St. Andrews cemetery Grand Rapids

William L. Ryan

William L. Ryan was born on April 15, 1832, in either Leinster or Queen’s County, Ireland.

Although William was reported to have fought in the Mexican War, in fact he did not immigrate to North America until the spring of 1854. (Curiously, one source reported years later that “he had been a soldier in Ireland for a time. . . “) Soon after arriving in North America he first settled in Huron, Canada, staying there but a few months before moving to Grand Rapids and then to Spring Lake, Ottawa County, and in 1857 to Muskegon, Muskegon County.

William was married to Maria O’Hara (d. 1857?), and they had at least two children: William (b. 1854) and Mary Ann (b. 1856).

By 1860 William was a sawyer working in Muskegon and living at the Averill boarding house along with Thomas Waters and George Root (both of whom would also join Company H). His two children were reportedly living with their paternal grandmother Ann and uncles Joseph and Patrick (William L.’s younger brothers) in Walker, Kent County.

According to William as soon as he and Waters heard about the fall of Fort Sumter they decided to enlist together, joining the company then forming in Muskegon. Originally called the “Muskegon Rangers,” this company would be organized under the command of Captain Emery Bryant and become Company H in the Third Michigan Infantry.

William was 29 years old when he was elected Second Lieutenant of the “Muskegon Rangers,” the militia company that was organized in Muskegon in late April of 1861 and whose members would form the nucleus of Company H; he enlisted as Second Lieutenant in Company H, probably in late April of 1861.

On June 13, 1861, the Third Michigan left Grand Rapids for Washington, DC, where it arrived on June 16 and went into camp near the Chain Bridge along the Potomac River just above Georgetown. According to Dan Crotty of Company F, soon after the Regiment reached its camp at Chain Bridge, “We throw ourselves down on mother earth, on the banks of the beautiful and historic Potomac, to rest our weary limbs. Here Lieutenant Ryan, an old soldier, is ordered to lay out a camp, which he does, and we call it, after our Michigan War Governor, Camp [Austin] Blair.” Charles Brittain also of Company H, thought “Bill Ryan” a first-rate fellow.

William was commissioned First Lieutenant on October 28, 1861.

He was shot in the hip on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run. He was “badly wounded in the hip,” wrote Crotty some years after the war, “but by good nursing and a strong constitution he may get over it.” William was commissioned Captain of Company H on October 20, replacing Captain Emery D. Bryant.

He returned to Grand Rapids in the fall of 1862 and married Maria Cloonen (1842-1899) on November 11, 1862, at Grand Rapids.

William resigned on account of disability on March 24, 1863, at Camp Pitcher, Virginia.

It is not known if William returned to Muskegon following his discharge.

In the fall of 1864 he entered the Veterans’ Reserve Corps in New Jersey and was commissioned a First Lieutenant in Company C, then in Company E, and transferred to the Thirteenth Veterans’ Reserve Corps as Assistant Mustering Officer and Inspector of Passports at Boston harbor.

In October of 1864 he returned to western Michigan on a short furlough. Captain “Ryan, late of the old Third,” wrote the Grand Rapids Eagle on October 17, “who is now of the Thirteenth Veteran Reserve Corps in command of ‘B’ Street Barracks, Boston, Mass., has just returned on a short furlough. His numerous friends in this city and vicinity will greet him with open arms and warm hearts.” By the end of the month Ryan had left to rejoin his command in Boston.

William was subsequently appointed Assistant commissioner of the Freedman’s Bureau in Mississippi, and finally discharged from the Bureau in 1867. (Curiously, his daughter Mary Ann was still living with her grandmother and Uncle Joseph in Walker in 1870.)

After he left the Freedman’s Bureau William returned to Muskegon where he served as City Marshal from 1867-70, and was the first Democratic sheriff in Muskegon County, serving from 1874-78. He had also been a deputy sheriff and constable. On September 4, 1877, the Democrat reported the following story.

Major W. L. Ryan, Sheriff of Muskegon County, was somewhat injured yesterday while conveying a prisoner sentenced for 3 months to the House of Corrections at Ionia. The prisoner, while traveling in custody over the Detroit & Milwaukee railroad about four miles west of Coopersville, suddenly sprang from the sheriff and started for the door, and immediately jumped from the platform while the train was going at a rapid rate, closely followed by the plucky sheriff. This caused considerable excitement on the train, and Conductor Anderson immediately signaled the engineer, and the train backed up to where the prisoner and sheriff alighted. The sheriff was found to be somewhat bruised, and in no very favorable condition to give chase to the scoundrel, who had taken to the brush and was out of sight. Several trackmen who were at work on the road near by started to capture the prisoner, while Sheriff Ryan got on board the train again and went to Coopersville for an officer to assist him in further search for the fugitive. As this is the first case Sheriff Ryan has ever had of an escape of a prisoner, it is to be hoped he may be successful in the capture of the rogue.

