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Pajama Genealogy: Alonzo Ulmer

by Holly Timm
[Originally published in the St Augustine Genealogy Society quarterly, Volume 19, Issue 3, some material added]

Those of us who have been researching since before the internet find that the amount of information online now is absolutely amazing. You can sit around in your pajamas and fill in much of an ancestor's life, often including information you would never have found before internet databases. Recently in one of my filling in the gaps moods, I plucked Alonzo Ulmer out of my database and tried to find out what happened to him. With a name like that shouldn't be too hard, should it?

First some background, my 3rd great grandmother Nancy Pease was one of ten children by Pelatiah Pease's first wife... third child and oldest daughter. Her sister Zoa was about three and a half years younger. About 1833, their mother Nancy (Butler) Pease died and 17 Nov 1834, Pelatiah married secondly Mary Wallace. In 1837, Pelatiah and Mary along with all of Pelatiah's children except Nancy and Zoa moved west to the Mercer County, Illinois, area. Nancy had married Nelson Moody in April of 1836 and on 7 Dec 1837, Zoa married Martin Ulmer. Nancy and Nelson remained in Appleton, Maine, and Zoa and Martin were in Thomaston near Rockland, perhaps 15 miles away.

I had previously located Zoa in the 1850 census, living in Rockland with her two children, Alonzo age 10 and Virginia age 5. Her husband, Captain Martin Ulmer, was apparently deceased. Earlier research at the Illinois end had determined that Zoa had gone to Illinois and married her sister Ellen's widower, Barzilla Parker, in 1854. This was all I had on Alonzo - a 10 year old boy in his mother's household.

This 1850 census household(1) (above) with Zoa Ulmer shown as his apparent mother and a probable younger sister, Virginia is my starting point. I had other information indicating that Martin Ulmer was his father and was deceased including his absence in the census. One of the important things to do during an online reconnaissance such as this is to make notes regarding other sources that should be checked. An obvious possible source here is the will and probate for Martin Ulmer. I made a quick check on the Family History Library Catalog for probate films for Lincoln County, Maine, and found 33 films that cover the potential time period as a guardianship for the minor children could extend as late as 1866. I copied the possible films into a Word document and added brief notes about Martin Ulmer, saved in my Gen-LDS folder, printed out a copy for my LDS file and one for the Ulmer file. In this case it is unlikely I will pursue the probate unless I am back in Salt Lake City as this is a collateral line and I am unlikely to learn more about my direct line. But, it is close enough that if I have the opportunity I will pursue it.

The first step in my pajama'd search is Ancestry.com although some of us have to get dressed and go to the library for it. Searching for Alonzo Ulmer brings up only the 1850 census household and two 1910 households. One of the latter is an Alonzo Ulmer born ca 1875 in Alabama and residing in Alabama, not my guy but it is useful to know what others out there might have the same or similar name.

The other 1910 household looks promising in the search results list as he is born about 1840 in Maine and residing in Illinois. This entry turns out to be an Alonzo N Ulmer, age 70, 2 marriages, married 12 years, born Maine, parents born Maine, an "inmate" at the Soldiers & Sailors Home in Riverside Township, Adams County, Illinois. Everything certainly fits and per the search results there seems to be a dearth of Alonzo Ulmers in existence. After saving and noting this information, I went back to the census search and started using alternate spellings, using just Ulmer and just Alonzo b ca 1840 +/- 2 years, and found two more households both of which showed up misread by the indexer as Almer. I found a 1900 and another 1910 household, both shown below but, no matter how I twisted the name around, I found nothing for the 1860, 1870, and 1880 schedules. The 1890 Veterans census also turned up no Alonzo Ulmer but he may have been in a location for which there is no extant 1890 schedule. Maine still exists but Illinois does not, to mention the two most likely states for him to be. The 1890 Veterans for Rockland Maine did have a listing for Wyman Ulmer who served in the same company as Alonzo and was probably a relative. He is shown with the details of his service dates and unit and the notation that he had a bullet wound in his shoulder and his right arm is useless. Would be nice to have that kind of information for Alonzo.

