Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ahhh.... with apologies to Apple...

The temperature was in the mid-70s when I "hit the beach" early this morning...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing) :: Letter from the 29th

During the Civil War, like many hometown newspapers, The Times of Goshen, Indiana published letters sent home by soldiers in the field. You can read the official reports from the battle to get a general idea of what took place on the battlefield, but with these letters you "experience" it through the eyes of the common soldier out on the field. To me, that has a much greater impact and brings home the horrors of war, any war.

This is the second of two letters I've transcribed for posting. It was written by H. G. Davis of the 29th Indiana. He briefly mentions the 44th Regiment at the end of the third paragraph (Ralph Goodrich, possible 4th Great Grand Uncle, and his son David were members of Company B. Ralph was wounded on the first day of the battle and died of his wounds on the 8th).

Paragraph breaks were added to make it a bit easier to read, otherwise it has been transcribed as it was published.

Be forewarned, portions of the letters are quite graphic...

The Times. Goshen, Indiana
Thursday, April 24, 1862

The following letter from Capt. H. G. Davis of the 29th to Dr. Ellis, we are permitted to lay before our readers. It will be perused with interest by all:

Battle-Field at Pittsburg
Landing Tenn., April 11, '62.

Dr. Ellis: -- Dear Sir: -- It is no doubt known at Goshen, that a grand battle has been fought here upon the 6th and 7th inst., and anticipating that a deep interest is felt for the safety of those engaged, I deem it no less than my duty to give you all the important facts in my possession.

When the battle commence, McCook's Division was 23 miles to the rear of Savannah. The order soon reached us to push forward the column with all possible dispatch. -- Knapsacks were thrown away, and every thing that was not necessary for offensive or defensive war were abandoned, and we took the double quick. The roar of the distant battle was distinctly heard, which made us quicken our step to save our forces from impending defeat. We arrived at Savannah at 8 P.M., and soon procured transports up river. Before we could land, the rebels had commenced the tragic scene. We formed and were held for a while as a reserve. Soon the order was given to advance. When the gallant 29th with our brave Lieut. Col. Dunn and Adjutant Angel, gave three cheers and dashed up the bank in quest of the foeman.

The regiments in our advance were first engaged so that we had to wait until they had expended their ammunition, and so by turns we came to the front. The enemy fought with dogged obstinacy, but as they were compelled to give way, the ground was quickly occupied by us with such a shout as sent terror into their ranks. -- We occupied a position near the center. And now had come the time for the 29th. We were ordered to take position a little in advance of what is called "Green Point" which proved to be a deep swamp.

Through this the three left Companies of the 29th had to pass. And now the order is given by our gallant and good Col.; "forward double quick,march," and on we rushed over an open field in front of the enemy. It was thickly strewn with the dead and wounded, friend and foe. Horses, dismounted cannon and overturned caissons, and slippery with the blood of the fallen. All this time the enemy had us fair in view. But I do not know as we lost a man in the field.

Arrived at "Green Point" a flank movement was attempted so that the left need not pass through it, but amid the terrific roar of the battle the order was misapprehended, and I was compelled to move to the front. The boys of Company B. dashed into the pool and soon made their way through. -- This necessarily made some confusion, but we soon formed and in double quick alined ourselves with the regiment. -- And now the enemy opened upon us with redoubled fury. We were ordered to lie down and deliver our fire, which was done with astonishing effect, and attests the coolness of the entire command. We fought a long time without any support but after a while the Illinois 34th came up and poured in their volley, when the enemy broke and fled, and "the red field was won."

The field is mostly a wood like our oak openings, with now and then a cleared field. It is about seven miles square, and is strewn all over with the dead. You may take any position, and you can see from 1 to 50 mangled human forms, and all the munitions of war are thickly strewn over this vast area, a scene of havoc terrible to contemplate. The under wood is literally mown down by the shower of bullets, and the stoutest trees were cut away by the heavy artillery and hurled amid the combatents. The shell on Sunday fired the leaves and the wounded were burned alive. I saw many of the victims literally roasted. ---- Their clothes and hair burned off, and their skin rolled up like an old book cover and their bodies charred through. There is scarcely a tree on the whole field but has from 5 to 20 shot marks. I counted one bush 3 inches in diameter, which was marked by 21 shot.

On Sunday the Secesh had the advantage. Their dead lay within half a mile of the Landing. Of the courage and coolness of Co. B. I can most cheerfully attest. And their acts of undivided bravery are worthy of mention. Gen. Sherman told us next day, that this had been the most obstinate battle in history, and that "Green Point" was the heaviest fire. He said the 2nd Division had covered itself all over with glory. The 44th is badly cut up.

Our tents have not arrived, and we are bivouaced upon the battle-field. The weather is cool and rainy, but I hear not a murmur from our brave boys. Our good Lieut. Col. lays down in the mud with us and feeds upon hard bread and broiled bacon.

The casualties of the day were not so great as was anticipated. The 29th has 78 killed and wounded. Adjutant lost his horse, two Captains wounded. Company B. lost 5 wounded 1 perhaps mortally. Here is the list: Seth W. Kesey, slightly; 2nd Corporal, Jacob Miller, slightly in abdomen, doing well; Corporal, B. McCreary, slightly in foot; D. Rogers, leg, below knee; I. Odell, thigh and below knee, considered dangerous. I was struck by a spent shot in the ribs, but I can do duty. A part of my Company was acting as rear guard under Lieut. Hess and not in the battle, I had only 30 men. The enemy kept up a constant and increasing fire from Sunday morning until night, and Monday from eight until they fled.

