I have been only vaguely aware of the role of Centralia, IL in the history
of the First Alabama Cavalry, USA (and many of their families). I am glad
to see more stories being posted on this list. My story, briefly, is this:
Three of my gg-uncles served in the First Alabama: John H. Chafin
(1834-1864); William M. Chafin (1840-1863); and William J. Baker, who died
from hostile fire in Chattanooga in 1864 and who was married a sister,
Martha Rachel Chafin (1836-1863), of the two Chafin men. The Civil War took
a terrible toll on this family. (Fortunately for me, my g-grandfather,
Joseph Newton Chafin [1848-1934], was too young.)
William M. Chafin died from illness in Glendale, MS on 23 Jun 1863 (less
than two weeks earlier, his first cousin, Joel M. Chaffin, died in Vicksburg
with the 42nd Georgia Inf, CSA). John H. Chafin was mustered out of Co. B,
First Alabama, at the conclusion of his one-year's enlistment on 22 Jan
1864. According to an affidavit supporting his widow's pension application,
he was already ill. Five days later, 27 Jan 1864, he died in Centralia,
Illinois. His widow, Sarah Jane Baker Chafin (a sister of William J. Baker
above), was never able to obtain a pension. It appears that by the time she
applied for the pension, she was unable to locate any of the doctors that
attended her husband's last illness, and the record of her marriage to John
H. Chafin in Cobb Co, GA had been destroyed by fire.
At the time of his enlistment, John H. Chafin was living in Itawamba Co, MS,
very near the Alabama state line. After the war, his widow, Sarah, returned
to Itawamba Co, married a man named William Richard "Rich" Johnson
(1844-1922), and lived in or near Eastman, MS--about nine miles SW of Red
Bay, AL--the rest of her life. She engaged attorneys in Indianapolis (no
doubt, on a contingent-fee basis) to pursue her pension claim, but the file
falls silent after 1905, and she died in 1913.
I am keenly interested in learning more about the men of the First Alabama
who died and were buried in Centralia, IL.
Scott T Chafin
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