Friday, January 31, 2014

Seeking a Dream in the Far West


Captain Orin O  England
72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Vicksburg, 1863
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

General Ralph Buckland spoke of Orin England as one of his most trusted aides during his Civil War service with the72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Enlisting as a private at the age of 21, England rose rapidly through the ranks to company command. After the loss of the regimental colors at the Battle of Shiloh, it was England whom Buckland entrusted with carrying the new colors from Fremont, Ohio to the headquarters of the 72nd.  Buckland appointed the steadfast soldier his aide-de-camp and then inspector general of the Military District of Memphis.
But the military was not for him. After the war, England returned to Fremont and married his sweetheart Cordelia Norton. He dreamed of becoming a"tin man," better known today as the owner of a hardware store. What happened to this fine Civil War officer? Did he achieve his dream?
The records of the Homestead Act, signed into law by President Lincoln in 1862, held the answer. Under the act, Civil War veterans, women, African Americans, and immigrants  from throughout Europe could claim 160-acre tracts from the government by "proving up" their claims. The agreement included building a house, cultivating a portion of the ground, and living on the tract for 6 months each year for five years. No one knows how many thousands of Civil War veterans took advantage of the Homestead Act, but the deal was especially attractive for them.  The government allowed veterans to deduct their time in the military from the 5-year rule.  In ten years, homesteaders claimed more than 4 1/2 million acres!

The Homestead Act lured England and his wife west. With their 6 children, they "proved up" a tract outside Wessington Springs, South Dakota nearly a 1,000 miles from Fremont. They were part of what became known as the "Third Dakota Land Boom." This rush for land was triggered by the Great Northern Railroad that was pushing west. Also joining the boom were Charles and Caroline Ingalls, who became famous through the writings of their daughter Laura Ingalls Wilder in the "Little House" books. Their 160-acre homestead was near De Smet, a mere 70 miles from where the Englands settled. No doubt the England family faced similar hardships: backbreaking labor, loneliness, crop failures, and harsh winters.  Orin England eventually claimed three 160-acre tracts and another under the Timber Act, a law that encouraged homesteaders to plant trees.

The Homestead Act gave many Americans an opportunity for a new life, but fraud and failure were just as common.  Railroads, land jobbers, and states often acquired enormous tracts of the best lands.  Native Americas were frequently displaced and cheated. And valuable public timberlands fell prey to speculators.

One thing was certain. Homesteading made it possible for Captain Orin England to achieve his dream.  He started a successful hardware store on Wessington Springs' main street and later owned a blacksmith and woodworking shop, and a feed mill.  He helped establish a coal and grain co-op and was elected Jerauld County commissioner. The England homestead outside town became one of the finest ranches in the area.  In their last years, the Englands passed on that hardware store to the next generation and spent their final years  with their daughters in Pasadena, California's warm sunshine.

Mountain View Cemetery
Courtesy of Find a Grave


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Construction of Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial

Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial
Put-In-Bay, South Bass Island
Courtesy of the National Park Service

2013 marked the Bicentennial of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory on Lake Erie that ended British control of the Great Lakes. The naval battle was a pivotal moment in the War of 1812. As the occasion drew near, Put-in-Bay, the site where Perry set sail to meet the British fleet, was jam packed with events to commemorate the historic occasion. Much of the activity took place at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial.

As early as the 1850s, monument associations attempted to establish a memorial to Perry on South Bass Island and nearby Gibraltar, but each time ideas, money, and plans seemed to fizzle. As the 100th anniversary neared, the Inter-State Board of the Perry’s Victory Centennial Commission was formed. With funds from states surrounding the Great Lakes, the commission decided to build a memorial to the long-lasting peace between the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain that followed Perry’s Victory.

