Friday, June 1, 2012

John Henry Wemple

My 3rd great grandfather John Henry Wemple is somewhat of a mystery to me and he really should be since his family is readily traceable to early colonial America times of the mid 17th century. Some even have traced his line back to his immigrant ancestor who came from the Netherlands and if that is true, they would be my first such ancestor from that country.

John was born in Elbridge, New York in 1839 and soon after moved with his family to Turtle, Wisconsin in search of better lands. As soon as he was of age, John set off by himself to Mission Creek in the then Kansas Territory where he bought $100 worth of land and set up his own farm. What became of the farm I know not but less than four years later, he enlisted in the U.S. Army on February 24, 2864 from his old stomping grounds in Wisconsin and set off with the Company F of the 35th Wisconsin Infantry to fight in the Civil War.

The regiment left Milwaukee on April 18th and after stopping in St. Louis to get outfitted, arrived at the mouth of the Red River on May 1rst where they were supposed to get transportation elsewhere. They couldn't and so headed on south to New Orleans. They were ordered back north and once again arrived at the mouth of the Red River on May 7th where they remained until June 26th doing guard duty.

For the next several months they moved north towards Missouri mostly on scouting missions and doing guard duty. I imagine life in camp was pretty dull. Finally on October 1, 1964, the regiments was sent to Simmsport on the Atchafalya River where they got to participate in several skirmishes. But that excitement was short lived and they soon went into winter quarters and there my 3rd great grandfather entered the hospital for dysentery during what was called the "sickly season" along with 200 other men from the regiment and remained until late spring of 1865. There he missed several notable battles that his regiment fought in such as the siege of Spanish Fort. After he left the hospital in late May and reentered service, John Wemple's regiment headed south to the Gulf where it was reported that the men "sported upon the coast gathering sea shells and salt water curiosities." It is nice to know that the war wasn't all a matter of life and death.

The 35th was then sent to Texas where they spent the rest of their time around Brownsville pulling guard duty until they were discharged on March 15th, 1866. Ten days later they were on their way to Wisconsin and disbanded. My 3rd great grandfather evidently didn't stick around for a year and a half later he was married to my 3rd great grandmother Melissa R. Pritchard in Parkersburg, Iowa on Christmas day 1867. Nine months later their first daughter Winnie was born.

Most of this information so far is from census records and military regiment records and very little of it is personal to John Henry Wemple. On my other Civil War ancestors, I was able to piece together lots of information from their subsequent pension and/or disability records but this isn't the case of John. A decade after he was married, and less than a year after his second and last daughter and also my 2nd great grandmother Maude Wemple was born, he died of pneumonia which he got from a severe case of bronchitis. He was only 37 years old and the first of my Civil War ancestors to die. His disability records only list that he had a severe cough after returning from the war and that he wasn't able to work fully because of it. The pension records are also very brief and I suspect that is because my 3rd great grandmother Melissa remarried a couple years later after John's death and thus was ineligible.

Some side notes for thoughts.

After John's death, my 3rd great grandmother married a man with the first name of Wells. Her daughter with John Wemple, Maude, would marry my 2nd great grandfather William Wells. Though born in Iowa, they are only one of two sets of my 2nd great grandparents who weren't buried in Iowa. Maude and William Wells would end up planted out west in Colorado. William Wells's father Leander Wells is another one of my Civil War ancestors whom I have yet to research yet but whom eventually deserted the army while his brother Philander would go on to obtain the rank of Captain and was a hero of sorts.

John Henry Wemple was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Parkersburg, Iowa. A month before a planned trip up to that area to try and find John's gravestone, an F-5 tornado wiped it out along with half the town. It is reported that the tornado ripped up gravestones and hurled them up to a half mile away. Although I have heard that the cemetery has been 'fixed', I haven't heard if all the gravestones have been returned and I haven't been back up in that direction. I am planning a trip next month up to that area to research another Civil War ancestor and genealogical brick wall in my family tree whom I've blogged much about over the years so if I have time, I may swing out to the cemetery to see if I can find John's grave. I may see if I can uncover more information on John.


sage said...

You seem to have a lot of information from census and war records--enough you could almost write a novel about your ancestors in the war.

On another note, do you have any idea why my updates are not happening in folks blogroll? I haven't posted a lot lately, but the last several posts have not been showing up.

Ed said...

Sage - In the old blogger, there was a setting that allowed you to post but wouldn't update anyone's blogroll. With the new templates, I'm not sure. If you go to Settings and select Other, there is a setting in there to control Blog Feed. If it is set to None, that might be the problem.

Vince said...

@ Sage, you've changed how you are posting. You are not attaching to the roll. Go in through mine not having logged in yourself, you'll see only one post.

@Ed; You packed in one hell of an amount of pure hate in so few words when you write on the movements of that Regiment of soldiers. It's like a true rendering of The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Ed said...

Sage - I really think one could write a novel about ancestors in the Civil War but there are so many books on the subject and because it deals with my ancestors, the appeal to a broad public might be limited.

Vince - Reading regimental histories is a pretty interesting endeavor. I have gone from believing that they just moved from one major battle to the next to realizing that the large majority of their time was guarding things and organizing camps.

Vince said...

True enough. But they were hardly the happy well mannered chaps of the USAREUR. Nor were they, especially in that hind teat theatre, getting shipments from the east and north. So basically any post was like a huge soak of materiel for a two day ride in any direction. More or less creating a virtual scorched earth buffer zone between one protagonist and the other. That was one of the reason why the real hats existed in the very marginal area up in the Ozarks. Should a company of 20 troops spend a week on a scavenge they create a famine in their wake immediately or within a few months. But to have it happen year on year to people that were far from slave owners and were largely sympathetic to the ideals of their coreligionists further north was a thin gruel indeed.

R. Sherman said...

Good stuff. Most of my family's Civil War history is-ahem-clouded, undoubtedly because of some associations later determined to be unsavory.

Especially to Kansans.