16 Sons in Civil War Armies
Is the Story of Sarah Parker Brandon True?
Can this be true? We know that people had big families back in the 1800s, but this news clipping amazes me.
The news story tells that Sarah Parker at age 15 married Charles Brandon. He had fathered 10 children in his two earlier marriages. She is described as having 23 children before her husband died in 1856. It is estimated that this clipping was written in 1910.
The article says that sixteen of her sons served in the Civil War (14 for the Union and 2 for the Confederacy). Her youngest son, Evan Brandon, was 72 at the time of this interview and had the scars for 17 bullet holes received during the war.
This clipping was discovered by a genealogist who found it in an old family Bible. After sharing it in a Facebook genealogy group, the members set out to discover the facts behind this story.
Below, you'll find the rest of the story.
Sorting It Out
If all 23 are her children by birth then it would appear that there are some multiple births among them since there appears to be only 17 years difference between her oldest son (89) and the youngest one (72). There was only 1 girl, so apparently 22 boys.
Her Sons (Not a Complete List)
I'll add information about each son or step-son as I find it. From oldest to youngest:
- Hiram Brandon - Step-son. Born 1829, died 1919. Had 10 children. He served in Company C, Ohio 38th Infantry Regiment. (Find-a-Grave)
Peter Brandon 1840–1862 - Company E, Ohio 77th Infantry, died at Shiloh.
John Brandon 1842–1864 - Company F 15th Ohio Infantry. He was captured at the battle of Chickamauga. He died as a Prisoner of War at Andersonville Civil War Prison.
- Charles Brandon 1843–1904 - Private, Company F, 15th Infantry Regiment, Ohio. Captured twice (Stone's River and Chickamauga). Also a POW at Andersonville, but escaped after 21 month. Father of 6 children.
- Ivan S. Brandon 1846–1919
- Abraham Brandon 1850–1931
- David Brandon 1855–1919 - Too young to have been in the Civil War.
- Alexander Brandon 1861–1941 - Would not have been in the Civil War. Too young.
- Evan Brandon - Father of 9 children. "He shows the scars of no less than 17 bullet holes received during the war." (from Find-a-Grave)
Sons to Sort Out
Simeon, Evans, Peter, Joseph, James, Jacob, Andrew. Besides these, three of Charles Brandon's sons served in the Mexican War.
Diligent sleuthing by the genealogists turned up a profile of her husband, Charles Brandon, in an old book called American Flint, Volume 8. It details what happened to some of the sons in the war.
Some News Accounts Give Conflicting Information
There's some confusion about Charles Brandon's children from previous wives and the ones born to Sarah Parker. I'm trying to sort it out.
Tidbits About Sarah Brandon
Combing through old newspapers, I found these little bits about this remarkable woman:
- Sarah Parker was born April 15, 1801, near Pine Creek, Ohio.
- At the time she married, her husband already had 20 sons from previous marriages. They all lived with the couple. (The York Daily, 4 Jun 1912)
- "The young wife reared all of her 20 step-children that were young enough to need rearing, besides caring for the 15 of her own. The eldest of whom was 29, the youngest a year old when she left their father after they had lived together 21 years, and brought suit against him for divorce on the grounds of incompatibility of temper. Charles Brandon was then past ninety-six years old, and still hale and hearty, but the abandonment of him by his wife broke him down, and be died 1857 within a few weeks after she left him." (The York Daily, York, Pennsylvania, 04 Jun 1912, Tue • Page 4)
An article in 1910 said the aged woman traveled each month to the county seat to draw her pension of $12. It also said that "As a mark of respect, her photograph is hanging in the natural history gallery in Columbus, Ohio, and in the hall of honor in Washington, D. C."
- In the later years of her life, she lived with her son Evan Brandon who himself was 70 years old in 1912 but still working as a coal miner.
- She continually smoked a clay pipe. (The Fairmont West Virginian, Fairmont, West Virginia, Wed, Jan 03, 1912 · Page 7) Another paper mentioned that she also chewed tobacco and preferred the strongest sort.
- She died at 113 after falling and breaking a hip. "She drank and smoked moderately for 90 years." (The Republic, Columbus, Indiana, Tue, Nov 17, 1914 · Page 5) Some papers said she was 114.
According to her obituary in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper, she was unable to count the number of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, and great-great-great-grandchildren that she had.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Virginia Allain