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Armchair Genealogy

By Melinda Cohenour

William Henry Joslin,
a Look At His Life and Times

      Growing up, I was regaled with tales of family, tidbits that seemed to enrich my understanding of how important family is to all its members. My mother was raised in a home filled with boys – her brothers, her cousins who had lost their parents and come to live with their Joslin grandparents, her uncle, father, and their friends and neighbors. By contrast, my father was an only child, tossed about in his early years until his maternal grandmother and her husband brought him to their farm and provided nurture, comfort, love, security and his own sense of the value of family. DaddyJack learned to love my mother’s parents deeply and enjoyed the camaraderie the full house provided. He made us smile as he, fondly, recounted his first venture to MomMay’s farm with the intent of courting her. We were watching Hee Haw, a favored comedy show at the time and DaddyJack started laughing. His laugh was a thing of wonder – a deep, rumbling, rich belly laugh that made everyone around him want to join in his glee. He said, “You know, those Joslin boys were all BIG men. Each about 6 foot or more, and none were lacking for girth. They all had a hound dog and everyone of them carried their own long rifle. Can you imagine my quaking knees as I ventured forth, intent upon my goal of a proper courting of a very proper beautiful young lady. As I trod the dirt path to the farm, from every field, every tree, behind every rock, I saw Joslin Boys, eying me warily. Believe me, it was true love that kept me on that path!”

Genealogical Profile:

      William Henry Joslin was born 11 April 1837 in Kane County, Illinois. The Joslin land patents indicate all lived in Burlington. His parents were William Riley Joslin and wife, Eunice Evans. My grandfather, James Arthur Joslin, always recounted his father was “William Henry Joslin, son of William, son of William.” The third, eldest, of that trio is our elusive and charming William “P. R.” Joslyn, whose initials (by which he was frequently called) have evaded decoding. Could it have been Papa Riley since the son was Riley? Perhaps Preacher Riley? Could it indicate another given name? Many parents bequeath their children with multiple given names. Could it be … William Paul Riley Joslyn? WHAT?

      The entry of the Joslyn family to Burlington, Kane County, Illinois, sparked quite a bit of intrigue – so much so it has been recorded in more than one History of Kane County Illinois. First a bit of history:

      According to "History of Kane County (IL) by R. Waite Joslyn & Frank W. Joslyn, 1908", P. R. Joselyn (sp) arrived in 1836, among the first people to occupy what would become the township of Burlington, Kane County, IL. He was followed in the year 1837 by his son Riley. A narrative text of the history of that county contains the following: *1835: Stephen Van Velzer claimed nearly the whole township. Settlers who followed were forced to buy land from him or face controversy.

      “P. R. Joslyn, a kind of migratory character, but a good man withal, settled in the town in the early part of 1836. He was originally from New Jersey, but had lived in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. From the latter state he came to Burlington. He had some difficulty with Van Velzer, in regard to his claim, who attempted to collect a sum of money from him as a bonus for the privilege of settling on it. Upon inquiry, he learned that Van Velzer had no just grounds for such demands, and so he settled upon the claim selected, in open defiance of him. His son, Riley Joslyn, came the next season, and took up a claim in the township.” SOURCE: History of Kane County Illinois: The Past and Present of Kane County, Illinois, 1878.

      The Joslin clan immersed themselves in local politics in each of the areas to which they migrated. They bought goods in auctions which also left a paper trail. There were also some intriguing little mysteries, such as the one your author found years ago regarding the Brick Wall master, P. R. Joslyn. It is known William Henry named his first-born son, Marion Alonzo. In one of my searches I found a listing for “the estate of P R Joslyn”. Immediately, located a genealogical inquiry site for that area and posted the following:

SOURCE: Name: Melinda Carroll (Joslin, maternal side) Cohenour Date:2001-09-09Herk/Mont Surnames Joslyn, Joslin, Clapsaddle Herk/Mont Towns Frankfort Special Topic Interests Genealogical Data Comments:
“My g-g-g-grandfather, P. R. Joslyn had an estate in Frankfort, Herkimer County, NY, that was mentioned in a Directory for that town in 1869 / 1870. In that timeframe, an Alonzo Joslyn was noted as the "farmer and overseer of the late P. R. Joslyn's estate." We have not been able to establish the familial relationship between P. R. and Alonzo.

