Friday, April 29, 2011

Civil War Ancestors - William Wishard

Robert Thomas Wishard, one of my husband's great, great grandfathers had brothers that also served in the Civil War.  His older brother William and William's son Abraham served in the same company with him, although the father and son were not in service at the same time.  William and another Wishard brother, Stewart, were both disabled by their wartime service and both have massive and very interesting pension files.  I will describe the files in separate posts.

William Wishard, born 28 Feb 1815 in Fleming County, Kentucky, was not a young man when he answered the call to serve his country.  He was 46 years old, had buried his first wife then married her sister and had a total of eleven children when he enlisted - one more son was born following the War.   I believe that his service shortened his life.  William enlisted 31 Aug 1861 as a sergeant.  By September 20th he had been promoted to the First Battalion's Commissary Sergeant.  His residence was Bloomfield, Davis County, Iowa.  He was discharged for disability in August of 1862.

From the pension file I found out what had happened to William Wishard.  William's first application for his pension was dated 30 Mar 1864.  In his affidavit, he stated that at a place called Pea Ridge in Arkansas on 7 Mar 1862, during the battle of Pea Ridge he was injured when his horse jumped a rail fence, straining his back and spine. He was thereafter unable to perform any military duty and the injury continues so that he is incapacitated from earning a living.  William was a resident of Davis Co Iowa, aged 49 and he had been a Commissary Seargent of Company A, commanded by Lt. M. L. Baker, 3rd Regt of the Iowa Cavalry commanded by Col. Cyris Bussey for the "suppression of the rebellion in certain States". He volunteered at Bloomfield on 30 Aug 1861 for three years. He was discharged at St. Louis and had his certificate of discharge.

The deposition of M. L. Baker of Van Buren County, Iowa, described the injury and disability:  "On or about the 7 of Mar 1862 while in the service and line of duty and in the battle of Pea Ridge, he received an injury of the spine by his horse jumping over a rail fence with him during the fight. He was afterwards unable to perform military duty up until his discharge and is now unable to earn a living by manual labor. The said soldier was in good health at the time he entered the service; the above disability affected him while in the service and at his discharge by rendering him unable to ride and a good part of the time he is confined to his bed."

There was of course a physician's examination which confirmed the injury to the spine; the doctor's evaluation was that Wishard was about one-third disabled.  He did indicate that William had continued pain in the small of the back.

Also interesting is a Muster Roll card after the injury which states "Absent without Leave".  It is a very good example of the fact that the muster rolls simply indicate that whoever was taking the roll did not always know why someone was not present.  The soldier was either there or he was not and presumptions for the absence were made.

On 5 Apr 1866 Margaret Wishard [nee Breeding], age 41 years, applied for her Widow's pension. William had died 20 Feb 1866 at his home in Davis County, Iowa, of disease of the spine, kidneys, and back, which disease was contracted in the service of the United States. She was married to said William Wishard 15 Jun 1843 and has remained a widow ever since he died. Her husband left five surviving children under the age of sixteen: Wm aged 11, John 9, Henry 7, Sarah J. 4 & George Curtis age nine months. She further states that Pension Certificate #27718 was issued to her said husband on 29 Apr 1864. Margaret Wishard made her mark, witnessed by Elisha Wallace and Abram Wishard [Elisha was a son-in-law and Abram, her stepson that had served with his father].

Incredibly, Margaret's pension application was rejected, apparently because William had not continued to have his examinations every six months.  Margaret died in 1871.  
Due to changes in the pension laws over time, the minor children of William discovered they were entitled to payments and on 26 May 1883, the five children who were under age sixteen in 1866, made application for what they should have been paid. The five children were now aged 28, 26, 24, 21 and 18. They all signed with their own signatures - Wm. A. Wishard, John O. Wishard, Henry Wishard, George C. Wishard, and Sarah signed as Sarah J. Lester, formerly Sarah J. Wishard.  
Additional documents in the file included the affidavit of Dr. D. C. Greenleaf of Bloomfield, dated 8 May 1884. He was acquainted with soldier for 16 years prior to his death & had treated him the last seven days of his sickness from 13 to 20 of Jan 1866 inclusive when he died. He had been sick for a long time. He complained of his back and having received injury while in the Army and I am of opinion he had chronic inflamation of the cord [spinal] in its lower portions. The nature was obscure but it is evident he suffered much. Said disease contributed largely to his death if not the whole cause. This affiant was present at the birth of his daughter Sarah J. Wishard born 8 Aug 1861.