Yours truly,
H.G. Davis.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing) :: Letter from the 9th

During the Civil War, like many hometown newspapers, The Times of Goshen, Indiana published letters sent home by soldiers in the field. You can read the official reports from the battle to get a general idea of what took place on the battlefield, but with these letters you "experience" it through the eyes of the common soldier out on the field. To me, that has a much greater impact and brings home the horrors of war, any war.

I've transcribed two letters for posting. This first letter was written by Jno. H. Violett on April 10, 1862. He was with the 9th Indiana Regiment at Shiloh, the same regiment in which Jacob Berlin, my 2nd Great Grand Uncle, served. Jacob was 25 years old when he was killed during the fighting on the second day of the battle.

Paragraph breaks were added to make it a bit easier to read, otherwise it has been transcribed as it was published.
The Times. Goshen, Elkhart County, Indiana
Thursday, May 1, 1862

Letter from the 9th. Pittsburg Landing, April 10, 1862.

Dear Bro: -- While you are rejoiced to learn of the great victory gained by us on the 6th and 7th inst. you probably feel an interest as regards my personal safety. The battle raged furiously all day on Sunday, while we were within hearing distance of the cannon and small-arms, enroute to join General Grant. We reached the river opposite the battle field just before dark; crossed over soon after on steamers to join in the conflict.

Our men under Gen. Grant had given way; and at dark when the firing ceased, prospects looked gloomy on our side. We drew up in line of battle, about one half mile from the landing, and came to a parade rest; -- stood there and sat down occasionally during the night. Soon as day began to dawn we took up our march to confront our enemy. Shortly the woods commenced ringing with the sound of cannon and musketry. The enemy fell back to a strong position and the Ninth came to a halt near a line of rail fence. We poured into them volley after volley while their deadly missiles were being hurled at us. A large shell struck the ground about fifty yards in front of us, and came bounding along the ground. McConnell and myself, standing side by side, quickly stepped aside and let it pass. Sergeant Lewis Keller not observing it in time, was struck, breaking his leg.

Soon after McConnel was struck with a shell, carrying away his right arm. We stood meantime with our elbows together; his arm was dressed on the ground by the surgeon; I learn, at this time he is doing well. The same ball took off one side of private Folsom's head, scattering the blood and brains and pieces of flesh over myself and others near by. A piece of his skull struck Chris King and came near knocking him down.

The next discharge from the same cannon killed our Adjutant and his horse; also private Lathrop near me. Four of our company and 20 of our Reg. were killed. Twenty eight of our Company and 147 of our Reg. wounded. During the heat of the fight, I took a rebel corporal prisoner while charging bayonets upon them. The rascal stood behind a tree shooting -- I made at him -- he threw down his gun. I gave him command to "bout face -- double quick -- March" -- and thus took him into Camp. He was of the "Crescent city Reg.," New Orleans.

I will leave you to read the newpaper accounts in regard to the desperate battle. I think you will find those of the Ninth Ind. have acquited themselves well. We opened the battle on Monday morning and fired the first gun, -- stood longest in the field without relief. I learn there were two killed in the 29 Reg. It is shocking to pass over the battle field and witness so many mangled bodies. Bark is torn from trees and tops cut off.

Jno. H. Violett.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The 44th Regiment at Shiloh :: The Burying Ground

A signpost at the entrance to the cemetery explains “After the Battle of Shiloh, Federal details buried the dead of both sides near where they fell. The warm weather and great number of bodies made it necessary to bury the dead quickly. In 1866 the United States Government established this cemetery for the permanent burial of Union soldiers killed at Shiloh and related engagements. Bodies were recovered from the battlefield and reburied here, often in regimental groupings. The Confederate dead remain in five mass graves on the battlefield. Two-thirds of the 3,500 Civil War soldiers resting here are unknown. Many tombstones bear a number only. Others read simply: “U. S. SOLDIER.”

What the sign doesn't say is that some Union dead were also originally interred in mass graves. And that the Battle of Shiloh was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War – in two days the tally of those dead, wounded or missing was 13,000 on the Union side and 10,500 on the Confederate side!

The site of the burying ground for the 44th Regiment is marked “Ind 3” at the bottom center of the diagram.

The tall post to the right marks the center of the burying ground for the 44th Indiana Infantry. The stones in the foreground belong to men from Iowa regiments.

Only eight of the stones in the half-circle for the 44th have names inscribed upon them. The remaining 16 stones simply have a number. Most likely they had originally been interred where they died during battle, in graves marked by the regiment in some manner. Those who have their names inscribed probably, like Ralph Goodrick [Goodrich], died of wounds within days of the battle.

Jno. Murray (431) Company B - Captain - died April 6, 1862
Frank Launners (432) Company I - Sergeant– died April 6, 1862
Ralph Goodrick (433) Company B – Private – died April 6, 1862

Note: Pension records show that Ralph was wounded on the 6th and died of those wounds on April 8th. See my previous post on this.

