother.” Fred Peick said Carl was “a confirmed invalid” who, for the last thirteen years, “has not been able to earn one dollar.”

The application was still pending when J. M. Leach, the Clayton County Auditor, signed an affidavit saying his records showed that, from 1873 to 1882, Carl was the record owner of property worth more than $550.00. Since that seemed contrary to what Minnie had said, three witnesses explained. On February 12, 1873, Fred Peick had deeded 140 acres (in adjacent Sections19 and 30) to Carl “in trust” for Sophia Peick (likely their now-married daughter) and that he had subsequently conveyed it for no consideration to Sophia.

On May 17, 1883, a pension was granted. Minnie received $8.00 monthly until her death on August 1, 1903. It’s not known when her husband died or where they’re buried.


Presho, John Henry
Iowa was still a young state when the Civil War started and it was heavily populated by emigrants from other states and countries. The Presho family moved to McGregor from New York in 1857. The 1860 census for Mendon Township included William and Mary Presho who had been born in Ireland and their six children who were listed as Alexander 18 (born in Ireland), John 16 and Robert 14 (both born in New York), and Christian 12, Mary 10 and Jane 8 (all born in Wisconsin).

John Henry Presho said he was born on January 1, 1843, in Oswego, New York. On January 30, 1862, he married Celena Giroux in Prairie du Chien. (While some have spelled her name as “Celina,” it is consistently spelled “Celena” in government pension documents and that’s the spelling she used when signing her name.) Celena's parents, Michael and Jane Giroux, had been born in Canada as were nine of their ten children. Only Hiram, their youngest, was born in Iowa.

The first of the Presho boys to enlist during the Civil War was Alexander who joined Company H of the state's 12th Infantry on September 30, 1861. After being wounded at Shiloh on April 6, 1862, Alexander participated in the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign. Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, 1863, and, the following month, Alexander died at the regiment's camp along the Big Black River east of the city. He is buried in the Vicksburg National Cemetery.

John, who had been working as a farmer and laborer, enlisted on August 11, 1862. On August 18th he was mustered into Company B of what would be the state's 21st regiment of volunteer infantry. The regiment left for war on September 16, 1862. After one night in St. Louis, men traveled by rail to Rolla, Missouri, and, from there, walked to Salem. They left Salem on November 2, 1862, but John was ill and left behind in the post hospital with many others. In December he rejoined the regiment then stationed at Houston but, on the December 31st muster roll, he was again listed as sick. Early the following year he was able to recover his health sufficiently to again rejoin the regiment.

On February 5, 1863, John was with his regiment at West Plains, Missouri, when a third brother, Robert James Presho, enlisted in the military. Robert was mustered into the state's 6th Cavalry on March 16, 1863, and was with it when it was sent to Sioux City and participated in military campaigns against Indian tribes threatening the states' borders. The regiment would spend more than two and one-half years on the state's frontiers before Robert and the rest of the regiment were mustered out on October 17, 1865.

Meanwhile, John's 21st Infantry had joined the campaign to capture Vicksburg. John participated in the May 1, 1863, Battle of Port Gibson, the May 17th assault at the Big Black River Bridge, and the May 22nd assault and subsequent siege at Vicksburg. Regimental casualties during those three engagements were thirty killed in action, thirty-three with mortal wounds, and more than one hundred with wounds that would not prove fatal, although some were serious enough to disable the soldiers from further duty.

During lulls in ensuing siege, men from one regiment often visited friends in other regiments and it's not unlikely that Alexander and John were able to visit with each other. After the city's surrender, John was with an expedition to and siege of Jackson.

At Carrollton, Louisiana, on August 26, 1863, John, William Lyons, and George Goodman (who, in 1872, would marry Celena's younger sister, Martha Giroux) were detached to serve in a Pioneer Corps. This was laborious work with men often digging ditches, building roads, constructing levees and performing similar work, work that was disliked by most soldiers who didn't view it as their job.

By October 31st, John was again sick and confined in a convalescent camp in New Orleans where he stayed through the end of the year. When the camp was being closed early in 1864, John and others still not able for duty were transferred to New Orleans' Marine U.S. Army General Hospital. He was admitted on February 3rd and remained attached to the hospital for the next eight months. On October 6, 1864, he was granted a 30-day furlough to go north. He returned from furlough on December 2nd. He then remained with the regiment for its final campaign, a campaign that ended with the occupation of Mobile, Alabama, and he was with it when it was mustered out on July 15, 1865 at Baton Rouge.

After the war John returned to Clayton County, joined the Hervey Dix Post of the G.A.R., worked as a brick mason and lived in North McGregor. He was receiving a $12.00 monthly pension when he died on April 6, 1907, at sixty-four years of age.

Two weeks later Celena applied for a widow's pension and indicated that, on her husband's death, she had an annual income of $100, personal assets of $200, and a one-third interest in their residence and property on Lots 3, 4, 5, 15, 16 and 17, Block 48, in North McGregor. She died on February 25, 1929. Children of their marriage included Charles (1865-1886), Harry (1876-1892), Jennie (1878-1905), John (1881-1940) and Ray (1883-1913).

John and Celina are buried in McGregor's Pleasant Grove Cemetery, as are their children..


Pugh, Luther P.
Co B, age 22, born in Ohio, residence Delaware County
1843 born in Ohio
01/19/65 enlist as Recruit
01/19/65 muster m Company B
07/12/65 transfer to 34th/38th Consolidated
1914 died in Clayton County

This is augmented slightly from the R&R but I have not verified the R&R information. I'm going to get his military records to try to explain conflicting information as to the Company he served in. Since the R&R says Company B and Myron Knight implied the same in his diary, I'm sticking with that unless his military records show otherwise. See also my notes for James Alfred McLane.