P. R. Joslyn moved out of Frankfort at a date unknown and arrived in Kane County, Illinois in 1836, as noted in the "History of Kane County" published in 1908 by R. Waite Joslyn & Frank W. Joslyn. He was one of the early settlers in Kane County, Illinois, and one of the first of those settlers to die, in 1846 or '47 after occupying his homestead for a decade. He was followed to Kane County, IL, in 1837 by his son, Riley (James Riley Joslin). No record of Riley being in Frankfort, however, has been uncovered.

Our research into Alonzo Joslyn's family indicates a Gertrude Clapsaddle (Cattrout Klepsattle) married Andrew Joselyn in 1815. This Gertrude M. is shown to be in the household of Alonzo Joslin at a later date. We believe her to have been Alonzo's mother, Andrew Joselyn, his father. A record of this marriage made by the Reformed Church, Herkimer, 1815 - 1816, shows Andrew to be a son of Silvester (of German Flats) and Gertrude to be a daughter of Andreas Clepsattle. This record also lists Wilvester (sic) Joslin and Bolly Shoemaker, as witnesses. In the record for this church made in 1819-1820, Sylvester Joslin (son of the late Sylvester of German Flats) is shown to have married Elisabeth Steel, daughter of Nicholas. This marriage was witnessed by Rudolph J. Shoemaker and Thomas B. Gillespie. We then have Silvester's son, Hiram, marrying Elisabeth Helmer, daughter of Henry F. No witnesses are listed. If you have information, please correspond with me.

P. R. 's son, James Riley Joslin who (note the spelling change) married Eunice Evans and fathered William Henry Joslin (married 3 times, last to Malinda Ellen Bullard) and fathered James Arthur Joslin, my mother's father. Family lore indicates this branch was in NJ, NY, IL (Kane County, where PR died in 1846 / 1847), IND, OH, (Shelbyville), PA, and MO.

Any information you may have would be appreciated.”

      Could this be a relative, as yet unidentified, and the person for whom Marion Alonzo was named? Further research, obviously, is needed.

      The Joslin clan remained in Kane County, Illinois until the year following William P. R.’s death when a general group migration brought them into Missouri. We know of the year of P R’s death again by virtue of the excellent historical records maintained by R. Waite and Frank W. Joslyn:

       “THE FIRST DEATH: Each moment in dying bears with it a dead human being, flowers perish and spring again, suns set at eave and rise again in the East, but the dead render not up their dead to mortal eyes. Death, the grand leveller of human greatness and human ambition, entered the infant settlement at an early period of its existence. Van Velzer's wife was the first victim of the grim tyrant. She died in 1837 and was buried amid the wildflowers of her prairie home. A native of the sunny South, her tender frame was unable to withstand the fierce winds of a colder clime. Others of the early settlers in time followed her to the better land. Joslyn, perhaps, was one of the first, and died about 1846-7. Stephen Godfrey died on his original claim in 1857, and Holden in 1875. VanVelzer sold out and moved into DeKalb County, where he died about the year 1867.”

       We can place the approximate year of their move to Missouri by the Census records which indicate year and PLACE of birth for household members. William Henry’s sister, Sarah A. was born in Illinois in 1844. His brother, Harvey E. was born in 1847 in Missouri. This agrees with the family choosing to make their move following the death of their father in the timeframe 1846-1847.

