Thursday, November 22, 2012

Melvin J. Hart, Part Two--Minnesota, Iowa, Texas

The next time Melvin appears in the records he is registering for the draft in Roscoe, Minnesota, on July 1, 1863. His brother Joel has been living in Minnesota since at least 1859, where he was married to Elizabeth Francis “Minnie” Poe. Melvin’s parents, John and Sally (a.k.a. Sarah) Hart, moved to Minnesota between 1861 and 1864. His sister, Hester Ann Main, is also living in Minnesota, at least from 1862, when she has her first child. His sisters Chloe, Delilah and Alvira are also living in Rice County with the rest of the family by 1870 with their husbands and children. The family is part of a historical wave of westward migration in the nineteenth century, driven by economics and the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny”.

On August 12, 1864, at the age of twenty-one, Melvin enlisted with Company D, the 11th Regiment of the Minnesota Infantry Volunteers, and the regiment was mustered out for a term of one year on September 1, 1864 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Melvin is described as having “blue eyes”, “dark hair”, having a “fair” complexion, and being 5’9” tall. His occupation is listed as “farmer”. Company D arrived in Nashville on September 20, 1864, via Chicago and St. Louis, where they camped without tents for two weeks, and were “much exposed” to the elements, including heavy rains. This cannot have been good for Melvin’s chronic medical conditions. Once provided with tents, they were charged with guarding the Louisville and Nashville railroads at Sandersville. They were mustered out on June 25, 1865, at Gallatin, Tennesse, and were discharged at Fort Snelling, Minnesota on July 12, 1865.

In the 1865 Minnesota census, Melvin and his mother are living with his brother Joel and his family in Forest, Minnesota. His mother is now widowed, as Melvin’s father, John, had died on December 26, 1864 in Rice County, while Melvin was away in the war. By 1870, at the age of twenty-eight, Melvin is living in Spencer, Clay County, Iowa, with his brother James and his family, and owns his own separate farm. His real estate is valued at $500.00, and his personal estate at $385.00. Wherever Melvin lives in Iowa in the future, he is never more than about 125 miles from Rice County, Minnesota. However, his brother Joel moves to California after 1895.

He marries Susan Monk, daughter of Jacob Monk and Jane Crawford Monk, on February 24, 1872 in Bridgewater, Clay County, Iowa, by the Rev. Lewis S. Ely. It is the first marriage for both bride and groom. Susan (a.k.a. Susanah) is descended on her father’s side from a Hessian (German) soldier in the Revolutionary War who changed sides, and her mother, born in Ireland but who always referred to herself as Scottish, had come with her family from the north of Ireland in 1847 during the potato famine. Susan was born on August 1, 1851 in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada, and is the first of my direct ancestors to be born in this country. Her family had moved to Iowa when she was about three years old. All five of Melvin and Susan’s children are born in Clay County: Alva M. Hart on April 19, 1873, Flora Jane Hart on December 28, 1874, George Leslie Hart, (my grandfather), on January 5, 1877, Dell M. Hart on January 18, 1880, and Charlotte “Lottie” Hart on July 10, 1890. (Depicted below are Alva, George and Dell). Melvin is awarded title to two homesteads: on March 10, 1875 he becomes the owner of eighty acres in the fifth meridian (PM), in Clay County, Iowa, in Township 96N, Range 35W, and section 32; and on September 20, 1875, eighty acres in Clay County same meridian, Township 97N, Range 37W, and section 32. The certificates are issued by the Sioux City Land Office, and are signed by President Ulysses S. Grant, who may actually be a distant relation of Melvin’s. In the 1880 Census Melvin and his family are living in Bridgewater, Clay, Iowa, and are living one farm over from Melvin’s brother James, such that both families appear on the same census page. His brother James dies the next year.

According to Melvin’s obituary, the family moved to Rock Island, Texas in 1898. I have yet to find any other records of their time here. By 1905, they are back in Iowa, their post office address being Ruthven, Iowa, from where they all emigrate to Canada, except for Dell, who stays behind and moves to North Dakota.

View Melvin Hart in the midwest in a larger map

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