Albert Ferguson in the Civil War

Posted on: March 18th, 2007

Albert A. Ferguson enlisted in Ridgeway, PA as a Private in the Union Army and fought in the I Co., 16th PA Cavalry Regiment from 7 Mar 1865 to 11 Aug 1865. There is another record for an Albert A. Ferguson enlisted as a Sergeant in New York from 1862 until 1864, but that man was 5-10 years younger than our Albert, a higher rank, and there is no record of that service in our Albert’s pension file. I do not think it was the same Albert Ferguson. It is only the Pennsylvania service that is listed on our Albert’s gravestone in Union Cemetery in Oak Harbor.

During the time that Albert was enlisted in the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry the regiment was stationed in Virginia and armed with the Spencer repeater. The Appotamax Campaign (for maps see Wikipedia article) was to be the army’s last and the cavalry was engaged in battles almost every day from the end of March through the first week of April as they forced the retreat of the Confederate Army towards Appomattox. There were at least 6 men from the 16th PA Cavalry killed and 39 wounded during this 10 day period. Battles were as follows:

  • Battle at Jerusalem Plank Road, Virginia on 28 March 1865
  • Battle at Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia on 31 March 1865
  • Battle at Five Forks, Virginia on 01 April 1865
  • Battle at Five Forks, Virginia on 02 April 1865
  • Battle at White Oak Road, Virginia on 02 April 1865
  • Battle at Amelia Springs, Virginia on 05 April 1865
  • Battle at Sailor’s Creek, Virginia on 06 April 1865
  • Battle at Farmville, Virginia on 07 April 1865
  • Battle at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on 09 April 1865.

It was after the battle of Appomattox that General Lee surrendered his army and the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry was there to assist in the surrender of many enemy troops. Following the surrender, one account says the regiment was sent to Danville, VA (April 23-29). Another account says “the command returned to Petersburg, but was soon after led to the North Carolina border, to the support of Sherman. Hostilities having ceased, soon after, it again returned to Petersburg” (Pennsylvania in the Civil War). The surrender at Appomattox is generally seen as the beginning of the end of the Civil War. While there were other generals still fighting that spring, once Lee had surrendered the spirit of the Confderate Army was broken. By June the remaining troops had surrendered and the war was truly over. The 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry spent their post-fighting months in Lynchburg, VA where they had duty assisting in the takeover of the Confederate government and “preserving order”. When they were finished in Lynchburg the regiment went to Richmond, where they were disbanded (mustered out) on August 11, 1865 (or August 7th). Albert Ferguson states that he was discharged in Harrisburg, PA.

In his pension file, Albert Ferguson states that during August in Lynchburg he suffered from exposure and “contracted yellow jaundice which settled in his back and kidneys causing disease of the kidneys.” In several affidavits, neighbors who knew him both before and after the war attested to the change in his health as a result of the 5 months he spent fighting for the Union Army. All accounts say that he was unable to perform his job as a farmer following the war because his disability hindered his physical tolerance for manual labor.

Bibliography “Albert Ferguson in the Civil War:”

Albert Ferguson Civil War Pension File – obtained from the National Archives

American Civil War Research Database at Ancestry.com – List of battles fought by 16th PA Cavalry during the spring and summer of 1865

Civil War Archive – List of battles fought by16th PA Cavalry and casualties

Pennsylvania in the Civil War– roster for 16th PA Cavalry, detailed account of battles fought, and casualtie

Wikipedia – article on the Appomattox Campaign in cluding maps

The Ferguson’s America

Posted on: March 18th, 2007

After the War of 1812 and several harsh winters devastated parts of New England, families began migrating to the west in increasing numbers. From watching the Fergusons in the census (1820-1850), it is interesting to note that they did not remain on one family farm for several decades as they might have. Every 10 years they are in a different location, moving south at a snail’s pace. One wonders what prompted them to keep moving. One thing is certain though, sometime between 1850 and 1853, they left Vermont and traveled west to lands formerly known as the “Connecticut Western Reserve.”