H. C. Rill (434) Private
W. H. Casebeer (435) Company D – Private – died April 6, 1832
Unknown Number 436

Geo. Weamer (441) Company E - Private – died April 17, 1862
Jno. Diclute (445) Company I – Private – died April 6, 1862
Leander Hall (446) Company A – Private – died April 6, 1862

Someday, I'd like to spend some time researching these men... a quick search of the Internets garnered this bit of information on marker 441, shown above: George Weamer enlisted while a Columbia City, Indiana resident as a Private in Company G, 44th Indiana Volunteer Infantry on November 22, 1861, mustering into service the same day. He was transferred to Company E on January 2, 1862 and was wounded April 6, 1862 at the Battle of Shiloh. He died of his wounds April 17, 1862.

The 44th Regiment was formed in Fort Wayne with many of the men coming from the northeast Indiana counties of Allen, Dekalb, Noble, LaGrange, and Whitley.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The 44th Regiment at Shiloh :: The Photo

This is the second of two photographs from the display at the visitor center at Shiloh National Battlefield.

The caption for this photo reads “The men of the 44th Indiana Infantry Regiment display their arms and accoutrements before the battle.” Written in the lower right corner is “Comy H 44 Ind”

The close-ups below begin from the left hand side of the above photograph. There is some overlap in the close-ups so some men will appear on more than one of the pictures.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The 9th Regiment at Shiloh :: The Photo

This is the first of two photographs from the display at the visitor center at Shiloh National Battlefield.

The caption under this picture in the display reads: “Men of the 9th Indiana, a regiment of Hazen's brigade in the Army of the Ohio, in camp before the battle.”

Perhaps, partially due to the size of the photo on display (about 30x36 inches), it is out of focus.

The close-ups below begin from the left hand side of the above photograph. There is some overlap in the close-ups so some men will appear on more than one of the pictures.

Though out of focus, it is interesting to see the different stances and postures of the men. How some of them seem to be paying attention, and others, well not so much.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Shiloh Revisited

It was 3 1/2 years ago that I wrote a little something about the Civil War battle at Shiloh in western Tennessee and about two of my relatives (or rather, one confirmed and one potential relative) who gave their lives in that battle. I have now been to the battlefield at Shiloh (also known as Pittsburg Landing) three times, the most recent being a week ago (November 15th). I'm not sure what keeps drawing me back there. Perhaps it is the spirit of Jacob Berlin and of Ralph Goodrich and of all the other men that lost their lives there. Each visit leaves me with a greater appreciation and sense of awe for those men and what they went through.

The video shown at the visitor center is the same one they have been showing since 1956, according to the ranger on duty last week. And the exhibits on display are the same as the ones the last time I was there in 2003. But this time, I looked a little closer and noticed something that somehow I had missed the last time...

How I missed it, I don't know. But, see those two photographs on the left – the ones of the soldiers standing in their camps? They are of companies of the 9th Regiment and the 44th Regiment of Indiana Volunteer Infantry! It struck me as odd that there would be on display photos of two regiments from Indiana to represent the northern troops... and that those two regiments are the same ones that Jacob Berlin and Ralph Goodrich served with! Jacob was in the 9th and Ralph in the 44th. What are the odds of that happening? Of course, they aren't the same companies that Jacob and Ralph served in, but still. Makes you wonder... I took close-up photos of the pictures and will have those in a couple of future posts.

Some of the relics on display at Shiloh National Battlefield visitor center.
Belt buckles, buttons, knives, bullets, and mini-balls.

Both Jacob and Ralph were in the line of battle along “The Sunken Road” a portion of which was named “The Hornets' Nest” because bullets were flying by so close and fast that it sounded like a mass of hornets buzzing. This realistic diorama shows part of the action along the Sunken Road. A sign alongside it states “At one point in the battle, as the Confederates were trying to break the Union defense line at the Hornets' Nest, the Confederates concentrated the greatest collection of artillery yet to appear on the American continent. Artillery played a major role in the battle, supporting infantry advances, breaking enemy attacks, and causing many of the deaths and injuries.”

I walked along the sunken road, now a wide path through the woods, looking for the monument for the 44th Regiment. I missed the path that veered off to the left toward the monument the first time through but found it on the return walk.

The Monument to the 44th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry.

Its backside faces the path and the “front” side of the monument faces the direction in which the troops were facing during the battle - south.

The backside of the monument is inscribed with details of the battle:
44th Infantry
Commanded by
Col. Hugh B. Reed.

“This regiment formed in this line Sunday, April 6th 1862, at 8.30 a.m. It repulsed several charges made by the enemy, including four terrific charges by right of Gibson's brigade, which, under orders of Gen. Bragg, was attempting to force this part of the line back. During these engagements the woods caught fire. At 2.30 p.m. regiment fell back to a line with 1st Brigade, then to rear and left of the Bloody Pond, where it charged on enemy's infantry and artillery. Here seven flag- bearers were shot down. At 4.30 p.m. slowly fell back and supported siege guns. Monday, April 7th, regiment fought the enemy till 3 p.m. Number men in action, 478. Casualties: killed, 1 officer and 33 men: wounded, 6 officers and 171 men; missing, 1 man: total, 212." Ralph Goodrich died on April 8th of wounds he received during the battle on the 6th.