1900(2)

1910(3)

So, it looks like Alonzo married (for a second time) to Anna, a quarter century younger than he, about 1898, perhaps in Illinois, and they had a daughter Virginia Opal. Fortunately for my pajama look, the State of Illinois has an online veteran's database and databases for Marriages 1763-1900 and Death Pre-1916 and Deaths 1916-1950(4). Here I find Alonzo's marriage in Warren County to Anna Armstrong on 10th August 1898. (I thought it was nice of them to marry before the 1900 cut off on that database!)

I don't find Alonzo on either of the death databases but I do find an Anna listed in the 1916-1950 Deaths as deceased 19 April 1917 in Monmouth, Warren County, a strong possibility for his wife. Due to his age, I was surprised not to find Alonzo there but then reading the Pre-1916 database description, this is a work in progress and, consulting the listings, there are no records included from Adams County, the location of the Soldiers Home, and those from Warren County are limited to Dec 1877 to Jul 1886.

The Soldiers and Sailors Home database at the Illinois Archives site yielded: Ulmer, Alonzo N, of Warren County, admitted 6 Oct 1903, served 19th Maine Infantry, Company B(5). Back to Ancestry - time to research beyond the census records.

Under the Historical Records tab all I found beyond the census were several military listings:
     U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914
     U.S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865
     American Civil War Soldiers
     U.S. Veterans Gravesites, ca.1775-2006

Much of what was contained in these entries was repetitive but it adds up to telling me that Alonzo enlisted 17 Sep 1861 at the age of 21 in Company B of the 4th Regiment Maine Infantry. He was transferred into Company B of the 19th Maine Infantry and honorably discharged 2 Sep 1864. He died 10 Apr 1912 and is buried at the national cemetery in Danville, Illinois. Most intriguing was the first result, the Register of Enlistments, which shows Alonzo N Ulmer, age 29, occupation seaman, of Rockland Maine, enlisted 17 Nov 1869 at Boston, Massachusetts, by Captain Greene, in Company B of the 1st USVV Infantry describing him as blue eyes, light hair, fair complexion, five foot plus (can not read inches) and notes that he deserted May 30, 1870.

[At left and above is the line for Alonzo Ulmer in the Register of Enlistments.]

Let us not forget to check the other tabs on Ancestry. Nothing shows up on their Family Tree tab but the Stories & Publications section shows the History of Thomaston, Rockland, and South Thomaston, Maine, which lists details about the fate of the men of the 4th Infantry that had been recruited from that area, stating that Alonzo N. Ulmer was wounded 2nd July 1863. In fact several pages are devoted to the Regiment and the preceding events and then the ceremonial departure from Rockland. I later found this same book available for download at Google books and if time ever permits I should read it at the very least for the flavor and background for an ancestral area.

One more tidbit showed up in the Stories & Publications listing, an index page for a book titled "Wills and family histories" which, when followed to the actual page, contained the will of Robert Pollock written 3rd June 1858 in Mercer County, Illinois. Turns out Alonzo Ulmer is listed as one of the witnesses, residing at North Henderson in Mercer County. This is the area the Pease family including his mother had migrated to and Robert Pollock's daughter Martha was married to Alonzo's uncle, Martin Pease. So we may not yet have him in 1860 but he was in Illinois in 1858 and back in Maine by his 1861 enlistment. [Pollock's will was interesting and is transcribed elsewhere in this issue.]

Time to move away from Ancestry, next stop, another pay site, GenealogyBank.com(6). Here results for "Alonzo Ulmer" show 1 historical newspaper item and 3 historical documents. One of the Historical Documents did not pertain; it was one of those situations where you have someone with the surname Ulmer and another person elsewhere on the same page with the given name Alonzo. The other two were "Reports of the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Soldiers for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1911" and the same for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1912. Page 457 on the 1911 report lists Alonzo N Ulmer, private in 3 units: Co. B. of the 4th Maine Infantry (33 months), Co. B. of the 19th Maine Infantry (3 months), and Company I of the 9th U.S.V.V. (12 months), presently in the home. In 1912, the only change in Alonzo's listing from 1911 to 1912 is that his status is now shown as deceased 10 April 1912.(7)

The historical documents had useful, mostly confirming or clarifying data, it is the historical newspaper result that is intriguing! The 28 November 1874 issue of the Owyhee Daily Avalanche, page 3, has a listing of letters remaining in the post office at Silver City, Idaho which include one Alonzo Ulmer (shown to the left). This is of course, not necessarily our Alonzo but with all our searching so far there are few to be found so it is a strong possibility. Possibly Alonzo ended up out west during his service in the 9th USVV or his later service in the 1st USVV or he may have simply been one of many who flocked to the gold and silver towns of the west. Checking through a google search, Silver City is now a ghost town, surviving on tourists but in 1874 it was a thriving mining town and, at one time, the largest city in Idaho. Perhaps when Alonzo deserted from the 1st USVV, this is where he went?

