Local History and Genealogy

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Civil War Veterans From The County

This picture shows one of the reunions of Angola Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and Women's Relief Corp (WRC).  In 1860, Steuben County kept close notice of the events in South Carolina, which seceded from the Union.  Steuben County soldiers served from the first to the last.  Dr George W. McConnell, one of the first county settlers, and a prominent man in the state, kept in touch with events in Indianapolis.  He promised the governor any aid he might ask from Steuben County.  After Fort Sumter was fired upon Dr. McConnell called the first meeting and A.W. Hendry presided.  All agreed, "The Union must and shall be preserved.  Party lines must be no more until the end of the struggle."  The result was the erection of two party poles on the public square.  These were then down and mingles as a union.  B.J. Crosswait, Dr W.C.Weicht, T.D. Jones and others acquainted with military tactics, drilled the local men.  Steuben county gave more soldiers per capita,  to the Civil War than any other county in the state - 1280 out of a population of 10,374 and 250 of these lost their lives.  The youngest volunteer in the army was from Steuben county - Silas L. Crandall, a lad 4'8" tall who was 13 years, four months, and 17 days old.  The county had eight men die in prisons during the war - including six at Andersonville - D.B. Allen, E.A.Parker, W. H. Woodard, and Valentine Somerlott all of Company A, 29th Infantry, Francis Boyer and J.S. Hendricks of Co. H, 129th Infantry.  William President of Co. A, 29th listed as dying in a "rebel prison and Moses Lower of Co. M., 5th Cavalry id listed as dying in a "rebel prison." After the war the soldiers decided they wanted to meet for friendship so the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was formed.  Eight posts were formed in the county and named for a soldier - H. Judson Kilpatrick at Fremont, S.C. Aldrich at Hudson, B.J. Crosswaite at Angola, Middleton Perfect at Pleasant Lake, Moletus McGown at Orland, McLain at Salem center, Leaman Griffith at Hamilton and Hiram L. Townsend at Metz.  The , daughters, and mothers formed the Women's Relief Corps (WRC). This picture shows one of their reunions, held about 1915.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Civil War in Steuben County

"At the start of the Civil War Steuben County had a population of only about 10,000, not a mile of railroad within its borders, and very few newspapers were available.  Under the call for the first 75,000 men, Indiana was assigned a quota of six regiments.  Within 5 days a full company had enlisted in Steuben County and was being trained by Captain Baldwin J. Crosswait, who had seen service in the war with Mexico five years before.  This company was at once dispatched to Governor Morton, at Indianapolis, but the means of transportation between Angola and the Capital was so slow that by the time the loyal Steuben County men arrives the quota had been filled.  In just eight days after that first shot was fired at Fort Sumter, Governor Morton had twelve regiments, and in less than thirty days 40,000 men had offered him their services.  Many of the men from Steuben County, still fired with true patriotism, came back and enlisted in other places, some in Ohio, some in Michigan, and others in Illinois.  On May 24, 1861, thirty men left in one group and enlisted in Adrian, Michigan, as members of the 4th Michigan infantry Regiment, and in August, over thirty more enlisted in Chicago in the 42nd Infantry Regiment.

Below are accounts of organizations in which men from Steuben County served during the Civil War.

Scott Township Guards

On August 16, 1861, Captain J. H. Judkins enrolled the first man for what was to become Company "A" 29th Infantry Regiment at a parade of the Scott Township Guards.  The uniforms of his company was made of blue denim, with red and white stripes and stars.  Lieutenant William E Sergeant and Second Lieutenant R. W. Melendy were its officers.  On August 27, 1861, the 29th Infantry Regiment was organized and mustered into service at LaPorte,  Indiana, with Colonel John F Miller as its Commanding Officer, Baldwin J Crosswait was made a Lieutenant Colonel and General W. McConnell became the Quartermaster.  Company A, and parts of Companies I and K of this regiment were composed of men from Steuben County.   This regiment participated in many of the famous battles of the was and many men from Steuben County did not return.

44th Infantry Regiment

The companies comprising the 44th Infantry Regiment were raised in the Tenth Congressional District.  Colonel Hugh B. Reed was its Commanding Officer.  Companies A and K and parts of Companies D, F and H were from Steuben County.  This regiment was sent to Green River County, Kentucky, in December 1861, and later to Fort Henry.  It also participated in the battle of Fort Donelson where it lost heavily, and in the battle of Shiloh where 33 of its men were killed and 177 wounded.  The 44th Infantry Regiment was discharged at Indianapolis where a reception was given it its honor with Governor Morton, General Grose, and General Washburn as the speakers.

48th Infantry Regiment

The 48th Infantry Regiment was organized at Goshen on December 6, 1861, with Company H being composed of men from Steuben County.  The regiment arrived at Fort Donelson the day of the surrender of that famous fort; it was at Iuka, Corinth (Second Battle),and Champion Hills,  and marched with Grant to Vicksburg.  During its service, this regiment lost 213 men, killed and wounded.

