Fulton Cemetery

Peter Lawyer UPDATE 13 July 2018

Peter D. Lawyer was born on December 24, 1820, either in Lawyerville, Schoharie County or in Herkimer County, New York, the son of John Sebastian Lawyer (?) and Catharine Storring (1801-1876).

Sometime before 1842 Peter moved to Kent County, Michigan, where he married Michigan native Lydia Laraway (1828-1881), on December 5, 1842, in Cascade, Kent County. (Lydia was the sister of John Laraway who would also enlist in Company A.) Peter and Lydia had at least six children: Henry M. (1846-1864), William R. (b. 1848), Charles (b. 1850), Mary K. (b. 1852), Frederick (b. 1854) and Jessie F. (b. 1857).

By 1850 Peter and his family were living on a farm in Grand Rapids, Kent County. Peter took an interest in the growing militia movement in western Michigan in the late 1850s, and he joined the Ringgold Artillery, under command of Captain John Fay. He was reported First Corporal of the company in 1858. By 1860 Peter was living with his wife Lydia and their children on a farm on Cascade road (just east of the present “East Beltline”) in Grand Rapids Township.

Peter stood 5’7” with gray eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion and was 40 years old and still residing in Grand Rapids Township when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861. Besides his relationship to John Laraway of Company A, Peter was related to two other members of Company A: he was half-brother to Anna Reed, the wife of Miles Adams of Company A, and his own son Henry would enlist in the company in 1862. By early August of 1861 Peter was a Corporal. On December 18 he was reported to be in poor health and. according to George Miller of Company A, who was probably acquainted with Lawyer before the war and often spoke of him in letters to his parents, Lawyer was rumored to be “going home for 30 days on a furlough if he can get one, his health is very poor. Father knows him. He lives down toward the Rapids near Fisk’s tavern.”

By December 28 Peter had still “not gone home yet but expects to soon,” and in fact, by the first week of January, 1862, Lawyer along with First Lieutenant George Judd of Company A had left for Grand Rapids, probably to recruit for the Regiment. It is quite likely that since he was on recruiting duty back home in Michigan he probably recruited his son Henry, who would enlist in Company A in late February of 1862. (Henry would be killed at the Wilderness, Virginia, in May of 1864; another son William R. served in Company E, 10th Michigan cavalry.)

In late winter or early spring of 1862 Peter returned to Virginia and was with the Regiment when it moved down into Virginia for McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign. On Sunday, June 22, 1862, Lawyer replied to enquiries made by the mother of George Miller, who was missing in action at the battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia, on May 31, 1862. “I have just received your letter of inquiry with regard to your son, G. W. Miller,” he wrote,

which I hasten to answer and I will give you all the information I can, and all that anyone can. G. W. Miller was selected out of our Regiment as one of the sharpshooters together with about 50 more, and they were commanded by our worthy Capt. S. A. Judd, and they went into the battle about 100 yds in advance of the balance of the Regiment, but as the battle raged were soon all mixed up together and we had all we could do for every man to look our for himself. Many of our brave volunteers fell for the last time. G. W. Miller, James V. Smith, William H. Drake among the missing. The battlefield was all looked over for the wounded, dead and we found all but the above mentioned; it is my candid opinion that these 3 are taken prisoners. They all belong to company A, the same company that I do myself and G. W. Miller was a favorite in the company and very highly esteemed by all who knew him. We are all flattering ourselves that he will yet be returned to us.

The last that was seen of George he was as far in advance as any that was seen in the company. We were engaging the enemy on our left and we drove them back although they greatly outnumbered us, after some time had elapsed and we were all the time facing a perfect shower of bullets and grapeshot, the enemy overpowered our right wing which fell back. They came very near flanking us, it was with the utmost exertion that any of us escaped and there is where we think our 3 men was taken prisoner, G.W. among the rest.

Our Capt [Judd] was killed and our company was badly cut to pieces. 4 of our sgts were wounded, the highest officer we have left in our company is a sgt. We hope it will be as we expect, if so we shall all see You must hope for the best. It is my sincere wish that your son will be especially returned to you again. 

Suffering from “heart disease,” Peter was discharged as a Corporal on September 30, 1862, at Upton’s Hill, near Alexandria, Virginia. After his discharge from the army Peter returned to his farm in Grand Rapids, where he died of heart disease on Wednesday, June 25, 1863. The funeral service was held on Friday, and the procession left the residence at 3:00 p.m. The services were held at the brick school house near, on either Reed’s or Fisk’s Lake, at 4:00 p.m. He was buried in Fulton cemetery: section 1 lot 26. 