One of the sons of William, John O. Wishard, testified to the following on 7 May 1887.  He is 30 years old and lives in Bloomfield. He has the family Bible of William and Margaret Wishard, now deceased in which is recorded their family record ....dates of birth of their children. Requests the Clerk of Davis Co Court to copy and certify the entries relating to the births of Wm. A. Wishard, John O. Wishard, Henry Wishard, Sarah J. Wishard and George C. Wishard.

William Allen Wishard was born December the 14th A.D. 1854
John O. Washard was born March the 2nd A.D. 1857
Henry Wishard was born February the 25th A. D. 1859
Sarah Jane Wishard was born August the 8th A.D. 1861
George C. Wishard was born January 23rd 1865.

"The above were written in different shades of ink and have the appearance of having been written for a long time; the book containing the entries is old and well worn. I am well acquainted with affiant John O. Wishard and certify that he is a Credible person."
Signed: W. D. Leech, Clerk District Court
[I find it amazing that the court clerk evaluted the Bible much as any genealogist or family historian would!  Too bad he didn't tell us the copyright date.]

Affidavit of Silas Breeding, who was a brother to Polly and Margaret, was dated 22 Sep 1887 at Bloomfield.  He was age 67 years. "I was well acquainted with the soldier prior to his first marriage in 1837. He was married in that year to Polly Breeding...who died in Shelby Co IN about January or February of 1843. I have personal knowledge from being present at her funeral. Said soldier again married to Margaret Breeding in Shelby Co IN on or about Jun 1843. I was acquainted with Soldier up to time of his death 20 Jan 1866. His widow Margaret Wishard was remarried to James L. Thompson about Feb 1869 and she died in January 1871. From personal knowledge."

Elisha and Nancy Wallace both testified on behalf of her siblings. Nancy was the first child of the second marriage; Elisha had witnessed his mother-in-law's earlier application.

Copies of both of William Wishard's marriages are in the file, as well as a copy of the widow Margaret's remarriage.

The children received the pension:
29 Dec 1887 #239503 Original Pension of Minor Children.
A note in the margin of the approval says "Pay on their own vouchers".  William A. was to receive Minor Pension at the rate of $8 per mo beginning 21 Jan 1866 [day following his father's death] until 13 Dec 1870 [when he reached age 16]. John O. to receive until 1 Mar 1973. Henry until 24 Feb 1875. Sarah J. Wishard, now Lester, until 7 Aug 1877, George C. until 22 Jan 1881. There is a note that William T. Deupree, guardian of George C. Wishard is not now recognized - George was by now of an age he didn't need a guardian. Unfortunately George died of a hunting accident before he actually received his voucher - he had a liason with an unmarried woman who attempted to claim George's share for a daughter said to be the child of George C. Wishard.  That claim was rejected.

William Wishard is buried Lester Cemetery, Cleveland, Davis County, Iowa.

William's son Abraham served in the same unit his father had served in, and his uncle Robert Thomas Wishard was in at the time of Abraham's enlisted.  He, too, has a pension file but I have not yet accessed it.  Called "Abram" like his grandfather, the young man was age 23, a resident of Drakesville, Iowa, but born in Indiana, when he enlisted 15 Mar 1864 in Company A of the 3rd Iowa Cavalry Regiment.  He was mustered into the company the next day.  Abram was wounded 16 Apr 1865 in Columbus, Georgia, and mustered out of the service at Atlanta on 9 Aug 1865.  The pension index card indicates that Abram filed for his pension on 25 Oct 1879, and that minor children also filed.  Grave stone records of Davis County, Iowa, as copied by the WPA show that Abraham died 24 Dec 1893 and is buried Lester Cemetery where his father is also buried.