Montana Visitors

At the end of yet another hot and energy sapping week, a phone call came informing me that visitors from Montana were about to arrive in Langdon and wanted information on the Doyle family. This large family had been here even before E. J. Fox, who has always claimed to be Langdon’s first resident, and the visitors wanted me to help them complete what I knew to be a very extensive family history. The original Doyle family consisted of Mrs. Sarah Doyle, a widow, and seven of her eight living children plus at least one grandchild (Mollie Comstock), who at the age of three was written about as a ray of sunshine on the prairie. As the years go by, I tend to get the sisters in this large family confused, but they consisted of Annie (mother of Mollie and other children)- wife of Cavalier County’s first sheriff, Clarence Hawkes; Margaret- who was Mrs. Debrow (this family originally homesteaded the county club land); Theresa- Mrs. John Donovan, who would later live where Braunbergers do today; Agnes- who would homestead her own land and marry next door neighbor Joseph Hamann; Sarah- the daughter who would become Mrs. Carrigan; and sons John and William. They all had claims near a small lake which was soon christened Doyle Lake and a popular site for ice skating north of Langdon. William was one of the first Cavalier County commissioners. Experience told me that just recalling those details would take the rest of the day and part of the next. It was already Friday afternoon, and the stops most researchers would want would soon be closed for the weekend.

The visitors were Martha (Rehbein) and Dwight Potter from Savage, MT, both interesting and congenial to spend time with, so it was an enjoyable visit on all sides. They could have spent days in the library’s North Dakota room, but fortunately, the basic information they wanted was in the Langdon Centennial Book, cemetery records or available online from their home computer. Fortunately, a used copy of the centennial book was found that they could purchase. There is no fee to walk in Calvary Cemetery where many of their relatives are buried, and they already knew Dick Hamann whose farm is part of original family holdings. Other families they were interested in included the Clodt, Muhs, Rose, Konanz, Konze, Rhode and possibly Geisen, Arendes, Muenstermann and others with Borgentriech roots. Since they wanted to be back in Montana by Saturday evening, their visit was short. Interested people with similar relatives can write or call them if you want to share information, or if they found your name in the local phone book, it is possible they will contact you.

Remembering the Boys in Blue

Meanwhile, Darryl Dahl and his daughter, Tracie, have spent a lot of time in recent years working on Find a Grave projects- first for the cemeteries near Osnabrock where they have family buried and then reaching out to other searchers. Some of the old cemeteries no longer exist, and they would like to know where some of those bodies now rest. As a result, Tracie gets requests from descendants of early residents in our area, and included in that group are a number of Civil War veterans who have come to be known as the Boys in Blue in our part of the country. In 1986, I wrote about that early group of Civil War veterans in our county. We have never had a complete listing of those who served in that war since some came here to homestead and might have died elsewhere at a later date, so the ones we know the most about are the ones in local cemeteries. From reading old newspapers we do know that Isaac Coles, who lived in Loam Township, organized active Cavalier County Civil War veterans into a GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) unit of survivors in the 1890s. Of that group Hamilton Burritt, James Reed and Newcomb Kinney all wrote war memoirs in 1915 which are now available in the North Dakota room at the library. Several others have stories in area centennial books.

Listed as the first Civil War veteran to die in Cavalier County was Charles LeFevre in 1888. Charles and his brother, along with Harrison Putnam, had been members of the Vermont Infantry, and all three were buried at Rosa Lake Cemetery near the west edge of Hay Township. I remember crossing the field and climbing a hill (at the request of Herb Reetz) to read the remaining stones years ago. Since that time the site has been removed. Herb, along with Miles Reed and Hal Nickeson, had climbed that hill many times in earlier years to place flags for Memorial Day. Reetz, Reed and Nickeson were founders of the later American Legion post, and all had fathers or grandfathers who had served in the Civil War.

Since most of these veterans died before present day residents were born, the little we know of their lives and deaths often comes from the centennial books. The Milton book contributed four names: Henry Felix, who suggested naming the town of Union for the Union Army; William Hummel for whom pioneer township Hummel was named; Theopholus Tschabold is buried near the Milton cemetery entrance; and a McFarland (possibly without a stone) but recalled as donning his old blue uniform to lead settlers in a land dispute. Later, Warren Waind pointed out the name of a family member, John Butterwick, born in England who had joined the Union army in 1861 in Pennsylvania and then moved west to Illinois where he was reactivated and served under General Grant at Shiloh, Vicksburg, and in the Battle at Wilderness. In 1882 the family came to homestead in Montrose Township. John Butterwick died on that farm in 1906. He had served a term in the North Dakota legislature in the 1890s.

