John O. Booth

John O. Booth was born March 2, 1840, in Fremont, Lake County, Illinois, stepson of Charles Darling and son of Amanda (Tucker, b. 1808).

Vermont native Amanda was married to a New Hampshire native by the name of Booth, probably in Vermont, sometime before 1833 when their daughter Helen was born in Vermont. By 1838 the family had moved to Illinois, and Amanda remarried Vermonter Charles Darling (1813-1872) in 1842 in Fremont, Illinois. (It is not known what became of her first husband.) By 1850 John and his siblings were living with his mother and stepfather on a farm and attending school in Fremont, Illinois.

In any case, at some point before the war John left Illinois and made his way northward into Michigan and the lumbering industry, eventually settling in Muskegon or Newaygo County.

John stood 5’11” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion, and was a 20-year-old lumberman, living in Bridgton, Newaygo County when he enlisted in Company K on April 25, 1861. He was sick in the hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, or perhaps in a hospital just northeast of the Capitol, from about August 23, 1862, until September 15 when he was apparently transferred to a hospital at Fort McHenry, Maryland, where he remained until he was discharged for chronic diarrhea and hepatitis on November 21, 1862.

After his discharge John returned to his home in Fremont, Illinois where he lived until about 1864; he may also have resided for a time in Libertyville, Illinois.

John married his first wife Jane A. Noble (1842-1909), on November 24, 1869, in Rock Island, Illinois, and they had at least five children: Georgia (b. 1870), John M. (b. 1872), Lemuel E. (b. 1876), James F. (b. 1878) and David E. (b. 1881).

John and his family left Illinois and moved west. From around 1864 (or perhaps as late as 1869) until about 1878 he lived in Buffalo, Scott County, Iowa, before settling in Orleans, Harlan County, Nebraska. By 1880 John was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Fairfield, Harlan County. John was still living in Orleans, Nebraska in 1893. He remained in Harlan County until about November of 1910 when he moved to Des Moines, Iowa. (This was shortly after the death of his first wife and he may have moved to Iowa to live with one of his children.)

John was still living in Des Moines in June of 1912, and by March of 1915 he was residing at 1403 W. Grand Avenue. For many years he worked as a farmer, lumberman and coal dealer.

He married his second wife Alice E. Wade, a widow of Harris H. Wade (d. 1899), on October 10, 1914, at Valley Junction, Iowa.

Soon afterwards he moved to Omaha, Nebraska where he resided until sometime in early 1925 when he became a resident of the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Home in Burkett Station, Hall County, Nebraska.

Apparently Alice either died or left him since he was reported to be living alone by 1925.

In June of 1925 one Mary M. Royce, who operated a boarding house in Douglas County, Nebraska, testified under oath that since sometime around the first of March, 1925, John, who had boarded with her, “has suffered a loss of his mental faculties, resulting in periods in which mind is a complete blank. At such times he wanders off without knowing where he is going or having any definite purpose; that he is very weak physically and is apt to meet with an accident or injury or suffer from exhaustion at one of these times.”

Mary Royce further claimed that this occurred the first time about March 15 and that since that time she “has kept a very close watch” of John “and on numerous occasions he has started off again” and she had “to get him and lead him home and watch him until he” regained” the use of his faculties.” She also stated “that these lapses are becoming more frequent and as a consequence at the present time” she “or some member of the family must be in constant attendance upon him; that in addition to said mental trouble he has become very feeble and weak and is not able to look after himself and that somebody must feed, clothe and care for him.”

As a consequence, on August 22, 1925, John, who was then a resident in the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Home in Nebraska, was placed under the guardianship of his youngest son David E., who was then residing in Red Willow County, Nebraska.

By September of 1925, John was drawing $72.00 per month, for pension no. 582,603.

While on furlough from the Soldier’s Home, John died on September 18, 1925, in Buckeye (?), Colorado or Omaha, Nebraska.