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Home: Regional: U.S. States: Illinois: White County

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Posted by: Rev. Matt Underwood Date: March 10, 2000 at 12:07:37
In Reply to: Re: HEDGES-WITCHER-etc. by Mary (Hedges) Smith of 829

Dear Mary,

Yes, I have pictures of AUDREY LEASOR and MAUDE LEASOR, also from the same basic time period of the turn-of-the-century. They are kids'/baby pictures, but one or two of them also show up in the old family reunion photos from the 1940's that I mentioned before. I am typing this at work on break, so I don't know what was which, but that the sum of it.

Thank you for passing my stuff along. I personally hope to one day be able to have a website or to augment yours or someone else's, so that anytime someone interested in the HEDGES family or any of the allied branches, well then they can just find out everything, complete with sources, photos, options, downloads, and all that junk.

I posted a follow-up to one of FLOYD HEDGES's letters on this GenForum site, but I don't guess I know who TOM HEDGES is yet. I will have to check for any messages from him when I get home late tonight, or early tomorrow, but I just don't remember. I have been meaning to contact MARLEEN J. HEDGES also, as I believe she was the only one that I had previously gotten E-mail from last spring. Mary, I think that her husband's family is about as closely related to you as I am, being probably a second cousin of yours, like you and my mom MARY LEE (HART) UNDERWOOD would be. So I guess that makes you and I second-cousins-once-removed.

Just to whet your appetite, WILLIAM C. HEDGES was in Company "F" (I think) of the 87th Illinois Infantry Regiment. They were at Vicksburg, MS, Jackson, MS, and in the Red River Campaign in Louisiana. I also have an ancestor WILLIAM EZRA EMMERSON who was a Corporal in, I believe, Company "I" of the same Regiment, but again, this is off the top of my head, here, so I may be getting these Company letters mixed up. (WILLIAM E. EMMERSON's and MARY ANN PYLE EMMERSON's daughter MARTHA EMMERSON married REV. MARTIN M. HART, parents of my great-grampa HENRY EZRA HART.)

The 87th Illinois was "mounted" during the Red River Campaign, and fought as Mounted Infantry (like Light Cavalry) for the remainder of the War. The 87th served with singular distinction in the Battle of Sabine's Crossroads, LA, on the Texas border, where the Union forces were repelled. They retreated over the next few weeks back down the Red River system, back down to the Baton Rouge area.

During one of those battles, WILLIAM C. HEDGES was shot/wounded in the right temporal bone in the head. He had already been plagued, as most of the men, with disease producing fever and diarrhea (yuck!), but now he might be mortally wounded. He was discharged from active combat duty and from the 87th Infantry Regiment in 1864, and recouperated as a member of the 14th Regiment of the U. S. Veterans' Corps. These were men who were unable to perform on a full-duty status, but could ably serve in behind-the-lines duties such as prisoner guards, railroad troops, picket duties, cooks, camp details, etc., thereby relieving healthier men for combat duty. The U. S. Veterans Corps became one of the most respected group of men, and their specially-made, distinctive sky-blue uniforms with dark blue trim were among the most widely recognized and handsome ones in the Union Army.

WILLIAM C. HEDGES had at least two or three brothers who were in the service, and at least one of them died during the War (I think maybe of malaria in camp in Memphis, TN?). WILLIAM's father JOHN RILEY HEDGES, Sr. also died during this period. (WILLIAM had a brother JOHN RILEY HEDGES, Jr., and also named one of his older sons JOHN RILEY HEDGES. I think old JOHN RILEY HEDGES's mom or gramma was ELIZABETH? RILEY. WM. C. had a brother DAVID RILEY HEDGES also, I think. Again - all off the top of my head. Then my wife says, "SO you can remember everybody who ever lived since Noah got off the boat, but you can't remember that Wednesday is trash day???")

ELIZABETH JANE WITCHER HEDGES had several brothers serve during the War, and at least two of them died also. One, I believe died in New Orleans. ELIZABETH JANE's mother, MARY ELLEN HARPER WITCHER, also died during the war, by being burned to death in a dramatic fire while attempting to rescue a neighbors' baby from a burning house. This was in Concord (now "Emma") in White Co., just across the river East from Herald. MARY ELLEN was babysitting a neighbors' baby at the neighbors house ("neighbors" doesn't mean they lived next door, mind you, for the WITCHERS lived in Heralds Prarie Twp.). This was one of the first two-story frame houses in the area. The baby was upstairs on this unusually warm and dry March day during some sort of farming season. A nearby neighbor lady stopped over and chatted for a bit with MARY ELLEN (thay all knew each other well, apparently), and had just left down the street a few yards, when she heard a scream. The house was on fire, perhaps from a grease fire or stove fire of some sort, nobody knows. But the neighbor lady called for help and started running down the street. Meanwhile, MARY ELLEN went upstairs to save the baby, but the staircase (probably a narrow, walled-in kind) had caught fire, and her long work dress had caught fire as she tried to come down the stairs. A possible grease fire was later suggested, which might explain her dress going up so quickly if she had grease spots on it. As people from the town were just approaching the house to help, they witnessed in horror as MARY ELLEN, with the baby in her arms, came out the front door of the burning house, completely immolated in flames. She staggered a few steps more, and fell down dead, her and the baby completely alight with full flames from head to toe. This is a family story, apparently well-corroborated by eyewitnesses at the time, but maybe it wasn't told in every family circle. I've often wanted to find out more about it, just to substantiate the events, or to explain that certain parts of this came out in a newspaper, or what have you, and which parts simply were passed down orally.

So the early 1860's was a rough time for this young couple, WILLIAM C. and ELIZABETH JANE HEDGES, with him off to war, with both of them losing parents and siblings, and with a young new family to take care of. Talk about courage!

Well, gotta go.

More later.



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