As promised, the longer article on my Civil War search for four brothers!
My multi-year search was sparked by an article in the Railroad Employee magazine published in June of 1907 honoring the retirement of William H. Hunt. According to the article:
One of the oldest and best known members of the great eastern railroad fraternity is Agent William H. Hunt of the Lackawanna’s Sussex Branch at Branchville Junction, N.J., who has to his credit the proud and noteworthy record of being at present in his forty-first year of continuous service on this old and historic branch…
My 2nd great-grandfather was retiring from the railroad. However, the article wasn’t just about his long-time service. He was asked to provide some of his life events in his own words. A single fragment of a sentence, “…last survivor of four brothers who fought for the Union…,” started the search for the names and records of the brothers who served. Who were these four men?
I already knew that William had a half-brother named Lyman Wood. Lyman and William’s mother was Eliza Menard and Lyman was a child by her first husband (given name as yet undiscovered); William was a child by her second husband, Enoch Hunt. Mother Eliza and son Lyman were always found together in the census’ from 1850 to 1880. Lyman was sometimes enumerated with the last name of Wood, sometimes as Hunt.
I also already knew that William had another half-brother named Theodore Hunt. Theodore and William’s father was Enoch Hunt and Theodore was a child by his first wife, Martha Decker; William was a child by his second wife, Eliza Menard. It was becoming quite a blended family, full of half-siblings. Could William, Lyman and Theodore be three of the four brothers? If so, when and where did they serve? And who then was the remaining brother?
The first logical step was to send away for William’s military pension file. A large package arrived on my doorstep on 06 February 2012. The file was wonderfully packed with 110 pages of affidavits, forms, questionnaires, letters, and miscellaneous documents that only a genealogist (or perhaps a military enthusiast) would jump up and down about.
The file revealed that William enlisted on 28 April 1861 and served in Company I of the 70th regiment of the N.Y. Infantry until 20 June 1864 when he was discharged. He reenlisted on 02 September 1864 under the name of Henry Hunt and served in Company L of the N.Y. Engineers Signal Corps. His final discharge was 30 June 1865 at Richmond, Virginia.
While scouring the file, I found an affidavit dated 03 February 1887 which was by a woman named Keziah Washer. She stated that “This certifies that I, Keziah Washer, am a half-sister to William H. Hunt.” Further testimony revealed her father died in October 1866. I compared this information to Enoch Hunt’s death register which records his death date as 21 November 1866.However, the image copy was so poor on the death record it could be interpreted to be anything. Keziah was most likely Enoch’s child by his first wife, Martha Decker. This was not one of the brothers I was looking for but another half-sibling to add to the now growing blended family.
Many of the other documents found in the file went into great detail of William’s struggle to get an invalid’s pension. William wrote numerous handwritten letters to the pension commissioner to plead his case. It was in one of these letters, dated 03 September 1883, that I got a further tidbit of information about the four brothers and their service. William writes:
My father gave all the livery he had. One brother in the 17th New York, one in the 9th New York, and one brave boy whose bones lie bleaching at Richmond who belonged to Twiggs army in Texas when the war broke out that remained true to his trust notwithstanding. He was paroled at Galveston for the war, was sent to Fort Hamilton there discharged from the service. Brave boy, he reenlisted, fought all through the war, rose to the orderly sergeant in a regular Batt[alion], with, as you may say, a halter around his neck as he dared not reenlist under his own name but took mother’s maiden name and you know that if he had been taken prisoner they would have shot him for violating his parole.
That meant I now had some specifics with which to work. I constructed a crude table and began to fill it in with what I knew. It was time to track down the service of other the brothers.
The National Park Service’s Soldiers and Sailors website showed that a Theodore Hunt served in the 17th N.Y. State Militia. He was in Company A and served as a private. He was the only Theodore listed with that regiment in New York. I would have to see if he had a pension file and order that. I was fairly confident that this was half-brother Theodore and was one of the veteran brothers. So I tentatively penciled him into the table under the 17th N.Y. brother.
I again searched the Soldiers and Sailors website for Lyman Wood but nothing that met the specifics of the 17th or 9th regiments or Regular army came up for him. I switched to Ancestry.com and looked for Lyman Wood which brought up a military listing within the “U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934” database that fit one of the service units William mentioned in his letter, the 9th N.Y. Militia Infantry. It was a good sign but it was perplexing because this was a widow’s application and certificate number. Lyman was with his mother, Eliza, in the 1880 census and I hadn’t thought that he was married and didn’t have a death date for him. It was time for a tangential research jaunt into his marriage and death records before coming back to the military records.