Lydia remained in Grand Rapids. In 1880 (?) Lydia applied for a widow’s pension (application no. 266481).

According to Lydia’s obituary she was living in the Township of Grand Rapids in 1881 when she

died of paralysis on the 19th of November. Her death and the suddenness of their bereavement was a severe shock to her children and the many warm friends of the family. She was stricken down while about her household duties, which it was ever her pleasure to perform for her loved ones, as one who looked well to the ways of her household, eating not the bread of idleness, and whose children rise up and call her blessed. She was an early settler, and the widow of the late Peter O. Lawyer, whose name is pleasantly familiar to scores of ‘boys in blue’, as he was one of the first to go out at the beginning of the war with out gallant ‘Old Third’ Michigan Infantry -- one who was prompt and honest as a soldier, never shrinking or swerving from the line of duty -- generous to a fault, kind to all, and in demeanor a gentleman in the best and manliest sense of the word. All this is recalled as we speak of the death of his amiable wife who has, her friends fondly trust, now found him in a better land, where there is no more trouble and the weary are at rest. Mr. Lawyer was a brother to Mrs. W. H. Reynolds, and half brother to Mrs. Miles S. Adams, Mrs. Frank Outhwaite of Muskegon, and Mrs. Theodore DePuy of St. Joseph, Missouri. 

In 1888 a minor child dependent’s application was filed for Jessie Tongue who was probably Jessie Lawyer, one of Peter’s children, and which was granted (no. 250957).


The McLenithan mystery of lot 85 in Fulton Cemetery, Grand Rapids, Michigan

On the face of it, this looks pretty straight forward: two men, probably brothers (they were) who both served together in the 3rd Michigan Infantry during the Civil War and both buried next to each other: S. O. McLenithan of Company K and Joel Mclenithan of Company A.

But looks can be deceiving in cemeteries and most especially when the cemetery in question dates back to 1838. Lots of misplaced bodies, lost records and just missing people generally. So it may be here.

The "mystery" first came to my attention many years ago when I learned that Joel had in fact been living in Indiana for years before he died in 1917. According to his Indiana death certificate and the review of markers Joel was buried in Sumption Prairie Cemetery, South Bend, Indiana. Simple, no?


A more in-depth look at the cemetery records for Fulton Street Cemetery in Grand Rapids further deepens the mystery in division 1, lot 85.

We know that directly behind Joel is a second government marker for "S. O. McLenithan." This was undoubtedly Stephen O. or D. McLenithan, Joel's younger brother who did indeed serve in Company K, 3rd Michigan, as noted on the stone. So far so good. But while we have extensive postwar documentation on Joel we have absolutely nothing on Stephen after 1865. Furthermore, there are no other family markers. Yet the index of gravestones in the Local Historical Collections of the Grand Rapids Public Library, lists Joel and one “S. O.” of Company K 3rd Michigan” as well as their mother Mary (who died in 1857) buried in lot no. 85 in Fulton, and no other burials are noted. No marker for Mary is found today and it probably disappeared long ago.

The transcribers for the D.A.R in the late 1920s identified the graves of Joe, Mary and one "S. C. McLenithan of Company K, 3rd Michigan" but no mention is made of Samuel. By the time the cemetery records were re-transcribed in the late 1990s, all four McLenithans are listed: Joel, Mary, S. O. and now Samuel (1847-1880). Moreover, Samuel served in the 16th Michigan Infantry during the war.

However, the cemetery burial book lists Joel, mother Mary and “Samuel” as buried in Fulton cemetery, yet there is no marker for Samuel, who died in November of 1880 (see Grand Rapids Democrat November 24, 1880, p. 4 col. 1: “Died”). Indeed, the cemetery records list Samuel’s death date as well as his birth date, but there is no mention of Stephen. We also know that Samuel died indigent and possibly a resident of the city or county poorhouse. If that were indeed true, then who would have paid for the interment alongside his mother and/or brother?

In the late 1930s Francis Hall attempted to identify all the Civil War veterans buried in Kent County and he knew of the markers for both Joel and "S. O." so it's quite likely the government stones were probably already in place by then. But who ordered them? Was Joel's body returned to Grand Rapids to be buried next to his mother and brothers? If so, who would have coordinated that? Is it possible that Joel's marker was ordered and put in place as a ""memorial"? If so, again, who would have arranged for that and why? We do know that Samuel McLenithan served in the 16th Michigan Infantry during the war and yet he has no marker at all.

Any thoughts?

Carlton Neal UPDATE 13 July 2018

Carlton Neal was born on August 4, 1820, in New York, the son of New York native Jesse (1800-1870) and Agnes and probably stepson of Connecticut native Miranda or Marinda (1807-1884). 

