Among the settlers of the town of Humphrey were two extended families who would pay a disproportionate share of the Union butcher's bill. Not only would these families suffer more than their fair share of casualties, but one would be among the county's earliest wounded in action and the other would contribute one of the very last to be killed in action.
Not all of these men appear in the statistics for the town of Humphrey because some joined in a neighboring town or county but most were born and raised in Humphrey and all had strong family ties there.
On January 29, 1864 Lyman Wilber wrote to his uncle Nathen Wilber, who seems to have been the family patriarch in that era, as follows:
"Camp in Lookout Valley Nashville Ten
January the 29 1864
Dear Ouncle and Aunt
As I have a few lesuare moments to my self I thought that I would improve them in writing to you. I guess you have thought that I dident think much of my relation because I did not write. The reason I have not writen before is that I am ashame to write for I cant spell nor write so enney one can read it but I thought that I would write and if you can't read it jest send it back and I will read it for you.
It is very pleasant hear to day. It is jest as warm as I care about having it but I expect to see some warm days next summer. I allmost dread to see summer come. I supose you have sean some cold weather up there by what I have heard. Well it was some what cold hear if I am enney judge. Thare was a number froze to death in Chatanauga abought fore miles from hear but wee have got a veary warm place in the valley and wee have got us little log houses and every thing is slick around us. Wee keep our streats swep so it looks veary nice but it will soon play out for I think that wee will halft to march before long but I hope not. I schould not care so much about it if I was agoing to march home but this marching up to be shot at it hant a veary pleasant thing. I notice but Ouncle it dont make so much diferrence if you are prepard to meat our god in peas that is what I look at but I hope and pray that I may live so hapy that if wee never see each other on earth again that I can meat you around the throne of god but I hope and trust that I schall have the privelage of seeing all of my friends again before I die. Neu of poor Oscar is dead and goan home to rest. I recieved a letter from Milo and he is well and injoying himself. Well I have not sean Charles in some time but he was well the last time I see him. He is down to the landing about fore miles from hear. Wee have some drilling to do and some fatigue duty to do jest anough to keep us healthy. Now Ouncle as this paper is most scribled over I will halft to close by sain write and you will oblige me veary much.
From Mr. Lyman C. Wilber
To Ouncle Nathen Wilber"
The "poor Oscar" he referred to was his first cousin Oscar F. Wilber who had been mortally wounded at Chancellorsville and had died July 31, 1863. The life and death of Oscar Wilber has been eloquently memorialized in "Poor Oscar is Dead and Gone Home to Rest" America's Civil War, November 1996 by Mark Dunkleman. Also referenced is another first cousin, Milo, who had been captured at Gettysburg and exchanged. Another cousin, Charles Wilber, also mentioned in the letter, had been captured at Chancellorsville and exchanged. Lyman, himself, had less that a month to live. On February 25, 1865 he would fall victim to the ubiquitous "soldier's disease". His brother Philo Wilber would be mortally wounded during the Appomattox campaign on March 29,1865,expiring April 20, 1865 after all fighting had ended, thus becoming one of the final victims of four years of fraticidal conflict.(1)
Before being struck down with the mortal wound on the killing ground at Chancellorsville, Oscar Wilber's two most compelling concerns were the wellbeing of his mother and a certain heifer. The journal article by Dunkleman poignantly tells of Oscar's concern for his mother but neglects the heifer. On November 27, 1862, Oscar wrote to his mother regarding the heifer:
"Mother I am Sory that you had to Sell that heifer you wrote that Nathan Sed he Would take what he give for her Mother by her back if you have to pay ten Dollars for her Mother tell Nathan that i haint got Eny pay yet Nor i dont know when We shall get Eny but i think that We Shall Soon tell him that I Will pay him out of that Money that I let him have if he Want to do so or if he dont Want to Do So tell him When i get some More Money i Will pay him out of that Mother you Need the use of that heifer Next Sumer if i had of been at home i Would Not had her Sold i thaught a good Deal of her Mother be Shure and by her back for Me if he Will Sell her and if i Never get home you Shall have her to remember Me if grand Mother has got Eny hay to Sell i Will trade one of them Notes for hay if she haint got Eny to Sell then by Some of Some one Else it May be that uncle Nathan would like to Sell Some"
On February 26, 1863 he wrote directly to his uncle Nathen:
"Nathan you wrote that you would winter that heifer and sell her to me for sixteen dollars. I will pay you 16 dollars for her and you may winter her. You may tell Wallace that I have bought her."
