Oscar Ezekiel Woodmancy - update 8/22/2016

Oscar Ezekiel Woodmancy was born February 8, 1836, in Ionia County, Michigan.

By 1850 Oscar was living with the Ezra Spencer family in Otisco, Ionia County. In 1860 there was one Oscar Woodman working as a farm laborer and living with the family in Berlin (Saranac), Ionia County. Oscar may have been related to one Miles Woodmansee (b. 1821) who probably lived in Barry County and who was buried in Riverside cemetery, Hastings, Barry County (see photo G-774).

Oscar stood 5’6” with gray eyes, dark hair and a light complexion, and was a 23-year-old farmer probably living in Ionia County when he enlisted in Company D on May 13, 1861. (Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County.) Oscar was a Sergeant and absent sick in August of 1862, but but soon afterwards he was reduced to the ranks and in September was reported a Private serving in the ambulance corps through July of 1863. However, he was a Sergeant again by December 24, 1863, when he reenlisted at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Boston, Ionia County, and was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough, probably in Ionia County, in January of 1864.

Oscar probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February when he was listed as absent sick and he was serving with the ambulance train in March and April. He was still on “detached service,” probably with the ambulance corps, when he was transferred as a Sergeant to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. He remained on detached service through October, and indeed probably until he was discharged for chronic diarrhea on January 15, 1865, at Petersburg, Virginia.

Dr. Henry Lyster, Surgeon for the Fifth Michigan infantry wrote that Woodmancy was suffering from “a generally debilitated and emaciated condition in consequence of chronic diarrhea. This soldier has suffered from this disease to a greater or lesser extent for two years though he has not been constantly disabled until within the last six months. His duties have latterly been very light but his disease has not yielded either to diet or medicine. In my opinion he is in danger of death by remaining in the service.”

Oscar returned to Michigan after his discharge from the army; he listed Ionia, Ionia County as his mailing address on his discharge paper.

He married Michigan native Lillian Randall (1850-1930) and they had at least one child: Fred (1867-1930).

By 1870 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and son in Berlin (now Saranac), Ionia County. By 1871, however he had moved west to Colorado County, Texas. In 1874 he was living in Colorado County, Texas when he was arrested for “playng cards in public” and was still living in Columbus, Colorado County, Texas in 1877. Oscar lived variously in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma territory.

In 1880 Lillian was working as a seamstress and she and her son Frederick were living with the J. Bracey family in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas.

In 1907 Oscar was reportedly living in Washunga, Kay County, Oklahoma territory.

By 1910 Oscar was working as a laborer and living with his wife in Flatonia, Fayette County, Texas.

In 1865 Oscar applied for and received a pension (no. 143801).

Oscar died on May 22, 1922, May 22, 1918 or May 24, 1919, in Flatonia, Fayette County, Texas, and was buried in Oakhill Cemetery, Flatonia. (His son Fred died in San Antonio in 1930 and his widow died in 1930 in Texas; both are reportedly buried in Flatonia, Texas.)

His wife Lillie received a widow’s pension (no. 607672).

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).

Jackson Russell Meeks update 10/18/2016

Jackson R. “Jack” Meeks was born in 1836 in New York, probably the son of New York natives Michael (1802-1887) and Mary (b. 1805).

Between 1835 and 1840 the family moved to Pennsylvania and by 1850 Michael was working as a farmer in McKean County, Pennsylvania. “Jack” (who was probably listed as “Russell”) was living with his family and attending school in 1850 in McKean. The family was still living in Mckean in 1860 and in 1864. By the time the war broke out, however, Jack had moved to western Michigan from Eldred, McKean County, Pennsylvania.

Jack stood 5’8” with hazel eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion and was a 25-year-old lumberman probably living in Crockery, Ottawa County when he enlisted as a Musician in Company I on May 13, 1861.

In early 1862 Jack found himself in a rather difficult situation. Captain Stephen Lowing of Company I wrote home on January 5, 1862, asking his brother-in-law Franklin Bosworth in Georgetown, Ottawa County if Clarinda Bement, the sister of Harley Bement, also of Company I, “is in trouble by Jack Meeks” and is “she likely to become a town charge? If so, I will hold on to him. He wants to get transferred to some other Regiment, for the purpose of not coming home.” (Whatever became of this potentially thorny problem is unknown, although in 1868 Clarinda (1842-1906) did marry Amos Utter.)

Jack was described as a fun-loving sort of fellow. On May 3, Lowing wrote home that “Last night a part of our company was dancing cotillion at the sound of a violin played by Jack Meeks, while shells were laying on our position. . . .” By mid-summer Meeks was on detached service, probably with the Brigade Quartermaster’s department, and was driving an ambulance from July of 1862 through March of 1863. In July he was injured while driving a team of horses. According to Jack, “on or about the 1st day of July, 1863 [probably 1862], near Falmouth Va, while driving a medical supply wagon, having been detached for aid duty, while passing through the company streets of the 37th [New York], the horses that were driving the wagon became frightened, and in attempting to hold them the off horse became restive and kicked me on the right knee fracturing the cap of the knee.” Meeks claimed he “was sitting on front of said wagon at the time [and] that he was treated for said injury by Dr. [Walter] Morrison who was regimental surgeon, and that he was unable thereafter to perform military duty.”

