Moffatt Cemetery historical markers on display at RiverPlex

By Jared L. Olar

Local History Specialist

The two Illinois State Historical Markers for the Freedom & Remembrance Memorial that were unveiled Nov. 15 at the Peoria Riverfront Museum have found a temporary home in the main atrium of the Peoria Park District’s RiverPlex facility.

Two of the three Illinois State Historical Markers that will form the Freedom and Remembrance Memorial, to be dedicated in Spring 2023 at the intersection of Griswold and South Adams in Peoria, are currently on display in the main atrium of the Peoria Park District’s RiverPlex. PHOTO COURTESY OF FRM PROJECT

FRM team members, with the assistance of RiverPlex supervisor Sue Wheeler and RiverPlex staff, put the historical markers on display at the RiverPlex on Monday, Dec. 12. Accompanying the markers are informational panels that provide more of the story of Peoria’s former Moffatt Cemetery and the more than 2,600 Peorians who had been interred in the long-defunct burying ground during the 19th century and the first few years of the 20th century.

Among those Peorians were 52 Union Civil War veterans, whose names and regiments are listed on a third historical marker that has been exhibited in a special display at the Peoria Riverfront Museum since July 28. One of those veterans was Pvt. Nathan Ashby of Pekin, who was present at the first Juneteenth in Galveston, Texas, 19 June 1865.

The two markers now displayed at the RiverPlex tell the story of Moffatt Cemetery and of one of the especially notable persons buried there, Nance Legins-Costley (1813-1892) of Pekin and Peoria, known to history as the first African-American slave to be freed with the help of Abraham Lincoln.

Nance and her son Leander Costley (c.1845-1886) are recorded in the Peoria County Undertakers’ Reports as having been interred at Moffatt. Nance’s husband Benjamin Costley (c.1814-1883) was also very probably buried at Moffatt – his death and burial record says he was to be interred at Springdale Cemetery, but Springdale has no record of him being buried there, and since his wife and son are at Moffatt, it is believed that he was the first of the Costley family to be interred there.

The two markers now at the RiverPlex and the one at the Riverfront Museum will remain on display at their interim locations until the Spring of 2023, when they will be permanently installed on land at the intersection of South Adams and Griswold streets, near the site of the defunct Moffatt Cemetery. The land is being deeded by the United Union of Roofers Local No. 69 to the City of Peoria. The markers, along with a lighted flag to honor the Civil War veterans and informational signs, will form the Freedom & Remembrance Memorial.

The creation and dedication of the memorial next year will be done in partnership with the City of Peoria, the Peoria Park District, and Roofers Local No. 69.

PHOTO COURTESY OF FRM PROJECT
PHOTO COURTESY OF FRM PROJECT

#benjamin-costley, #juneteenth, #leander-costley, #moffatt-cemetery, #nance-legins-costley, #nathan-ashby, #pekin-history, #peoria, #peoria-county-undertakers-reports, #peoria-freedom-remembrance-memorial-park, #peoria-park-district, #riverplex, #sue-wheeler, #united-union-of-roofers-local-69

Further light on the Shipman family

By Jared L. Olar

Local History Specialist

In June and July this summer “From the History Room” devoted some attention to the African-American family of Moses and Milly Shipman of Sand Prairie and Elm Grove Townships in Tazewell County, with special attention paid to the freedom lawsuits that Milly and some of her children and friends filed in St. Louis, Missouri, after they were kidnapped by human traffickers who wished to return them to slavery.

In particular, we delved into the life story of Pvt. Thomas G. L. Shipman of Pekin, son of Moses and Milly, who served as a sharpshooter in the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry during the Civil War.

As we noted back in June of this year, Thomas first appears on record in the U.S. Census returns for the city of Peoria, dated 15 Aug. 1850, which show “Thos. G. L. Shipman,” age 16, “mulatto” (i.e., of black and white ancestry), living in the household of Harvey Green, 40, laborer, and Mary Ann Green, 27. Also living in this household were George W. Lee, 5, Juliett Lee, 4, Richard Toombs, 41, Charles W. Shipman, 23, and David Shipman, 24.

Through the excellent research of Susan Rynerson of the Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society, and with the aid of Lea Vandervelde’s book “Redemption Songs: Suing for Freedom before Dred Scott” (2014), it has been determined that the Charles W., David, and Thomas of this census record were brothers. Vandervelde’s also points out (page 237, note 35) that after Milly’s death, Moses Shipman remarried in Tazewell County on 19 Dec. 1844 to a woman named Nancy Winslow.

The freedom suit files of Milly Shipman and her companions show that she and Moses had children named Mary Ann and David, who must be the David Shipman found in this census record. In addition, it is significant that Charles, David, and Thomas were living with Mary Ann Green, who is known from marriage records to have been a Shipman as well. Thus, she must be Moses’ and Milly’s daughter Mary Ann.

Tazewell County marriage records show that Mary Ann Shipman married a certain James Lee on 12 July 1843. Consequently, we can identify the George W. Lee and Juliett Lee of this census record as children of Mary Ann by James Lee. By the time of the 1850 census, though, Mary Ann was remarried to Harvey Green, for her first husband James perhaps had died. Mary Ann and Harvey later had a daughter Alice Green, as shown in the 1860 census (by which time Mary Ann had again remarried to Charles Granby, as shown by Tazewell County marriage records).

At this point, it should be clarified that Vandervelde (on page 95 and on page 237, notes 33 and 34) offers an incorrect suggestion regarding the identity of Mary Ann Shipman and her second husband Harvey Green. On page 95 of her book, Vandervelde identifies the 1850 census record of Harvey Green and Mary Ann (Shipman) Green as that of Harry Dick, one of the emancipated freedmen who was kidnapped by Stephen Smith in 1827, and Mary Ann (Shipman) Green. On page 237, Vandervelde says Harry Dick “appears to have changed his name to Harry Green. Harry Green, a black man whose age matches that of Harry Dick, married Maryan Dotson on August 9, 1842, in Jasper County, Illinois.

The 1850 census record, however, does not mention a “Harry” Green, but instead shows a “Harvy” Green. Furthermore, the Mary Ann of the 1850 census record could not have married a Harry (or Harvy) Green in 1842, because she has been shown to have married James Lee in 1843 in Tazewell County. Although Harvey Green’s age and place of birth in the 1850 census record matches that of Harry Dick, that alone is not sufficient to identify them.

In this cropped image from a page of the 1850 U.S. Census of Peoria, we see the household of Harvy and Mary Ann Green, which included Mary Ann’s children George W. Lee, 5, and Juliett Lee, 4, a certain Richard Toombs, 41, and Mary Ann’s three brothers Charles W. Shipman, 23, David Shipman, 24, and Thomas G. L. Shipman, 16.

As an interesting aside, Mary Ann’s son George W. Lee later married Mary Jane Costley, daughter of Benjamin and Nance (Legins) Costley of Pekin and sister of Pvt. William Henry Costley of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, Co. B. George himself also served in a colored regiment during the Civil War, but in George’s case he ended up being assigned to the 55th Massachusetts Colored Infantry, Co. H. Thus we see that Pvt. Thomas Shipman was related to the Costleys of Pekin.

Thomas was also related by marriage to the Ashbys of Liverpool Township, Fulton County, who provided four men to the 29th U.S.C.I. Peoria County marriage records show that David Shipman, who was Thomas’ brother, married Elizabeth Ashby on 28 Jan. 1849. From available records on the Ashby family, it seems most probable that Elizabeth was a sister of Pvt. Nathan Ashby of Pekin, of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, Co. G., one of four Ashby men of Pekin who served in Co. G. Nathan himself was very probably a son of Fulton County’s first African-American physician, Dr. James Ashby (1808-1850). Illinois state census records for 1855 indicate that David and Elizabeth had a son, born circa 1850, but nothing is known of that son’s identity.

After his enumeration in the 1850 U.S. Census, Thomas Shipman next appears in Peoria County marriage records, which show that on 27 June 1859, he married Martha Ann Powell, born circa 1840 in Indiana. Then the U.S. Census returns for the city of Peoria, dated 5 July 1860, show Thomas Shipman, 21, laborer, born in Illinois, with Martha A. Shipman, 20, born in Indiana, married within the year, and Franklin Shipman, 3 months old. Thomas, Martha, and Franklin are all classified as “mulatto” and unable to read or write. The 1863 Peoria City Directory lists Thomas as a laborer then residing at 77 S. Washington St.

Thomas laid down his life for his country in action near Hatcher’s Run, Virginia, on 31 March 1865. If he had lived, he would have accompanied his regiment to Galveston, Texas, in June 1865 to be present at the first Juneteenth. His widow Martha applied for a Civil War pension in his name on 12 May 1865.

Further research on the family of Thomas Shipman conducted by Susan Rynerson and myself has found that Thomas and Martha had two other children besides their son Franklin named in the 1860 U.S. Census. Those children are Nancy Ellen “Nannie” Shipman, born about 1862 in Peoria, and Thomas Eaton Shipman, born 24 Dec. 1864 in Pekin.

After obtaining a pension as a Civil War widow, Martha remarried in Peoria County in 1867 to a man named Jordan Rogan, who was born about 1835 in Louisiana. Thus, in the U.S. Census returns for Peoria dated 8 June 1870, we find Jordan Rogan, 35, plasterer, born in Louisiana, Martha Rogan, 28, keeping house, born in Indiana, Nancy, 8, goes to school, born in Illinois, and Thomas, 5, born in Illinois; and everyone in this household is identified as “mulatto.” That Martha’s son Franklin does not appear in this census record indicates that he must have died by then.

Martha’s second husband Jordan Rogan presumably died during the early to mid-1870s, because on 11 Dec. 1879 in Peoria County, Martha remarried to a man named Rufus S. Eastman, who was born in 1848 in Lincoln County, Tennessee, the son of David and Margaret (Crofford/Crawford) Eastman. This marriage record says Martha was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, a daughter of Eaton and Lillie (Harris) Powell.

It should be noted that Rufus’ surname is spelled variously in different records. In the 1879 marriage record his surname is given as “Easland,” but in the 1880 U.S. Census it is “Easton,” but in Springdale Cemetery records it is “Eastman.”

The U.S. Census returns for Peoria dated 5 June 1880 enumate the household of Martha and Rufus as: Rufus Easton, 45, cook at a hotel, born in Tennessee, wife Martha A. Easton, 35, housekeeping, born in Indiana of Virginia-born parents, Rufus’ step-daughter Nanie E. “Shipmun,” 18, assistant, born in Illinois, and Rufus’ step-son Thomas E. “Shipmun,” 13, born in Illinois. Everyone in the household is listed as “black.”

Rufus died on 19 April 1891 and is buried in Springdale Cemetery in Peoria. His widow Martha survived until 14 Dec. 1899, when she died in Peoria and was buried two days later in Springdale. As for Martha’s son Thomas Eaton Shipman, he is listed in the 1893 Peoria City Directory as a musician living at 912 Sixth St. (which was then the home of Martha Eastman). Thomas died 15 July 1894 and was also buried in Springdale. It is unknown if Thomas ever married or had children.

Thomas’ older sister Nancy or Nannie married on 24 June 1880 in Peoria to Richard C. Hilliard, 28, white, born in St. Louis, Missouri, son of Ralph and S. (Holley) Hilliard. Nannie and Richard had an unnamed son on 16 Oct. 1880 in Peoria, but it is unclear whether that son was stillborn or died soon after birth, or perhaps later was given a name. No other children of Nannie and Richard are known, and it is unknown when and where Nannie and Richard died and are buried. Nannie was probable dead before May 1895, because Tazewell County marriage records show that Richard C. Hilliard, 41, of Springfield, Illinois, a hotel waiter, born in St. Louis of Ralph and Susan Hilliard, married in Pekin on 6 May 1895 (his second marriage) to Dora Jackson, 28, of Davenport, Iowa, born in Davenport of Rufus and Julia Jackson. The fact that Richard had been living in Springfield could be a clue as to where Nannie may have died and been buried. In any case, it is not impossible that Nannie and her brother Thomas had children who survived to adulthood and may perhaps have living descendants, but at this time nothing further is known of the descendants of Pvt. Thomas Shipman.

Vandervelde discusses another uncertain point regarding the Shipman family on page 95 of her book (cf. page 237 note 39): the identity of the George Shipman named in the 1845 will of Revolutionary War veteran David Shipman of Tazewell County. The will includes a bequest of the remainder of the estate to go toward the clothing of George Shipman when he became of age.  As Vandervelde notes, the identity of that George Shipman is unclear. He could have been a younger, or even youngest, son of Moses Shipman, born perhaps of his second marriage to Nancy Winslow. Or he may have been a son of Moses and Milly who, like Thomas G. L. Shipman, was born after Milly’s safe return to Tazewell County.

Vandervelde points out that the 1850 U.S. Census provides two candidates for the George Shipman of the will. One of them is George W. Shipman, 13, mulatto, apparently working as a servant at Peoria House hotel – his name is listed directly under Hiram Williams, 25, black, a cook at Peoria House. They are the only two blacks shown in that census record as employees of Peoria House.

The other candidate in the 1850 census is “Geo Shipman,” 17, mulatto, a laborer in the household of George and Abigail Washington (who are identified in this record as “black”). Now, we have previously discussed this very census record in the context of the genealogy of the Ashby family, because this is the first time Pvt. Nathan Ashby is named in the historical record. Nathan Ashby, 14, and Mary Beverly, 16, were also living in this household at this time. We know from other records that James Ashby, probably Nathan’s brother, married a Beverly, and we know that David Shipman married Elizabeth Ashby. Thus, most likely George Shipman is a brother of David Shipman, just as Mary Beverly would be a sister-in-law of James Ashby, and Elizabeth Ashby would be a sister of Nathan Ashby.

Thus, we can be reasonably confident that this is the George Shipman of the 1845 will. Given the age of this George Shipman, he would be a son of Moses and Milly Shipman. That would make him an older brother of Pvt. Thomas Shipman. Further information on George has not yet been found.

This cropped image from a page of the 1850 U.S. Census for the City of Peoria shows the African-American household of George and Abigail Washington, including their son Albert, 2, along with Mary Beverly, 16, George Shipman, 17, and Nathan Ashby, 14. Mary was probably the sister of Margaret Beverly who married James W. Ashby in Knox County, Illinois, in 1845. James Ashby and Nathan Ashby evidently were brothers. In addition, an Elizabeth Ashby, apparently their sister, married David Shipman, who was apparently the brother of the George Shipman shown in this census record. George Washington’s wife Abigail may have been a Beverly, Shipman, or Ashby.

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Freedom & Remembrance Memorial markers unveiled

By Jared L. Olar

Local History Specialist

A great deal of progress has been made in the effort to create the Freedom & Remembrance Memorial in south Peoria, a project that aims to commemorate and honor the more than 2,600 Peorians buried at the former Moffatt Cemetery. This project was described here at “From the History Room” in a blog post in August 2021.

The most visible signs of that progress are the three Illinois State Historical Markers that were the center of attention at a special “unveiling” event hosted this week by the Peoria Riverfront Museum, held on Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 15. Project core team member Robert Hoffer of the Peoria Historical Society was the chief speaker at the event.

In addition, Joseph Hutchinson, another core team member, who belongs to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, spoke about the Civil War veterans buried at Moffatt Cemetery. Also addressing the attendees was Charles Stanley, Illinois State Historical Society board member and chairman of the Society’s Historical Marking Committee, who read a message from the New York-based Pomeroy Foundation, a major donor toward two of the project’s three markers.