A letter inexplicably dated 15 days earlier to his mother contains another reference to his bovine:
"Mother i wrote to uncle Nathan that i Would take that heifer i give him 16 dollars for her and he is to Winter her for Me".On May 22, following his wound, his cousin Milo wrote to his mother regarding Oscar's wishes for the disposition of his property. His mother Sally was to "have his cow and his farm". Whether this refers to the heifer or her mother is uncertain. Unfortunately, history does not record the final disposition of the heifer and whether or not Sally Wilber did indeed keep her to remember Oscar by.
In all, this notable family contributed eleven or twelve members to the Union armies. Lyman's third brother, Darius, survived the soldiers' disease and had been discharged for disability in 1863. Another cousin, Wallace (brother of Oscar and recorded in these pages as Horace), claimed to have served in the 154th. There is no record of his service, but with eleven brothers, brothers-in-law, and cousins having worn the Blue uniform his confusion is perhaps understandable.
The other Wilber relatives who served were Myron Canada who had married a Wilber sister; Danford Hall, wounded at Chancellorsville who would marry a Wilber sister in 1867; Sanford Kinyon, a Wilber nephew who was killed on Rocky Face Ridge May 8, 1864; George Wordern Benjamin, married to a Wilber sister, was discharged for disability in 1863; and Edmund Tracy, first cousin of Darius, Milo and Philo, was taken prisoner at Chancellorsville and died of typhoid May 24, 1863.
The town of Humphrey is divided by a mountain and on the other side of the mountain lived another remarkable family. Five Wilcox brothers fought for the Union plus a first cousin and a brother-in-law. Hiram Wilcox and the first cousin, Calvin Chamberlain, both died in uniform. Hiram died of scarlet fever shortly after he joined the 94th infantry and Calvin Chamberlain was captured at Gettysburg and died at Andersonville August 4, 1864.
Three of the remaining Wilcox brothers and their brother-in-law Joseph Gooden were all wounded. Edwin was wounded October 31, 1864 at Hatcher Run; Isiah was discharged for disability in February of 1863 with a broken leg; Melbourn was wounded at Gettysburg; and Joseph Gooden was among the first Cattaraugus County casualties at Fair Oaks. (2)
Of these seven brothers, brother-in-law and first cousin only Augustus Wilcox survived the war unwounded but according to his diary and letters to his wife, he too suffered throughout his service with the "soldiers' disease".
An epilogue of sorts: perhaps it was inevitable a generation later Ethel Rachel Odell (a Wilber descendent) married a Wilcox, thus her granddaughter Phyllis Beebe
(1) While there were five members of the 64th Infantry, the "Cattaraugus regiment", killed at Farmersville on April 7th, since Philo Wilber expired two weeks later he may, indeed, have been the last Cattaraugus resident who died as a result of wounds received in action.
(2) The first significant Cattaraugus County casualties were suffered by the 37th Infantry, which lost 95 killed, wounded and captured at Williamsburg on May 5, 1862. However, only two companies in this regiment were recruited in Cattaraugus County. The Wilcox family did not incur its first wound in action until June 1, 1862 when the 64th Infantry had 173 killed, wounded and captured at Fair Oaks, among them Joseph Gooden.