The monument to the 9th Infantry was supposed to be in the field just north of the Sunken Road, as marked on the park map by the Ranger, but I never did find it... this website has a photo of it. The inscription reads “Commanded by Col. Gideon C. Moody. This regiment arrived on the battlefield at 9 p.m., April 6, 1862, moved upon the enemy at daylight of the 7th, was hotly engaged at this place 10 a.m. Repulsed a heavy attack from the front (south), and charged with brigade to the right (west), and drove back the enemy. At 12.30 p.m. was sent by Gen. Nelson across the road to the left to the aid of Col. Ammen. Casualties: killed, 1 officer and 16 men; wounded, 7 officers and 146 men; total, 170." Jacob Berlin was among the 16 men killed.

This was in the area of the Hornets' Nest. The monument to the 44th was to the east about a quarter of a mile down the path.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Perdido Key... Greetings from Florida!

Last Wednesday morning, I left Lake Lurleen, Alabama and drove the few hours south to Pensacola, Florida. My first night there I saw the most magnificent sunset, but got no pictures because I was still driving through Pensacola in the early evening traffic! I've spent the past four days in the area and, despite somewhat cloudy skies, have had great weather. Yesterday it got into the 80s – for me, the first time in that range since leaving California in June! I can't tell you how great that felt! So great that I spent all afternoon and early evening on the beach...

I'm heading east now, toward the Georgia coast, to spend Thanksgiving with my niece and her family.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Greetings from KenTennMissAla

After leaving Vevay a week ago, I spent the night at Clifty Falls State Park near Madison, Indiana. The next morning I crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky and took a meandering route to Mammoth Cave National Park. I had been there before. Many, many years ago. The weather was fantastic with sunshine, blue skies and temperatures in the 70s – a rather late “Indian Summer” but one I was quite happy to experience! I took one of the cave tours but mostly just spent time walking in the woods and being lazy around the campground, enjoying the gorgeous weather. After three nights there, and with the weather changing, I slowly made my way towards Shiloh National Battlefield in southern Tennessee (near the borders of Mississippi and Alabama).

It rained most of the day at Shiloh. It was the third time I had visited the Battlefield and each time it has rained... I think it adds to the ambiance. Walking along the “Sunken Road” where so many men lost their lives is rather sobering.

The drive through northeast Mississippi on the country roads was beautiful. Lots of hills and trees all the way through southern Indiana to northern Alabama. A surprisingly number of colorful leaves still on the trees. Rain off and on the past three days. But the sun has come out and has burned off the fog... it's time to move on down the road, still going south...

These photos were taken this morning at Lake Lurleen State Park, a few miles northwest of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was foggy and a brisk 36 degrees. My hands were freezing after half an hour, but I think it was worth it!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

He was a Rascal...

He wasn't a Black Sheep. Not really. He didn't do anything “serious” like murder or armed robbery. He just lived a little bit outside the law sometimes. But he got caught. Frequently. And he was the grandfather that I never knew...

Charles Wilson Wiseman was born September 20, 1885 in Tippecanoe Township, Kosciusko County, Indiana. The oldest of four children born to Amanda Minerva Alexander and Samuel Bray Wiseman, Charlie (as he was most commonly known) likely lead the “normal” life of the son of a farmer. He attended the local one-room school, located a short distance from his home, with his siblings Smith, Goldie and Scott as well as his cousin Howard and other children in the township. (His little brother, Scott, who was not quite eight years old died on May 18, 1902 of diphtheria.)

It is not known when his “life of crime” began but the first hint we have is when Charlie was 19 years old - from a brief article in the May 3, 1905 edition of The Fort Wayne Sentinel (Allen County, Indiana):
Al Myers and Charles Wiseman are under arrest in Kosciusko county charged with perjury. They were witnesses in the case of a Kuhns Landing saloonkeeper charged with selling liquor on Sunday, and both testified that they did not obtain liquor of the accused liquor seller. Later the saloonkeeper pleaded guilty to the charge and launched his friendly witnesses into a bad hole.
A report in The Northern Indianian on Thursday March 1, 1906 tells us that “Charlie and Smith Wiseman, who have spent the winter in Wisconsin, returned home Friday.” That would have been Friday February 24th. Oddly enough, it was on March 1, 1906 that Charles Wiseman was married to Elsie Shuder, the daughter of the widowed neighbor lady, Nancy Jane (Lavering) Shuder. Nancy's husband (and Elsie's father), Isaac, had passed away on August 11, 1905 of “Cardiac Dropsy” at 59 years of age. Charlie and Elsie were both 20 years old. Five months after their marriage, Elsie would give birth to their first child, Perry Martin Comfort Wiseman.

For the next few years, if Charlie got into trouble with the law, it didn't make the papers (or else my cousin Caroline and I just haven't found it yet!).

On October 2, 1908 tragedy struck. Charlie was working at the Sandusky Portland Cement company in Syracuse (Kosciusko County), Indiana. An accident caused him to have to have his left arm amputated two inches below the elbow. As reported in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette on June 13, 1909 he sued the company for the loss of his arm and other injuries.
Warsaw, Ind., June 12. - Today in the circuit court Charles Wiseman filed suit against the Sandusky Portland Cement company for $30,000 damages. His counsel is five Goshen attorneys, including the firm of Dehl & Dehl. The accident which was the occasion of the action occurred October 2, 1908.

