Thomas Somerset

Thomas Somerset was born on August 14, 1841, in Sandusky County, Ohio, the son of Charles (1818-1883) and Catharine (Kelly, 1816-1882).

While still a young boy Thomas and his family moved from Ohio to Wisconsin, settling briefly in Milwaukee before moving back across Lake Michigan to Grand Haven, Ottawa County, Michigan in 1848, becoming one of the pioneering families of that town, and where his father engaged in farming. In 1850 Thomas was living on the family farm in Crockery, Ottawa County. By 1860 Thomas was a farmer living with the Austin family in Robinson, Ottawa County, and living with his parents in Crockery. (Next door to his parents lived Isaac Burbank and his family; Isaac would also join the Third Michigan.)

He was 19 years old and living in Grand Haven when he enlisted in Company I on May 13, 1861. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County.) He was sick in the hospital at Yorktown from May 3, 1862, until about May 10 when he was transferred to the hospital at Portsmouth, Virginia, where he remained some two months. Thomas eventually returned to duty and reported as a guard at Brandy Station, Virginia in February of 1864. He was wounded slightly in one of his fingers on May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania, Virginia, and was mustered out at Detroit on June 20, 1864.

After his discharge from the army Thomas returned to his home in Ottawa County where he engaged in farming and fruit growing, and for many years he farmed on 320 acres he had purchased in 1864, located about seven miles southeast of Grand Haven along the banks of the Grand River. According to one source he “owned a 337-acre farm in Sections 30 and 31 of Crockery Township. His land, bordering the Grand River, was frequented by the Fort Village band of Ottawa Indians that once inhabited the adjacent area called Battle Point. Cobmosa was their Chief. The Somerset farm was on part of the Indians’ burial grounds.”

He married New York native Catharine C. Miles (1845-1893) on October 24, 1867, and they had at least six children: Louise Elizabeth (b. 1868, Mrs. Frank Robbins), Alice Mabel (b. 1869), Ada Corinthia, Georgia Eleanor, Johnnie T. and Etta May.

By 1870 he was working as a farmer (he owned $4000 worth of real estate) and was living with his wife and three children and his younger brother Charles in Ottawa County. (His parents lived near by.) Thomas was living in Spring Lake, Ottawa County in 1874 and by 1880 Thomas was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Crockery. He was living in Spring Lake in 1888 and 1890.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, a strong Democrat (he reportedly voted for McClellan in 1864), a Mason and a member of the I.O.O.F. He also gave an affidavit in the pension application of Washington Davis, a former member of Company A. and he himself applied for a pension (no. 1132048).

Thomas was a widower when he died at about 10:00 p.m. on February 2, 1900, and was buried in Spring Lake cemetery,

“Thomas had been ailing some little time with paralysis,” noted the Grand Haven Daily Tribune, “and when he was in [Grand Haven] the Friday before his death, he complained that he could not use his fingers. He grew rapidly worse thereafter and was entirely helpless and unconscious for eight hours prior to his death.”

When Thomas died his three unmarried daughters were either teaching school or in college: Alice was teaching at Harrisburg, Michigan, Ada in Wisconsin and Georgia was in school at Valparaiso, Indiana.

His funeral took place on Monday afternoon, the Rev. W. W. Slee officiating.