Military Monday – Letters from the front

Over this past weekend, I was spending a little time going through things that I had brought back from my trip up to Dad’s house back in June, and made a fun discovery that has begun to lead me on a genealogical
mystery chase.

Among all of the letters that I scanned while I was at Dad’s were about twelve that were dated back to World War II.  At the time, I thought that all of these letters were from my mother’s uncles.  What I discovered this weekend was that seven of those letters were from someone outside the family.  My mistake was that with the tiny handwriting on the return address, I mistook the last name for Hill.  When I started to look at the scans this weekend, I realized that the last name was actually Wells.  As I read the letters themselves, it became obvious that this soldier definitely wasn’t a family member.

But who was Bob Wells?

The letters held only a few clues.  Based on the content of the letters I can tell:
1) Bob Wells had worked with my grandfather on the Pennsylvania Railroad before the War.
2) He lived in or near Ft. Wayne, Indiana (my grandmother mentions a “Mrs. Wells” stopping by the house)
3) He served in the 710th Tank Battalion in the Pacific theater
4) He saw action in the battle on Peleliu

With those clues, finding Bob Wells should be somewhat easy for a genealogist, right?  Well………unfortunately at this point, I don’t have my accounts with Ancestry or Fold3 active so the only resources I have are those free ones that we all use, and they weren’t providing much help.

I posted a request for help to an Indiana Research group that I am a member of on Facebook, and a wonderful fellow genealogist from Indianapolis has jumped on the case with me.  With Marilyn’s help, I now have a possible obituary for Robert Wells from Leo, Indiana.  All of the details in his obituary fit my clues so far.

I have talked with my brother and sisters and we have decided that without a doubt, these letters belong in the hands of Bob Wells’ children or grandchildren if we can find them.

I have to be honest, I am hoping to find Bob Wells’ family for some selfish reasons too.  Yes, I want to get these letters into their hands because he writes about his own family, how he is feeling about the war, and they are definitely something that I think his family would want to see.  But I also want to know more about the relationship between Mr. Wells and my grandfather.  Were they close friends?  Were they just co-workers?  Was my grandfather perhaps his mentor (being about 20 years older than him)?  Is Bob Wells the mystery man in a picture that we have of my grandfather standing beside one of the locomotives he was an engineer on for the Pennsylvania Railroad?

I wish I could say that I will have a follow up to this post soon, but all I can promise at this point is that I will post the resolution of the mystery when it happens, and if Mr. Wells’ family gives permission, I will add some content from the letters to my blog.

Stay tuned….


Military Monday – Private Isaac Farver

One of the things that I have discovered as I have journeyed into the past with my family history is that I actually come from a line of patriots from several generations and several different wars.  Today’s Military Monday post is about yet another of those patriots, my 2nd Great Grandfather, Isaac Farver.  It is jokingly somewhat of a point of contention in my household now that I live in the South, but I am proud to say that Isaac fought for the Union in the Civil War (down here in the South, it’s known as the War of Northern Aggression) as part of Company C, 35th Regiment, Indiana Infantry.
According to Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana, Vol. II 1861-1865 (W.H.H. Terrell, Adjutant General, Indiana, Indianapolis: State Printer, 1865), the 35th Regiment, Indiana Infantry was organized originally as an Irish Regiment and mustered in at Indianapolis on December 11, 1861.  The regiment, known as The First Irish, was commanded by Col. John C. Walker.  The regiment spent most of the war in the state of Tennessee participating in several engagements including the Battle of Chickmauga, the First and Third Battles of Chattanooga and the Atlanta Campaign.

As you can see from the copy of Isaac’s muster record, he was not an original member of the First Irish.  Isaac became part of the Regiment as a drafted replacement on 6 October 1864.  By this point, I have to wonder if the unit was still referred to as the First Irish since Isaac and most of his fellow replacements were not Irish Americans.  Isaac stayed with the Regiment through the rest of their time in service until the entire Regiment mustered out at Victoria, Texas on 30 September 1865.  I spent some time going through the service history of the 35th Regiment and lining that up with Isaac’s enlistment date to compile a rough timeline of what battles he may have seen.

6 Oct 1864 – Isaac Farver is drafted and musters in at Kendalville, Indiana.

Sept 1864 to 3 Nov – 35th Indiana participates in operations against General Hood in Northern Alabama and Georgia

November – December 1864 – Nashville Campaign

24 Nov to 27 Nov 1864 – Battle of Columbia

30 Nov 1864 – 2nd Battle of Franklin

15 Dec to 16 Dec 1864 – Battle of Nashville

17 Dec to 28 Dec 1864 – 35th Regiment helps pursue General Hood to the Tennessee River

January 1865 to March 1865 – 35th Regiment is stationed in Huntsville, AL

15 March to 22 Apr 1865 – 35th moves into eastern Tennessee and conducts operations

In late April, the 35th was sent to Nashville where they remained until June when they were sent further south.  The regiment arrived in New Orleans on 16 June 1865.

July 1865 – Ordered to Texas

July 1865 to 30 Sept 1865 – Duty in and around Victoria, Texas.

