War of 1812: Johnny gone for a soldier


By Debra J. Richardson

EDITOR’S NOTE: In collaboration with several organizations, the Fillmore County Historical Society co-sponsored a War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemoration on Saturday, June 16, 2012 in the village of Lenora. This is Part Five of a six-part series on thirteen War of 1812 veterans buried in nine local cemeteries.

The gravestone for James Riddle at Zumbro Hill Cemetery in Forestville State Park. (Photo ©2012 Debra Richardson)
The gravestone for James Riddle at Zumbro Hill Cemetery in Forestville State Park. (Photo ©2012 Debra Richardson)

In last week’s installment, I noted that numerous fathers of War of 1812 veterans had served in the Revolutionary War. In today’s column, I’ll introduce readers to three local families whose ancestral roots stretched from American Colonial stock to the frontier of southeast Minnesota.

James Riddle

The Riddle-Ridell-Riedell-Ryedale lineage appears to descend from Celtic origin, the family having immigrated to New England prior to the mid-1700s. Riddle genealogy strongly suggests James Riddle’s father, John, served in the War of Independence.

Documentation reveals the family settled in Pittsburgh, Penn., and subsequently migrated to Hamilton and Jefferson counties of Ohio as John and Margaret Riddle’s children came of age.

Son James was born June 15, 1792, at Pittsburgh. He enlisted with Captain George Steger’s Company of the Ohio Militia being called into service on Sept. 4, 1812. He served from Nov. 30, 1812, to Jan. 9, 1813, as a substitute for another soldier, name unrecorded. James’ military service reports show he assisted in building a blockhouse – defensive structure to protect soldiers from enemy fire – at Wooster, Ohio. He was discharged at Lower Sandusky, now the village of Fremont.

On May 5, 1816 James married Elizabeth Gill in Tiltonsville. A land grant certificate was issued under the authority of President John Quincy Adams to James on July 20, 1826, for 80 acres in Richland County, Ohio, under the Act of Congress of April 24, 1820. The Act reduced both the down payment and the price per acre on the purchase of public land and is credited for encouraging expansion of western settlement.

The couple came west to Fillmore County in 1853. Settling in Forestville Township, James owned land with his young adult son, Thomas, in Section 14.

A military warrant land patent was issued on June 10, 1859, to James under the Scrip Warrant Act of 1855 for 80 acres in this section. Subsequently, the earliest extant township map (1878) reveals the Riddle family owned 160 acres in the northeast quarter section and an adjoining 50 acres to the southwest.

James and Elizabeth are buried at the pioneer cemetery of Zumbro Hill. The graveyard at Forestville State Park is located up a steep, winding trail that runs along the ridge of an old territorial road and is today surrounded by brush and thick timber.

James died at the age of 87 years on Oct. 8, 1876. His gravestone is carved with a traditional icon in mortuary art of a weeping willow. The once-erect marble marker lies flush above his gravesite with moss-capped crown.

Tyler Walker

Tyler’s father, Gideon, is recorded in “Military Burials of Croydon, N.H.” as a private in a Massachusetts unit during the Revolutionary War. His ancestral descent was thrice documented and approved in Sons of the American Revolution membership submissions.

Born in Sutton, Mass., in 1756 to Asa Walker and Abigail Hayden, Gideon married Mary Carriel (Carroll). Tyler Walker was the eldest son of Gideon and Mary’s six children.

Born May 12, 1794, in Croydon, Cheshire County, now known as Sullivan County, Tyler served as a private in Captain Joseph Kimball’s Company of Colonel Fisk’s New Hampshire Militia. He enlisted at Croydon Sept. 15, 1814, and was discharged at Portsmouth Dec. 3, 1814. His name is found in the index of Croydon citizens known to be veterans of the War of 1812.

Tyler married Polly Ann Rowe in 1817. Tyler and Polly were parents of four children: Julia Ann, John, Lovina, and Hiram. A blacksmith by occupation, Tyler migrated to Lake County Ohio in 1837. The family is enumerated on the 1840-1860 Federal censuses in Concord Township.

The earliest evidence of the Walker family in Fillmore County records shows a military warrant land patent for 120 acres in Section 18 of Carrolton Township. Under the authority of the ScripWarrant Act of 1855, Tyler was granted 120 acres, which he subsequently transferred to James Ryan on June 1, 1859.

As of the 1857 Minnesota Territorial Census, son Hiram settled his family in Rushford Township, and by 1869, another Walker had joined him. Hiram’s brother, John Franklin, arrived to take up residence in Holt Township, where together the two siblings built a stone mill near Whalan.

Meanwhile, back in Ohio, the Walker parents suffered effects of ill health. On the 1870 census Tyler, age 76, is enumerated as “blind,” while Polly is enumerated as “insane” – likely the result of senility.

