Thursday, June 11, 2009


One hundred forty-eight years ago our nation went to war – the North against the South. I want to showcase a few relatives who took part in that conflict, which lasted four long years (1861-1865). As you know brother at times fought against brother, and relatives against each other. The battlegrounds were mostly in the southern states, there were advantages and disadvantages to this. On the one hand, the Rebels knew the lay of the land and the Yankees did not, but in the end their homes and cities were largely destroyed in the fighting.
One of these nine relatives was a Confederate soldier and the rest fought for the Union. There are, no doubt, more Civil War veterans in our family tree, but they haven't been discovered yet. Many times relatives influenced one another to join the fighting. In our group we have three brothers, two brothers, a father and son, and individuals. All but one of these men I have documents proving their service.

Andrew Edward Marick Rockwell our 2nd great-grandfather (through our father, Derryl) was born in Ohio and lived near Elsie, Michigan during the war. He died in Benzie County and was buried near Elsie. On his grave is a military marker which is the only “proof” he was in the Civil War, besides a photo in a family album, which “family tradition” says is him. Derryl, his great-grandson, thought the muzzleloader, now owned by Brian Kohn (Derryl's grandson), could have been the one Andrew used in the Civil War. (Shown above)

Charles Washington Rea our 3rd great-grandfather (through our mother, Nina) and his brother, Allen, joined the 79th Illinois Infantry Regiment in August 1862. Their brother, Alonzo, had joined the 5th Illinois Cavalry Regiment a year earlier and was sent to Missouri, a state with divided loyalties during the war. No doubt he wrote home about his experiences and may have influenced his brothers to decide to go to war too. Charley and Allen, with their unit, were sent South to Tennessee. Three months later Charles died of disease (pneumonia or Typhoid Fever) in Nashville, and was probably buried there near the battleground. Four years later, the Nashville National Cemetery was created and his body was moved there. Allen finished his three year tour serving in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee and then joined another unit to finish out the war serving in Georgia. All three brothers were born in Ohio, Allen and Alonzo died after the war in Missouri.

Andrew John and William Alfred Linman were brothers of our 2nd great-grandmother Lydia Linman (who married Andrew Rockwell our first soldier). Andrew and William were born in Ohio and lived near Elsie, Michigan they both joined the 1st Michigan Cavalry Regiment. They were sent immediately to Washington, D. C., where Andrew died of disease just two months after entering the army. William's and his regiment continued to march all over Virginia (just outside Washington, D. C.) for seven months. This unit participated in the Second Battle of Bull Run, Gettysburg and were at the Appomattox Courthouse when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant which ended the war. After the war William lived and died in Elsie, Michigan.

John Valentine Ruehle II and John Valentine Ruehle III were father and son. John Senior was our 2nd great-grandfather (through our step-dad Ross), he was born in Langen-Steinbach, Germany and immigrated with his parents when he was twenty years old. Though he was older than most soldiers of the time (forty-nine), he was welcomed into the army because of his experience, having served honorably in the Mexican War (1848-1849) and had also served in the militia in his hometown, Detroit, Michigan. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant Colonel and was made a Commander in the 16th Michigan Infantry Regiment in September 1861 and shortly left for Washington, D. C. His unit took part in many battles and skirmishes in the area of Virginia. In 1862 he had to resign his commission because of ill health. He returned to Detroit and retired to his farm in Hamtramck, but continued to participate in raising troops for the army. He died and is buried in Detroit.
His son John V. Ruehle III, brother of our great-grandmother, Hattie Ruehle Ford, also served honorably. He joined the 2nd Michigan Infantry Regiment and was commissioned as First Lieutenant, probably because of his experience in the Detroit Scott Guard, which his father was instrumental in starting. The 2nd was raised to answer President Lincoln's first proclamation calling for troops, April 13, 1861. It was to be a three-month unit raised from the organized volunteer state militia, but quickly became one of the first federal three year units. They served mostly in Virginia, but also were in Kentucky and Tennessee. Sometime before 1864 John Junior was promoted to Captain. He probably died in Detroit, Michigan.

Our one Confederate soldier (that we know so far) was Isaiah Seymore. Isaiah was born in North Carolina and was about thirty-one years old when the war started. The records we have (much documentation has been lost because of the destruction throughout the South) show Isaiah joined the 8th North Carolina Battalion Cavalry Regiment in February 1863, he was in what was called the Partisan Rangers, which possibly tried to protect people's property from marauders. His whole unit later became part of the 66th Infantry Regiment. I believe he served only in his home state of North Carolina during the war, yet that is basically a guess, due to scarcity of documents.

