(The following was prepared by Thom Foulks, edited from work done through a combined effort of Dorothy Lillian (Lydy) Schroeder, Shirley Slonaker and Deborah Tudor. Thom is a Lydy (a nephew of Dorothy) who, as a child, lived occasionally at the Lydy Farm near Kingsland, on Indiana State Rd. #1, north of Bluffton, in Wells County. The original Schroeder-Slonaker text is available in "The Lydy Family Tree", updated through mid-1997 by Deborah A. Tudor of Pataskala, Ohio, email DTudor1@juno.com.)
Alexander Lydy is the patriarch of the Kingsland Lydys, and the focal point of this summation. He was born to James and Nancy Lydy on June 24, 1838, near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He was the second son of four. About 1840, before the birth of their youngest son, James, the Lydy family moved to the area of Washington Court House, Ohio (southeast of Columbus), in Fayette County. (Later, in 1867, most of the Lydy family was to move to Indiana).
When he was 22, on March 7, 1861, Alexander married 17-year-old Sarah Ann Elizabeth Hargrave.
Sarah was the daughter of Herbert Hines Hargrave and Mildred Oliver Hargrave (the Olivers came from North Carolina). Herbert Hines Hargrave was a prosperous farmer and owned a large farm three miles east of Bowersville, Ohio, in Greene County (west of Washington Court House). He was the best educated man in his community and at one time had dinner with President Andrew Johnson in the White House. (Andrew Johnson was president of the United States between 1865-1869). Herbert was being considered for a government position. There is no record that he received the position. Sarah's sister, Catherine Jane Hargrave, married Alexander's younger brother, John William Lydy.
Just a few days after the March wedding of Alexander and Sarah, a call went out for volunteers to serve six months in the Union Army. There was trouble brewing among the states (18 free states and 15 slave states) because of the pros and cons of slavery. The call was for only six months because nobody expected the war, if there was one, to last any longer. Alexander hastened to join the Army of Ohio.
A month later, on April 12, 1861, the Civil War officially started when the Confederate forces successfuly attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. But, in August, six months later, Alexander received his discharge -- the State of Ohio had not yet entered the war. The scrappy characteristics of the Lydys showed up in Alexander as this time. Believing that Ohio was moving too slowly in her war preparations and might not get into the war at all before it was over, he went to West Virginia. On August 25, 1861, he enlisted for three years in Company F, First West Virgina Calvary, the first of four Lydy brothers to do so.
Records of the 23-year-old enlistee show he stated his personal description as:
Height - six feet, no inches
Complexion - sandy
Color of eyes - blue
Color of hair - red
Occupation - carpenter
Four days later (August 29, 1861) his youngest brother, James, followed him into the same West Virginia unit. James was 18 years old at the time and also signed up for three years. However, he was discharged on February 14, 1863, on a Surgeon Certificate of Disability.
We do not have a complete list of battles in which Alexander fought but his first sign of action was the battle at Winchester, Virginia. The North was victorious; however, this minor battle is known only because it is the only battle that the famous Confederate General, Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, personally ever lost.
Alexander, along with his three brothers (Samuel, John William and James), fought at the Second Battle of Bull Run, also known as Manassas. (Many Civil War battles have two names because the Confederates named them after the nearest settlement and the Northerners often named them after the nearest body of water.) The commander of the Union Army was Pope and the victorious Confederate commander was Lee. The South regained almost all of Virginia at this time.
On August 31, 1862, Alexander was reported missing. He was listed as missing for approximately two months before it was discovered that he had been captured by the enemy during the Second Battle at Bull Run. It was during this same battle that his older brother, Samuel, was severely wounded. Samuel died in 1866 from these wounds.
It is assumed that Alexander was exchanged for a Southern solder held prisoner by the North, since this was the usual custom in the early part of the war, because his records show that he reported back to camp on May 1, 1863, after an extended leave at home. This system of exchange broke down because of bad feelings and confusion as to the legal status of the Confederacy and exchange of prisoners were then stopped.
Alexander was again engaged in the fighting on July 1-3, 1863, at the Battle of Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania, approximately 130 miles directly east of his Chambersburg birthplace. This was a major battle with great losses of men by both sides. The commanders of the armies were Mead for the North and Lee for the South. The northern victory of this battle marked a turning point in the war.
During the battle, Alexander was standing very close to his commanding officer, General Farnsworth, ready to charge when the General was short off of his horse and died.
Alexander saw other battles and other parts of history in the making but these have not been put on paper to be remembered.
His last experience on the battlefield, however, was recorded. In October, 1863, he and his company were located at Buckland, Virgina (this is a little hamlet of Prince William County, west of Manassas; the closest town of any size is Gainesville).
He was on patrol duty when he sighted rebels. One shot meant army on alert and two shots meant to charge. He tried to shoot a warning. He then jumped his horse across a creek. The hind legs of the horse slipped back into the creek, and he jumped and ran on foot. When he saw he would be captured, he threw his saber and rifle in the creek before surrendering.
He was captured on October 19, 1863, and taken to Libby Prison, an old tobacco warehouse in Richmond, Virginia, where he spent six months as a prisoner. He was then transferred to a new prison the South had opened at Andersonville, Georgia, February 24, 1864. Alexander was among the first of thousands of Union prisoners to be moved.
The South had difficulty in taking adequate care of its prisoners because they lacked food, clothing and medicine even for their men on the battlefield. The North was enraged when they learned of this, but if the South could not obtain these necessities, there was no way they could give the prisoners better supplies. Andersonville had been planned as a "model" prison, but overcrowding turned it into the most dreaded of all the Southern prisons. As many as 30,000 Northern prisoners at a time were crowded into a stockade that initially enclosed only 16 1/2 acres.
