It’s been a while since I put anything on this site, so I figured I would write about my research regarding the Civil War and my ancestors.

On the maternal side I have the most who served during the war. My¬†2nd great grandfather was 2nd Lieutenant George W. Brown, CO. K 12th Wisconsin Infantry. He enlisted 31 August 1861 as a corporal, was promoted to 1st Sergeant and on 11 February 1865 promoted to 2LT. He mustered out on 16 July 1865. The 12th Wisconsin Infantry was organized between October 18 and December 13, 1861, at Camp Randall in Madison. The regiment left Wisconsin for Fort Leavenworth,Kansas, on January 11, 1862, arriving on February 16. During its service, the regiment moved through Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Washington D.C. It participated in the sieges of Jackson, Atlanta and Savannah, and fought in the battles of Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta and Jonesboro and also participated in Sherman’s March to the Sea. The regiment mustered out on July 20, 1865, at Louisville, Kentucky. It lost 323 men during service. Three officers and 93 enlisted men were killed. Three officers and 224 enlisted men died from disease.

My 4th great grandfather, Hiram Tye Shirrell served in CO. G, 31st Indiana Infantry from 5 September 1861 until 8 December 1865. His son, my 3rd great grandfather, William Henry Shirrell, served in CO. G, 18th Indiana Infantry from 16 August 1861 and was discharged for disability, no date given.

My 4th great grandfather Richard Wade Bond, had two brothers and three sons serve in the Civil War. His brothers, Samuel R. Bond served as a 1LT with CO. A 87th Illinois Infantry and his brother Moses Bond a private with CO. F 1st Regiment Missouri Light Artillery Volunteers respectively.

Richard Bond’s three oldest sons, Jesse Franklin (my 3rd great grandfather), Wiley W. and Reuben Shirly all served in the war. Reuben was a private with CO. G 154th Illinois Infantry. Wiley was also a private with CO. G 154th Illinois Infantry and died in a battle in Murfreesboro TN. on 15 March 1865.

My 3rd great grandfather Jesse, mustered in a private on 13 August 1862 with the 87th Illinois Infantry and was discharged for disability on 6 June 1863. However, he was able to re-enlist as a sergeant with CO. G 154th Illinois Infantry on 16 February 1865 and mustered out with the unit on 18 September 1865 in Nashville, TN.

On the paternal side, my 2nd great grandfather, Joseph D. Burchett was a private in Cochrans Bollinger County Volunteer Missouri Militia under Capt. J. R. Cochran in Bollinger County Missouri from 17 March 1865 until 8 July 1865.

So far, all of my ancestors fought for the Union and represented four states, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.

The SUVCW camp I belong to, Old Abe Camp #16, here in Topeka holds a monthly work day where we go to Topeka Cemetery and work to preserve the heritage and memory of our Union Civil War soldiers.

This past month one of our members stumbled across a plot that had a direct connection with our camp.

Osco Ashbaugh was the son of John M Ashbaugh, who was Bugler of CO. C 5th KS CAV and member of Lincoln Post 1. Brother Osco was born in Topeka in 1867 and was a member of the original Old Abe Camp #16 and passed away in 1935.

To be a brother in this camp and to be able to look down at a son of a Civil War veteran and was obviously proud of that fact enough to have it on his headstone is testament as to what the SUVCW stands for and does and left me with a feeling of respect and duty.

It’s more than just setting headstones straight, cleaning them up and then leaving. There was a post on the SUVCW Department of Missouri’s Facebook page that really sums things up, at least for me.

We Are The Chosen

We are the chosen. In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the storytellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us, “Tell our story!” So, we do.

In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, “You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us.” How many times have I walked up …to a grave and felt somehow t…here was love there for me? I cannot say. It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why do I do the things I do.

It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying, “I can’t let this happen.” The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish, how they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to deep pride that the fathers fought and some died to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us.

It is of equal pride and love that our mothers struggled to give us birth. Without them we could not exist, and so we love each one, as far back as we can reach. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are they and they are the sum of who we are. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers. That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory or greet those whom we had never known before.

-Author Unknown

I made a stop this weekend at a cemetery just north of my home in Topeka called Rochester Cemetery. It is one of the oldest in the city and holds the remains of many of the settlers and founders of Kansas. My real interest however is of course the Civil War and the soldiers who served and are buried there.

I stopped by the office and spoke with the caretaker there and we had a wonderful discussion about some of the history of the cemetery. However, they had a fire around 1901 and many of their records prior to that were lost. I mentioned that the SUVCW camp I belong to does work days at the Topeka Cemetery and various projects related to the G.A.R. section there and he told me that there is a section full of Civil War soldiers and a monument to them.

I drove up to section 4 of the cemetery and sure enough there was the monument along with a flagpole and the resting place of about 30 Union Civil War soldiers. He didn’t know a lot about them but he did point me towards another monument that had a G.A.R. emblem on it. That tombstone belonged to John Armstrong, who assisted John Brown and John Ritchie with the Underground Railroad in Topeka (research since my visit shows he was a member of the Lincoln Camp #1 of the G.A.R.)

After writing the names from the headstones I have decided to make Rochester Cemetery a project of mine. My goal is to accomplish a few things:

  • Locate and document all the Civil War soldiers who are buried in the cemetery
  • Get headstones for Civil War soldiers who are buried there who have no headstone
  • Hold work days at the cemetery during the summer months same as at the Topeka Cemetery
  • Join in on Memorial Day festivities with representation of the Civil War, SUVCW and Old Abe Camp #16
  • Help update the cemetery records and replace lost information regarding the Civil War soldier

I am not the Graves Registration Officer of our camp, but it is something I am very interested in and want to assist our current GRO. Lord willing that I eventually hold the office of Camp Commander, once I have fulfilled that duty I would like to possibly work on holding the GRO position in the future.

This looks to be a project that is going to take quite some time to get anywhere near completing. But I think it will be a worthwhile venture and a huge learning experience for me.