George W. Blain

George W. Blain was born September 12, 1843, in Gaines, Kent County, Michigan, the son of Joseph (b. 1812-1882) and Emmaline (Robinson, b. 1812).

New York natives Joseph and Emmaline or Emeline were probably married in New York and moved from New York to Michigan sometime before 1840 when their oldest child, Joseph, was born. They eventually settled in Gaines, Kent County where George lived until the war broke out. In fact he was living with his family and attending school in Gaines in 1850 and by 1860 he was working as a farm laborer and still living with his family in Gaines (where his father owned nearly $5000 worth of real estate). His father had apparently remarried New York native named Amanda (b. 1812)

George stood 5’6” with hazel eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion, and was an 18-year-old farmer probably living in Gaines when he enlisted with his father’s consent in Company K on February 26, 1862, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered the same day. George may not have joined the regiment until June when he was first reported present with the company. In any case he was present for duty through the end of the year.

According to Alfred Pelton, who was tentmate of George’s and who also served in Company K, “about the middle of December 1862, while near Falmouth,” Virginia, George “began for the first time to have falling or epileptic fits; he would get [up] right in the middle of the night and act . . . like a mad man and when we could get him awake he would be all of a tremble and entirely exhausted and so weak he could hardly sit up. I saw him have these fits many times while we tented together and he became so bad he was sent to hospital near Falmouth.”

George was absent sick in the hospital from January of 1863 (probably January 3 or 15), suffering from “bronchial neuralgia”, and he remained absent through April and returning to duty on or about May 7 when he was reported serving at Brigade headquarters from May through July.

George reenlisted on February 15, 1864, at Camp Bullock near Culpeper, Virginia, crediting the Fifth Ward of Grand Rapids, and was absent with leave from February 27. He very likely went home on a thirty-day veteran’s furlough, rejoining the regiment around the first of April, possibly not until April 3. In any case he was present for duty by the time the regiment became engaged in the battle of the Wilderness, Virginia, on May 5. George reported later that on May 6 he had to assist badly wounded Lieutenant Milton Leonard off the field and to the field hospital. He was transferred to Company I, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, was reported as a Corporal on June 1, 1865, and mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war George returned to Kent County where he lived the remainder of his life, and worked for many years as a farmer. He was living in Gaines from about 1865 until 1870 when he moved to Ada, Kent County; in fact in 1870 he was working as a farm laborer and/or living with the Kellogg family in Gaines.

He was married to Michigan native Catharine “Kate” O’Connor (1845-1915), on February 19, 1872, at St. Andrews church in Grand Rapids, and they had at least two children: a daughter, Mary F. (Mrs. F. W. Mooney, b. 1878) and a son, Rev. John Blain (b. 1875).

In November of 1874 he left Ada and moved to Paris, Kent County, where he was living until April of 1877 when he settled in Walker, Kent County. He was working as a farmer and living with his wife and two children in Walker in 1880 and remained in Walker until at least 1881. By 1880 (?) they were residing at 36 Spring Street in Grand Rapids. From 1875 through 1879 and again in 1885 he may have also resided in Bowen Station, Kent County, although he was apparently living in Grand Rapids in 1888 and from 1893 through 1896. In 1906 he was living in Crosby (presumably located in Kent County), but by 1907 had returned to Grand Rapids where he was living in 1909 when he returned to Crosby and was living there in 1910, returning to Grand Rapids the following year.

George was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, a Catholic and he received pension no. 424,809, drawing $4.00 per month in 1889.

He was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 6521) as a widower on November 16, 1913.

George died of apoplexy at the Home and paralysis at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday July 15, 1915, just three months after his wife died. His body was sent to St. Francis’ mortuary, and the funeral service was held at St. Andrews on Saturday morning, July 17 at 8:00 a.m. He was buried in St. Andrews cemetery, new section 1, 10-3.