Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday . . . Mordecai Perry - 16th Indiana Volunteers

Once more I am writing about a man I am not related to, but this time I am related to his descendant.  Mordecai Perry is the 2x great grandfather of my brother.  As I have mentioned before, my brother, Dahl, is the original genealogist in the family and tried for years to interest me in the family history, now he tries to get me to talk about anything else.

Mordecai Perry was born in North Carolina 1831.  He married Harriet Halsey in Gates County, North Carolina the twenty-first of April 1852.  This was a marriage of two young people from southern families . . .  yet in the 1860 census they are living in Tipton county, Indiana. Only two years later, Mordecai becomes a Union soldier.

According to Hazzard's History of Henry County, Indiana, 1822-1906, Volume 1page 304, Mordecai Perry mustered in as a private in the 16th Infantry Regiment Indiana Volunteers, Company G, on August 12, 1862.  This was a three year enlistment, but he never finished it.   There was no slow start for Mordecai. The sixteenth Indiana was sent to Kentucky on August 19, only a week later, where they took part in the Battle of Richmond.  The Regiment lost 200 men killed and wounded along with 600 prisoners.  Then on to the Vicksburg Campaign.  How can you prepare a man for battle in only a week? Or did they just assume they would lose so many that it would be a wasted effort?

 Mordecai died of dysentery at Vicksburg, Mississippi  February 13, 1863, a short 6 months after his enlistment.  He is buried there, part of the Vicksburg National Military Park.

What called him to enlist?  Did he need money for his family? Was he swept away by the emotion of the times?  Did he have family back in North Carolina who fought for the Confederacy?  

His family remains a mystery . . . a brick wall that continues to block, aggravate and  frustrate my brother.  There are a lot of Perrys in North Carolina, but identifying the correct one has been elusive.

Monday, September 17, 2012

I'm Not Related to Johann Scheid

Long before I "found" genealogy, I was a seeker of antiques.  Weekends would often find me taking a detour through the local antique malls on my way to the grocery store.  The dates of two large antique markets were marked on my calendar. . .lest I forget.  I was particularly fond of "women's work" antiques.  My family shares meals at a round oak table I refinished, a spool cabinet sits next to the sofa with my morning coffee on it, a European armoire is handy for my sweaters and bath towels, a pie safe holds my cook book collection and my sewing room. . .  Yes, I have a whole room devoted to sewing . . . has a shelf around the top of the room lined with toy sewing machines and pincushion dolls. I even planned my kitchen remodel a few years ago to leave a spot for my oak dry sink cupboard.

This is but a fraction of the antiques that I live with. . . but you get the idea.  I don't remember that I ever purchased an item knowing the name of the previous owner except for a book here and there.  Then one day at the Allegan Antique Fair, I spotted it.  "It" is a grain painted immigrant chest.  Most amazingly, it has the name of the immigrant and his destination carved into the front. That day, I told myself I would only look for small (translation: cheap inexpensive) items, but this chest grabbed me.  I looked it over inside and out, walked away, randomly looked at other offerings in the booth, went back and just stared at it.  I pulled myself away and began to walk along the aisle past more booths.  Nope, I don't need it, I told myself.  Where would I put it, I told myself. It was not in my budget, I told myself.  Well, it could be a new coffee table, I told myself.  The family room would be perfect, I told myself.  Now, about that budget . . .   I'll figure it out later.  I turned back toward the booth, and walked up to the owner to begin a little bargaining.  In the end, he only came down 10% but he knew  I was going to purchase it even if he didn't come down a dime.

 The time period for grain painting was the first half of the 19th century so I am guessing that it is circa 1840.  

Johann Wilhelm Scheid

Translation: Immigrant to New York

The pine chest is impressive, and the top was made from a single board 21" wide with hand forged hinges and side handles.

