Civil War

WEEK 34: Jonathan H. Gombert

The theme for this week’s 52 Ancestors Challenge is to write about an ancestor who appeared on any of the United States NonPopulation Schedules. I have decided to focus on my 4th great-uncle, Jonathan Gombert, who appeared in the 1890 Veterans Schedule, along with his brother, Aaron Gombert.


Jonathan was born on June 19, 1835 in Mahoning Township, Carbon County, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest child born to Phillip and Sarah (Hoffman) Gombert.

In the Spring of 1861, the United States found itself within the Civil War. Jonathan heeded the call and on August 22, 1861, he enlisted in the Pennsylvania 81st Infantry Regiment. In September of 1862, Jonathan and his Company were fighting in the Battle of Antietam, Maryland. Jonathan was among the severely wounded at the end of the battle, having his right arm shot off.

Yet, Jonathan lived and returned home to the Mahoning Valley. He married Anna Hontz and had several children. He would serve Carbon as the Sheriff in 1900, a prison warden in addition to owning a large farm in the area of Mahoning Township known as Pleasant Corners.

Jonathan died on January 16, 1911 at his home. He is buried in the St. John’s Church Cemetery in Mahoning Township.


WEEK 12 – 2015: In the same place

I thought I was going to struggle with this week’s 52 Ancestors theme: Same. “What ancestor is a lot like you? What ancestor do you have a lot in common? Same name? Same home town?” I’ve written quite a bit about my family, so I looked to my husband’s family tree for inspiration. I was still stumped. However, while out with friends on Saturday night, inspiration hit me.

My husband was born and raised in Wisconsin, a 3rd generation descendant of a few branches of his family tree. Three of his 3rd great grandfathers and some great grand uncles had enlisted in the Union Army during the American Civil War, including Samuel Kelsey, David Harrison Caylor and James P. Larry.

About three-quarters of Wisconsin’s recruits were sent to Madison, WI to train at Camp Randall. The recruits didn’t spend much time there. They were given a uniform, trained quickly and then sent off to battle. Before they left Madison, the troops would often stop off a at a tavern on their way out of town, located at what is now East Washington Avenue and Milwaukee Streets. The area became known as “Union Corners.”Soldiers would belly up to the beautifully carved wooden bar on the first floor of the two story building, and order their drinks that from an assortment of bottles displayed on the back bar, which was also intricately carved.

Almost 100 years came and went. The Civil War was long over. In the 1950s, the old tavern building was torn down, and replaced by a gas station. Another, smaller, one story building was built and the handsome wooden bar and back bar were moved to the new building, and the tavern business continued, changing owners and names.

It is still open today, and is one of the most popular spots in Madison for craft beer enthusiasts. Once in a while, you will find my husband among those enthusiasts. Perhaps sitting at the same spot and touching the same wood that one of his 3rd great grandfathers may have sat over a hundred years before, before they marched off for war.

15. David Harrison Caylor


For this week’s 52 Ancestors Challenge, I’ve decided to focus on the short life of my husband’s 3rd great grandfather, David Harrison Caylor.

David was born around 1836 in Pennsylvania to Henry and Rebecca Caylor.  At some point, he headed west to the rural farming community of Patch Grove, Grant County, Wisconsin. On January 14, 1858, he married Catherine Rice, daughter of Tobias and Clarinda (Barhan) Rice. David and Catherine had 3 children: Rebecca Ann, Susan Catherine and John Henry.

Although life in Wisconsin seemed quiet, the rest of the nation was in turmoil and found itself in a Civil War. On August 13, 1862, the 26 year old David enlisted at nearby Mount Hope by Thomas Bintliff, and then headed to Camp Randall in Madison, Wisconsin to become part of the 20th Infantry Regiment, Company I along with several of his neighbors. Records showed that David had hazel eyes, with dark hair and a dark complexion.

The regiment was mustered into service on August 23, 1862 and then left Wisconsin for St. Louis on August 30th. The regiment stayed in St. Louis until September 6th, then traveled by train to Rolla. They stayed there for a week, then marched 135 miles to Springfield, Missouri, arriving on September 24th.

However, the long march and camp conditions were too much for young David. While camped in Springfield, he contracted typhoid fever and died on October 28, 1862. He left behind very few personal effects: great coat, blanket, pair of cotton drawers, pair of cotton pants, handkerchief, no money, a small notebook with a note that he loaned $100 to Arthur Jackson on the 10th of September. He was buried in a makeshift cemetery near the hospital. In 1867, his body was exhumed and was buried in the Springfield National Cemetery.


Certificate of Service for David H. Caylor. Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, WI.


5. Aaron Gombert – What I learned from Civil War pension files

This week in my post for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, I have decided to focus on my 3rd great grandfather, Aaron Gombert, who was a Civil War veteran. He was also a classic example of how much you can learn just from Civil War pension papers.

One day I logged into my online tree on and saw a leaf shaking above his name. Up until this point, I knew very little about Aaron. Only that he was about 1832 in Pennsylvania, he was a farmer in the Mahoning Valley in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, living there with wife, Lucy and their 5 children. It turned out to be a hint that Aaron was listed in the 1890 Veterans Schedule. From this document I learned that Aaron had served as a Private with the 132nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment from August 18, 1862 until May 24, 1863. It also stated that he had contracted typhoid fever during that time.

Civil War Pension papers of Aaron H. Gombert

Physical description of Aaron H. Gombert.

Some more searching on Ancestry, yielded his name in the Civil War Pension Index. From there, I was able to request his papers from the National Archives. A thick packet showed up a few weeks later. It was filled with a wealth of facts. I was able to get his birth date, and his date of death. It also gave a physical description of him: 5′ 8″, light complexion and red hair. Yes, it turns out my 3rd great grandfather was a ginger!

I was also able to get documentation of his marriage to my 3rd great-grandmother, Lucy Hontz. This was very difficult information to obtain, since the nearby church did not have the record. It turned out they were married on February 5, 1854 by the Rev. C.G. Eichenberg,  a pastor, who served several churches in the area.

Verfication of marriage between Aaron Gombert and Lucy Ann Hontz.

Verfication of marriage between Aaron Gombert and Lucy Ann Hontz.

There were also some details about his service. Aaron had fought with his regiment in the Battle of Antietam, Maryland on September 17, 1862. After that battle was won, they arrived in Harper’s Ferry and camped there. Around October 1, 1862, Aaron became sick with typhoid fever and was sent first to the regiment hospital in Harper’s Ferry, then to Frederick City Hospital, Maryland where he remained for 2 months. When he recovered he was sent back to fight with is regiment until he was mustered out in May 1863.


Aaron seemed to have been plagued with the after effects of the typhoid fever for years after his discharge. His back pain eventually led him to become totally incapacitated and he could no longer farm his land. Aaron died August 9, 1900 and is buried in the Saint John’s Church cemetery in the Mahoning Valley.

His wife, Lucy, kept collecting his pension until her death on September 26, 1903. Another date that I had verified from the pension files.