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Weston Wagons West - Ep. J18 - The Kinnick, Fletcher and Weston families matured in Bureau County, Illinois

Updated on December 23, 2014
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Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

There were several marriages in the family

Vintage marriage certificate envelope
Vintage marriage certificate envelope | Source

Bad and good fortune continued their cycles in the second decade in Bureau County

On the Richmond farm, young William died, in March of 1858, barely nine months after he was born. But, marriages brought joy to the families. In the middle of March of 1859, Catherine Kinnick married John Thomas. Fletcher, the third son and 6th child of Townsend and Susan Fletcher. Two days later, the widow, Susan (Schwyhart) Kinnick, married a neighboring farmer, Ephriam Yarrington. He was seven years her senior. His wife had died a little over a year prior. His ten children were grown and married. Half had stayed in Ohio and half lived nearby in Illinois. At the time of Susan's marriage, her remaining children were: Joseph, 20, Walter Watson, 19, Jacob, 13, Maggie, 9, and Fanny Susan, 7.

Late in 1859, both George and Mary Harrison became very ill, and both died. They left their two daughters, Evaline 5, and Mary, 1, as wards of their grandmother. At the home of Jasper Weston, in September of 1859, young Peter Weston turned 12 years of age, and began his apprenticeship as a farrier with his father. That was a happy day for young Peter.

In February of 1860, Joseph Kinnick married Rachel Ann Mercer, the daughter of William Mercer and Mary Fletcher (the oldest of the Fletcher children of Townsend and Susan). They continued to live on the Kinnick farm with Susan and her new husband. John T. and Catharine Fletcher welcomed their first child, a daughter, Fannie Elizabeth, into their home in July of 1860. In October of 1860, Thomas and Sarah Richmond had a daughter. They named her Sarah. In November, Joseph and Rachel Ann Kinnick also had a girl, they named her Amanda Elenora. Grandma Susan was very happy with the new additions to her family.

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From Out of the Past

Civil War Cavalry re-enactors
Civil War Cavalry re-enactors | Source

The start of what became the Civil War between the North and the South impacted everyone

At the first call from President Lincoln after Fort Sumpter was fired upon, Walter Watson Kinnick, 20 year of age, at the time, enlisted on the 14th date of April in 1861 at nearby Tiskilwa, Illinois, in Company I, 12th Illinois Infantry, part of the Union service. On the 18th day of August, 1861, at age 22, Joseph Kinnick enlisted in Company D, Seventh Regiment, Kansas Volunteer, Cavalry, as a teamster. He drove wagons. At the Jasper Weston shop, meanwhile, second son, Everett, became 12 and started his farrier apprenticeship in March of 1861. In September of 1861, Peter began his blacksmith apprenticeship and earned his first two mares from his father, according to family tradition. The youngest of the three brother, Marcus, was now a ten-year-old.

On his return home, having filled his agreed enlistment time, early the following year, Walter Watson Kinnick married Mary Estelle Simmons, of Tiskilwa, in early February of 1862. In August of 1862 he re-enlisted in Company D, Seventh Regiment, Kansas Volunteers, Cavalry, the same company in which his brother, Joseph, was serving. This time, he took his bride with him to Corinth, MS, where she served as a nurse to the troops in camp there. With both Joseph and Walter off to the war, Susan was left with just her older husband, Ephriam, son, Jacob, now age 16, Maggie, 11, and Fanny Susan, 10.

Susie E. Fletcher became the second child, and second daughter, of John T. and Catherine Fletcher, in May of 1862. Thomas and Sarah Richmond became the parents of a third daughter, Laura, in July of 1862. In January of 1863, Joseph and Rachel Kinnick welcomed their second child, also a daughter. (Note: Joseph's Pension Record is filled with AWOL notations where he left his service teamster duties to return home for short spells. He always returned, and they always accepted him back. He must have been a good teamster!) They named her Margaret Susanna - but she quickly became simply Maggie. In November of 1863, a son, named John Townsend Fletcher, joined his two sisters in the John T. and Catherine Fletcher home. His nickname, Jack, also took hold early, and stayed with him.

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Two brothers served in the US Cavalry

US Cavalry equipment
US Cavalry equipment | Source

The approach of the end of the war also saw changes in the families

Jasper Weston had not served in the military, but he was preparing his sons, should the war continue, to be farriers and blacksmiths, should the need arise for them to serve. At age 16, in 1863, Peter had completed his duo-apprenticeships, and also received his 3rd and 4th mares, so his horse herd was well underway. Everett, in the same year, completed his farrier training and began his blacksmith apprenticeship as well. He also received his first two horses. Marcus, in October, began his farrier apprenticeship. Jasper was very proud of each of his three sons. He hoped the war would end before it was time for them to go, but he knew they would be ready to serve, if they did.

Mary (Simmons) Kinnick had returned from her nurse duty with the Regiment during 1864. In November of 1864, she gave birth to a son, Joseph Erastus Kinnick, in the little town of Buda, in Bureau County, Illinois. His father, Walter Watson Kinnick was discharged from the Seventh Regiment, Kansas Volunteers, Cavalry, on the 2nd day of December, 1864, in St. Louis, Missouri. His brother, Joseph, mustered out of the same company, also at St. Louis, on the 10th day of March, 1865.

Reported in the Rock Island ARGUS, 14 Mar 1865: "a little daughter {Amanda} of Mrs. KINNICK, living about 6 miles above Sheffield in Bureau County {Concord Twp}, died in a fire last Thursday aged about 5y. She was alone in the home at the time with another child, aged 18m. {Margaret Susana}. Mr. Kinnick is a soldier." {names inserted by the author}

Meanwhile, in October of 1864, at age 18, Jacob James Kinnick, enlisted in Company H, One Hundred and Forty-Sixth Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, as a private. During his months at the front, he saw "arduous" service (according to his service record). He was honorably discharged on the 8th of July of 1865, now aged 19, and returned to Bureau County where he farmed, very successfully, the rest of his life.

Historical notes by the author

All members of the Weston family are fictional, of course. Each Kinnick, Fletcher, Richmond, Harrison, Yarrington, Schwyhart, and Simmons were historical figures, but were used here fictitiously. The relationship between the Kinnick and Weston families therefore were created fictionally for this story. These families (and the families related by marriage) were historical, but the details of their birth dates and early lives are filled in fictionally. They each played key roles in the life of Walter Watson Kinnick, a 2nd great-grandfather of the author. Each of the relationships within which these historical figures appear in these episodes is totally consistent with known historical facts for each such person in the official records of the Staate Illinois.


Also relied on was continuing family history research as this is a direct line ancestry of the author, of course.

The latest novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of family saga historical fiction stories

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    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for another visit. Loyalty was important then, as it is today. Surviving is always a challenge. Your comments are so meaningful, to me. You are a good writer, for sure! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A tough time for all. Torn loyalties in the country...among families...but still, life must go on, the daily business of just surviving. Well done, Bill.

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