52 Ancestors: #17 James Parks – a Memorial Day tribute

My 4x great grandfather, James Parks died from typhoid fever while he was serving in Co. H of the Ohio 159th infantry regiment during the Civil War. Since it’s Memorial Day (or at least it was when I started writing this), I thought this would be the perfect day to remember him.

James was born 29 May 1833 (1), and I believe he was the son of William and Jane Parks (2). On 6 Sep 1853 in Pike Township, Coshocton County, Ohio, he married Catherine J Crawford (3,8), and they made their home in Jackson Township in Muskingum County, Ohio (4).  They had six children:  Eliza Jane (b. 1854), John A (b. 1856), Sarah E (b. 1858), William Stevenson (b. 1860), Samuel A (b. 1862), and James R (b.1864). I’m descended from their daughter Eliza Jane Parks, who married Joseph Hamlin Conard.

On 2 May 1864, just a little over a week after his youngest son’s birth, James enlisted in Co. H of the Ohio 159th infantry regiment (5), a National Guard unit that was to serve for 100 days (6). His company mostly just performed guard duty for duration of their service – no combat (6). Nevertheless, James fell ill with typhoid fever and died on 18 Jul 1864 in a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland (7). This left Catherine a widow with six young children (all 10 years old or younger) to provide for and care for. As far as I can tell, he has gravestones in both West Carlisle Cemetery in Coshocton, Ohio with his wife (1) and in the Loudon National Park Cemetery in Baltimore Maryland (9).

Rest in peace, Grandpa James, and thank you for your service to our country!


(1) “James Parks“, findagrave.com

(2) United States Federal Census; Year: 1850; Census Place: Jackson, Muskingum,Ohio; Page: 325

This is the only James Parks in the 1850 census that lived in either Muskingum or Coshocton County (where James lived in 1860 and was married in 1853, respectively) that is the right age to be “my” James Parks, and in this 1850 census record, he is in the household of William and Jane Parks. I have not been able to locate any records that state who his parents are for sure.

(3) “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1614804), James Parks and Catherine Crawford, 06 Sep 1853; Coshocton County Marriage Records 1852-1859, vol. 1, image 82.

(4) United States Federal Census; Year: 1860; Census Place: Jackson, Muskingum, OhioPage: 507.

(5) Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.

(6) “159th Infantry Regiment Ohio”. Historical Data Systems, comp. American Civil War Regiments [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999.

(7) Ancestry.com. U.S., Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, 1861-1865 [database on-line], Ohio, N-R, p. 87/image 79, “James Parks” . Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

 Original data:

Registers of Deaths of Volunteers, compiled 1861–1865. ARC ID: 656639. Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s–1917. Record Group 94. National Archives at Washington, D.C.

(8) Case Files of Approved Pension Applications of Widows and Other Dependents of Civil War Veterans, ca. 1861 – ca. 1910, Ohio, Infantry, Regiment 159, Company H, James Parks (WC40755), p. 21 “Widow’s Army Pension”. NARA.

(9) “Pvt James Parks“, findagrave.com

52 Ancestors: #16 Henry Montgomery’s immigration

In my last post, I wrote about Henry & Mary Montgomery’s wedding and emigration from Virginia to Ohio. This time, I’m going to post a copy of Henry’s recollections of his family’s immigration from Ireland to America in the year 1803. This information comes an autobiographical letter her wrote to his son which was published in the book History of the descendants and connections of William Montgomery and James Somerville, who emigrated to America from Ireland, in the opening years of the 19th century” by Frank Montgomery, available for free on Google Books.

“Many of our relatives had emigrated to America. Ireland had been for many years in a state of war and internal commotion, but the great Irish rebellion of 1797-98 was now over. My father sold his little estate. On the 3rd of May, 1803, our whole family took shipping at Londonderry, a walled city in the north of Ireland.

After remaining a week in the harbor our ship sailed for America. Our voyage on the whole was very pleasant. Our noble vessel rose above the mountain waves. One calm morning we saw many sea monsters. The breath of the huge whales looked like so many smoke stacks. On the 4th of July, being Sabbath, it was announced by the sailors that land was ahead O! what rejoicing. In a short time we could see land with the naked eye. We slowly made our way up the Delaware river, and that evening cast anchor safely at New Castle, where they brought on board fresh water and bread. The next day we weighed anchor and sailed up to Wilmington. There we were very fortunate in getting a wagon which took us into Pennsylvania, and in a few days we all got safely to your Uncle James Somerville’s, who had crossed the ocean the year before. Two months after we landed mother [Margaret (Somerville) (Linn) Montgomery] died of consumption. She had suffered from this disease for some years. Your Aunt Mary Somerville [Margaret’s daughter from her first marriage] was with her till she died. She early taught her children to say, “Our Father who art in heaven.” She was buried in a cemetery a few miles east of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Not long after mother’s death cousin Samuel Linn came up to Lancaster in his two-horse wagon and moved us down to Augusta County, Virginia. We rented a small farm near Staunton, the county seat, and got along finely. We bought a team of horses and raised good crops. Grain always sold high.”