After choosing architects Joseph H Freedlander and Joseph D. Seymour’s design in a national competition, the commission broke ground in the fall of 1913. The following 4th of July, the cornerstone was laid. Prominent photographer Otto Herbster was contracted to photograph the monument’s construction.
Construction of Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial
Taken by Otto Herbster as the Work Crew Reached the 16th Course
Charles E. Frohman Collection

Herbster’s photographs captured the workmen as they built forms, hauled sand and gravel, and shaped and built 79 courses of pink granite. The Doric column reaches 352 feet above Lake Erie. Its 9 ½ foot thick domed walls and ceiling feature Indiana limestone.

Put-In-Bay: The Construction of Perry's Monument by Jeff Kissel
Arcadia Publishing
Nearby, you can see Mr. Herbster’s photo of the monument as the 16th course was reached and another taken in March 1914 of the full construction crew. To see more of Otto Herbster’s great photos of the construction of the monument, see Jeff Kissel’s fine work by Arcadia Publishing. Online, go to HISTORYPIN and click on South Bass Island on the map. There you can see a slideshow of 28 of Mr. Herbster’s monument construction photos. Better yet, when winter ends (!)head for the Bay this summer and enjoy the magnificent view from the top of this great monument - the 4th tallest in the United States.
Construction Crew of  Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial
Photo by Otto Herbster, March 1914
Charles E. Frohman Collection

A version of this post appeared during the Bicentennial in Lifestyles 2000.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Deathbed Confession Leads to True Identity

Photograph of Charles Vincent Dougherty's Cabin in the San Gabriel Mountains
Picture by Lonnie DeCloedt and used with his permission
Deathbed confessions were fairly common during the 19th century. When all hope was gone, family members, a trusted friend, minister, or physician frequently listened to the final words of the dying. But rarely have mourners ever heard a confession like that of Charles Tom Vincent, who passed away in a Los Angeles hospital in 1926.
Vincent called his doctor in and asked that he be buried in the Sawtelle National Cemetery. He knew that for that to happen, he would have to reveal his true identity so that his Civil War service could be documented. He confessed that his name was really Charles Vincent Doughtery. He had been born in 1838 and grew up in Fremont, Ohio.

Sawtelle National Cemetery
His family was deeply religious and highly respected. His sisters had married prominent members of the community. His mother, Josephine, was considered a "very sincere Christian" by fellow worshippers at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Fremont.
True patriots, Vincent and his older brother James enlisted to fight for the Union cause. They were among the first to answer Lincoln's call. They served together in the 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Both were wounded during the conflict - James at Gettysburg and Vincent at Chancellorsville. When their time was out, James returned to Sandusky County, but not Vincent. He headed for Arizona.
There, he and a friend prospected for gold. One day after working their claim, they discovered three thieves ransacking their cabin. Vincent confessed that he and his partner shot the three and immediately buried them on the spot - a secret he had kept for nearly 40 years.
Realizing that from now on, they would be wanted men, Vincent and his partner abandoned their Arizona claim and took off for Los Angeles. It wasn't long before the lure of gold drove Vincent into the Sierra Nevadas. He later made his way south to the San Gabriel Mountains, where he built a cabin, prospected, and lived off the big game he so skillfully brought down.
While hunting big horn sheep not far from his cabin, Vincent discovered what he thought was the "mother lode." He and two partners dug a series of tunnels, bringing out some gold, but they lacked the capital to fully develop their Big Horn Mine.  In1902, they sold the mine to the Lowell and California Mining Company. According to Lonnie DeCloedt, who has researched Vincent's life, the Big Horn became the largest mine in Los Angeles County. But yields remained low and the company eventually closed the Big Horn.
As age crept up on Vincent, it was no longer possible for him to continue living alone in his secluded cabin in the mountains. By 1910, the old miner had moved to a Los Angeles boarding house and later to the home of a supposed nephew.
Was Vincent's final request carried out? It certainly was. A tombstone marks his grave at the Sawtelle National Cemetery. It reads "Vincent Dougherty, Co. F, 8 Ohio Inf." Thanks to residents interested in the area's local history, Dougherty's cabin in the San Gabriel Mountains still survives. You can read more online about Charles Vincent Doughtery and the Big Horn Mine at Lonnie DeCloedt's  "Weekly Pioneer" site.  Lonnie graciously granted permission for the use of several photos that appear on his site.

