|Amanzel Deforest WHITFORD|
born 23 Oct 1846
(Warren Co., PA)
died 28 Feb 1921
(Dewey Twp., Washburn Co., WI)
buried 06 Mar 1921
(Shell Lake Cemetery)
Mary Emily ALLEN
|Farmer, Devoted Father |
Veteran, Civil War
13th Michigan Vol. Infantry
Nebraska State Legislator
His Parents Were
The third of Nathaniel and Rebecka [BROWN] WHITFORD's eleven children, Amanzel was born in rural Warren County, Pennsylvania. Shortly after his birth, the family relocated to Harmony, Chatauqua County, New York, where they were enumerated in the 1850 federal census. By 1854, the WHITFORDs had moved further west. They settled at Waverly, Van Buren County, Michigan [remaining here - by Amanzel's reckoning - until 1873].
Amanzel must have shouldered a large share of responsibility growing up on the family farm. But greater challenges lay ahead. Nearly two months after his 17th birthday, 20 Dec 1863, Amanzel enlisted in the Union Army. He joined the 13th Regiment of the Michigan Volunteer Infantry, and served as a private in Company "A." Various enlistment papers describe him as 5' 6" - 5' 8" tall, of light complexion, with hazel or grey eyes and black hair. Norton F. TOWNE was his commanding officer.
In September 1863, the 13th Michigan had lost nearly half of its 217 men [killed, wounded or missing] at Chickamauga. Its commanders ordered the weary survivors back to Kalamazoo, Michigan in January 1864 for thirty days "R&R." Kalamazoo, a few miles east of Waverly, was the town where the regiment had been raised two years earlier. It was also where Amanzel WHITFORD and a large host of new recruits probably joined the ranks. By April 20, the regiment was back in Tennessee - building military hospitals on Lookout Mountain. The exposure to sickness did Amanzel no good - he contracted both measles and mumps and was confined to bed for four months that spring with a severe swelling in his leg.
On the fourth day of September, 1864, Amanzel's father, Nathaniel WHITFORD, died. We do not know whether Amanzel was granted a furlough home, or even if his grieving family was able to contact him. Because the 13th Michigan was then pursuing Confederate General Nathan Bedford FORREST, it seems doubtful that any communications could have reached a soldier on the move.
In November 1864, the 13th Michigan was consolidated with General William Tecumseh SHERMAN's army, and took part in his infamous "March To The Sea." At Bentonville, North Carolina on 19 Mar 1865, the 13th Michigan suffered heavy casualties against General JOHNSTON's Confederate forces. After JOHNSTON's capitulation and LEE's surrender at Appomattox, Amanzel and his comrades took part in the Grand Review at Washington, D.C. From there they proceeded to Louisville, Kentucky, where on 25 July 1865 the infantrymen were mustered out of service. Two days later, at Jackson, Michigan, the 13th Michigan was disbanded. Amanzel and the others were paid their wages and sent home.
In 1873, Rebecka [BROWN] WHITFORD moved her family to Dixon County, Nebraska, in that state's northeastern corner [the claim that there was an intermediary stay in Kansas cannot be documented]. The WHITFORDs were apparently associated here with Springbank church or a now-extinct community called Summerhill near the town of Allen [Springbank church and cemetery are found at Allen today, and there is also a Springbank Township in Dixon County].
On 11 October 1880, Amanzel wed Mary Emily ALLEN at Dixon County, Nebraska. Their vows were solemnized at "Summer Hill" by Reverend J. FOWLER [as per Amanzel's handwritten pension application; Mary Emily deposed after Amanzel's death that they were married at "Springbank"]. The bride was the daughter of Matthew ALLEN and Sarah POLLOCK. Amanzel and Mary Emily had twelve children:
In 1902/1903, Amanzel moved his family back east. Perhaps the deaths of four young children in the previous two decades - Sarah, Alma, John, and William - had something to do with this decision? The WHITFORDs settled at or near the village of Dewey in Washburn County, Wisconsin. Here Amanzel and Mary Emily lived out their final years. In March 1915, the U.S. Department Of The Interior's Bureau Of Pensions sent Amanzel a questionnaire at his mailing address: R.F.D. #1, Shell Lake. The old soldier's sly wit manifested itself in framing answers to the government's queries:
Suffering from pneumonia and congestive heart failure, Amanzel Deforest WHITFORD died about noon on 28 February 1921, aged 74 years, 4 months and 7 days. Pioneer, soldier, and statesman, his was a rich and varied life.
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LAST UPDATE - 16 Feb 2007