John Henry Smith: Oldest Brother Goes to War

John Henry Smith 1823-1864

The Young Boy

The oldest brother of my great-grandmother Ann Marie Smith (Butts) had reached twelve years old when my great-grandmother Ann was born.  Being the oldest child of Isaac and Mary Maria Krigbaum Smith, John Henry Smith came to Knox County, Ohio from Maryland with the family when at nine or ten years old.

By the time they moved to Ohio, the Smith family had grown to include five children.  The community they moved to had been settled by fellow Maryland Catholics and in the 1830s, you had to be adventurous to move to Ohio.  While most of the immigrants from the East coast into the Northwest Territory got busy felling trees and clearing thick growth so they could turn the fertile land into farms, father Isaac Smith set up his cobbler’s bench. He served an immediate every day need of the community.  I do not doubt that young John Henry Smith, practically considered a   grown up at ten, would have been helping his father. He might deliver shoes, help to soften leather, and stoke fires.

As the years passed, the family grew. Four more children arrived by 1845, although two died before they were one year old. The youngest boy, George Washington Smith, who had made the trip from Maryland as a baby, died at seven years old. In the years between his eleventh and fifteenth birthday, John saw three siblings die. (See a summary of the Isaac Smith family here).

John Henry Smith Starts a Family

John Henry Smith wedding

Marriage license from the Justice of the Peace in Mt. Vernon, Knox County.

Soon after he came of age, Henry, as he was probably called, married Rebecca Jane Draper in  Mt. Vernon, the county seat. They chose a wedding before a Justice of the Peace rather than a Catholic ceremony. Rebecca and Henry married in March and in November of the same year, Henry’s oldest sister, Mary Jane, married Cyrus Stephens. 

John Henry Smith started a very small farm in Knox County, and his first son, Jeremiah Warden Smith was born in 1847.  Late the year before, Henry’s mother had given birth to a girl who died five months later. That meant that Jeremiah, the family’s first grandson, must have been particularly welcomed.

The good luck/bad luck persisted, as Henry’s wife Rebecca gave birth in March 1848 to a daughter, Lillis Jane, but in January of the following year, Henry’s brother Jeremiah died at twenty-two.

The 1850 farm schedule shows that Henry is farming a very small farm in Union Township, Knox County, Ohio. The farm –35 improved acres and 50 unimproved– looks poor compared to others in the area. He owns only one horse and one cow and 15 pigs and his largest crop, which is not very large, is corn.

I wonder if his father Isaac gave him the land he had purchased in 1835 from the Ohio River Survey.  That land was listed as in Morrow County, but Morrow was created in the 1840s  from part of other counties, including Knox. Most of the men I track from this period build up a farm and add acreage so that they can give land to their sons. However, Isaac may have let his land lie fallow, since he made his living by shoemaking.

The census report of 1850 when he lives on a farm in Union Township (the township where his father lives in Danville) makes me think that Henry and his wife might have been struggling to care for their family.

Henry and his wife named their third daughter, Victoria for the popular English Queen, who had by then (1856), ruled nearly thirty years.

The Union Army Calls

In 1860, the family lives in the township just north of Danville, Jefferson Township. Now he is listed as a farm laborer rather than an owner.  Another sign that things are not going well as the country goes to war with itself.

Henry, now forty-years old, fills out the registration form required of men by the Civil War.  All around him the pressure is building for men to join the army with parades and rallies and exhortations in newspapers  Perhaps he figures that despite his advanced age, he can’t be worse off than he is struggling at farm work, and on the 26th of February, 1864, John Henry Smith enlists in the Union Army.

The Battles of the 121st

The army assigns him to Company K in the Ohio 121st Infantry Regiment as a Private.  His Regiment find themselves pressed into service soon after their training as reinforcements for the battle in the South, with the objective of winning Atlanta. After training and travel south, he fought at Kenesaw Mountain Georgia. It was quite an initiation. He probably spent most of the time on Kenesaw digging ditches and building fortifications. Of the battle itself,  Major General William T. Sherman later called it “the hardest fight of the campaign up to that date.”

June 28 through July 19th they join the battle at Peach Tree Georgia.

August 6 and again August 20 and August 28, the Ohio soldiers will be fighting in the battles of Atlanta.

September 1 finds them at Jonesboro for the final battle of the Atlanta campaign. After four months, the Union forces finally defeated the South.  That long siege, the most critical in Sherman’s mind, had continued until Sheridan torched Atlanta and the South surrendered Atlanta on September 2.

John Henry Smith had survived one of the most critical battles of the war.  From here on out, it was mop up operations.  The Union soldiers were reduced to foraging and living off the land, since at the beginning Sherman’s March to the Sea, they were cut off from supply lines.