|BACON, JAMES||Sept. 10, 1862||Co. I, 154th Infantry||Born May 24, 1843 in Allegany. Parents: James H. and Huldah Lawton Bacon. In many battles.|
|BARBER, RUSSELL E.||Sept. 1863||78th Infantry.||Died Sept. 1864 at Culpepper and is buried there. Left widow and six children. Age 45 in 1864.|
|BAXTER, HENRY||1862||154th Infantry.||Born Feb. 12, 1842 at Humphrey. Parents: William and Sally Chase Baxter. Sent to Libby Prison, Richmond. Discharged July, 1865.|
|BAXTER, PERRY||1862||154th Infantry.||Born Feb 13, 1841 at Humphrey. Parents: William and Sally Chase Baxter. Taken prisoner at Chancellorsville, and taken to Libby Prison, Richmond. Discharged July 1865.|
|BOZARD, ASHBEL LAY||1864||188th Infantry.||Born Feb. 24, 1841 in Humphrey. Parents: Richard and Eleanor Learn Bozard. Discharged June 1865.|
|CANADY, MYRON||1864||19th NY.||Served nine months. Age 42 in 1865.|
|CHAPMAN, WILLIAM ALFRED||1862||105th Infantry.||Born Sept. 8, 1826 at Locke, NY. Parents: Ichabod and Rhoda Sherman Chapman. Discharged 1865.|
|CHASE, NATHANIEL||NOV 1863||11th Mich.||Age 18 in 1865. Parents: Nathaniel and Sophronia Chase.|
|CHILDS, CEPHAS||1862||105th Infantry.||Born in Dryden, NY Aug. 30, 1823. Parents: Cephas and Mary Spaulding Childs. Discharged Dec. 26, 1865.|
|CLARK, JOHN||1862||4th Infantry.||Born Feb. 16, 1827 at Utica , NY. Parents: Jacob and Lydia Lambert Clark. 2nd Lieut. In many battles. Discharged Sept. 1865.*
*If he was discharged in 1865 he must have re-enlisted as the 4th was a 2yr reg. organized in apr. and may 1861 and mustered out in may of 1863.[ed. note]
|COLE, MARVIN STEPHEN||1861||137th Infantry*||Born Feb. 24, 1839 at Humphrey. Parents: Stephen and Lemira Berry Cole. Discharged 1863.
*If the dates are correct his service must have been in the 37th rather than the 137th which was not organized until sept. 1862.[ed. note]
|COLVIN, CHARLES||Sept. 1864||188th NY||Served 9 months. Age 20 in in 1865. Parents: Noah and Betsey Colvin.|
|COLVIN, ROYAL||1865||13th Infantry.*||Born in New Albion, Aug. 30 1835. Parents: Noah and Caroline Beach Colvin. Discharged March 10, 1865.
*The 13th Infantry was a 2 yr reg. which was mustered out in may of 1863. This man was probably in the 13th Heavy Artillery.[ed. note]
|COLVIN, SETH||Oct. 1864||187th Infantry.||Age 23 in 1865. Parents: Noah and Betsey Colvin.|
|CRARY, LEVI H.||Aug. 1861||86th NY.||2nd Lieut. Served 18 months. Age 27. Parents: Benjamin and Rhoda Crary.|
|DOLLARD, JOHN JOSEPH||1863||38th Infantry.*||Born 1841 in New York City. Parents: Patrick and Alice Griffin Dollard.
*The 38th NY was a 2 yr Reg. which was mustered out in June 1863, it is therefor likely that either the enlistment date or the reg. for this man is incorrect.[ed. note]
|DOLLARD, MATTHEW PATKICK||1861||38th Infantry.||In battle of Bull Run. Born Dec. 15, 1838 in New York City. Parents: Patkick and Alice Griffin Dollard.|
|DRAKE, DANIEL MINOR||1865||65th Infantry.||Born July 22, 1844 at Hinsdale. Parents: Justus M and Chloe S. Lindsley Drake. Discharged May, 19, 1865.|
|FESSENDEN, RODOLPHUS||147th Infantry.||Died in battle.|
|FLANAGAN, ANTHONY.||Dec. 1863||3rd Pa.*||Age 20 in 1865. Parents: Pierce and Sarah Flanagan.