      The US Federal Census enumerated 7 Nov 1850 for District 64, Nodaway, Missouri, lists the following household: Riley Joslin 55, Eunice Joslin 45, Johnathan C Joslin 15, William H Joslin 13, Leonard M Joslin 9, Sarah A Joslin 5, and Harvey E Joslin 3. Our William Henry is a strapping young man of 13. Shortly before this Census, we learn of a momentous event in his life. (NOTE: the handwritten note below indicates his age to have been 18 when this trip was made; however, records show the trip had to have been undertaken in early 1850 for the death information in May of 1850 for Rhoda Orvis Joslin research discovered to validate the tale.)

      When William Henry was eighteen years old and living in North Missouri, he started to California in the Gold Rush with his uncle and family. They all got sick out on the Plains with cholera and turned back to Missouri. The entire family died, except for William Henry and a small girl, Mary, four years old. Later, she became Mary Schooley. He returned the four-year-old girl to another uncle in Nodaway County, Josiah Joslin, who took her and cared for her. She lived with another uncle (Josiah Joslin) until she was older. Grandpa wouldn't talk about this very much. SOURCE: Family History Notebook maintained by Carrie Bullard Joslin; this entry dated 1946.

      Research into this event may lead to an understanding of the apparent (not proven nor spoken of) alienation of the family of Josiah Joslin, uncle to William Henry and a brother to Riley Joslin. No records of letters, family get-togethers, or other events show Riley and Josiah to have been close. They lived not that distant albeit travel was not undertaken lightly in those days. It has been suggested they were half-brothers, Riley and Josiah, born to two different wives of P. R. and young Jonathan (the ill-fated uncle to William Henry whose wife, and other family members contracted cholera on that trip to find their fortunes) was a full brother to Josiah. (This has not been confirmed.) Taken from more of my notes and compiled research is the following:

       Jonathan Joslin was born circa 1818 in OH and died 1851 in Andrew Co., MO. Jonathan married Rhoda Orvis July 3, 1845 Kane Co., IL. Rhoda died in May of 1850 Andrew Co., MO. [One of the more tragic tales in our lines' history. Jonathan, his young wife Rhoda, her younger brother, our great-grandfather, William Henry, and others joined a wagon train headed to California during the Gold Rush. The wagon train chanced upon tainted water, it is believed, for most contracted cholera on the Plains. Whatever the disease, Rhoda succumbed early, and Jonathan died after a lingering illness. Their little daughter, Mary Elvira Rhody Eliza (think I have the order of the names correct) Joslin -- later known as Mary Schooley, and our great-grandfather, William Henry, are believed to have been the only ones who survived. Family history notes that William Henry brought the little girl to his Uncle Josiah who, with his wife, Peggy Carnahan Joslin, raised the child as their own. Rhoda Orvis Joslin's death is listed in the Mortality Schedules for that county in 1850. Jonathan died in 1851, I believe.]

      From Wikipedia, we find the following: During the California Gold Rush, cholera was transmitted along the California, Mormon and Oregon Trails as 6,000 to 12,000 are believed to have died on their way to Utah and Oregon in the cholera years of 1849–1855. SOURCE: Rosenberg, Charles E. (1987). The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849, and 1866. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-72677-9.

      At any rate, this works to provide us with an intimate look at the life our ancestors led. The hopes and dreams and the heartbreaks they suffered along the way.

      Before his marriage, William Henry chose to enlist in the Union army. He served a full three years with the 33rd Regiment of Missouri Infantry. Again, we have both notes from our grandmother, Carrie, the early family historian as well as confirming public records to confirm his service. (Please see below for the separate documentation for his Regiment’s participation in the War.)

      William Henry joined the Northern Army in the Civil War from Nodaway County, Missouri, and served the entire four years under General A. J. Smith. When the War closed, he returned to North Missouri for a short time and then came to Jasper County, Missouri, where he met and married Sarah Jane Godwin in Carthage in 1866. They lived in Jasper and Lawrence Counties for about eight years and then moved to McDonald County. They both lived near Pineville until their death. [These notes were taken from the family notebook of Carrie Joslin in 1946.]

