Tag Archives: Civil War

Fascinating historical tidbits from yesteryear, including Civil War veteran imposters — in 1867!

Stolen Valor
I’ve watched a few videos on YouTube of people exposing gentlemen who parade around in military uniforms pretending to be active soldiers or veterans, but who are clearly posers. Yet, I never thought about the history of this quest for fake valor and glory.

Despite the fact that scoundrels have been trying to take advantage ever since the dawn of man, it surprised me to read about men parading about among Civil War veterans with the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) back in 1867 in Moline, Illinois.

1867 — 150 years ago: Several men were seen in the GAR parade today wearing badges that were never in United States service. They were bogus soldiers.

Horse & Buggy
I have a few ancestors who had accidents of their own with horse and buggy, including some fatal ones.

1892 — 125 years ago: Considerable damage was caused by two vehicles when the horse and buggy driven by Mrs. Catherine Farrell collided with another buggy.

Agent Holmes
1917 — 100 years ago: Agent Holmes of the Milwaukee Railroad recovered his valuable Irish setter after the dog strayed and was absent several days.

Reading about Agent Holmes made me think of Sherlock. I’ve been a fan of him and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle since being introduced to the stories when I was kid. Then came Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke on television. Brett was the prefect Sherlock Holmes and Hardwicke was terrific as Dr. Watson. Until Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, I did not think anyone could or would match these two.

The Army Air Corps
Before the Air Force, there was the Army Air Corps. A day or so ago, I looked up my favorite Frank Sinatra flick, Von Ryan’s Express. It’s a World War II movie and a classic. Sinatra plays a character who is a pilot with the Air Corps. His plane crashes in Italy and he is captured, becoming a prisoner of war.

1942 — 75 years ago: Lt. A.S. Speed Chandler visited Rock Island to help recruit men for the Army Air Corps.

1967 — 50 years ago: The safest year on record was achieved in 1966 at the International Harvester Co’s Farmall Works in Rock Island, and as result the Farmall Works has been awarded a large trophy as the safest plant in the IHC farm division.

Farmall was a model of farm tractor. The only reason I included this last historical note is because my grandfather, Grandpa Hill, owned and used a few of these Farmall tractors. There is a bright red model H at the Whole Foods nearby.


These historical throwbacks are from the February 3, 2017 edition of the Dispatch Argus, published in Moline, Illinois.

Confederates in Bermuda

to Bermuda. I think Sean Connery lives there. Other than that, I don’t know much about the place.¹

BER_RGToday, there was a story in Bermuda’s only daily newspaper, The Royal Gazette, on Confederate blockade runners, ships that would makes attempts to get past the U.S. Navy trying to strangle Southern commerce. One of their destinations was Bermuda, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, where Lincoln and Union military might had no control.

It’d be great to read more about Confederates and other Americans in Bermuda. I’ll have to see what I can find.


1. Turns out Connery lives in the Bahamas, not Bermuda. I also thought that Alexander Hamilton was born in Bermuda. But he was born further south, in the Caribbean, on the island of Nevis.

Five Sisters


Yesterday I came across three documents¹ related to the premature death of my great-great-great grandfather John Shannon Boal. He must have known death was coming for him, because two weeks prior, on May 31ˢᵗ, 1878, he wrote up a will.

Little is known today about this branch of the family, primarily because of the untimely deaths, I think. The chain of traditions and stories being passed down from generation to generation was continually broken, which reminds me of a quote from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, a favorite of mine which I feature separately on my blog’s main page.

My great-great grandmother, Nettie Ann Boal Darling, eldest daughter of John S. Boal

“And some things
that should not have been
forgotten were lost.
History became legend.
Legend became myth.”

John’s eldest daughter, my great-great grandmother Nettie Boal, died young too, at the age of 26. His wife, her mother, died just shy of her 30th birthday. And the history, the tales, the anecdotes, went with them, sadly. I’ve been slowly, methodically gathering up what details I can.

Somehow the fact that Nettie had siblings, all sisters, had escaped the family tree that I had compiled from previous generations. I’d been working on it diligently for years, but somehow neglected this side until this year, when I discovered one sister and then another. And, now, thanks to the will, we have yet another.


