Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Civil War Veterans Buried at Centerville.

Not only does the ground at Centerville Cemetery hold the remains of early pioneers, it also holds ten men who fought in the Civil War: John P Moore, Enoch Organ; Dr. J.A. Meskimen; Daniel McBride; F. M. Thompson, Andrew Cook, James Neeley, John P Scott, Albert Burrell, and Jay Leonard. 

Jay Leonard  In Leonard's  first battle, he was shot through the right thigh-- the ball carrying away 2 inches of bone.  For 3 days he lay without medical attention, and when the surgeons did get around to him, they decided to cut his leg off, but changed their minds because they thought he was going to die anyway.  He didn’t and returned to Lawrence County to become Justice of the Peace and a well- known merchant in Centerville, owning a general store.  He and his wife Mary, 14 years younger, had 6 children, but apparently all was not well on the home front and Mary divorced him in Feb 5, 1895 alleging that without any provocation, Jay struck and beat her with his cane, kicked and pushed her in a rude and violent manner and was guilty of extreme cruelty.  The divorce was granted on May 2, 1895 and she immediately married Joseph Hill, one of Jay’s farmhands 6 years younger than she was. 

However that marriage didn’t work either and she divorced Joseph three years later.   The very next month she remarried Jay Leonard, apparently forgetting that  he beat, kicked and pushed her around. They then managed to live together for the next 20 years, until Jay’s death.  In 1918 Mary Leonard filed for a widow’s pension, but became entangled in ‘government red tape’ trying to prove to the pension bureau that she had been his first wife AND his second wife.  (What's wrong with the government?)

John Meskimen also is buried there.  He enlisted in Co I, 21 Ill Inf and served 3 yrs. 3 mo. before being wounded in the hip and captured by the Confederates at Stone River.  He survived the Libby prison and came home to study medicine. He was married twice and had 9 children. At least three of his children who died in childhood are buried next to him, as well as his two wives, one on either side of his grave.   (Just showing that he had no favorites.) 

Another Civil War soldier is James Neeley who furnished his own horse and equipment to serve in Co F, 5th Ill. Cav.  Early in the war, he was skirmishing with bushwhackers and his horse went down a steep incline.  He was thrown against the horn of his saddle and suffered a hernia on his left side, which a truss would only partially control.  Without the truss, his intestines would stick out the size of two fists according to his pension application.  (And that is definitely more than you wanted to read on this blog.) 


The grave of another civil war solider, John P. Scott, is also at Centerville.  At the age of 27 he and some other fellows from Vincennes joined Co M, 3rd Regimen of the KY Calvary. The military paper said he was promoted to Cpl. but according to his autobiography he held a Lieut.’s commission when he was mustered out.  Scott then became sheriff of Lawrence County. His campaign literature stated that he was “as painstakingly and successful with the plow as he was daring and enduring as a soldier.” (You gotta to love a humble sheriff.)

Enoch Organ, of Co K, 70 Ill  Inf, was the son of early Allison Prairie pioneers.  His father died during the black tongue epidemic on the prairie in 1845.  Enoch only served 4 months before being mustered out on October 23, 1862. He was admitted to the Danville Home for Disabled Soldiers in 1906 for general debility, chronic piles, and chronic bronchitis with heart disease all of which he said he contracted at Camp Butler, IL during the war.  (Good thing he didn't serve his full three years. Who knows what else he might have 'caught.')

Daniel McBride enlisted at age 18 with Co A,115th Ind Inf. This company endured the winter of 1863 on duty in the east Tennessee mountains.  The men were poorly equipped with supplies and provisions; most of the time, they were given quarter rations, consisting of parched corn with no sugar or coffee.  Despite this Daniel reenlisted in 1865 with 148th Ind Inf. for the remainder of the war.  (He heard they had better food.

Albert Burrell was left an orphan when he was eight years old. At age 18,  he enlisted as a private in Co G, 11th MO Vol Inf and was commissioned a Sgt. He re-enlisted the day he mustered out for another three years and was honorably discharged at Tennessee. (In the bio written by the Civil War Committee for the Historical Society, it said he had eighty children, but I think that was a mistake...probably only 8.) 

Bios about F. M. Thompson, Andrew Cook and James Neeley are being written by the Civil War researchers. If you have any Civil War ancestors from Lawrence County and haven't talked to John or Dan at the Research Center, please stop by and do so.