Annie’s Husband Also Goes to War

On October 24, John Henry Smith’s brother-in-law, enlisted for a 2nd tour of duty in the Union Army and joined Sherman’s troops. That was my great-grandfather, Henry Allen Butts.

November 3 the Ohio 121st had moved on to fight at Louisville Georgia. By November 21 they fought at Milledgeville, Georgia. Sherman now split his troops and turned one half toward the Atlantic on the march across Georgia (with Henry Allen Butts). He sent the other half to Nashville (with John Henry Smith), to chase down Confederate General Hood. Hood had surrendered Atlanta and wanted revenge.

On December 18, Henry Allen Butts wrote a letter home to John Henry Smith’s sister, Annie in which he said, “ you stated in your letter that henry had been home. I was glad to hear he got home to see his littel ones.” Earlier in the same letter, he explained that the reason he had not written earlier is that they had been on the march since mid November. Given the slow pace of mail, I’m guessing that Henry Smith’s visited home came after his training and before he marched to Kennesaw.

Henry’s Last Battle

On December 15 the south attacked Union forces at Nashville, Tennessee. I have not discovered the details, but John Henry Smith probably suffered a wound in that battle. He died on December 17 and fellow soldiers buried him at what became the Nashville National Cemetery.

The government needed the cemetery because of the 6000 Confederate and 3600 Union casualties suffered in the area.

John Henry Smith gravestone

John Henry Smith gravestone at the Nashville National Monument. Photo by KBlums from Find a Grave.

Henry Smith left behind a wife and three children, Victoria, 8, Lillis, 16 and Jeremiah, 17 years old. His wife, unlike many widows of the day, did not immediately remarry.  When his two daughters reached marrying age, they married brothers from the Blubaugh family who lived just 4 houses down the road.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser (Badertscher)  is the daughter of
  • Paul Kaser, the son of
  • Mary Isadore (Mame) Butts (Kaser), the daughter of
  • Ann Marie Smith (Butts), the sister of
  • John Henry Butts.

Notes on Research

United States Federal Census, 1860,  Jefferson, Knox, Ohio

United States Federal Census Non-Population Schedule, Agriculture, 1850, Union, Knox, Ohio;1860,  Jefferson, Knox, Ohio

Ohio, County Marriages, 1774-1993, Knox, Ohio, USA, 30 Mar 1845, Film #002243649,

U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865, United States Park Service, John H. Smith, Ohio Reg 121, film record M552, roll 101

U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006, National Cemetery Administration, Nashville National Cemetery, J. Henry Smith

U.S., American Civil War Regiments, 1861-1866, Historical Data Systems,121st Infantry Regiment, Ohio,

U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865, Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio Roll of Honor of Ohio Soldiers, J Henry Smith, Historical Data Systems.

U. S. Find a Grave, John Henry Smith

Smith Family Bible, transcriptions from Mary Martha VonVille

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The Isaac and Mary Smith Family, A Guide

When families like the Isaac Smith family come up for discussion it sometimes is “hard to tell the players without a program.”  Here is a guide to the family (sisters and brothers of my great-grandmother Ann Marie Smith Butts) with birthdates and (mostly) places of birth. Twelve children, of whom seven lived to adulthood, plus one who died when he was twenty-two (Probably). Six left “issue” as the old biography books say.

Much of the information here comes from the transcription of an old Smith family Bible, which is not always correct.  Therefore I have put question marks beside most information that I am not sure of from more than one source. (Always remember that genealogical research is a work in progress.)

Father Isaac Smith. Born circa 1800 either in Pennsylvania or Maryland.  Died 1 November 1886, Ohio.

Mother Mary Maria Krigbaum Smith. Born 26 July, 1804, Maryland. Died 28 November 1892, Ohio.

Smith Children:

*Lived to Adulthood

*John Henry Smith. 26 January, 1823, Maryland. Died 17 December 1864, Nashville Tennessee. (Civil War)  [Referred to as Ivan Henry in Family Bible] (Married Rebecca Jane Draper.)

*Mary Jane Smith (STEVENS). Born Circa 1825 in Maryland. Died September 1913 (?) in Knox County, Ohio.

Jeremiah Smith. Born 19 February 1827 in Maryland. Died 9 January 1849 (?) in Knox County, Ohio. (22 years old, not married)

*William Jackson Smith. Born 1 December 1828 in Maryland. Died 20 February, 1911, Howard, Knox, Ohio. (never married)

George Washington Smith. Born 1 January 1831(?). Died October 1838 (?), Knox County, Ohio. (7 years old)

Susan Elizabeth Smith. Born 16 June 1833 (?) Knox County, Ohio. Died October 1838. (?) Knox County, Ohio. (Infant Death)

*Ann Marie Smith (BUTTS), Born 12 April 1835, Knox County, Ohio. Died 24 April 1917, Danville Ohio.

