Tag Archives: Civil War

Charles Morgan and Two Ironies of Place

Jesse Morgan left five children behind when he took off for California in 1849. One was my great-grandmother, Hariett (Hattie) Morgan (Stout), whose mother Mary was Jesse’s second wife. The other four, including the eldest Charles Morgan, were from his first marriage. It seemed only fair that I tell what I know about these other children of Jesse Morgan before I finish his story.

What Happened to Jesse Morgan’s First Four Children?

My mother thought that both sons had gone to live with relatives, but I discovered that although that was the case with the oldest son, Charles, the second son, Carlos, working on a farm in Holmes County in 1850.

The two girls, however, did live in Killbuck, and would have been part of the family drama of Jesse’s comings and goings. My mother passed on stories from my grandmother that indicated that the two daughters were close to their half-sister Hattie and made the long trip from Colorado to visit her. Jesse’s children with Mary Pelton were:

  • Charles (June 20 1830-February 11, 1916)
  • Carlos (1832-1899)
  • Louisa ( October 1833-1909)
  • Malvina (April 1835-1917)
  • A fifth child, a son named John, died as an infant in Killbuck, Ohio when Jesse’s first wife also died about 1838.

What I Learned about Charles Morgan

From knowing almost nothing about the oldest child, Charles Morgan (Charley), I have gained a very complete picture of his life, as he moved frequently, married, farmed and became a Civil War soldier and outlived all his immediate family.  The nagging question I have about all four of these children is how much contact Jesse had with them after his first wife died. I found an intriguing coincidence in Charles history that hints they may have been in touch.

Little Charles Morgan “Orphaned”

Charles was born in Chautauqua New York  and was only eight years old when his mother died. He had to make the journey from Ohio back to Chautauqua County New York where he lived with his maternal grandparents Ruel and Lucy Pelton. Charles went to school in Sherman, New York through the eighth grade. Public high schools were not common then, and the family probably did not feel a high school education at a private academy was necessary for a boy who was fated to be a farmer.

His grandparents were aging, and by 1850 they had moved in with their son, also named Charles. They took young Charles (now 20) with them. There he shared the household with his aunt and uncle and their two young children until he married the 19-year-old Miranda Leach in 1859.

Irony #1: Charles Morgan Starts His Own Family and Moves to Illinois

I do not have the exact marriage date of Charles and Miranda, but their daughter Vavian was born in October 1859, probably at home.  Charles and Miranda were living with Miranda’s mother, Mary Leach when the 1860 census taker came around in June, 1860. There is no mention in later censuses of the first daughter Vavian, so I have to assume that she died in childhood.

In 1862, Charles and Miranda moved to Coral in McHenry County, Illinois, where they had a second daugther, Vietta.  This move intrigues me, as I mentioned earlier.  Jesse Morgan purchased property in Crystal Lake, McHenry County some time before 1845. The property  that he bought and then sold to his friend “Doc” Woods in 1847 also lies in McHenry County.  Coral, Charles home, an unincorprated community, lies just sixteen miles east of Crystal Lake. Could Jesse have given that land he bought in the 1840s (which I am still trying to track down) to his son Charles at some time before Jesse’s death? Or had they been in touch either when Jesse was traveling or by letter, so that Charles knew about Jesse’s high regard for the farmland of northern Illinois?

Charles Morgan Goes to War

At 34, barely settled into his new home in Illinois, Charles leaves his 24-year-old wife and their toddler daughter to join the Union Army.  The 95th Illinois Regiment, largely made up of McHenry County men, had already been through some tough fighting and probably used a two-month furlough period to recruit reinforcements from home.  Charles joined the Infantry as a private on October 3, 1864. If you want to know about the action he might have seen–and there was a lot for the 95th Regiment, you can see the Illinois Adjutant General’s Report here.

The army gave Charles an honorable discharge just eight months later, on June 12, 1865, just two months before the regiment was disbanded. He returned to his home in Coral, Illinois but the 1880 census reports he was sick on the day of the census.  His daughter, Vietta, 18, was still living at home, but in 1884 she married Frank Wood and by 1887 they had moved to Fern Valley, Iowa.

Charles Morgan Moves to Iowa

Charles and his wife Miranda moved to Fern Valley along with Vietta and her husband. Miranda died in 1893, and 1895 and 1900 census reports show Charles living with Vietta and her six children. A picture of Vietta from a family tree on Ancestry.com shows that although she dressed impressively (love the hat!), she was definitely not the looker in the family.