The first marker to be completed, commemorating the 52 Union Civil War veterans buried at Moffatt Cemetery, was unveiled July 28 at the Riverfront Museum as part of an exhibit on Moffatt and the planned Freedom & Remembrance Memorial. One of those veterans was Pvt. Nathan Ashby of Pekin, who was present at the first Juneteenth in Galveston, Texas, 19 June 1865.

More recently, the other two historical markers were completed and brought to Peoria. One of the markers tells the history of Moffatt Cemetery, from its origins in the mid-1800s as a family burying ground of Peoria pioneer Aquilla Moffatt, through its closing in 1905, down to the razing and rezoning of the cemetery in the 1950s. When the cemetery was razed, it was reported that the burials at Moffatt had been relocated, but recent research has found that only a small number of burials were moved. The majority of the 2,600-plus burials remain at the site, paved and built over.

Among those burials still at the site would be Nance Legins-Costley (1813-1892), known to history as the first African-American to secure freedom with the aid of Abraham Lincoln. Her life story is the subject of a book and several papers and articles written by project core team member Carl Adams. Costley had indefatigably insisted on her freedom through a series of Illinois lawsuits, and Lincoln’s legal arguments in the landmark 1841 Illinois Supreme Court case of Bailey v. Cromwell at last obtained the courts’ recognition that Costley had been right all along. In April of 1892, she was buried in Moffatt Cemetery, where her late husband Benjamin Costley had been buried in 1883 and their son Leander Costley was buried in 1886.

At Tuesday’s event, Hoffer said the United Union of Roofers Local #69 is deeding land at the corner of South Adams and Griswold for the site of the Freedom and Remembrance Memorial, which will be owned by the City of Peoria. Hoffer also acknowledged and thanked the other organizations that are involved in and support the project, which include, among others, the Peoria Park District, the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, the Abraham Lincoln Association, the Peoria Public Library, and the Pekin Public Library.

Title transfer of the land for the memorial should be completed in the near future, after which the markers and a lighted flag pole will be installed. A formal dedication ceremony of the memorial is being planned for the Spring of 2023.

The following photos are provided courtesy of the Freedom & Remembrance Memorial project:

The story of Peoria’s Moffatt Cemetery is told on this Illinois State Historical Marker. This and the other two Freedom and Remembrance Memorial ISHS markers were made possible through grants from the William D. Pomeroy Foundation. The markers will be placed at the intersection of South Adams and Griswold, near the site of the former cemetery. The memorial will be established on land donated by the United Union of Roofers #69 and will be owned and maintained by the City of Peoria.
This Illinois State Historical Marker lists all 52 of the Civil War Union soldiers buried in Moffatt Cemetery on the south side of Peoria. Among those Union veterans was Pvt. Nathan Ashby of Pekin, who served in the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry and was present at the original Juneteenth in 1865.
The life and legacy of Nance Legins-Costley of Pekin and Peoria, who was buried in Moffatt Cemetery in 1892, is commemorated by this Illinois State Historical Marker to be placed near the site of the former cemetery in Peoria. Costley is known to history as the first African-American to obtain her freedom with the help of Abraham Lincoln. She and her family were pioneers who lived in Pekin from 1829 until the late 1870s, when they moved to Peoria.
Robert Hoffer, core team member of the Freedom and Remembrance Memorial project, addresses the attendees of the historical marker unveiling event Tuesday afternoon, 15 Nov. 2022. Three Illinois State Historical Markers memorializing and honoring the more than 2,600 people buried in Moffatt Cemetery will be placed near the location of the former cemetery at the intersection of South Adams and Griswold, Peoria. A dedication ceremony is planned for Spring 2023.

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History of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry

By Jared Olar

Local History Specialist

With the approach of the Juneteenth holiday, it is a fitting time to recall the story of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, which was Illinois’ only African-American regiment during the Civil War.

The history of the 29th U.S.C.I. was researched in depth and published in 1998 by military historian Edward A. Miller Jr., whose book, “The Black Civil War Soldiers of Illinois,” is included in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room collection.

During the Civil War, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on 1 Jan. 1863. Afterwards, he requested that four regiments of African-American men should be raised. Eventually, 300,000 soldiers in 166 “colored” regiments were raised for the Union Army.

At first, enlistment was slow because of low pay — and because it was expected that captured black soldiers would be badly treated by the Confederacy (as happened at Fort Pillow in Tennessee on 12 April 1864 – about 300 Colored Troops were murdered by the Confederate forces after they had surrendered.)

The War Department set up the Bureau for Colored Troops to determine which white soldiers to commission as officers for the new colored regiments. Non-commissioned officers and privates were African-American. At first there was a stigma attached to being a white officer in a colored regiment, but the prospect of rapid promotion overcame the stigma. Famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass made a visit to Peoria to encourage enlistment in the Colored Troops.

The 29th United States Colored Infantry Regiment was organized at Quincy and mustered into federal service on 24 April 1864. Lieut. Col. John A. Bross of Chicago organized the regiment and became its commanding officer. Bross formerly commanded Co. A of the 88th Illinois Infantry and was a veteran of the Battle of Stones River. His brother was a Chicago Tribune newspaper editor who later became lieutenant governor of Illinois. Because of his political connections, Bross endured mockery as not being a real soldier.

Ten companies were organized: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, and K. The original captain of Co. B was Hector H. Aiken and the original captain of Co. G. was William A. Southwell.

In brief, the history of the 29th U.S.C.I. was: 1) Ordered to Annapolis, Maryland, 27 May 1864, and from there to Alexandria, Virginia; 2) Attached to the defenses of Washington, D.C., 22nd Corps, until June 1864; 3) 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, 9th Corps, Army of the Potomac, until Sept. 1864; 4) 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 9th Corps until Dec. 1864; and 5) 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 25th Corps, and Dept. of Texas, until Nov. 1865.

Here is a more detailed service record and list of the 29th U.S.C.I.’s battles and engagements:

  • Duty at Alexandria, Virginia, till 15 June 1864.  Moved to White House, Virginia, thence to Petersburg, Virginia.
  • Siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond 19 June 1864 to 3 April 1865.
  • Explosion, Petersburg, 30 July 1864 – Battle of the Crater, a debacle with Union losses of 504 killed, 1,881 wounded, 1,413 missing or captured; Lieut. Col. Bross and Capt. Hector Aiken were both killed. The 29th U.S.C.I. alone suffered two officers and 38 enlisted men killed, four officers and 53 enlisted men wounded, and 33 enlisted men captured.
  • Weldon Railroad, Aug. 18-21.  
  • Poplar Grove Church, Sept. 29-30, and Oct. 1.
  • Hatcher’s Run, Oct. 27-28.
  • On the Bermuda Hundred front and before Richmond till April 1865. 
  • Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Present at the Surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
  • Duty in the Dept. of Virginia till May.
  • Moved to Dept. of Texas May and June, and duty on the Rio Grande till November.
  • Mustered out 6 Nov. 1865.

The regiment lost during its service three officers and 43 enlisted men who were killed and mortally wounded and 188 enlisted men by disease – for a total of 234.

The Butler Medal, shown here, was a silver medal commissioned by Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler and paid for out of his own pocket, given to more than 200 members of the Colored Troops in recognition of their valor at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm and New Market Heights (29-30 Sept. 1864) during the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia. The Latin motto ‘Ferro iis libertas perveniet’ means “Freedom Will be Theirs by the Sword.”

One of the most remarkable episodes in this regiment’s history is that it was present at the first Juneteenth. How that came about is that after Lee’s surrender, the South in general, and Texas in particular, needed occupational forces. Union soldiers were eager to go home, but many in the Colored Troops were willing to stay on the payroll.

Gen. Meigs, quartermaster, still had over 3,000 supply ships, so he put to sea the largest amphibious operation of the war, sending 30,000 troops of the 13th and 25th Corps to the Rio Grande. The port of Galveston surrendered June 5. The 28th Indiana, 29th Illinois, and the 31st New York units of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division USCT arrived at Galveston Bay on June 18.

The white units of 34th Iowa, 83rd and 114th Ohio and 94th Illinois all arrived within a few days. Over 6,000 men landed within a week, and the racial makeup of the soldiers in Galveston on Juneteenth 1865 was about half black and half white.

Pekin and Tazewell County provided 11 men to the 29th U.S.C.I., five of whom were present at Juneteenth. Those men are listed below, with the names of the Juneteenth eyewitnesses in boldface:

  • William Henry Costley, son of Benjamin and Nance Costley, of Pekin, Co. B
  • Edward W. Lewis, of Peoria, formerly of Pekin (married Bill Costley’s sister Amanda in Pekin in 1858), unassigned (served as an Army cook).
  • William Henry Ashby, of Pekin, Co. G
  • Marshall Ashby, of Pekin, Co. G
  • Nathan Ashby, of Pekin, Co. G
  • William J. Ashby, of Pekin, Co. G, fell sick 27 March 1865, in hospital most of the rest of his term of service, mustered out 6 Nov. 1865.
  • Thomas Shipman, of Pekin, Co. D, a sharpshooter, killed in the line of duty 31 March 1865 during the Appomattox Campaign. (Miller, p.148, says Shipman was killed 30 March 1865, but his service file says 31 March.)
  • George H. Hall, of Pekin, Co. B, fell sick 18 May 1865, in hospital most of the rest of his term of service, mustered out 6 Nov. 1865.
  • Wilson Price, of Elm Grove Township, military records do not list his company, or mention when or how his service ended.
  • Thomas M. Tumbleson, of Elm Grove Township, Co. B, discharged 30 Sept. 1865 at Ringgold Barracks, Rio Grande, Texas.
  • Morgan Day, of Elm Grove Township, Co. G, fell sick 27 March 1865, died of dysentery 6 Sept. 1865 in New Orleans, buried in Chalmette National Cemetery, Louisiana.

The four Ashby men from Pekin are mentioned by Miller on p.118 of his book. Morgan Day was an uncle of most of the Ashby men of Pekin through his mother Rachel. Thomas Shipman also was related to the Ashbys through his brother David Shipman’s marriage to Elizabeth Ashby, who was very probably a sister of Nathan Ashby. Miller again mentions Nathan Ashby on p.201, where he describes Nathan’s life after the war:

“Pvt. Nathan Ashby, one of several solders of that family from Peoria County, Illinois, was living largely on the pension he received in 1892 for rheumatism and lung disease. In a normal review by doctors employed by the pension bureau, his pension was discontinued in 1895 because Ashby was found to be able to perform manual labor. Although restored on appeal, Ashby suffered much without the income, and, when he died in 1899, he left his wife ‘two old mules’ and no other property.”

As related in previous posts here, the Ashby family was from Fulton County but later moved to Tazewell and Peoria counties. Nathan himself moved from Pekin to Bartonville, and was buried in the defunct Moffatt Cemetery in Peoria. As Miller tells in his book, Nathan Ashby’s hard life of poverty after the war was shared by almost all of his fellow soldiers of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry.

#29th-u-s-colored-infantry, #battle-of-the-crater, #butler-medal, #colored-troops, #david-shipman, #edward-a-miller-jr, #edward-lewis, #elizabeth-ashby, #george-h-hall, #hector-h-aiken, #juneteenth, #lieut-col-john-a-bross, #marshall-ashby, #morgan-day, #nathan-ashby, #rachel-day, #the-black-civil-war-soldiers-of-illinois, #thomas-shipman, #thomas-tumbleson, #william-a-southwell, #william-henry-ashby, #william-henry-costley, #william-j-ashby, #wilson-price

The African-American Ashby family of Fulton and Tazewell Counties and their descendants – Part Four:

By Jared Olar

Library Assistant

This week we conclude the genealogical account of the Ashby family of Fulton and Tazewell counties with an account of those members of the fifth and sixth generations of this family who have already passed away. Living descendants of the Ashby family are known to live not only in Illinois, but also Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, California, Oregon, Washington, Ohio, and elsewhere. Interestingly, the greater proportion of Ashby descendants today are white (but some at least are aware of their African-American ancestry).

Fifth Generation

Fayette (‘Fay’) Deising, dau. of Harry Peter and Nellie (Gash) Deising, b. 1891 in Galesburg, Ill., d. unknown; m. 1st 19 Jan. 1912 in Davenport, Iowa, Harry Nichols, b. 1891 in Ashland City, Cheatham Co., Tenn., d. unknown, issue of this m., if any, unknown; m 2nd 4  Aug. 1922 in Spokane Co., Wash., (his 2nd m.) Edward Harrison (‘Eddie’) Joiner, b. 18 Sept. 1895 in Boise, Idaho, d. 16 Oct. 1960 in Missoula, Mont., buried in St. Mary Cemetery, Missoula, Mont.; had issue one dau.

                Children:

  • Geraldine Joiner, b. 31 Dec. 2006 in Spokane, Wash., d. 30 July 2006 in Wilmington, Ohio, buried 3 Aug. 2006 in Ohio; m. 26 Aug. 1946 in Highland Co., Ohio, LaJean Orris (‘Eugene’) Ford, b. 2 Sept. 1923 in Lyndon, Ross Co., Ohio, d. 13 March 1984 in Dayton, Ohio, had issue five daus. (two deceased) and two sons (both deceased). LaJean was a World War II U.S. Army veteran.

John Leroy Ashby, son of Arthur and Violet (Brown) Ashby, b. 29 Feb. 1920 in Galesburg, Ill., d. 17 May 2014 in Galesburg, Ill., buried in East Linwood Cemetery, Galesburg; m. 1st 6 June 1940 in Davenport, Iowa, Amanda Belle Brown, b. 12 Jan. 1924 in Galesburg, Ill., d. 4 March 1990 in San Bernardino Co., Calif., had issue one son; m. 2nd 13 Aug. 1952 in Boise, Idaho, Virginia Mae Graham, b. c.1926 in Sardis, Panola Co., Miss.; John and Virginia div. 22 Aug. 1953 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., but reconciled and rem. 6 Oct. 1953 in Los Angeles Co. Calif.; had issue two sons (still living) and a dau. (deceased). John was a World War II veteran of the U.S. Army, receiving a Purple Heart from being wounded by enemy action in France. After the war, in 1947 John was among the first to join the U.S. Air Force, in which he served for two decades.

                Children:

  • John Leroy (‘Johnny’) Ashby Jr., b. c.1941 in Galesburg, Ill., d. unknown; had a son (still living) out-of-wedlock with (NN) Hicks on 21 Feb. 1959 in Los Angeles, Calif.; m. 1st 30 Jan. 1959 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., Brenda K. Thompson, b. 15 March 1942 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., d. 25 Feb. 2016, buried in Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, Calif.; had issue a son and a dau. (both still living); m. 2nd 7 Aug. 1965 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., Janis Elaine Walker, b. 17 March 1944 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., d. 28 Feb. 2000; had issue one dau. (deceased); div. Jan. 1969 in Los Angeles, Calif.; m. 3rd 5 Sept. 1977 in Clark Co., Nev., Kathleen Ann (‘Kathy’) John, b. 27 Feb. 1952 in San Bernardino Co., Calif., d. unknown; had issue a son (still living); poss. m. 4th 15 Oct. 1985 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., Carrie L. Beverly, b. Dec. 1949, d. unknown; issue of this m., if any, unknown; unclear if Carrie’s husband John L. Ashby is “our” John Leroy Ashby, but if so then John must have later reconciled with his 3rd wife Kathleen.
  • Michelle Ashby, b. 6 March 1957 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., predeceased her father at an unknown date and place.

Bernice Orilla Hoover, dau. of Jesse Bertie and Beryl Leontine (Horine) Hoover, b. 21 Aug. 1904 in Peoria, Ill., d. 20 Feb. 1956 in Montebello, Los Angeles Co., Calif., buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, Calif.; m. 10 Sept. 1926 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., James Berry Davis, b. 7 Nov. 1903 in Ill, d. 28 Feb. 1965 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, Calif.; had issue two daus. and one son.