Priscilla Belle Smith, Born 20 February 1838 (?), Knox County, Ohio. Died October 1838(?), Knox County, Ohio. (7 months old)

*Isadore Orilla Smith (CRITCHFIELD).  Born 13 June 1840, Knox County, Ohio. Died 28 January, 1879 (?), Knox County, Ohio. (no children, although her husband remarried and had two daughters.)

*James Francis Smith. Born 27 September 1843 Danville, Knox, Ohio. Died 13 September 1930, Millwood, Knox, Ohio. (Married Rebecca Hawn)

*Joseph Dallas Smith, MD. Born 24 January, 1845, Knox County, Ohio. Died 26 April 1933. (Married twice: Martha Fitzpatrick and Elizabeth Fitzgerald.)

Rebecca Francis Smith. Born 12 September 1847 (?), Knox County, Ohio. Died February 1848(?), Knox County, Ohio. (5 months old)

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Sidetracked in Memorabilia–Llewellyn Badertscher Family

Memorabilia Table

Memorabilia table

Every once in a while, I take a break from telling my family stories–like the Smith family that I have been researching for over a month now– and sort through some of the many boxes of memorabilia that clutter our office and closet.  That can lead me in unexpected directions. Yesterday among my souvenirs, I discovered the obituary of Llewellyn Badertscher, which led me to spending a day piecing together his family for my husband’s Badertscher family tree.

Before I found Llwellyn’s obituary, however, I had also found a clutch of photos of me with political luminaries that must be scanned and framed and at some point written about.  I did share one of them on Facebook. (If you want to friend me on Facebook, look for Vera Marie Badertscher.)

I found newspaper clippings from the late 60s/early 70s when we lived in Scottsdale.  There was my husband, Ken on the front page of the Scottsdale Daily Progress in his role as board member for the Maricopa County Community Colleges.  And other editions had pictures of me participating in activities with Scottsdale Junior Women’s Club. And, from news farther afield, two front page articles about man landing on the moon! More subjects for future stories here under the “Slice of My Life” title.

Men land on moon.

Headline:Men land on moon. Arizona Republic, July 21, 1969.

Speaking of Scottsdale Progress, there was this sheet of pictures of my mother delivering newspapers. No–she wasn’t really.  She was posing when one of my sons was a newspaper boy in 1970s.  It surely is one of the best photo we have of her in her later years. Something else to share in the future.

Grandma delivers the news

Harriette/Grandma Kaser delivering the paper. 1970s, Scottsdale

And my entire date book from Ohio State in 1960.  This week I graduated from college, but commencement wasn’t the event that rated bold capital letters!

1960 Date Book

And I found a picture of Paul Badertscher, my husband’s father, teaching at a tiny school called Moscow that doesn’t even exist any more (the town OR the school).  There could be more told about the crossroads of Moscow, also. Oh my, I’ve never really written a story about Paul Badertscher and his many occupations and long teaching career. In fact when I was writing about Ken’s family, I got drawn to the maternal side of the family, and never did pursue the Badertschers beyond their arrival in Ohio.

Which brings us back to Llewellyn Badertscher’s obituary. The undated obituary, fortunately, had a specific birth and death date for Llewellyn (who turns out to be Ken’s first cousin once removed.)  The author of the obit also included a complete list of Llewellyn’s brothers and sisters, as well as his parents, John and Ida.  Well, I thought, this will be a piece of cake to expand the Badertscher line by adding this entire family to Ken’s tree.  Except for one thing–we didn’t know how Llewellyn Badertscher connected to the rest of the tree.

Swiss Immigrants Frederick and Mary Badertscher

Frederick Badertscher Sr and wife Mary. Photo From These are the parents of both Frederick, Ken’s grandfather and John, father of Llewellyn Badertscher. Probably taken in the late 1800’s. They emigrated to Ohio from Switzerland in 1881 with several children.

Because of his birth date, I could tell that Llewellyn Badertscher must have been the child of a sibling of Frederick Badertscher (Jr.), Ken’s grandfather, so I needed to find a brother of Frederick named John. Although I did not remember having Frederick’s siblings on the tree,I DID!

With such an uncommon name, I figured I could easily find Llewellyn Badertscher on Ancestry, and sure enough, he popped right up, along with his birth certificate confirming the mother and father listed in the newspaper.  At this point I was feeling downright cocky and started adding the brothers and sisters from the obituary to my tree. Those that the newspaper obit had designated as deceased, I marked as ‘Died Bef Dec.1998’ (the month of Llewellyn’s death).

