July 26, 2011

Five Brothers/ Three Stories - Benjamin Franklin Ordway, A Michigan Soldier

Benjamin Franklin Ordway, the fourth son of Harrison and Philina Ordway, was born in Pennsylvania on July 17, 1842.   He lived with his parents in Grass Lake, Jackson County, Michigan, until his marriage at the age of twenty  He married Phoebe Elizabeth Holford on September 1, 1862.

According to the U.S. Veterans Schedule of 1890, Livingston Twp., Otsego County, Michigan, Benjamin F. Ordway enlisted in the Union Army two days after his wedding, on September 3, 1862.  This was twelve days after his oldest brother, Thomas, enlisted in Ohio, a month after his third child was born.  These men must have really heard the call to arms for the Union.  Benjamin joined the 5th Michigan Infantry, Company A, where he served until mustered out June 1, 1865, a total of 2 years, 9 months and 29 days.

1890 Veterans Schedule - Benjamin F. Ordway
The 5th Michigan was organized at Detroit in September 1861.  One company of the regiment was known as the “Livingston Volunteers.”  By the time Benjamin joined in September 1862, the regiment had suffered severe losses in May of 308 men and then later in June, its losses were heavy at Peach Orchard and Malvern Hill on July 1.  Many line officers were wounded or killed.  The regiment returned home and then went out to serve under General Pope at Manassas and in December 1862, at the disasterous Battle of Fredricksburg where 100 were wounded or killed, including the commander of the regiment.  In May 1863, the regiment took part in the battle of Chancellorsville where again their commander was killed.

On July 2nd, 1863, the regiment arrived at Gettysburg and by 4:00 p.m. that day, they went into action, losing about half the men in the regiment.  The 5th Michigan left Gettysburg, following the rebels, but eventually they were needed in New York City to help keep peace during the draft riots that were occuring there..  In September 1863, they were sent back into action to winter quarters in Virginia.  In December, it was time for reenlistments and for a return to Michigan on veterans furlough.

After furlough, they met again in Detroit and marched back to Virginia, arriving in February 1864 and stayed until May when they joined the Wilderness Campaign.  They were consistently under fire and the regiment again suffered many losses, eventually having to consolidate with the 3rd Regiment when both groups' numbers were depleted

On May 12, 1864, the 5th charged and captured the Confederate flag at Spotsylvania.  They were very active, fighting in the daylight and constructing works and marching at night, and it eventually wore out the men.  For nine months, they were rarely out of range of Confederate guns.  When the regiment captured Petersburg on April 3, 1865, they followed the departing rebels to Appomatox on the very morning that Lee surrendered to Grant.  Finally, the war was over, and it would seem that Ben F. Ordway was a very lucky man to survive.

On May 1, 1865, the regiment marched to Washington for the Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac, then left by way of Louisville and across the Ohio River, traveling towards home.  By July 8th, the men were back in Detroit, mustered out and paid.

Now Benjamin could return home to his bride of three years, Elizabeth. 

1872 Agricultural Census, Grass Lake, Jackson County, Michigan

By the 1880 census, my great-great-great uncle’s family now consisted of Benjamin, 35; Elizabeth, 35; Eugene, 14; James, 10; and Girtie, 1.    In 1890, the veterans census told us that he was still in Grass Lake, Jackson County, Michigan, but sometime between 1890 and 1900, the family moved to Livingston Township, Otsego, Michigan.  On June 23, 1900, the enumerator found Benjamin F. Ordway, 57, and married 38 years, owning a mortgaged farm there.  With him, were wife Elizabeth and one child, Harry S., 12, as well as his father, Harrison, aged 89 and widowed.  Perhaps that was the reason for the family’s move – to help his father and to take over a farm.
In the 1870 census for Grass Lake, Benjamin F., 26, a farmer with real estate valued at $1500 and pesonal goods worth $400, was living with his wife, Elizabeth, 26, and two children – Eugene E., 4, and James A., 1.   The 1872 agricultural census for that year gave a very detailed account of Benjamin’s holdings which included: 25 acres of farmable ground, 15 acres of woods, 40 acres of unimproved land, three horses, 3 milch cows, 4 swine, 75 bushels of winter wheat, 100 bushels of Indian corn and 15 bushels of oats.