This piece of someone's family history sits in my family room with a quilted runner protecting the top which has split from age and dryness.  It is too big for the room, but I don't care.  I love it.  I have posted on the message boards of Ancestry to see if there is a descendant who would like to see it.  So far, no one has contacted me.  I've found a Johann Scheid but not a Wilhelm, although I haven't searched with much intensity.  

So, for the time being, I'm taking care of Johann's chest.  I hope he was prosperous in this new land.  Is this a chest of a poor, a middle class, or a man of means? My uneducated guess is middle class, but that is just a feeling and nothing more.  Did he have a skill or trade?  Did he marry and have a family?   Now I browse antique stores infrequently, but when I do, I pause at the framed marriage certificates, the boxes of unidentified photos, and the signature quilts sad that they have lost their families.  

Do you care for the family history of another?  If so, take your responsibility seriously.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

'Tis the Season . . . for Politics

Taken 1932 - Democratic Nat'l Conv.
Fa, la, la, la, la . . . la, la, la, la. With the Republican and Democratic National Conventions taking place, the political season is heating up to bonfire levels.  And since it only reaches this fever pitch once every four years, I thought this was the perfect time for a post about a politically inclined ancestor. . . my grandfather, Carroll Walker.

Carroll showed an interest in politics early in life.  He attended Kansas State Agricultural College, later to be Kansas State,  majoring in electrical engineering.  He had a passion for football that began when he was a member of the Frankfort high school team and continued through his college career.  These were the days of leather helmets and a wee bit of extra padding.   Although not the largest team member,  his passion and commitment were instrumental in his choice as captain of the Kansas Aggies 1906 team.

Click to enlarge and read content.

The College Annual for his senior year, tells us that politics was already part of his plan for the future.  It proclaimed, "The height of his ambition is to become United States Senator and in this we wish him well"

After his graduation in 1907, he returned to his hometown of Frankfort, Kansas and while working studied for the bar.  The day he passed the bar, he was appointed city attorney.  Do you think he had connections?  Can you still pass the bar without going to law school?  To the best of my knowledge, he never used his Electrical Engineering degree except for a brief employment with the Edison Light and Power Company in Wichita.

Grandfather Walker was a staunch Democrat and was chairman of the Democratic party of Marshall County for six years.  He started attending the state party conventions in 1912 - only five years after graduation.  Then in 1924 he was elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in New York. 

Source: Kansas and Kansans pg. 1487

While I haven't yet found out about the 1928 election (The operative word is YET!), the Emporia Gazette, Monday evening, May 16, 1932 lists Carroll Walker, 5th district, Frankfort, as a delegate to the 1932 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.  This time he backed a winner in Franklin D. Roosevelt.  On January 13, 1933, the Hutchinson News printed the names of individuals selected for the Kansas State Inaugural Committee.  Carroll Walker was on that list

 In politics, loyalty often results in opportunities . . . if your candidate is the winner.  It seems this was the case for Carroll.  Sometime between 1933 and 1934, my grandfather was offered a position as a federal attorney working for the Internal Revenue.  He moved from Frankfort to Washington D. C. and then to St. Louis and Chicago before returning home to Frankfort. The 1940 census shows the Walker family living in University City, St. Louis, and Carroll lists his occupation as Chief Counsel for the Office of Internal Revenue.

The opportunity he dreamed of as a college senior to run for United States Senator never presented itself.  But . . . politics was a habit he couldn't shake.   So after returning to his hometown, and at the age of 69, when other men were collecting Social Security, fishing with grandchildren, and taking an occasional afternoon nap, Carroll Walker decided to run for city attorney . . . as a Democrat, of course.

We'll never know if he would have won, because on July 29, 1952 on a rain soaked road, his car collided with a truck, and Grandfather Walker died of a crushed chest. 

I don't remember my grandfather. . . not even a little bit.  From these records and articles, I have constructed his political life.  I expect more detail to emerge as I continue my family history journey.

Do you have a politician among your ancestors?  Please share.  After all . . . 'tis the season.