William served as a Justice of the Peace in Muskegon from 1879-83, and in 1880 was living in Muskegon’s Third Ward with his wife Maria. In 1881 he was a Police Justice. He was still living in Muskegon in 1882, 1886, 1888, 1890-91 and in fact he probably remained in Muskegon until 1894 when he was admitted briefly to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home in Grand Rapids; by 1895 he was reportedly living in Muskegon.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and at the annual reunions he was known for speaking his mind about the war. For example, at the 1882 reunion of the Association, “W. L. Ryan of Muskegon threw a small bomb into the rather harmonious gathering by jumping up and making three cheers for the expected restoration of Fitz John Porter and said no soldier of the ‘Old Third’ ought to fail to respond.” The Democrat added that General A. T. McReynolds “endorsed the request, several were preparing to object, and a stormy time was imminent when the meeting was suddenly adjourned.”

William was also the charter commander of Grand Army of the Republic Kearny Post No. 7 in 1879 in Muskegon, a staunch Democrat, and a Roman Catholic.

In 1870 he testified for the prosecution in the second trial of George Vanderpool, formerly of Company H, who had been charged with murdering his business partner in Manistee.

Ryan suffered for many years from “rheumatism,” and he sought a variety of cures for the chronic illness. On April 26, 1892, Ryan told a reporter for the Democrat

that for more than 20 years he had been fighting the dreaded disease, but its grip grew stronger each succeeding year. For 12 months past he has been confined to his room, and it is two years since the Major could walk without assistance. Four weeks ago he began a course of treatment with Madame Debanshaw. At that time he had to be fed like a child, and was so completely helpless that he could not move in his chair without aid. But since the beginning of these treatments his general health has improved rapidly, his rheumatism with every pain is gone and today he is around again among his friends. He recommends Madam Debanshaw's magnetic remedy very strongly to those suffering from the same disease. Madam's office is located at 87 Western Avenue, Muskegon.

William reportedly entered the Michigan Soldiers’ Home in Grand Rapids in February of 1864, and for a time his wife and daughter lived in rooms on Fountain Street in Grand Rapids while he was treated for sever “rheumatism” in the Home. According to his death certificate, William entered the Home January 17, 1895.

He died of heart failure and epilepsy at the Home hospital on Friday morning, January 31, 1896, and the funeral service was held at 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning, February 3, at the Home hospital; his wife was living at 17 North Lane Avenue in Grand Rapids. There was a funeral mass at St. Andrews Church, and William was buried in St. Andrews cemetery: New section 2 lot 35 grave 2.

In 1863 William applied for and received a veteran’s pension (no. 88354). His widow applied for and received a dependent widow’s pension (no. 437458).

Adolphe T. Campau

Adolphe T. Campau was born August 19, 1841, on the site of what would become Herpolsheimer’s department store on Monroe Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the son of Toussaint (1811-1872) and Victoria Amelia Emily (de Marsac, b. 1819).

Both of Adolphe’s parents were born in Detroit and were married in 1834 in Grand Rapids, Kent County. Adolph’s uncle Louis Campau -- one of the founders of Grand Rapids -- and his second wife Sophia (de Marsac, sister of Emily) had no children of their own, and so they reportedly adopted Adolphe when he was an infant and he lived with them for many years (or so Adolphe claimed later). Nevertheless, by 1860 he was working as a cabinet-maker and living with his parents Toussaint and Emily in Grand Rapids’ Third Ward.

Adolphe stood 5’9” with black eyes, black hair and a dark complexion and was 19 years old and probably still living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted with the consent of his parents in Company A on May 13, 1861. (He is not found in the 1905 Third Michigan Regimental history, although he is found in the Regimental history for the First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. See below) Although he was reported as sick in the hospital in July of 1862 and missing in action on August 3 at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, Adolphe had in fact been captured on June 30 during an engagement near White House Landing, Virginia, and was reported to have been held “at the hospital on the York River, held by the rebels”. He was paroled on July 10, 1862.

