Hay view from Castle

Hay view from Castle
Hay-on-Wye, Powys (formerly Breconshire), Wales. The "Town of Books" (and Vaughans!)

Friday, May 30, 2014

What If Elinor's Son-in-Law Was in the American Civil War?

He doesn't show up anywhere else and this seems to fit:

Third line down. It could very well be the John Lewis (1822) who was married to Jane Vaughan (1827) and came with Elinor and the handcarts. He showed up for rebaptism in Springville, March 1857 and then disappears from Utah records. It looks like he may have gone to California for work in the gold fields up over the Sierra passes.

This John Lewis, if a match, was drafted into the Union Army. California was a State with northern, freemen and free-soil attitudes (with the exception of a band of volunteers from LA, of course, for the Confederacy). We'll try to track down a complete military record knowing from professional experience the frustration of searches in the National Archives.

It appears he served in the 6th California "volunteer" infantry, the regiment mustering in draftees in '63 and '64 to fill-out needy companies of men. The California 6th did not go to the eastern battles staying in Northern California to keep the emigrant trails and government communications open. They had a few skirmishes with Indians while most of the time it was tramping up and around the wild rivers and mountains of the Pacific coastal regions into Oregon.

Several "John Lewises" appear in California voter registration lists after the war. I can't tell which one could be him. And there's one in Illinois who seems to have been married after the war to a much younger woman. Could he have started over again?

The one above matches because the 1863 draft took men only up to age 35 unless unmarried. Then it went to 45. So this would fit our theory that Jane Vaughan Lewis died shortly after arriving in Utah in the fall of 1856. Their son John Samuel Lewis (1848) appears to have been left behind in Springville at least until 1860, then he too disappears. Maybe by the end of the Civil War he could have been old enough, or tall enough, to slip into Union blue.

We'll keep looking but John Lewis isn't the most unique name in America, much less so in Wales.

A group of California Union recruits from Hayward.

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