                Children:

  • Mary Louise Davis, b. 17 Dec. 1926 in Belvedere, Calif., d. 4 Jan. 1927 in Belvedere, Calif., burial in Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Charles Edward Davis, b. 20 April 1929 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., d. 4 Dec. 2019 in Calif., buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, Calif.; m. 3 Sept. 1949 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., Robbie Dee Smith, b. 23 May 1931 in Chino, Calif., d. 3 Nov. 2013 in Arcadia, Calif., buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, Calif.; had issue a son and three daus. (all still living).
  • Clarice Ethel Davis, b. 20 April 1929 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., d. 2 Nov. 2001 in Calif.; m. 20 April 1951 in Orange Co., Calif., Richard Lee Meadows, b. 23 Aug. 1932 in Sheridan, Wyo., d. 30 Nov. 1981 in Pico Rivera, Calif., buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, Calif.; had issue two daus. and a son (all still living).

Alice La Verle Hoover, dau. of Jesse Bertie and Beryl Leontine (Horine) Hoover, b. March 1909 in Peoria, Ill., d. 22 Aug. 1998 in Mariposa, Calif., buried in Mariposa Masonic Cemetery, Mariposa, Calif.; m. 6 March 1928 in Belvedere Gardens, Calif., Tom Ray Richardson, b. 13 Nov. 1903 in Avery, Neb., d. 30 Oct. 1995 in Mariposa, Calif., buried in Mariposa Masonic Cemetery, Mariposa, Calif.; had issue four daus. and one son, with two of the daus. now deceased but the remaining children yet living.

Alice La Verle Hoover (1909-1998), shown here in 1927, was a daughter of Jesse Bertie Hoover, son of Leonard B. and Catherine (Clark-Ashby) Hoover, who in turn was a daughter of Pvt. William J. Clark-Ashby (29th U.S. Colored Infantry) of Pekin, who was a son of William Ashby of Liverpool Township, Fulton County, Illinois.

                Children:

  • Shirley La Verle Richardson, b. 10 March 1930 in Belvedere, Calif., d. 6 Aug. 2004 in Claremont, Calif.; m. 23 Nov. 1951 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., Charles Arthur Hutchison, b. 6 March 1926 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., d. unknown; had issue two daus. and two sons (all still living).
  • Carol Ann Richardson, b. 10 Nov. 1944 in Monterey Park, Calif., d. 1 June 1994 in Mariposa, Calif., buried in Mariposa District Cemetery, Mariposa, Calif.; m. 20 June 1969 in Mariposa Co., Calif., Dennis Martin Bunning, b. 5 Sept. 1944 in Merced Co., Calif., d. unknown; had issue a son (deceased).

Edward Ralph Hoover, son of Jesse Bertie and Beryl Leontine (Horine) Hoover, b. 5 Dec. 1910 in Peoria, Ill., d. 30 March 2001 in Alhambra, Calif., buried in Rose Hills Memorial Parks, Whittier, Calif.; m. 1st 29 July 1931 in East Los Angeles, Calif., Nola Jemima Powell, b. 29 July 1909 in Lehi, Utah, d. 15 Feb. 1978 in Monterey Park, Calif., buried in Rose Hills Memorial Parks, Whittier, Calif., had issue one son (now deceased) and two daus. (yet living); m. 2nd 20 May 1978 in Los Angeles, Calif. (her 2nd m.), Clara (Burgener) Yocom, b. 20 Dec. 1905 in Midway, Utah, d. 7 Feb. 1997 in El Monte, Calif., buried in Rose Hills Memorial Parks, Whittier, Calif., no issue of this m.

                Children:

  • Ralph Nolan Hoover, b. 2 April 1934 in Los Angeles, Calif., d. 18 May 202 in San Dimas, Calif., buried in Oakdale Memorial Park, Glendora, Calif.; m. 1st 5 June 1965 in Las Vegas, Nev., Victory Adrienne Hisel, and had issue two sons and two daus. (all still living); div. Sept. 1974 in Los Angeles Co., Calif.; m. 2nd 4 July 1975 in Las Vegas, Nev., Jewelan Agnes Cummings, but issue of this m., if any, unknown.

Dolores Dona Dipley, dau. of Jesse Levi and Loretta Delores (Oatman) Dipley, b. 28 Jan. 1931 in Mo., d. 19 Dec. 1993, buried in Stone Cemetery, Fidelity, Mo.; m. c.1946 Clayton Wilford (‘Andy’) Anderson, b. 18 Oct. 1924 in Diamond, Newton Co., Mo., d. 1 May 2005 in Galena, Kansas, buried in Stone Cemetery, Fidelity, Mo.; had issue five daus. (all still living) and five sons (three still living).

                Children:

  • Clayton Michael Anderson, b. 8 March 1949, d. 14 May 2013, buried in Stone Cemetery, Fidelity, Mo.; m. twice, both wives still living; issue, if any, unknown.
  • Mark De Wayne Anderson, b. 25 June 1967 in Webb City, Mo., d. 23 Sept. 2005 in Wichita, Kansas, buried in Stone Cemetery, Fidelity, Mo.; m. (NN) and had a son and a dau. (both still living). Mark was divorced at the time of his death.

Juanita Mae Dipley, dau. of Jesse Levi and Loretta Delores (Oatman) Dipley, b. 30 April 1933 in Mo., d. 25 June 2017 in Joplin, Mo.; m. 6 May 1950 in Joplin, Mo., Benjamin Franklin (‘Ben’) Curl, b. 21 April 1927 in Joplin, Mo., d. 27 May 2012 in Independence, Kansas; had issue three sons (two still living) and two daus., with four living grandchildren.

                Children:

  • Alan Bruce Curl, b. 14 Dec. 1950 in Webb City, Mo., d. 26 April 2012 prob. in Joplin, Mo.; m. twice, both wives apparently still living; issue, if any, unknown.

Benny Franklin Copher Jr., son of Benjamin Franklin and Margaret J. (Smith) Copher, b. 22 March 1934 in Mo., d. 5 Feb. 2003 in Joplin, Mo., buried in Ozark Memorial Park Cemetery, Joplin, Mo.; m. 19 March 1954 in Joplin, Mo., Frankie Joanne Roland, b. 27 Sept. 1936 in Joplin, Mo., d. 8 April 2021 in Joplin, Mo., buried in Ozark Memorial Park Cemetery, Joplin, Mo.; had issue three sons (one of them now deceased).

                Children:

  • Joseph Aaron Copher, b. 22 Dec. 1962 in Mo., d. 2 July 1981 in Joplin, Mo., buried in Ozark Memorial Park Cemetery, Joplin, Mo.; no issue.

William James Ellis (‘Bill’) Garrigus, son of Jesse Thomas and Maggie Elizabeth (White) Garrigus, b. 22 June 1911 in Mo., d. 22 April 1997 in Reeds Spring, Stone Co., Mo., buried in Nickerson Cemetery, Kimberling City, Mo.; m. c.1932 Dorothy Dunn, b. 2 July 1915 in Barry Co., Mo., d. 22 Sept. 1998 in Branson, Mo., buried in Nickerson Cemetery, Kimberling City, Mo.; had issue two daus. (both deceased) and four sons (one deceased).

                Children:

  • Irene Dahlia Garrigus, b. 30 May 1933 in Reeds Spring, Mo., d. 9 Nov. 2011 in Mountain Home, Arkansas, buried in Conley Cemetery, Mountain Home, Arkansas; m. 19 Aug. 1950 in Mountain Home, Arkansas, George David White, b. 9 Sept. 1929 in Bayside, Texas, d. 31 Dec. 2011 in Mountain Home, Arkansas, buried in Conley Cemetery, Mountain Home, Arkansas; had issue two daus. (one deceased) and two sons (one deceased).
  • Kenneth Warren Garrigus, b. 12 Feb. 1941 in Mo., d. 3 Dec. 1958 in Stone Co., Mo., buried in Nickerson Cemetery, Kimberling City, Mo.; no issue.
  • Wilma Lee Garrigus, b. 1 Sept. 1944 in Reeds Spring, Mo., d. 3 Aug 2008 in Springfield, Mo., buried in Nickerson Cemetery, Kimberling City, Mo.; m. 1st (NN) Stephens, and had issue a son (still living); m. 2nd (NN) Humbard, and had issue two daus. (one deceased) and a son.; m. 3rd (NN).

Louise White, dau. of Melvin and Isa Dora (Dunn) White, b. 3 April 1934 in Reeds Spring, Mo., d. 20 Oct. 1984 in Rogers, Benton Co., Arkansas, buried in Tucks Chapel Cemetery, Rogers, Arkansas; had a son out-of-wedlock (still living); m. 12 Jan. 1961 in Bentonville, Benton Co., Arkansas, William Columbus (‘Bill’) Swadley, b. 17 Dec. 1926 in Rogers, Benton Co., Arkansas, d. 30 Sept. 2005 in Rogers, Benton Co., Arkansas, buried in Tucks Chapel Cemetery, Rogers, Arkansas; had issue five sons (one deceased) and two daus. (both still living).

                Children:

  • Jessie Howard (‘Jed’) Swadley, b. 26 June 1961 in Rogers, Arkansas, d. 2 April 2008 in Rogers, Arkansas, buried in Tucks Chapel Cemetery, Rogers, Arkansas; issue, if any, unknown.

Leroy J. (‘Pete’) White, son of Le Roy James and Hattie Susan (Martin) White, b. 10 Aug. 1928 in Reeds Spring, Mo., d. 18 Feb. 1969 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, buried in Nickerson Cemetery, Kimberling City, Mo.; m. 30 Aug 1952 in Harrison, Arkansas, Betty Lou Atchison, b. 27 April 1936 in Mo., d. 12 Aug. 2016 in Branson West, Mo.; had issue a dau. (deceased) and two sons (both still living).

                Children:

  • Barbara Sue White, b. 21 Aug. 1953 in Kansas City, Mo., d. 8 Sept. 2016 in Kimberling City, Mo.; m. twice, both husbands still living; had a son (still living).

Leonard Lorn White, son of Le Roy James and Hattie Susan (Martin) White, b. c.1934 in Mo., d. unknown; m. c. 1952 Pauline Faye Wood, b. 27 June 1935 in Ponca City, Okla., d. 17 May 2012 in Kansas City, Mo.; had issue a son (deceased) and three daus. (one deceased).

                Children:

  • Leonard Lorn (‘Len’) White Jr., b. 14 Nov. 1953 in Reeds Spring, Mo., d. 30 Aug. 1975 in Raytown, Mo., buried in Mount Washington Cemetery, Independence, Mo.; m. once (widow apparently still living)
  • Sharon Kay White, b. 12 April 1957 in Mo., d. 7 Aug. 1986 in Mo.; m. 23 Oct. 1979 in Jackson Co., Mo. (his 3rd m.), Billy Lee Corley, b. 11 Dec. 1946 in Young Co., Texas, d. 20 Aug. 1995; issue, if any, unknown.

Pauline Jackie White, dau. of Lawson Walter and Alpha L. (White) White, b. 1940, d. unknown, buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.; m. 1st 9 Nov. 1956 in Carson City, Nev. (his 2nd m.), Cecil Carl Spencer Jr., b. 31 May 1929 in Butte Co., Calif., d. in a car crash 12 Jan. 1987 in Oroville, Calif., buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.; had issue two sons (one deceased) and one dau.; m. 2nd (NN) Serreo, issue of this m., if any, unknown.

                Children:

  • Cecil R. Spencer, b. 1 Sept. 1957 in Oroville, Calif., d. c.1975 in Chicago, Ill.; no issue.

Alta Pearl Crabtree, dau. of Arthur Lee and Viola Frances (Nickerson) Crabtree, b. 30 Dec. 1917 in Reeds Spring, Mo., d. 25 Nov. 2017 in Oroville, Calif., buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.; m. 1st c.1932 in Mo., Adel Spangler, b. c.1905, d. unknown; had issue a stillborn child and a dau. (who d. in infancy); m. 2nd. c.1935 Ralph Smith, issue of that m., if any, unknown; m. 3rd. Dec. 1941 in Sacramento, Calif. (his 1st. m.), Peter Dominick Lecce, b. 28 Oct. 1911 in Nashwauk, Itasca Co., Minn., d. 20 Nov. 1989 in Houston, Texas, buried in Memorial Oaks Cemetery, Houston, Texas; had issue one son; m. 4th. 1 March 1947 in Oroville, Calif., James Maupin, b. 5 Nov. 1915 in Walters, Cotton Co., Okla., d. 18 Sept. 1995 in Live Oak, Sutter Co., Calif, buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Orovile, Calif.; had issue one dau.

Children:

  • Rebecca Spangler, b. and d. Oct. 1933 in Stone Co., Mo.
  • (Stillborn Dau.) Spangler, b. and d. 29 May 1935 in Maxwell, Colusa Co., Calif.

Georgia Ernestine Crabtree, dau. of Arthur Lee and Viola Frances (Nickerson) Crabtree, b. 29 Dec. 1920 in Reeds Spring, Mo., d. 23 Aug. 2000 in Maxwell, Colusa Co., Calif., buried in Maxwell Cemetery, Maxwell, Calif.; m. 1 Dec. 1936 in Colusa, Calif., Elmer Edward (‘Bud’) Holcomb, b. 26 July 1914 in Denver, Colo., d. 27 June 1992 in Colusa Co., Calif., buried in Maxwell Cemetery, Maxwell, Calif.; had issue three sons (one of them deceased).

                Children:

  • Arthur Earl (‘Tuffy’) Holcomb, b. 23 Feb. 1938 in Colusa Co., Calif., d. unknown; m. 1st Jacqulynn Sharon Magill, b. 5 May 1939 in Seattle, Wash., d. 7 Aug. 1994 in Oroville, Calif., buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.; had issue two sons (both deceased); m. 2nd Doris Armina Mae Bowdish, b. 24 March 1933, d. unknown; div. 9 April 1973 in Carson City, Nev.; no issue of this m.; m. 3rd (her 2nd m.) 1 Nov. 1973 in Reno, Nev., Shirley Hazel (Bates) Combs, b. 24 Aug. 1929 in Salt Lake City, Utah, d. 17 Aug. 2013 in Yreka, Calif., buried in Henley and Hornbrook Cemetery, Hornbrook, Calif.; no issue of this m.; m. 4th 26 April 1997 in Reno, Nev., Linda Rae Slater, no issue of this m.
  • Arnold Lee (‘Sharky’) Holcomb, b. 18 Feb. 1939 in Colusa Co., Calif., d. 2 Oct. 2018 in Oroville, Calif.; m. 4 Aug. 1978 in Reno, Nev., Susan Corinne Barnett, b. 25 April 1940 in Tuolumne Co., Calif., d. 28 May 2014; had issue two sons (both deceased) and a dau.

Kermit O’Neal Crabtree, son of Arthur Lee and Viola Frances (Nickerson) Crabtree, b. 21 Feb. 1923 in Reeds Spring, Mo., d. 26 May 1967 in Plumas Co., Calif., buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.; m. 11 June 1943 in Oroville, Calif., Norma Lucille Ransom, b. 9 March 1927, d. 31 July 1995, buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.; had issue a son and two daus. (one dau. still living).