52 Ancestors: #15 Henry Montgomery – marriage and emigration to Ohio

In my last post, I shared a little bit about  Mary (Grimes) Montgomery, and this post will detail the story of her marriage to Henry Montgomery, and their emigration from Virginia to Ohio – most of Henry’s family came along too. This information comes from the book History of the descendants and connections of William Montgomery and James Somerville, who emigrated to America from Ireland, in the opening years of the 19th century” by Frank Montgomery, available for free on Google Books. All quotes below come from this book.

ImageHenry Montgomery was born in 1790 in County Tyrone, Ireland, the son of William Montgomery and Margaret Somerville. In 1803, he and his family immigrated to America and settled in Staunton, Virginia. “In 1810, emigration to Ohio being very popular in Virginia, and a number of friends and relatives having gone, the Montgomery family concluded to ‘go West.’ ” On the way to Ohio, Henry married Mary Grimes, whose family lived in or near Greenbrier County (then in Virginia, now in West Virginia). Henry’s brother Samuel was a circuit preacher in the Methodist church and had come to know the Grimes family on his circuit, and through Samuel, Henry had become acquainted with the family as well. In fact, Samuel, Henry, and their brother William all three married sisters from the Grimes family.


Henry started out on horseback from Staunton a few weeks ahead of the rest of the family and their wagons, and made his way to the Grimes family home, where he and Mary were married on September 27, 1810. “The next day they started on their wedding tour, taking all her effects with them on horseback, to meet the wagons on the emigrant road. Their bedding, cooking utensils, etc., was carried on pack saddles. Two of her brothers went along to help drive the four cows and take part of the horses back.” The family made their way across the Alleghenies and then crossed the Ohio River at Marietta. 


After crossing the Ohio River, they followed the Muskingum River to Zanesville and from there, followed the Licking River up to Newark. They had planned to settle north of Newark, near where Utica is, since many people from near Staunton had settled there, including family friends like the Conards, Lees, and Edmonds. However, the North Fork of the Licking River was too high to cross at that time, on account of recent heavy rains, and they were told that corn was scarce in that area, and that folks from there had to come south to the Bowling Green area to buy corn. So they settled near Bowling Green instead.

52 Ancestors: #14 Mary (Grimes) Montgomery’s testimony

I just discovered a great source (with lots of pictures!) for the Montgomery line of my family tree, which I haven’t spent much time exploring yet. This new source is an old book, available for free on Google books, called “History of the descendants and connections of William Montgomery and James Somerville, who emigrated to America from Ireland, in the opening years of the 19th century” by Frank Montgomery, 1897. There’s so much in this book that I want to go through carefully, but one of my favorite things I’ve found so far is my 5x great grandmother’s (Mary (Grimes) Montgomery) testimony of her Christian faith, along with her photograph. Since my own faith is an important part of my life, I enjoy finding things like this that show that an ancestor too found faith in God to be an important and meaningful part of their life.

Mary (Grimes) Montgomery

Mary (Grimes) Montgomery

Mary Grimes was born in 1784 in Bath County, Virginia. She married Henry Montgomery in 1810, and then they moved to Licking County, Ohio, where she spent the rest of her life until her death on 14 Oct 1865.

Here is Mary’s testimony (from p. 33ff of the book listed above), which is said to be “her own language”:

 “When I was quite young my parents moved to Greenbrier, now Pocahontas County, West Virginia, which was then infested by bands of Indians who burned buildings, drove away stock and even killed many of the settlers. My oldest brother, Arthur, was a soldier in the Indian wars, and took part in the great battle at Poing Pleasant, at the mouth of the Kanawha river.

“Among the first ministers of the gospel in that country was that man of God, Rev. James Ward. He often rested a few days at my father’s house. Here he formed his first class, which was composed of myself and two other women. I always called him my father in the gospel. In the year 1803 [when she was about 19], at a camp-meeting, I gave my heart God and my hand to the church. Soon after my conversion, while reading Mr. Wesley’s sermon on ‘Sin in a Believer,’ I greatly desired a deeper work of grace. I sought it night and day, and while at another camp-meeting experienced the blessing of perfect love.”

This testimony seems to be an excerpt of an obituary, which goes on to say that Mary’s funeral procession to Hanover cemetery “was the largest ever witnessed in that part of the country.”