Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Owl Creek Boys - The Matheny Sons

Francis A. Matheny House (built c. 1858)

Taking a look at the family of John M. Matheny who was mentioned in the previous article from a newspaper clipping one can see a much bigger picture. John’s father, Francis A. Matheny was born in Kentucky in 1804 and he moved his family to Indiana in the early 1830s. Two of his oldest children, John and a daughter, Rachel were born in Kentucky according to census records. Francis and his wife, Eliza A. Matheny had a family of at least nine children. Francis A. Matheny built a large log home on Jackson Branch Ridge Road that is still there today. It has been thought that it might be the largest existing log home in Indiana that is still standing from the 1800s.

Francis A. Matheny - Shipley Cemetery

Just down the road from Francis Matheny’s house and still on the same property is a small cemetery where Francis A. Matheny has his grave marked. He has Masonic Lodge emblem on his gravestone. Sadly nothing has been found for his wife. Francis died in 1861 and according to his Will his wife survived him. Of Eliza A. Matheny little is known about her except from census records she was also born in Kentucky about 1802. Of the known nine children there names in order by age are Rachel C. born 1833, John M. born 1835, Felix G. born 1835 (a twin?), Francis D. born 1838, Nancy J. born 1840, James M. born 1842, Thomas J. born 1844, Andrew R. born 1847, and Salem T. Matheny born abt. 1850. Starting with the two daughters both were married in Brown County. Rachel married John Christy on March 17, 1855. The youngest daughter, Nancy J. Matheny married Frank A. Cunning on Feb. 15, 1864. The girls remained in Indiana.

Francis D. Matheny's Civil War Pension card

Now for the sons we found that after marriage they all moved west to states such as Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, and some most likely beyond. What is especially interesting about the sons is that almost every one of them was Civil War veterans. Felix G., Francis D., Thomas J., and Andrew R. Matheny all moved to Champaign County, Illinois. Francis D. Matheny married Mary Cooper in Brown County on May 22, 1865. He served in Indiana and Illinois. James married Nancy J. Pettigrew on March 13, 1863 in Brown County and they moved to Kansas. He served in an Indiana infantry unit. Thomas J. and Andrew R. Matheny also served in the Civil War. The youngest boy, Salem, doesn’t show up in the next census so it is assumed he died at a young age. And we know from the previous post on John M. Matheny he ended up in Nebraska.

James M. Matheny's Civil War Pension card

I’m going to follow this family a little more to see if I can wind up the family statistics. All the sons mentioned previously are named in an old compiled list of Brown County men who served in the Civil War. So far nothing has been found to show that Felix had ever served in the Civil War. All-in-all the Mathenys were a most patriotic family. It’s a shame all the children moved away, the family left behind a large estate with a beautiful huge log home in one of the most beautiful places to live, Brown County, Indiana. I drove by it the other day and tried to get a photo, but it was almost obscured by huge draping trees, what a sight! Maybe I’ll try again this fall after the leaves are off.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Midwestern Roots Conference - New Revelations

I am still reeling from the recent Midwestern Roots Conference. I came away with some new revelations and a new outlook on the future of genealogy in the upcoming decade. Family stories are what usually first attracted many of us as children who eventually became the family genealogist. These stories are what will keep attracting new budding genealogists in the future. The old procedures for collecting names, dates, etc. is not as important anymore. It is the story that lies behind those names and dates. Every person in your pedigree or family group sheet has some sort of story about their life. These stories need to be told.

A good example of this was the opening program on Saturday, "1848 Cincinnati Riverfront Panorama Unveiling" that was presented by Patricia Van Skaik of the Cincinnati Public Library. Frankly, I don't have any family that came from this area, and when the program began I didn't even think it would be that interesting for me. It turns out I was wrong, it was amazing! Here is their website: http://www.cincinnatilibrary.org/news/2011/panoramaunveiling.html

They have taken this daguerrotype panoramic photo and divided it into miniscule sections, the accuracy and detail is amazing. They were able to zoom way in and pick out details of what the city looked like back in 1848. They didn't stop there. Their team picked out buildings with names on them and researched the families that ran the businesses. This all relates back to the main theme - the stories! Just displaying an 1848 photo and pulling out all the detail would be interesting up to a point. After you've seen it - it's over. It's the stories that they pulled out of this photo that makes it an amazing adventure. Check out more of the panels here: http://www.codex99.com/photography/16.html
I came away from the Conference inspired!
(P.S. I hope the Cincinnati Public Library forgives me for using their photo, but I just have to share their project with everyone!)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Owl Creek Boys - John M. Matheny

Civil War Pension card

From the post on the “Illustrious Men of Owl Creek” one of the boys from Owl Creek, John M. Matheny, was mentioned as being one of the 'brave Owl Creek boys who offered their lives a sacrifice on the alter of their country in the dark hours of the great Civil War.' I've made it a personal project to research the lives of these boys. I had thought the Coffland brothers were hard to find, but John was even more elusive. Almost all that could be found of John was a mention of his military career. From the Brown County Democrat article of Feb. 8, 1906 John Matheny was named as Colonel of the 82nd Regiment Indiana Volunteers. He mustered in as a soldier of Company H in 1862 and apparently he quickly went up the ranks.