Mike Langan Sr., better known as Gray Mike, had an early saloon in Osnabrock which was closed by prohibition in 1889. As a veteran, he was on the roster of the earliest Co. E and leaving with that unit for Camp Grafton near Devils Lake in 1891. The train left from Langdon and stopped at Osnabrock where goodies were provided for the troops. Langan leaned off the train to kiss his wife goodbye just as the train started, fell off, and was killed. It was considered a death while on duty and units from around the state came for his funeral at Osnabrock. The obituary says the governor spoke at that occasion, and the band played the traditional “Dead March from Saul”. There may be other former veterans buried at Osnabrock.

Going north to Loam Township where Isaac Coles lived, there is a possibility that as many as three Civil War veterans are buried at Poplar Grove. Coles is the only one identified by his unit, the 9th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry. His military career included several famous battles, but one he has always been identified with was the one at Chattanoga known as Lookout Mountain where his horse was shot from under him, and he was wounded.

There were both Olson and Dahlvang family members who had served with Civil War units who might have been buried at Vang but had no military tombstones that could be located. Gerda Iverson spoke of going each Memorial Day to decorate three graves in Homen, but the only name received was Kittle Torgerson, possibly also known as Torger Homen, for whom the spot was named. There is no one left to remember if this was one person or two, but we do know there have been Torgerson descendants in Hope and West Hope Townships.

Sgt. Hamilton Burritt, who served with the 5th Minnesota Infantry, came west to Harvey Township in the spring of 1882 along with three of his brothers and because of a family death possibly before statehood had his name on Lot 1 of the Harvey Centre Cemetery in that township. Cemetery sexton Bob Ullyott wanted to know if Burritt was buried there so we did a search for his death certificate which stated he had died at the Soldier’s Home in Lisbon. Checking with their staff we found he is buried there along with other servicemen from the Civil War with their names on a central monument.

The largest group are buried at Langdon with Major John Dwyer Burke being the earliest having died in 1895 and been buried at Calvary Cemetery. A native of Ireland, he listed 27 major battles on his war record including Gettysburg, Sherman’s March to the Sea, being imprisoned at Appomatox Court House (Robert E. Lee’s headquarters), and the infamous Andersonville Prison. From the time of his death, his grave near 8th Street was decorated with poppy petals, flowers and flags by other veterans and school children while a local band played and a bugler blew Taps.

Lebanon Cemetery on the east side of Langdon has always had the largest contingent of Civil War veterans with the number there generally set at 11, although we are not sure that is accurate since several have no markers. One buried there is James Reed, Langdon policeman in early years, who along with his son Miles Reed, provided much of the Civil War information available today. Others in this group were Newton Kinney, a Minnesota resident whose service began under General Sibley during the Sioux Uprising in 1862; Col. Celsus Orton, a member of the 112th Illinois Volunteers who had a pioneer harness shop roughly where Sporty’s is today and served from time to time as “acting mayor” of the city; Henry D. Parsons from Wisconsin, who had served in the 9th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry and operated an early grocery store and flour mill at the south end of Langdon until his death in 1908; and John Wallace from Wisconsin, who died in 1901 in a steam engine accident according to his obituary at the time, although other records give his date of death as 1904.

Others well known for their years as part of the Langdon business community were Abram Dedrick from a New York unit, who had a hardware store along with his son; William A. Monroe from Wisconsin, who operated the Columbia Hotel and whose wife later ran a popular boarding house; Seth Hartzell, a farmer about two miles west of Langdon, who saw service with the 2nd Iowa Cavalry; and D. C. McIntyre, who had served with a New York contingent and spent the later years of his life in Langdon where his son, William McIntyre, was a lawyer and mayor of the city during the 1909 cyclone and rebuilding era.

One of the more interesting Civil War veterans was Frank DeJudge, born Francisco del Gudee in Italy, who was known here as the Restaurant King and advertised his business as the best meal in town for 25 cents. Frank was also a talented musician and had served two tours of duty- one as a musician with the US Navy and a second one with the US Marines. Frank left Langdon after a few years to settle in Grafton where he is buried.

Hannah had a number of Civil War veterans in their community including G.W. Sumter, who taught music and in ill health his students performed their concerts in his yard at Hannah. Others from that area were Dr. G. L. Corry, a veteran of the 25th Wisconsin Volunteers; James Danelly, who served with the 3rd Illinois Cavalry; W. J. Ross from the 154th New York Volunteers; C. P. Spaulding from the 12th of New York; and George Swinburne from the 4th of Vermont. Two remembered from the Clyde area were Hope Carpenter, who may be buried at Langdon, and John Lott, whose daughter married a member of the Downs family who still own or farm land in the Clyde area.

William Oleson/Olson, who came to homestead in the Milton area, later moved to Nekoma and became the last Civil War veteran to die in Cavalier County in 1932 when he was 97 years of age. His story and picture are in the Nekoma book, and just this year one of the last of his great-grandchildren died. She was Iris Gellner, also in her 90s at the time.

My apologies for those whose names did not make this column. Over a three day period of typing, the computer has deleted portions of the story many times making continuity difficult.

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