I wanted to find out his death date first. A physical search of Sussex County, New Jersey, probate records showed that Lyman Wood’s estate was probated on 28 November 1896. The petition for administration of the estate by Sarah E. Wood showed that Lyman had died intestate at the Methodist Episcopal Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, but that his normal home residence was in Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey. It stated that his death date was 10 November 1896 but this didn’t match the pension index record above. How could Sarah apply for a pension before her husband’s death? The probate clerk must have put November instead of October, a simple mistake.
Another nice surprise brought out by the probate petition was that not only was Lyman married but that he had three children! For someone who wasn’t married until much later in life, he certainly was busy and didn’t waste any time starting a family. At the time of his death, he had two sons and a daughter, all minors.
A search of various sources resulted in no marriage records being found for Sarah and Lyman in either Sussex or Morris County, New Jersey. But now that I knew that Lyman had gotten married and then had died in 1896, I was confident that the pension listing found on Ancestry.com was the file I needed to order. It was time to send in my $80 for the record copies. I ordered online and waited.
Lyman’s pension file arrived with a great thud on my doorstep on 07 September 2014. Like William’s file, it had 110 pages filled with all sorts of fun genealogical information. The cover sheet on the front said it was the complete file. But as I was discarding the envelope and getting the legal-sized file ready to digitally scan, a sheet of letter-sized paper caught my eye. It was an estimate for the cost of copying the remaining documents in the file. What? There was more to this file? It was a good thing I was paying attention and didn’t just discard the paper as the bill of lading or receipt of payment. I made out my check for the extra $52.50 and sent away for the rest of the file.
As I was waiting for the documents to complete Lyman’s file, I began to browse the ones I did have. The file showed that Lyman enlisted on 27 May 1861 and served in Company G of the 9th Regiment of the N.Y. Militia until 09 June 1862 when he was discharged at Baltimore, Maryland.
What immediately jumped out at me was Lyman’s certificate of disability for discharge. He was discharged for epilepsy, not incident to service. Well, that certainly explained a lot! No wonder he was with his mother for so long before getting married. Depending on how often he had seizures and how severe they were, it would be tough to attract someone to marry him and be willing to deal with his medical condition.
Another document found in the file explained why I didn’t find a marriage record for Lyman and Sarah in the relevant counties of Sussex or Morris in New Jersey. Lyman Wood and Sarah Elizabeth Ward were married by Reverend J. B. Woodward on 15 January 1884 in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Perhaps there was no waiting period or maybe no medical examination required in Pennsylvania in the 1880s and that would explain why the couple traveled there to be married.
I would have eventually realized that there were documents missing. This was because a Special Examiner, named F. C. Loveland, was sent out to New Jersey in late 1882 to evaluate Lyman’s claim that he got epilepsy as a result of his service and deserved an invalid’s pension. Mr. Loveland was diligent enough to put a table of contents in the file for all the documents supporting his recommendation to reject Lyman’s invalid claim. Comparing this table of contents to the documents I already had showed that there were definitely some pages missing.
The rest of Lyman’s file finally arrived and among the documents listed in the table of contents was one that would turn out to be a jewel of information. It was labeled exhibit J, an affidavit dated 05 September 1882, given by Mrs. Eliza Hunt, Lyman and William’s mother. She was 77 years old and her signature was a bit shaky. Mr. Loveland described her as having “both feet almost in the grave, has rheumatism and shaking palsy badly.” She stated that the claimant, Lyman Wood, was born 07 March 1837 and was the child of her first husband.
The special investigation was to determine if Lyman’s epilepsy existed prior to his service. Since certain types of epilepsy run in the family, Mr. Loveland asked Eliza to give the names of all her children by her first husband. She listed four sons:
- Charles M. Wood, born 03 September 1827
- David M. Wood, born 06 September 1829
- Sidney B. Wood, born 16 December 1834
- Lyman Wood, born 07 March 1837
She then stated that the first three “died at 32 years of age, all of them.” Mr. Loveland asked her what the cause of death of each of the others was. She told him that Charles died of bilious cholic and that David died of heart disease. Sidney was in the regular army and was killed.
Jackpot! More of William’s half-siblings popped out of the woodwork and the final brother serving in the Civil War was discovered: Sidney B. Wood. My table now looked like this:
But what else would Eliza reveal since this information was only the first page of the affidavit? Mr. Loveland continued by asking if any of them, aside from Lyman, had fits. She replied, “Charles is the only one aside from Lyman.” While Mr. Loveland neglected to ask her first husband’s name, he did ask Eliza what had caused her first husband’s death. “Cramps,” was the reply. “He was only sick two days and it took several men to hold him on the bed. He was at work in the hay first and drank too much water, got the cramps and died, so I tell you.”