Jack was treated in the Regimental hospital and by November was in the First Division hospital, and was still absent sick in December of 1862. He was admitted to the Regimental hospital on February 28, 1863, with “wound of knee,” was returned to duty March 18, 1863, and probably readmitted for the same wound (noted in the records as an “incised wound”) to the Regimental hospital and then sent to the Division hospital sometime in April of 1863. He returned to duty on May 11, 1863, and in June and July was in the ambulance corps. By January of 1864 he was a teamster in the Brigade wagon train, and admitted to the Regimental hospital on February 25, 1864, with intermittent fever.

Jack returned to duty March 6, but on May 11 was admitted to Emory hospital in Washington, DC, suffering from chronic rheumatism. He was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.

Following his release from the army Jack settled in Steuben County, New York.

Jack was probably married to Pennsylvania native Susan (b. 1847) and they had at least one child: Jela (b. 1867).

It is quite likely that Jack and his wife were living in Pennsylvania in 1867. In 1870 he listed himself as “Russell” Meeks, born in Pennsylvania, working as a farm laborer and living with his wife and daughter in Rathboneville, Steuben County. By February of 1876 he was residing in Rathbonville, Steuben County. (His parents were living in Ravenna, Muskegon County in 1870.) However, he had returned to western Michigan by 1877, when he applied for and received a pension (no. 150,195), and was probably living in Ravenna, Muskegon County where for for some years he worked as a lumberman. (His father Michael was living in Ravenna in 1880.)

By 1883 and again in mid-1888, he was living in Henrietta, Clay County, Texas, when he sought an increase of his pension (he was drawing $4.00 per month in September of 1889). Curiously, in February of 1893 he was dropped for “failure to claim,” and apparently his pension went “unclaimed three years.”

Jerome F. Briggs update 10/18/2016

Jerome F. Briggs was born around 1843 in Fulton, Oswego County, New York, the son of Vermonters Hiram (b. 1814) and Mary (b. 1822).

Hiram may have been living in Caledonia County, Vermont in 1840. Hiram moved his family to Michigan sometime between 1845 and 1848, and by 1850 Jerome was attending school with his younger sister Lydia and residing with his family in Dallas Township, Clinton County, Michigan. By 1860 Jerome was living with his older sister Lydia and they were both living with the John Parks family on a farm in Dallas just a few doors away from Hiram and his family.

Jerome stood 5’6” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was 18 years old and working as a farm laborer in Clinton County, probably the Dallas area, when he enlisted at the age of 18 in Company D on May 13, 1861. (Interestingly Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County.)

He was present for duty with his company during the battles of Williamsburg in early May of 1862 and Fair Oaks on May 31. He suffered an injury to one of his ankles when a “cannon wagon” ran over his foot on or about July 1, 1862, near Charles City crossroads, and was captured at White Oak Swamp, Virginia, that same day. (He was first reported reported absent sick in August of 1862 and then missing in action on September 21, 1862 at Washington, DC.) He was confined at Belle Isle prison in Richmond and admitted to the prison hospital upon arrival, where he remained until he was paroled at Aiken’s Landing on September 13. According to the Richmond Dispatch of September 15, 1862,

Three thousand three hundred of the Yankee prisoners left Richmond on Saturday for Varina to be exchanged. – Such as could not walk were conveyed away in wagons. The officers, of which there were 61, went in carriages, provided for the purpose. As the long line filed past the C. S. Prison, on Cary Street, they greeted their less lucky compeers with a feeble cheer. A small cavalry escort accompanied them down. Another large gang were started for Aiken’s landing, on James River, yesterday morning. During Saturday and Sunday five thousand two hundred and twenty-eight were sent away. This leaves on hand only about seven hundred, a good many of whom are in the hospital under treatment for wounds or disease, who were unable to bear removal. Three Yankee women and eight Yankee deserters, or rather men who came over to us and professed to be such, were sent from Castle Thunder. Though these deserters professed to have left their brethren in great disgust, they were very willing to be sent back to the North. The departure of the prisoners will save the Confederate Government an expense of about $4,000 per day, which was the average that their food as soldiers cost.

Jerome was reported to the paroled prisoner detachment at Camp Banks, Virginia on November 17, 1862.

Jerome was sick in the hospital from November through December, and discharged on January 19, 1863, at Camp Banks for loss of power in the right leg from a compound fracture of the tibia, which resulted from the accident which occurred in July of 1862.

After he left the army Jerome resided in New York state then in Michigan (Hiram and his family were still living in Dallas, Clinton County, in 1870), finally settling in Dallas, Texas, where he was living by late May of 1884 when he applied for a pension (no. 516,917), but the certificate was never granted.

He married Ermine Louck in Cleburne, Texas.

Jerome reportedly died in Dallas, Texas, probably in the summer of 1884, and was presumably buried there.

In December of 1913 Ermine applied for a pension in August of 1884 (claim no. 774,119), based presumably on Jerome’s war service, but the certificate was never granted; Ermine remarried civil war veteran James McCammon and she eventually applied for and received a widow’s pension (no. 571,557) based on his service. In December of 1913 Ermine now listed as Ermine Louck was living in Fort Worth, Texas when she applied for a pension (no. 1019875) based on Jerome’s military service but the certificate was never granted