30 Sept 1865 – 35th Regiment Indiana Infantry is mustered out at Victoria, Texas.

I have a great deal more research to do on Isaac’s service in the Civil War.  My hope and desire is to dig into the detailed history of the battles in Tennessee in late 1864 and look for mentions of the 35th Regiment or maybe even Company C (since he was only a Private, I don’t hold much hope of finding mentions of him specifically) as well as find further original documentation of what my Great Great Grandfather may have seen or done during that year that he spent fighting in the Civil War.

Military Monday – Adam Link (1761-1864)

Last Wednesday, in my Wordless Wednesday post, I featured my Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather, Adam Link.  I thought that today, I would fill in the story behind the pictures.

Adam Link is the ancestor who started me on my now decades long genealogy journey.  When I was in my 20’s, my mother showed me a packet of information that showed the above picture of Adam and a reference to a book, The Last Men of the Revolution, along with some vague lineage that attempted to show how we were related to this man.  I’m not going to detail my quest to prove this lineage here since I plan to go into that in detail once my pending application with the Sons of the American Revolution has been finalized, but I do want to share the story of Adam Link.  I think perhaps one of the best ways to do that is to share the “Adam Link” section of the book mentioned above.

In 1864, during the height of the Civil War, Rev. Elias B Hillard traveled through New York, Ohio and Maine in an effort to chronicle the lives of the last known living veterans of the Revolutionary War.  Hillard found each veteran, took their picture and wrote for posterity the stories of the last living men who had served General Washington.  What follows is taken from The Last Men of the Revolution: A Photograph of each from Life TOGETHER WITH VIEWS OF THEIR HOMES PRINTED IN COLORS.  Accompanied by brief Biographical Sketches of the Men. Hillard, Elias B, Rev. (Hartford, CT, H.S. Griffiths, 1864)

The name of ADAM LINK introduces the closing sketch of the pensioners of the Revolution. Since his picture was taken he, also, has passed away by death.

He was born in Washington county, near Hagers town, Maryland, November 14, 1761. He died at Sulphur Springs, Crawford county, Ohio, August 15, 1864. His age was one hundred and two years, nine months, and one day.

The circumstances of Mr. Link’s life were humble, and his part in the war unimportant. He enlisted at the age of sixteen, in Wheeling, Virginia, for the frontier service, and spent five years in that service, most in the vicinity of Wheeling. During this time, his, father, Jacob Link, was murdered by the Indians in his own house. Mr. Link was in no important battle of the war. The only interesting circumstance of his soldier life was his companionship with Poe, the famous Indian hunter, the incident of whose meeting with the Indian chief upon the shore of the lake whither both had withdrawn from the fight, to wash out their guns, (become foul through use) – Poe completing first the cleansing of his, and so gaining the first shot, which brought down the Indian, and saved his own life, is familiar.

At the age of twenty-eight years, he married Elizabeth Link, a distant relative of his, her age being seventeen. After this event, being fond of change, he roamed about from place to place, living but a short time in each; and so spent the earlier part of his life. At the age of sixty, he walked from his home in Pennsylvania to Ohio, a distance of one hundred and forty-one miles, accomplishing it in three days, an average of forty-seven miles a day. When seventy years of age, he set about clearing a farm, living the while in a house the main wall of which was formed by the flat roots of an upturned tree. Although always a hard worker, he was always poor, the account of which his habits, which were always irregular, partly furnishing, and part may be set down to the score of that ill luck which seems to dog the steps of some men through life. However, he cleared quite a farm after passing the limit of three score years and ten, and remained for some time on it. Finally, he went to live with his son-in-law in Crawford county, Ohio, where he resided until his death.

Perpetuating the habits of the frontier service, Mr. Link roughed it through life. His constitution must have been of iron to have endured his irregularities and excesses. He paid no attention to his manner of eating, either in quantity, quality, or time; and He was addicted to strong drink. He labored severely and constantly. Notwithstanding all, his health was good till near the very close of his life. A few years before, during a severe thunder storm, his sight was strangely affected by the lightning. For a long time, everything appeared distorted and askew; men had bent legs and bodies, chickens were twisted out of shape, and the keyhole of his trunk tormented him by the figures which it assumed. From this affection, however, he recovered, though never so as again to read. A short time before his death, he suffered a stroke of paralysis, which deprived him of the use of his limbs to some extent, and made his utterance difficult. However, it left his hearing good and his intellect unimpaired. Upon the artist (at his visit for the purpose of procuring his picture) telling him that he had come a long way to see him, he replied, “You can see me cheap now. Whatever else,” he continued, “they may say of me, no man ever could call me a coward.” He has persistently refused to have his picture taken – that given in this series being secured without his knowledge; the family fearing the proposal would provoke him, and thus defeat the attempt. In politics, Mr. Link declared himself a “Jeffersonian Democrat;” though his last vote was Republican. He said but little about the present war, frequently forgetting that one was in progress, and when reminded of it, he failed altogether to comprehend it. One of his great-grand-sons is in the army.

At the writing of this sketch, he is the last of the survivors of the Revolution known to have died.