I am the great granddaughter of William Andrew Fitzgerald and his wife Louisa Jane Dillard-Fitzgerald. I wrote the following to help explain my Fitzgerald beginnings. Please contact me if any of it may link our families. Susie Dent.
William Andrew “W.A.” Fitzgerald was born October 10, 1851 in Forsyth County, Georgia. His parents were Beersheba K. Mitchell and William R. Fitzgerald. Beersheba was born in Georgia as well as her parents. William R. indicated on the 1850 Georgia census that he and his parents were born in South Carolina.
William Andrew Fitzgerald was a soldier in Troop B, U.S. Cavalry from 1873 to 1878. In his later years, he was Arkansas' national commander of the Veterans of the American Indian Wars. He was once featured in an article published in the "Winners of West", a bulletin for veterans of the American Indian Wars. He was presented medals for his participation in the Indian Wars and wore them in a photo I have of him. During one of the battles with Indians, W.A. was wounded in the knee by a tomahawk and spent 21 days recovering at Ft. Grant, Arizona. He wore the scar for the rest of his life. He later received a pension and disability payment from the U.S. government for his service in the Cavalry.
William Fitzgerald filed for a survivor's benefit pension in Arkansas on March 17, 1917 for serving 1873-1878 in the U.S. Army/Cavalry. His survivor's certificate number was SC-6804 and he also drew a pension based on disability for which he received Invalid Certificate IC-391943. Source: "Indian Wars Pensions 1892-1926", volume 1---A-K, Transcribed by Virgil D. White. The National Historical Publishing Company 209 Greeson Hollow Road, Waynesboro, Tennessee, 38485, copyrighted 1987. LOC#87-063472. ISBN#0-945099-05-3.
In a biography published in the Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock, Arkansas, February 20, 1938, Rev. Fitzgerald told how he had enlisted in the Army, along with a group of companions, when he turned 21 (in 1873). He was trained at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri. He traveled with his troop to many locations across the West including Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, and the states of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California. He spent his last days with the Cavalry in Yuma, Arizona before being mustered out of the Army.
His experience riding horses in the Cavalry must have come in handy later in his life. He became a "circuit riding” missionary for the Methodist Church in Arkansas. He is shown in one photo in my collection standing beside a burned church in Beebe, Arkansas with his horse tied in the background. Countless hours on horseback were undoubtedly spent by the Rev. Fitzgerald as he rode from one church to another. He must have had an enormous amount of dedication, perseverance and faith in the Lord to continue his rounds. One might say that he went from Cavalry to Calvary in his life.
After he was discharged from the U.S. Cavalry in 1878, Rev. Fitzgerald is said to have immediately gone to visit his mother Beersheba Wright. The best information I have is that Beersheba and her second husband Edmond Wright lived in Chestnut Flat, Walker County, Georgia. At least, that is where they are listed on the 1880 census. It is possible that Beersheba was living with a daughter (Issadora?) in Arkansas at her death October 10, 1896. I don't have any information about Rev. Fitzgerald’s visit to his mother but in an Arkansas Gazette biography of Rev. Fitzgerald, he said that after leaving his mother's home, he traveled to the Hot Springs, Arkansas area to visit an aunt. The aunt that Rev. Fitzgerald was going to visit was Artimissia Caroline “Arty” Mitchell, wife of Asa Chandler Holcomb. Arty was the sister of Rev. Fitzgerald’s mother Beersheba Mitchell-Fitzgerald (Mrs. William R. Fitzgerald). Asa and Arty Holcomb lived in the Alpine-Lennox community. They are buried in the Brushy Cemetery near Lennox in Clark County.
While visiting with his Aunt Arty, rain had become so heavy as to have caused flooding. He had to delay his journey onward to Venus, Johnson County, Texas where his brother John F. Fitzgerald and his wife Alweldie “Weldie” Mitchell-Fitzgerald lived. Though it's not noted, having myself lived in Arkansas, I suspect that the time of the year was in the spring when lots of rain and flooding sometimes occur.
During his stopover, W.A. attended church often and on one Sunday, he met a very young Louisa Jane Dillard who was visiting the church with a sister. I believe this church was the Wesleyan Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church at Point Cedar, Hot Spring County, Arkansas.
Louisa (Louise) was the daughter of a prosperous Caddo River farmer William Frank Dillard and his wife Judah Dillard. Their home was in the Shiloh community near Sugar Loaf Mountain not far from the Caddo River and Point Cedar. (At that time, Rev. Fitzgerald was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He later changed to the Methodist Episcopal Church.)
Louisa Jane, later to be called Louise by her husband and family, had dark hair and light-colored eyes. W.A was smitten with the 15-year-old girl. The courtship was short and on W.A.'s 28th birthday, October 10, 1879, he married Miss Louisa Jane Dillard. They were married for 61 years. They had nine children but two died in infancy.
Their children include Frances “Fannie” (Mrs. Dock Conine and later Mrs. Henry Daniels), Mary Ellen “Mollie” Martin (Mrs. Cornelius Hardy, Mrs. Thomas J. Martin, and Mrs. William H. Martin), Callie “Peggy” (Mrs. Fred King Runyan and Mrs. Bert S. Jordan), Carrie (Mrs. Morgan Pride), Maude (wife of Dr. Forrest Pitts Baker), and two sons James Whitten “Jim” and Merrill McMaster Fitzgerald. The children who died in infancy were Ida who is buried in the Dillard Cemetery and Jewell who is buried in the graveyard at Amity United Methodist Church.
Louisa Jane Dillard was born April 16, 1864 in the Shiloh community near Amity, Arkansas to William Frank Dillard and Judah Dillard. Louisa’s grandparents were Samuel Dillard and Elizabeth Reid-Dillard and Harcaneous Dillard (Samuel’s brother) and Nancy Bryant-Dillard. The Dillards originated in Pacolet, Spartanburg County, South Carolina from progenitors Joseph Dillard and Priscilla Wilkins.
Louisa had 13 brothers and sisters and 6 half-siblings. Her mother Judah died and her father William Frank married Judah’s younger sister Sarah Elizabeth Dillard.
There were 13 years difference in the ages between Louisa and W.A. She was 15 and he was 28 when they married October 10, 1879.
Some of the honors and significant facts about Rev. Fitzgerald include: US Cavalry 1873-1878, National Commander of the Arkansas State Chapter of the Veterans of the Indian Wars, ordained minister of the Cumberland (Presbyterian) Church in 1887, ordained minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1897 serving as minister of the Amity Methodist Church for many years, circuit-riding minister of the American Sunday School Union for many years, 1890 Treasurer of the Methodist Conference for 10 years.
The Rev. W.A. Fitzgerald died July 28, 1941 in his home in Amity, Arkansas. His death certificate shows his death was due to malaria. He is buried in the Jones Cemetery in Clark County alongside his beloved wife Louisa Jane who died June 4, 1954.
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