Edna Boal had slipped through, unknown to us and perhaps even my great grandmother, Nettie’s daughter Geneva, who shared a middle name with her Aunt Stella. Three other sisters had passed unnoticed, too, for years: Estella, Blanche, and Jennie. Somehow they had been forgotten.

Nettie’s daughter Geneva Estella Darling Hay, my great grandmother & granddaughter of John Boal

After I asked Grandma about Nettie’s sisters, she did recount what she knew. My grandmother remembers her mother telling her about visiting Aunt Blanche in California, when she took a trip west to see her younger brother Walter. But that’s about all we know. That’s it.

John apparently served during the Civil War. But I’ve been unable to find any record that he did.

It’s sad. These people, relatives, and their stories have been lost. One of my goals is to get back as much as we can, to restore their lives in our memories.


  1. I will be writing about the other two documents, probate records involving the administration of John Boal’s estate and the care of the five children, and uploading them later.

1865 — A.D.


Even while serving during the Civil War, taxes still had to be paid.

This is the 1865 tax assessment of the grandfather, A. D. Foster, of my great-great grandmother, Nettie Ann Boal. His full name is Azariah Doane Foster. He served in Company C of the 63rd Ohio Infantry Regiment. When my great-great grandmother’s parents died, Azariah and his wife took on the task of raising the granddaughters: Jennie, Stella and Nettie. Decades later Stella still used the name Foster as the name of her parents, despite the fact that her birth name was Boal.

A distant cousin has written a book on Azariah’s grandfather, Ichabod. When I get a chance I will be reading it.


The battle flag of the 103rd regiment.

Today — Memorial Day — one of the men I’m remembering is Hiram Goodell, one of my great great uncles.

He joined up with the 103rd Illinois Infantry Volunteers during the Civil War, serving in Company D. While in Tennessee he came down with dysentery, like many of his comrades. He apparently died in a makeshift army hospital in Memphis in December of 1863, leaving behind a wife, Elizabeth Frances, and three surviving children, and was, or may have been, buried in Fairview Cemetery, Dyer County, Tennessee. I’m still working on confirming these details.

Hiram was a farmer who lived in Cass Township, Fulton County, Illinois. He was about my height, five feet, nine and a quarter inches tall. He had blue eyes, brown hair which he often kept long, flowing over his ears, and a full beard with a neatly trimmed mustache.

His brothers, James and Levi, served as well, in the 55th Illinois, but thankfully survived the war.

I’ve written about Hiram, and others who have served, before. I’m trying to make a tradition out of it, writing every Memorial Day about family who made that ultimate sacrifice.


250 Years Ago Today — March 17, 1764

Londonderry, Ulster/Northern Ireland
On St. Patrick’s Day in 1764, somewhere in Ireland, a little baby boy was born. He was christened James. Born to a man named Boal and a mother whose name is lost.

It was a Saturday. An ocean away, in British North America, New York City had just begun the tradition of celebrating the day, the first five years without a parade.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, life went on for James. He became a linen and carpet weaver, trades probably learned from his father. James wed in 1787.

James left for America in 1790 with his wife Elizabeth and two children, Margaret and George. They left from Londonderry in the North.

ireland_mapBeing poor, “the trip was made by the cheapest passage.”

It was not a pleasant journey.

“The voyage of three months was a stormy one, during which the ship sprang a leak, and much of the cargo, including some of the goods belonging to the Boal family, was thrown overboard.”

They were devout Presbyterians.

At least one grandson of James, John Shannon Boal, fought in the Civil War.

I doubt James could fathom the chain of events he had instigated with his decision to leave Ireland. How could he foresee that a descendant would write about him on the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of his birth and that the day, a truly Irish one, would be so widely celebrated?


The Battle of Shiloh

On April 7, 1862, Union soldiers led by General Ulysses S. Grant defeated Confederates at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee. The 55th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, in which two of my relatives served, was part of the battle. These two, Levi and James Goodell, had a younger brother named Hiram who joined a different outfit, the 103rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. All three were farmers.

During Shiloh, the 55th was in the Second Brigade commanded by David Stuart, the 55th’s commanding officer. The Second Brigade was part of Sherman‘s division during the battle.