                Children:

  • Jimmy Lee Crabtree, b. 12 April 1944 in Oroville, Calif., d. 2 Aug. 2012 at the Veterans’ Hospital in Ogden, Utah; m. twice, both wives apparently still living; had issue one son (still living).
  • Constance Lynn Crabtree, b. 12 March 1947 in Butte Co., Calif., d. 30 Sept. 1978 in Sacramento, Calif., buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.; m. 1st 14 Jan. 1965 in Carson City, Nev., Thomas H. Taylor, and had three daus. (all still living); Constance and Thomas div. May 1968; m. 2nd 25 Aug. 1972 in Del Norte Co., Calif., Billy Joe Hamrick, b. 22 Feb. 1939 in Calif., d. 7 Oct. 1983 in Butte Co., Calif., buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.; had issue one dau. (still living); Constance and Billy div. 22 Jan. 1973 in Lane Co., Ore.

Mary Jean Crabtree, dau. of Arthur Lee and Viola Frances (Nickerson) Crabtree, b. 7 Feb. 1925 in Reeds Spring, Mo., d. 14 Feb. 2008 in Oroville, Calif., buried in Willamette National Cemetery, Portland, Ore.; m. 14 July 1941 in Reno, Nev., Bervin Lewis Wright, b. 24 Dec. 1923 in Bear, Garland Co., Arkansas, d. 24 April 2003 in McMinnville, Yamhill Co., Ore., buried in Willamette National Cemetery, Portland, Ore.; had issue a dau. and two sons (one son still living).

                Children:

  • Bonnie Louise Wright, b. 7 Jan. 1943 in Hamilton City, Calif., d. 16 Nov. 2018 in Carmichael, Calif., buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.; m. 7 Aug. 1959 in Reno, Nev., Korte Hansen Wamsley, b. 10 July 1941 in Sutter Co., Calif., d. 5 Sept. 1993 in Butte Co., Calif., buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.; had issue three sons and a dau. (all still living).
  • Beryle Alan (‘Bill’) Wright, b. 17 Nov. 1944 in Oroville, Calif., d. 10 May 2007 in Amity, Ore.; m. 1st 1 March 1963 in Butte Co., Calif., Sharon A. Picchi, b. 30 July 1943 in Butte Co., Calif., d. unknown; had issue a son and a dau. (both still living); Bill and Sharon div. Sept. 1966 in Shasta Co., Calif., apparently reconciled, and then div. 21 July 1917 in Multnomah Co., Ore.; m. 2nd Carol Mae Matney, b. 17 Sept. 1947, d. unknown; had issue a dau. and two sons (all still living).

William Kenneth Crabtree, son of Arthur Lee and Viola Frances (Nickerson) Crabtree, b. 21 June 1927 in Reeds Spring, Mo., d. 17 Oct. 2000 in Palermo, Butte Co., Calif., buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.; m. 1st 8 March 1948 in Reno, Nev., Alice Louise Long, b. c.1928, d. unknown; no issue of this m.; m. 2nd 12 Sept. 1949 in Reno, Nev. (her 1st m.), Thelma Lorene Berry, b. 9 May 1932 in Viola, Stone Co., Mo., d. 5 Jan. 2012 in Folsom, Calif., buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.; had issue three daus. (two deceased) and one son (deceased); William’s middle name is sometimes spelled “Kennith.”

                Children:

  • Victoria Lyn Crabtree, b. 29 April 1950 in Butte Co., Calif., d. 28 March 2018 in Louisville, Ky.; m. 1st 29 Oct. 1977 in Reno, Nev. (his 3rd m.), Ray Clyde Ruddock, b. 17 Nov. 1946 in Butte Co., Calif., d. 28 Aug. 2011 in Oroville, Calif.; div. 29 Sept. 1978 in Butte Co., Calif.; m. 2 nd 27 Sept. 1986 in Reno, Nev. (his 2nd m.), Buster James Ruddock, b. 11 Aug. 1945 in Lake Co., Calif., d. 28 March 1994 in Clear Lake, Calif.; had issue six children (all still living). Victoria also had a child out-of-wedlock (still living) by an unknown father.
  • Velma Lee Crabtree, b. 4 April 1952 in Oroville, Calif., d. 18 May 2002 in Rancho Cordova, Calif.; m. 15 Jan. 1971 in Butte Co., Calif., Franklin Howard Nine, b. 21 June 1948 in Butte Co., Calif., d. unknown; had issue two daus. (both still living).
  • Kennith O’Niell Crabtree, b. 17 Jan. 1953 in Butte Co., Calif., d. 21 March 1953 in Oroville, Calif., buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.

Dola Louise Crabtree, dau. of Arthur Lee and Viola Frances (Nickerson) Crabtree, b. 5 Dec. 1931 in Reeds Spring, Mo., d. of colon cancer 10 Nov. 2001 in Salem, Ore., buried in Willamette National Cemetery, Portland, Ore.; m. 1st 10 June 1950 in Reno, Nev., Elroy Clarence Lake, b. 14 May 1925 in Kerby, Ore., d. 29 Dec. 2009 in Sacramento, Calif., buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, McArthur, Calif.; no issue of this m.; m 2nd c.1957 Hampton Roy Wilson, b. 4 Oct. 1916 in Hat Creek, Calif., d. 16 Dec. 1997 in Hat Creek, Calif.; had issue three sons (one deceased); Hampton was a member of the Atsugewi (Hat Creek) tribe of Native Americans; m. 3rd 14 Aug. 1964 in Las Vegas, Nev., Harris Joseph Monroe, b. 2 June 1937, d. 29 Dec. 1999 in Salem, Ore., buried in Willamette National Cemetery, Portland, Ore.; had issue two daus. and one son; Dola and Harris divorced 23 June 1980 in Polk County, Ore.

                Children:

  • Steven M. Wilson, b. 18 Sept. 1959 in Shasta Co., Calif., d. 16 April 1961 in Shasta Co., Calif.

Sixth Generation

Geraldine Joiner, dau. of Edward Harrison and Fayette (Deising) Joiner; b. 31 Dec. 2006 in Spokane, Wash., d. 30 July 2006 in Wilmington, Ohio, buried 3 Aug. 2006 in Ohio; m. 26 Aug. 1946 in Highland Co., Ohio, LaJean Orris (‘Eugene’) Ford, b. 2 Sept. 1923 in Lyndon, Ross Co., Ohio, d. 13 March 1984 in Dayton, Ohio, had issue five daus. (two deceased) and two sons (both deceased). LaJean was a World War II U.S. Army veteran.

                Children:

  • Loretta Ann Ford, b. 28 Dec. 1952 in Hillsboro, Ohio, d. 28 March 2012 in Wilmington, Ohio, buried in Sugar Grove Cemetery, Wilmington, Ohio; had a son (still living) out-of-wedlock; m. 1 July 1989 in Clinton Co., Ohio, Wayne A. Hamilton, b. c.1962, d. unknown.
  • LaJean Orris Ford Jr., b. 16 Feb. 1954 in Hillsboro, Ohio, d. 25 Feb. 1963 at home in Hillsboro, Ohio; buried in Hillsboro Cemetery, Hillsboro, Ohio.
  • Robert Ford, b. after 25 Feb. 1963, d. before 28 March 2012.
  • Laura Marie Ford, b. 4 April 1963 in Ohio, d. before 28 March 2012.
Loretta Ann Ford (1952-2012) of Hillsboro and Wilmington, Ohio, was the eldest child of LaJean Orris and Geraldine (Joiner) Ford, who in turn was daughter of Edward Harrison and Fayette (Deising) Joiner, who was daughter of Harry and Nellie (Gash) Deising, who was a daughter of Frank and Sarah A. (Ashby) Gash, daughter of James W. and Margaret (Beverly) Ashby, who was a brother of Pvt. Nathan Ashby (29th U.S. Colored Infantry) of Pekin, Peoria, and Liverpool, Illinois.

John Leroy (‘Johnny’) Ashby Jr., son of John Leroy and Amanda Belle (Brown) Ashby; b. c.1941 in Galesburg, Ill., d. unknown; had a son (still living) out-of-wedlock with (NN) Hicks on 21 Feb. 1959 in Los Angeles, Calif.; m. 1st 30 Jan. 1959 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., Brenda K. Thompson, b. 15 March 1942 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., d. 25 Feb. 2016, buried in Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, Calif.; had issue a son and a dau. (both still living); m. 2nd 7 Aug. 1965 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., Janis Elaine Walker, b. 17 March 1944 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., d. 28 Feb. 2000; had issue one dau. (deceased); div. Jan. 1969 in Los Angeles, Calif.; m. 3rd 5 Sept. 1977 in Clark Co., Nev., Kathleen Ann (‘Kathy’) John, b. 27 Feb. 1952 in San Bernardino Co., Calif., d. unknown; had issue a son (still living); poss. m. 4th 15 Oct. 1985 in Los Angeles Co., Calif., Carrie L. Beverly, b. Dec. 1949, d. unknown; issue of this m., if any, unknown; unclear if Carrie’s husband John L. Ashby is “our” John Leroy Ashby, but if so then John must have later reconciled with his 3rd wife Kathleen.

                Children:

  • Jeanice Lauren Ashby-Redmond, b. 24 Sept. 1966 in Lynwood, Calif., d. 24 May 1993 in Compton, Calif.; had a son (still living).

Carol Ann Richardson, dau. of Tom Ray and Alice La Verle (Hoover) Richardson; b. 10 Nov. 1944 in Monterey Park, Calif., d. 1 June 1994 in Mariposa, Calif., buried in Mariposa District Cemetery, Mariposa, Calif.; m. 20 June 1969 in Mariposa Co., Calif., Dennis Martin Bunning, b. 5 Sept. 1944 in Merced Co., Calif., d. unknown; had issue a son (deceased).

                Children:

  • Daniel Martin Bunning, b. 31 Jan. 1979 in Mariposa Co., Calif., d. 15 July 1987 in Mariposa, Calif., buried in Mariposa District Cemetery, Mariposa, Calif.

Irene Dahlia Garrigus, dau. of William James Ellis and Dorothy (Dunn) Garrigus; b. 30 May 1933 in Reeds Spring, Mo., d. 9 Nov. 2011 in Mountain Home, Arkansas, buried in Conley Cemetery, Mountain Home, Arkansas; m. 19 Aug. 1950 in Mountain Home, Arkansas, George David White, b. 9 Sept. 1929 in Bayside, Texas, d. 31 Dec. 2011 in Mountain Home, Arkansas, buried in Conley Cemetery, Mountain Home, Arkansas; had issue two daus. (one deceased) and two sons (one deceased).

                Children:

  • Rhonda Roberta White, b. 4 Sept. 1951 in Eugene, Ore., d. 7 Aug. 2017 in Mountain Home, Arkansas, buried in Conley Cemetery, Mountain Home, Arkansas; m. twice, both husbands apparently still living; issue, if any, unknown.
  • Keith Douglas White, b. 30 July 1959 in Mountain Home, Arkansas, d. 18 Jan. 2007 in Mountain Home, Arkansas, buried in Conley Cemetery, Mountain Home, Arkansas; m. with widow still living; had issue two daus. (both still living).

Wilma Lee Garrigus, dau. of William James Ellis and Dorothy (Dunn) Garrigus; b. 1 Sept. 1944 in Reeds Spring, Mo., d. 3 Aug 2008 in Springfield, Mo., buried in Nickerson Cemetery, Kimberling City, Mo.; m. 1st (NN) Stephens, and had issue a son (still living); m. 2nd (NN) Humbard, and had issue two daus. (one deceased) and a son.; m. 3rd (NN).

                Children:

  • Rebecca Lynn Humbard, b. 15 Sept. 1968 in Mo., d. of injuries sustained in a fatal crash crash 30 May 1988 in Springfield, Mo., buried in Nickerson Cemetery, Kimberling City, Mo.

Arthur Earl (‘Tuffy’) Holcomb, b. 23 Feb. 1938 in Colusa Co., Calif., d. unknown; m. 1st Jacqulynn Sharon Magill, b. 5 May 1939 in Seattle, Wash., d. 7 Aug. 1994 in Oroville, Calif., buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Oroville, Calif.; had issue two sons (both deceased); m. 2nd Doris Armina Mae Bowdish, b. 24 March 1933, d. unknown; div. 9 April 1973 in Carson City, Nev.; no issue of this m.; m. 3rd (her 2nd m.) 1 Nov. 1973 in Reno, Nev., Shirley Hazel (Bates) Combs, b. 24 Aug. 1929 in Salt Lake City, Utah, d. 17 Aug. 2013 in Yreka, Calif., buried in Henley and Hornbrook Cemetery, Hornbrook, Calif.; no issue of this m.; m. 4th 26 April 1997 in Reno, Nev., Linda Rae Slater, no issue of this m.

                Children:

  • Robert Allan Holcomb, b. 9 March 1956 in Butte Co., Calif., d. 28 Dec. 2015 in Oroville, Calif.; m. 3 July 1976 in Butte Co., Calif., Suzanna Morlet, b. c.1960; had issue two daus. (both still living); div. 14 April 1983 in Butte Co., Calif.
  • Dale Edward Holcomb, b. 9 Sept. 1959 in Oroville, Calif., d. by suicide 24 March 1999 in Palermo, Calif.; Dale is believed to have been despondent over the death of his mother and his role in the hunting accident that claimed the life of his cousin Timothy Lee Holcomb (below).

Arnold Lee (‘Sharky’) Holcomb, son of Elmer Edward and George Ernestine (Crabtree) Holcomb; b. 18 Feb. 1939 in Colusa Co., Calif., d. 2 Oct. 2018 in Oroville, Calif.; m. 4 Aug. 1978 in Reno, Nev., Susan Corinne Barnett, b. 25 April 1940 in Tuolumne Co., Calif., d. 28 May 2014; had issue two sons (both deceased) and a dau.

                Children:

  • Timothy Lee Holcomb, b. 25 Jan. 1958 in Oroville, Calif., d. 29 Dec. 1980 in Richvale, Calif., when accidentally shot during a hunting trip by his cousin Dale Edward Holcolmb; Timothy, his brother Michael and Dale had gone duck hunting near the rice fields and their home close to Durham, Calif.; hiding low, when the ducks appeared, the three stood and fired, but Timothy slipped as he rose, and fell directly in front of Dale’s gunfire just as they all pulled their triggers; m. 1st 4 Aug. 1978 in Reno, Nev., CeCelia Dustine (‘Dusty’) Brown, b. 24 July 1960 in Butte Co., Calif.; div. 8 Feb. 1980 in Butte Co., Calif.; m. 2nd 29 April 1980 in Carson City, Nev., Shanon K. Bell, b. 3 Aug. 1962 in Colusa Co., Calif.
  • Michael Ray Holcomb, b. 13 March 1960 in Oroville, Calif., d. 19 Nov. 2001 in Durham, Calif.; m. twice, both wives apparently still living; issue, if any, unknown.

#alice-la-verla-hoover, #ashby-genealogy, #catharine-ashby, #dale-edward-holcomb, #james-w-ashby, #jesse-bertie-hoover, #leonard-b-hoover, #loretta-ann-ford, #loretta-ann-hamilton, #michael-ray-holcomb, #nathan-ashby, #robert-allan-holcomb, #timothy-lee-holcomb, #william-ashby-descendants, #william-ashby-of-liverpool-township, #william-j-ashby

The African-American Ashby family of Fulton and Tazewell Counties and their descendants – Part One:

By Jared Olar

Library Assistant

Previously here at “From the History Room,” we have recalled the African-American family of Ashby which lived in Pekin and provided four soldiers to the U.S. Colored Troops in the Civil War, three of whom were witnesses to the first Juneteenth in Galveston, Texas, in 1865. Having completed our review of the known descendants of Nance Legins-Costley, today we will commence a systematic account of the Ashby family and their known descendants.

