I have often been asked if at the end of the Civil War did any Confederate soldiers settled in the greater Gig Harbor area. My answer has always been not to my knowledge but we had a fair representation of Union veterans. After a search through the Civil War veterans I found living in greater Gig Harbor, I found none from the South. But, again, does that mean no Southern Confederate Veterans came to our area. No!
A brief reading about the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition’s Dixie Day celebration honoring southern hospitality was held in Seattle on what is now the University of Washington campus, tells us it was well attended by several Confederate fraternal societies and their members. I just have not been able to discover if any of them were Gig Harborites.
The Union soldiers also had their fraternal societies. The Grand Army of the Republic (G. A. R.) was formed after the Civil War ended mutual support and to stay in touch with their fellow soldiers and share their experiences. In 1895, Joe F. Campbell, J. F. Campbell, Robert Miller, Miles B. Hunt, John Atkinson, William J. Duley, William Bishop, William Kimball, P. O. Allen, Annie Campbell, Annie Dow, Emeline Atkinson, Laura M. Allen, R. C. Allen, Chesney Dow, D. B. Atkinson, A. W. Young and H. W. Woodworth were granted permission to organize the H. R. Loomis Post, Grand Army of the Republic. In 1904, Miles B, Hunt Aide de Camp of the H. R. Loomis Post, Grand Army of the Republic.
The first G.A.R. Hall was built in 1892 on the waterfront. Around the turn of the century it was moved to land donated by Sam Jeresich at Pioneer Way and Tarabochia and the structure expanded at that time. After the G.A.R. disbanded, the building had a varied life-used for community center, dances, even funeral. The first Masonic Lodge met there until they built their own building. The Diocese of Olympia bought the building and it is where the Episcopal Church in Gig Harbor began, and the building’s name changed to St. John’s Hall.
In about 1944, Lee Thrash and Judge Thurston bought the building, renamed it Town Hall. It was then used as a real town hall, and drivers licensing headquarters. Judge Thurston sold his interest in the building in 1958 and Thrash used it as a warehouse.
A short list of Gig Harbor area veterans includes Miles B. Hunt (NY), Thaddeus Waters (NY), Joseph Allen (NY), William Peacock (MA), Joseph Goodman (Bohemia), Alexander Wroten (Germany) and William J. Duley (IN), all of whom belonged to the H. R. Loomis Grand Army of The Republic (G.A.R.) Chapter #80.
A much longer list of Civil War veterans in our area includes the following. But the listing does not designate Union or Confederate on the Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society list of Veterans Graves in Pierce County. However they all appear to have been born in a northern state or 3 in Canada which in my mind indicates allegiance to the Union cause. But I am aware that there were a few Northerners who did not support the Union.
In the following listing I’ve placed the birth state next to the cemetery name.
- Jethro Bale - Artondale Cemetery, England
- Joel Bever, Fox Island Cemetery, Ohio
- Hannibal Bickford, Gig Harbor Cemetery, Unknown
- Alfred M. Burnham, Gig Harbor Cemetery, New York
- Willard Carney, Bayview Cemetery, Vaughn, New York
- James Cole, Artondale Cemetery, New York
- J. H. Deal, Bayview Cemetery, Vaughn, Pennsylvania
- William B. Fairbairn, Longbranch Cemetery, Canada
- Henry Fry, Artondale Cemetery, Indiana
- Charles R. Gary, Artondale Cemetery, Wisconsin
- John W. Gillerman, Artondale Cemetery, Wisconsin
- Johannes Hofer, Artondale Cemetery, Unknown
- Frederick F. Jacoby, Bayview Cemetery, Vaughn, New York
- Hiram H. Rust, Artondale Cemetery, Canada
- William H. Smith, Bayview Cemetery, Vaughn, Unknown
- Alfred Van Slyke, Bayview Cemetery, Vaughn, Canada
- There are others who may lived in our area but have been buried in the Old Soldiers Home in Orting or elsewhere that I could not identify.
A long list of names tells us very little about how the Civil War affected these men, and later, their lives in Gig Harbor.
So I thought I would tell you a little bit about one of the lesser known Union veterans, Thaddeus Lewis Waters who for a short time lived in Gig Harbor. Why did I pick him? Flip of a coin? No, he just intrigued me because the only I knew about him was he wrote a book about his experiences as a POW of the Confederacy.