Carlton’s parents settled in Michigan by the late 1830s, probably around 1837 and by 1840 were living in Cambridge, Lenawee County. In 1841 Carlton had reportedly left for the western side of the state and settled in Grand Rapids, Kent County.  By 1845 and 1850 Jesse and his family were living on a farm in Madison, Lenawee County. Jesse eventually settled his own family in Grand Rapids as well.

Carlton married New York native Anna M. (1823-1856), and they had at least three children: Oscar (1843-1904), Orrin M. (b. 1846), and Emily (b. 1848). 

By 1850 Carlton and his wife and three children were living on a farm in Grand Rapids; also living with them was the family of John Church (b. c. 1820 in New York). 

According to a report in the Grand Rapids Enquirer on March 21, 1856, Carlton, who lived just at the city line, had  recently interred his first wife Anna M.  on his own property as apparently there was no room in the existing (Fulton) cemetery; she was subsequently reinterred in Fulton cemetery.  

In the mid-1850s Carlton took an active interest in the growing militia movement in Grand Rapids, and on December 1, 1856, he was elected Third Lieutenant of the “Light Company” of Grand Rapids Light Artillery,  first under the command of Lucius Patterson and then under Stephen Champlin (who would become Major of the 3rd Michigan in 1861). When the “Light Company” was reorganized as the “Ringgold Light Artillery” on February 10, 1858, under John Jay as Captain, Neal was elected Second Lieutenant. 

By 1860 Carlton was a widower and wealthy farmer living with his parents in Grand Rapids’ 1st Ward. 

In the spring of 1861, as companies were forming in Grand Rapids in preparation for being organized into a Second or Third Regiment of Michigan Volunteers for U.S. service, one company, which would become Company K, “already has 38 men enlisted as privates,” wrote the Enquirer on April 30, “with new recruits constantly coming it. Byron R. Pierce is the captain; Alfred B. Turner, First Lieutenant; Carlton Neal Second Lieutenant.”  However, when the company was fully organized by late May, Almon Borden was First Lieutenant, Robert Collins was Second Lieutenant, and Carlton was 41 years old and residing in Grand Rapids when he enlisted as First Sergeant in Company K   on May 13, 1861 (at the same time that his son Oscar enlisted in Company B; he was possibly related to Lucius Neal also of Company B). Collins would soon be appointed Regimental quartermaster, however, and Carlton would succeed him as Second Lieutenant, commissioned on July 1. 

Carlton married English-born Virtue Mitchell (1833-1906), in Grand Rapids on June 12, 1861, the day before the 3rd Michigan left for Washington. According to one report, Neal “goes direct from the altar to the field, leaving sad hearts behind [him]. Heaven grants [him] a safe return.” They had at least two children: Nellie E. (b. 1864), Frederick W. (1867-1910) and Gaycues A. (b. 1873).

He resigned on account of disability sometime in late 1861, either on October 28  or November 25. 

Carlton returned to Michigan and reentered the service as junior Second Lieutenant of Battery L,   1st Michigan Light Artillery on November 3, 1862. In fact, the battery was not formally organized until the spring of 1863 and was probably mustered into service at Coldwater, Michigan on April 11.  That same month Carlton was actively recruiting for the battery in Grand Rapids. On April 22, 1863, the Eagle reported the following incident involving two young men recently recruited by Neal. 

Lieutenant Carlton Neal says that the boys, though minors, he was arrested for having enlisted and taken into the service of ‘Uncle Sam’, were large, strapping fellows, either of them over 18 years of age, and not only perfectly willing but anxious to go, and that they did go of their own free will, and were accordingly taken to Coldwater and mustered into the Eleventh Battery [L] attached to the Ninth Michigan Cavalry. The father of Thornton gave his consent, but Rice's father said that his son was a minor and that he should not go; this, however, was after he had enlisted and boarded in this city some time, with other recruits; whereupon the Lieutenant told him to pay back the money the Government had expended for his son's board and he would let him off, but he refused to do it, and the boy still wanting to go, he was accordingly mustered into the U.S. service.  

The following month a more serious incident occurred. On May 26, “Two of our citizens were arrested,” wrote the Eagle, “charged with helping a soldier to desert his post, by secreting and aiding him in escaping from Lieutenant Neal.”  

