John T. Dibble

John T. Dibble was born October 9, 1836, in Schoharie County, New York, the son of Harry and Mary (Wood, b. 1814).

John’s parents were probably married sometime before 1831 and probably in New York. In any case, by 1850 John was working as a laborer and living with his mother and siblings in Gilboa, Schoharie County, New York.

John eventually left New York and moved to Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan, in 1857, coming, he said in 1887, “over from Grand Haven to Ferrysburg and from there in J.D.’s stage to Muskegon. The stage consisted of a lumber wagon with boards across for seats and without any springs. The road lay through the swamp between [Muskegon] and Grand Haven. We plunged along through the swamp until we had got very near Black Creek, there we went into a water hole 2-3 feet deep, which was too much fore iron and wood to stand and our axle tree broke and we went down into the water and from there we walked to Muskegon.”

While in Muskegon Dibble worked at a variety of occupations in the late 1850s including running a stage line between Muskegon and Grand Haven, and by 1860 he was a sawyer living and working the Muskegon area.

John stood 5’10” with blue eyes, sandy hair and a fair complexion and was 24 years old and still living in Muskegon County when he enlisted at the age of 24 in Company H on May 10, 1861 -- he may also have been related to either Austin Dibble of Company K or James Dibble of Company H. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers”, was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.)

In early February of 1862 John was wounded. According to Captain Emery Bryant of Company H, Dibble “was wounded in the arm while on picket duty near Pohick Church, Virginia,” on February 4, 1862, and he was discharged on March 6, 1862, at Camp Michigan, Virginia, due to the “amputation of his left arm at the middle of the humerus, made necessary in consequence of . . . the accidental discharge of a fire-lock in the hands of a comrade while on picket duty. . . .” Dan Crotty of Company F wrote some years after the war that Dibble had lost his arm “from an accidental shot fired by one of our own men.”

After being discharged from the army, on his way back to Michigan John stopped off at Rome, New York to apply for a pension. He then went on to Chicago where he married New York native Alida “Lida” A. Boyles (1845-1892) on October 23, 1862 or 1864, and they had at least two children: Orin E. (b. 1867) and Claude H. (b. 1869).

They returned to Muskegon where John and his wife boarded with Burnett Ripley, a prewar friend of Dibble’s, through the winter of 1862-63. By 1870 they were living in the First Ward in Muskegon where John worked as a jobber.

John worked for many years as an independent contractor, house mover, builder and salvage worker in the Muskegon area. It is possible that he was the same John Dibble who in 1868-69 was working as a blacksmith -- with one arm -- for Chubb, Stewart and Luther Co., in Grand Rapids and residing near Water Street. In any case, he was working as a jobber and living with his wife and two sons in Muskegon’s First Ward. In 1880 he was employed as a building mover and was living with his wife and children in Muskegon’s First Ward, Muskegon County; also living with them was John’s brother Daniel. Indeed, he probably lived his entire life in the Muskegon area, excepting the years he served in the army. He was appointed a deputy sheriff for Muskegon County in 1881.

John was a member of Old Third Michigan Infantry Association as well as Grand Army of the Republic Kearny Post No. 7 in Muskegon, a charter member of Grand Army of the Republic Dix Post No. 9 in Hesperia, Oceana County, and he received pension no. 10,085, drawing $24.00 per month in 1883 for the loss of his arm.

On November 30, 1882, John was drowned in Lake Michigan off Grand Haven by the capsizing of the Schooner J. T. Martin. According to one contemporary report, Dibble

The particulars of the sad affair are as follows: Mr. Dibble had the job of getting the schooner off the beach, and on the last day of work, which was Thursday, the men began work at 2 a.m., and had so far succeeded that by 9 o'clock the vessel was pulled off by a tug. In order to avoid the piers, or to be again washed on the beach, the tug took the schooner in a semi-circular cruise out about a mile and half outside the channel. In this the tug succeeded all right, but in attempting to pull the schooner round to head her into the channel, a heavy sea struck her and threw her clear over on her side.

The capsizing is attributed to two causes: 1st, The fact that the schooner was leaking badly and was water-logged, and 2nd to the lurch given to her by the tug in making too quick a turn; but the fact that the Martin lay broadside to a heavy sea in a badly demoralized condition had probably as much to do with the disaster as either of the other causes given. When she went over there were seven men on board as follows: John Dibble, F. D. Demmings, and Hoyt (Martin's agent) of Muskegon, the two Shine brothers, and two Holland sailors, of Grand Haven.

