Austin P. Dibble

Austin P. Dibble was born September 16, 1840, in Mansfield, Tioga County, Pennsylvania, the son of James (b. 1815) and Mary (b. 1823) or Jane (Pickle).

Massachusetts native James married New Yorker Mary sometime before 1841 and possibly in New York or Pennsylvania. In any case by 1841 they were living in Pennsylvania but sometime between 1848 and 1849 had moved to Michigan, settling in Leoni, Jackson County where in 1850 James worked a farm and Austin attended school with his siblings. By 1860 Austin was a farm laborer working for and/or living with the Elizabeth Smith family in Leoni, Jackson County. (Although his father had apparently remarried and moved to Hastings, Barry County by 1860.)

Austin stood 5’4” with gray eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion, and was 20 years old and residing in Barry County, probably in the vicinity of Hastings, when he enlisted in the Hastings Rifle Company in April of 1861. The company was disbanded shortly after it arrived in Grand Rapids to join the Third Michigan infantry then forming at Cantonment Anderson just south of the city, and its members distributed to other companies of the regiment. Austin (who was possibly related to James Austin who was from Barry County and enlisted in Company H and may also have been related to John Dibble who enlisted in Company H) eventually enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861.

(He is not found in the 1905 Third Michigan Regimental history, but he is listed in the 1905 Regimental history of the First Michigan Light Artillery; see below.)

Shortly after the regiment arrived in Virginia Austin was taken sick. On August 2, 1861, he was admitted to the Union Hotel hospital in Georgetown, DC, suffering from catarrh and transferred on August 9 to the general hospital in Annapolis, Maryland. He was returned to duty on August 26. He was discharged for general debility and “sunstroke” on July 17, 1862, at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia. According to Dibble’s discharge paper, First Sergeant Charles Anderson of Company K wrote that “while on duty with his Regiment at Centreville on the 21st of July, 1861,” he suffered a “sunstroke from which he has never” regained his health. Assistant Regimental surgeon Walter B. Morrison declared that Dibble should be discharged on account of “his generally debilitated constitution since July last and alarming ill health since the commencement of the hot season.”

Austin returned to Michigan and may have reentered the service in M, company Ninth Michigan cavalry on May 17, 1863, at Jackson, Michigan, but no record of such enlistment exists, although in fact, three days after he reportedly joined the Ninth cavalry, he was transferred to L Battery, First Michigan Light Artillery (which was in fact attached to the Ninth cavalry), listing his residence as Jackson.

(Albert Towne who had also served in the Third Michigan infantry also reentered the service in the Ninth Michigan cavalry and he too was transferred to L battery on or about May 1, 1863.)

The battery was organized in Coldwater and mustered into service on April 11, 1863, and left the state for Covington, Kentucky on May 20. It remained on duty at Covington until June 4 when it moved to Camp Nelson and then on to Mt. Sterling on June 12.

Austin was promoted to Corporal on June 1, 1863, and hospitalized on July 28, 1863, at Camp Dennison, Ohio. He was transferred to Camp Nelson, Kentucky and reportedly admitted to the Main Street hospital in Covington, Kentucky on August 4, suffering from an injury to his back from a fall off his horse.

According to an eyewitness, George Brooks, formerly duty sergeant of Company L, First Michigan Light Artillery, “on or about the 1st of August, 1863, while going from [the] ferry boat up into Covington, Ky., Dibble’s horse reared up and fell backward, down the hill, and fell upon Dibble, who was thereby seriously injured.” Brooks added that Dibble ‘was left in the city of Covingtonm, Ky., and remained in convalescent camp until thef ollowing winter, when he came to Camp Nelson, Ky., and remained in convalescent camp at that place until his return to the Battery, I think in August or September 1864. . . .”

He was still hospitalized as of August 23, 1863. He was transferred on September 29 and admitted to Dennison general hospital at Camp Dennison, Ohio, and was returned to duty on December 23. He was subsequently admitted to the hospital at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, probably in early January of 1864 and was listed as absent sick from February of 1864 through March, and was sick at Camp Nelson from April through August. In September he was sick in either Michigan or Camp Nelson, and on detached service on December 8, 1864, guarding the railroad at Strawberry Plains, Tennessee.

The regiment was at Knoxville on August 15, 1865 when it was ordered to Jackson, Michigan. Austin was promoted to Sergeant on May 27, 1865, and mustered out apparently with the regiment on August 22, 1865, at Jackson, Jackson County.

Upon his return to Michigan Austin lived for a time in Grand Haven, Ottawa County, and at one time resided on Washington Street.

It appears that Austin was married to Ohio native Allice or Allie Hoag (b. 1840 or 1848), and they had at least three children: Frances or Frankie (b. 1867) and Fred (b. 1878), and Daisy (1884-1904).

In 1915 he claimed he was first married one Hannah Moffitt (d. 1894) in 1884, and that she died in Alaska, Kent County, in 1894, and that he subsequently married Allice Hoag in 1896 and they were divorced in 1909 and she remarried a man named Barnum in Barry County. In fact it appears that he was first married to Allice or Allie, divorced her and then married Hannah.

By 1870 Austin was working as a grocer and living with his wife Allice and daughter Frances in Hastings, Barry County. He also farmed for some years as well.

Although Austin may have lived for a time in Middleville, Barry County, he eventually resettled in Allegan County and was living in Allegan in 1874, in Salem, Allegan County in 1879 and working as a farmer and living in Salem in 1880 along with his wife and two children.

He was residing in Burnips Corners, Allegan County in 1882, in Labarge, Kent County in 1888 and 1890, in Caledonia, Kent County in 1894 and by 1907 was back living in Grand Haven. He was living at 15 Franklin Street in Grand Haven when he was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 5755) on May 16, 1910 (Alice was living in Grand Haven when he was admitted to the Home in 1910). He was discharged on December 24, 1910, readmitted on December 17, 1911, and again discharged on September 23, 1913, and admitted for the last time on May 7, 1914.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association as well as Grand Army of the Republic Brown Post No. 296 in Alaska, Kent County, and he received pension no. 390,024, drawing $25.00 per month in 1912 and $30 per month by 1917.

Austin died of myocarditis at 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning on July 21, 1917, at the home of his son Fred, 415 Woodlawn, southeast, in Grand Rapids, and the funeral was held at Fred’s home at 9:00 a.m. Monday. Austin was buried in Alaska cemetery, Caledonia Township, Kent County.