Researching 3rd Great Grandfather, John "Jack" J Kurtz: Question About Prison and Pictures

OParks

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Jun 26, 2020
Hello! I'm currently researching my 3rd great grandfather, John "Jack" J Kurtz, farrier in Company F of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. He was captured near Columbia/Spring Hill, TN, around Nov 28, 1864, from what I can gather. He was then taken to a Confederate POW camp, then traveled north on the Sultana until its demise on April 27, 1865. He miraculously survived the explosion and sinking of the ship and eventually made his way back to Ohio.

I have been unable to pinpoint in which prison he was housed. Records seem to indicate that he was released from Andersonville, but family oral history points to Libby prison. After reading that Libby mainly housed officers, I am wondering if maybe he had been at both at some point. Possibly inprocessing at Libby then shipped to Andersonville? It seems that you have to either write the prisons to request records or have to show up to do the research in person. Please advise.

Another conundrum I'm having is that it appears I may have a distant relative on ancestry.com (dbailey1982) who may have an album with JJ Kurtz and his last wife, Mary Elizabeth Unger, on the cover. I cannot tell from the one photo if it's a solitary page or an album; however, I'm dying to find out if the ancestry member may have more pictures of him. I would love to get a digital copy if they do possess more. I do not have an ancestry account and am not sure if I'd even be able to contact the person if I did have an account. What have your experiences been?

Another question I have is regarding unit records. According to the account given by RC Rankin in History of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, the unit's paperwork was seized by the Confederates. What are the chances that it still exists? Where on earth would I begin looking for it?

John J Kurtz Mary Unger.jpg
 

FedericoFCavada

Sergeant
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Jan 27, 2015
Location
San Antonio, Texas
My 21-year old ex-PoW 4x great uncle, pvt. Charles W. Shoup of Co. F, 102nd OVI was not so lucky! He perished in the Sultana disaster 27 April 1865.

He'd been luckier earlier, in that he went to "Castle Morgan" or Cahaba prison in Dallas County, Alabama--which for a period had a Methodist camp commandant who apparently genuinely expressed concern for the well-being of the prisoners. It was a squalid, terrible place, but had the lowest death rate of Civil War prisoner of war camps, unless I'm mistaken:


Uncle private Shoup was captured at Athens, AL in 1864. If Sergeant John Jack Kurtz was captured in Tennessee, it just might be that he also went to "Castle Morgan" at Cahaba?

Did the 7th OVC post-war book by Rankin you mentioned, http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/31584
That might contain clues about where captured soldiers and NCOs went?
Sultana.jpg
 
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
Hello! I'm currently researching my 3rd great grandfather, John "Jack" J Kurtz, farrier in Company F of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. He was captured near Columbia/Spring Hill, TN, around Nov 28, 1864, from what I can gather. He was then taken to a Confederate POW camp, then traveled north on the Sultana until its demise on April 27, 1865. He miraculously survived the explosion and sinking of the ship and eventually made his way back to Ohio.

I have been unable to pinpoint in which prison he was housed. Records seem to indicate that he was released from Andersonville, but family oral history points to Libby prison. After reading that Libby mainly housed officers, I am wondering if maybe he had been at both at some point. Possibly inprocessing at Libby then shipped to Andersonville? It seems that you have to either write the prisons to request records or have to show up to do the research in person. Please advise.

Another conundrum I'm having is that it appears I may have a distant relative on ancestry.com (dbailey1982) who may have an album with JJ Kurtz and his last wife, Mary Elizabeth Unger, on the cover. I cannot tell from the one photo if it's a solitary page or an album; however, I'm dying to find out if the ancestry member may have more pictures of him. I would love to get a digital copy if they do possess more. I do not have an ancestry account and am not sure if I'd even be able to contact the person if I did have an account. What have your experiences been?

Another question I have is regarding unit records. According to the account given by RC Rankin in History of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, the unit's paperwork was seized by the Confederates. What are the chances that it still exists? Where on earth would I begin looking for it?

View attachment 366885


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lupaglupa

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Apr 18, 2019
First off - wow! What an amazing story and how terrific that you know as much as you do! Since all my folks were on the other side of things I'm not familiar with CSA prison records. Have you looked at the experiences of other soldiers from the 7th? Often several soldiers were captured at once - it may be that someone captured with Jack left behind details that would clarify his experience also.

I have had mixed experiences with getting responses to Ancestry inquiries. There is a method to do so - you can contact any other member through the site. Most people I have contacted reply but many times it is to tell me they don't have the info I want - they got it from someone else. Still, that could be a good lead for you. You should be able to send a note like that during a free trial period if you want to sign up with Ancestry. Many people can get free access to Ancestry through local libraries but I'm not sure if you can engage other members when you do not have an account.

In case you can't get in, I went into Ancestry through my account and looked up the member you mentioned - s/he seems pretty active and signed in last month. However, I could find only the one photo you copied into your post. It appears that this person is related to Jack from the Unger side - there are multiple Unger family pictures but nothing for the Kurtz line. In fact, the information of Jack is incomplete in the tree. Still, it might be worth your time to try them.
 

