In the first installment of this series, I introduced my fourth-great-grandfather, Hiram Scott, who died in New Orleans while serving in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War. This Memorial Day, I want to honor his memory by learning as much as I can about him, with a eye towards uncovering his birth family and his early life. If you haven’t yet read that first post, you should read it now before continuing with this post.
In this second post in the series, I’ll lay out, examine, and document everything I know about the life of Hiram Scott, so that I’ll have a broad base of information to use when evaluating potential evidence for Hiram’s early life and birth family.
I’ll start the examination of Hiram’s life at the very end of his life, where I have the richest evidence.
From Hiram’s military interment record (shown below—he is listed around the middle of the page as #65), I know that Hiram was buried on April 7, 1865, in grave 89 of plot 36 of Monument Cemetery in New Orleans, Louisiana. He had died of chronic diarrhea (=dysentery) in the Barracks Hospital in New Orleans the previous day (April 6, 1865), and had been treated for his affliction at Union Hospital number 4896 (presumably the Barracks Hospital where he died).
He was recorded as being 50 years old at the time of his death (so born around 1815), and his birthplace was unhelpfully recorded as “America.” At the time of his death, he was a Private in Company E of the Illinois volunteer infantry. He was married and he had enlisted for service in Alden, McHenry County, Illinois. In in interest of completeness, I should note that in the last column (“Remarks”), the following is written:
G.B. Andrews Alden McHenry Co. Illinois
Was G.B. Andrews his commanding officer? The person to be notified in case of death? The person to whom Hiram’s effects were given, to be delivered home to his widow? All but one of the other entries that have names in this column share the same last name with the deceased:
|Number||Deceased||Name in Remarks|
|43||Robert Campbell||James M. Campbell, Georgetown Tenn|
|45||William W. Rizer||Mr. H. Rizer, Colesburgh Delaware Co. Iowa|
|47||Glauville Simpson||Mrs. Simpson, Benton P.O. Illinois|
|48||Thaddeus L. Wood||Thaddeus Wood, Washville Franklin Co. Mass.|
|59||Henry Brickman||Caspar Brickman, Hanover, Ind.|
|65||Hiram Scott||G.B. Andrews, Alden McHenry Co. Illinois|
|66||J.M. Cawron||David Cawron, Baville, Illinois|
|67||John Serriath||Jefferson Jeut, Topeka Kansas|
|68||George Thompson||Levi Thompson, Paunald Centre [?]|
|77||Thomas Maynard||Jennie Maynard, Wheeling Ind.|
|78||William Vanalstine||Mr. H. Vanalstine, Inn Valley Adams Co. Wisc|
This similarity in names, as well as the presence of two women’s names among those listed in the remarks column, effectively rules out the possibility of the name in remarks being a commanding officer. It would seem that G.B. Andrews was someone with a personal connection to Hiram Scott—perhaps the person to collect Hiram’s effects, or to be notified of Hiram’s death.
From Hiram’s entry in the general index for pension files, we see that his widow’s name was Mary Scott, and that she filed for widow’s benefits on May 23, 1865, about six weeks after Hiram’s death:
From Mary Scott’s pension application (the pages of which are shown in this post), we learn a number of facts:
- Her maiden name was Mary Millard.
- Hiram and Mary were married on September 11, 1838, in Bingham township, Potter County, Pennsylvania, by David Drover, a Justice of the Peace.
- Mary’s parents, Orry and Polly Millard, were present at Hiram and Mary’s wedding.
- Polly Root and Clarinder Beers were personally well acquainted with Mary Scott and the Scott family and were present at the birth of their son Winfield Scott on October 4, 1853, in Bolivar, Allegany County, NY.
- Hiram and Mary were personally acquainted with H.G. and Rowena Ehle for five years before Hiram died.
- Hiram enlisted on September 28, 1864, for one year of military service.
- Hiram enrolled for service on October 3, 1864, in Marengo, Illinois.
- Hiram was mustered in on October 4, 1864, in Marengo, Illinois.
- Hiram served in Company C (not E as on his burial form) of the 95th Illinois volunteers.
- Hiram was admitted to the Army hospital on March 12, 1865.
- Hiram died on April 6, 1865, of chronic diarrhea.
- As of March 12, 1867, Hiram and Mary had only one surviving child under the age of 16 years: Winfield Scott.
After getting married in Bingham, Pennsylvania, Hiram and Mary appear to have settled down in Bolivar, New York (only about 25 miles away) for at least 10 years, as four of their children were born there:
- Horace L. Scott (born ca. 1842 in Bolivar, Allegany County, New York)
- Willard J. Scott (born ca. 1844 in Allegany County, New York)
- James H. Scott (born 11 Feb 1847 in Bolivar, Allegany County, New York)
- Winfield Scott (born 4 Oct 1853 in Bolivar, Allegany County, New York)
By the time of the 1855 Illinois State census (shown below), the family had moved to Chemung, McHenry County, Illinois, and was living next door to his wife’s parents (note Orra Milliard on the line below Hiram):
The 1855 Illinois census only lists heads of households and then tallies of other household members by sex, race, and decennial age group.
|Free White Males|
|Free White Females|
The total of all people itemized—free whites, negros, and mulattos—is given as 8 for Hiram Scott’s household, so we have confirmation that he owned no slaves. This total of 8, however, is two more people than I previously knew about:
|The Scott household in 1855|
|__?__||F||1835–1845||10–19||(Allegany co.)||moved away or died?|
|__?__||M||1845–1855||0–9||?||died before 1865?|
Hiram and his family are noted as owning $300 worth of livestock in 1855, slightly less than the average ($357) of the households enumerated on the same page. Finally, Hiram’s household is noted as having one member (presumably Hiram) who was eligible for duty in the state militia.