Campau himself said many years after the war that “owing to the menacing attitude of the Union forces, the Confederates were unable to send the Union boys to prison, and were obliged to house and guard them in the field.” While a prisoner, it seems that one of his guards, a Sergeant Major, took his “silver watch that he had carried with him from his home.” Campau “promptly reported the loss of his watch to the Rebel General, J. E. B. Stuart, but his pleas for its return were disregarded. He then went to the Confederate General Stephen D. Lee, giving the number of his watch, and Lee immediately took the matter up, ordered the men out into a hollow square and told Campau to pick out the man. He at once did so; and the fellow said that he had bought the watch in Richmond. Said General Lee upon examining the watch: ‘It seems strange that there should be two watches bearing the same number; you are hereby reduced to the ranks,’ and the guilty fellow bore the humiliation of losing his stripes in the presence of his Regiment.”

Campau was soon paroled and reported at Camp Parole, Maryland on July 13, 1862. He was subsequently hospitalized, at the U.S. General Hospital in Annapolis, Maryland, and was reported among the paroled prisoners-of-war at Camp Parole, at Annapolis in late August and again in late October. During his stay in the Marine hospital at Annapolis, he told a newspaper reporter many years later,

the sick and wounded received through the sanitary commission many comforts that camp life denied. Among them [Campau] received was a pair of home-made socks, with the name of the sender appended to a brief note inside one of them. Mr. Campau still has the note in his possession and it is as follows: “The task of knitting these socks has been a pleasant time one, thinking they might come into possession of some brave soldier suffering from the want of these very socks. Please accept my best wishes, May you go forth in the strength of the God of hosts, true to yourself and your country. I have a degree of curiosity in regard to the disposition of these socks, name of wearer and so forth. Any information would be acceptable to Catherine H. Kingsbury, East Foxboro, Mass.” Illness at the time prevented his acknowledgement of the receipt of the present and when again in the field the exigencies of war were such that time forbade his doing so. The days in the hospital passed wearily, but occasionally the monotony was varied by some incident that can never be effaced from memory. In a moment of delirium a soldier heard the bugle call in the morning. He was instantly roused, thinking it a call to arms. Springing to his feet he started for the door and before an attendant could reach him, he fell in a collapse apparently dead. He was carried to the dead house, where a post-mortem was to be held to determine the cause of his death. With scalpel in hand, the physician began his work, when to the utter surprise of physician and nurses the soldier revived. An attempt was made to take him back to the ward in the hospital room whence he had been removed only a short time before, but their efforts met with stout resistance on his part and it required the combined efforts of four men to control him. The poor fellow died a week later.

Adolphe was eventually sent back to Michigan to recover and was discharged for chronic rheumatism on December 9, 1862, at Detroit Barracks. He subsequently returned home to Grand Rapids where he reentered the service as Corporal in Company L, First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics on January 6, 1863 and was mustered the same day at Detroit. Many years after the war he claimed that in July of 1863, while “overseeing the job of building a bridge over the [Elk River in Tennessee] he received what was thought to be a sunstroke.” He claimed that he “fell over on the ground in a dead faint and was carried back to camp and placed in Asst. Surgeon Van Ostrand’s tent and was taken care of there for about a month.” He was then sent “to the regimental hospital at Bridgeport, Ala. as nurse and remained on such duty until discharged.” He was reported sick at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in March of 1865 -- while the regiment was participating n the campaign through the Carolinas. The regiment marched to Washington via Richmond, Virginia, April 29-May 20, and was in the Grand Review on May 24. It was subsequently ordered to Louisville, Kentucky on June 6 and then to Nashville where it remained on duty from about July 1 to September 22.

Adolphe was mustered out with the regiment on September 22, 1865 at Nashville. The regiment was discharged at Jackson, Jackson County, Michigan on October 1.

After the war Adolphe returned to western Michigan and lived briefly in Muskegon, Marshall and Kalamazoo before settling in Big Rapids, Mecosta County where he was residing in 1879 and 1880, working for some years as a “general laborer” of a “light character”. By 1881 he was living in Grand Rapids’ Fifth Ward; but he was back in Big Rapids in 1885, in 1886 when he was working as a bank janitor, in 1887 and in 1891. By mid-1898 he was living at 826 S. Lafayette Street in Gra Rapids.

On September 11, 1902, Adolph was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 3890), where he lived the remainder of his life.