The census in 1910 noted that Elizabeth had five children, four living.  Her children were: Eugene Everett,  James Almond, Gertrude Elizabeth, and Samuel Harrison (Harry).  I have not been able to find the other child, but would guess it was born between James and Gertrude as a nine year gap exists between their births.  In 1910 Elizabeth, 66, and Benjamin , 68, lived alone and he was still farming.

Sadly, in 1916, they lost another child, James Almond.  The Otsego County Herald & Times, June 16, 1916, p. 6, had this obituary:

“ ALLIE ORDWAY DIED LAST SATURDAY MORNING – Had been in poor health for several months.  Funeral Monday afternoon.
James Almond Ordway passed away at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Benj. Ordway in this village at an early hour last Saturday morning following an illness which had extended over several months.  He had been a sufferer from Bright’s disease for a long time and last November was taken with a partial stroke.  Although he recovered so as to be about considerably, his condition gradually became more critical and he passed away as noted above.  He was downtown the day before his death and ate breakfast with the family Friday and was about the house until towards noon when he was again stricken.
The deceased was born at Napoleon, Jackson county, July 13, 1868, and would have been 48 years old the coming July.  He came to Otsego county with his parents 33 years ago and had remained a resident here ever since.
He is survived by his widow, by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Benj. F. Ordway, two brothers, Henry of Durand, Mich. and Eugene, of this place, and by one sister, Mrs. Gertie Clapper.
The funeral services were held from the home of his parents on Monday afternoon at 2 o’clock.  Captain Murdock of the Salvation Army and Rev. S. McDonald, pastor of the Methodist church, officiating.  The burial was in Fairview.  The family have the sympathy of many friends in their bereavement.”

Two years later, Benjamin F. Ordway died in 1918.  He was buried near James Almond.

Elizabeth soon went to live with her daughter and family, Gerty and Henry Clapper.  In 1920, still in Livingston, Otsego, County, Elizabeth Ordway, aged 76 and widowed, was in the household of Henry Clapper, 60, a laborer of all kinds of work, and wife Gerty, 41.  They had children, Lyle, 20, a mechanic in a machine shop; Everet, 9, and Edna E., 6.  It would seem that Lyle might have been from a previous marriage of either Gerty or Henry, but I have not researched yet that possibility.

Elizabeth died on January 13, 1926, an inhabitant of the city of Gaylord, Otsego County, Michigan.  At that time of her death, she owned real estate valued at $1000 and had personal goods worth $300.  I think it is always interesting to view the inventory of possessions, especially in the earlier wills.  For Elizabeth, her goods were:
-one 12 x 12 rug, 4 rocking chairs, and one Morris chair
-one stand, one bed and springs mattress, one rocker
-one bedroom carpet, six kitchen chairs
-one dresser and commode, 2 pillows
-one bedsprings, mattress, 5 lace curtains, 2 door curtains
-two pictures, one dining table, one kitchen table, 3 lamps
-two cupboards, one wash tub, one dishpan
-one looking glass, 2 box fruit cans, 12 plates
-two cake plates, 5 saucers, 2 pie plates, 2 butter dishes
-one sugar dish, 1 milk pitcher, 1 water pitcher
-one vinegar cruit, one coffee pot, one teapot
-three bread tins, potato masher, meat fork, one knife and fork
-one butter bowl and paddle, 1 bread board, 1 large platter
-two quilts, one frying pan, 6 pillows                                                                                      
 total value $432.50

It seems like a pretty trivial list compared to our homes today, doesn't it? 

Again, I would love to have photos of any of the family!

1 comment:

  1. Dianne, thanks so much for posting this information about Benjamin Ordway and Elizabeth Phebe Holford. I am interested in them because Elizabeth Phebe's father, Samuel Holford, was married to my relative, Huldah Hatt. In fact, he was married, first, to Huldah Hatt, daughter of James Hatt and Elizabeth Mead, then he married her niece, Hulda Ann Hatt Tate, daughter of Eli O. Hatt and Emeline Hall. Samuel's first wife was a sister of his second wife's dad.

    Deb Eddy