Gravesite of Charles Vincent Dougherty, Sawtelle National Cemetery
Photograph by Lonnie DeCloedt and used with his permission


William Gaines: Eyewitness to History

Sgt. William Gaines

In 1813, there were no cameras, videos, or smartphones to record the historic events of the Battle of Fort Stephenson – only the words of those who lived it 200 years ago. One of those was 13-year-old Drummer Boy William Gaines, who had marched north from Kentucky a year earlier with the 24th U.S. Infantry, caring for his uncle’s horse. The two had volunteered with General William Henry Harrison’s Army to defeat the Native Americans at the Battle of Tippecanoe. It was there that Gaines’ uncle was killed. Undeterred, Gaines re-enlisted in the 24th the following July and again marched north – this time to Fort Meigs. There he helped defend the Ohio Frontier from the British and their Native American allies.

Decades later, Col. Webb C. Hayes interviewed Gaines about his experiences serving with Harrison’s Army during the War of 1812. Although an elderly veteran, Gaines remembered the events of the Battle of Fort Stephenson with great clarity. He recalled that while camped at Fort Seneca, rumors spread that the British attack on Fort Stephenson was imminent. As Gaines told it, he then “exchanged his drum for a musket” and was one of six from the 24th U.S. Infantry dispatched to Fort Stephenson along with troops from other companies.

Shortly after arriving at the fort, the “British hove in sight and began landing their troops and cannon.” Colonel William Shortt demanded surrender of the fort or no quarter would be given. When 21-year-old Major George Croghan refused and shut the gates, he spoke to his men, telling them to “prepare themselves as no quarter was to be given.”

Major George Croghan

The bombardment began. Lt. Joseph Anthony, Gaines’ commanding officer, panicked and quickly hid until after the battle. Ordered by Croghan to hold their fire, the defenders waited anxiously as they endured the British shot and shell. Gaines’ comrade, Samuel Thurman, climbed atop the blockhouse, “determined to shoot a redcoat.” Shortly, a British cannonball “took his head off.” Toward evening, the British charged and Croghan, at last, gave the order to commence firing! They “shot through loop holes in the pickets and port holes in the blockhouses.” Gaines vividly recalled the wounded Colonel Shortt of the 41st Foot, “holding up a white handkerchief for quarter.”

With Thurman dead and Anthony under arrest, the young teen returned to Fort Seneca with his remaining 24th comrades. After Perry’s Victory on Lake Erie, Gaines marched to the lake and boarded one of Perry’s ships. They were now on the offense and bound for Canada. When they landed, Harrison found that the British had already evacuated. Colonel Richard M. Johnson’s mounted forces followed the enemy at a rapid pace. One thing and one thing only was on their minds - revenge for the River Raisin slaughter of their fellow Kentuckians. Perry and his men aided the Kentucky volunteers and Harrison’s regulars. His ships carried their baggage and military supplies to the mouth of the River Thames.

Gaines declared, “We made short work of the British. They knew we were coming and General Proctor and an aide fled before we were within a mile of them. They were the only two to escape capture.” Native American resistance faded away after the loss of Tecumseh.

Ordered by the Secretary of War, Gaines and the rest of Harrison’s troops, once more boarded Perry’s ships. They set sail for Buffalo and then Sackett’s Harbor. Gaines had the good fortune to sail with Harrison, Perry, and the captured British officers. One can only imagine the victory celebration that took place aboard that ship. From Tippecanoe to the Thames, William Gaines, just 13 years old, had been there – a participant in the victories that brought pride and unity to a young nation.

On Aug. 2, 1879, President Rutherford B.Hayes and his son Webb visited the Soldiers’ Home in Washington, D.C., to interview William Gaines. Gaines was 80 years old and was the last living veteran of the Battle of Fort Stephenson. The entire interview was published in the August 22, 1879 issue of the "Fremont Journal."  Gaines continued to serve in the U.S. Army for most of his adult life. The photograph of Gaines is part of the Colonel Webb C. Hayes Collection. It was taken in 1879 at the Bell Studio in Washington D. C., located not far from the White House.    