The “Connecticut Western Reserve” in Ohio was the last remnant of land formerly owned by Connecticut in Pennsylvania and other western points. The state sold the land in Ohio to investors who formed the Connecticut Land Company at the end of the 18th century. During the beginning of the 19th century many towns were settled, including Ashtabula, OH. The years between 1816 and 1850 saw large numbers of New Englanders moving to this area, following railroad company advertising, the promise of better farm land, and an escape from a depressed (?) or progressively more industrial (?) economy. At the turn of the 19th century, this section of Ohio (and Erie Co., PA) were mostly wilderness, marked by intense conflict with local native americans and a lack of roads and other amenities. However, as one article says (Ancestry.com) “By the 1850s the exodus from New England had reached such proportions that some began to fear the total abandonment of the region.” Many families did not stop in Ohio, but followed the frontier west. By the time the Fergusons arrived in Ashtabula Co., OH and Erie Co., PA settlement of the area was 50 years underway. It was no longer the frontier, and whether this had been their destination when they set out from Vermont or whether they reached the area and found it to their liking, they found reason to stay along the edge of Lake Erie and settle in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Albert Ferguson and his brother-in-law Jeremiah Frost moved their families further west to Ottawa Co., OH between 1861 and 1870, perhaps about 1862. Ottawa Co. was formed in 1840. The railroad came to the county in 1852 and there seem to be lots of churches and villages in the county being founded and incorporated in the 1860s and 1870s. We do not know why the Fergusons and Frosts moved to Ottawa Co., but we do know that development moved steadily west and perhaps Ottawa Co. beckoned with more land available.

Bibliography for “The Ferguson’s America”

Ancestry.com – Article titled New England’s Migration Fever: The Expansion of America

1878 History of Ashtabula County – Describes early history, conflict with Native Americans, and the development of roads and railroads.

1884 History of Erie Co., PA – Describes early history, conflict with Native Americans, and the development of the area.

Oplin.org – Site regarding Ohio history, including maps on the migration to, demographics of, economy of, etc. the Western Reserve.

Ottawa Co. usgenweb site – Provides a timeline of the county history and links to other county resources.

US State Department– Article titled USIA – Portrait of the USA, Chapter 2

Wikipedia.org – Article about the Connecticut Western Reserve

“Bound Out”

Posted on: March 18th, 2007

The term “bound out” appears to have at least two meanings. It is used in reference to orphanage adoptions from the early 1800s. It is also used in reference to towns providing care for poor children and families by “binding out” the children as apprentices to local families. Vermont did have laws which required the town to care for the poor and regularly “bound out” children as apprentices. I do not know in what context Albert Ferguson was “bound out.” In any case, he remains close to his adopted family long after they leave Vermont and after he comes of age so it appears that his adoption was more than apprenticeship, at least in spirit. Ambrose was a shoemaker according to the census records. None of the children followed in his footsteps as they are all listed as farmers or laborers.

Sources

Caring for the Poor: Thetford and the Baker Family (1792 – 1817) – References regulations regarding caring for the poor in Vermont.

Various US Census records

Albert Ferguson pension file

Children of Albert Ferguson and Malvina Frost

Posted on: March 18th, 2007

Albert A. Ferguson

b. 30 Dec 1831 or 1832 Woodstock, Windsor Co., VT

d. 27 Dec 1909 probably Toledo, Lucas Co., OH

m. 28 Apr 1861 East Springfield, Erie Co., PA

Malvina Frost

b. 1842/1843 (probably Allegany Co.), NY

d. Sep 1888 Oak Harbor, Ottawa Co., OH

Children:

Emma (1862 – ) m. August Brandes

Orville (Aug 1866 – )

Anna May (20 Sep 1868) m. William Bredbeck

Atta “Nattie” (19 May 1874 – 21 Oct 1880)