Purdy, George Alonzo
George Alonzo Purdy was born on April 18, 1834, in Poughkeepsie, New York. Julia Lucinda Hurd was born on October 19, 1839. On December 24, 1858, they were married in Michigan. From there they moved to Clayton County where George worked a farm “near the white springs at Mcgregor” and raised their two daughters, May born October 4, 1859 and Ida born September 12, 1861.

During the Civil War, George enlisted on August 11, 1862, was mustered into Company B on August 18th, and received military training in Dubuque, training that was brief and said one writer: “The rendezvous was so near the men’s homes, that their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, sweethearts, and friends, were too often present to allow either drill or discipline to any great extent.”

On September 9, 1862, when all ten companies were of sufficient strength, they were mustered in as the state's 21st regiment of volunteer infantry. Aware they would soon be going south, a comrade, Jim Bethard who had a farm along Robert's Creek, wrote to his wife, Caroline (“Cal”), and asked her to join Julia Purdy in McGregor where "you will get with her on the boat and we will meet you at the Mississippi in Dubuque." Caroline, with a three month old daughter, and Julia, with three year old May and one year old Ida, boarded a steamer at the landing, went down river, and spent the day with their husbands before taking an evening steamer north. Jim and Cal would not see each other for almost three years. George and Julia would never see each other again.

Jim and George were bunkmates during their initial service in Missouri where George received promotions from Private to 7th Corporal and then to 6th Corporal. In February 1863, the two friends were among those detailed to take the sick into the town of Ironton where they occupied the courthouse that still stands in the town square. It was there that George learned that typhoid had struck McGregor. Julia and Ida died. The North Iowa Times reported their deaths: “In this city, on the 2d last, Mrs. Julia L. Purdy, aged 22 years. Also, on the 3d inst., Idah [sic] Purdy, aged eighteen months, daughter of the above.” Julia and Ida were buried in Giard Cemetery near Farmersburg where their stone now lies broken on the ground, Julia’s name on one piece and Ida’s on another. [photo] Caroline Bethard saw the news article and asked if that was the same Julia she had met in September. Jim said it was: “I never felt so much simpathy for a man as I did for him when he got the news of the death of his wife and child it seemed as though his heart would break he was with us two nights after he got the news and he did not pretend to lie down to sleep at all but walked to and fro in the hall of the court house as steady as a sentinal on his beat the whole night Mr Purdy is a good fellow and is well liked by the majority of the company he has the true and full simpathy's of the whole company in his trouble.”

The regiment was under strict orders. No furloughs were to be granted. William Crooke, Captain of Company B, was from Strawberry Point and the regiment's Colonel, Sam Merrill, was a McGregor banker and merchant. They could not help but be sympathetic. Contrary to orders, George was given an off-the-record leave of absence: “he got leave of absence from the captain and colonel and got some papers from the suttler and by putting on citizens cloths he hoped to pass as a suttlers clerk James Rice and I sent our money home by him”

Risking arrest, George returned home and, said Jim: “he had found his circumstances at Mcgregor verry different from what he had expected that the sickness and death of his wife and child had been attended with a great deal of expense and that he had used our money to pay up his expenses incured thereby and that he was going from there to detroit Michigan to leave his youngest child with its grandmother and get some money that was coming to him there and that he would return to the regiment the first of next week and make the matter satisfactory with us I told him before he left us that if he needed more money than he had to use mine as far as it would go”

George returned, repaid the money he had borrowed from Jim Bethard and Jim Rice, and remained with the regiment during the balance of its service in Missouri and throughout the Vicksburg Campaign. On September 2, 1863 he was furloughed on a Surgeon's Certificate and no doubt took the opportunity to see his daughter before returning to the regiment in December. George then served with the regiment in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Arkansas before becoming ill and entering a marine hospital in New Orleans. With the war near an end, there was no reason for him to remain on the rolls and he was mustered out on June 5, 1865 while the balance of the regiment would not be mustered out for another month.

Betsey Fitch, a Wisconsin resident, had married Norman Clark before the war. Norman served with the 20th Wisconsin Infantry and died from wounds received in battle. On March 5, 1866, George Purdy (with six year old May) and Betsey (Fitch) Clark (also with a six year old daughter) were married in McGregor by Samuel Pancoast, a minister of the gospel. They would have six children of their own: Ellen (born February 19, 1867), Frank (born January 17, 1869), Abigail "Abbie" (born September 8, 1872), Emily "Emma" (born January 18, 1886), George William (born January 8 or 9, 1878), and Earl (born April 22, 1882). Ellen, Frank and Earl apparently died young since they were not mentioned among the children still living in 1899

After short stays in Minnesota, Cresco, Iowa (where George had a store and dealt in stoves) and Colorado, they eventually made their home in Kaweah, California, on the edge of Sequoia National Park that was created in 1890. Kaweah was intended by its founders to be a utopian society founded on socialistic principles and its possible George was aware of a similar Amana Society in Iowa. An historical marker explains: "the Kaweah cooperative colony was a utopian project started in 1886. For several years it attracted international attention and many settlers came here and actually did much to further their ideals. Unable to secure title to the land, and because of internal difficulties, the organization ceased to exist after 1892, leaving as one of its tangible reminders the Kaweah Post Office."

George and Betsey continued to live in Kaweah where George died on September 26, 1916 at age 82. Betsey died on January 31, 1928 at age 87. They are buried in Three Rivers Cemetery, Three Rivers, California. While her name is spelled "Betsy" on a cemetery plaque, her marriage license has "Betsey", George gave her name as "Betsey,'' and she signed her name as "Betsey." Their son, George William "Will" Purdy married Ida Wright who, for many years served as the Kaweah Postmistress.


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