#48 Henry Oakes, Horse Thief

My great-great grandfather Henry Oakes (aka Henry Oax, Heinrich Ochs, or Henry Ochs) was born December 24, 1846 in Hesse-Cassel (Germany). He, his father John, mother Anna, and brother Conrad arrived in New York on April 22, 1852. Anna died by 1856, and John remarried to Wilhelmine Mager. In 1860, the family was living in Greenfield, Wayne County, Michigan.

Henry enlisted in Company F of the 24th Michigan in August 1864 in Detroit. He was not quite 18 years old. He missed Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor, but joined in time for the siege of Petersburg. He joined the regiment at Weldon Railroad, Virginia on September 7, 1864. The regiment participated in the fighting at Hatcher’s Run in February 1865.

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Roster of Company F on a broadside published c.1865 (from University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library – http://quod.lib.umich.edu/b/bhl/x-bl006906/bl006906)

On February 11, 1865, the 24th was ordered to Baltimore and then to Springfield, Illinois for rest and recruiting at Camp Butler. While there, they were the military escort at Abraham Lincoln’s funeral on May 4, 1865. According to Henry Oakes, “J.D. Sheldon[?] was promoted to Lieut. shortly after we went to Lincoln’s funeral at Springfield, O. or Springfield, Ill. We stayed then till we came home to Detroit to be discharged.” On June 19, 1865, they left Camp Butler by train for Detroit. On June 28 at 5 PM, they had their last dress parade and the regiment was mustered out on June 30th. About the time immediately after that, Henry said, “When discharged from 24th I guess I was at my parents. I don’t know where else I could have been. They now live some 2 ½ mi. W. of Dearborn – John Oakes.”

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Last orders to the 24th from the Detroit Free Press, June 30, 1865, page 1

Henry reenlisted in the 18th U.S. Infantry (3rd Battalion) on December 4, 1865. During January to March, 1866, the 3rd Battalion was going through organization and instruction at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. They left there on April 20, 1866 and reached Sedgwick, Colorado on May 31, 1866. According to Henry, “We got to Salt Lake City [Fort Douglas] about 1 of July 1866. Fired a salute there on the 4th. Drew pay and clothing and then a pile of them deserted and I was put on detached duty. My gun was taken from me and I was put on a horse and a revolver given to me and a detachment of 4 of us with a non-commissioned officer put out to apprehend deserters for $30 a head. I can’t think who the officer was in charge of that detachment nor who the men were nor what companies they were from. I have no idea how long I was on that duty. Couldn’t tell whether 3 or 5 months of the time but I know we brought in a deserter every once in a while.” In December 1866, the 18th was reorganized: the 1st Battalion stayed the 18th Infantry, the 2nd Battalion became the 27th Infantry, and the 3rd Battalion became the 36th Infantry. Henry’s enlistment ended on December 4, 1868.

Here’s what happened to Henry after that according to his deposition from his Civil War Pension File: “When I was discharged from the regular army I went as brakeman on the U.P.R.R. [Union Pacific Railroad] – ran from Laramie to Rollin Springs. Brake man a little less than a year – got my left hand [?] [?] and was in a hospital with that in Laramie City. I can’t tell how long. Went braking again on same route. I can’t say how long then the whole crew was “pulled off.” I laid round Laramie I don’t know how long and I kind of think I came from there to Detroit. No I worked quite awhile at the European Hotel at Laramie City as 2nd(?) cook. Then I had charge of the dining room there quite a spell. Then to Detroit. Was brought to Detroit and put in House of Correction for 5 years for horse stealing. Had started herding cattle and was roped in. Was taking 3 horses from Laramie to Ft. Bridger for a man whose name I can’t recollect and was arrested with the horses in my possession. The man who sent me with the horses kept a [?] house at Laramie and he skipped out.”

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Henry’s account of his “horse stealing”

So Henry was sent to the Detroit House of Corrections for 5 years for horse stealing in Wyoming Territory. He was received at the jail March 28, 1871 and was let out August 30, 1875.

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Response from Superintendent Joseph Nicholson of the Detroit House of Corrections to the pension investigators about Henry’s tenure at the prison

Week 48 (Nov. 25-Dec. 1): Thief

#47 Milo A. Thompson

Milo Alfonzo Thompson is a step-relative. He was the father of Bert L. Thompson who married my great-great grandmother Mina Bolt Moore in 1924. Mina died in 1942 and Bert died in 1966. He lived with my mother’s family when she was a kid, so our family has all his papers and pictures, since he had no children or immediate family.