With the notable exception of the details of his military service—which I’ll cover in my next post—this is all the solid evidence I’ve been able to find about my ancestor Hiram Scott.
The case of the missing census records
One strange anomaly is the absence of any record of him on the 1840, 1850 or 1860 censuses. I manually reviewed the entire census returns for these three census years for Allegany County, New York, and McHenry County, Illinois, as well as the county where Hiram and Mary were married—Potter County, Pennsylvania. No one came close. I then searched the indexes for these three censuses for these entire states as well as adjacent states and eventually the entire U.S. Nothing. Well, not exactly nothing—there was a surprising number of people named Hiram/Hyram Scott/Scot, who were born around 1810–1820 (and some of these were even married to a woman named Mary). I traced each of these out to verify that they were not the same person as my ancestor Hiram Scott. I was able to exclude them all.
So where was Hiram at the time of the 1840, 1850 and 1860 censuses? There are a few possibilities, which differ by census, so I’ll tackle each missing census separately.
THE 1840 CENSUS
A possibility that applies only to the 1840 census—as the 1840 and earlier censuses only name the heads of households—is that Hiram escaped notice by not being considered a head of a household. If he and his family were living in someone else’s household in 1840, they would only be represented as counts of people by age living in that person’s household.
Hiram and Mary were married on September 11, 1838, so they would still have been a newly married couple in mid-1840 when the census taker came to visit. Their first child, Horace, wasn’t born until around 1842, so we’d just be looking for a 25-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman living in someone else’s household.
Whose household? They could be living with any number of people, but we should probably look at his parents and her parents first. Of course, we don’t yet know who his parents were, so we’ll have to wait on investigating this possibility. Her parents, on the other hand, present a very real possibility. We know that Hiram and Mary were living in proximity to Mary’s parents (they were married in the town where her parents lived, her parents attended their wedding, and her parents were living next door to Hiram and Mary at the time of the 1855 Illinois state census).
As noted above, Mary Scott’s father was Orra (“Orry”) Millard. Orra Millard’s entry on the 1840 census is shown below (he’s about halfway down the page):
|Free White Males|
|Free White Females|
In 1840, Orra Millard and his wife would have been in their early fifties:
|Orra Millard’s family in 1840|
|WIlliam Montgomery||M||1816||24||married, with a child|
|Mary||F||ca. 1818||22||(married, living with Orra?)|
|(Hiram?)||M||ca. 1815||15||(married, living with Orra?)|
There are indeed two extra people in their twenties enumerated with Orra’s household who could be accounted for if Hiram and Mary were living with Orra and Polly. So perhaps this is where Hiram was in 1840. With the information I have at the moment, though, I can’t determine if this is actually Hiram.
THE 1850 CENSUS
To explain his absence on the 1850 census, we might turn to the California Gold Rush. It is possible that he went out west in search of the gold that was found in California in 1849, and was somehow missed by census takers. The intrepid census takers did eventually track down most of these forty-niners (often taking well into 1851 to complete the 1850 census enumeration). One of these hard-to-find forty-niners was a “Wm. H. Scott” who was born ca. 1812 in New York, and who was working as a miner on the South Fork of the American River in El Dorado County, California, in February, 1851:
I have no way of proving that this isn’t our Hiram Scott, but likewise I have no way of proving that it is my ancestor Hiram Scott (plus I have no other evidence of him using William as a first name, so that would have to be explained as well). I did learn that Hiram’s wife’s eldest brother William Montgomery Millard came out to California—without his wife and family—to profit from the gold rush sometime before 1860, eventually dying in San Francisco in the 1890s, so having Hiram spend a while in California would have been perfectly reasonable. Still, I need to have better evidence to back this up.
THE 1860 CENSUS
Hiram and his family were living in Chemung, McHenry County, Illinois at the time of the 1855 census, and he enlisted for Union Army service in 1864 in McHenry County, Illinois, so it’s reasonable to assume that in 1860, he and his family were living in McHenry County, Illinois.
I’ve thoroughly checked McHenry County, have carefully looked at all Illinois census indexes, and have diligently tried to find any possible Hiram Scott anywhere in the U.S. I’m baffled—he’s nowhere to be found.
I’m really perplexed by the lack of an entry for Hiram Scott or any of his family members on the 1860 census. One possible explanation for this conspicuous absence is that he was never counted by the census taker.
Over past few years, I’ve documented eight relatives who were double-counted on censuses by having been counted at both ends of a visit to friends or family. Perhaps this is a similar but opposite case? Perhaps I can’t find Hiram and his family because they were accidentally omitted from the census—perhaps the census taker came to their house just after they left to visit family or friends, and they then arrived at their family’s or friend’s house just after it had been visited by that census taker? It seems unlikely, but short of them being in another state where the census taker egregiously misspelled the names of each and every family member, I’m out of ideas.
So that’s the state of my evidence for the life of Hiram Scott, with the exception of his military service. I’ll cover the details of his time in the 95th Illinois Volunteers in my next post in this series.