Wiseman is twenty-four years of age. His complaint says that he was engaged to shovel coal and clean and oil machinery, and that the coal was taken from cars that had to be dragged up to the factory on a siding, the device furnishing the fulcrum being known as a “nigger-head.” Wiseman had used this tackle once with a flexible rope, but when put at the work a second time the rope was stiff. He alleges that this was due to the negligence of the company, which should have known, or did know, of the danger it occasioned.

Wiseman says that his arm was caught in a coil of rope and pulled around a reel or core on which the rope was wound, and that he used his other arm to free himself, thus having both arms drawn into the machinery.

He was taken to his home following the accident, it is alleged, and his left arm was amputated from the elbow, his right arm being horribly crushed and bruised. He says that his legs were cut and that his eyesight has been impaired. Following the amputation, says the complaint, he grew ill and was taken to a hospital where he remained for three weeks.
I doubt that there was ever a settlement made in the case... The Sandusky Portland Cement company shut down in 1910.

Charlie's next run-in with the law was reported in the November 25, 1909 edition of The Northern Indianian:
Charles Wiseman, the one-armed man who was mixed up in the brawl at Kuhn's Landing a couple of weeks ago and who disappeared when the officers searched for him with a warrant, came to Warsaw voluntarily on Saturday and before Justice W. H Eiler, pleaded guilty to a charge of public intoxication and also to a charge of assault. Wiseman was assessed a fine of $1 and costs in each case and his total fine and costs amounted to $21.50 which he paid.

Wiseman then went to the circuit court and before Judge F.E. Bowser, entered a plea of guilty to the charge of drawing a dangerous weapon, an affadavit against him having been filed for that offense several days ago. Judge Bowser fined Wiseman $1 and costs, amounting in all to $10.90 which he paid. Harry Gilliam, who, with Wiseman, caused the trouble at Kuhn's Landing, came to Warsaw several days ago and paid a fine and costs amounting to $13.45.
So far, poor Charlie's been in trouble for lying, purchasing liquor on a Sunday (at the age of 19), brawling, public intoxication, and drawing a dangerous weapon. Now we can add fishing with a net to the list... a most serious crime, indeed. (Warsaw Daily Times, February 21, 1913)
Wiseman found Guilty. The case against Charles Wiseman for having a fish net in his possession, was tried in Justice Henry Bennett's court on Thursday afternoon. Wiseman was found guilty and was fined $49 and costs, he appealed to the circuit court. Immediately after the appeal he was arrested on a charge of assault and battery. Wiseman is out on parole from circuit court. He was arrested by Deputy Fish Commissioner John Rigney for violation of game laws.
And now, assault and battery... (Warsaw Daily Times, March 1, 1913)
After being out for about five hours the jury disagreed in the case of the state against Charles Wiseman, for assault and battery. The prosecuting witness in the case was Bert Himes living in the vicinity of Barbee Lake. Laughter was in order among those present when in evidence one of the witnesses said that Wiseman picked up the ax handle with one hand and struck Himes with the other; it happens that Wiseman has only one arm. The defendant was represented by Attorney Merl Gochenour.
And fishing with a net – again... (Warsaw Daily Times, September 30, 1913)
Charles Wiseman of Kuhn's Landing, who was arraigned in the Kosciusko circuit court on Monday on a charge of fishing with a gillnet, was found guilty by the jury on Monday evening and assessed a fine of $5 and costs. The case went to the jury shortly after 6:00 o'clock and a verdict was returned before 8 p.m.

Wiseman had a net on Barbee Lake and had it set beneath the ice. A fisherman happened to fish with a hook and line through the hole in the ice where Wiseman had set his net and a fish which he had caught on the line became fastened in the net. He had to take the fish out of the net in order to get it off his line and Wiseman then accused him of taking fish out of his net.

Wiseman was found guilty of the same offense in a justice court, but took an appeal. He will now be compelled to pay the costs of both cases, which makes a total fine and costs of $78.58.
He was still at it 2 1/2 years later... (Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, June 25, 1916)
Charles Wiseman and Frank Hughes of Kuhn's Landing were caught yesterday fishing with a net and were arrested and taken to Warsaw, where they were fined $72.75, which they paid. Fishing comes a little high around here. Wiseman is an old offender and his fine was placed very high.
I'm thinking that “illegal fishing” must have netted (pun intended) the state of Indiana pretty good income for a few years... at least Charlie didn't use dynamite... (The Game Warden's Report in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette of August 8, 1916)
James N. Johnson of Churubusco was fined $260 and sentenced to the penal farm for six months for dynamiting fish in the lakes of Porter county. This is the highest fine and the heaviest sentence ever imposed on an illegal fisherman in Indiana.

Kosciusko County. Frank Hughes, attempting to catch fish with net, $26.15; Charles Wiseman, attempting to catch fish with net, $26.15; George Reiff, fish trap in possession, $21.15; Dan Moon, fish trap in possession, $21.15; Carl Nipp, no license, $18.60; Joseph Van Slusser, netting fish, $18.50; Lloyd Engle, netting fish, $26.50. Arrests by Rigney, Wartha and Walker.
True, fishing with a net isn't a serious offense. But he does it more than once, and with no apparent regard for the law.