Bert’s dad, Milo, was born in Tioga, Pennsylvania on July 10, 1836 to Bethlehem Thompson and Louisa Chilson. He had four sisters, two of whom (Bethia and Ann) died in 1841 and were buried in Addison, Steuben County, New York. Sometime between 1852 and 1860, Bethlehem brought his family to Michigan. Milo married Ruth E. Noble on January 2, 1860 in Oakland County, Michigan and they lived in Oxford, Michigan. Their first son John Wesley Thompson was born on September 9, 1860.

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Milo A. Thompson, 1861         (photo courtesy of author)

At the start of the Civil War, Milo joined the 1st Michigan Cavalry, Company G. The unit was organized in Detroit from August 21 to September 6 and mustered in on September 13, 1861. The 1st  became part of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade along with the 5th, 6th, and 7th MI Cavalry Regiments. Company G was composed of men from Wayne and Oakland Counties. A roster can be found here. The 1st participated in battles from Winchester, Virginia on Mar. 23, 1862 to Appomattox, Virginia on April 9, 1865. In the 1890 Veterans Schedule, a remark on Milo’s entry says “reenlisted,” but I’m not sure of dates. Milo and Ruth’s second son, George Bethlehem Thompson, was born in Oxford, Michigan on November 12, 1863. I don’t know if he was home in February 1863 on leave or if he was finished with his service and hadn’t reenlisted yet.

After the war, Milo and Ruth had four more children: Violet, Gracie, Albert, and Bert. Violet died September 6, 1870 of brain fever – she was only 1. Gracie and Albert died within a month of each other in early 1879 of diphtheria – Gracie was 6 and Albert was 4. John Wesley died on December 31, 1880 at the age of 20 of tuberculosis. He had married Katherine Weber on February 26, 1880 and she had given birth to their son on December 27, 1880. Bert was born November 3, 1879, and so grew up only knowing his older brother George.

In 1882, the family moved to Luzerne, Oscoda County, Michigan. Milo’s son George married Katie VanAntwerp on September 22, 1887 in Elmer Township. They eventually had 7 children. George died in 1944. Milo’s mother, Louisa, died at Milo’s home on December 21, 1889.

The May, 4, 1894 issue of the Crawford County Avalanche (Grayling, MI) had a disturbing story about Milo: “Milo A. Thompson, of Luzerne, was assaulted by Eli Hagar, of that place, in a brutal manner, one day last week. Mr. Thompson is an old veteran and known by many of our readers.” He wasn’t even 58 yet, but I guess that counted as “old” in the 19th century. Milo’s wife Ruth died of unknown causes on November 27, 1896. Her obituary said she had only been sick for four days. According to the June 10, 1897 issue of the Avalanche, “Some vandal stole the flowers off the grave of the wife of Comrade Milo A. Thompson, of Luzerne. She was buried in the cemetery at Lewiston.”

In the 1900 census, Milo and Bert were living with George and his family in Elmer Township. Milo died on August 4, 1908. His obituary was in the Avalanche on August 13, 1908.

Died – At Ely, Emmet Co., Mich., August 4, 1908., Milo A. THOMPSON, aged 72 years. The deceased was born in Westfield, Tiogo county, Penn., July 10, 1836. When but a young man he came to Oakland Co. On Jan., 2, 1860 he was married to Miss Ruth E. NOBLE. To them were born 6 children, two of whom are now living, Geo. B. and Burt L. THOMPSON, both of this place. In answer to this country’s call he enlisted as a soldier in Co. G. First Michigan Cavalry and did valiant service. He was discharged at the close of the war and returned to his home at Oxford, Mich. In the spring of ’82 he came north and settled at Luzerne, Mich., where he has since resided. His wife died Nov., 27, 1896 whose memory he has always cherished. His last days since her death have been spent among his children. Mr. THOMPSON had always enjoyed fairly good health until 3 years ago when he began to fail. He received a slight stroke of paralysis the last of March which was followed by a more severe one in April. After leaving the hospital and for the last seven weeks, he has been at Ely, Emmet Co., where at his Nephew’s on Tuesday, Aug., 4th., at 2 p.m. he breathed his last. He leaves two sons, one sister, nine grand children, two great grand children and a host of friends, acquaintances and old comrades. Rev. C. E. ROBINSON of Lansing, preached the sermon at Lewiston. He was a member of Marvin Post No. 240, G. A. R. of this place. The body was brought to Lewiston where the funeral services were held on the 6th., inst. The casket was borne to the grave by his comrades of the war.

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Ruth (stone at left) and Milo (stone at right), Albert Township Cemetery, Lewiston, Michigan

Week 47 (Nov. 18-24): Soldier