The Ashbys arrived in Illinois circa 1837, coming here from Virginia where their ancestors were plantation slaves. Thanks to the results of a living Ashby descendant’s DNA test, we now know that the ancestry of the Ashby family reaches back to Cameroon in Africa, which was one of the main regions from which North American slavers obtained African slaves.

The recorded history of the Ashby family as far as it is currently known commences with five African-American men who appear to be brothers, John Ashby, James Ashby, Lewis Ashby, William Ashby, and Philip Ashby, all of whom appear in U.S. Census records as early settlers in Fulton County, Illinois. It is currently uncertain whether they were born into slavery and were later manumitted (granted freedom), or rather were free black men who were children or grandchildren of African slaves. Except for Lewis Ashby, all of these Ashby men are classified as “mulatto” (biracial) or “black” or “colored” in the U.S. census and other records. The research of William Ashby’s descendant Richard White of Missouri (to whose work on the possible origins of the African-American Ashbys this writer is greatly indebted) suggests that their mother was probably a “mulatto” woman named Rachel, who later married Austin Day of Fulton County and was mother of Morgan Day of Elm Grove Township, Tazewell County, who served in the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry during the Civil War.

A research lead for the possible parentage and ancestry of the four Ashby men of Fulton County is the enumeration of a “Wm Ashby” in Culpeper County, Virginia, in the 1830 U.S. Census, whose household consisted of 19 free white persons, one free colored person aged 24-35, and 18 slaves. This William Ashby of Culpeper County, Virginia, evidently was white, but it may be that the black Ashbys of Fulton County were among the slaves of this William Ashby. Another possible lead is an 1834 list of “free negroes” living in the district of James S. Lawson, commissioner of revenue for York County, Virginia – that list includes a William Ashby living on and working his own land.

Whatever their origins, by the time of the 1835 Illinois State Census we find James Ashby, Philip Ashby, and Lewis Ashby settled in Fulton County, and by the time of the 1840 U.S. Census Philip Ashby, John Ashby, and “our” William Ashby are recorded as “colored” settlers in Liverpool Township in Fulton County (the township being located east of Lewistown, bordering Mason and Tazewell Counties on the east, with its eastern boundary being the Illinois River), while John Ashby appears in William’s household in Liverpool Township at the time of the 1860 U.S. Census. It is interesting that there was also a white settler in Fulton County about this time named William Asbury Ashby (1817-1850), son of William and Annis (Whitehurst) Ashby, who belonged to an Ashby family from Prince William County, Virginia. It is possible that John and William were related to William Asbury Ashby.

The detail from the plat of Liverpool Township, Fulton County, Illinois, in the 1871 “Atlas Map of Fulton County,” shows the land owned by William Ashby, a patriarch of the African-American Ashbys of Fulton, Peoria, and Tazewell Counties.

Several members of this Ashby family are later found in Pekin and Peoria, but it is sometimes unclear which of the African-American Ashby men of Fulton County was their father. It appears most probable that William was their father. Therefore this genealogical account provisionally lists some these Ashbys as if James or William were their father, even though positive proof of that has not yet been found for the parentage for the probable older children in the family.

First Generation

John Ashby, b. c.1803 in Virginia, d. unknown, prob. in Mo. but perhaps in Ill. John first appears on record in the 1840 U.S. Census of Fulton County, in which he is listed as “John Ashby, Colored.” In the 1860 U.S. Census, John Ashby, 55, mulatto, is enumerated in the household of William Ashby, 45, mulatto, in Liverpool Twp., Fulton Co., Ill. In the 1876 Missouri State Census, John and William again appear together as farmers in Stone County, Mo., and John, unlike William, is said to be unable to read and write. John last appears in the 1 June 1880 U.S. Census returns for Turnback, Lawrence Co., Mo., in which John Ashby, 77, black, widower, is shown as the next door neighbor of his brother William Ashby, 66, mulatto, and of his niece Clara (Ashby) Matney and her family. The identity of John’s wife or wives is unknown, and it is uncertain whether or not John had children – but he may have been the father of one or more of the Ashbys of Pekin and Peoria.

Dr. James Ashby, b. c.1808 in Virginia, d. of lung fever May 1850 in Liverpool Township, Fulton Co., Ill. James first appears on record as a Fulton County settler in the 1835 Illinois State Census. He is enumerated as “James Ashby, Colored” in the 1840 U.S. Census of Fulton County. The 1850 U.S. Census Mortality Schedules record James’ death from “lung fever” in May 1850 in Liverpool Township, Fulton Co. The same record says James, age 42, was black, married, and was a physician by profession. The identity of James’ wife or wives is unknown, and it is uncertain whether or not James had children – but he may have been the father of one or more of the African-American Ashbys of Pekin and Peoria, and likely had at least two sons and two daus. The 1879 “History of Fulton County,” pp. 821-823, record the tragic tale of the Asiatic cholera epidemic that struck Fulton County in 1849, and says, “The doctors whose services were tendered to these stricken ones were John B. McDowell, Thaddeus Nott, and a singular character named James Ashby, a mulatto. It is claimed they all did noble work and mutually saved many lives.

                Children:

  • James W. Ashby, prob. son of Dr. James Ashby; b. c.1825 in Virginia, d. unknown; m. 23 Oct. 1845 in Knox Co., Ill., Margaret Beverly, b. c.1824 in Ohio, d. unknown; had issue six sons and three daus. James was a day laborer who lived in Knox County, but at the time of the 1850 U.S. Census he and his wife and children lived in Peoria — and at that time among their neighbors was the family of George and Abigail (Brown) Washington, in whose house then lived Mary Beverly, age 16, b. in Ohio (prob. sister of James W. Ashby’s wife Margaret), George Shipman, 17, and Nathan Ashby, 14, b. in Ill. (prob. brother of James).
  • Lavinia Ashby, “a colored woman,” perhaps dau. of Dr. James Ashby; b. c.1830, d. unknown; m. 3 Nov. 1848 in Peoria County, Ill., Hiram Charoule, “a colored man,” (name in marriage record of poor legibility – looks like ‘Knam Charoule’), b. c.1823. No further record.
  • Elizabeth Ashby, perhaps dau. of Dr. James Ashby; b. c.1834 perhaps in Ohio or Ky., d. after the 1880 census prob. in Peoria, Ill.; m. 1st 28 Jan. 1849 in Peoria Co., Ill., David Shipman, b. c.1826 in Ill., d. prob. c.1853 in Peoria, Ill., had issue one son; m. 2nd 8 March 1854 at African M. E. Church in Peoria Co., Ill., Henry Chase, b. c.1830 in Maryland, d. post 13 June 1880 prob. in Peoria, had issue two daus. Elizabeth and Henry apparently divorced, for she m. 3rd 8 Aug. 1859 in Peoria Edwin Howard, b. c.1831 in Kentucky, d. in or after 1887 prob. in Pekin, Ill.; she and Edwin had issue two daus. Elizabeth’s ex-husband Henry Chase rem. 30 March 1860 in Peoria Co., Ill., Lavina Shavus, b. c.1833 in Ill., and had issue two sons and two daus., but Henry and Lavina divorced c.1878.
  • Pvt. Nathan Ashby, prob. son of Dr. James Ashby; b. c.1836 or c.1839 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. 31 July 1899 in Bartonville, Peoria Co., Ill., buried in the former Moffatt Cemetery, Peoria, Ill.; m. 16 Aug. 1860 in Peoria, Ill., Elizabeth Warfield, b. 1831 in Ill. or Ohio, d. 26 July 1906 in Peoria, Ill., buried in Springdale Cemetery, Peoria; had issue a dau.; served in 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, Co. G., from 21 Sept. 1864 to 30 Sept. 1865; Juneteenth 1865 eyewitness. Nathan and Elizabeth moved back and forth between Pekin and Peoria, finally settling in Bartonville. Nathan’s occupation is given in Peoria city directories and censuses as “fireman” (a stoker of an industrial furnace) and a day laborer.

Lewis Ashby, prob. born in Virginia, enumerated as a settler of Fulton County in the 1835 Illinois State Census. No further information. Lewis may have been the father of one or more of the African-American Ashbys of Pekin and Peoria.

William Ashby, b. c.1812 in Virginia, d. 24 May 1884 in Stone County, Mo., buried in Nickerson Cemetery, Kimberling City, Stone Co., Mo.; m. prob. twice, 1st say c.1835 (NN) and had issue prob. including no less than three sons; m. 2nd c.1851 in Fulton Co., Ill., Elizabeth (Macklin) Clark, b. c.1812 in Ohio, d. c.1853 in Liverpool Twp., Fulton Co., Ill., ex-wife of Benjamin Clark of Liverpool Twp. William and Elizabeth had issue no less than three daus. and no less than two sons. William was enumerated as a resident of Fulton County in the 1840 U.S. Census. In the 1850 U.S. Census he was enumerated as a single farmer working $300 of land in Liverpool Twp., Fulton Co., living next door to Benjamin and Elizabeth Clark and their children. Also living nearby was Elizabeth’s brother Tobi Macklin, 30, blacksmith, in whose house lived Rachel Day, 48, prob. mother of Elizabeth and Tobi. In the 1860 U.S. Census, William Ashby and his brother John are listed in Liverpool Twp. with William’s daus. Matilda, Clarissa, and Mary M., as well as Rachel Day, 65, prob. William’s mother-in-law. By the time of the 1870 U.S. Census, William’s household in Liverpool Twp. Consisted of just him and his children Clarissa and Joseph. By 1876, William and his brother John were farmers in Stone County, Mo., and in the 1 June 1880 U.S. Census returns for Turnback, Lawrence Co., Mo., we find William, 66, mulatto, widower, and his brother John, 77, black, widower, enumerated as farmers living next door to the family of William’s dau. Clara/Clarissa. Cemetery records show that William is buried in Nickerson Cemetery in an unmarked grave on the right of the grave of his youngest dau. Mary Margaret (Clark-Ashby) Nickerson.

                Children:

  • Pvt. William Henry Ashby, prob. son of William Ashby; b. c.1836 in Ohio or Fayette Co., Ky., d. post 15 Aug. 1890 perhaps in Peoria Co., Ill.; served in 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, Co. G., from 21 Sept. 1864 to 30 Sept. 1865; Juneteenth 1865 eyewitness; m. 18 July 1868 in Tazewell Co., Ill., Phoebe Smith, b. c.1850 in Ill., d. unknown. William and Phoebe were farming in Hollis Twp., Peoria Co., Ill. Issue, if any, unknown.
  • Moses (‘Mose’) Ashby, prob. son of William Ashby; b. c.1837 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. unknown; m. 1 June 1870 in Pekin, Ill., Ellen Woodworth, b. c.1847 in Ill., d. unknown. Mose, 23, and William Ashby, 21, both “mulatto,” were laborers in the household of Peter and Margaret Devore in Pekin at the time of the 1860 U.S. Census. Moses is listed in the 1861 Pekin City Directory as a livery hand residing on the south side of Ann Eliza St., 1st door west of Third St. In June 1870 he and his wife Ellen were indicted by a Tazewell Co. grand jury for interracial marriage. No further record.
  • Sgt. Marshall Ashby, prob. son of William Ashby; b. c.1840 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. unknown; twice married; 1st marriage c.1860; Marshall served in 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, Co. G., from 21 Sept. 1864 to 30 Sept. 1865; Juneteenth 1865 eyewitness; m. 2nd 14 March 1866 in Pekin, Ill., Mary Jane Luce, b. c.1855 in Ohio, d. unknown. In March 1866, Marshall and Mary Jane were indicted by a Tazewell Co. grand jury for interracial marriage. No further record.
  • Pvt. William J. Clark-Ashby, son of William and Elizabeth (Macklin-Clark) Ashby; b. 17 Jan. 1840 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. 17 June 1925 in Ill., buried in Sunset Cemetery, Quincy, Ill.; served in 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, Co. G., from 21 Sept. 1864 to 6 Nov. 1865, but was sick in hospital from March 1865 on; m. 30 July 1866 in Peoria County, Ill., (her 2nd. m.) Sarah Jane (Lowder) Carroll, dau. of Samuel and Lucretia (Reynolds) Lowder of Hendricks Co., Ind., and Fulton Co., Ill., b. 29 Jan. 1835 in Indiana, d. 4 Nov. 1900 in Pekin, Ill., buried in Lakeside Cemetery, Pekin. William and Sarah had issue two sons and two daus., besides two daus. and one son born of Sarah’s 1st m. to Samuel Carroll of Liverpool Twp., Fulton Co., Ill. William worked as a laborer and coal miner.
  • Malinda Ashby, prob. dau. of William and Elizabeth (Macklin-Clark) Ashby; b. c. 1845 prob. in Fulton Co., Ill.; is prob. the Malinda Johnson who d. 7 March 1915 in Peoria, Ill., buried 10 March 1915 in Springdale Cemetery, Peoria; Malinda Ashby m. 6 July 1861 in Peoria Co., Ill., John Henry Johnson, b. say c.1840. No further record.
  • Matilda Jane Clark-Ashby, dau. of William and Elizabeth (Macklin-Clark) Ashby; b. 17 Aug. 1846 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. 29 Dec. 1927 in Jasper Co., Mo., buried in Fairview Cemetery, Joplin, Mo.; m. 1st 6 April 1862 in Fulton Co., Ill., William Henry Oatman, b. c.1827 in Ohio, d. after 1880 U.S. Census, had issue three sons and three daus.; m. 2nd c.1890 in Missouri (his 2nd m.) Daniel Messenger, b. Ohio, d. 27 June 1898 in Jasper Co., Mo., buried in Fairview Cemetery, Joplin, Mo., no issue of this m.
  • Clarissa R. (‘Clara’) Clark-Ashby, dau. of William and Elizabeth (Macklin-Clark) Ashby; b. 11 March 1849 in Liverpool Twp., Fulton Co., Ill., d. 6 July 1935 in Texas City, Galveston Co., Texas, buried 7 July 1935 in La Marque Cemetery, La Marque, Texas; m. 30 July 1875 in Fulton Co., Ill., John Matney, b. June 1853 in Indiana, d. 22 March 1916 in Texas City, Galveston Co., Texas, buried 24 March 1916 in La Marque Cemetery, La Marque, Texas, had issue three daus.
  • Mary Margaret Clark-Ashby, dau. of William and Elizabeth (Macklin-Clark) Ashby; b. 14 Feb. 1851 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. 29 Nov. 1938 in James Twp., Stone Co., Mo., buried in Nickerson Cemetery, Kimberling City, Stone Co., Mo.; m. 1 March 1870 in Fulton Co., Ill., Joshua Nickerson, b. 3 Feb. 1845 in Indiana, d. 10 March 1930 in Stone Co., Mo., buried in Nickerson Cemetery; had issue one dau. and one son.
  • Joseph Ashby, son of William and Elizabeth (Macklin-Clark) Ashby; b. c.1854 in Fulton Co., Ill., enumerated in 1870 U.S. Census in the household of William Ashby, 54, farmer of Liverpool Twp., Fulton Co., Ill., no further record.

Philip Ashby, prob. born in Virginia, enumerated as a settler of Fulton County in the 1835 Illinois State Census; enumerated as “Philip Ashby, Colored” in the 1840 U.S. Census of Fulton County, Ill. No further information. Philip may have been the father of one or more of the African-American Ashbys of Pekin and Peoria.

Second Generation

James W. Ashby, prob. son of Dr. James Ashby; b. c.1825 in Virginia, d. unknown; m. 23 Oct. 1845 in Knox Co., Ill., Margaret Beverly, b. c.1824 in Ohio, d. unknown; had issue six sons and three daus. James was a day laborer who lived in Knox County, but at the time of the 1850 U.S. Census he and his wife and children lived in Peoria — and at that time among their neighbors was the family of George and Abigail (Brown) Washington, in whose house then lived Mary Beverly, age 16, b. in Ohio (prob. sister of James W. Ashby’s wife Margaret), and Nathan Ashby, 14, b. in Ill. (prob. brother of James).