F. K. Demmings, of Muskegon, who narrowly escaped drowning, gave our reporter the following: After relating how they had pitched up the holes in the Martin with canvass, and how she was towed out into the lake as given above,

Mr. Demmings said: “John Dibble stood at the after cable steering, and when she tipped over he slid out into the lake. When the vessel sunk [sic], a sea washed him close to where I was clinging to the rigging and he reached out his hand which I seized. I drew him up so that he got hold of the signal halyards, but he had scarcely been there a moment when a big sea came and washed him off. A second time he came and I caught him again by the hand and drew him up to the main rigging, and while there I think he had the presence of mind to tie himself with a line, as his body was afterward found at the end of this line. I saw him all the time and he never said a word, but as he held up his hand, he looked me in the face with a look that I will never forget. It is a wonder that any of us escaped. The sea was very heavy, and the wrecked vessel was at its mercy -- at one time raised high up and the next moment down deep into the water, but almost every sea would wash over the half-frozen men clinging to the rigging. “When she capsized I pulled off my overcoat and threw it into the lake; as did Hoyt. The last I remember before becoming unconscious, I was lying with my breast on the rigging clinging by my arms, with the unknown Hollander hanging onto my legs. It was the Hollander and myself, as I afterwards learned, who were the nearest drowned of any on the vessel who escaped. I must have been dragged off the wreck with a hook thrown by the life-saving crew, as my clothes show where the hook caught me. We were in the water three hours, owing to the high sea the Life Saving Crew could not get near us. My Holland neighbor on the wreck and myself were taken to the station, and when I came to, I found them slapping and rubbing me. My Holland friend they pumped out, and of course we would both have been dead long before this if the men at the Life Saving Station had not worked with us. My hands were badly frozen to the rigging, and I am now suffering from them.”

Mr. Demmings lost all the money he had and his clothes and he is now hard up and unable to work. His family needs assistance.

John’s body was returned to Muskegon and the funeral services took place at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday at the Universalist Church. The pallbearers were his old Third Michigan comrades William L. Ryan, Daniel G. Crotty, Thomas J. Waters, Samuel D. Murray, George Hubbard and Christian Schmidt.

His obituary described Dibble as “a well-known builder and a straightforward and energetic citizen, who was highly respected by all who knew him.” John was buried on December 3 in Evergreen cemetery, Muskegon: 3-4-2.

Shortly after John’s death Lida applied for a pension (no. 302693), but the certificate was never granted. She was still living in Muskegon in 1883 and in 1890 at 37 E. Muskegon Street.

James T. Dibble - updated 07/27/2008

James T. Dibble was born on March 27, 1837 in Yankee Springs, Barry County, Michigan, the son of Benjamin S. (1812-1880) and Sarah (1817-1884).

It appears that New York native Benjamin was living in Yankee Springs, Barry County, Michigan in 1830. He apparently returned to New York where he married New York native Sarah in 1836, and the two of them moved to Michigan in October of that year. According to one family historian Benjamin was the third settler in the Yankee Springs area, and first owned and operated the “Silver Creek House” tavern, not far from present-day Middleville. Benjamin he subsequently operated a non-alcoholic tavern called “The Washington,” about a mile south of his former tavern.

Benjamin was elected one of four constables for the newly organized Thornapple Township in 1838, and appointed the first township postmaster the following year. In 1850 James was attending school with his younger brother William and living with his family in Yankee Springs, where his father was a farmer. By 1860 James was working as a farmer and living in Yankee Springs. Indeed, except for his time in the army James probably lived in Yankee springs all his life.

James stood 5’11” with gray eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion, and was 26 years old and probably still living in Yankee Springs when he was drafted in February of 1863 for nine months from Yankee Springs. (He was possibly related to Austin Dibble who was also from Barry County and who enlisted in Company K; he may also have been related to John Dibble who enlisted in Company H.)

James joined Company H on March 10 at Camp Pitcher, Virginia. He was reportedly being treated for “bloody dysentery” at Camp Curtin, Virginia, in April of 1863. He recovered, apparently and was probably with the regiment when he was reported missing in action on May 3, 1863, at Chancellorsville, Virginia.

In fact he had been severely wounded and taken prisoner. He was confined at Libby prison in Richmond on May 9, paroled on May 15 at City Point, Virginia, reported to College Green Barracks, Maryland on May 16 and was admitted to the hospital in Annapolis, Maryland on May 17, suffering from dysentery and kidney disease. He was officially returned from missing in action on October 26 at Catlett’s Station, Virginia, and was mustered out on November 10, 1863 (his nine-months’ term having expired).

After he left the army James returned to Michigan.

Sometime in 1865 James married New York native Cynthia Alvina Garrett (1845-1923). Known generally as “Alvina,” and they had at least four children: Afton Alrick (1866-1931) and Estella Sarah (1867-1946), Wallace S. (1870-1873) and Elsie Cecile (1879-1937).

In 1870 James was working as a farmer and living on a farm (he owned some $3000 worth of real estate) in Middleville, Barry County; by 1880 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife Cynthia and their children in Thornapple, Barry County. James’ parents were still living in Middleville, Barry County in 1880.

James was still living in Middleville in 1885 when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and was in either Middleville or in Thornapple, Barry County in 1890.

In 1882 he applied for and received a pension (no. 349179).

James died on December 2, 1890 in Middleville, Barry County and was presumably buried there.

Alvina was living in Michigan in 1891 when she applied for and received a pension (no. 345764). She eventually remarried, to one H. L. Osborne, in 1900 in Michigan and they resided for a time in Grand Rapids. Her second husband was killed in an automobile accident in 1909.

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.