Lake County Ohio GenWeb


May 10, 2002

THE LETTERS OF ADALINE WIRT

Some time ago my mother, Marguerite Esther Olin Forney asked me to do some research on her side of the family. When her Grandmother, Maude Elizabeth Emerson Hardin passed away, Mom found an envelope marked "give to Janice". Inside the envelope were seven letters written by Adaline Wirt. My Mom had given the letters to Janice shortly after her Grandmothers death. For the purposes of research into her family she borrowed them and we made copies. The letters were not in very good shape and very hard to read. With a lot of help from many people especially my wife Shirley we were able to transcribe the letters. All of the letters except one were written to a friend and previous neighbor of Adaline's, a Mrs. Mary Reeves who lived in a town called Willoughby, in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The February 19th, 1867 letter was written to Emma, the daughter of Mary Reeves. We found the letters immensely fascinating and informative. They give a fabulous account of pioneer life from a seven year period of 1862 to 1869.

With a great deal of Help from Alice Faye (Caldwell) Hambrick of Kansas we have unraveled most of the mystery behind these letters. I am truly grateful for all her help.

Adaline Wirt was actually Angeline Caldwell second child and daughter of Milo Caldwell and Hannah Woodruff. Adaline was born about 1833 at Concord, Lake County, Ohio. She married Noah Wirt October 08, 1855 at Lake County, OH. Noah was the son of Samuel Wirt and Clarissa Brown. Noah was born about 1830 at Concord, Lake County, Ohio. Noah was the younger brother of Martin Wirt born January 22, 1820 at Willoughby, OH. Martin was the Grandfather of Maude Elizabeth Emerson Hardin.

No one knows how Great Grandma Maude Elizabeth Emerson Hardin came to have these letters as you would expect to have letters in her possession to be written from Mary Reeves not from Adaline. I was able to determine Mary Reeves knew Martin Wirt and it is possible they were given to him or a member of his family.

UPDATE!!

(As of May 10, 2002 we now know who Mary Reeves was)

Mary Reeves was as stated a dear friend not only to Adaline and Noah Wirt but also to the family of Noah's brother, Martin Wirt and almost certainly their father Samuel Wirt. Mary's maiden name was Mary Amelia Griswold and was born in Ohio about 1832 making her about the same age as Adaline. Mary was married to Joel Rumsey Reeve who was born April 25, 1823 in Rensselaerville, Albany Co., NY. They were married January 31, 1850.

The children of Mary and Joel referred to in the letters were Mary E Reeve born 1851 and Oscar Joel Reeve born January 06, 1852 both born in Willoughby, Lake County, Ohio. A bit more research will I'm sure show the "E" in Mary E Reeve's name to be Emma. The first letter of Adaline was dated July 13, 1862 so Emma would have been about 11 years old an Oscar 10 years old. The first letter states "Kiss all your little ones for me" however the latter part of the letter is addressed specifically to Emma and Oscar. We can conclude that Adaline and Noah left Willoughby when Emma and Oscar were old enough to remember them but perhaps before Mary's other children were born. It is very likely Mary named children after those of Adaline and Adaline likewise named children after Mary's.

I wish to express my appreciate to Kimberly Reeve for finally providing just who the letters were written to. For a complete genealogy of the Reeve's and associated families see her web site at http://www.tribalpages.com/tribes/kbear507

Every attempt was made to be as accurate as possible. If a word was not readable we place an underline, If we were not sure of the word a question mark was placed after it. If we added anything it is in parentheses. I sincerely hope anyone who reads these letters will find them as interesting as we have. The following is an outline of important information taken from the letters:

Adaline Wirt was married to Noah Wirt they lived in Keithsburg in July of 1862. Keithsburg is located in the North West corner of Illinois, North, North West of Springfield in Mercer County. They had move there some years earlier from Willoughby, in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. In her letter of July 13, 1862, she and her family were excited about the Civil War which had broken out just sixteen months earlier, in March of 1861.

Around July 7, 1862 Adaline received a letter from "R-B Wirt" announcing the death of "sister Rebeca White", who left a six day old son and an eight year old son. R-B Wirt is believed to be Roseanna Wirt who was the sister of Noah and Martin Wirt. Rebeca (Wirt) White was also the sister of Martin and Noah. Rebeca was born in 1826 and was married to Henry White. Rebeca would have been about 36 years old at the time of her death.

Adaline had also received word that of the death of Hana Wirt's husband. He passed away April of 1862. Hannah (Wirt) Holmes born 1825 was also a sister of Noah and Martin. Hannah Wirt was married to Henry Holmes and would have been the person to pass away in April of 1862 of consumption.