                Children:

  • Robert Ashby, b. c.1845 in Ill., d. unknown; listed as “deaf mute” in the 1880 U.S. Census Schedule of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes for Oneida, Knox Co., Ill.; no further information.
  • James A. Ashby, b. c.1847 in Ill., d. unknown; enumerated with his parents and siblings in Knox, Knox Co., Ill., in the 1860 U.S. Census; no subsequent record.
  • Sarah A. Ashby, b. c.1852 in Ill., d. unknown; m. 21 Oct. 1869 in Knox Co., Ill., (his 2nd m.) Frank Gash, b. c.1837 in Mo., had issue one dau. and three sons.
  • Mary Ashby, b. c.1854 in Ill., d. unknown; enumerated with her parents and siblings in Knox, Knox Co., Ill., in the 1860 U.S. Census; no subsequent record.
  • John Henry Stewart Ashby, b. 10 Feb. 1855 in Peoria, Ill., d. 28 Feb. 1917 in Galesburg, Ill., buried in Linwood Cemetery, Galesburg; m. 1st 16 Dec.1875 in Knox Co., Ill., Mary Duke, b. 1 May 1859 in Ky., d. unknown; had issue one dau. and two sons; m. 2nd 27 Oct. 1881 in Knox Co., Ill., Sarah Duke, b. Sept. 1867 in Ky., d. 19 May 1953 in Galesburg, Ill.,; had issue three sons. John was a scavenger wagon teamster.
  • Franklin T. (‘Frank’) Ashby, b. c.1857 in Ill., d. unknown; m. 1st 6 Nov. 1879 in Knox Co., Ill., (her 2nd m.) Sarah A. (Lewis) Curtis, b. c.1858 in Iowa, d. unknown; issue unknown; m. 2nd 1 Nov. 1888 in Knox Co., Ill., Hattie Dunlop, b. c.1860, d. unknown; issue unknown.
  • Elizabeth Ada Ashby, b. May 1860 in Knox, Knox Co., Ill., d. unknown; enumerated with her parents and siblings in Knox, Knox Co., Ill., in the 1870 U.S. Census; no subsequent record.
  • Abram (‘Abe’) Ashby, b. c.1862 in Knox Co., Ill., d. unknown; m. 6 Jan. 1910 in King Co., Wash., Zella M. Carter, b. c.1881 in Ohio; issue unknown.
  • Lillie Ashby, b. c.1865 in Ill., d. unknown; m. 26 Aug. 1886 in Knox Co., Ill., Harry Monroe, b. c. 1864, d. unknown, son of Mike and Sarah (Gash) Monroe; issue if any unknown; no subsequent record.
  • Alonzo M. Ashby, b. c.1872 in Ill., d. unknown; enumerated with his parents and siblings in Knox, Knox Co., Ill., in the 1880 U.S. Census; no subsequent record.

Elizabeth Ashby, perhaps dau. of Dr. James Ashby; b. c.1834 perhaps in Ohio or Ky., d. after the 1880 census prob. in Peoria, Ill.; m. 1st 28 Jan. 1849 in Peoria Co., Ill., David Shipman, b. c.1826 in Ill., d. prob. c.1853 in Peoria, Ill., had issue one son; m. 2nd 8 March 1854 at African M. E. Church in Peoria Co., Ill., Henry Chase, b. c.1830 in Maryland, d. post 13 June 1880 prob. in Peoria, had issue two daus. Elizabeth and Henry apparently divorced, for she m. 3rd 8 Aug. 1859 in Peoria Edwin Howard, b. c.1831 in Kentucky, d. in or after 1887 prob. in Pekin, Ill.; she and Edwin had issue two daus. Elizabeth’s ex-husband Henry rem. 30 March 1860 in Peoria Co., Ill., Lavina Shavus, b. c.1833 in Ill., and had issue two sons and two daus., but Henry and Lavina divorced c.1878.

                Children:

  • (NN) Shipman, b. c. 1850 in Peoria Co., Ill., a son of David and Elizabeth (Ashby) Shipman, prob. the free colored male under age 10 enumerated in the 1855 Illinois State Census as living in the household of Henry Chase in Peoria. No further record.
  • Josephine Chase, b. c.1855 in Peoria, Ill., dau. of Henry and Elizabeth (Ashby) Chase, enumerated in the household of Henry Chase of Peoria in the 1860 and 1870 U.S. Censuses. No further record.
  • Mary A. Chase, b. c. 1857 in Peoria, Ill., dau. of Henry and Elizabeth (Ashby) Chase, enumerated in the household of Henry Chase of Peoria in the 1860 and 1870 U.S. Censuses. No further record.
  • Mary Melinda Howard, b. May 1860 in Pekin, Ill., dau. of Edwin and Elizabeth (Ashby-Shipman) Howard, enumerated in the household of Edward and Elizabeth Howard of Pekin in the 1870 U.S. Census. No further record.
  • Elizabeth (‘Liza’) Howard, b. Dec. 1869 in Pekin, Ill., d. prob. before 24 May 1893 prob. in Peoria, Ill., dau. of Edwin and Elizabeth (Ashby-Shipman) Howard, enumerated in the household of Edward and Elizabeth Howard of Pekin in the 1870 and 1880 U.S. Censuses; m. 21 Feb. 1883 in Peoria, Ill., Edward Phillip Ewing, b. 10 Nov. 1850 in Nashville, Tenn., d. 22 April 1926 in Peoria (Limestone Township), Ill., a distillery fireman, son of Edward and Margaret (Chavers) Ewing. Issue of this m., if any, unknown. Edward subsequently rem. 24 May 1893 in Peoria Laura Smith, b. c.1869 in Missouri, enumerated in the 1900 U.S. Census in Peoria as Edward’s wife; issue of this m., if any, unknown. Edward m. 3rd 15 Feb. 1909 in Peoria Willie Brewer, b. c.1882 in Macon, Miss., dau. of Dallas and Malinda (Pope) Brewer, enumerated in the 1910 U.S. Census in Peoria as Edward’s wife, with one child noted who apparently had died in infancy.

Pvt. Nathan Ashby, prob. son of Dr. James Ashby; b. c.1836 or c.1839 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. 31 July 1899 in Bartonville, Peoria Co., Ill., buried in the former Moffatt Cemetery, Peoria, Ill.; m. 16 Aug. 1860 in Peoria, Ill., Elizabeth Warfield, b. 1831 in Ill. or Ohio, d. 26 July 1906 in Peoria, Ill., buried in Springdale Cemetery, Peoria; had issue a dau.; served in 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, Co. G., from 21 Sept. 1864 to 30 Sept. 1865; Juneteenth 1865 eyewitness. Nathan and Elizabeth moved back and forth between Pekin and Peoria, finally settling in Bartonville. Nathan’s occupation is given in Peoria city directories and censuses as “fireman” (a stoker of an industrial furnace) and a day laborer.

                Children:

  • Olive Jane Ashby, b. c.1872 prob. in Pekin, Ill., no further record.

Pvt. William J. Clark-Ashby, son of William and Elizabeth (Macklin-Clark) Ashby; b. 17 Jan. 1840 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. 17 June 1925 in Ill., buried in Sunset Cemetery, Quincy, Ill.; served in 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, Co. G., from 21 Sept. 1864 to 6 Nov. 1865, but was sick in hospital from March 1865 on; m. 30 July 1866 in Peoria County, Ill., (her 2nd. m.) Sarah Jane (Lowder) Carroll, dau. of Samuel and Lucretia (Reynolds) Lowder of Hendricks Co., Ind., and Fulton Co., Ill., b. 29 Jan. 1835 in Indiana, d. 4 Nov. 1900 in Pekin, Ill., buried in Lakeside Cemetery, Pekin. William and Sarah had issue two sons and two daus., besides two daus. and one son born of Sarah’s 1st m. to Samuel Carroll of Liverpool Twp., Fulton Co., Ill. William worked as a laborer and coal miner. In 1870, William was indicted by a Tazewell Co. grand jury for allegedly murdering his stepson Alfred Carroll on 12 Aug. 1870, but he was acquitted of the charge.

                Children:

  • Louis N. Ashby, b. c.1867 prob. in Pekin, Ill., d. unknown; enumerated with his parents and siblings in Pekin in 1880 U.S. Census; listed as “Ashby Louis N, lab, r 129 Caroline” in 1887 Pekin City Directory; perhaps the “Ashby Louis, plaster, bds R. R. Exchange” in 1806 Peoria City Directory. No further record.
  • Catherine Clark-Ashby, b. 14 July 1869 in Pekin, Ill., d. 28 May 1938 in Summum, Fulton Co., Ill., buried in Lakeside Cemetery, Pekin; m. 1st 20 Jan. 1886 in Tazewell Co., Ill., (his 1st m.) Leonard B. Hoover, b. 1 Sept. 1871 in Wawpecung, Ind., d. 6 May 1934 in Peoria, Ill., b. in Lakeside Cemetery, Pekin; had issue one son; m. 2nd 1904 in Henry Co., Ill., William B. Clark, b. 2 Aug. 1862 in New York State, d. 11 Aug. 1921 in Limestone Twp., Peoria Co., Ill., buried in Lakeside Cemetery, Pekin; no issue of this m.
  • Charles Ashby, b. c.1873 in Pekin, Ill., d. unknown; enumerated with his parents and siblings in Pekin in 1880 U.S. Census; listed as “Ashby Charles, cigar mkr. Moenkemoeller & Schlottmann, res. 127 Caroline” in 1887 Pekin City Directory. No further record.
  • Sarah Lisabeth (‘Sadie’) Ashby, b. c.1873 in Pekin, Ill., d. ante 9 June 1900 prob. in Pekin; buried in Lakeside Cemetery, Pekin; m. 30 July 1894 in Peoria Co., Ill., Richard Emmett (‘Dick’) Byrnes, b. 6 Oct. 1862 in Pekin, Ill., d. mysteriously 15 Oct. 1927 in Havana, Mason Co., Ill., buried in Lakeside Cemetery, Pekin; had issue one dau.

Matilda Jane Clark-Ashby, dau. of William and Elizabeth (Macklin-Clark) Ashby; b. 17 Aug. 1846 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. 29 Dec. 1927 in Jasper Co., Mo., buried in Fairview Cemetery, Joplin, Mo.; m. 1st 6 April 1862 in Fulton Co., Ill., William Henry Oatman, b. c.1827 in Ohio, d. after 1880 U.S. Census, had issue three sons and three daus.; m. 2nd c.1890 in Missouri (his 2nd m.) Daniel Messenger, b. Ohio, d. 27 June 1898 in Jasper Co., Mo., buried in Fairview Cemetery, Joplin, Mo., no issue of this m.

                Children:

  • William Henry Oatman Jr., b. c.1863 in Fulton Co., Ill., perhaps is the William H. Oatman who m. 1st 7 May 1885 in Greene Co., Mo., Jennie Williams, m. 2nd 31 Oct. 1892 in Springfield, Green Co., Mo., Polly D. Brown, and m. 3rd 17 July 1896 in Springfield, Greene Co., Mo., Emma Oliver, and d. 22 May 1899, buried in Hazelwood Cemetery, Springfield, Mo. No further record.
  • Francis Marion (‘Frank’) Oatman, b. Oct. 1866 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. post 1934 prob. in Missouri; m. 1st 29 May 1902 in Jackson Co., Mo., Mamie A. Smith, b. Aug. 1877 in Mo., d. prob. bef. 1920 U.S. Census; m. 2nd Lena (NN), b. c.1871 in Arkansas, d. unknown. Issue, if any, unknown. Frank was a farm laborer.
  • George Lewis Oatman, b. 1 Dec. 1868 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. 30 Jan. 1930 in Chicago, Ill.; m. c.1897 Jennie (NN), b. c.1872 in Missouri, d. 31 Dec. 1945 in Chicago, Ill.; had issue one dau.
  • Sarah Anna (‘Annie’) Oatman, b. 5. Jan. 1871 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. 7 Jan. 1929 in Joplin, Mo.. buried 9 Jan. 1929 in Fairview Cemetery, Joplin, Mo.; m. c.1897 in Joplin, Mo., (his 2nd m.) Jacob F. (‘Jake’) Becker, a butcher supplies retail salesman, b. 13 March 1854 in Indiana, d. 23 Sept. 1921 in Joplin, Mo., buried 23 Sept. 1921 in Fairview Cemetery, Joplin, Mo.; had issue two sons.
  • Adaline Oatman, b. c.1872 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. ante the 17 June 1880 U.S. Census; enumerated with her parents and siblings and her grandfather William Ashby and great-uncle John Ashby in the 1876 Missouri State Census for Stone Co., Mo.
  • Ida Frances Oatman, b. 5 Aug. 1875 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. 20 Sept. 1959 in Joplin, Mo., buried 22 Sept. 1959 in Fairview Cemetery, Joplin, Mo.; by William Wesley Walkenshaw, b. 14 May 1879 in Kansas, d. 22 Oct. 1941 in Dallas, Texas, Ida had issue one son; by Jesse Jabez Shelby, b. 31 July 1875 in Butler Co., Mo., d. 30 Oct. 1955 in Joplin, Mo., Ida had issue one dau.; by various unknown fathers, Ida had issue three daus. and two sons; by C. E. Martin, Ida had issue one son; by her husband Edward Franklin Copher, b. 26 Oct. 187 in Eureka Springs, Carroll Co., Arkansas, d. 10 Oct. 1950 in Joplin, Mo., buried 12 Oct. 1950 in Fairview Cemetery, Joplin, Mo., Ida had two sons and one dau.

Clarissa R. (‘Clara’) Clark-Ashby, dau. of William and Elizabeth (Macklin-Clark) Ashby; b. 11 March 1849 in Liverpool Twp., Fulton Co., Ill., d. 6 July 1935 in Texas City, Galveston Co., Texas, buried 7 July 1935 in La Marque Cemetery, La Marque, Texas; m. 30 July 1875 in Fulton Co., Ill., John Matney, b. June 1853 in Indiana, d. 22 March 1916 in Texas City, Galveston Co., Texas, buried 24 March 1916 in La Marque Cemetery, La Marque, Texas, had issue three daus.

                Children:

  • Margaret J. (‘Maggie’) Matney, b. Feb. 1877 in Illinois, d. unknown; m. William T. Smith, b. Nov. 1848 in Vermont, prob. d. ante 16 May 1910 U.S. Census; had issue a son and a dau. Maggie ran a boarding house in Texas City, Texas.
  • Emeley Ellen Matney, b. 14 Oct. 1880 in Missouri, d. 22 July 1943 in Galveston, Texas, buried 24 July 1943 in South Park Cemetery, Pearland, Texas; m. (NN) Jacobs, issue if any unknown.
  • Fred Thomas Matney, b. 7 July 1883 in Springfield, Greene Co., Mo., d. unknown, but ante 10 Sept. 1976 when a Social Security Claim was paid; m. 1st c.1906 in Missouri, Maud (NN), b. c.1885 in Nebraska; m. 2nd 12 Dec. 1919 in Louisville, Jefferson Co., Ky., Dorothy M. McKinley, b. c. 1901 in Pa. Issue if any unknown. Fred was a theater stage hand in New York City and elsewhere.
  • Bessie Kathryn Matney, b. 30 Sept. 1887 in Missouri, d. 3 Aug. 1944 in Houston, Texas, buried in South Park Cemetery, Pearland, Texas; m. c. 1914 William Robert Conway, b. 13 Jan. 1886 in Pa., d. 16 Oct. 1959 in Houston, Texas, buried in South Park Cemetery, Pearland Texas; had issue one son.