The issue of caring for parents of advanced age was a common concern of folks migrating westward. Each family weighed the choice of leaving parents behind or encouraging their participation in an arduous journey to resettlement across the Mississippi. Climate and conditions on the frontier were advertised as healthy and conducive to wellness, which influenced many families to emigrate as multi-generational units. Hiram returned to Ohio in 1872 to bring his extended family to Fillmore County.

By the enumeration of the 1880 Federal Census, Tyler and Polly are residing in Holt Township with son John Franklin and family. On the census questionnaire for the elder Walkers, the enumerator noted “YES” in the column asking whether a person was blind, deaf, dumb, idiotic, insane, maimed, crippled, bedridden or permanently disabled. Polly died a few months after the census was taken. Along with comrades Jarvis Billings and Charles Williams, Tyler is recorded in the Pensioners in Minnesota, abstracted from the U.S. Pension Bureau’s “List of Pensioners on the Roll, 1 Jan 1883.”

The Walker flour milling business suffered a series of floods, which persuaded John Franklin to move farther west to Dakota Territory in 1883. His wife and children remained in Holt Township for three years during which time his father, Tyler, died Nov. 7, 1884.

His obituary in the Nov. 27, 1884 issue of the Rushford Star memorializes the old veteran:

“Mr. Tyler Walker, aged 91 years, father of Hiram Walker, formerly of this city died a few days since. His remains were interred in the cemetery in Highland. He was highly respected by all who knew him.”

A granite family monument was set for Tyler and wife Polly at the North Highland Cemetery (also known as the Highland Friends Cemetery). Close inspection reveals the base of an original marble marker on the south side of the burial lot reads: WALKER.

William Woodard

William was born May 28, 1788, in Spencer, Worcester County, Mass., to Noah and Elizabeth Jackson Woodard. Noah served in the Revolutionary War as a fifer. He accompanied 18 soldiers on a five-day march on an alarm to the Northward at Hadley and was discharged from service Aug. 23, 1777.

Son William volunteered at Hague, Warren County, N.Y., to serve as a private in Captain Uriah Balcom’s 23rd Regiment of New York Militia. He participated in the invasion of Plattsburgh Sept. 9, 1814, and was discharged less than a week later.

William married Jane Ackerman Feb. 20, 1819. He is enumerated on the 1820 census in the Warren County village of Hague on Lake George in eastern upstate New York.

In family records, William is referred to as “Uncle Billy” and is mentioned in the “History of Hague” as holding road commission offices. Following the death of his wife, he sold his property in Hague in the mid-1850s and migrated westward with his adult children, initially settling in Waukesha County, Wis.

According to military service files archived at the National Records Administration in Washington, D.C., affidavits provide additional information on his service in the War of 1812:

Dane County, Wisconsin 20 Jul 1855

“…on the 8th day of September 1814…the company to which Woodard belonged was ordered to rendezvous at Warrensborough in the county of Warren and proceed to Platsborough in the State of New York…under the command of Captain Uriah Balcom and Colonel William Cook…and remained in the service of the United States until the 24th day of September 1814…about seventeen days and was honorably discharged.

He makes this declaration for the purpose of obtaining the bounty land to which he may be entitled under the Act approved March Third 1855…sworn before Justice of the Peace, George M. Gere, 5 Jan 1856, Chatfield, Fillmore County, Minnesota Territory.”

This affidavit of William Woodard was filed for renewal of an original land warrant of 160 acres that had been lost in the mails.

William Woodard being sworn that in the year 1855 he applied for a land warrant to the department at Washington and that in pursuance of law land warrant No. 54.858 for 160 acres was issued to him as he has been informed and believes was sent to his address at Carimona Post office in said county by mistake…that a letter came to the Carimona Post office in the year 1855 as he has been informed by the Post Master at Carimona and returned to the Dead Letter Office at Washington…that he never received said letter or the warrant and that he has never sold, assigned nor voluntarily parted with his right to the warrant in question…that in the first application made for a land warrant the paper were sent from Carimona Post Office because there were no regular mails from and to the town of Chatfield near where he resides and that he never has received any letters from the Carimona Post office and never goes there for his mail and there were no directions given in the first papers sent to Washington to have his letter directed to Chatfield…he resides about 15 miles from Carimona Post Office and within three miles of the town of Chatfield and he wishes another warrant issued to him in place of the first issue.

Signed William Woodard and subscribed and sworn on 30 Aug 1858 before H. D. Bristol, Notary Public

After submitting a series of such affidavits, which were duly published in the Chatfield Democrat, a military land warrant for 160 acres was at last issued to William in Section 17 of Chatfield Township on Dec. 10, 1862.

While the wheels of bureaucracy ran slowly, William had died May 26, 1861. A Petition for Letters of Administration, in the State of Minnesota, County of Fillmore, by son Orrin Woodard on Sept. 6, 1861, after William’s death, stated that he died intestate. William lies buried in Chatfield Cemetery under a marble marker long since separated from its base and cemented into the ground.

NEXT WEEK: In the last of this series we return to Chatfield Cemetery where Fillmore County Historical Society board member Carole Gunderson meets the third-great grandfather she never knew she had.

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