He is incorrectly listed as Thaddeus J. Waters on Images of Michigan Newaygo, Michigan Civil War Veterans Stories and Biographies. However the biographical information appears to correspond with other information that I have been able to discover in my research.
|The Peninsula Gateway, May 28, 1966|
Thaddeus was born in New York on June 29, 1835, and shortly after his birth the family moved west to Ohio. Eighteen years later the family moved to Hillsdale County, Michigan where his parents, Harvey and Sarah Dunning Waters lived the rest of the lives.
Thaddeus taught school his last year in Ohio and after moving to Michigan he continued to teach. In his 20s, he purchased 40 acres of forest land which he cleared before building the first log house on the property. It was used as hotel, store, post office, school house. But later that summer he married Laura Jane Weaver, (May 27, 1855), and they lived in the house. Thaddeus and Laura had three children: Alpha Franklin (1856-1929), Theron Daniel (1858-1915), and Albert Joseph (1860-1933) before the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.
On August 15, 1862, Thaddeus enlisted in Co. G, 2nd Michigan Cavalry as a private. His battalion entered the war at Clarksburg, Virginia and fought their first battle at Perryville, Kentucky and then Thompson’s Station in Tennessee. Unfortunately the third battle he was in at Chickamauga (River of Death)12 miles south of Chattanooga he was taken prisoner on September 20, 1863.
He served for three years although the later part of those years was as a prisoner of war.
As a prisoner his interment began with two months at Richmond ,Virginia, then transferred to Danville Virginia for six months and it was here a hostile rebel guard wounded him in the hip with a bayonet. The Confederate Army then decided to transferred him, along with several other prisoners, to Andersonville Prison in Georgia where he remained until the war ended. When the Civil War ended the Union Army moved all their prisoners to Camp Chase, Ohio. Thaddeus was discharged on June 16, 1865 from this camp.
Thaddeus returned home to his family and he and Laura had two more children: Frank Elmer (1868-1888) and Hiram Joseph “Jay” (1878-1947).
In 1865 Laura’s father, Daniel Weaver, traveled slightly west of Fremont to the White River looking for better power source and easier access to the logs he processed. At his Fremont sawmill he had to haul the logs from where timbered to the mill. At this location he could float the logs directly to the sawmill. The area here was much flatter and drier than Fremont where the land was very marshy. So, in 1866, Daniel Weaver and another man, John Cook, built a sawmill on the White River where Oceana and Newaygo Counties met. A dam was built on the river allowing his new sawmill to be operated by steam, and by 1911, electric power to be produced for the village. In many ways, Thaddeus’ father-in-law is credited with creating a thriving lumber and logging town. But Thaddeus played a big part working with his father-in-law.
That same year, 1866 after returning from Andersonville Prison in Georgia, Thaddeus and John Cook platted the new village, and it was named Hesperia. The next year a post office was established in Weaver’s store; the following year, Weaver, Cook and another man, Hoskins, deeded blocks “O” and “P” to the public for the Hesperia Public Park. By 1871, Weaver expanded his holdings by building a flourmill next to the White River. Of course like all growing, thriving villages and towns they needed a newspaper which was founded by none other than Weaver’s son, Daniel L. Weaver. During this time Thaddeus continued to practice surveying, became the Township Clerk (City Clerk) and following that position by becoming the Drain Commissioner.
Thaddeus and Laura belonged to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and Thaddeus was a member of the political Greenback Party. According to Wikipedia, “the Greenback Party (known successively as the Independent Party, the National Independent Party, and the Greenback Labor Party) was an American political party with an anti-monopoly ideology which was active between 1874 and 1889. The party filed Presidential tickets three times-in the elections of 1876, 1880 and 1884, before fading away.”
Fremont and Hesperia Michigan adjoin but from what I can tell, maintained their separate names. Laura and Thaddeus continued to live in their house in Fremont. It was there when on December 22, 1879 Laura died,but did she? Here is where it becomes difficult to decide what is true and what isn’t. The book, Portrait and Biographical Album of Newaygo County, Mich: states Laura died on December 22, 1879 in Hesperia, MI. The 1880 and 1900 US Census, shows her as alive: living in Michigan in 1880 and in Gainesville, Hall, Georgia according to Ancestry.com. The Ancestry.com shows on her sons: Hiram “Jay”, Theron “Daniel” and Albert family trees that Laura died on September 10, 1901 in Coalgate, Atoka, Oklahoma. I’ve found some additional information about this “mystery”. In notarized statements by both Albert and Hiram made on different days in November 1923 relative to Thaddeus’ estate.