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Northwest Ohio Veterans Oral History Project

Julie Mayle at the Athenaeum
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Hayes Center’s Manuscripts Division recently launched its Northwest Ohio Veterans Oral History Project. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal remembrances and recollections of America’s veterans through personal narratives, correspondence, and visual materials. The project focuses on veterans who served from before World War II to the present day conflicts of Afghanistan and Iraq.

This fall Manuscripts Assistant Julie Mayle attended Giving Voice, a conference hosted by the Athenaeum of Philadelphia. The national conference brought together historians and preservation experts to discuss best practices in collecting veterans’ experiences. Julie also learned strategies for preserving audiovisual materials; making them accessible to students and educators; developing exhibits and educational programming.

Julie has begun interviewing veterans in their homes and at various locations. She makes an audio recording of the interview, which, along with scans of photographs, military documents, letters, and diaries, are preserved as part of the Hayes Presidential Center’s Local History Collection. Julie has also uploaded the audio recordings and scans of veterans’ photographs and documents to Youtube and Historypin where anyone can access them and listen to the audio recording. They are also linked on the Hayes Center’s website.

Our local history is an invaluable resource for our community. It offers an open doorway to our past and to the extraordinary individuals who have helped create our community’s story. Although no tribute can truly match the magnitude of our veterans’ service and sacrifice for our nation, we can preserve their remembrances and learn from their experiences.

Julie prepares a packet containing a typed transcription of the interview and a CD of the digital files for each veteran. All of the originals are returned. However, the Hayes Presidential Center would be pleased to accept veterans’ donations of their original letters, photographs, diaries, and documents. Through the years, numerous veterans have donated their collections to the Hayes Center. They are part of the permanent holdings in the Local History Collection.

If you or anyone you know are or were a military veteran and would like to participate in the Hayes Center’s project, please contact Julie Mayle or Curator of Manuscripts Nan Card at 419-332-2081 or email or

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sandusky County, Ohio Men Exempted from Military Duty, 1865

John B. Rice, M.D.

John B. Rice, M.D.
August 1865
In 1865, Dr. John B. Rice, who had served as surgeon of the 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry throughout most of the Civil War returned to Sandusky County, where he performed physical examinations on Sandusky County men to determine their fitness for military service .
Listed below are the names of those exempted by Rice from service. In his ledger, Rice provided the following details about each individual's examination; age, height, complexion, eye and hair color, birthplace (state and town or county); residence (township), occupation, chest measurement, marital status; race; result of examination, and cause of exemption.

Page 1
Samuel Boyer
William W. Whittier
Jacob H. Truax
Harman Blause
Alex R. Walters
Zach W. Mugg
Louis Leppelman
Herman Neumeyer
James W. Boose
Peter Baumann
Noah McGormley
Francis N. Cook
Harvey H. Arlin
Warren G. Hufford
Joseph M. Hufford
Samuel Mowry
Thomas Wiley
Ira Dunham
William N. Golden
Cyrus Jackman
Richard Prior
Nelson J. Myers
John Flaugher
Charles Buck (Beck)
James Dunham
Henry Bice
Gardner D. Hathaway
William Schrider
Henry Taulker
Henry Brinkmyer
John Avers
George Shuman
Rudolph Hohule
John Flickinger
Aaron Krotzer
John H. Curtis
Joseph Pearson
George Fishel
William B. Sanford
Israel Cookson
George W. Sanford
Michael D. Theirwachter
William Prior
Asa B. Benton
Henry Myres
James O. Farell
George Mireholts
Frank Junt (?)