This is only a small part of the information I have collected on these men. They endured the hardships of war and being away from their families. Some were wounded or killed and never got back home. And some died of disease. They carried the things they needed on their back, which could have included food, water, eating utensils, writing materials, perhaps a Bible or a book, bedding, and sometimes they carried photos of loved ones. Not to mention their rifles and ammunition, and some carried swords. Not to mention the emotional weight of battling your own countrymen.
Whether they fought for the North or the South these men deserve our admiration and our honor.
Note: This is written from the perspective of my siblings and I, children of Derryl Leon & Nina Johnson Rockwell.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Ox Yoke

The Ox Yoke
The following was text with the ox yoke in the Elsie Historical Society Museum. Copied in 1991

This ox yoke was built about 1857 for my father, LaMott George Bates by Mr. Andrew Rockwell at Elsie, Michigan. It seems that Grandpa Bates had given his son LaMott a pair of steers so with the aid of the yoke the boy was able to train the animals to be a good driving team. He told of taking his sister Lizzie to school on a bob-sled then driving back home, putting out the animals and wading alone through the snow to his classes. But what was a son's young steers turned out to be a father's oxen as poverty decreed. Father often wondered what became of the yoke. Then years later a farmer friend delighted father by bringing him the treasured keepsake.
Bion L. Bates

Note from Kathy -- in 1991 Dad (Derryl Leon Rockwell) and I (Katherine Fae Rockwell McArthur AKA Kate) took an overnight trip to Elsie, Michigan. When Dad discovered the ox yoke built by his great-grandfather Andrew in the Elsie Historical Society Museum, he was tickled to death. It is the small one on the bottom.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

E L & Susan Taylor Rockwell Wedding Photo 1889

Proposed Biography of Elwin Linman Rockwell

My paternal great-grandfather Elwin Linman Rockwell was my dad's hero. Dad told us kids stories about his grandfather (the only grandparent he knew). Because he lived close to him, he visited his grandfather often. And he had some great memories of the man.
When I was 24 years old (a long time ago) I became interested in genealogy and family history and for the next 30 years I questioned my dad continuously about family matters. It only stopped when my dad died. I especially wanted to know more about Elwin. One time when I used his grandfather's given name, trying to keep the grandparents straight, my dad cringed and said, "Granddad must be rolling in his grave to hear you say that."
When I took a writing class in the early 80's I wrote a character sketch of Elwin, from dad's information. The teacher said it would make a great article if it was expanded, but I had no idea how to research it. Fast forward twenty-some years with more writing and genealogical searching experience, after reading a book on how to write a family history, I decided I was ready to write a Biographical narrative on Elwin's long and varied life.
I knew that first I needed to do more research, even though I had quite a lot, there were many gaps. I've been working on this about a year and I'm still not finished. I am on the lookout for any info on this man. I have searched in the courthouse, death, marriage and land records. I need to get any probate records there are. Also online I have searched census and other records. And I've spent a good deal of time searching the local newspapers.
I have photos and some family papers, such as a marriage certificate, but I would dearly love some letters and/ or correspondence or journals/diaries. If anyone has any of these items or knows where some of these are, I'd be interested. I'd be willing to share what I have collected which is considerable.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Genealogy As A Hobby

Though I started doing genealogy in 1972, I became interested when I was a child. I received a Bible as a gift when I was nine years old, and discovered Pedigree Charts. I had a great desire to fill in the one in my Bible, and asked my maternal grandmother, Adelle Seymore Johnson, what her parents names were.
She answered, "Grandpa and Grandma Seymore."
Though I was thrilled to know their surname, I wanted their given names also, but was too timid to ask her for them. I wrongly concluded it was impossible to trace my lineage.
Fast forward several years. I was living a long way from my hometown, depressed and suffering physical problems, when I picked up a woman's magazine while grocery shopping. One of the articles was a brief how-to on genealogy. This was very exciting news to me, I could learn about my ancestors. I had a deep curiosity to know those who'd gone before me, what they did, where they lived, and were they a part of the history of the United States I was so fond of.
This prodded me out of the sedentary state I'd been in, and eventually I wrote a letter of questions to Grandma Johnson. It was in the autumn and I impatiently waited for a response, but none came.
The following summer we took a trip back to Michigan and while visiting Grandma, I found she hadn't ignored me. Instead, she'd had my aunt write the answers to my questions, those she could remember. I also asked her for grandpa, Charles Cyrus Larkin "Charlie" Johnson's, family info, though he'd died three years earlier.
My aunt handed me two slips of paper with info on the front and back. Talk about excited -- those pieces of paper became so precious to me. After reading through them, I wanted to clarify some things, but didn't have time to go back to Grandma's before we left. I consoled myself that since we 'd decided to move back to Michigan, I could visit her anytime.
We spent the next two months preparing for our return trip. Just two days before we were to leave for home, Grandma died. I was glad I'd been able to visit and had asked her questions. Though disappointed I couldn't go over her answers with her, I was very thankful and appreciative of the notes she'd left me.
What a valuable lesson -- our family members are our most important asset in genealogy!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Where the Rockwells came from

In 1800 Marick Rockwell was born in Connecticut, his parents were Joab Rockwell and Elizabeth Sprague. He later moved to New York state and then to Ohio, living in both Cuyahoga and Medina Counties. On March 16, 1824 he married Margaret Johnston daughter of Edward Johnston and Margaret Timmons. They had six children between 1825 and 1842. In 1855 the family moved to Michigan, living in Shiawasse County close to the Clinton County line. Marick died October 14, 1871.
I have much more information and am willing to share what I have.