The battery left Michigan for Covington, Kentucky on May 20 and remained on duty at Covington until June 4 when it moved to Camp Nelson, Kentucky and then on to Mt. Sterling on June 12. It was involved in the pursuit of John Hunt Morgan from July 6 to the 29th.  On or about July 27, 1863, Carlton left to rejoin his command in the Army of the Cumberland, taking some 10 recruits with him,  and was promoted to Senior Second Lieutenant of the battery in February or March of 1864. He was absent on furlough from May 10, 1864, and returned to his home in Michigan. The Eagle observed that he was “looking and feeling first rate, and represents everything in good condition at the Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, where his command is stationed. He will pass but a few days here, being called home as a witness in the U. S. Court.” The paper noted that before leaving to return home, “he was presented by the privates in his command with a magnificent sabre, sash and belt, as a testimonial of their esteem. Good for ‘Carlton’, and the brave boys under him.”  

Carlton remained in Grand Rapids for about a month and on June 20, he left to rejoin his battery which was then located at the Cumberland Gap. The battery subsequently moved to Knoxville, Tennessee from June 27 to July 1 and remained on duty there until August of 1865. Carlton was promoted to Captain in February of 1865, commissioned on January 14, 1865, replacing Captain Gallagher,  and on February 23 the Eagle was informed of his promotion by a member of the 10th Michigan cavalry, then encamped at a camp near Knoxville, Tennessee.

Your former townsman Lieutenant Carlton Neal of the Eleventh Michigan Infantry [sic], has been lately promoted to Captain Battery L. It was one of those rare cases where true merit triumphed over favorites. Captain Neal has been instrumental in recruiting for the service over 100 men, has seen two years of hard service with his battery, and his promotion to Captain is received with hearty congratulations from his numerous friends here, among whom are many able and influential officers. By invitation, in company with Captain Brooks, Lieutenant [Robert G.] Barr, of the Tenth, and a number of officers from other Regiments, we called on Captain Neal, this afternoon, to offer our congratulations, and to partake of a ‘sumptuous feast’ that had been prepared for the occasion. We did ample justice to the chicken, turkey, pies, cakes, tarts, etc., to say nothing of the ‘wine that maketh glad the heart of man’, that sparkled around the board. Being a ‘Good Templar’, of course the subscriber did not indulge in the last mentioned luxury.  Captain Neal's battery is composed of a fine looking body of men, and the neatness and order displayed in personal appearance and about their quarters, speaks well for the discipline of the commander.  

Carlton was commanding Battery L on March 31, 1865, and on August 15 the battery was ordered to Jackson, Jackson County, Michigan. Carlton was mustered out with the battery  on August 22, 1865, at Jackson. 

After the war Carlton returned to the Grand Rapids area where he lived and farmed for the rest of his life. In 1867-68 he was living on the northeast corner of Ransom and Bronson (now Michigan) Streets, in 1870 he was living in the 1st Ward and owned a great deal of restate apparently; and in 1875 he was living in the 4th Ward. By 1880 Carlton was keeping a large boarding house and living with his wife and children in Grand Rapids’ 4th Ward; however, his son Oscar is not reported as living with them. Carlton was living in the 7th Ward in 1894. 

In 1887 his wife Virtue sued for divorce. According to a story carried in the Democrat of October 2, 1887, Virtue told the court

a pitiable tale of wrong long unrighted. Carlton Neal took Virtue to his bed and board in June, 1861, and they have lived together for nearly 26 years. Virtue bore three children, all of whom are now living, and has always been a loving and affectionate wife to her husband. 12 years ago, Carlton lost his property and since that time the complainant says he has neglected her. He has failed to provide for her, and she was compelled to keep a boarding house to support herself and family. Not only was her husband unmindful of her for years, but he has been abusive to her. He kicked her out of bed and used abusive language on more than one occasion. Since he kicked her out of bed, she has not occupied the same bed with him, though he still stays around her house. She asks for a divorce from Carlton and also wants him enjoined from taking any of the furniture in her house which she says belongs to her personally.  

This break in their relationship occurred the year after his son Oscar, formerly of Company B, was admitted to the Kalamazoo Insane Asylum; apparently Oscar had been confined at the Kent County home prior to his admission to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home but he became too difficult to control. 

It is unclear whether the divorce was ever granted, and in fact Virtue was buried with Carlton. 

He became a member of the Old 3rd Michigan Infantry Association in December of 1890, was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic Custer Post No. 5 in Grand Rapids (he was suspended on June 28, 1893, for reasons unknown), and also a member of the Old Settler’s Association.   In 1887 he applied for and received a pension (no. 434635).

He died of asthma at his home in Grand Rapids on July 15, 1896, and was buried in Fulton cemetery: section 5 lot 23, along with his son Oscar. 

On July 25, 1896 Virtue was living in Michigan when she applied for and received a pension (no. 434535).