T. H. Barnfield
In 1920, Barnfield died in Upper Lake at eighty-eight. In 1861 Tom Barnfield heard President Lincoln’s call and served through all four years of the War. Tom was part of Company K of the Fifth Illinois Cavalry. He had a meteoric rise in status during those bloody years. Tom Barnfield entered as a private and rose to be a Second Lieutenant. It was no political appointment; he earned his bars the hard way; on the field of battle.
His obituary ended on a poignant note: ‘Commanding respect and admiration, after a life spanning three generations, Tom Barnfield dropped peacefully asleep, leaving the thinning ranks of his comrades to join the swelling throngs of those that answered the call of that Greater Commander.’
James Bolton lived in Virginia. When the Civil War started, he was eighteen, and he was drafted into the Confederate army. After serving a year and a half, he decided to desert and join the Union cause. James made his way to West Virginia and then to Charleston, where he enlisted in the Union army and served for two years. After the war, he settled in Lake County.
Simeon F. Hamman
Talk about creative obsequies, Simeon Hamman’s obituary was one of the best.
‘…To our lot
falls the duty of announcing the passing of his great spirit from its
pain-racked shell, at his home in Lakeport. He has joined the ranks of the
countless scores of brave men, who preceded him to the land where waves the
banner of eternal peace. Stricken with paralysis, Hamman lay helpless, waiting
for the merciful angel of death to end his suffering. Doubtless, his thoughts
turned to the stirring times, when as a sturdy lad, he said goodbye to his
native town and marched away, full of confidence to encounter the horrors and
the greatest of crimes, the legalized slaughter of the Creator’s masterpiece.
Out of the past must have come the scenes enacted around the campfire and on
the field of battle. In his last earthly moments, doubtless, he saw in the
shrinking mists of the great beyond, the hand of many a comrade stretched out
in welcome. There is no man that ever donned the uniform of his country, but
that prayed that his end might come in the heat of battle, cheating the slow
but sure approach of inexorable old age, his funeral knell, the crash of a
parting volley ringing from the muskets of his comrades in arms…”
Authors Comment: I was having lunch at a local Lakeport Pizza Restaurant with a friend, Don Hendricks. He told me his ancestor of the next vignette was none other than the William Morris in this story. Thus, does the past and the present weld their unbreakable ties to each other.
“In 1958, seventeen-year-old William Morris killed a man. The circumstance was a dispute over a sled, which the victim, Wat Garton, borrowed from the elder Morris to haul rails away from ground owned by the Elder Morris’ son-in-law. Garton, instead of using the sled for the intention he had stated, misused and damaged the sled.”
“The elder Morris made his feelings known in no uncertain terms. Garton, angered to be so heavily criticized, abused the elder Morris in his turn. A day later, Wat Garton, still smarting under the castigation by the Elder Morris over the misuse of the borrowed sled, passed the Morris home. Garton threatened the life of young Morris, who was at home at that time. Garton threw stones at him several times, which forced young Morris to run into the house. The third time Garton threw stones, young Morris ran into the house and picked up a shotgun. It was loaded with small shot, and young Morris fired at his assailant, shooting him through the heart. Then he proceeded to surrender to officers. He was exonerated. It was considered to be self-defense.”
“When the war came, William Morris enlisted. William was the last of the California Battalion of 557 men that sailed from San Francisco to fight for the Union. He survived the battles, and in 1937, William Morris had lived long enough to become the oldest living Civil War Veteran in Lake County. Ninety-six years old at the time of his death, his four years of service, his 33 battles, his imprisonment in Libby Prison, and his escape and continuing campaigns, are well chronicled from his war records.”
Next Episode: They were rough on the Confederates
For more on Civil War History, read Paleno’s ‘The Porter Conspiracy’
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