Vietta Morgan

Vietta Morgan, daughter of Charles Morgan. Photo from Ancestry tree of mives 2680

At 74, Charles married a second time– to a woman named Ida. The 1905 Iowa census and the 1910 Federal census shows them together, however Ida was no longer living in 1915. So Charles was two times a widow at 80 or so. For the first time, he is listed as Charley on the census instead of Charles. (Thanks to the 1910 census, I know that Ida was born in Ohio in 1844–14 years after Charles–and she had six living children.  All those children had left home by the time Ida married Charles.) I know very little about Ida (like her maiden name or first married name), but I do know that she and Charles were fated to be married less than ten years.

Charles Takes a Second Wife and Becomes a Double Widower

Not only did Charles’  second wife die between 1910 and 1915, but his younger sister Louisa died in 1909 and his only daughter moved to Turlock, California in 1910. After Vietta moved to California, she died there in 1911 when she was only 48 years old. Four serious blows to Charles Morgan in less than six years.

Irony #2: Charles Morgan Goes to California at the End of Life

Although Charles filled out the Iowa Census card in 1915 stating that he had been living in Iowa for 28 years, and was a retired farmer, Civil War veteran and widower at the age of 84, he apparently decided to join his son-in-law and grandchildren in California soon after he filled out that information. He had almost no one else. The man who had been virtually orphaned at eight had outlived his brother and one of his sisters, two wives and two daughters and his remaining sister was ailing in Colorado.  He had only grandchildren left for family.

He died in Modesto, California on February 11, 1916. His grave is marked by a stone honoring his service in the Union Army. Ironically, Charles Morgan is buried less than 75 miles away from where his father had been shot and killed 66 years before.

Charles Morgan

Charles Mogan’s gravestone in Modesto California. Photo by Bette Locke at Find a Grave.

The next child of Jesse Morgan I sketch is Carlos Morgan, Jesse’s second son- his westward trek and his beautiful wife.

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, who is the daughter of
  • Harriette (Hattie) Morgan Stout, who is the daughter of
  • Jessie Morgan and Mary Bassett Morgan.
  • Jessie Morgan with his first wife Mary Pelton is the father of
  • Charles Morgan

Notes on Research

United States Federal Census 1840 (Sherman, Chautauqua, New York), 1850 (Sherman, Chautauqua, New York), 1860 (Mina, Chautaqua, New York), 1870 (Coral, McHenry, Illinois), 1880 (Coral, McHenry, Illinois), 1900 (Fern Valley, Palo Alto, Iowa), 1910 (Fern Valley Palo, Iowa)

Iowa State Census 1905 (Fern Valley, Palo Alto, Iowa), 1915 (Rodman, Palo Alto, Iowa)

California, Death Index, 1905-1939, Ancestry.com, 2013, Surnames L-R, pg 7622  Charles Morgan

James Morgan and his Descendants, North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000, Ancestry.com 2016.

U.S. Find a Grave, Chas. Morgan,

National Park Service Soldiers and Sailors Data Base

National Park Service 95th Regiment Illinois Infantry

Illinois Adjutant General Report on 95th Regiment

Guide to Civil War Letters from Henry Allen Butts

Henry Allen Butts

Photocopy of a picture of Henry Allen Butts from a Butts Family Photo Album given to me by Jane Butts Kilgore.

Here is a handy finding guide to Henry Allen Butts’ letters home to his wife, Anna Maria Smith Butts. Henry’s 2nd tour of duty with the Union Army as a private in Company F, 43rd Ohio Volunteers, found him marching with Sherman’s army through Georgia on the famous March to the Sea and fighting his way north through the Carolinas before the end of the war and Grant’s triumphant march through Washington D.C. Fortunate Henry, who saw men die and fall wounded all around him, returned home sound of body, and apparently unscathed emotionally.

Each letter is accompanied by a history of the troop movements and some details of Henry’s personal life.

43rd Ohio Volunteers

43rd Ohio Volunteers

Letter #1: Dear Wif

Letter #2: After a Long March

Letter #3: Water Up to Our Nees

Leter #4: Henry Loses His Temper

Civil War Letter #4 – Henry Loses His Temper

43rd Ohio Volunteers

43rd Ohio Volunteers

Henry has had it up to here!  He’s marched hundreds of miles. Seen friends and relatives die and fall injured all around him. Slogged through swamps. Subsisted on minimal grub and worn rags for clothing. He has not been paid by the army since he enlisted nearly three years ago.