Page 2
Paul Gorse (?)
William Woodford
William T. Fuller
Andrew Baumgartner
John H. Clinger
William Strauss
Jacob Fry
Hiram Schriner
Adam Ansted
Aaron C. Lyon
Joseph Nibel
John A. Gardiner
Samuel Moore
Jeremiah Bonam (?)
George H. Berger
Harmon H. Hille
E.K. Pitcher
Isaac M. Allen
Charles E. Tindall
Chester Persing
George Doell
James G. Slater
Henry Phillips
Jacob Shumaker Jr.
Ellis Sieger
Lewis R. Cole
John Hart
C.H. Huler
Alvin R. Gossard
Almon Dunham
David Earl
Lester Sprague
Abram Durfee
Henry H. Tucker
Emanuel Maurer
John Reed
Stephen F. Day
Joseph Hofalich
Barrett Brown
Samuel Hilt
Daniel J. Earl
Stephen Down
Daniel Schoch
Elijah Earl
John Morrison
Philip Earl
Daniel Down
Henry M. Billings
Page 3
John McKeefer
John B. Brush
Fred Schrader
Joshua Box
Valentine Brown
Samuel Fought
David Hartsel
Lawrence Kohler (?)
Theodore Buntshuh
Stephen Mitchell
John M. Hannixman
Michael Conley
Joseph H. Flutz
Henry Blasey
Samuel Martin
Michael Stahl
Barzillia Long
Oliver A. Comstock
Allen Aldrich
William H. Fuller
Jacob Schultz
Elisha Huff
Oscar H. Forrest
Ephraim Metcalf
Lorin Forrest
Edwin C. Tinney
John Hummel
Kohlman Huttinger
Noah Snyder
Newton H. Barton
Elias B. Brownell
Moses Himmelberger
George Miller
John Stein
Samuel Ritter
William M. Jackman
Thomas G. Reese
Lewis Canfield
George C. Canfield
J. R. S. Boardman
John Hover
Frank Nagel
John G. Spicher
Henry Brainard
George Hammer
John P. Mahr (?)
Abram Kistler
Henry Ickes
Ernest H. Meyer
Page 4
William H. K. Gossard
Orson Higley
Charles Kille
Andrew Nieset
Harmon Baker
Hiram Gilson
Shubal M. Reynolds
John Harrison
Nathan D. Pope
John V. Beery
Orrin O. Roberts
Humphrey Winslow (?)
Henry Gerke
Richard Perkins
George A. Elsworth
Thomas Hilt
Samuel B. Waggoner
Joseph Hughes (?)
Philip Pass (?)
Grant Forgerson
David K. Hill
Moses Stierwalt
John B. Loveland
Edward Williamson
Nelson Smith
Robert Lucas
Albert Hince (?)
Albert P.Ray
Isaac A. Eisenhour
George W. Short
Isaac W. Boyd
David Furry
George Sendelbach
Philip Diels
John B. B. Dickinson
George G. Smith
Wm. J. Sherrard
Emanuel Humel (?)
Upton Burgoon
John Druckenmiller
Michael Stankerd
George L. House
Anderson Duncan
John P. Deran
Henry C. Osborne
John A. Shire
John G. Schlecht
August Binniker
Wattrous Maynard
George W. McGormley
Page 5
Samuel Babion
John Kopp
Henry A. Keating
Michael Huffman Jr.
John M. Voorhies
George Kochman
Robert F. Kay (?)

Alice M. Bowen of South Bass Island:

Alice M. Bowen

Dr. Thomas Huxley Langlois Collection

The above photograph is a reprint of an original copied by and found in the Dr.Thomas Huxley Langlois Collection at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center. Alice M. Bowen was identified as the daughter of Amassa Bowen, a farmer who had migrated from New York to Howell, Michigan where Alice was born in1853. According to notes by Dr. Langlois, Alice Bowen was a nurse suffering from tuberculosis, who came to South Bass Island from Detroit, Michigan. 

She purchased land on the island and built a retreat for nurses known as "The Shingles." Her project failed. But Ms. Bowen remained on the island, continuing to buy and sell a succession of lots. Little is known about her life on South Bass Island. She is believed to have died there in 1921.