*The 3rd Pa. was a Cavalry unit.[ed. note]
|FRENCH, HENRY||1863||147th Infantry.||Born May 10, 1844 at Weathersfield. Parents: Frederick and Julia Fisher Franch. In battle of Williamsburg.*
*The Battle of Williamsburg was fought May 5, 1862. The 147th first saw action on May 29, 1863.[ed. note]
|FULLER, ZORASTER CHASE||1865||65th Infantry.||Born in Freedom, NY Sept. 1842. Parents: Chase and Mary Kenyon Fuller. Discharged 1865.|
|HICKS, GEORGE CARPENTER||1862||154th Infantry.||Born Oct. 2, 1842 in Rochester. Parents: Charles and Emily Gleason Hicks. Discharged Oct. 11, 1865.|
|HOAG, SAMUEL||1862||154th Infantry||Served 33 months. Age 26 in 1865. Parents: Alexander and Margaret Hoag.|
|HOAG, ROBERT||Aug. 1861.||37th Infantry.||Served 12 months. Age 23 in 1865. Parents: Alexander and Margaret Hoag.|
|KING, EDWIN||1862||154th Infantry.||In many battles. Wounded. Born Aug. 26, 1845 in Humphrey. Parents: Michael and Mary Deveraux King. Discharged July 5, 1865.|
|KING, THOMAS WILLIAM||1861||3rd Infantry, Co. A.||Remained in service in 1865. Born Feb. 17, 1835 at Camillus, NY. Parents: Michael and Mary Deveraux King.|
|LEONARD, WATSON||1865||65th Infantry.||Born July 10, 1834 at Franklinville. Discharged July 1865.|
|LINDSLAY, WILLIAM J.||May 1861.||First Rifles, Pa.||Signal Corps. Served 38 months. Age 23 in 1865.|
|LOCKIE, JAMES HENRY||1861||37th Infantry.||Also 154th, 179th Served 33months. Born in Machias, May 22, 1837. Parents: Andrew and Betsey Johnson Lockie. Discharged June 1865.|
|MARSH, EZRA||1861||6th Cavalry.||Born April 23, 1833. Parents: Danforth and Minerva Swan Marsh.|
|MATTESON, FRANCIS||1864||19th Battery.*||Born May, 1844 at Humphrey. Parents: Francis and Betsey Wickham. Discharged June 1865.
*NY contributed 34 independent artillery batterys to the Union Armies, the 19th was also called Rogers's Battery.[ed. note]
|MATTESON, LEROY WILLIAM||1864||10th Cavalry||Served 9 months. Born at Otisco, NY, Sept. 15, 1821. Parents: Francis and Betsey Wickham Matteson. Discharged June 1865.|
|McINTOSH, SYLVESTER DeFOREST||1864 at Erie Pa.||Naval Service.||Gunboat Paw Paw. Born May 1830 at Cortland, NY. Parents: Jonathan and Annis Crane McIntosh.|
|MILLER, JAMES RUSSELL||1861||6th Cavalry.||Served 15 months. Born July 28, 1840. Parents: James and Elizann Childs Miller. Discharged 1862, sickness.|
|MOFFITT, AaRON WOOD||1862||154th Infantry.||Born at Humphrey Feb. 17, 1842. Parents: Sylvestor and Dorthamus Onan Moffitt. Discharged Nov. 4, 1863.|
|MOFFITT, JAMES MARCUS||1864||187th Infantry.||In battle of Hatcher's Run* and others. Born June 30, 1844 at Humphrey. Parents: sylvester and Dorthamus Onan.
*Probably the battle of Dabney's Mills Feb.5-7,1865 also known as second Hatcher's Run.[ed. note]
|MORRISON, ANDREW||147th Infantry.||Killed in battle, March 31, 1865. Buried in Virginia. Born 1844 at Humphrey. Parents: Andrew and Fannie Morrison.|
|MOSMAN, MATHIAS||1864||185th Infantry.||In battle of Hatchers Run.* Born Dec. 17, 1833 in Germany. Parents: William and Magdaline Gerges Mosman. Discharged Dec. 1865.
*Probably battle of Dabney's Mills Feb. 7-9, 1865 also known as second Hatcher's Run.[ed. note]
|NEWELL, HARRISON||Sept. 1864||188th NY.||Age 28 in 1865.|
|O'BYRNE, JAMES||Enlisted in Canada. Discharged. Parents: Daniel and Statia Devereau.|
|O'BYRNE, MATTHEW||1862||105th Infantry.||wounded at Battle of Wilderness and discharged. Born 1840 in Ireland. Parents: Daniel and Satitia Devereau.|
|PIERCE, ASABEL||154th Infantry.||Died in Service. Son of Sanford and Lovina Barnard Pierce.|
|PIERCE, JASPER||85th Infantry.||Died April 15,___ at Fort Monroe. Sickness. Buried at Ischua. Born 1844 at Humphrey. Parents: Sanford and Lovina Barnard Pierce.|
|QUINN, JOHN||1865||194th Infantry*||Died May 1865 at Humphrey and buried there. Born April 1835 in Ireland. Parents: Michael and Oney Quinn.
