Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Letter By Jeannie Scarber. Nov. 17, 09.

I receive a lot of letters from those looking for help or just to tell me how grateful they were to see I had some information on their ancestors, and this is the case with Jeannie Scarber, and her ancestor “Joseph McElvain”. After she read what I had, she sent me this letter with a lot of interesting information. As a surname researcher I am always looking for names that may help others. Her letter was very interesting, so much so that I’m passing it on to you researchers of the “McElvain” families.

So thank you Jeannie Scarber.

Those of you who have information on this family or whish to learn what else she may have on this family can reach her at the following, I know she will be glad to hear from one and all.


I stumbled on your blog and will tell everyone I know about it. I've been working on my genealogy for a while and I'm surprised I hadn't found this earlier! It is so interesting to find my ancestors and relatives and then research the places, times and events that influenced them. I just spent the last hour skimming the blogs and adding your blog to my favorites list.

One name I searched for "McElvain" in your blog and found the brother of my 4X-great grandmother, Nancy Agnes McELVAIN (she married Moses POWELL),He intrigued me because I wondered why someone born in Columbus, Ohio in 1824 would die near Albuquerque, New Mexico in July 10, 1847? I did quite a bit of research on him a few years ago to find the answer.

I found Joseph in your Nov 8, 2008 blog on a promotion list (I found this earlier at the library of congress site, too)

PROMOTIONS. August 7, 1846. First Regiment of Dragoons. Brevet Second Lieutenant Joseph McElvain to be second lieutenant, June 30, 1846.

A few times the name Joseph McElvain is read into the congressional minutes. It's when he graduted from the miltary acadamey, when he recieved promotions and when he was replaced.

This may not interest you, but you may be enjoy some of the sites. For instance- Jane Van Gundy has transcribed some letters written by Joseph McElvain’s nephews-Nelson Erastas Powell and James Andrew Powell, when they were soldiers during the civil war.




Joseph graduated from West Point Academy as a Lieutenant, supposedly the same year as Gen US Grant. His appointment to the academy was received as the result of efforts of Bishop Charles Petit McIlvaine, former Chaplain and instructor of the Academy in 1816, a close family friend and possibly a relative. It was claimed that he held a temporary commission as Colonel of Volunteers in the First Mexican War when he was killed.
The Ohio newspaper carried the story of his death:

The following letter brings the sad news of one of the bravest and most esteemed young men in the Dragoon service. His brother details the melancholy tidings to his numerous kinsmen here in appropriate and touching language.

Young McElvain was destined to a higher sphere in the Army and the honors of his country had he survived. The father of these brave young men was killed in the Black Hawk war while pressing forward in the thickest of the fight. Their memories should be cherished by every good and patriotic citizen, for the advancement of their beloved country.

Lieutenant McElvain was one of the most active officers last February in the two battles under General Price at and near Taos, and for his valor and good conduct received the commendation of his general and those of his comrades who survived. He was close by the lamented Captain Burgwin in the bloody attack on the church in Taos when the Captain received his death wound. Previous to entering the town of Taos, where the bloody conflict occurred Lieutenant McElvain was ordered to drive the enemy from the heights which overlook the place and guarded the road. In a letter soon after, written by himself to his Uncle, Col. John McElvain of this city, he speaks of that part of the expedition.

Following Lieutenant McElvain's letter was this one from his brothers:
Santa Fe, July 22, 1847.

Dear Brother: I have but a few moments to write and what I do write will be sad news to you and all of our relatives. Brother Joseph died on the 10th of July last of a wound received in the left arm while in pursuit of Navajo Indians. The Indians had come to a Spanish town where he was stationed and stole their stock, women and children and the Spaniards came for help. Joseph, with the 35th Dragoons immediately started in pursuit of them. He had followed them for several miles when he had occasion to dismount for a moment or so, when his gun went off and shot his arm off near the shoulder. He was brought back to Albuquerque, but the weather being so hot, it was too late by the time he got back, for the doctor to do anything for him He was wounded on the 4th and died on the 10th. I was not with him, having been ordered to Bent's Fort with 14 men and did not get back until the 10th. I have talked with several officers that went to see him. They say he was reconciled to his fate.

I also found references to his life and death at these sites:

This is from
Missouri: Western Frontier
The story of Mail Communications
West of the Mississippi River in the 19th Century
Illistrated With Unique Artifacts of the Period
A Philatetelic Exhibit" by Thomas J Alexander
On page 132 is a photo of the letter written in July 1847, by Capt. William N Grier to Brigid Genl R. Jones in Washington D.C. telling of Lt. McElvain's accidental death. He was going after marauding indians when his carbine discharged.


found at http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/7osft10.txt
The account reminds me of a John Ford/John Wayne movie.
Here is a paragraph about the Taos rebellion

"In this exposed situation, Captain Burgwin received a severe wound, which deprived me of his valuable services, and of which he died on the 7th instant. Lieutenants McIlvaine, First United States Dragoons, and Royall and Lackland, Second Regiment Volunteers, accompanied Captain Burgwin into the corral, but the attempt on the church door proved fruitless, and they were compelled to retire behind the wall. In the meantime, small holes had been cut in the western wall, and shells were thrown in by hand, doing good execution. The six-pounder was now brought around by Lieutenant Wilson, who, at the distance of two hundred yards, poured a heavy fire of grape into the town. The enemy, during all of this time, kept up a destructive fire upon our troops."

Updated November 20, 09.

John Toney, my great great grandfather. A distant cousin shared my great grandfather's obituary(also John Toney born in Kansas between 1867and 1869, died Newton, Iowa 1927) saying his father died 3 years before him, that put his death about 1923-1924. My grandmother always talked about going to Cuba, Illinois. With those two clues I finally found the pension information at footnote.com. John Tony died 12 March 1923, he was born in Pike county, Illinois in 1842. This explained why my great grandfather was born in Kansas.

Civil War information:

John Toney or Tony, Rank private Company B Unit 14 IL., U. S. Infantry Con., Residence ELKHORN, BROWN CO, IL., Age 22, Height 5' 9, Hair LIGHT, Eyes GRAY, Complexion LIGHT, Occupation FARMER, Nativity PIKE CO, IL., Joined When FEB 15, 1865, Joined Where MT STERLING, IL., Period 1 YR., Muster Out SEP 16, 1865, Muster Out Where FT LEAVENWORTH, KS., Remarks ONE MONTH PAY PROPER STOPPED BY FIELD OFFICER COURT MARITAL

24 Feb 1891 Invalid application #997888 certificate 721.191
May 13, 1912 living at old Illinois Old Soldiers and Sailors Home resident,
13 Aprl 1923 Widow application # 1,204.310 Certificate# #934.324


Co B 14th Regiment Illinois Infantry
1891 Feb 24 Invalid application #997888 La 2age certificate # 721.191
1923 Apr 13 Widow application number 1,204.310 La 5120 Certificate # 934.324
A.r.c. I.O 594,1000 wW. O. 656,692 Harrison Cather 757 IL Inf
Died Mar 14 1923 at Cuba, Illinois.

Marriage record:

TONEY, JOHN CATHER, MAMIE MRS 10/20/1888 00F/0048 00000226 FULTON
(Mrs Mamie Cather is his 2nd wife, her husband, Harrison Cather was a soldier in the civil war also) John Toney married Mrs Susan Toney 18 Apr 1864 in Pike County Illinois, I don't know her maiden name, but she is my great great grandmother.)

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