The 43rd Indiana Infantry, My 3x Great-Grandpops a Private of Company "H"

atom_okie

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Howdy!

I've been perusing my family tree and, to my surprise, found out that my paternal great-great-great grandfather fought for the Union in the 43rd Indiana Infantry as a private in Company H. One, evidently very young, William H. Parrish.

This was a real pleasant surprise, as I had been under the assumption that any of my ancestors present for the great American drama were Confederates. My family is all Southern (with the exception of a line that traveled with Brigham Young to Utah and did, well, whatever the Mormons did at the time) and we have ample records of Confederate fighters on my maternal line, but apparently my great-great-great paternal grandpa, despite being from central Tennessee, actually fought for the Union! Or, at least, his pension records show him as having done so.

I am bewildered by not just his place of origin, but also his age at the time. He was born in 1853, so would have been quite young during the War. I know it wasn't unheard of for there to be child soldiers, but at youngest he was 8 in 1861 and 12 by 1865. How feasible is this? I could understand drummer boy, but the record distinctly shows him as being a private in the regiment.

Not to accuse the ancestor of tomfoolery, but how feasible was it for one to game the system and claim involvement in the War for that sweet, sweet Union dosh? The fact an independent source, the accounting of the regiments doings by Colonel William E McLean for the 1902 reunion, causes me to rest assured that W. H. Parrish did, indeed, sign up for duty in the regiment.

But a considerably young lad from central Tennessee? For a regiment founded in Camp Vigo in Indiana?

I wonder, how deeper can I go? Is the roster and reminiscent regiment recollecting by Colonel McLean as far as I can go?

I'm disconnected from the family line - paternal grandfather ditched my Nana and his relatives ain't keen on any sort of contact, so at a bit of a stonewall right now.

Attached are the relevant documentation/source.

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lupaglupa

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I can see why, based on his age and birthplace, you would be skeptical about your ancestor's service. There are definite records, in addition to what you've shared here, putting a man named William H. Parrish (also spelled Parish) in Indiana's 43rd Infantry. Records from Indiana show he enlisted in Greencastle (west of Indianapolis) August 15, 1864. He gave his age as 23 - which is surprising because if he was only 11 one would think he would be hard pressed to pull off looking more than a decade older. He was discharged June 14, 1865.

I think there's a few of possibilities here. One - this is not your ancestor but another man with a similar name. Two - the information you have on his birthdate is wrong and he was actually the age he claimed to be at enlistment. Three - your ancestor was an amazingly old looking 11 year old.

The William H. Parrish who fought in the 43rd Indiana left a pretty good paper trail. He's buried in Putnam County, Indiana along with his wife Martha Jane. His tombstone gives the birthdate of 1841 which matches the enlistment. All the Census records I could find for this man show his birthplace as Indiana.

Maybe not your guy?
 

atom_okie

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I can see why, based on his age and birthplace, you would be skeptical about your ancestor's service. There are definite records, in addition to what you've shared here, putting a man named William H. Parrish (also spelled Parish) in Indiana's 43rd Infantry. Records from Indiana show he enlisted in Greencastle (west of Indianapolis) August 15, 1864. He gave his age as 23 - which is surprising because if he was only 11 one would think he would be hard pressed to pull off looking more than a decade older. He was discharged June 14, 1865.

I think there's a few of possibilities here. One - this is not your ancestor but another man with a similar name. Two - the information you have on his birthdate is wrong and he was actually the age he claimed to be at enlistment. Three - your ancestor was an amazingly old looking 11 year old.

The William H. Parrish who fought in the 43rd Indiana left a pretty good paper trail. He's buried in Putnam County, Indiana along with his wife Martha Jane. His tombstone gives the birthdate of 1841 which matches the enlistment. All the Census records I could find for this man show his birthplace as Indiana.

Maybe not your guy?

Wow! Many thank yous for this swift sleuthing! This is certainly seeming to be a real Poirot sorta case. My family tree on Ancestry shows my ancestor was indeed married to one Martha Jane. But the records uploaded all have them both being in Tennessee from cradle to grave. I'm fairly new to this whole genealogy business, and basing my findings on already logged information by relatives on Ancestry, so I'm certainly open to the conclusion that I'm barking up the wrong tree & that the pre-existing tree intel provided by distant relatives is dubious, or poorly researched, itself!

It's very peculiar, all my other ancestry lines are very clean, easy to trace, and records not terribly baffling -- it's just this one singular paternal line that is confusing up until the mid 20th century where I definitively know the big Ws for my paternal grandfather and great-grandfather.

I suppose keeping under the radar and in the shadows wasn't just the modus operandi of my 20th century relatives (I never knew my paternal grandfather, dude provided the DNA to make my father and then hightailed it outta there), maybe the 19th century ones were similarly dodgy when it came to leaving fingerprints behind...

Thanks again! Much obliged!
 

lupaglupa

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You would not have to search long in the Ancestry forum to find the advice - don't just copy from other people's Ancestry trees! It's amazing how often bad information gets copied over and over - even facts that on the face are obviously wrong (a marriage after death, for instance). The fact that you looked at what was posted and not only stopped to question it but then went on to try and figure out the facts is awesome - that's just the way you should be approaching genealogy.