*There was no 194th NY, the 190th and 191st were small battalions which did not leave the state, the war ending soon after thier organization was commenced.[ed. note]
|READ, LAHR M.||1864||10th Cavalry.||Born Nov. 4, 1827 at Caanan. Parents: William and Lucinda Read.|
|REED, JOHN M.||1864||10th Cavalry.||Age 36 in 1865.|
|REED, WILLIAM B.||1861||64th Infantry.||Discharged, sickness. Born Jan. 6, 1840. Parents: Henry and Sally Lawton Reed.|
|REYNOLDS, BUELL ALDEN||Navy||Enlisted at Erie, Pa. Died of disease Jan. 15, 1865 at Mound City. Born Oct. 22, 1845 at Franklinville. Parents: Jeptha and Phebe Moffitt Reynolds.|
|SHEPARD, THOMAS||1863||154th Infantry.||Served 5 months, ill. Discharged. Born May 10, 1844, Scipio, NY. Parents: Jacob and Phebe Kidder Shepard.|
|SILL, DUNTON||1861*||154th Infantry.||Discharged June 3, 1863, disability. Born March 14, 1835 at Franklinville. Parents: William and Harriet Seward Sill.
*The 154th was organized in July and Aug. 1862. Alanzo D. Sill appears on the roster for the 154th on its web page and the HISTORICAL GAZETTEER states he enlisted in the 154th July 31, 1862.[ed. note]
|SLOCUM, ALVIN||Sept. 1864||1st Dragoons.||Age 16 in 1865. Parents: William and Adeline Slocum.|
|SKEELS, HIRAM ELMER||1962||105th Infantry.||Served at Bull Run and other battles. Served 20 months. Discharged August 1865. Born Nov. 19, 1839 in Humphrey. Parents: Silas and Alice Stebbins.|
|SOUTHWICK, BARNET||1862||105th Infantry, also 94th.||Discharged for disability Nov. 186_. Born April 30, 1833 at Machias. Parents: David and Fannie Biggs Southwick.|
|SOUTHWICK, DAVID JR.||1862||Co. C, 105th Infantry [and Co. I, 94th Inf.]||In many battles, as Bull Run, Antietam and others. Corporal. Born in Humphrey, March 18, 1846. Parents: David and Fannie Biggs Southwick.|
|STONE, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN||1863||147th Infantry||Died of disease, Dec. 1863. Born Jan. 1840 at Mansfield. Parents: Russell and Harriet Coe Stone.|
|TRACEY, EDMUND FREDERICK||1863||Co. B, 154th Infantry.||Died May 11, 1864. Buried at Annapolis. Born July 25, 1844 at Humphrey. Parents: Eri and Polly Hitchcock Tracey.|
|WASHBURN, HOWLAND||1862*||179th Infantry||Corporal. Died Dec. 186_ at Danville, a prisoner. Born Sept. 13, 1829 at Franklinville. Parents: _______ and Hannah Warren Washburn.
*The 179th Inf. was not organized until Oct. 1863, it is therefore likely that he died in Dec. 1864[ed. note]
|WASHBURN, WILLIAM||1862||105th Infantry.||In many battles. Served 37 months. Born June 11, 1817 at Franklinville. Parents: _______ and Hannah Warren Washburn.|
|WELCH, MICHAEL||1861*||154th Infantry.*||Lost a Leg in battle of Chancellorsville. Discharged Dec. 1863. Born 1825 in Ireland.
*The 154th was organized in July and Aug. 1862. This man does not appear on the roster for the 154th on their web site.
|WHEELER, DAVID JR.||Oct. 1864||10th NY Cavalry||Age 18 in 1865. Parents: David A. and Lucy A. Wheeler.|
|WHEELER, DAVID||Oct. 1862||66th NY.||Served 3 months. Age 54 in 1865.|
|WHEELER, SETH||1862||154th Infantry.||Served 33 months. Corporal. Born June 12, 1834 in Humphrey. Parents: David and Sarah Cole Wheeler.|
|WHEELER, SILAS||Sept. 1861||64th Infantry.||Prisoner at Savannah 3 months. Served 36 months. Age 22 in 1865. Parents: David A. and Lucy A. Wheeler.|
|WHITCOMB, SPENCER||June 1862||154th Infantry.||Died Feb. 17, 1865 at Chattanooga and buried there. Age 23 in 1865.|
|WHITLOCK, THEODORE||147th Infantry.||Killed at Hatcher's Run, Feb. 4, 1864.* Born Jan. 24, 1835 at Ithaca. Parents: Benajah and Kalaconn Apgen? Whitlock.