Nothing but the slightest of references was found online about the 1st or the 9th USVV so I tried the U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center often referred to as Carlisle Barracks(8). I was not surprised to find nothing in their online digital section but they also have a "Reference E-Mail Request for Assistance" which you can fill out and eventually they will respond, often with snail mailed copies of pertinent documents. They have a considerable collection of unit histories and the like so perhaps we can at least discover where and what his unit was doing 1869-1870.

On to Footnote.com(9) and here we find pension cards (one of which is shown at right) which confirm the information we have already found about his service and provide numbers for his pension application and indicate that after his death his widow, Anna, and perhaps his minor daughter, Virginia Opal, received a pension.

On to FamilySearch.org and a search there for Alonzo Ulmer limiting it only to the United States. True to form and the less than usual name, we got back four results, all from the IGI/North America. Two of these are births, one a marriage and one a death. The death, 25 Aug 1849, is a member submission and is quickly identified as an error. It is actually the date of death of his father Martin. Of the birth dates, one is an approximate and the other, 20 Feb 1841, is a member submission although it fits other sources we have located. The marriage, 23rd April 1865 to Delia F. Pendleton in Rockland, Knox County, Maine, on the other hand is unexpected. This one is an extracted record and chasing down the source it is Film#12045, a microfilm of original records at Rockland, Maine. I noted this information to eventually view the original on the film and then moved on to the Family Search Labs site.(10)

A straightforward search for Alonzo at the Family Search Labs site brings up only the 1900 and 1850 census households and the three Civil War pension cards for the 4th, the 19th, and the 9th. Despite trying various spellings and including searches for his sister and daughter Virginia and his first wife Delia, nothing new is located here ... yet! This site is one we stop by frequently to see what has been added.

Searches were made on various other sites without results including but not limited to USGenWeb Project county sites in Illinois and Maine as well as searching the USGenWeb Archives Project. Then the books.google.com site was searched. It turned up the History of Thomaston, Rockland, and South Thomaston reference found earlier on Ancestry. It also brought up the Maine Adjutant General's Report for 1862 which lists Alonzo Ulmer, age 21, single, of Rockland as being mustered in 17th September 1861 to Company B of the Fourth Regiment.

The final result on Google Books led to Maine at Gettysburg by the Maine Gettysburg Commission in 1898. This book lists the wounded, dead and captured of several Maine units including the 4th Maine which fought in the Devils Den and the Valley of Death at Gettysburg. We've already seen that Alonzo was wounded 2nd July 1863, here it specifies that his wound was to the face. Altogether, 22 of the men of the 4th were killed, 38 wounded and 56 missing.

Here I cheated a little and left my computer to head for my bookshelves (still in my jammies though!). I've already located another of the family at Gettysburg, Chalkley Sears of the 150th Pennsylvania and been to the battlefields so I have several excellent books about those few days in July. I had suspected the unit might have been at Gettysburg from the first moment I saw the date he was wounded, 2nd July 1863 (Chalkley Sears was wounded 1st July). There is lots of information online about the Battle of Gettysburg but I used my books to locate the unit and its movements finding that they fought in a number of battles, most notably at Gettysburg on the 2nd at Devils Den and the Valley of Death. I have actually been to that location and I simply can not imagine what the fighting there was like besides dreadful. This information could also be easily located using Google or other search engines.

Summarizing what we have learned about Alonzo's life. He was born 20 Feb 1841 in Thomaston, Maine, son of Martin and Zoa (Pease) Ulmer. His father dies when he is just a boy and in 1850 he is with his mother and sister, Virginia, in Rockland, Maine.