      Any time we discuss family historians, we cannot ignore the tremendous contribution to our knowledge furnished by Aunt Linnie Jane Joslin Burks. Here is one of her notes: When the Civil War came, William H. enlisted and fought four years in the Union Army. Some of his friends were from Joplin area, so he came back to South Missouri to find work. One of his friends was from Louisiana. He played a flute during the war. When they parted, he gave his flute to his friend, William H. Joslin. I still have the flute and have heard this story many times.

      This flute, along with all of Aunt Linnie Jane’s records, were to be handed down to your author. However, sadly, Uncle Edgar became unable to continue to live separately and it is believed my cousin, Alice Anne decided to donate the boxed materials to the library. At any rate, none of the treasures ended up in my possession. Alice Anne had devoted her life to library service, becoming the head of the Regional Library in Jefferson City.

      Additionally, among some documents handed down by Carrie Bullard Joslin, was a handwritten note appended to an enlistment form, together photocopied to become one document, that showed William Henry actually enlisted TWICE, records confirming that are shown below:

       Handwritten note indicates "William H. Joslin, aged 24, Rank Private, Company F, Captain Carr. Enlisted August 12, 1862, St. Joseph, Missouri. Mustered in, September 3, 1862, at B. Brks., Mo. Mustered out: August 10, 1865 at Benton Barracks, Mo."

      Unknown book, page 458 of Civil War data shows: "William H. Joslin, Company C. Cranor's 6th Regiment, Six Months’ MSM, Company F, 33rd Infantry Volunteer. Cranor 6th, Six Months Militia Mounted Volunteers, Private Rank, Company C, Captain Henry A. Fox, Enlisted and was mustered in St. Joseph, Missouri, on September 19, 1861. Mustered out February 13, 1862."

"William H. Joslin, Private, of Captain Edgar L. Allen's Company F, 33rd Regiment of Missouri Infantry volunteered. Enrolled 12 August 1862 to serve three years or duration of War, is discharged 10 August 1865, at Benton Barracks, Missouri, Andrew County. William H. Joslin, born in Rains County, Illinois, is twenty-four years of age, 5 foot 11 and one-half inches." [Army discharge record of W.H. Joslin.]

      This dedication to the preservation of the union of the United States leads into one of our family’s favorite stories. My mother’s paternal grandfather was William Henry Joslin. Her maternal grandfather was William Henry Bullard. (Her favorite uncle, “Uncle Doctor”, was William Henry Horton – but that is another story.) William Henry Bullard served in the Confederate Army. The two would later settle in McDonald County, Missouri, meet and marry their spouses – only to have their children meet and decide to marry! It has oft been said, family reunions at the Joslin-Bullard farm were like reliving the War. Bullard, auburn haired, blue eyed, Baptist, Democrat, Confederate. Joslin, black haired, blue eyed, Methodist, Republican, Union. Oh, my, my, my. To have been a fly on the wall.

      Great-grandfather William Henry continued to be involved in the betterment of his community. He was called Squire Joslin, was a Justice of the Peace (in 1909, at the age of 72, he resigned this position), held a number of elected positions on various boards and committees, he was elected President of the local school board, President of the Soldiers of the Olive and Grey, and was extremely active in every pursuit. From one of local newspaper entries, we find a typical story:

      PINEVILLE HERALD, Pineville Mo., October 13, 1905: The first annual reunion of the Soldiers of the Olive and Grey held at this place occurred last Saturday. While the attendance was not great, it was fair considering the short notices given. Several short and appropriate speeches were made, and all present seemed to enjoy the occasion. Officers elected for the next year for the organization of a reunion of the Olive and Grey are W. H. Joslin, President; J. N. Taylor, Vice President; Judge J. P. Caldwell, Secretary; and George W. Coombes, Treasurer.

