Charles and Ransom Howe

Charles Howe was born in 1838 in Michigan, the son of Dennis (1810-1856) and Sarah A. (b. 1808)

Both New York natives, Charles’ parents were married in 1830 in Covington, New York.

Sometime between 1837 and 1839 Dennis, a wagon-maker by trade, moved his family to Michigan, probably from New York, and by 1850 the family had settled in Lyons, Ionia County where Charles was attending school with his siblings including his older brother Ransom who would also join the Third Michigan infantry in 1861. Dennis went to California in 1851 and was drowned in 1856 while on his way home. By 1860 Charles was a farm laborer living with his mother and family in Lyons, Ionia County.

Charles was 23 years old and residing in Lyons when he enlisted in Company E on May 13, 1861, along with his older brother Ransom. Charles died of typhoid fever near Yorktown, Virginia on May 2, 1862.

According to the Regimental Surgeon Dr. Zenas Bliss,

The regiment was attached to General Berry’s brigade of General Kearney’s division of the Third Corps, and arrived at Fort Monroe on March 26th, 1862, and shortly afterwards moved to Yorktown, and encamped in a thick woods, intermingled with patches of swamp and pools of water, the ground being covered with fragments of fallen trees and decaying vegetable matter. Water could be obtained only by digging holes from two and a half to three feet in depth, and the surface obtained form these was all that the men had. The regiment remained in this camp about five weeks, and was doing picket and fatigue duty on trenches and fortifications all that time. A few intermittents and remittents [fevers] occurred, as also about forty cases of typhoid fever, all very severe, marked by epistaxis tympanitis, and, after a few days, hemorrhage from the bowels, the blood being evidently impoverished. Several of these cases proved fatal.

One case of typhus, marked by hemorrhage from the nose and bowels, and with petchiae and hemorrhagic spots on the surface, occurred in the regiment and proved fatal [Hiram Dailey of Company A]. All of these patients had active, supporting treatment throughout. The sick were cared for at a hospital, about a mile and a half to the rear, composed of log huts or barracks, built and formerly occupied by the 53d Virginia Volunteers (Confederate), upon a sandy soil, where we obtained an abundance of excellent well water. These barracks were well ventilated, and accommodated a large number of sick and wounded from both the regulars and volunteers. I saw all of the sick and what few wounded there were at this hospital and had immediate charge of very many sick who were members of various regiments; and nearly all of the cases were either low remittents or typhoid fever. I say remittents, because some of them might be easily classed as such; but I believed then, as now, that they were almost pure enteric fever. I held autopsies of all that died who were under my charge, six in number. No post mortem was held on the case of typhus [Dailey]. All the deaths from typhoid fever occurred late in the course of the disease, and the majority from hemorrhages from the bowels, one from coma, and the others apparently from pure exhaustion. The abdominal viscera were those principally examined. Peyer’s glands were found in each case in a state of ulceration; some very large ulcers; some healing while others were in an inflamed condition. Some of the ulcerations extended nearly through the coats of the intestines. I preserved the specimens in each case, but subsequently lost them during the campaign. The small intestines, through their entire length, gave evidence of previous inflammatory action; but all the other abdominal viscera gave no evidence of either organic or serious functional disease, and the soft parts and glands, when divided with the scalpel, seemed to be almost exsanguined. I wish the blood could have been analysed, because I feel confident that the primary trouble was there. In cases of epistaxis, the blood gave only a faint coloring to the spots on linen, and it did not give to the linen that stiffened feel that we get when it is saturated with ordinary blood, from both of which I infer that the blood was deficient in plasma and coloring matter, or defibrinated. In these cases, quinine, brandy, ammonia, and small doses of opium were given with a view to support the patient. Essence of beef and beef tea, of good quality, and in abundance, was furnished and given. The supply of medicines at this time was ample, but at times we were deficient in hospital stores.

He was presumably buried there (or his body may have been returned to Michigan for interment). His brother Ransom may very well have been with him when he died since he reportedly took possession of his effects.

In 1883 his mother was living in Lyons, receiving a dependent mother’s pension no. 27,766, drawing $8.00 per month.

Ransom Howe was born in 1837 in Livingston, New York, the son of Dennis (1810-1856) and Sarah A. or Sadie (Benton, b. 1808)

Both New York natives, Ransom’s parents were married probably in New York and sometime before 1835. Sometime between 1837 and 1839 Dennis, a wagon-maker by trade, moved his family to Michigan, probably from New York, and by 1850 the family had settled in Lyons, Ionia County where Ransom was attending school with his siblings, including a younger brother Charles who would also join the Third Michigan infantry in 1861. Dennis went to California in 1851 and was drowned in 1856 while on his way home. By 1860 Ransom was a farm laborer who could not read or write living with his mother and family in Lyons, Ionia County.