On February 3, 1926 tragedy once again struck the Wiseman family. Elsie, Charlie's wife and the mother of his eight children (seven living) was horrendously burned when fire destroyed their home. Elsie had gotten up early, as she normally did, to start a fire in the stove. Charlie and the children, ranging from age 19 to 2 years old, were asleep upstairs when the kerosene oil can (filled with gasoline instead of kerosene) exploded. Somehow, they all miraculously got safely out of the house. All except Elsie. She died three hours later.

I've often wondered how the fire and the death of Elsie affected Charlie and the children. I can only imagine how horrible it would have been. The oldest son, Perry, was 19; the fire occurred the day before Eva Leah's 18th birthday; Dick was 15; Jessie was 11; Fern was 10; Emery was 3 1/2; and Jack (my Dad) was 2 years old. A daughter, Bessie was born on February 28, 1913 and died March 2, 1913.

In the 1930 census (Tippecanoe Township, Kosciusko County, Indiana page 6b) the five younger children were living on the farm with their grandparents Sam and Amanda Wiseman. It is my understanding that the children stayed mostly with their Wiseman grandparents as they were growing up. Dad never talked about his childhood or his father - at least, not to me.

With the onset of prohibition, Charlie had entered the bootlegging arena in the late 1920s and in 1930 he was incarcerated in the Indiana State Penal Farm near Putnamville in Putnum County. An article in the Warsaw Daily Union on February 11, 1930 provides the details:
Deliberating less than an hour, a jury in circuit court late Monday in the case of Charles Wiseman, of Kuhn's Landing, charged with selling intoxicating liquor to Loren Cutler on January 24th found him guilty and his fine was assessed at $100 and a prison sentence of six months was added.
Judge L.W. Royse immediately entered judgement. In sentencing Wiseman the court said, "I had sympathy for you once, but you went right on. These bottles show you were doing business out there. I don't see how the jury could do otherwise. Another time and it will land you in the penitentiary. People will not submit to open and flagrant violations of the law."

Reference by Judge Royce to the bottles was the display in the court of a bushel basket full which Harry Phillips testified he had taken to the Wiseman house. An interesting fact brought out, not at the trial, but later was that prosecuting attorney George Bowser had expressed his willingness to accept a plea of guilty and accept a fine of $100 and a 60 day penal farm sentence. This it is said that Wiseman refused and as a result he gets a term which was four months longer than if he had entered a plea of guilty.

Judge Royse charged the jurors to stand by their verdict and not apologize, as was done by a jury about a year ago, in a similar case. "Say to these," said the judge, "My verdict is right until the heavens fall."
Charlies biggest “crime” was probably lack of good judgment influenced by a bad temper. I haven't yet looked for the court record but the Logansport Press (Logansport, Indiana) reported on June 27, 1936 that Charlie was doing time again:
Warsaw, Ind. June 26 (AP) – Accused of beating his brother-in-law Clarence Quinn, with his artificial arm, Charles Wiseman, one-armed farmer, received a 90-day penal farm sentence in court here.
Charlie passed away on January 28, 1943 as a result of a cerebral embolism with the contributory cause being diabetes mellitus.

In some ways, Charlie could be considered the Black Sheep of the family. He certainly didn't fit the pattern of the fine upstanding citizen as other family members were. Who can say why Charlie did what he did? Perhaps if he had not lost his arm he would have been able to find steady work. Perhaps if his wife Elsie had not died in the house fire she might have been able to influence him in a good way. Then again, maybe not. We'll never know.

Sadly, most of what I do know about my grandfather is what I've read in the newspapers. Over the years, as my cousin and I shared these tidbits found in the newspapers, we'd shake our head in disbelief, sometimes chuckle at how the incidents were reported, and just wonder, why? The reports don't leave a very good impression, but I'd like to think that Charlie wasn't really a bad person. After all, my parents named their first child after him...

Written for the 100th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy... "There's one in every family!"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Help make it the biggest and best ever...

Jasia at Creative Gene has re-issued a call for submissions to the 100th Carnival of Genealogy.

If you have a genealogy blog, please read her post for submission guidelines and consider submitting a post.

Her goal is to have 100 contributions for this edition but only three have been received thus far. Only YOU can help her achieve the goal of 100 posts, which would double the previous record of number of posts in a COG - The Happy Dance. The Joy of Genealogy. hosted here at Kinexxions included 50 posts.

Come on folks, lets support Jasia in this venture and help make the 100th the biggest and best COG ever!

The deadline for contributing to the 100th COG is December 1st.

I'm working on my post - how about you?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Poetry Challenge :: Ballads of Blue River

Last month Bill West issued a call for submissions to the Second Great American Local Poem And Song Genealogy Challenge! We are to “Find a poem by a local poet, famous or obscure, from the region one of your ancestors lived in. It can be about an historical event, a legend, a person, or even about some place (like a river) or a local animal.”

The poet I've chosen would fit the “obscure” category. It is doubtful that anyone outside of Whitley County, Indiana has ever heard of J. D. Archer for few within the county have!