Adaline had a brother named Henry who in July of 1862 was living in Iowa. Henry Caldwell born July 1831 was the older brother of Adaline, and was the oldest child of Milo Caldwell and Hannah Woodruff. Henry is also the great-grandfather of Alice Faye (Caldwell) Hambrick

By March of 1863 Adaline and her family were still living in Keithsburg. In September of 1862 a young girl came to live with Noah and Adaline, her name was Esther. The letter of March 1, 1863 indicates she had come from Ohio. I believe Esther was actually the younger sister of Adaline and Henry. Adaline and Henry had a much younger sister named Esther born about 1847. If this is the Esther that came to live with Adaline and Noah she would have been about 15 years old.

In August of 1862 Adaline's brother Henry (Caldwell) enlisted in the Union Army. He was in the 31st Iowa Regiment, Company B under the command of Captain Speers. About the first of November, 1862 Henry visited Noah and Adaline at their home in Keithsburg for two days and two nights. At the end of the two days Henry's regiment came down the Mississippi River on their way South at which time he joined them. By the second of February he was camped near Vicksburg, just three months before the battle of Vicksburg, in (April-July 1863). Henry was in the battle of Vicksburg for ten days.

The heading on Adaline's letter of January, 1864 read Keithsburg, so they were still there. One line in the letter read "... only have our three girls..." one of her daughters was named Mattie and another Louise Hortense. I believe the third was the young girl Esther who came to live with Noah and Adaline. Esther was probably nicknamed "Etty" or "Ett". Etty may have been the oldest of the three girls. Adaline stated all the girls were the same size except Etty who wore a shoe one size larger than the other girls. The letter suggests Etty may have been in school however the other girls were not.

Adaline received a letter from her brother Henry in November of 1863. He was at the Union Hospital in Memphis Tennessee where he was until July 12th. He was then sent to Fort Pickering. In September of 1863 he was pronounced unfit for military service.

In the January 1864 letter Adaline states "Martin Wirt's family are well..." They had a new son named Samuel who they called "Sammy". We now know Martin had a son Samuel Benjamin Wirt who was born October 02, 1862 at Kiethsburg, Mercer County, IL. Samuel is listed in the Bible of Emma Viola Wirt Emerson as having died November 5th 1875. He would have been only 13 years old. In the old pictures left to my Mother by her Grandmother Maude Elizabeth Emerson Hardin, there was a tin-type picture of a little boy. On the back of the picture is written "Samuel B. Wirt age 13".

Martin and his family also had another son named in the letter as William. William was called "Willie" in the letter. The letter gave his age as three at the time the letter was written making his birth year 1861 or 1862. We now know Martin had a son William Martin Wirt, born January 26, 1861. The Bible of Emma Viola Wirt Emerson gives a death date for William of May 1908. William Martin Wirt died May 19, 1908, at Kiethsburg, Mercer County, IL There is a line in the letter telling of Willie being jealous of his new brother Sammy and that he has no Ma but his aunt Adaline. This comment would suggest that Noah and Martin lived close enough to visit regularly.

Based on Adaline's letter of March 25th 1866: During the second week of September 1865 Henry and his father Milo Caldwell set out to find a new home. They selected one in Rosco, Davis County IA. They were to take possession the first of November 1865. The father (Milo Caldwell) referred to above died of Typhoid Fever November 15, 1865. In December of 1865 Noah, Adaline and family had moved to Rosco, Davis County IA. This is somewhat confusing as it is believed Milo Caldwell died in Davis County and in the presence of Adaline, her mother, Noah and their children. But if they didn't get to Davis County until December and he died in November, where was he? . Adaline stated the father was buried next to "...our little one..." which would indicate they would have had another child besides the two girls and Etty.

Based on Adaline's letter of March 25th 1866, on the 17th of September 1865 Adaline gave birth to a son. His name was Milo Caldwell Wirt. They called him "Milie" for short.

Adaline's letter of February 19, 1867 was written in Grove, Davis County, IA suggesting they had purchased their own home as Adaline said they would do in the March 25th 1866 letter.

By February of 1868 Adaline and Noah had moved to Fabius, Knox County, Missouri.

The last letter came also from Fabius and was written March 29th, 1869. Adaline writes that her daughter, Matty was living with her mother (Hannah (Woodruff) Caldwell) probably still in Rosco, Davis County IA. According to the letter Henry Caldwell, Esther Caldwell, Matty Wirt, and Hannah (Woodruff) Caldwell were all still living together.

July 13, 1862, Letter    March 1, 1863, Letter    Jan(uary 1864), Letter

March 25th 1866, Letter    February 19, 1867, Letter    Jan(uary) 31st (1868), Letter

March 29th 1869, Letter

Submitted to Lake Co. OH GenWeb by and © David Forney 2002

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