In 1908, when he was interviewed by M. S. Webster of the Grand Rapids Herald, Campau was living “in cozy quarters, made attractive by the occupants, in the north dormitory at the soldier's home, . . .” Upon

entering the room, the visitor is accorded a cheerful welcome, and becomes interested in the large collection of souvenirs of years ago, and pictures that adorn the walls of the little abode” and he had “a large store of souvenirs and relics, dating back as far as 1800. Among his souvenirs are: a copy of the Ulster County Gazette, published in Kingston, New York, January 4, 1800, containing the announcement by President John Adams of the death of Washington; a copy of the Grand River Times, G. W. Patterson, editor, published in Grand Rapids in April 1837; a letter bearing date December 28, 1836, written to his father [Toussaint?] by his uncle, Daniel J. Campau, Sr., of Detroit; Dr. Talley's old medicine scales, used in Talleyville, Va., during the war; has photos of the Confederate Generals S. D. Lee, [Simon Bolivar] Buckner and [Richard] Ewell bought in Alexandria, Va., and a hickory cane once owned by his uncle Louis Campau.

In 1903 Adolphe was appointed sexton of the chapel and morgue for the home and over the years he kept close records of the number of people he help to bury at the Home, a task which it seems, he took most seriously.

“According to Veteran Campau's records,” wrote Webster, “the number of graves decorated in the Home cemetery, May 30, 1903, the time at which he became sexton, were, men: 698, women: 28, total: 726. Since that date deaths have occurred as follows: year ending May 30, 1904 - 73 men, 11 women; year ending May 30, 1905 - 53 men, 8 women; year ending May 30, 1906 - 72 men, 3 women; year ending May 30, 1907 - 83 men, 9 women; year ending May 30, 1908 - 67 men, 4 women. The total number of graves in the home cemetery was 1,160.”

However, in Campau’s obituary, published the year following Webster’s interview, the Grand Rapids Press painted a picture of a man isolated from the world outside his room or outside of the Soldiers’ Home morgue, a world defined by morbidity, death and superstition.

“Before the war,” wrote the paper, “Adolphe Campau was considered one of the handsomest and most promising young men of Grand Rapids, but during the war he suffered a severe sunstroke and he never was the same after that. His health was seriously impaired and he never fully recovered it. In later years he was afflicted with a severe deafness and because of these afflictions he led a very retired and secluded life.”

“He regarded,” the Press wrote, his work as morgue sexton “as a special duty and would not accept the remuneration that the state provides for this, he preferring his work to be a service of love. Even at the beginning of his last illness when the body of a comrade was brought to the morgue Mr. Campau arose from his bed and performed the usual service to the dead, permitting no one else to do his work while he remained alive. This was his last service, as he was placed back in his bed from which he never arose.”

Mr. Campau [continued the paper] was in many ways a remarkable old man. He was a loyal patriot, a devout Catholic, and he was devoted to the memories of the past. The quaint little room in which he lived at the home was in a way an expression of the odd personality of its occupant. He had one end of the reception room just across the hall from the morgue, his personal apartment being separated by a white curtain. He also held the office of sacristan of the Catholic chapel and along the walls of his rooms were pictures of the stations of the cross, while at the end of the room was the altar that was used at the services, but carefully covered with white canvas when not in use. All about his rooms were ecclesiastical pictures hung among war relics and military badges. Everywhere in the chapel-like room the church and the nation were given a prominence which indicated the importance and influence they held in the life of this man. Everything in the room was in perfect order, showing the extreme care which Mr. Campau took of everything pertaining to him. Among his treasures was a silver 2-branch candlestick with a crucifix, which was used when he and his sister took their first communion, many years ago. The partly burned candles remained just as they were on that far-off day. The candlestick with other silver relics were kept in a little cabinet near the head of his bed. In another cabinet were a few china dishes and table silver carefully wrapped as any good housekeeper would have them, for he often brought his meals to his room and often he entertained the priest there when he conducted services at the home. Among these treasures was a tiny crucifix which belonged to his aunt, Sophie de M. C. and a cane which belonged to his uncle Louis C. A photograph of Louis and Sophie and a framed reproduction of the Campau crest hangs among the religious and military pictures and relics. The quaint little room is an expression of a lonely but not unhappy life.

Adolphe never married.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association as well as Grand Army of the Republic Champlin Post No. 29 in Grand Rapids, a Catholic and he received pension no. 483,087 dated January 1884; also no. 833,568.