His mother remarries in Illinois to her sister Ellen's widower, Barzilla Parker. It is not known if Alonzo went to Illinois then but he is there in 1858 when he witnesses the will of his Uncle Martin Pease's father-in-law, Robert Pollock.

He is not found in the 1860 census but perhaps he was on his way from Illinois to Maine where he enlisted in Rockland into the 4th Maine the bulk of which had been mustered in earlier in the summer, joining the unit with other new recruits in the fall of 1861. After fighting in several battles, the most noted of which is the fight in the Valley of Death at Devils Den during the Battle of Gettysburg, the 4th was mustered out July of 1864 and those like Alonzo who had yet to complete their three years of service were transferred to the 19th Maine (which had also been at Gettysburg at what is known as the Bloody Angle) where he served out the 3 month balance of his term of service.

It then appears that he returns to Rockland, Maine, where he enlists in the 9th USVV on 5th April 1865, marries Delia Pendleton on the 23rd April and serves out his one year term of service, mustering out on 11th April 1866. Since he listed his occupation as seaman in 1869 that may be what he was doing from April 1866 until his enlistment in the 1st USVV in November of 1869.(11) Nothing further has been found on his wife Delia.

He is listed as deserting from the 1st USVV 30th May 1870 and the only scrap of information on him from then until 1898 is his name appearing on a list of letters in the Silver City, Idaho, post office in 1874.

The next time we find Alonzo is 10 Aug 1898 when he marries Anna Armstrong in Warren County, Illinois. After that he is found in the 1900 and 1910 census schedules, the latter twice, once with Anna in Monmouth and once in the Soldiers home in Danville. He dies 10 April 1912 and is buried at the Danville National Cemetery.

All of this was found online, sitting here in my jammies. Even the few pieces I already had found previously are available online and the discovery a year or more ago that most of the Pease family had gone to Illinois was due to an online gedcom at WorldConnect on Rootsweb by Pat Thomas which broke down my "where did they go" brick wall. I have of course subsequently verified and added to her information.

So put on your most comfy pajamas, gather some snacks and beverages, collect up your notes on one of your relatives (ancestor or collateral) and see what you can find online.


(1) Zoa Ulmer household, 1850 U.S. Census, population schedule, Maine, Lincoln, Rockland, page 186 written, 94 stamped, household 453, family 529, enumerated 1 Jun 1850, National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, Roll 259, Ancestry image viewed 19 May 2006; Zoa indexed as Iva.

(2) Alonzo Ulmer household, 1900 U.S. Census, population schedule, Illinois, Warren County, Monmouth, ED 91, sheet 19b, dwelling 145, family 147, enumerated as of 1 Jun 1900, National Archives Microfilm Publication T623 , Roll 350, Ancestry image viewed 3 Jul 2008. (indexed as Almer)

(3) A N Ulmer household, 1910 U.S. Census, population schedule, Illinois, Warren County, 708 First St, Monmouth, ED 144, sheet 2b, dwelling 44, family 44, enumerated as of 15 Apr 1910, National Archives Microfilm Publication T624 , Roll 332, Ancestry image viewed 3 Jul 2008. (indexed as Almer)

(4) http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/databases.html

(5)The Illinois Archives site explains how to order photocopies of the Soldiers' Home resident's file for a charge of $10 for out-of-state residents. The file should at least confirm located data and perhaps add some more details so I ordered it.

(6)There is a 14 day trial for $9.95 and it is available free at some Family History Centers and libraries.

(7)The grave information (and thus date of death) was also found at http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov/ (free)

(8) The online request form is at http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ahec/media/documents/Historical_Reference.html and the main site itself is http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ahec/

(9) Footnote.com has many free documents although at heart it is a subscription site. Doesn't hurt to check it out, you never know what you might find. If you go to http://www.footnote.com/documents/ you find a listing of all the collections on Footnote, the free ones are noted as such.

(10) At present both http://labs.familysearch.org/ and http://www.familysearch.org/ need to be checked although I assume eventually they will be combined. (11) His Civil War pension file has been ordered, using their online order process, from the National Archives and hopefully it will have some more clues and perhaps resolve the desertion notation in the Register of Enlistments.

 


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