After asking some questions about the nature and duration of Lyman’s fits, Mr. Loveland then asked Eliza, “What children had you by your second husband?” She replied that there was only one living, William Henry Hunt. Mr. Loveland then asked, “The children by your second husband who have died – at what age did they die?” More siblings emerged as Eliza replied, “One a year old and the other two years and over.” She then stated their causes of death. “One died of severe brain trouble and the other suddenly. I don’t know of what.” She added, “They didn’t have fits.”
They discussed William’s pension claim a bit and then Mr. Loveland asked, “Do you know Marie Freeman who has made an affidavit in this case?” Eliza answered, “Yes sir. She is my sister. Lyman’s aunt.” The very next question was “Who is Kate Wood another of your son’s witnesses?” The answer was, “She is the widow of my son by my first husband, Lyman’s sister-in-law.” Bingo! With those two questions, two more women (which are sometimes hard to identify) were connected to my 2nd great-grandfather’s family. And to think, I wouldn’t have known any of this if I’d ignored that extra sheet of paper requesting payment to copy the rest of the file!
My next step was to try to locate the proper pension file to order for Sidney B. Wood. When I searched “U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934” database again at Ancestry.com, two index records turned up, both with the same widow’s application number, 147,611.
One showed a name of Sidney B. Wood (alias Henry Menard) with a wife by the name of Kate. This matched Eliza’s affidavit statement that Kate Wood was married to one of her sons by her first husband. The next one showed a name of Henry Menard (alias Sidney B. Wood) and the information found on this one coincided with other facts. Under the name of dependent mother was Eliza Hunt. Additionally, William had stated in his letter to the commissioner that one of the brothers had reenlisted under his mother’s maiden name. It was interesting that both Sidney and William reenlisted using the first name of Henry. Another clue, perhaps?
Since I now had the right widow’s certificate number to order, I ponied up another $80 and ordered Sidney Wood’s complete pension file. While I was waiting for this file to arrive, I decided to do a quick search for Sidney Wood in the census records. A 16-year-old Sidney M. Wood shows up on an 1850 census in Randolph, Morris County, New Jersey. He was living in the household of Henry and Hannah Menard.
The 1850 census didn’t show relationships but the fact the head of household was a man named Henry Menard was pretty telling. Henry was 72 years old and was a farmer. Hannah was 70 years old. I suspected that Hannah and Henry were Eliza’s parents and that would make them my previously undiscovered 4th great-grandparents. I would have to track down other corroborating documents but for now I was convinced these people were my ancestors.
Henry Menard/Sidney B. Wood’s pension file arrived with a flutter on my doorstep on 10 January 2015. It was a thin file, only 33 pages in total. The file showed that Sidney enlisted with the name of Henry Menard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 27 May 1861 and served in Company F of the 5th Regiment of the U.S. Artillery until 29 April 1866 when he died in Richmond, Virginia.
Henry/Sidney’s widow, Kate Menard, filed an application for a widow’s pension. His mother, Eliza Hunt, filed an application for a dependent parent’s pension. Both applications were rejected but the reason proved to be a surprise.
I had assumed that Sidney had died in battle for a couple of reasons. Sidney’s mother Eliza had said in her affidavit that Sidney was in the Regular Army and was killed. William, speaking about his brother, said, “Brave boy, he reenlisted, fought all through the war, rose to the orderly sergeant in a regular Batt[alion]” and that his bones were bleaching in Richmond. Since the Civil War was raging at this time, it would have been reasonable to assume that Sidney had died in battle. This highlighted the risk of assuming without verification.
Found within Henry/Sidney’s pension file was a handwritten sheet with no form number. On this sheet was the following report dated 30 July 1869 by the captain of the battalion who Henry/Sidney had served under:
Respectfully returned with the information that on the 29th of April 1866 1st Sargent Henry Menard of this battery had permission to take his horse and to leave the camp of the battery near Richmond Va. for the purpose of going to town for his own pleasure. While absent he became grossly intoxicated, rode his horse at a very rapid rate and being unable to guide or control him, ran into a tree on the edge of the sidewalk and fractured his skull. This injury was the cause of his death.
Since Henry/Sidney did not die of anything related to his war service, the pension bureau rejected both Kate’s and Eliza’s applications for pension.
