Thursday, September 3, 2015

Treasure Chest - Civil War Portrait of Nelson Spicer Westcott

What does a 10-year old internet post and the Civil war have in common? In this case, the internet uncovered a striking photograph of Union soldier and brother of my 3rd great-grandfather, Nelson S Westcott. Thank you to my great Aunt Barb for pointing me in the direction of finding Nelson's civil war service information. She turned me on to Nelson Spicer Westcott by way of a record she found on the Toledo Library website. The library holds two of Nelson's civil war diaries (I already requested scans) and a genealogy summary. From there I did a little searching and came across a forum post from someone in Kansas who held the original portrait. I figured it was a long shot to send an email requesting a copy due to the age of the posting, but lo and behold a few days later I received the original print. What luck!

Nelson Portrait (front)
Back of Portrait
Back of Photo Reads:
N.S. Westcott
Co H W.S.S

This photograph is over 150 years old. The writing on the back of the photograph is that of Thomas Watt Sr., a fellow soldier who served with Nelson and had possession of portrait to pass down in his family.

Click here to find more information on photography in the Civil War.

From the Toledo Library, Nelson's genealogy summary (written by Mary Louise Westcott Shire) states:

"Nelson Spicer Westcott was born on a farm south of Arlington, Ohio, Nov. 12, 1839. He was the son of Giles Westcott and Almira Sawyer Westcott. I do not know the education he had but from all indications he was well educated.


He fought with the Union Army during the Civil War. He was a Captain at the time of his discharge. He belonged to Welker Post #266 Arlington, Ohio.

After the Civil War he either purchased or traded to obtain a farm adjoining his father's south of Arlington. He looked after his aging parents and inherited their farm when they died. He was quite a prosperous and thrifty farmer, managing both farms.

He retired from active farm work and moved into Arlington to live. By this time the children were reared to manhood and womanhood. 


Nelson Spicer Westcott and his parents are buried in Arlington Cemetery, Arlington, O."

Click here to see the entire genealogy summary.

Another interesting note from the summary is that Nelson's grandfather (Caleb Westcott) served in the War of 1812, and successfully held the british in check at Sacket Harbor until the American troops could be summoned. More research to come in the future on Caleb's service in the War of 1812.

So for now enjoy this small but fascinating family treasure! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Henry Harmon and the Civil War - Part 2

Civil War Pension Index1 (click to enlarge)
A few weeks ago, I wrote an introduction to Henry's military life in Henry Harmon and the Civil War - Part 1. After finding Henry's obituary, I immediately went in search for a pension file. A civil war pension file can provide first hand information regarding life and service for a soldier. So after digging around FamilySearch and, I found the index file which stated that Henry not only served in the 82nd Ohio Infantry, but also Company I of the 1st Ohio Infantry. They type of application made was as an invalid, but it does not state the type of injuries that he sustained. It also shows that he applied for a pension at two different times, first on March 3, 1890, and again on April 25, 1907 (following the Pension Act of 1907). Along with the index card, I landed upon Henry's pension payment card. This card shows the payments that he received by the government for his service in the civil war. The payments begin in 1907 and continue until his death in 1921. He earned between $36-$150 per month in pension payments, which would be equivalent to $1000-$2000 in today's market. Henry's wife Anna died before Henry, so his payments did not transfer after his death.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Henry Harmon and the Civil War - Part 1

As Memorial Day approaches this year, I thought it was perfect timing to start sharing a few pieces of family history I have found over the past few years. I have been looking into my family's history for about 5 years now, and have been curious to find more ancestors who served in the major wars of American History. I am so appreciative of my grandpa, great uncles, and cousins for their sacrifice and service to our country in the Marine Corp, Army, and Navy. And their service makes me wonder how many others in my family heeded the call to serve their country in the past. The amount of military records available is immense, and they provide insight into some of the most intense moments of America's past, as well as the families who lived through them.