Mary Margaret Clark-Ashby, dau. of William and Elizabeth (Macklin-Clark) Ashby; b. 14 Feb. 1851 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. 29 Nov. 1938 in James Twp., Stone Co., Mo., buried in Nickerson Cemetery, Kimberling City, Stone Co., Mo.; m. 1 March 1870 in Fulton Co., Ill., Joshua Nickerson, b. 3 Feb. 1845 in Indiana, d. 10 March 1930 in Stone Co., Mo., buried in Nickerson Cemetery; had issue one dau. and one son.

                Children:

  • America Frances Nickerson, b. 15 June 1874 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. 18 Nov. 1943 in Stone Co., Mo., buried in Nickerson Cemetery, Kimberling City, Stone Co., Mo.; m. 9 May 1891 in Stone Co., Mo., John L. White, b. 1865 in Carroll, Boone Co., Arkansas, d. 27 Oct. 1946 in Stone Co.. Mo.; had issue three daus. and four sons.
  • William Albert Nickerson, b. 28 Jan. 1877 in Fulton Co., Ill., d. 1 June 1952 in Butte Co., Calif.; m. 2 March 1897 in Stone Co., Mo., Dellah Pearl Harris, b. 21 Feb. 1879 in Henderson Co., Tenn., d. 22 Nov. 1948 in Oroville, Butte Co., Calif.; had issue one dau. and one son.

The account of the descendants of William Ashby of Liverpool Township, Fulton County, Illinois, will continue next week.

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Memorial park planned to honor Nance Legins-Costley and remember Moffatt Cemetery

By Jared Olar

Library Assistant

It was two summers ago that “From the History Room” was the first to announce the recent discovery of the death record and the final resting place of Nance Legins-Costley (c.1813-1892), who is remembered as the first slave freed by Abraham Lincoln. We now know that Nance, along with her son Leander and probably her husband Benjamin also, was buried at the defunct Moffatt Cemetery that was located near the intersection of South Adams and Griswold streets in Peoria.

This is a rendering of the proposed Freedom & Remembrance Memorial Park and its monuments. PHOTO COURTESY OF PEORIA FREEDOM & REMEMBRANCE MEMORIAL PARK TEAM

In the more than two years since Nance’s death and burial record was found in the Peoria County Undertaker Records, a group of interested volunteers has begun a project to create a special memorial to honor Nance Legins-Costley and the thousands of Peorians who were laid to rest at the former Moffatt Cemetery.

As regular readers of this weblog will recall, Nance came to Pekin in the 1820s as an indentured servant of Pekin co-founder Nathan Cromwell. Even though Illinois was nominally a free state, under Illinois law at the time slavery existed in the form of indentured servitude. However, the law stipulated that a person could not become an indentured servant against his will, and Nance vehemently and steadfastly maintained that she never agreed to be anyone’s slave.

Shown is a memorandum from the Tazewell County court file of the 1838 case of Cromwell vs. Bailey, which was the legal prelude to the 1841 Illinois Supreme Court case of Bailey vs. Cromwell. The memorandum was written by Tazewell County attorney William Holmes, who assisted Abraham Lincoln in the case. In the memorandum may be read the momentous words, “was then and still is a free woman,” signaling that the case wasn’t really about an unpaid debt, but addressed the question of whether or not Nance Legins-Costley and her children were free or slaves. IMAGE COURTESY OF CARL ADAMS

Three times Nance sought relief from the courts, and the third time was a charm. In the case of Bailey vs. Cromwell, in July of 1841 Lincoln argued successfully before the Illinois Supreme Court convened at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Springfield that Cromwell never had legal title to Nance’s service and therefore Nance and her three children were free. Justice Sidney Breese issued the ruling confirming Nance’s freedom on July 23, 1841. It was a significant legal precedent that confirmed Illinois’ standing as a free state and led to the end of indentured servitude in Illinois.

As we have recalled several times here, Nance and her husband Benjamin Costley and their eight children lived in Pekin until circa 1870, when they moved to Peoria. After Ben’s death in 1883, Nance lived for a while with her youngest child James Willis Costley in Minneapolis, where her oldest son Bill also lived during the 1880s. After Bill’s death in 1888, however, we find Nance back in Peoria, living with her oldest child, Amanda (Costley) Lewis, with whom she spent her final years. Nance passed away at home on April 6, 1892, and was buried in old Moffatt Cemetery.

Nance Legins-Costley and her kin were among the approximately 2,500 people from the Peoria area who were buried in Moffatt Cemetery during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Among those interred there were 48 Civil War veterans, including Pvt. Nathan Ashby, formerly of Pekin, an African-American who served in the U.S. Colored Troops and was an eyewitness of the first “Juneteenth” in Galveston, Texas, in 1865.

On Memorial Day in 2017, this temporary Civil War memorial was placed and dedicated on Griswold Street near the former site of Moffatt Cemetery in Peoria, to honor the Civil War veterans buried there. One of them, Nathan Ashby, was a resident of Pekin when he volunteered for the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry in 1864, and went on to become a eyewitness to the first Juneteenth in June 1865. PHOTO COURTESY OF PEORIA FREEDOM & REMEMBRANCE MEMORIAL PARK TEAM

Moffatt Cemetery was founded by Peoria pioneer settler Aquilla Moffatt as early as 1836, but was closed in 1905 and fell to ruin, and finally was destroyed in the 1950s and the land rezoned to light industrial. Although many of Moffatt Cemetery’s burials were relocated, the vast majority apparently were left in situ, and today are paved or built over – forgotten for many decades, their burial records lost. Only the names of the Civil War veterans buried there were remembered.

In 2016, however, Bob Hoffer of the Peoria Historical Society and Peoria County Genealogical Society made a significant discovery in his search for the grave of his wife’s great-grandfather Mans Nelson – he found and photographed the crumbling pages of the old Peoria County Undertaker Records, which include information on which cemetery a person was buried in. Thanks to those records, we again know the names of most of the approximately 2,500 people who were buried at Moffatt Cemetery.

A photo montage of grave stones and monuments in the former Moffatt Cemetery, from the 13 Sept. 1936 issue of the Peoria Journal-Transcript. PHOTO COURTESY OF PEORIA FREEDOM & REMEMBRANCE MEMORIAL PARK TEAM

In 2020, Hoffer and other citizen volunteers launched a project to create a memorial park near the site of the former Moffatt Cemetery, where monuments and markers would be erected to ensure that the people buried at the cemetery are, in Hoffer’s words, “Forgotten no more.”

Besides Hoffer, the core members of the volunteer team are David Pittman, a Peoria area community activist, Peoria Park District advocate, and member of the Executive Committee of the Peoria Branch NAACP; Carl Adams, a Lincoln historian who literally wrote the book on Nance Legins-Costley; Joe Hutchinson, a member of the Peoria County Genealogical Society and Officer in the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War; and Bill Poorman, a writer and media producer and Lincoln enthusiast.

The core team invites other volunteers and allies to participate in and support the project as well.

Their proposal is to convert a small area of land at the northwest corner of South Adams and Griswold – just south of where the cemetery used to be – into “Freedom & Remembrance Memorial Park.” At the park will be placed special monuments to memorialize the remarkable life of Nance Legins-Costley, the Union soldiers who were buried in Moffatt Cemetery, and all of the other everyday Peorians who were laid to rest there, some of whom never had a grave marker to help people remember them.

In addition, an Illinois State Historical Marker will be placed at the park, telling the story of Nance Legins-Costley and how she and her three eldest children, Amanda, Eliza Jane, and William Henry, were freed from slavery in 1841 with the assistance of Abraham Lincoln. No more will Nance lie forgotten under a parking lot.

Shown here is the site of the proposed Moffatt Cemetery memorials and park. PHOTO COURTESY OF PEORIA FREEDOM & REMEMBRANCE MEMORIAL PARK TEAM

At this point, the Peoria Freedom & Remembrance Memorial Park project is approaching the point where it can begin fundraising for the park and the monuments. However, donations can now be made to pay for the Illinois State Historical Marker, which requires private funds to pay for the creation and setting of the marker. Checks for the marker may be mailed to:

Illinois State Historical Society
Nance/Lincoln Project (on the memo line)
P.O. Box 1800
Springfield, IL 62705-1800


For more information on the project, visit the website at www.peoriafreedompark.org, or the project’s Facebook page, “Peoria Freedom & Remembrance Memorial Park”.

#abraham-lincoln, #amanda-costley, #aquilla-moffatt, #bailey-vs-cromwell, #benjamin-costley, #bill-poorman, #bob-hoffer, #carl-adams, #cromwell-vs-bailey, #david-pittman, #eliza-jane-costley, #first-slave-freed-by-abraham-lincoln, #james-willis-costley, #joe-hutchinson, #juneteenth, #justice-sidney-breese, #leander-costley, #mans-nelson, #moffatt-cemetery, #nance-legins-costley, #nathan-ashby, #nathan-cromwell, #peoria-freedom-remembrance-memorial-park, #william-henry-costley, #william-holmes

Pekin Public Library Juneteenth program links

Shown here is an old printed copy of the first four of Major Gen. Gordon Granger’s five “General Orders” implementing martial law in Texas following Texas’ surrender after the end of the Civil War. General Order No. 3, issued 19 June 1865, in Galveston, Texas, proclaimed “all slaves are free” and that they had “absolute equality” with their former owners. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

For those who were unable to attend Pekin’s first-ever Juneteenth celebration at the Pekin Public Library that was co-sponsored earlier this month by the Pekin YWCA Coalition for Equality along with the library, below is a link to the program presented by Jared Olar, the library’s local history specialist, telling the stories of four Pekin men — Pvt. William Henry Costley, Cpl. William Henry Ashby, Sgt. Marshall Ashby, and Cpl. Nathan Ashby — who served in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War and were eyewitnesses of the first Juneteenth in 1865. (Besides Pekin’s four Juneteenth eyewitnesses, a fifth Tazewell County volunteer for the Colored Troops, Thomas Marcellus Tumbleson of Elm Grove Township, was also present at the first Juneteenth.)

Before the Juneteenth program, Jared Olar was interviewed by WCBU Peoria Public Radio News Director Tim Shelley about the same subject. Quotes from that interview are included in the following WCBU news report at their website. Twenty-minutes of the interview aired on WCBU during the local news half-hour on Friday at 6 p.m. (the eve of Juneteenth) in the middle of the “All Things Considered” broadcast. Audio of the entire 45-minute interview is linked on the WCBU website immediately below this article:

https://www.wcbu.org/local-news/2021-06-19/four-pekin-men-were-at-the-first-juneteenth-one-was-the-first-freed-from-slavery-by-lincoln

#19th-illinois-colored-troops, #29th-u-s-colored-infantry, #civil-war, #colored-troops, #jared-olar, #juneteenth, #marshall-ashby, #nance-legins-costley, #nathan-ashby, #pekin-history, #pekin-ywca, #thomas-marcellus-tumbleson, #thomas-tumbleson, #tim-shelley, #wcbu, #william-henry-ashby, #william-henry-costley, #ywca-coalition-for-equality

The Civil War era: Pekin’s blacks in a time of transition

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Continuing our review of what historical records can tell us of 19th-century African-American residents of Pekin, this week we move on to the period from the 1860s to the 1880s — the decades of the Civil War and its aftermath, when slavery finally was abolished and civil rights for blacks first began to be enshrined in law.

As we have seen, the numbers of African-Americans in Pekin were already quite low at the time of the 1850 U.S. Census. Ten years later, on the eve of the Civil War, their numbers were even lower. Only 18 African-Americans were enumerated as Pekin residents at the time of the 1860 U.S. Census. The number of Pekin’s African-Americans dropped to 10 in the 1870 census, but increased to 19 in the 1880 census.

One of Pekin’s few African-Americans in 1860 was Malinda Cooper, 19, “mulatto” (i.e. mixed-race), born in Illinois, a servant in the household of Daniel and Mary Bastions. Also living with the Bastions at that time was a white girl named Mary or May Warfield, 11, born in Illinois – we’ll hear more about Mary Warfield further on.

Pekin in 1860 was also the home of the “mulatto” family of Virginia-born John Brown, 44, a barber, who is enumerated in the census with his wife Charlotte, 43, and children or grandchildren George W., 20, Caroline M., 20, and Amanda, 3.

The 1860 census also shows a black family living in Pekin, headed by Virginia-born Edward Hard, 29, “black,” a laborer, whose wife Elizabeth Hard, 28, “mulatto,” and one-month-old daughter Mary, are listed in the house with Edward. A year later, the 1861 Roots City Directory of Pekin lists “Howard Edward (colored), laborer, res. Market, ss. 1st d. e. Third” – apparently the same man as “Edward Hard” of the 1860 census. The 1870 U.S. Census for Pekin enumerates the family of Kentucky-born “Edwin Howard,” 45, black, a fireman in a distillery, with his wife Elizabeth, 49, and their daughters Melinda, 10, and Elizabeth, 6 months. “Edwin” is, again, apparently the same man as “Edward” Howard or Hard. Living in the Howard household at the time of the 1870 census was Alabama-born Allen T. Davison, 23, black, a fireman in a distillery, and his wife Sarah J. Davison, 18.

The same year, the 1870 Sellers & Bates City Directory of Pekin shows “Howard Ed., (colored), laborer, res ne cor Front and Isabella.” Six years after that, the 1876 Bates City Directory of Pekin shows “Howard Edwin, (col) fireman distillery, res ns Isabel 1d e Front,” and shows Allen T. Davison as “Davison Travis, foreman distil’ry, res ns Isabel 1d w Second” (“foreman” an error for “fireman”). Four years later, Allen Travis Davison is counted in the 1880 U.S. Census of Pekin as “Travis Davis-Son” (sic), 33, then rooming in the house of the white family of Edward and Mary Elster at 117 Court St. (the census taker erroneously read the “-son” of Travis’ surname to mean that Travis was a son of Edward and Mary).

Travis Davison does not appear as a resident of Pekin after 1880, but his former neighbor Ed Howard appears one more time – in the 1887 Bates City Directory of Pekin, he is listed as “Howard Edwin, barber 233 Court, res. 101 Isabel.

Going back to the 1860 U.S. Census, besides the family of Benjamin and Nance Costley, the only other African-Americans of Pekin listed in that census are Moses “Mose” Ashby, 23, and his brother William Ashby, 21, both born in Illinois and identified as “mulatto.” Mose and William were then laborers living in the household of Peter and Margaret Devore. Besides Moses and William, records show two more of their brothers living in Pekin around this time: Nathaniel (or Nathan) Ashby and Marshall Ashby. The 1861 Roots City Directory of Pekin lists “Ashby Moses (colored), livery hand, Margaret, ns., 1st d. e. Front; res. Ann Eliza, ss., 1st d. w. Third” and “Ashby Nathan (colored), teamster, Ann Eliza, ss., 1st d. e. Second; res. river bank, foot of State.”

Their brother William is listed in the 1870 U.S. Census of Pekin as William J. Ashby, 27, born in Illinois, “mulatto,” a teamster, with his wife Sarah, 30, and children Lewis, 3, and Catharine, an infant. Living with them was a white girl named Laura Correl, 14. Ten years later, William is listed in the 1880 census at 172 Caroline St., as “William Asbey,” 37, black, with his wife Sarah, 45, and children Louis, 13, Catharine, 10, Sarah, 7, and Charles, 7. William next appears in Pekin in the 1887 city directory: “Ashby William J. lab. Res. 127 Caroline.” Listed right before William in that directory is “Ashby Charles, cigar mkr. Moenkemoeller & Schlottmann, res. 127 Caroline.” That seems to be William’s son Charles, who then would have been about 15. The last time William appears in Pekin is in the 1900 census, when he was listed as a 63-year-old coal miner, able to read and write, and a widower.