      From about 1905 until his death in 1921, news stories relate several incidents where Squire Joslin had another bout with illness. Even so, he lived to experience the early deaths of more of his children. Both sons, Marion and Ora predeceased him. Ora passed away in 1914, Marion Alonzo in 1915. Those were hard blows.

      At the end, lobar pneumonia was the great leveler, coming on the heels of his being bedridden with inflammation of his gall bladder. The obituary posted for Great-Grandfather William Henry Joslin:

      PINEVILLE HERALD, Pineville Mo., April 1, 1921: Death of William Henry Joslin. William Henry Joslin, almost 84 years of age, passed away at his home in Pineville, at 3:30 o'clock Tuesday morning, March 29, 1921. His death was due to inflammation of gall bladder, he being confined to his bed less than three days. Mr. Joslin was born in Cane [Kane] County, Illinois, April 11, 1837. At the outlet of the Civil War, he aligned with the Union Army and served with it until the war's close. He later came to Jasper County, Mo. where he was married in 1866 to Miss Sarah J. Godwin. They moved to McDonald County in July 1872, and located 2 miles west of Pineville about 8 years ago. To this union were born seven children, Marion A., Ora F., James A., Edgar L., Belle, Pearl, and Ira L. one of whom survive, James A. Mr. Joslin has been a member of the Baptist Church since 1881. He enjoyed the confidence and esteem of all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. A wife, one son, 19 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren remain to mourn his death. The funeral was held at the home Wednesday afternoon, conducted by Rev. M.G. Elliff. Burial was in the Pineville Cemetery.


      Thankfully, a photograph was taken of “Papa” with his beloved granddaughter, Lena May Joslin. She was born in 1918, and it appears she was about two or, maybe, even three when the picture was taken. It is the only known photograph we have of William Henry Joslin.


Additional Info


Joslin, William H:

Side: Union
Location: Missouri
Battle Unit: 33rd Regiment, Missouri Infantry
Function: Infantry
33rd Regiment, Missouri Infantry
Organized at Benton Barracks, Mo., August 29-September 5, 1862. Attached to District of St. Louis, Mo., Dept. of Missouri, to December, 1862. 1st Brigade, 13th Division, 13th Army Corps, Dept. of the Tennessee, to February, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 13th Division, 13th Army Corps, to July, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 13th Division, 16th Army Corps, to August, 1863. Garrison, Helena, Ark., Army of Arkansas, to January, 1864. 1st Brigade, 4th Division, 16th Army Corps, Army of the Tennessee, January, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 16th Army Corps, to March, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 16th Army Corps, Dept. of the Gulf, to June, 1864, and Dept. of the Tennessee, to December, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division (Detachment), Army Tennessee, Dept. of the Cumberland, to February, 1865. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 16th Army Corps (New), Military Division West Mississippi, to August, 1865.
Ordered to the field in Missouri September 22, 1862, and operations in Phelps, Dent, Texas and Wright Counties till December 19. Moved to St. Louis, thence to Columbus, Ky., December 19-25, thence to Helena, Ark., January 5, 1863. Expedition to Duvall's Bluff, Ark., January 16-20. Expedition to Yazoo Pass, and operations against Fort Pemberton and Greenwood February 24-April 8. Garrison duty at Helena, Ark., till January 28, 1864. Repulse of Holmes' attack on Helena July 4, 1863. Ordered to Vicksburg, Miss., January 28, 1864. Meridian Campaign February 3-March 2. Red River Campaign March 10-May 22. Fort DeRussy March 14. Occupation of Alexandria March 16. Henderson's Hill March 21. Battle of Pleasant Hill April 9. About Cloutiersville and Cane River Crossing April 22-24. At Alexandria, La., April 30-May 13. Bayou La Mouri May 7. Retreat to Morganza May 13-20. Mansura May 16. Yellow Bayou May 18. Moved to Vicksburg, Miss., thence to Memphis, Tenn., May 22-June 10. Old River Lake June 6. Smith's Expedition to Tupelo, Miss., July 5-21. Near Camargo's Cross Roads, Harrisburg, July 13. Tupelo July 14-15. Old Town Creek July 15. Smith's Expedition to Oxford August 1-30. Tallahatchie River August 7-9. Moved to Duvall's Bluff, Ark., September 3, thence to Brownsville, Ark. March in pursuit of Price through Arkansas and Missouri to Cape Girardeau, Mo., September 17-October 9. Garrison at Tipton and California, Mo., October 19-November 17. Moved to St. Louis, Mo., thence to Nashville, Tenn., November 24-December 1. Battle of Nashville, Tenn., December 15-16. Pursuit of Hood to the Tennessee River December 17-28. At Clifton, Tenn., and Eastport, Miss., till February, 1865. Moved to New Orleans, La., February 6-19. Campaign against Mobile, Ala., and its defences March 17-April 12. Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely March 26-April 8. Assault and capture of Fort Blakely April 9. Occupation of Mobile April 12. March to Montgomery April 13-25, thence to Selma May 1, and duty there till July 20. Moved to St. Louis July 20-August 3. Mustered out August 10, 1865.
Regiment lost during service 4 Officers and 52 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 229 Enlisted men by disease. Total 287.
SOURCE: National Park Service website, re Civil War: Joslin, William H.