Ancestry furnished me with plenty of hints (green leaves) as I went along, and I decided to add only birth and death dates and marriage dates and spouses. The birth certificates listed mother’s maiden name, so I learned that Llewellyn Badertscher’s mother Ida was Ida Sprunger and having the maiden name led to birth and death dates, (1883-1909) That was fine until I ran into children who were born after 1909–after Llewellyn Badertscher’s mother, Ida, had died. Whoops. In fact, at first it looked like she only had two children, and Llewellyn, born in 1909, certainly would have been her last.

Turns out the “Fannie” that I had assumed was a nickname for Ida indicated another wife.  So I went back and changed those children born after Ida’s death date to “Mother: Fannie (unknown)” until a birth certificate of one of the children gave me Fannie’s last name. She became Fannie Sommer (1883-1945). (And I went back and changed HER record.)

It was boring work, but I thought I was close to the end.  You guessed it–one more problem popped up.   Albert proved difficult to find because there were a lot of Alberts, plus they lived in various locations rather than staying put in Wayne County, Ohio as the others did. He had a birthdate of 1897 or 1898.  That would mean Ida gave birth to him when she was 13 or 14 years old.  Possible but not probable.  The problem got worse when his sister Irene’s data showed she arrived in 1894! Fortunately, her birth Certificate showed her mother’s name–Barbara Amstutz.

Finally I found documentation for Barbara’s birth and death, and it proved that John Badertscher indeed did marry three women because twice he became a widow.  John fathered at least12 children, listed below. Sadly, two daughters died as young teenagers and the obituary of Mary Jane, who died at 16, mentions two infant deaths and another young death before she died in 1936– that other young person was her older sister who died at 15, 5 1/2 years before Mary Jane.

Father: John Badertscher, b. 1867 in Switzerland, Immigrated in 1881 with his father and brothers. John worked as a farmer his entire life. Died November 19, 1934, in Kidron, Wayne County, Ohio.

1st Wife: Barbara Elizabeth Amstutz (May 31 1871-March 27, 1900)

Children of John and Barbara:

Irena Badertscher Nov 17, 1894,Kidron Ohio;  m. Daniel Morand; D. Jan 4, 1968, Decatur Indiana

Albert Wilson Badertscher , January 9, 1897, Riley, Putnam, Ohio; M. Edna Diller; Nov 16, 1960, Cleveland, Ohio (Specifics of Death not yet proven)

2nd Wife: Ida Sprunger December 16, 1877-February 10, 1909; Married August 13, 1905

Children of John and Ida:

Milton Badertscher: Born about 1905; M. Mabel. Died perhaps Dec 22, 1966 (Attended four years of college at Bluffton College and became a school principal.)

Ivan L. Badertscher: Born July 20, 1906; M. Pauline Mae Gerber June 27, 1943; D.Jan 30 1997, Goshen, Indiana. Attended Bluffton College. In 1940, still single, he was living with his brother Llewellyn.

FLorence Pearl Badertscher: Born November 8 1907, Kidron, Ohio; M. Henry Clair Amstutz Aug 12 1934; D. September 5, 2001, Goshen, Indiana.

Llewellyn Badertscher, Jan 25, 1909; M. Verna S. Bixler, June 8 1946; D. September 24, 1998. Llewellyn was a farmer and then an electrician. He was single until he was 37 years old, and apparently had no children.

3rd Wife: Fanny M. Sommer

Children of John and Fanny:

Hulda A. Badertscher, Born April 29, 1913, Kidron, Ohio; M. Charles J. Graves August 10, 1940; D. February 1990, Maple Heights, Ohio.

Ida Sarah Badertscher, Born January 24, 1916, Kidron, Ohio; Died May 10, 1931 at Age 15.

Martha S. Badertscher, B. February 12, 1919;Kidron, Ohio M. ____Klett; Died February 16, 1004, Ohio

Mary Jane Badertscher, B. April 18, 1920, Kidron Ohio; Died December 25, 1936.  This 16-year-old girl died on Christmas day.

Thomas L. Badertscher, B. November 1, 1924, Kidron, Ohio;  Effie Irene Amstutz; D. November 25, 1998, Kidron, Wayne County, Ohio. I have found very little about Thomas.

In addition to these children, the newspaper obituary of Mary Jane identifies two infant deaths. One of those would be Milo, unk. birth and death dates. We don’t even know who is mother was. And if there was another infant boy who died, as the newspaper said, he also is unknown.

It turned out to be more complicated than I thought, but aren’t famIlies always complicated?

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