While Alexander was confined there, "Providence Spring" broke out of a dry hillside. Up until this time, the only water the prisoners had came from a stream that flowed through the prison from the Confederate camp to the north. The rebels polluted the stream in every way possible and the Union prisoners had to use the water, no matter how filthy it was. When "Providence Spring" broke out, the prisoners made a rush for the clear, clean water and the guards, thinking there was mutiny in the camp, fired on the prisoners and a great number was killed.
Andersonville Prison was in operation for only fourteen months and nearly 14,000 prisoners died there. One historian of Andersonville says that on an average, thirty-five prisoners died each day. They were loaded on wagons like cord wood and taken to the cemetery. (The prison commander was later convicted of crimes and executed).
Alexander was prisoner at Andersonville until the end of the war. His Prisoner of War Records in Washington, D.C., show him paroled at Jacksonville, Florida on April 28, 1865. He then reported to Annapolis, Maryland (date not given). He was transferred to Camp Chase, Ohio on May 15, 1865, where he reported on May 19, 1865. He was then send to the Provost Marshal in Columbus, Ohio, on May 22, 1965. His records state that he was discharged by reason of expiration of term of service at Wheeling, West Virginia, on June 5, 1865 (his actual discharge reads June 3, 1865).
While Alexander was in the service, his wife, Sarah, lived in a log house across the road south of her father's home in Fayette County, Ohio, near Washington Court House. It was there during the war that their first child, Virginia Elizabeth, was born (1863). This is where Alexander found his wife and child when the war was over. They had not known whether he was dead or alive until he arrived.
They had two more children, John William (1866) and Mary Sophia (1867), while living in the log house.
In 1867, after the country had settled itself a bit recovering from the war, Alexander and Sarah, along with his parents, brothers and sisters and his Uncle Alexander, moved to Indiana. The rest of the Lydy family settled in and around Tipton County, but Alexander and Sarah chose to move their little family (themselves and three small children), to Sugar Creek Township of Clinton County, near the little village of Pickard's Mills, sometimes called Tailholt (south of Kokomo).
The first land owned by Alexander and Sarah was purchased in 1867 in Clinton County. They bought it from a Mr. Blackburn and the sale was recorded on November 7, 1867. They paid $1,000 for approximately forty acres.
Alexander was a very strong Democrat and served for one term as a trustee of Sugar Creek Township.
On November 29, 1871, they bought an additional forty acres for $1,000 from a Mr. and Mrs. Plough in Clinton County, but sold it in October of the following year when they decided to move to another state.
In 1872, several families had made the decision to move west, so they formed a caravan of covered wagons and started off. They accomplished their goal when they reached Arkansas and settled in a little village of Peach Orchard of Clay County (in the northeastern tip of the state). Their sixth child, Alphon Augustus, was born November 27, 1873, while they were making their home there. The older siblings of Alphon Augustus were Virginia, John, Mary, Olney Rosco (1887), and Rosa Viola (1871).
The Lydy family suffered severely with the ague, so back they went to Indiana, to the original land they had bought and still owned. They lived in Clinton County for the next 27 years, adding to their land until they owned a total of 116 acres. In 1887 their oldest child, Virginia, died of tuberculosis, leaving a husband and two small children. Alexander and Sarah took the two little ones into their home to raise them...for a total of eleven children, including their own Nora Ellen (1876), Minnie Bell (1879), Teddie Walter (1883), and Basil Norman Ward (1885).
At the turn of the century, Alexander and Sarah made another decision to move with only two of their children (Teddie and Norman) still at home, and their two grandchildren. They sold all of their holdings in Clinton County for $6380 and purchased 156 acres of land east of Kingsland in Wells County.
Alexander was 63 and Sarah 58 when they made their move in 1901. It was to be their last resettlement. While they lived on the farm north of Bluffton, with Indiana Rd. #1 to the east and railroad tracks to the south, they saw their last two children married; and their two wards (grandchildren) also married.
The farm was to eventually pass to Alphon Augustus "Gus" and his wife, Naomi, who would go on to populate it with more than a dozen offspring of their own.
Alexander and Sarah lived a long and fruitful life. She died (at 64) before he did, on October 17, 1907. He died (at 75), on June 1, 1914. They both were killed by trains approximately six miles north of Bluffton, Indiana, several rods east of State Rd. #1; however, the deaths were separated by a span of seven years. The railroad tracks were located adjacent to their farm and were used frequently by the couple in walking trips to Kingsland.
The following paragraphs were written by a Pastor Conde A. Hile and were printed in the Bluffton Daily News Banner a few days after Alexander's death.
"The tragic end of this man who lived seventy-five years, ten months and seven days, came Monday, June 1, at 11:00 a.m., while he was walking home from Kingsland upon the Chicago and Erie Railroad; in meeting a westbound train he stepped off the north track over on the south track and an on-coming eastbound freight train unnoticed by him, stole upon him and mercilessly crushed the body until it was no longer fit for the above of the soul and his spirit took his flight.
"Thus in an instant, perhaps a painless, yet gory and awful death severed the silver cord and broke the golden bowl.
"Strange coincident, the wife had met her death in the same tragic way upon the same railway, upon the same farm about 80 rods (440 yards) from this scene about 5:00 p.m., on October 17, 1907.
"Mr. Lydy was a member of the Lew Daily Post of the Grand Army of the Republic at Bluffton, a loyal and faithful comrade until taps sounded and he has answered his last roll call here. His faith was publicly declared to be fixed in Jesus Christ and he joined the class of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Emaus on January 5, 1908."
Alexander and Sarah are buried in the Kemp Cemetery in Clinton County, the burial ground for the older members of the Lydy family of both Tipton and Clinton Counties.
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