OParks

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Jun 26, 2020
Thank you for the info! I had come across a site a while ago that had recorded that he had died in the Sultana disaster and contacted the site admin to let them know they had faulty information. It sounded like the admin was handling a lot on his/her own. Last I checked, nothing had changed on the site though. Our family had planned on attending the Sultana Descendents' Reunion this year until it was canceled. I was looking forward to meeting her, assuming her attendance. :frown: I think it's awesome that people have put so much energy into preserving history for the following generations. Her email reply is as follows:

Hello Olivia, again

I should have told you yesterday that in addition to administering the Sultana Association webpage, I also have a website: Civilwarprisoners.com. I’m glad you found it. I have already noted the error in my records and will correct it. If you see Karen Lundquist on the Association’s FB page, that’s my daughter who started the FB page. I took it over and do all the work now!

My husband did the research on the prisons and the Sultana a number of years ago before so many records had been digitized and put online. He had over 40,000 names in his full database so there were errors, both in the original records and in his work at times. I started the website in 2011 after he died so his research wouldn’t be lost.

I wish I could direct you to some official records for prisons. There just are not many. The best records that survived were the Andersonville death records. For Cahaba there are death records, but only 250 (approximately) men died there. The records on my website are reconstructed from regimental histories and adjutant general reports. You can find all of the existing records relating to the Sultana posted on the
Fold.com website, and they are free. Fold3 is a subscription website otherwise.

As I told you yesterday, your best bet for information on John’s imprisonment would be his service and pension records. Hope this helps. Let me know if I can be of further help, and hope to see you at a meeting, this year or in the future.

Carol Lundquist
 

lupaglupa

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Apr 18, 2019
One additional thought - have you looked at memoirs written by others who were prisoners? A lot of veterans wrote memoirs and many of them are available online. The likelihood this gives you solid info on where Jack was held are slim - I won't say otherwise. But it's worth a shot.
 

OParks

Private
Joined
Jun 26, 2020
First off - wow! What an amazing story and how terrific that you know as much as you do! Since all my folks were on the other side of things I'm not familiar with CSA prison records. Have you looked at the experiences of other soldiers from the 7th? Often several soldiers were captured at once - it may be that someone captured with Jack left behind details that would clarify his experience also.

I have had mixed experiences with getting responses to Ancestry inquiries. There is a method to do so - you can contact any other member through the site. Most people I have contacted reply but many times it is to tell me they don't have the info I want - they got it from someone else. Still, that could be a good lead for you. You should be able to send a note like that during a free trial period if you want to sign up with Ancestry. Many people can get free access to Ancestry through local libraries but I'm not sure if you can engage other members when you do not have an account.

In case you can't get in, I went into Ancestry through my account and looked up the member you mentioned - s/he seems pretty active and signed in last month. However, I could find only the one photo you copied into your post. It appears that this person is related to Jack from the Unger side - there are multiple Unger family pictures but nothing for the Kurtz line. In fact, the information of Jack is incomplete in the tree. Still, it might be worth your time to try them.
Thank you! Now that you mention it, I think our library offers ancestry.com access if you access it from the physical library. I'll give that a shot this afternoon, and if I can't I'll see if I can get the free trial again under my daughter's email account. Lol! I'm in the process of perusing the History of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry and did come across records on gutenberg.org or archive.org that listed all of his unit members, when they started service, and when they mustered out or were killed. From what I can tell, he was the only one in his company who was captured at that time, but I still need to peruse the rest of the regiment.
 

OParks

Private
Joined
Jun 26, 2020
One additional thought - have you looked at memoirs written by others who were prisoners? A lot of veterans wrote memoirs and many of them are available online. The likelihood this gives you solid info on where Jack was held are slim - I won't say otherwise. But it's worth a shot.
That's a good idea! I'll look into it! Thank you!
 

lupaglupa

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Apr 18, 2019
@east tennessee roots I have attempted using the NPS system but without luck. Is there another way to look up both of my GGGrandfathers who were captured?
Regards
David
It looks like the NPS only has info from two sites: Fort McHenry and Andersonville. Do you have any info at all about where either of the men were held?
 

Ole Miss

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Thank you
George Washington Litton but listed as Litten on his grave, 29th Virginia Infantry captured at Dinwiddie Court House April 1 died Harts Island May 1865
Joesph Piner, 3rd North Carolina Infantry, captured at Payne's Fame November 1863 sent to Point Lookout, paroled September 1864
Regards
David
 

lupaglupa

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Thank you
George Washington Litton but listed as Litten on his grave, 29th Virginia Infantry captured at Dinwiddie Court House April 1 died Harts Island May 1865
Joesph Piner, 3rd North Carolina Infantry, captured at Payne's Fame November 1863 sent to Point Lookout, paroled September 1864
Regards
David
David if you have plenty of time and much more patience, you can look at the records from the prisons and see the day to day logs. I have found really good info here. BUT. These are not indexed so you need to know at least some dates to find what you are looking for.


Harts Island, for instance, has 259 pages starting April 1865. They're all hand written. The L names seem to start on page 101.

<add> GW Litton is on page 102. Not much detail - it gives rank and unit, capture date and place. The notes say "Died May 23 65"
 
Joined
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Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
Thank you
George Washington Litton but listed as Litten on his grave, 29th Virginia Infantry captured at Dinwiddie Court House April 1 died Harts Island May 1865
Joesph Piner, 3rd North Carolina Infantry, captured at Payne's Fame November 1863 sent to Point Lookout, paroled September 1864
Regards
David

My 2 x great-grandfather, David Land was held at Hart's Island. Released, June 19, 1865.
 
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