I have mentioned my 95-years-young cousin Gus before. He had all the pages of his mother’s scrapbook scanned and copies sent to me. What a gift! Among the newspaper clippings was an obituary “Death of Mrs. Samuel Herbert”. Mrs. Samuel Herbert was born Jane Lewis. The notice mentions that she was predeceased by her brother, John Lewis, who died in Andersonville Prison. This was news to me – I had never heard this before.
I checked www.Ancestry.com for John Lewis and found 2 possible suspects in the Andersonville Prisoner of War database but no exact match. There were also a number of John Lewis’ named in the US Army, Register of Enlistments database but again no exact match. So I wondered did he really die at Andersonville or was he just a prisoner there? I was suspicious of a newspaper account 30 years after the fact.
I went to www.Fold3.com and checked the NARA database of Civil War Pension Files of Veterans Who Served Between 1861 and 1900. There were two men listed as John Lewis that requested pensions on their own behalf as invalids: John Lewis, Private, Illinois, Infantry, Regiment 90, Company D and John Lewis, Corporal, Illinois Infantry, Regiment 111, Company H. Another request was from the mother of John Lewis, Private, Illinois Infantry, Regiment 39, Company K who died at Andersonville Prison on September 23, 1864. This last one looked promising, but was it really MY John Lewis?
I went to check www.cyberdriveillinois.com for Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls. In the Illinois regiments listing I found over 25 men named John Lewis on the muster rolls, including the three from the pension database. I was able to see (and save) the Illinois Civil War Detail report on my three suspects. This detail report includes Name, Rank, Residence, Age, Height, Hair and Eye color, Complexion, Marital status, Occupation, Location of birth; when and where they joined; where and when they mustered in and out of service; and remarks including notes about discharge and where they were taken prisoner. I was able to verify that the John Lewis who died in Andersonville Sep 23, 1864 was my 3rd great-grand-uncle. His remarks showed that he was “taken prisoner May 16, 1864 at Drury’s Bluff, Virginia”. He is the first documented Civil War soldier in my family tree!
Your Cousin Caron