He died of “senility” at the Home on May 7, 1909, at 12:10 p.m., although his obituary wrote that “Mr. Campau's last illness was caused when he was struck by a street car several weeks before his death; he apparently failed to hear its approach on account of his extreme deafness. Although not a serious injury, apparently it resulted in an abscess in the head which caused his death. Mr. Campau's sister, Mrs. Danforth, arrived from Detroit too late to see him before he died.”

The funeral services were held at St. Alphonsus church and he was buried on May 10 in St. Andrews cemetery: the Campau lot, old section, no. 1, lot no. 25 grave 6 (1-25-6).

George W. Blain

George W. Blain was born September 12, 1843, in Gaines, Kent County, Michigan, the son of Joseph (b. 1812-1882) and Emmaline (Robinson, b. 1812).

New York natives Joseph and Emmaline or Emeline were probably married in New York and moved from New York to Michigan sometime before 1840 when their oldest child, Joseph, was born. They eventually settled in Gaines, Kent County where George lived until the war broke out. In fact he was living with his family and attending school in Gaines in 1850 and by 1860 he was working as a farm laborer and still living with his family in Gaines (where his father owned nearly $5000 worth of real estate). His father had apparently remarried New York native named Amanda (b. 1812)

George stood 5’6” with hazel eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion, and was an 18-year-old farmer probably living in Gaines when he enlisted with his father’s consent in Company K on February 26, 1862, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered the same day. George may not have joined the regiment until June when he was first reported present with the company. In any case he was present for duty through the end of the year.

According to Alfred Pelton, who was tentmate of George’s and who also served in Company K, “about the middle of December 1862, while near Falmouth,” Virginia, George “began for the first time to have falling or epileptic fits; he would get [up] right in the middle of the night and act . . . like a mad man and when we could get him awake he would be all of a tremble and entirely exhausted and so weak he could hardly sit up. I saw him have these fits many times while we tented together and he became so bad he was sent to hospital near Falmouth.”

George was absent sick in the hospital from January of 1863 (probably January 3 or 15), suffering from “bronchial neuralgia”, and he remained absent through April and returning to duty on or about May 7 when he was reported serving at Brigade headquarters from May through July.

George reenlisted on February 15, 1864, at Camp Bullock near Culpeper, Virginia, crediting the Fifth Ward of Grand Rapids, and was absent with leave from February 27. He very likely went home on a thirty-day veteran’s furlough, rejoining the regiment around the first of April, possibly not until April 3. In any case he was present for duty by the time the regiment became engaged in the battle of the Wilderness, Virginia, on May 5. George reported later that on May 6 he had to assist badly wounded Lieutenant Milton Leonard off the field and to the field hospital. He was transferred to Company I, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, was reported as a Corporal on June 1, 1865, and mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war George returned to Kent County where he lived the remainder of his life, and worked for many years as a farmer. He was living in Gaines from about 1865 until 1870 when he moved to Ada, Kent County; in fact in 1870 he was working as a farm laborer and/or living with the Kellogg family in Gaines.

He was married to Michigan native Catharine “Kate” O’Connor (1845-1915), on February 19, 1872, at St. Andrews church in Grand Rapids, and they had at least two children: a daughter, Mary F. (Mrs. F. W. Mooney, b. 1878) and a son, Rev. John Blain (b. 1875).

In November of 1874 he left Ada and moved to Paris, Kent County, where he was living until April of 1877 when he settled in Walker, Kent County. He was working as a farmer and living with his wife and two children in Walker in 1880 and remained in Walker until at least 1881. By 1880 (?) they were residing at 36 Spring Street in Grand Rapids. From 1875 through 1879 and again in 1885 he may have also resided in Bowen Station, Kent County, although he was apparently living in Grand Rapids in 1888 and from 1893 through 1896. In 1906 he was living in Crosby (presumably located in Kent County), but by 1907 had returned to Grand Rapids where he was living in 1909 when he returned to Crosby and was living there in 1910, returning to Grand Rapids the following year.

George was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, a Catholic and he received pension no. 424,809, drawing $4.00 per month in 1889.

He was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 6521) as a widower on November 16, 1913.

George died of apoplexy at the Home and paralysis at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday July 15, 1915, just three months after his wife died. His body was sent to St. Francis’ mortuary, and the funeral service was held at St. Andrews on Saturday morning, July 17 at 8:00 a.m. He was buried in St. Andrews cemetery, new section 1, 10-3.