And those busy-bodies back home, who didn’t choose to fight the war, dare to complain about the way he treats his new bride? Henry Allen Butts is so angry when he writes this letter that his never-terrific handwriting becomes so agitated that a transcriber 100 years later has a hard time making out what he said.

Note: I am passing this letter on as the transcription reads–with lots of blanks . In a very few instances, I have filled in a blank where it seems obvious what the word is. As usual, I have added some punctuation and capitol letters at the beginning of sentences to make it easier to read. Otherwise his original syntax is left undisturbed.

Camp

April 25 1865

Dear Wife and friend,  I put myself to anser your kind letter wich I receved this week. I em glad to hear that you was well but I was [sorry] to hear that Allen ____ ____ cerriperlous but I hope he will be well of it before this letter ____ _____ to you.  You stated in your letter ____ you got no letter since the 6 of January.  I don’t no [know] mail is the reason for i wrote three letters from Goldsboro*  but i suppose ____not time to come wen you wrote your last letter. I [hope] you have got them____ before this time.

[Note: Due to some helpful crowd sourcing on Facebook, I now believe that “cerriperlous” is Henry’s version of erysipelas. It is a streptococcal skin infection that comes from conditions that might be common in Civil War rural Ohio.  A Google search will yield you more information, if you’re curious.]

I em well and I hope ____ ____ will find you the same blessing.

Watch out—here it comes. A curse for those naysayers at home.

You stated in your letter that the people was talking about me not writing to you.

Tell them who ever th[ey] may be to mind thear oune buisness – that I write wen ever I get a chance. i hope some of them will be as far from home some day as i em and see as many hardships as i have and have as littel chance as i have had and mabe th[ey] won’t write as often as i have.

Them people can set in their houses and get good grub and wen night comes stay in thear warm beds. If it rains th[ey] are in the dry but we must lay down on the ground and take what comes.  I hope if it____ _____ is ____another war th[ey] will have to come out and rain ever other day. This is all the bad luck i wish for them.

Calming down a bit, Henry gets to the good news–he is seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

The weather is warm and pleasant. I am in good hart for I expect to see you soon. We ar under marching orders. We will leve in a few days for Peatersburg VA the [17th Army?] leavs first.

I will close. The boys are all well. Direct your letters to Raleigh P C Co K, 43rd OHIO 17 AC. Don’t direct your letters by way of Washington.

Hear is a five dollar bill of rebel money .

Your husband,

Henry A. Butts

As soon as i get paid i will send you some. I heve not receved my pay since i come in the army.

Confederate money

Confederate money

Henry’s 43rd Ohio Volunteers are camped near Raleigh North Carolina, as General Sherman carries on negotiations with the Confederates. Although General Lee had surrendered to General Grant on April 9th, the war dragged on here in the Carolinas and even longer in the West.

General Sherman reached an agreement with General Johnston for surrender on April 18. However, when the document was forwarded to Washington, Sherman was berated for being too easy on the enemy. Meanwhile, news of the April 14th assassination of President Lincoln had reached the army, so it was clear that the North was not in a charitable mood.

Bennett House, North Carolina

Bennett House, North Carolina

The two generals were back at the table on the day following Henry’s letter home. On April 26  Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston would sign at Bennett’s Place, a humble farm house, a final agreement marking the biggest surrender in the Civil War. Henry was right on target when he said he would soon be home.  His company was mustered out 2 1/2 months later, July 13, 1865, at Louisville, Kentucky.

Between the surrender at Bennett’s Place and the 43rd’s travel to Louisville and journey home to Ohio, they would join with all of Grant’s army in a triumphant Grand Review in Washington D.C. on May 29, 1865. It is unfortunate that we do not have Henry Allen’s description of that glorious day. (This is the last surviving letter home from Pvt. Butts.) It is said that General Sherman took special pains to have his men bathed, trimmed and well dressed, since they had the reputation of being scruffy lot.  Their long marches and constant skirmishes had not left time to worry about their appearance.

Henry was one of the fortunate ones who made it home  in good shape. 4 officers and 61 enlisted men from the 43rd were killed or mortally wounded. 2 officers and 189 enlisted men died from disease.

This year is a special anniversary. You can attend the festivities marking the 150th anniversary of the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston to General William T. Sherman at Bennett’s Place in North Carolina this coming April. Follow the link for information.

*Since two of those letters from Goldsboro survived, we know Anna got them, but the third is missing and it is possible it never got to Ohio.

See Henry’s letter #3 here.