Josiah D. Archer (also known as J.D. or Joe) was born on the Archer family farm in Thorncreek Township, Whitley County, Indiana in 1877, the son of Josiah and Alice (Barney) Archer. The Blue River, which runs through a portion of their farm, played an integral part in the life of J.D. as well as his brothers and the other boys in the neighborhood.

In 1912, while living in Chicago, he published a small book of 26 poems titled “Ballads of Blue River” which relate mostly to his youth and growing up along the banks of the Blue River. Greatly influenced by the poetry of James Whitcomb Riley, many of Josiah's poems were written in the "Riley style" using Hoosier Dialect. Among the topics he describes are coon hunting, sugar making time, evening on the farm, and falling in love.

I don't have the original book as I think very few were printed but have photocopied it. An original copy resides at the Whitley County Historical Museum.

J. D. lived in Thorncreek Township. So did several of my ancestors and their siblings. The owner of Sherwood's Pond – the subject of the poem below - was John D. Sherwood and his wife Jennie Virginia Sherwood. She was my 1st cousin four times removed. Also mentioned in that poem was Foust's woods. It was owned by Franklin H. Foust and his wife Maxia Jones. Maxia was my 3rd Great Grandaunt and the aunt of Jennie Sherwood.

Sherwood's Pond
Nes'led snugly an' serene
In a quiet vale that stretched between
Two hills, on the eastward orchard crowned,
On th' westward woodland bound,
Where crooked pathways wind and creep
And fleecy patches mark the browsing sheep;
Banks with green grass fringed an' lawned,
Memory veiled, lies Sherwood's Pond.

We ust go acrost lots to school
Through th' fields an' orchards as a rule
An' had to pass by the pond on our way
An' I tell you, on a summer day
With sunshine floodin' things all over,
Fish a-flouncin' an' bees in th' clover,
It was jist like drivin' Swigart's mule
To git our feet to go t'ward school.

Seems like only jist last year,
With summer come an' dog days near,
That us youngsters, pleasure bent,
To that 'are pond at high noon went,
Sailed our boats an' fished an' swam
In th' deep hole by th' dam.

After we'd swum an hour or more,
Some, shiverin' cold, would wade ashore,
Quiet-like, an' start a-puttin' on their clothes,
When someone in th' pond would hold his nose,
Dive an' bring up clay-mud from th' bottom,
If th' fellers on shore wasn't watchin'—swat 'em,—
Smear 'em with mud till there was nothin' else to do
'Ceptin' wade back for another plunge or two.

Seemed like ever'body in the country knew
'Bout that 'are pond, an' knew Jud Sherwood, too.
He liked to hunt nuts in th' fall
In Foust's woods, an' th' tree was mighty tall
That he couldn't shin up to th' very top
An' slash till th' last nut would drop.

Could make bows an' arrows out o' hick'ry wood;
Shoot 'em, too, straight as any Indian could.
Jud was always makin' somethin' new
Like divin' boards ah' rafts fer floatin', too,
An' many a time we worked away till dark
To float some new concern that he called Noah's Ark,
Till his mother, kind o' worried, would call "Judd-e-e” about then
An' he clim upon th' fence an "Whoo-whoo-ed" back again.

In winter-time the ice was a foot thick
Then broke an' over-run an' re-froze slick.
Th' whole Beech Chapel crowd come down
With skates an' sleds; some come from town
An' after tumblin' 'round a heap a-tryin' fancy whirls
Th' big chaps kind o' edged around to walk home with th' girls.

In winter's cold or summer's heat
That 'are old pond was hard to beat
An' when I ponder o'er them days gone by
When Jud an' Sam an' Eve an' I
An' Bub an' Bill jist lived down there,
So to speak, Lords o' earth an' free as air,
I jist natur'ly can't help a thankin' God
For that 'are pond o' water an' them hills o' sod.

Pressler's Band
Talkin' about music in a kind o' off-hand way,
The kind that bears repeatin', as Father ust to say,
There ain't none any better'n a drum-band anywhere.
If I was needin' cheerin' and inspirin', I declare,
I'd jist like to take a walk down town an' stand
An' hear old Yankee Doodle played by Presslers' Band.

Durin' campaign season that 'are band was sure to play
An' then you'd see the crowd begin a-movin, that-a-way,
Boys would come a runnin' for four blocks or more
And old soldiers come a "heppin'" that could hardly walk before.
You knew th' Thorncreek Delegation was a goin' to be on hand
When you heard old Yankee Doodle played by Presslers' band.

Douglas Pressler was their fifer an' allays led th' band,
And his half a dozen brothers played the snares on either hand.
Lordy! How they made that old "Six-Eight" tune hum,
While Henry Egolf beat th' stuffn' out th' old bass drum.
Any feller that ain't heard 'em ain't supposed to understand
The glory o' th' music played by Pressler's band.

Presslers' band! Seems like I kin hear 'em yet
A playin' martial melodies, the kind you can't forget.
If I could choose my music for jist a single time
I'd say it was a privilege mos' pleasin' an' sublime
To elbow into Thorncreek's crowd an' stand
An' hear old Yankee Doodle played by Presslers' Band.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dad and the 511th

Originally posted on September 13, 2007.

On February 19th 1943, just 3 weeks after his 19th birthday, Jack William Wiseman was inducted into the U. S. Army. A week later he entered active service at Toledo, Ohio.