Regimental History
Thirty-third Infantry

Thirty-third Infantry.

-- Cols., Clinton B. Fisk, William A. Pyle William H. Heath; Lieut.-Cols., W. A. Pyle, W. H. Heath, W. J. McKee, Majs., W. H. Heath, George W. Van Beck, W. J. McKee, A. J. Campbell.
This regiment was recruited under the patronage of the Union Merchants' Exchange of St. Louis, and was known as the "Merchants' regiment." It was the first regiment mustered in under the call of 1862, and started for the front on Sept. 22.
During the remainder of that year it was on duty at various places within the state, but on Jan. 5, 1863, it reported at Helena, Ark., and took part in Gen. Gorman's White River expedition. In February it formed part of Gen. Ross' expedition against Fort Pemberton, Miss., where it was for the first time under fire.
On April 8 it returned to Helena, where on May 5 it was placed in charge of the works. It remained at Helena until Jan. 28, 1864, when it was ordered to report to Gen. Sherman for the Meridian expedition. Here it was assigned to Veatch's division and remained in Mississippi until March 10, when Gen. Mower assumed command of the division, which was then ordered to join Gen. Banks in the Red River campaign.
In this campaign it was in the engagements at Fort De Russy, Henderson's Hill, Pleasant Hill, Marksville, Bayou de Glaize, and a number of minor skirmishes. On May 24 the 16th corps returned to Vicksburg, and in June the regiment formed part of an expedition against Lee and Forrest in Mississippi, having previously been in the fight with Marmaduke at Old River Lake, Ark.
Subsequently it was in the battles at Tupelo, after which it was ordered to Memphis and then to St. Louis. On Nov. 24, it left St. Louis by water for Nashville, Tenn., where it arrived in time to assist in the decisive defeat and the subsequent pursuit of the Confederate forces under Gen. Hood.
It then was moved to Mobile, Ala, where it played an important part in the reduction of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely, after which it was on provost guard duty at Selma, Alan until July 20, 1865, when it was ordered to St. Louis for muster out, and was discharged from the service on Aug. 10, 1865.
Source: The Union Army, vol. 4, p. 267
Battles Fought
Fought on 4 Jul 1863 at Helena, AR.
Fought on 9 Apr 1864 at Pleasant Hill, LA.
Fought on 18 May 1864.
Fought on 6 Jun 1864.
Fought on 14 Jul 1864.
Fought on 15 Nov 1864.
Fought on 15 Dec 1864 at Nashville, TN.
Fought on 16 Dec 1864 at Nashville, TN.
Fought on 22 Dec 1864.
Fought on 30 Mar 1865.

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