100th Infantry Regiment
The 100th Infantry Regiment fro m the Tenth Congressional District was organized in August 1864.  Steuben County gave to this regiment all of Company B, and parts of Company D and K.  The regiment joined General Grant at Vicksburg and took part in the battles there as well as at Mission Ridge where it lost over
130 men. On its return journey home this regiment received acclaim at Washington and Indianapolis.

The 12th Indiana Volunteer Cavalry Regiment
The 12 Indiana Volunteer Cavalry Regiment was organized at Kendallville, Indiana, on March 1, 1864.  parts of troops B, C, and I were from Steuben county.  The organization fought in almost every Southern State, under General Canby.  It was mustered out on November 10, 1865.

129th Infantry Regiment
The 12oth Infantry Regiment was recruited in the winter of 1863-64, and rendezvoused at Michigan City, where it was mustered into service on March 1, 1864.  It had an eventful service but lost heavily during the war.  Only 503 men and officers remained to be mustered out in August, 1865, at Charlotte, North Carolina.

42nd Infantry Regiment
The 142nd Infantry Regiment was recruited at points within the Tenth congressional District and was  mustered in at Indianapolis on March 16, 1865.  It left Harper's Ferry, Virginia, to join the army at Shenandoah, and remained there until mustered out August 30, 1865, reaching Indianapolis with only 770 men and officers.

Steuben County raised thousands of dollars during the Civil War for bounties and support of "war widows" and their families,  "Loyalty" is stamped on every page and every resolution of the county Commissioners proceedings for the years of this war."

Steuben County History 1955 Pages 221, 222, 223 Written by Col. Gaylord S. Gilbert

Note:  The Soldier's Monument in downtown Angola was built in 1917 to honor the men from Steuben County who fought in the Civil War. The monument lists the names of the 1,278 Steuben County men.  Per capita, more men from Steuben County enlisted for the war than any other county in Indiana.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


"The Pioneer Colored Resident of Steuben County Crosses The River"

"Sketch of His Life - Born and Reared a Slave He Came North at the Close of the War, and Had Lived in Angola Nearly a Quarter of a Century".

"Daniel Webster, the well known colored man who had lived with Wm. G. Croxton, of Angola, for so many years, died suddenly last Friday night.  He had been in ill health for six months or more, but was able for the most of the time to be around and do light work, and his death was unexpected.  Only a few minutes before it, he assisted Mr.Croxton in unhitching and caring for the horse.  Mr. Croxton came home from the children's entertainment at the Opera House about 11:00 o'clock, and with his little granddaughter, had barely reached his house, having left Dan in the barn, when he heard calls for help.  Going at once to the barn, with other members of his household, he found his faithful old servant on the bed in his room, apparently in great pain.  He lost consciousness and died almost immediately, before medical aid could be secured.  Heart disease was the immediate cause of death.

For many years he was distinguished as the only colored resident of Steuben county, and it is safe to say that there is scarcely a man, woman, or child in all this region who didn't know "Dan", as he was familiarly called, by sight at least.  He was born of slave parents in Carroll county, Tennessee, about sixty years ago.   His real name was Bludsoe, that, as is generally understood, being the name of his master; but for some reason, probably an aversion for anything that could bring back recollections of slavery days, he assumed the name of Webster, by which he ad been known since the war.  He came north with Col. Carpenter, of Warsaw, at the close of the war, and lived in Warsaw with Ex-Congressman :Billy" Williams, and others for a few years; then he went to live with Capt. Jack Croxton, a brother of our fellow townsman, with whom he staid seven years.  Twenty-three years ago, he came to Angola to live with W. G. Croxton, and remained with him continuously until his death.

Born a slave, very little is known of his early life, or of his relatives.  He had a brother known as Kail Brown, who came north with Gen. Tom Brown at the close of the war and from him he got the name Brown.  Kail died in Winchester, this state, about two years ago.

  Those brought close to Dan in everyday life, would occasionally find him in a reminiscent mood.  At such times he would entertain them with stray bits of his early history and recollections of slave life, which he would relate with the vivid picturesqueness of style and quaintness of expression which are unmistakable characteristics of the Negro race and dialect, adding a peculiar charm to the narrative.  His earliest recollections were of his parents and their master, who it seems was a humane and kind-hearted man; of the time when the daughter of the master married an unworthy member of a proud and aristocratic family in Mississippi; of himseslf, then a sturdy lad, with two or three other slave boys, younger than himself, being given by his master to the daughter as a wedding present; of a long trip to their future home on a big Mississippi plantation; how his unfortunate mistress, like many another woman, soon discovered that she had been deceived and betrayed into an unhappy marriage; that her husband was a graceless profligate, heading an abandoned and dissolute life, which speedily terminated in the disappearance of the faithless husband and cruel desertion of the wife, who was left with her little colony of colored children, friendless, helpless, and destitute; of the appeal to her father for help and protection; of  the days of distress and privation which followed, until the slow methods of communication and travel of those days brought relief; how they all, heartsick and homesick as they were, shouted and cried for joy when they one day recognized the familiar form of the old master in the distance, coming on horseback for their deliverance; how the old master settled some necessary business matters, arranged to send his daughter home by a river boat, and then with Dan and the other little barefooted boys on either side of his horse, struck out over the mountains for their old home in Tennessee; how the old master would take first one and then another upon the horse with him, at at times would pile them all on while he would walk and rest them, during the long journey, until they finally reached their old home - a story so full of tender pathos and interest as to be well worthy of being woven into those delightful romances of southern life and customs which come from the graceful pens of Cable, Reed, and Harris.