The four Ashby brothers were the sons of William Ashby, born in Virginia, who lived in Liverpool in Fulton County, Illinois. During the Civil War, his three sons William J., Marshall, and Nathan are known to have taken a stand in defense of human liberty by serving in the U.S. Colored Troops. Nathan and Marshall both registered for the Civil War draft on in June 1863 (but Nathan’s draft registration calls him “Nathaniel Ashley”). Nathan is listed in the 1870 Pekin city directory as “Ashby Nathan (colored), fireman, res ne cor Mary and Somerset.” The city directories and censuses do not show Nathan in Pekin after that – he later died at age 60 in Bartonville on July 31, 1899, and was buried in the defunct Moffat Cemetery on Peoria’s south side. Nathan had married a certain Elizabeth Warfield (perhaps related to Mary Warfield?) in Peoria County in 1860.

Two of the eight men from Pekin who registered for the Civil War draft in June 1863 were African-American — those two men were the brothers Marshall Ashby and Nathaniel Ashby.

Marshall’s and Nathan’s military records say they were born in Fulton County, Ill., and that they served in Company G of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, enlisting at Springfield on Aug. 21, 1864, and being mustered in there on Sept. 21, 1864, and being honorably discharged at the Ringgold Barracks in Texas on Sept. 30, 1865. Significantly, Marshall, Nathan, and their company were in Texas at the time of the first “Juneteenth,” so it is quite possible that they were present in Galveston for Juneteenth, as their fellow Pekin Civil War veteran Private William H. Costley, of the 29th U.S. Colored Infantry, Company B, certainly was. Nathan applied for a Civil War pension in 1890, and his widow Elizabeth applied for widow’s benefits on Sept. 18, 1899.

Though Marshall had fought honorably for the unity of his nation and the freedom of his people, it was not long after his return to Pekin that he was reminded the hard way that, even at that late date, Illinois still did not allow interracial marriage. On March 14, 1866, in Tazewell County, Marshall married a white woman named Mary Jane Luce (or Lewis). Marshall’s wife first appears in the 1850 U.S. Census as Mary J. Luce, 5, born in Ohio, living in Peoria with her baby brother Elias Luce in the household of Isaac and Mary Holiplain. Ten years later, the 1860 census shows Mary working in Pekin as a live-in servant in the household of Daniel and Barbara Clauser.

Marshall’s 1863 Civil War draft record says he was then married, but apparently Marshall’s then wife (whose name is unknown) had died before 1866 when he married Mary Luce. After the marriage, Mary Warfield (mentioned earlier in this column) informed the authorities that Marshall and his wife Mary were not the same race. A Tazewell County grand jury therefore indicted them for “marriage of black & white persons,” which Illinois state law then classified as a kind of adultery. Besides Warfield, the witnesses summoned to testify before the grand jury in this case were Mahala Ashby (perhaps Marshall’s mother, sister, or aunt), J. W. Glassgow, H. G. Gary, Benjamin S. Prettyman, Joshua Wagenseller (the noted Pekin abolitionist and friend of Abraham Lincoln), John L. Devore, Granville Edwards, Benjamin and Nance Costley, William A. Tinney (a past Tazewell County sheriff and friend of the Costleys who is remembered as an advocate for African-American voting rights), James A. McGrew, William Divinney, and Benjamin Priddy. Marshall and Mary were probably found guilty, and it is likely no coincidence that Marshall does not appear on record in Illinois after 1866.

In 1866, a Tazewell County grand jury indicted Marshall Ashby, black, and Mary Jane Luce, white, of interracial marriage — eight years before Illinois repealed its ban on the marriage of whites with blacks. IMAGE COURTESY OF CARL ADAMS

Despite what had happened to his brother, on June 1, 1870, Mose Ashby married an Illinois-born white woman, Ellen Woodworth, 24, resulting in a grand jury indictment that they lived “together in an open state of adultery” (i.e., he was black and she was white). The outcome of their case is uncertain, but exactly one month after their marriage the U.S. Census shows “Ellen Woodworth” working for Tazewell County Sheriff Edward Pratt as a domestic servant in the Tazewell County Jail – whether that was simply her job or she was serving her sentence for “adultery” is unclear.

Four years after his brother’s indictment, Moses Ashby also was indicted for marrying a white woman, Ellen Woodworth. IMAGE COURTESY OF CARL ADAMS

The state law under which Marshall and Mose were indicted was approved by the General Assembly in 1829 as a part of Illinois’ old “Black Code” restricting the rights of free blacks in Illinois. The ban on interracial marriage, last of the Black Code statutes, was finally repealed in 1874, just four years after Mose’s indictment.

Next time we’ll take a closer look at Pekin’s African-American residents in the period from about 1880 to the early 1900s.

#abraham-lincoln, #allen-travis-davison, #amanda-brown, #benjamin-costley, #benjamin-prettyman, #caroline-m-brown, #catharine-ashby, #charles-ashby, #charlotte-brown, #daniel-and-mary-bastions, #daniel-clauser, #ed-howard, #edard-elster, #elias-luce, #elizabeth-howard, #elizabeth-spearman, #elizabeth-warfield, #ellen-woodworth, #george-w-brown, #illinois-black-code, #interracial-marriage, #isaac-holiplain, #john-brown, #joshua-wagenseller, #juneteenth, #lewis-ashby, #malinda-cooper, #marshall-ashby, #mary-howard, #mary-jane-luce, #mary-warfield, #melinda-howard, #moses-ashby, #nance-legins-costley, #nathan-ashby, #peter-devore, #racism, #racism-in-pekins-past, #sarah-ashby, #sarah-ashby-dau, #sarah-j-davison, #sheriff-edward-pratt, #uncle-bill-tinney, #william-h-ashby, #william-j-ashby

Bill Costley — Pekin’s link to ‘Juneteenth’

This is a reprint (with corrections and updates) of a “From the Local History Room” column that first appeared in June 2015 before the launch of this weblog.

Bill Costley — Pekin’s link to ‘Juneteenth’

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

On May 2, 2015, this column featured a review of a new book by local historian Carl M. Adams about a notable early Pekin resident’s stalwart struggle for freedom — “Black Nance” Legins-Costley, who secured her freedom from slavery with the help of her attorney Abraham Lincoln in the 1841 Illinois Supreme Court case Bailey v. Cromwell. Adams’ book, “Nance: Trials of the First Slave Freed by Abraham Lincoln,” was recognized April 25 at the annual awards luncheon of the Illinois State Historical Society in Springfield.

This week, we will take another look at the family of Nance Legins-Costley in order to learn about Pekin’s historical connection to the origin of the celebration of “Juneteenth,” which is the oldest known public commemoration of the legal end of slavery in the U.S. “Juneteenth” refers to June 19, 1865, the day when Union soldiers under the command of Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston in Texas with news that the Civil War was over and all slaves were now free. Because Texas had been a part of the Confederate States of America, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation could not be enforced in Texas until then.

Juneteenth 2015 was celebrated on Friday, marking exactly 150 years since Union troops brought the news of freedom to Galveston. One of Granger’s soldiers in Galveston that day was none other than Private William Henry “Bill” Costley of Pekin (1840-1888), eldest son of Benjamin Costley and Nance Legins-Costley (though Union military records misspell Bill’s surname “Corsley”).

On his enlistment and muster papers, Bill Costley of Pekin is called “William H. Corsley.”

Bill Costley was mustered out of his regiment on Sept. 30, 1865.

We will now lend this column space to Carl Adams so he can share the results of his historical and genealogical research which tell the story of Bill Costley’s adventures during and immediately after the Civil War. (It was only this month that Adams located Bill’s final resting place, with the help of Rich Apri of St. Paul, Minn.)

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Bill Costley was the first male slave to be legally freed by attorney Abraham Lincoln as a result of the Bailey v. Cromwell Illinois Supreme Court case in 1841. He was an infant at the time. At age 23, Bill Costley decided to join the Union cause of the Civil War.

During the summer of 1864, the Civil War was going poorly for the Union Army on the Richmond-Petersburg front. Commander-in-Chief Lincoln was afraid he would not be re-elected president. To make matters worse, the Illinois 29th Regiment of Volunteers (Colored) had suffered more than 70 percent casualties at the Battle of the Crater — virtually wiped out, with all the officers either dead or wounded.

In spite of the fact they knew black men would have to fight with muskets at their front and bayonets held by white soldiers at their backs, 11 blacks from Tazewell County decided it was time to volunteer to reinforce the Colored Troops. Those brave 11 were William Costley of Pekin, his brother-in-law Edward Lewis, Thomas Shipman, George M. Hall, Wilson Price, Thomas Tumbleson, Morgan Day, and the tightly knit family of William J. Ashby, William H., Marshall and Nathan (who were likely acquaintances of Bill Costley).

At least two of them would not come home — Thomas Shipman of Pekin and Morgan Day of Elm Grove fell in battle, and their names are inscribed on the monument to Tazewell County’s fallen heroes outside the courthouse in downtown Pekin. And at least one of them was wounded — William Henry Costley. However, Bill Costley would participate in a historic event before he returned home: “Juneteenth.”

Shown is the name of Bill Costley’s fellow soldier Thomas Shipman inscribed on the Tazewell County Veterans Memorial outside the Tazewell County Courthouse. Shipman, along with Morgan Day and William H. Costley, were among the 11 African-Americans from Tazewell County who fought to end slavery and restore the Union during the Civil War. Shipman and Day fell in combat, while Costley suffered a shrapnel wound to his shoulder.

Shown is the name of Bill Costley’s fellow soldier Morgan Day inscribed on the Tazewell County Veterans Memorial outside the Tazewell County Courthouse. Costley and Day were among the 11 African-Americans from Tazewell County who fought to end slavery and restore the Union during the Civil War.

General Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army, sensing a quick victory, were eager to get the spring offensive started in March 1865, but heavy spring rains made movements difficult for horses and men alike, and wet ammunition was also a problem.

Finally, in the last week of March, the Union Army awoke from winter sleep and started to move. A fair-skinned black private from Tazewell County, Private Thomas Shipman, was one of the first to go. Assigned to the sharpshooters under Captain Porter, Shipman was killed trading musket balls with the rebel skirmishers on March 31.

Around noon on April 1, General Sheridan beat General Pickett at Five Forks. Private Bill Costley’s unit, the 29th Regiment of Volunteers (Colored), held part of the right flank of the Union line at Hatcher’s Run. The breakthrough prompted Grant to order a full frontal assault all along the line, spanning miles.

As Bill’s infantry line moved forward on the Confederate breastworks nearing Petersburg, an artillery shell blew an air burst to the front and to the left of Bill, close enough to knock him to the ground with sharp pain to the front left shoulder.

Bill was evacuated to the Regimental Aid Station. Dr. Clarence Ewen later wrote in Bill’s pension file (No. 524296) that he remembered Bill’s wound as badly bruised, but no blood, so Bill was ordered back to the front and, bravely, Bill went back into the fight — only to return the next day with intolerable pain.

So Bill was evacuated again, this time to Division for Triage, then on to the “Negro Only” facility at Point-of-Rocks near the pontoon bridge across the James River, and from there to City Point for transfer to a hospital at Alexandria, Va. Bill spent about five weeks in the military medical system. During this time Bill learned his family’s old friend, lawyer Lincoln, was killed as one of the last casualties of the War of the Rebellion.

Juneteenth — Freedom Day, June 19, 1865, for all of Texas slaves, about a quarter of a million souls.

The scene is the Gulf of Mexico in June 1865. The Civil War was over and Private Bill Costley was recovering from a shrapnel wound to his left shoulder, according to his pension file. After a month in the hospitals at Point-of-Rocks and Alexandria, Va., Bill Costley was returned to duty with his unit.

Most of the white Union soldiers were discharged for home, but most of the black soldiers still had a year of service, and the French had invaded Mexico during the war. Lincoln was dead, so Secretary of War Stanton ordered General U.S. Grant to dispatch the black units to the Mexican border as a show of force along the Rio Grande.

At least two Navy ships, the USS Wilmington and the USS William Kennedy, were ordered to load 2,000 Union soldiers, including General Gordon Granger and the 900 men of 29th Regiment of Illinois Colored Volunteers, which was augmented with former slaves and dispatched to the Mexican border.

It was a rough ride. From Mobile, Ala., the ships were sent out into very rough stormy seas to disembark at South Padre Island near Brownsville, Texas. The weather was too rough to unload anyone and the Rio Grande was flooding. After two days, the Navy needed safe harbor, so they tried Aransas Pass near Corpus Christi for another three days, but it was still too rough to unload.

The senior Navy captain warned Granger they were running out of supplies and the nearest resupply was at Galveston. This would be a turning point of history for the state of Texas.

“June 18 — Arrived off Galveston, at Pier 21.” The sight was surprising, if not shocking, to see black uniformed sailors and soldiers working side-by-side with still enslaved longshoremen, who had never heard of an “Emancipation … what?” This discovery would travel up the chain of command very quickly.

So without further orders and under threat of martial law enforced by black armed soldiers, the entire populace assembled at Ashton Villa the next morning. General Granger stood on the second floor balcony to read General Order No. 3. At the last four words of the first sentence, “all slaves are free,” the entire throng was motionless. It seemed no one even breathed. While it took a while to sink in, the order soon turned into an explosion of emotion that has lasted now for 150 years — Juneteenth, Freedom Day, 1865.

Private Bill Costley of Pekin probably didn’t get much of a celebration when his mother was emancipated 24 years earlier, but he did not miss the joys of this party that lasted all day, into the night and again the next day. However, they were still under military orders. “June 21 — Put to sea.”

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After the war, Bill returned to Pekin, where in 1870 the Civil War hero found himself indicted for murder. Bill had encountered a convicted rapist named Patrick Doyle brutally attacking a woman in the street. Bill intervened, twice ordering Doyle to stop, and when Doyle ignored him, he shot and killed him. (The records of Doyle’s inquest detailing Bill Costley’s actions are still on file with the Tazewell County Coroner.)

The people of Pekin knew Bill and his family, though, and they also knew who Doyle was and what he’d been sent to prison for — so after a two-day trial, the all-white jury acquitted Bill Costley, finding the homicide justifiable due to Bill’s having come to the aid of a woman in need. (Charles C. Chapman’s 1879 “History of Tazewell County,” page 296, has a brief reference to Bill Costley’s trial and acquittal.)

Adams’ research shows that Bill later left Pekin, moving to 320 Main St., Davenport, Iowa, and then to 1134 N. Ninth St., Minneapolis, Minn., where it’s possible some of his family had also moved. Though the years wore on, Bill’s old war wound continued to plague him. Bill kept complaining of shoulder pain to his Pension Board, so he finally was admitted to Rochester State Hospital in Rochester, Minn., in May 1888, and there he died five months later, on the night of Oct. 1, 1888. The ward notes say he had “expired before he could be undressed.”

William Henry Costley, war hero and witness to the first Juneteenth, was laid to rest — under the name of “William H. Crossley” — in Rochester’s Quarry Hill Park, in the Rochester State Hospital Cemetery, located between 11th Ave. NE and Route 22, just north of Route 11.

Shown is the grave marker of Pekin Civil War veteran William H. Costley (surname misspelled “Crossley” in the inscription) in the Rochester State Hospital Cemetery, Rochester, Minn.

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