Both say that their mother died on September 10, 1901 in Oklahoma. They go on to state that following Laura’s death, Thaddeus returned to Michigan where he married a former neighbor, Hannah A. Holcomb in Berrian, MI. This was confirmed in an oral history given by his grandson, Leon Waters, Albert’s , son in November 1979. “Well, not long after that (Laura’s death added by me) my grandfather went back to Michigan and he married somebody there and it was acquaint — not acquaintance — not an —we — no acquaintance of ours. But I’ve seen her picture and know that she looked, well, substantial sort. And, but, someway or other it didn’t last long. I don’t know who, what, nor how — what happened. But grandpa went out to visit his old comrade and friend Miles Hunt from Michigan. They were close friends in the service. And while he was there he took up a homestead and there spent the rest of his life there. And, but, he was always busy with berries and small fruits and …”
Thaddeus came to Washington in 1903. Leon goes on in his oral history: “…And — so now, that was after that that, in 1910 Hiram got acquainted with a widow in western Colorado, at our place, and wrote grandpa about it. And grandpa wrote to this widow, Diana Sell. And she accepted — she accepted it, and he sent her a ticket, and went out there and took care of him the rest of his life.”
Another comment made by Hiram’s son, James Elmer stated “Thad was afraid of her (Hannah, added by me) and came out west alone, but always sent money to her until informed of her death.”
Thaddeus and Diana were married in 1910; Diana’s husband Valentine Sell had died before Thaddeus met her. Following their marriage Thaddeus and Diana lived together until his death. (Diana was born +/- 1856). The Waters buried at Artondale are Thaddeus, Diana’s daughter, Bessie Nelson, Hiram J., Albert J., and James Elmer.
I pick up the trail again in the 1910 US Census which reveals that a Phaddeyous T. Watters is living in Gig Harbor, faming berries. Is this our Thaddeus Waters and his name spelled phonically by the census taker? If I put Phaddeyous Watters in Google search, it tells me the name does not make any book results: do I mean “Thaddeus” Watters.
The 1920 US census shows Thaddeus living in Gig Harbor remarried to Diana Sell and they the sole members of the household.. The US Census also shows Hiram Joseph “Jay”, the youngest son living in Schneider’s Prairie, Thurston County in 1930, his draft card for WWII shows him living in Olympia in 1942 and his death in Seattle in 1947.
Two sons never left Michigan. Only 3 did, Hiram as mentioned above and Alpha Franklin who moved to Colorado, Kansas and died in Arizona. And Albert Joseph who moved to Tennessee, Colorado, and died in California. But surprising, Albert, Hiram, grandson James Elmer and step-daughter Bessie Nelson are all buried in the same plat at Artondale.
Let us close this blog by reproducing the Preface to Thaddeus’s book “The Terrors of Rebel Prisons” published by E. O. Shaw in 1891.
THE STOCKADE OF ANDERSONVILLE
An Old Andersonville Prisoner.
Of all stories which cause the blood to flows
Hot in the arteries of life to go;
Which arouse the passions, Stir up the ire,
Give stress to Liberty, our hearts desire;
Very few can compare, few fill the bill.
Like the great stockade of Andersonville
It's ghastly horrors of death and shame,
And human misery, beat every name
Written in history try, save that of him
Who built in Rome the Coliseum.
E'en Nero's cruelty can scarcely fill
The picture of death In Andersonville.
To Nero's cruelty is set as a foil.
The gladiators fight on the sandy soil;
The thousands who viewed the scene below,
Who jeered and shouted at human woe,
Nothing like this did our pulses thrill,
In the tall stockade of Andersonville.
Of human misery, it seemed the sum;
With it's wails of woes it's horrors glum,
It's starving thousands with hollow eyes,
Their bed the earth their roof the skies;
Could only cry to Him whose will
Was scarcely known at Andersonville.
Had the demons of Hell hold council below,
Their hatred vent, their HELLISHNESS TO SHOW:
They never could give to mankind a curse,
To kill and destroy, like the inhuman Wirz.
His face was the foil the picture to fill,
In the grim stockade of Andersonville
This story was written in order to prove,
Who was the patriot, his country to love;
Jeff Davis--or those whose blood has boon shed
On the fields of the South, and who are now dead;
Who endured the woe, whose hearts-blood did chill;
In the great stockade of Andersonville. --THAD WATERS.
- wikipedia-Grand Army of the Republic; Greenback Party
- The Peninsula Gateway - March and April 1965
- Hesperia Centennial Souvenir Book
- Images of Michigan-Newaygo, Michigan Civil War Veterans Stories & Biographies
- Portrait and Biographical Album of Newaygo Count, Michigan
- Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society of Veterans Graves in Pierce County
- The Terrors of Rebel Prisons by Thaddeus Lewis Waters
- Harbor History Museum Research Room