*The battle of Dabney's Mill's known, also as Hatcher's Run was fought Feb. 5-7, 1865.
|WICKES, GEORGE C.||Aug. 1862||154th Infantry.||Served 14 months. Age 22 in 1865. Parents: Charles D. and Emeline Wickes.|
|WILBER, DARIUS COLE||185th Infantry.||Born Sept. 14, 1841 at Humphrey. Parents: Freeman and Harriet Hitchcock Wilber.|
|WILBER, HORACE RICHMOND||1864||154th Infantry.||Parents: Alanson and Sally Richmond Wilber. Discharged Jan, 1865, health.|
|WILBER, LYMAN||185th Infantry||In battle of of Chattanooga. Died March 15, 1864. Born Feb. 11, 1843 at Humphrey. Parents: Freeman and Harriet Hitchcock Wilber.|
|WILBER, MILO LEARN||1861*||154th Infantry||Served 33 months. Discharged 1865. Born Jan. 13, 1845 at Humphrey. Parents: Barber and Mary Bennett Wilber.
*The 154th was organized in July and Aug. 1862.[ed. note]
|WILBER, OSCAR F.||1862||Co. G., 154th Infantry||Wounded at Gettysburg. Died May 1864. Buried in Five Mile Cem. Allegany. Born March 20, 1835 in Humphrey. Parents; Alanson and Sally Richmond Wilber.|
|WILBER, PHIL KENYON||185th Infantry||Born Aug. 12, 1842 at Fabius, NY. Parents: Freeman and Harriet Hitchcock Wilber.|
|WILCOX, AGUSTUS||1864||188th Infantry||Went for Persia. Born April 1831 at Hinsdale. Parents: Seymour and Sally Sargeant.|
|WILCOX, MELBORN||1861||6th Cavalry.||Re-enlisted 1864. Went from Town of Persia. Wounded. Born Jan. 1844 at Great Valley. Parents: Seymour and Sally Sargeant Wilcox.|
|WINSOR, EZRA DOCTOR||1861||Artillery||Born Jan. 20, 1837 at Franklinville. Parents: Waterman and Betsey Cady Winsor.|
|WINTERS, ALFONZO DRESDEN||1861*||154th Infantry||Discharged June 2, 1862* Health. Born Jan. 22, 1841 in Tecumsah, Mich. Parents: Alfonzo and Sally Hyde Winters.
*The 154th was organized in July and Aug. 1862. This man does not appear on the 154th roster on thier web site, however according to the HISTORICAL GAZETTEER he did enlist in the 154th.[ed. note]
|WINTERS, GEORGE LEWIS*||1862||Co. C, 154th Infantry||Was in battles of Chancellorville and Goldsborough. Was wounded at Gettysburg. Taken prisoner. Lost arm in 1863. Born Aug. 13, 1838 in Tecumsah Mich. Parents: Alfonzo and Sally Hyde Winters.
*Much additional information about this man , including his election as sheriff of Catt. Co., inTHE HARDTACK REGIMENT by Dunkleman.[ed. note]
|WOODRUFF, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN||1863||147th Infantry||Wounded and died June 2, 1864 at Baltimore. Buried there. Born in Humphrey, Aug. 16, 1842. Parents: Charles and Caroline Reynolds.|
|WORDEN, GEORGE BENTLEY||1861||64th Infantry.||Served 17 months. Born in Machias, July 10, 1844. Parents: George and Betsey Hitchcock Worden.|
|ZANGEL, NICHOLAS JOHN||1864||188th Infantry.||Discharged June 1, 1865. Born Oct. 1, 1842 in Germany. Parents: Micholas I and Mary Habnshagen Zangel.|