Even though I roll my eyes sometimes at the stuff folks will put on Ancestry, it easy to see how mistakes get made. As you say, you have the same name and same wife's name. That looks pretty convincing. But of course, William and Martha are common names, especially for that era. So whoever first thought to link those should have taken just a bit more time.

I will say - if your William Parrish was born in 1853 in Middle Tennessee, he could easily have a father, older brothers, and/or uncles who served. If you want to give just a bit more info on him we could do a search.
 
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it's just this one singular paternal line that is confusing up until the mid 20th century where I definitively know the big Ws for my paternal grandfather and great-grandfather.
Were they in East Tennessee? Maybe William's father or older brothers served in Union regiments from Tennessee. That could explain some possible changes of names or spelling of names. They may have lived around or been related to former Confederates?
 

James N.

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Howdy!

... This was a real pleasant surprise, as I had been under the assumption that any of my ancestors present for the great American drama were Confederates. My family is all Southern (with the exception of a line that traveled with Brigham Young to Utah and did, well, whatever the Mormons did at the time) and we have ample records of Confederate fighters on my maternal line, but apparently my great-great-great paternal grandpa, despite being from central Tennessee, actually fought for the Union! Or, at least, his pension records show him as having done so...
If you're looking for potential Union veterans you might want to look at this line more closely. During the war the Mormons formed another Mormon Battalion for service as part of the Union war effort, exactly as they had done over a decade earlier during the war with Mexico. Although the Mormon Battalions did not fight either Mexicans nor Confederates they provided important service guarding communication routes and settler wagon trains, thereby releasing U.S. Regulars for the war in the East. This should be fairly easy to research as the Mormons are noted for their genealogical record-keeping.
 

atom_okie

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You would not have to search long in the Ancestry forum to find the advice - don't just copy from other people's Ancestry trees! It's amazing how often bad information gets copied over and over - even facts that on the face are obviously wrong (a marriage after death, for instance). The fact that you looked at what was posted and not only stopped to question it but then went on to try and figure out the facts is awesome - that's just the way you should be approaching genealogy.

Even though I roll my eyes sometimes at the stuff folks will put on Ancestry, it easy to see how mistakes get made. As you say, you have the same name and same wife's name. That looks pretty convincing. But of course, William and Martha are common names, especially for that era. So whoever first thought to link those should have taken just a bit more time.

I will say - if your William Parrish was born in 1853 in Middle Tennessee, he could easily have a father, older brothers, and/or uncles who served. If you want to give just a bit more info on him we could do a search.
Certainly a learning experience, that's fer sure!

What astounds me is that according to tombstones, there existed at the same time a William H. Parrish married to a Martha Jane in Indiana and a William H. Parrish who married a Martha Jane in Tennessee. According to online records, both couples had a child they would name William Parrish. The latter coincidence I suppose shouldn't be too notable, naming after the father common enough, but for both W. H. Parrish to marry a Martha Jane to boot!

I suppose a veteran genealogist could shed some light on just how rare, or common, these coincidences are. As you said, the names are common, so I suppose it's not too beyond the pale for coincidences like this to crop up.

Reminds me of the gag from Blazing Saddles where everyone is named Johnson!

Were they in East Tennessee? Maybe William's father or older brothers served in Union regiments from Tennessee. That could explain some possible changes of names or spelling of names. They may have lived around or been related to former Confederates?

Evidently they settled around Dickson, Tennessee!
 

lupaglupa

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I suppose a veteran genealogist could shed some light on just how rare, or common, these coincidences are. As you said, the names are common, so I suppose it's not too beyond the pale for coincidences like this to crop up.
I think we all have a tendency to think of ourselves and by extension our families as unique, but spend any time doing research and you will find even the oddest of names gets repeated multiple times. There are dozens of William H. Parrishes who fought in the Civil War. And that's true for a lot of names. I've finally stopped being shocked when even the unlikeliest moniker turns up with several different people attached.
 

DixieRifles

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I will say - if your William Parrish was born in 1853 in Middle Tennessee, he could easily have a father, older brothers, and/or uncles who served
I agree that it is very unlikely that someone 11 years old could have enlisted.
I had an ancestor who was about 14 but that was back in 1860. It turned out he did enlist in 1864---about age 17.

BTW, I know of one Tennessean who may have served in the Confederate Army but changed his mind. He left Tennessee and went up to Cairo to enlist in some random regiment. Just because the regiment was formed at Camp Vigo, Indiana, that is not where he would have joined them in 1864. But I don't think this is a match. Even the roster you provided indicates that Wm H. Parish was from a town in Indiana.
 

James N.

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I think we all have a tendency to think of ourselves and by extension our families as unique, but spend any time doing research and you will find even the oddest of names gets repeated multiple times. There are dozens of William H. Parrishes who fought in the Civil War. And that's true for a lot of names. I've finally stopped being shocked when even the unlikeliest moniker turns up with several different people attached.
I sincerely hope and believe there must've been only one Felix Zollicoffer! Personally, I had the best luck researching the subject of one of the tintypes in my collection because there also only seems to have been one David C. Yakey.
 
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