Ransom stood 6’1” with hazel eyes, sandy hair and a light complexion and was 24 years old and living in Lyons when he enlisted in Company E on May 13, 1861, with his younger brother Charles. Ransom may very well have been with his brother when Charles died of typhoid fever in May of 1862 near Yorktown, Virginia.

Ransom was employed as a company cook from August of 1862 through October, was on duty at the Regimental hospital from January of 1863 through November and a hospital cook in December. He reenlisted on December 23, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, was absent on veteran’s furlough, probably in Michigan, in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February. He was reported as a nurse at the Regimental hospital from January of 1864 through May of 1864, but reported AWOL on June 10, 1864, the very same day he was transferred to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments. However, by July of 1864 he was reported absent sick. He was mustered out July 5, 1865, probably at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war Ransom returned to Michigan, probably to Ionia County.

He married New York native Frances E. Parker (b. 1841), on April 1, 1866, in Lyons, Ionia County.

By 1870 Ransom was working as a carpenter and living with his wife in Lyons village, Ionia County, and lived most of his postwar life in Lyons where he worked as a carpenter. He was still living in Lyons in 1880 with his wife, and in 1894 and in 1895 when he testified on behalf of Eli Brown’s pension increase as well as in the application for a pension by Alfred Burns. (Brown and Burns both had served in Company E during the war.)

He became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association in December of 1884, and was a member of Grand Army of the Republic Dresser Post No. 100 in Lyons. In 1889 he applied for and received a pension (no. 516,596), drawing $30.00 a month by 1905.

Ransom was admitted as a single man to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 4589) in August of 1905. He was discharged at his own request on December 8, 1905, and probably returned to Ionia County.

He was married to Michigan native Thursa Alger Smith (b. 1849), on June 20, 1911. (According to their marriage certificate Thursa had been married three times previously.)

Even though he was reportedly married, Ransom listed himself as a widower and his next of kin as a nephew, Arthur (or Henry) Hoofman of Grand Haven, Ottawa County, when he was readmitted to the Home on October 16, 1916. According to his second wife Thursa, from the time of their marriage

Up to Sept 1912 we lived in amicable relations having no special difficulty. At time of our marriage I owned a home in the village of Lyons in which I lived and we went to housekeeping living in my home.

About Sept. 12, 1912, I asked my husband for some money to make a payment on a carpet which I had purchased. He became very angry and refused to give me any money. He left my house and went and lived with Arthur Tyle [?]. He did not come back until in June 1913. Then he came back and wanted to live with me. The door of my home had always been open to him and he could home when he choose. He came back and we lived together with no special trouble.

In April 1916 I planned to visit my son and Mr. Howe was not opposed to my going but said he would go and stay with Arthur Tyle while I was gone. I did not intend to make the visit until May and urged him not to go until I left, but he went to Mr. Tyle’s house the forepart of April. In a few days he sent for me saying he was sick and I went there and took care of him. After that he would come home and stay a few days and sometime he would stay at home two or three week then go back to Mr. Tyle again for a few days. Several times he was sick there then he would send for me and I always went and took care of him. After a time he came home for his meals regularly but would go back there. I learned that he left liquor there and drank as much as he choose. I had refused to let him bring liquor to my house as he drank to excess, during all this time he supplied me with food or gave me money to buy food with. He did seem angry but he loved his liquor and would drink as he choose while there. In 1916 he became so ill that he went to the Soldier’s Home Hospital at Grand Rapids, Mich.

During all my married life with him, or from the date of my marriage to him Mr. Howe supported me except during the time from Sept. 1912 to June 1913. During that time I took in work and supported myself. When Mr. Howe left for the Soldier’s Home he gave me ten dollars and said he would send more money. He never went to any other soldier’s Home after our marriage except to the one at Grand Rapids, Mich where he went in 1916.

Nevertheless, Ransom was reportedly a widower when died at the Home at 7:20 p.m. on October 22, 1916, and his remains were sent to Lyons for burial, and interred in Lyons cemetery on October 26 as an indigent soldier, the County paying for the burial.

Thursa apparently initiated an effort to apply for a widow’s pension in August of 1917, although it is unknown what became of the application (no number was apparently assigned).