Henry Baldwin of Newark, NJ, Co. G 23rd regiment US Infantry

Laura M

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May 14, 2021
Hi everyone, I'm new to the forum.
I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction. For several years I've been trying to research my great great grandfather, Henry Baldwin, born in Newark NJ in September 1848. Family lore says that he served as a substitute in the war and was paid $200 to serve in the place of a wealthy man's son. He was 16 & was a drummer boy.
Henry doesn't show up in either the Federal census or the NJ state census records until after the Civil War, when he married my GG grandmother, Elena Hoffman, at the age of 22 or so. It just doesn't make any sense. I've had a copy of his pension record from the National Archives for a number of years, and I did learn a few things I hadn't known before, such as his parents' names, John and Mary, who were also supposedly born in NJ. I knew that NJ didn't begin keeping birth records until 1848, and I've looked through every single one and can't find a match. I believe there were a John & Mary Baldwin who had a son, Henry E., in 1848, but he's the wrong guy.
I've pored through every page of this pension record trying to find any clues that might possibly help me find info on my ancestor, and I'm completely stuck. I've looked through lists of Union soldiers and can't find a match either. He's always been a mystery, and I'd really appreciate any suggestions you all might have. Most family papers were destroyed intentionally years ago by my great-uncle's wife, who was jealous of the relationship he had with his family. If we still had those we might have some answers. Can anyone suggest a starting point for my research? Thanks!
 

lupaglupa

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Upstate New York
Welcome from the Researching Your Civil War Ancestry forum. I found a record of Army enlistments that gives Henry Baldwin, age 16, born Newark, NJ as enlisting on September 19, 1864 in New York and being assigned to Company G, 14th Infantry. Does that fit what you have in the pension record?
 

lupaglupa

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Upstate New York
I had to stop because it's Saturday but I found a lot of confusing info - I see why this is such a challenge for you! Can you share what dates the record has - that might help in a search. As you've found, Henry Baldwin is not an uncommon name.
 

Laura M

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May 14, 2021
Thank you for your reply! Yes, challenging doesn't even begin to describe it! I've been trying to straighten out this mess for years & just can't get anywhere.
The enlistment date, as you mentioned, was September 19, 1864, and he was discharged on September 19th, 1867 at Fort Colville. He died on September 16, 1908 in Newark from tuberculosis. I wouldn't even have known his parents' names without the death record in the pension file. But there are so many John and Mary Baldwins it doesn't help much.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
NJ records are probably the most difficult east coast genealogical records to trace; NJ had refused to make BMD records accessible until a private group actually sued the state--and records are gradually appearing on the group's website: https://www.reclaimtherecords.org/.

When encountering someone who vanishes from sight (or who suddenly appears out of no where), I'm usually inclined to credit it to an alien space ship 😊 BUT it usually turns out that the person used a different name (such as Hezekiah J. Baldwin) or the name was so mangled by the bad handwriting of the census taker that it is wildly mis-transcribed. When the name is a frequent name, try tracing a relative with a name that is more amenable to being tracked.

In this case, you might trace "Elena Baldwin". I tried and came up with several Henry & Lena Baldwins in Newark. But this Henry seems to track back to John Baldwin and his wife Caroline (possibly Phoebe Caroline). How sure are you that his mother was Mary?

Suggestions for starting places:
Despite my reliance on blaming alien space ships, no one really arrived that way. This man will be found!
 

Laura M

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May 14, 2021
I think the John & Caroline/Phoebe you're referring to were the parents of Henry E. Baldwin, who was born in Newark at about the same time. It's confusing. At first I thought that that Henry and mine were one and the same. But when I tracked Henry E. through subsequent censuses, it was clear that he wasn't. I only know Mary & John's names from Henry's death certificate, so no, I am not at all sure that Mary was his mother.

My GG grandmother's name, Elena, was frequently misspelled - she appears variously as Elena, Ellena, Lena, Lina & Ellen.

As for finding a relative, at some point Henry's brother - I can't recall his name - was living with him and Elena. I thought, "Great, I can locate John and Mary Baldwin using the younger son's name." No luck. That didn't work either. There must be some reason.

Many thanks to both of you for your suggestions! I wish I could be as confident as you are that Henry will be found!
 

lupaglupa

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Location
Upstate New York
The fact that there is a Henry Baldwin who was in the 14th NH doesn't help. But I agree with @Fairfield - usually the records are there but mislabeled or mis-tagged so that they are not appearing. I have seen enough bad records -- done by family members - that I'm always reluctant to fully rule something out. If, for instance, Henry's wife gave the info for his death certificate and she had never met the mother, she might easily have gotten the name wrong.

And @Fairfield that's really interesting about the NJ lawsuit. It astounds me how different states are in what records they share.
 

Laura M

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May 14, 2021
He was discharged in Washington state. Is there any way to tell whether he spent all three years there? Or just some? It never occurred to me until I looked at that pension record again yesterday that the "Fort Colville, Washington" mentioned was the state and not DC. It kind of explains another piece of family lore that even I, as a little kid, knew was probably fabricated. Now, my grandmother never met Henry, her grandfather, and my great grandmother, Ida, died in the 1918 flu epidemic when my grandma was 4, but my grandmother was told by Elena that Henry had gone out west when he was younger looking for gold & was captured by Native Americans and rescued by the Pony Express. When grandma told me this tall tale as a child, I figured it was most likely something made up, but I assume his time spent in Washington was the source of the story. I suspect Elena told my grandmother quite a few semi-mythological stories about Henry, considering how admiringly my grandma spoke about the grandfather she'd never met! Just guessing the parents' names would not have been a stretch.
 

lupaglupa

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That is a very tall tale! But maybe he did do some looking for gold while he was on the West Coast.