Levi Goodell, a great-great-great uncle, was a private in Company D of the 55th. At the time he signed up, on October 8, 1861, he was living in Casstown, Fulton County, Illinois. (I am assuming Casstown is Cass Township.)

He was a young man, 23, around six feet tall (5′ 11 or 6′ 1) with light hair. His skin was a light complexion and his eyes were a grayish blue. He was a farmer, who listed his birthplace as Fulton County, Illinois.

The men met up in Chicago, Illinois to be mustered in on October 31, 1861. He probably did not realize how the war would change him and his brothers’ lives.

Their younger brother Hiram was in the 103rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He served as a private in Company D. He listed his ‘nativity’ as Milmore, Crawford County, Ohio. I’ve never heard of or seen this town mentioned before. Apparently Milmore was were Hiram was born.

Hiram joined up on August 13, 1862 in Fairview, Illinois for a period of three years. A man named J. S. Wyckoff signed him up. He and the others in his unit were mustered in at Peoria, Illinois on October 2, 1862.Sadly Hiram died on December 18, 1863 in Memphis, Tennessee from dysentery, if I recall correctly.

Meanwhile, Levi was with his comrades deep in Confederate territory. By the time Levi had re-enlisted, on March 31, 1864 at Larkins Landing, Alabama, the family had apparently moved to McDonough County, Illinois. Although at this point it must have been clear to most that the war was coming to end, he agreed to another possible three year stint.

His captain was a W. C. Porter, and he was the one who signed off on the paperwork. Another mustering in, probably much less formal than the one in Chicago, was organized on April 12, 1864 in Larkinsville, Alabama.

For some reason Levi’s brother, my great-great-great grandfather, James Goodell decided to join the 55th very late in the war, on March 21, 1865.

James was much shorter than his brother, standing a little less than 5′ 8 (5′ 7 3/4 to be precise). He was older, 36, with brown hair and blue eyes. He had been born in New York, where the family originated years before.

James was living in Lee, Fulton County, Illinois when he decided to join his brother’s unit. A Captain Westlake signed him up for a period of one year, and he was mustered in on March 21, 1865  at Mt. Sterling, Illinois.

On June 1, 1865, Levi was promoted to sergeant before both he and his brother James were mustered out on August 14, 1865 at Little Rock, Arkansas by a Captain Newcomb.

Unfortunately, Hiram’s death was not a rare event.

The Civil War claimed more than 623,000 lives, according to the U.S. Military History Institute. Forces were often deployed with outdated strategies that did not take into account advancements in weaponry. More soldiers died in the Civil War than in World War I (116,708), World War II (407,315), Korea (36,914) and Vietnam (58,169) combined.


Civil War Records

Don Gates, a cousin of mother, sent me copies of the Civil War files of four relatives in the summer of 2008.

Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2008
From: sodakdon1@cox.net
To: mrmayor@hotmail.com
Subject: Civil War Records

I have civil war records for:
— James Goodell [father of Levi Lincoln Goodell]. James was a private in Company “D” , 55th Illinois Regiment Volnteers, from march to august, 1865 (same oufit as his brother Levi L. Goodell).15 Legal size pgs. of Muster, Marriage License and Pension Records. Plus approx 20 14 in, Guardianship and pension request for Mary his daughter by 2nd wife.

— John G. Parker [father of Sarah Elizabeth, wife of Levi Lincoln Goodell]. He was a Private in Co. “F”, 123 Inf Rgmt, IL, Service from Aug 1862 until Mar 1864 when he was honorably discharged at Mooresville, AL due to ‘chronic diahrea’.23, 14″pgs of muster and pension records.

— Levi L. Goodell [brother of James]. Co. “D”, 55th IL volteers rgmt. 11, 4″ pgs of muster and pension records..

— Hiram (Hyrum) Goodell [brother of James].Co. “D” 123 Rgmt, Illinois volunteers., Aug 13, 1862 and died at Washington Military Hospital, Memphis, TN on Dec. 13, 1863 form chronic diahrea.. 16 14″ pgs of Muster and Pension records.

The best that we can determine is that Samuel Goodell served in the War of 1812

Their are records for a couple of relatives who served in the Revolutionary War.

Don Gates