Is it the way of things that we discover the easier path at the end of a journey rather than the beginning? As in life, also true in research. For the previous six blogs, I searched the net mining the depths of individual records, local written histories, civil war society sites, and records of individual battles. Then, while wrapping things up for this post, I found two sites I wish I had discovered in the beginning.
The first site by the National Archives explains available records and gives an overview of how to proceed with searches, including important disclaimers. I advise you start here. http://www.archives.gov/research/military/civil-war/resources.html I quote from them here, using it as my own disclaimer for previous Civil War posts and pretty much anything you do in genealogy!
“Do not assume that a particular individual participated in a battle if (1) his unit was at the battle and (2) the person appears likely to have been with that unit. In the War Department’s view, and from a strict adherence to objective information in existing evidence, such an assumption cannot ordinarily be made… military careers are crafted both upon evidence and upon assumptions, with no guarantee that the assumptions are correct.”
Another valuable site from the National Parks Service provides a very user-friendly portal for following regimental movements through the length of the Civil War. You search by your ancestor’s name and up pops information that unfolds detail by detail, and it comes right from the National Archives! The site’s interactive nature saves you the time and energy of reinventing the war. http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers.htm
I say I wish I knew then what I know now (and probably had known and ignored like most humans who begin anything, including life,) but do I? My world is richer for the serendipitous details I discovered on the way. True in research, and infinitely true in life.
As Sherman said, “War is hell.” The aftermath goes to the living. Amazingly, all seven brothers lived, though some not for long. Below find what I know so far from census, find-a-grave, and other documentation. I list the brothers by order of birth and give a brief description of their lives after the war. For a complete family sheet, including the three sisters, check here: Ohio family sheets 1-17-2015
Robert Croy came home to his wife, Emily Gassage Croy, and family in Marietta, Ohio. Within five years of his return Emily died. Less than a year later he married Mary Atkins. Between them they had a son, Arthur. Four years later his oldest son, Stanton died. Robert continued to live in Marietta working as a carpenter and wagon maker like his father. Late in life, he bounced from his daughter Josie’s home in Kansas to the Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. He suffered from heart disease and chronic arthritis. He died in 1908 at the age of 76 in the home of his sister, Fannie Croy Schoonover, in Marietta.[i]
William Croy came home to his wife, Rebecca Hasten Croy and son Anderson. He farmed the land in Decatur Township until nearly 80 and, according to newspaper articles, he and Robert attended Civil War reunions regularly.[ii]
Greer Croy returned to Marietta and married Malona Basim in 1867. They had three sons. Greer named his first child Sheridan after the General who led decisively at Cedar Creek where he was last wounded. His youngest son died of consumption in March of 1872. Six months later Greer died. He was only thirty-four.[iii]
David Croy came back to Washington County and worked as a laborer. He married Mary Moore in 1867. They had no children and, in March of 1877 at age 35, he was dead.[iv]
After his short 100-day service, Nathan returned to work the land of his parents. When he was thirty-one he married nineteen-year-old Ida J. Nelson. They had to children and cared for Mother, Margaret, for twelve years after his father died. Nathan outlived his wife by 27 years and died in 1919 at 73. [v]
Duncan Croy tried his hand at farming for a while after returning from the war, but soon found milling and selling lumber more to his liking. He married Elizabeth Mayhew and had ten children. After moved down river to Pomeroy for a time he returned to Marietta where he died in 1914 at 68.[vi]
After the Grand Review in Washington D.C., Calvin Croy, my great grandfather, spent a brief period of time in Louisville, Kentucky with the 31st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. After his returned he worked as a farm laborer for a while and then headed back to his birthplace in Coshocton County, Ohio. He worked with his uncle, David, who owned a sawmill for a while. He was soon introduced to the coal industry and Sarah Angeline Payne Smith. (I will delve into her family heritage after a little holiday hiatus.)[vii]
The story leaves many questions unanswered, especially how and why Greer and David died so soon. Some indirect information indicates that their father Jacob Croy died of consumption, as did Greer’s four-month-old son. Was tuberculosis passed around in the family? Did the brothers bring it back from the war? Or were they compromised by their war injuries? I hope to find the time and money to get the boys’ pension records from the National Archives. Then, perhaps, the answers to these questions and more may be unlocked.
No matter how complete, these outlines cannot fill in the haunt of memories. We cannot color in who these soldiers became from an outline of incidents. “Strict adherence to objective information” ignores the heart of the matter. But the heart of the matter impacts the fathers, mothers, wives, and descendants down through time.