At about that same time the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment was activated at Camp Toccoa, Georgia. A processing system was set up for screening the volunteers for Parachute duty from all over the country. Every man was interviewed and had to meet the Regiment’s high standards prior to his acceptance. Only 35% of the volunteers met those requirements. Since most of the men had come to the Regiment straight from induction, their entire training, from Basic on up, was of Airborne design. The Regiment was sent to Camp Mackall, North Carolina for 17 weeks of Basic training. Following that training, the 511th journeyed to Fort Benning, Georgia for three weeks jump training. Following Parachute School the Regiment returned to Camp Mackall for Advanced Training.

Apparently, within the upper echelons of the War Department, there was some concern about the effectiveness of and need for large Airborne units. A special test maneuver was ordered for the 11th Airborne Division and it took place for five days during the first week of December 1943. This included a nighttime parachute, glider, infantry, and artillery demonstration. The objective of the division was to capture the Knollwood Airport in North Carolina; thereafter, this exercise became known as the Knollwood Maneuvers. The success of these Maneuvers was very instrumental in the continued use of Airborne troops during the remainder of World War II.

Early in January of 1944, the Division went to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and engaged in additional maneuvers. In April, they traveled by train to Camp Stoneman, California. On May 8, 1944, the 511th departed on the SS Sea Pike with about 2,000 troopers that had been disguised as a "Straight Leg" infantry unit. The ship had been built by the Western Pipe and Steel Corp. and launched in February 1943. It was 492 feet long, with a beam of 70 feet. She drew 29 feet of water and her steam engines pushed her at 17 knots. On May 28, 1944 the Regiment arrived at Oro Bay, New Guinea.

Through October, the 511th was in strategic reserve in New Guinea. During this time they conducted airborne, jungle and amphibious training. On Nov. 7, 1944 the Regiment departed New Guinea on the USS Cavalier for the Philippines. His separation papers show that Dad was involved in campaigns in New Guinea, the South Philippines Liberation, and Luzon. The History of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment (link at bottom) provides details of the battles in which the 511th Regiment participated. Not all companies participated in all of those battles. His record shows that Dad was wounded in action on February 8, 1945 at Luzon. It was not a serious wound however.

In May 1945, the division moved into a rest and training camp near Lipa, Luzon where preparations began in earnest for the invasion of Japan. However, on August 6, 1945, the nuclear weapon "Little Boy" was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, followed by the detonation of the "Fat Man" nuclear bomb over Nagasaki on August 9th.

Two days later, the Regiment departed Luzon and was flown to Okinawa. On August 30th the 511th arrived at Atsugi Air Base near Yokohama to occupy the city and guard the docks from which the peace delegation left for the signing of the Armistice. On September 2, 1945 the Japanese formally surrendered during ceremonies onboard the battleship USS Missouri which was docked in Tokyo Bay on the island of Honshu. Two weeks later, the 511th moved to Morioka, Japan to begin the occupation of Iwate and Aomori Prefectures in Northern Honshu. Although some of the troops of the 511th remained in Japan, Dad returned to the states in December 1945 and was separated from service on January 26, 1946 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana having served 2 years 11 months and 3 days, a little more than half of that time had been foreign service.

My Dad never talked about his military service to us kids, even after we were adults. There was only one time, when I was still in high school, that he brought out his box of memorabilia. There wasn't much. A few medals, a couple of pictures, some currency that we called funny money (15 bills of varying denominations), and a small flag. It was a Japanese flag that he had picked up after a battle; it had some dark stains on it that he said was the blood of the "Jap" that he had taken it off of. After he had shown that to us he immediately put everything away again. I don't know what happened to the little flag, but I now have his medals, pictures (unidentified, of course) and papers. I do remember, when we were little, for several summers we went to the Goshen Air Show. We'd meet up with some of his "buddies" and their families. Dad also had two rifles from the war. Mom said that after a particularly rough time, he threatened to commit suicide and she made him get rid of the guns. It was at about that time that we quit going to the air shows.

In May 1977, I was transferred to the Naval Air Station at Yokusuka, Japan. I knew Dad had been in Japan and asked him about it but he still wouldn't talk about his time in the service. It wasn't until after he passed away that I found out the details, from his separation papers and some magazine articles. In 1993, he had joined the 511th Parachute Infantry Association and amongst his papers were eight issues of "Winds Aloft" which is their quarterly publication. It has some very interesting and informative articles, some written by men that were in his company. After having read some of those articles, I think I now know why he didn't want to speak of his experiences.

These pictures have seen better days. My Dad is the young man on the left in the first picture. None of his pictures are captioned so I don't know where or when they were taken.

Currency issued by the Japanese Government while they occupied the Philipines during the war. The Filipinos called it "Mickey Mouse" money due to the fact that it was similar to play money and next to worthless.

The 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment was part of the 11th Airborne Division. Decorations and Citations that Dad received included: American Theater, Asiatic-Pacific with 3 Bronze Stars, Philippine Liberation with 1 Bronze Star, Good Conduct, Purple Heart, Meritorious Unit Award, Bronze Arrowhead, and Victory Medal.


A list of veterans in my family was posted May 28, 2007.