Back in 2011, I started work on a roster of Lucas County's Civil War dead, then got preoccupied with a few too many other projects. Now, I'm coming back to it --- figuring that this really should be wrapped up before the war's sesquicentennial observance ends during 2015.
It's a time-consuming process. There is no master list to refer to, so the first step is to find the names, then service information and finally personal information. I'm working on personal information now. Although the master list has been posted, individual entries aren't completed until the last two steps have been taken.
Approximately 76,000 Iowans served in the Civil War --- because we were a small frontier state population-wise at the time, approximately 650,000 people, no other state north or south provided a higher percentage of its young men (ages 15 to 40) to the war effort. Of the 76,000, 13,000 died, roughly a third of wounds, the balance of disease. Lucas County lost about 130 men.
Memorial Day originated, north and south, as a way to honor those who had fallen while in service during the Civil War. As more wars followed, and more died, its scope was expanded to include honors for all who died while in service to their country.
It's now a weekend rather than a holiday, something of a fake flower free-for-all and general summer-launching party time, but sacrifice remains at its heart.
Here are four recent entries to the master list of Civil War dead:
WAGONER, JAMES, age 34 at enlistment, of Whitebreast Township, Private, Co. E, 34th Iowa Volunteer Infantry; enlisted 9 August 1862 in Chariton, mustered 15 October 1862 at Camp Lauman, Burlington; died of disease 3 March 1863 in St. Louis; buried Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Section 38, Grave 198.
James was a native of Ohio who married Permelia Sydbotham on 24 December 1858, then settled on a small farm in Whitebreast Township, near where Oakley now is located, soon thereafter. They became the parents of three children in quick succession --- Ira, born 1859; Mary "Molly," born 1860; and John J., Born 1861. The widowed Permelia married Frederick F. Barlow in Lucas County on 24 April 1864. They had a son, Stanton C. Barlow, but the marriage did not endure; Permelia resumed use of the surname "Wagoner"; and Frederick died at Beloit, Kansas, during 1880. Permelia lived in Chariton with her three Wagoner children, none of whom married, until her death on 5 February 1907. The children continued to live together thereafter, dying as follows: Mary in 1924; Ira in 1929; and John in 1930. All are buried in the Chariton Cemetery.
Jesse, a son of John and Ruth (Huffman) Wells, was born Jan. 17, 1842, in Monroe County, Ohio, and settled in Otter Creek Township, Lucas County, Iowa, at age 14 during 1856 with his family. He was living with his parents in Otter Creek township when both the Iowa 1856 and federal 1860 census enumerations were made.
Silas, a son of John and Susannah (McBride) Wells, was born 7 February 1838 in Monroe County, Ohio. His mother died when he was an infant and during 1840, his father married Ruth W. Huffman. Most of the large Wells family, including Silas, settled in Otter Creek Township, Lucas County, Iowa, during 1855-56. Silas was living with his brother, Aaron, sister-in-law, Elizabeth, and niece, Lydia E., during 1856; in 1860, he was enumerated as head of the household of his widowed sister, Christina Curtis, and her family.
WESTON, CYRENUS L., age 25 at enlistment, of Warren Township, Private, Co. G, 34th Iowa Volunteer Infantry; enlisted 12 August 1862; mustered 15 October 1862; died of disease 11 February 1863 at St. Louis, Missouri; buried Section 50, Site No. 633, Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
Cyrenus, a native of Pennsylvania, was farming in Warren Township, Lucas County, when the 1860 federal census was taken; living with his wife, Jane (Moore) Weston, and son, James W.L. Weston, age 5 months on the date of enumeration, 14 July. The widowed Jane married Ransom Alden on 14 June 1863 in Lucas County and pension records suggest that James may have taken his stepfather's surname. The family was living south of Seymour in Wayne County, Iowa, when Ransom died on 29 January 1874 (according to transcribed Wayne County cemetery records) or 29 January 1877 (according to online family records). He was buried in Harris Cemetery there. Later census records state that Jane gave birth to a total of nine children, three of whom were living in 1920, just before her death. Jane seems to have spent the later part of her life with her daughter, Angeline (b. 1868) and son-in-law, Grant Johnson. The Johnsons (and Jane) were living in Appanoose County, Iowa, in 1900; in Monroe County, Iowa, in 1910; and by 1920 had moved to Columbia County, New York. Jane died 6 August 1921 in Columbia County and is buried in Gallatin Reformed Church Cemetery in that county.