Dan had a high and innate sense of honor which would be an ornament to many a man claiming a higher position in life than he.  Little children liked him; he was their champion and their comforter.  His inborn chivalry prompted him to resent a slighting remark made of any woman.  His courteous manners and uniform good nature made all who knew him his friends

For nearly a quarter of a century, he had lived in Angola with Mr. Croxton, and never was there more devoted, faithful and loyal attachment upon the part of any one than he had manifested in that long service.  He had become like a member of the family.  His death deeply moved Mr Croxton, who fittingly remembered his trusty servant with a funeral service and burial in every respect equal to that which would be given a near and dear relative.  Humble as was Dan's place in life, he met death while faithfully discharging his duty.  High or low, white or black, what higher eulogy can be paid to any man?

Funeral services, held at the Croxton residence Sunday forenoon, were attended by a vast concourse of people.  The floral tributes were profuse, the casket covered with beautiful flowers.  Rev. F. M. Kemper delivered a brief but most excellent address, and music was rendered by a quartet from the Methodist choir.  Mr Kemper's address was especially fitting and appropriate to the occasion, and many speak of it as the finest of its kind ever heard in Angola.  The pall bearers were Sam Shelton, Charles Vinson, B. Barber and B. Ensley - all colored - and they tenderly deposited the casket in the Croxton family vault in Circle Hill cemetery."

Angola Magnet June 17, 1898

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Harvey and George A. Brown - Underground Railroad Conductors

George A. Brown was born in Worchester County Massachusetts in 1828, son of Harvey and Sally Bolton Brown.  At the age of 15 he came,  with his parents and brother Lyman and sister Mary, to Steuben County.  They settle just southeast of Lake Gage.  

George married Ursula Stocker on November 12, 1850. Their family consisted of  four sons and three daughters: Frank, Irving Chester, Oscar Rolland, Estella, Addie and Elizabeth.  Ursala was the youngest child of John and Betty Stocker.  She was born at Jamica, Windham County, Vermont on March 28, 1834.  Her family moved to Steuben County when she was 6 months old.  She died January 19, 1909.  George died in 1915.  Both are buried at the Lake Gage Cemetery.

This was taken from an article appearing in the January 8, 1913 Steuben County Republican.
"  George A Brown, aged 85 years, who lives with his son on the north shore of Lake Gage, was in Angola last Saturday, and in the company of with T.L. Gillis called at the Republican office.  Mr Brown came with his parents from Worcester county, Massachusetts, when fifteen years of age.  They lived southeast of  Lake Gage and before the War of the Rebellion  his father's house was one of the stations on the Underground Railroad. The home of Daniel Butler, in Salem township, was another station, and the slaves were taken from Mr Butler's to the home of Mr Brown in wagons, the journey always being made in the night.  From Mr Brown's home they were taken on north to the residence of Mr Waterhouse in Kinderhook, and then on to Detroit and Canada.  the slaves traveled in groups of from tow to eight or nine, and always appeared to be greatly frightened, for every strange noise they would hear made them fear they were about to be captured and carried back to cruel masters.  At Mr Brown's home these unfortunate people were cared for in the best way possible, provided with meals, and conveyed to the next station, all free.During the day the slaves were hid about the house, barn or woods, and always someone had to keep watch, for neighbors were not always friendly to the plan and would report to Dr Marsh, the united States Marshal, who lived near Flint.

Mr Brown remembers a number of incidents of those dark and trying days, and related a few during his short stay in the office.  One day they had several slaves hid in the barn by the side of the road.  In the company was a boy who did not realize, as his parents did, how serious a matter it would be to be captured, so while a funeral possession was passing, he stuck his head out of the barn door, and some one reported the fact to Dr Marsh.  The next day Dr. Marsh was on hand and asked if there were any slaves on teh premises, but of course by that time they were hiding in michigan at another station.

One morning about 4:00 o'clock the family was awakened by a man who had brought from the Butler sation a man and wife, two children and a woman who was very sick.  Mrs. Brown ogt breakfast for them and they were hid away as securely as possible.  The woman was sick before they left the Ohio river, and was growing worse.  Beyond Hillsdale was a station kept by a man known to be a doctor, so as soon as it was dark the woman was placed in a wagon on some straw, and all were taken that night to the station beyond Hillsdale,  where medicine could be procured, for to call a doctor at any station would be  to give away all the secrets and cause the fugitives to be arrested; and not only so, but also those who were helping them, as was the case later when captain Barry of Orland, and Mr Waterhouse of Kinderhook, were taken by Dr Marsh to Indianapolis.  Mr Brown thinks as many as forty people stopped from time to time at his father's house during the summer and winter."

Underground Railroad: Steuben County Indiana by Peg Dilbone 

Steuben Republican  January 8 1913