Thomas Otrey - update 8/23/2016

Thomas Otrey was born February 27, 1835, in England, the son of Isaac and Migora Magg.

Thomas emigrated from England and eventually settled in western Michigan.

He stood 5’8” with brown eyes, light hair and a dark complexion and was a 24-year-old carpenter probably living in Muskegon County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company H on May 6, 1861. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers,” was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.) He was sick in the hospital from August of 1862 through October of 1862, but eventually returned to duty and was wounded on May 3, 1863, at Chancellorsville, Virginia. Again he recovered and reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Muskegon, Muskegon County. He was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.

Thomas was reported absent sick or wounded in the hospital in May of 1864 (he may have been wounded during the Wilderness/Spotsylvania campaigns), and was still absent sick or wounded when he was transferred to Company A, 5th Michigan Infantry upon consolidation of the 3rd and 5th Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. He remained absent sick through July of 1864, and was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

It is not known if Thomas returned to Michigan after the war.

It is likely that Thomas was the brother of Angelina Otrey who married Samuel Jenner, also formerly of Company H, and who would also live in both Big Stone, Minnesota and possibly El Paso, Texas, as well.

In 1875 Thomas acquired some 148 acres of land through the land office in Litchfield, Minnesota, and in 1880 he was working as a farmer, married and living in Trenton, Big Stone County, Minnesota. In 1883 he acquired an additional 160 acres through the office in Benson, Minnesota. He was reported living as “uncle-in-law” to Linn Smith and his family in Otrey Township, Big Stone County, Minnesota in 1900. Also living with Linn Smith was Samuel Jenner, listed as “father-in-law.”

He was a member of the Old 3rd Michigan Infantry Association. In 1877 he applied for and received a pension (application no. 148129).

Thomas died on January 3, 1920 in El Paso, Texas, and was buried in Concordia Cemetery in El Paso: GAR lot, Protestant section (listed as “Otery” on his grave marker).

Samuel Jenner

Samuel Jenner was born on April 25, 1836 in Northam, Sussex, England.

Samuel left England for the United States sometime before the war broke out, and eventually settled in western Michigan. (In 1840 there was one Samuel Jenner residing in Dundee, Monroe County.)

He stood 5’7” and was a 25-year-old laborer possibly living in Muskegon County when he enlisted in Company H on May 13, 1861. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers,” was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.)

Samuel was shot in the right leg on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run, and entered Union Hotel hospital in Washington, DC, on September 1, 1862. He was transferred on September 10 to New York City where he entered the Jewish Civil Hospital, and was subsequently transferred on January 19, 1863, to the Ladies Home hospital, at Fifty-first and Lexington Avenue. He reportedly deserted from the hospital on June 28, 1863.

After he left the army Samuel eventually returned west. He was married to english-born Angelina Otrey (1842-1881), who was probably the sister of Thomas Otrey who had also served in Company H. They had at least three children: Rosa M. (b. 1873), Daisy (b. 1875) and Viola (b. 1878.),

Samuel probably lived for a short time in Chicago, and he may have returned briefly to Michigan, but by 1878 he was living in Ortonville, Big Stone County, Minnesota. By 1880 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and daughters in Trenton, Big Stone County; his wife Angelina died in Big Stone in 1881. (Thomas Otrey was also living in Big Stone in 1880.) In 1886, while residing in Ortonville, according to a statement Samuel gave in later years, he “stumbled on a defective sidewalk. The shock and exertion in trying to save myself from falling, caused [a] rupture, and from that time have been obliged to wear a truss, and have beenunable to perform manual duty or to support myself.” He was living in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in 1892, back in Big Stone County in 1899 and 1901, and by 1908 was living at the Soldiers’ Home in Minneapolis.

He married his second wife Emma J. Gillis (who had been widowed in 1880), and they had at least two children. He and Emma from whom he were separated in the late 1887 or 1888.

In the summer of 1899 Emma sought to gain access to some of Samuel’s pension money. Neighbors of hers testified that in the late 1880s Samuel “wholly abandoned and lived apart from his wife,” who was “of good moral character and is supporting two children by” Jenner without any aid from him.

In October Samuel sought to deny Emma a share of his soldier’s pension, filed in 1899, and to defend his having deserted her. He charged that she “failed and neglected her duties as a housewife” and that “she was habitually and notoriously dirty, allowing herself and family to become infect with lice and other vermin,” and that “she used profane and vulgar language at and toward” him, threatening bodily harm. Jenner also claimed that she threatened to “incite her children by a former husband to assault [him]” and “refused to encourage her said children by the former husband, some of whom are nearly full grown, to make any endeavor to assist in earning at least part of their support notwithstanding the fact that the said Emma J. Jenner and family were at that time, or shortly thereafter, become a charge upon the County of Big Stone, State of Minnesota, wherein at that time they resided.”

In April of 1917 Samuel was drawing $6.00 per month (pension no. 197,159, dated 1879), and may have been residing at 4110 Tobin Boulevard in El Paso, Texas. (Thomas Otrey was also living in El Paso by about 1920.)

Samuel died on April 25, 1917, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was presumably buried there.