John M. Matheny was the son of Francis A. and Eliza L. Matheny and was born about 1835 just after his family came to Indiana from Kentucky. In the 1850 census they were living in Washington Township and John gave his occupation as clerk. Shortly afterward he moved to Saline County, Missouri where he married his wife, Sarah Cheuvront on April 26, 1857. They then moved back to Brown County shortly before the war probably by 1858 because he was in the 1858 tax lists there in Washington Township. At the start of the war John answered the call for his country. He served from 1862 till 1865 still living in Brown County. After this time he and his family became extremely elusive again.

It was extremely difficult to find him or his family in any federal census afterward. A Google search led to several posts on Genealogy websites that helped to find his movements from Brown County. From this I was able to determine that he and his family moved on to Nebraska. One of the posts gave his location in the 1870 census in Ashland, Saunders County, Nebraska. His household consisted of John M Matheny age 35 occupation carpenter b. Indiana Sarah Matheny age 33 wife b. Ohio, Francis Matheny age 8 son b. Indiana, and Laura Matheny age 4 daughter b. Indiana.

1881 Nebraska State Census, Cass County.

He shows up is in the Nebraska State Census of 1876 and 1881 where they were living in Cass County. A list of his children from the 1881 state census gave his children’s names as Frank age 19 born Indiana, Laura age 14 born Indiana, and Cora T. Matheny age 8 born Nebraska. Other records are spotty; John M. Matheny was listed in the 1893 Veterans census in Greenwood, Cass County, Nebraska. His wife died in 1889 and she is in the burial records on USGenweb (Nebraska - Cass County), but nothing is found for John. On line sources give his full name as John Milton Matheny and his death in 1895. No other information is available as to where John is buried or where he died. Did he get recognition for his military service in Cass County? Does he have a Civil War stone on his grave? All this would have to be more fully documented by a family researcher. He most certainly was remembered by his comrades back on Owl Creek in Brown County, Indiana.

From the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion; Indiana Adjutant General Records: Matheny, John of Nashville, Ind. Aug. 9, 1862 Captain, Co. H, 82nd Ind. Infantry Regiment. March 4, 1864, Lt. Col. Sept. 30 and Oct. 31, 1864 regimental commander; Nov. 15-Dec. 21, 1864 commanded regiment during Savannah, Ga. (March to the sea) campaign and January-April 1865 Carolina campaign; June 9, 1865 mustered out at Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Owl Creek Boys - George and Samuel Coffland

Civil War Pension card

From my last post I had found a list of Civil War soldiers from a particular area of Brown County that had been published in our local newspaper back in 1906. This group of men had served in the Civil War and had been residents of Owl Creek in Washington Township. At the end of the article it mentioned that some of them had died in the south. Did they die in the war, did they still live on Owl Creek by 1906, or could I even find them at this late date so long after the war. I did the usual searches in our Obituary book, looked to see if any marriages were made in their names, and I looked at the Brown County Roll of Honor listing soldiers that died in the Civil War

I had settled on trying to find a couple of these men, George and Samuel Goffland. They seemed to be the most elusive of the bunch. Doing a lot of searches I found nothing on the surname Goffland. However there was both a George and Samuel Coffland in the 1860 census for Brown County, Washington Township. The paper could have misspelled their names. They both had disappeared by the 1870. I then checked for marriages for a George and Samuel Coffland. Nothing for Samuel, but George had married a Serena Henry on June 26, 1859. Yes, George and Serena Coffland were in the 1860 census, but not in the 1870. I checked for any remarriages - Serena had remarried to George Parks in 1867. Something must have happened to George Coffland in this median time period. In the 1870 census in George and Serena Parks’ family were two Coffland children, William and Perry C. Hannah Coffland. Next thing to check was for a divorce or a probate record - no divorce was found. I hit the jackpot with a Probate record for George W. Coffland. It gave one of the children’s names, William A., and the wife, Serena. It gave guardianship information for the child, and it stated he had gone to live with grandparents in Missouri and then on to Kansas.

Checking back on the Roll of Honor I did find a George W. Coffin who had died in action, probably another misspelling, but none the less, my George Coffland. The last thing I wanted to obtain was some sort of military information for George. I checked on Ancestry.com and found his Civil War pension card where Serena had filed for a widow’s pension in 1865 on June 26 and then again as a guardian under the name of Serena Parks in 1868. The pension card also gave George’s unit, Company H, 82nd Indiana Infantry.

Now we have to find Samuel Coffland/Goffland. There was very little on him in Brown County. He only appeared in the 1860 census as a 20 year old living in the household of James and Rhoda Coflin. Trying to track down George’s lone surviving son, William helped to find Samuel. Taking the information from George’s Probate gave a clue as to where to look for Samuel. James and Rhoda Coffland, more than likely the grandparents of William, went to live in Woodson County, Kansas and then to Greene County, Missouri, and that’s where Samuel was found. From findagrave.com Samuel is buried there in the Hazelwood Cemetery in Greene County along with his wife Elizabeth. From his cemetery stone he was born in 1840 and died in 1929. One last piece of documentation to get was something giving his military service since his stone did not. From Ancestry.com I obtained his Civil War pension card. He was in Company C, 22nd Indiana Infantry as well as another military unit he had served in. He filed for an invalid pension on May 11, 1886. His widow filed on June 10, 1929. Both these Coffland brothers were well remembered by their former residents on Owl Creek as well as Brown Countians who remembered them as two young men who served their country well in the war.

Civil War Pension card