01 May 2013

Third American Civil War Challenge - I Found Him! The Elusive Ralph Fielding!

My Fielding/Feilding Family has been giving me fits ever since I started working on my family history.  I can only go so far and then the trail goes cold, really cold.

Patrick Fielding marries Ann Croisin (that’s how my mother pronounces it) or Crawson which is on a marriage record in Cuyahoga County, OH for 1837.  Or it could be Crossin, too. They are both born in Ireland, from Census records.

I have not been able to locate the family in 1850, though City Directories show Patrick to be in Columbus, Ohio at the time.

The first time I can find them in Census records is 1860, in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. 

Patrick Fielding 49, M, Stone Mason, $50, Ireland 3rd great grandfather.
Ann Fielding 45, F, Ireland
Ralph Fielding, 23, M, Laborer, Ohio
Eliza Fielding, 21, F, Domestic, Ohio
Mary A. Fielding, 14, F, Ohio
James Fielding, 19, M, Broom Maker, Ohio  2nd great grandfather
Wm Fielding, 12, M, Ohio, attended school
Patrick H. Fielding, 8, M, Ohio, attended school

I’ve dutifully followed as many of the children as possible.  I know James’ line as that is my line.  By 1870, only the youngest two boys are at home and Patrick is still listed as a Stone Mason, in Columbus, Ohio.

I found records of Ann and Patrick's deaths, plus the two boys, William and Patrick Henry in Delaware, Delaware County, OH, where they were last living. Only Patrick Henry has a headstone, though the parents are listed in the same cemetery.

Where is Ralph? I couldn’t find a record of Ralph anywhere.  He has only shown up the one time in the Census. 

A couple of years ago, Ancestry began adding Civil War records…  I figured out the dates and Ralph would have been the right age. So I plug in Ralph and his approximate birth year and that he’s from Ohio.  I’m pretty sure he had to have been born in Cuyahoga County as he is the first child after the wedding date.   What the heck, right? 

Up pops Alfred Fielding, same year, same location… I get a little excited, but there is nothing more to go on except that he died of disease while a POW at Andersonville, GA.  Wow.  He was a private, Company E, 17th Infantry, US.   

I asked a volunteer to check the files and see if there was anything to tell me who this soldier might belong to, family-wise.  She came back and asked if his mother was Ann, father Patrick.  I said YES!!!!

A couple of weeks later, and a small fee, and I received his file.  Alfred is Ralph! There are letters from him in the file that the family used to prove their claim for his pension.  And he asks about his sisters and brothers as well.   Here is the first one, dated 23 Nov 1862.

There are 3 more letters, but they are faded and will need some enhancement before I can put them up in a Blog or elsewhere.  They are are mostly on the same lines, about being in Murfreesboro and camp life.  This is the only one that describes a battle.

From the War Department record, I learned that he was captured during the Battle at Chickamauga on 21 September 1863.  He was confined at Richmond, Virginia on 29 September 1863.   From there, he was sent to Danville, Virginia on 12 December 1863.  He was admitted to the Hospital at Andersonville, Georgia on 16 Jun 1864, and died 18 July 1864 from disease/diarrhea… a common occurrence at the time. 

From Find-A-Grave:
Andersonville National Cemetery
DATE OF DEATH: 07/18/1864

From the pension papers and affidavits included in the file, his father, Patrick, suffered a broken ankle in 1861, which was apparently bad enough that he was unable to continue in his profession as a Stone Mason.  Alfred, being the oldest, was supporting the family as best he could and I’m sure he joined the service in an attempt to increase their income level.

The rest of the file is hard to read through, along with the bad hand-writing, the story that comes out of the pages is devastating.  This family lost both of its main wage-earners during the 1860’s.  The middle brother, James, was also in the Civil War and was injured, drawing a pension as well.  They all moved to Delaware, Delaware County, Ohio in 1876 most likely due to better living conditions on a smaller scale and stayed there until the parents died.  The younger boys stayed in Delaware, one dying in the big flood in 1913 and the other in 1918 during the flu epidemic, never marrying.  James and his family moved back to Columbus, Ohio. I have been unable to locate the girls.

When I started researching my family about 14 years ago, I had no idea I would be able to find information like this, let alone personal letters written by an ancestor!  We are a mobile family and have lost many photographs, letters, diaries, ephemera, etc over the years. Now I have a piece of history back in our family.