Saturday, April 30, 2011

Civil War Ancestors - Stewart Wishard

Stewart Wishard was a brother to my husband's great, great grandfather Robert T. Wishard.  Stewart was born 22 Aug 1825 in Fleming County, Kentucky, but his family had moved to Shelby Co, Indiana before he was four.  He seems to have been something of a restless soul - he lived in several different places and married four or possibly even five times - he had children by four wives.  His wives [there is evidence some died, but were there also divorces?] and children have been difficult to trace.

By the beginning of the Civil War, Stewart was living with his second wife and the two daughters he had with her in Davis County, Iowa.  I believe I found one of his two sons of his first wife living with her brother's family back in Johnson County, Indiana, in 1860.  The other son was probably with his first wife's sister's family in Shelby County, Indiana.

Stewart Wishard enlisted in the Union Army, but in the 10th Missouri Infantry Volunteers, Company D, as a Sergeant.  His enlisted in July of 1861 and was discharged at St. Louis in November of 1864.   After the War he moved to Alabama where he was found in the 1870 and 1880 Censuses in Madison County.  In 1881, Stewart married for the fourth time in Jackson County, Alabama.

On 3 Oct 1888, Stewart made declaration for his Civil War pension before the judge of the Probate Court in Jackson County, Alabama.  He stated his age as 66, which was about three years older than he actually was.  Stewart was 6 ' 1 1/2" tall, blue-eyed with brown hair.  While in the line of duty at High Hill, Missouri, during the month of August, 1861 he contracted chronic diarrhea with resulting piles and prolapse of bowels, by reason of exposure. He was treated at High Hill that fall by Dr. Payne and at various other places. He served three years and three months and has not since been in the military. Since leaving the service he has resided in Alabama & Iowa, occupation that of farmer. He was a farmer and in sound health when he enlisted but he is now greatly disabled from obtaining his subsistence by manual labor.

The muster roll cards in the pension file show that Stewart was absent, sick, several times, and that he was admitted to the Regimental Hospital at one time with disease of the kidneys and another time with lumbago.  He had a 30-day furlough in the summer of 1863, to go to Bloomfield, Iowa - I suspect this could have been about the time of the death of his second wife.

Stewart's pension was $6 per month, increased to $12 in 1890.  Through the years, there were many medical reviews and additional testimony required.  Here is one of affidavits given in 1890 for proof of his disability.
12 Jul 1890. Affidavit of James C. Quigley of Bailey, Hand County, South Dakota. He was acquainted with Stewart Wishard while at Corrinth, Mississippi, the Spring & Summer of 1862. He had contracted diarrhea and resulting piles with relaxation of the bowels and was terribly reduced. He rallied some time in the fall and winter and kept with his command but was not fit for severe duty at all or very little. After discharge, I lived neighbor to him for two years, 1867 & 1866, at Drakeville, Iowa when he moved to Alabama. All this time he suffered & showed the effects of his disability. When he enlisted he was a strong stout energetic man, a good true soldier and stuck to the service and his duty so far as able. I knew him for at least five years.

By 1891, his physical examination showed he had trachoma of both eyes, as well as chronic diarrhea.  In 1892, Stewart said his sight had become imparied about 1877 or 1878 and he didn't know the cause.  His acquaintances from Madison County, Alabama, continued to provide testimony about his inability to work.  He also asked for a higher disability rating because of his deteriorating health, but perhaps didn't get it because his pension continued at $12 per month.

By 18 May 1893, Stewart Wishard was found at the National Military Home, in Grant, Indiana.  He was admitted to the Marion Branch of the National Home for disabled Volunteer soldiers in September of 1895 and his pension was transferred to the Pension Agency in Indianapolis.

Here is a webpage of the Marion Branch home that has both a picture of the home and picture of the men in the dining hall made 1898 while Stewart Wishard was a resident.  I find this picture incredibly sad.

In February 1898, his martial status was requested which helped me confirm and place some of the wives and children.  Stewart said he was a Widower and his wife's maiden name had been Webb [she was the fourth wife]. He didn't give any record of the marriage, nor did he answer the question regarding previous wives. He was asked to give names of children living and their date of birth. He had no record of their births but gave these names: John Thompson, William Thomas, Sabrina, Susana, and Myrtle.  I had found probably two other children in census records, apparently deceased by 1898.  [I know that John and William were sons of the first wife, nee Sarah Harris; Sabrina and a daughter Surena were born to the second wife, Frances Huffman; Susanna and possibly a son Willy/Wylie? were born to the third wife, Olive Elvia "Alla" Jenkins; and Myrtle was the daughter of the fourth wife, Sudie Webb.  There is also a marriage record in Alabama - Stewart Wishard to Jane Phillips, 6 Jun 1887 - but Jane is mentioned nowhere else.]

There was a request for the military and medical history of Stewart Wishard in 1903 and the subsequent answers reveal new information that he had been wounded in the thigh in the battle near Iarka, Mississippi on 19 Sep 1862.

On 10 Jun 1905, Stewart Wishard stated that he had a daughter that was blind, married to a blind man, and he was inquiring if there was any pension provision for dependants.  There was not.  [The blind daughter was Myrtle, born December of 1884, apparently the only child of Stewart's fourth marriage to Sudie Webb.  In 1900, Myrtle Wishard, age 17, was in the census, living at the Institute for the Education of the Blind in Indianapolis.]
Then the following two documents appear in the pension file.
11 Jul 1906 Marion Branch National Home for D.V.S., Indiana. Stewart Wishard, late D Co, 10 Regt MO, Pension, Certificate #762466, DIED at this Branch on the 11th day of Jul 1906. Stamped: Rec'd 18 Jul 1906.

14 Jul 1906 Marion Branch, National Home. Stewart Wishard died at this Branch Hospital on 11 Jul 1906. He died of Senility; he was a widower. Next of kin: Mrs. Myrtle Brinkman, daughter, Kokomo, IN

Steward Wishard is buried at the Marion National Cemetery, Grant County, Indiana.

The story doesn't end with Stewart's death.  In 1903 Myrtle had married William A. Brinkman.  The 1910 census lists both of them as "Blind" - and there were three young children.  Myrtle also indicated they had lost a child prior to 1910.  William Brinkman was quite a bit older and had been twice married.  He was born in Ohio, his parents born in Germany.  His occupation given as "a Peddlar on the Street".
In 1907, Mrs. Myrtle Brinkman hired a lawyer to write to the Pension Bureau to inquire if, as the daughter of a pensioner, and blind, she would be entitled to any pension.  She receive the following:
11 Jul 1907
Reply to Mrs. Myrtle Brinkman, 138 Indiana Avenue, Kokomo, Indiana. In response to your communication of the 3rd instant, received the 5th, wherein it is stated that you are the daughter of Steward Wishard.....There is no provision of law under which pension can be granted to the child of a deceased soldier or sailor by reason of permanent helplessness or otherwise, who was over sixteen years of age at the date of the father's death. Commissioner of the Bureau of Pensions, Dept of Interior.
I found the pension file of Stewart Wishard to be one of the most intriguing I've ever read.  He is the only relative I've discovered that actually lived in one of the homes for disabled veterans.  The saga of the blind daughter Myrtle was also interesting - certainly she was able to marry and have children, although one does wonder how they provided for the children.