While neither Henry/Sidney’s widow Kate nor his mother Eliza received a pension, the file did contain some additional information that revealed more of my 2nd great-grandfather William Henry Hunt’s relatives. I learned that Kate’s maiden name was Smith. She married Henry Menard on 30 September 1860 at a very private ceremony in a Presbyterian Church in New York City. Mrs. Susan M. Bennett, who was a witness to the “solemnization of the marriage,” stated that the clergyman performing the ceremony was in the process of moving away from New York City. This was offered as an explanation of why there was no marriage recorded as required at the time by New York state law.
It was apparent that by 1860 Sidney was now consistently using the name of Henry Menard when he presented himself to other people. Perhaps this had to do with William’s mention of his brother “violating his parole” and other issues with leaving the Regular Army to fight for the Union in the Civil War.
Another document in the file disclosed that Kate and Henry Menard had two children, one boy and one girl. Their daughter’s name was Eliza Menard and she was born on 16 September 1861. Their son’s name was Sidney Menard and he was born on 26 March 1864. The birthplace of neither child was disclosed.
After the arrival of Henry/Sidney’s file, the service records of the brothers were starting to fill out. My table now looked like this:
With this investigation into the four brothers who fought in the Late War of the Rebellion, I now had the following people related to my 2nd great-grandfather William Henry Hunt:
The next step was to find and order the pension record for Theodore Hunt, if it existed, and see what sort of information his pension file uncovered.
Story to be continued when Theodore’s file is ordered and arrives…. Stay tuned!
”An Honored Veteran,” The Railroad Employee, June 1907, 6.
 “Death of William Hunt,” obituary (28 February1918); Bound newspaper stacks, Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.
 1850 U. S. census, Essex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Newark, p. 148B, dwelling 337, family 542, Enoch Hunt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 01 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 447.
 1860 U. S. census, Westchester County, New Jersey, population schedule, Morrisania, p. 309 (penned), dwelling 2126, family 2403, Enoch Hunt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 01 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 878.
 1870 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Andover, p. 1 (penned), dwelling 4, family 5, Eliza Hunt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 01 October 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 889.
 1880 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Lafayette Township, ED 180, p. 8 (penned), dwelling 52, family 54 & 55, William H. Hunt; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 September 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 798.
 Membership application, Marianna Hunt Wells, National no. 183172, on Ebenezer Hunt (1758-1814, New Jersey), approved 02 February 1922; National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Office of the Registrar General, Washington, D.C.
 Civil War and Later Pension Files. Department of Veterans Affairs. William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. WC 852,451.
 Civil War and Later Pension Files. Department of Veterans Affairs. William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. WC 852,451. Form 3-010, declaration for original invalid pension, 21 June 1881. Form 3-216, invalid form, 11 October 1886. Form 3-852, dependent claim, 09 April 1918.
 Civil War and Later Pension Files. Department of Veterans Affairs. William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. WC 852,451. Affidavit of Zeziah Washer taken at Jersey City, New Jersey, 02 February 1887.
 New Jersey State Archives, State Death Registers, AF:781, no. 4, Enoch Hunt; 21 November 1866 New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.
 Civil War and Later Pension Files. Department of Veterans Affairs. William H. Hunt (Pvt., Co. I, 70th NY. Inf., Civil War), pension no. WC 852,451. Letter from William Henry Hunt to Pension Commissioner, 03 September 1883.
 Sussex County, New Jersey, Petitions and Renunciations Volume C-D: 170, Lyman Wood (1896); Sussex County Surrogate’s Office, Newton.
 Lyman Wood (Pvt., Co. G, 83rd NY militia, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 446,752; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
 Civil War and Later Pension Files. Department of Veterans Affairs. Lyman Wood (Pvt., Co. G, 83rd NY militia, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 446,752; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Form 3-012, Declaration for remarried Widow’s Pension, 20 January 1920.
 1850 U. S. census, Morris County, New Jersey, population schedule, Randolph, p. 10A (penned), dwelling 147, family 149, Henry Menard; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 31 December 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 458.
 Sidney B. Wood (1st Sargent, Co. F, 5th Regiment U.S. Artillery, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 147,611; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
 Sidney B. Wood (1st Sargent, Co. F, 5th Regiment U.S. Artillery, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 147,611; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Handwritten sheet by the Captain of the Battery, 30 July 1869.
 Sidney B. Wood (1st Sargent, Co. F, 5th Regiment U.S. Artillery, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 147,611; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Affidavit of Susan M. Bennett, 29 June 1866.
 Sidney B. Wood (1st Sargent, Co. F, 5th Regiment U.S. Artillery, Civil War), pension no. W.C. 147,611; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Claim for Widow’s Pension with Minor Children, 05 August 1869.