Levi M. Booth

Levi M. Booth was born 1841 in Michigan, the son of Norman S. (1807-1881) and Lorinda (Holmes).

Norman, who had been born in Massachusetts, was married to Lorinda, and they settled for a time in New York (where their daughter Julia was born in 1829). Norman left New York and moved westward, eventually settling in Michigan sometime before 1834 when his oldest son Manville was born. In 1842 he married a New York native named Sarah Reed (1824-1883) and by 1850 Norman was working as a merchant and living with Sarah in Bellevue, Eaton County where Levi and his older brother attended school. Norman was also a lawyer and for some years operated a general store in Bellevue. (James and Merrick Reed lived next door with their family; and both of the Reed boys would join the Old Third; one suspects that Sarah was related to the Reed family in Bellevue.)

By 1860 Levi was a clerk working in his father’s store in Bellevue and living with his family.

Levi stood 6’0’’ with black eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion and was 18 years old and still living in Eaton County, probably with his family, when he enlisted in the Regimental Band on June 10, 1861. He was reported sick in the hospital at Annapolis, Maryland, in July of 1862, and in fact was a patient at the U.S. General Hospital in Annapolis suffering from an injury or wound of the hand. He was discharged as a member of the Band on August 13, 1862, probably at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, presumably as a consequence of the abolishment of regimental bands in the Army of the Potomac.

After his discharge Levi returned to Michigan where he married New York native Jeanette or Genette (d. 1869), on July 5, 1863, in Bellevue, and they had at least two children: John (b. 1867) and Addis or Addie (1869-72).

Levi was probably still living in Bellevue when he reentered the service in Company H, Eleventh Michigan cavalry on October 24, 1863, at Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County for 3 years, crediting Bellevue, and was mustered on November 7 at Kalamazoo. The regiment was organized at Kalamazoo and Detroit between October 7 and December 10, 1863. It moved to Lexington, Kentucky December 10-22 and remained on duty there until April 28 when it commenced operations in eastern and then southern Kentucky through the summer in Tennessee by late fall of 1864 and southwestern Virginia by early 1865.

In March of 1864 he was serving with the Regimental Band, and was on detached service in Louisa, Kentucky from June through December of 1864.

Levi was transferred to the United States Colored Cavalry (or Troops) in the summer of 1864, and if so was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on July 15, 1864, in the U.S.C.C., although by January of 1865 he was allegedly serving with the U.S.C.T. as of November 1, 1864, through June of 1865.

He was transferred to a new organization of U.S.C.C. in July of 1865, probably on July 20, 1865, to Company B, Eighth U.S.C.C., and was supposed to be organizing Colored Troops in Kentucky. (Curiously he is also listed as having been transferred to Company B, Eighth Michigan cavalry on July 2, 1865.) According to the War Department “Having tendered his resignation for personal reasons, he was honorably discharged by S. O. [special order] no. 494 of September 14, 1865 from this office. The commanding Officer of his regiment states, in an endorsement on his resignation that ‘This officer is totally incompetent and has no interest in the service’. The Commanding general Department of Kentucky referred the resignation to an Examining Board which found him ‘Ignorant and inefficient’ and recommended his muster out of service.”

After the war Levi returned to his home in Bellevue, and was probably residing in or near Bellevue in 1867 when the Charlotte Republican reported that a Levi Booth played shortstop for the Bellevue “Defiance” baseball club (his brother Lyman was catcher and another brother George played first base) during a recent game between the Charlotte “Prairies” and Bellevue “Defiance”.

Levi was possibly living in Kalamo, Eaton County in September of 1867 when his son John was born, but he was associated with the Battle Creek Band by 1868, at least according to Theron Mason who boarded with Levi for some four or five months that year in Battle Creek, Calhoun County.

By 1870 Levi was apparently living alone at a hotel in Battle Creek’s Second Ward, Calhoun County, where he was employed as a leader of a brass band. (The census record for that year makes no mention of either child living with him. In any case, it was reported that John had been sent to live with Levi’s family in Bellevue, although when this occurred is unclear nor is it known why he was sent away. Moreover, the 1870 census for Bellevue does not list either child living with Norman and Sarah.)

Levi had possibly returned to his family home in Bellevue by the time he married his second wife Michigan native Estelle or Estella Harris (b. 1849) on March 27, 1871, in Battle Creek.

By 1880 he was working as a musician and living with his wife Estella in Battle Creek’s Third Ward. Indeed, according to another musician, William Brock, they both worked with the Battle Creek brass band for some 12 years or so.

In 1879 Levi applied for and received a pension (no. 332,875).

Levi died on April 22, 1882, possibly in Battle Creek, and if so was presumably buried there.

In 1883 Estella was living in Battle Creek when she applied for and received a (no. 224,288). She remarried in 1887 to George Bannerman in Battle Creek and in 1889 a minor’s pension application was filed on behalf of his son John.