As to where he was when, you can look at where his unit was during those times. That may be recorded. Of course, unless you have daily records you can't know if he was always with them. I haven't looked much at post-War records so I'm not much help with that.
 

lupaglupa

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Okay, I've spent way too much time on this! I wish I could say that I have something definitive to show for it. I do have a pretty clear picture of Henry's life after his service. And, like you @Laura M, I've eliminated most of the other Henry Baldwin's that are confusing the issue. But - I don't have a clear answer as to Henry's life before he enlisted. I tried to put together the clues to make an educated stab. So here's what I used as my starting point:

Henry has no middle name. All the records we can definitively link to him have no middle initial. This eliminates a lot of other Henries.

Henry comes from a poor/working class background. That he would enlist so young is a big clue. Also, he becomes a hatter, a job he stays in for his whole life. That does not speak to his having come from money. Again, this eliminates other prospective Henry Baldwins.

Obviously Henry has few ties to his family. We don't see any extended relatives in his household. The one reference to a brother, Albert, in 1880 I think is a mistake on the census takers part - I think that is Albert Hoffman, a brother of Lena's.

Which leaves me thinking that your gr-gr-grandfather is the Henry Baldwin, age 1, listed in the household of John and Sarah Ann Baldwin in the 1850 Census. John is a 50-year-old farmer born in Ireland. Sarah Ann is 40, born in New Jersey. There are two other children - Alexander, 20, and Mary E., 14. This family has few records. I don't know what happens to the father. Sarah A Baldwin dies in Newark in 1857. Alexander marries a woman named Adaline and has a son named Horace. Alex works as a cartman/teamster in Newark. Mary E. disappears - I assume she marries.

If I am right, this would explain why Henry has so few obvious links to his past. He had two siblings who were quite a bit older. His mother dies when he is 9 years old. He has no ties and no trade - notice that his occupation when he enlists is "boy." Hopping on the ferry to Manhattan and joining the Army may have been one of the best options he had.

I can't prove any of this but it's the best I could do, given the paucity of verifiable records.
 

Fairfield

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Dec 5, 2019
Henry has no middle name. All the records we can definitively link to him have no middle initial. This eliminates a lot of other Henries.
Sorry to be silent--our historical society has had a barn-&-bake sale and I have just stumbled in the door.

Last night I looked at the 1890 Vets' Schedule. Assuming that Henry was in Newark, there was only one man with that name. Unfortunately there was no information--no timeline, no unit of service, no injuries/wounds. But this man's middle initial was given as "D" (and, looking at the scanned original, I agree).
 

lupaglupa

1st Lieutenant
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Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Location
Upstate New York
Sorry to be silent--our historical society has had a barn-&-bake sale and I have just stumbled in the door.

Last night I looked at the 1890 Vets' Schedule. Assuming that Henry was in Newark, there was only one man with that name. Unfortunately there was no information--no timeline, no unit of service, no injuries/wounds. But this man's middle initial was given as "D" (and, looking at the scanned original, I agree).
I checked that one - Henry D is definitely a different guy. I think in the 1880 Census there are 8 Henry Baldwin's in Newark - and two of them make hats for a living!
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
OK, no longer distracted by the barn sale, I checked online--you know, online genealogical research has only limited results because it is estimated that some 95% of the information that you need is available through NARA (etc), small newspapers, courthouses, church records etc. The farther back that you search, the worse the problem is.

@Laura M (if you haven't done so already, I'd start with that Wiki Research page).

Like you, I couldn't find Henry Baldwin in NJ before the Civil War. This begs the question, where was he? Since he enlisted in NY, perhaps the Baldwin family was there (Essex County is very near NYC). Fortunately both NY and NJ took state censuses inbetween the national ones. FamilySearch (free registration) carries them all.

I think that it may be time to bring in the Big Player--the National Archives (NARA). It is on the web with a lot of helpful information BUT operations have currently slowed down because of COVID (I sat in on a Zoom session with genealogists active in the field and they're both discouraged and hopeful at the same time). What you want is form NATF 86 for military service records (you don't know what information may be found there); NATF 85 will give you the pension records. To get these forms, email NARA thru its website.

And/Or, try putting a query on "History Hub" (https/historyhub.history.gov). This is an open-to-the-public genealogical site that is maintained by NARA.

FamilySearch may have access to NJ index of vital records because I found (without original transcriptions ☹️)"
Henry Baldwin, b.c. 1849 married 16 March 1870 Eleanor F. Hoffman (in Newark, NJ)
Also on Family search (in file of Essex County NJ Burials of Soldiers): Henry Baldwin, born c. 1847 and died or buried 9 Sept. 1908 in Fairmount NJ [Fairmount Cemetery is one of the larger cemeteries in Newark--it was established in 1855 and contains many ACW veterans). Find a Grave has no listing but a telephone call to Fairmount (it is online) might yield a cemetery card with some family information).

Ancestry's pension index indicates service in both the 14th Infantry (co. G) and the 23rd Infantry (co. G)--both REGULAR ARMY. He's on the roster of the former but not on the roster of the latter.

Do, do, do use that research Wiki!
 
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