The War Wound

The first couple of posts I did were about Allen Erp’s Civil War story. Allen was my 3rd Great Grandfather. He was born in Pulaski County Kentucky in 1826. He married Sarah Alexander in 1844 and a few years later moved to Clinton County Indiana. 

He served in Company G of the 86th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteers during the Civil War– enlisting in August 1862 and serving through the end of the war, being discharged June of 1865 in Nashville, Tennessee. His military records are under the name “Allen Urp.”

Last July, I was at a genealogy conference in Indiana. I met a man who’s business is going to the National Archives and retrieving Civil War Records. I paid the fee and waited for what he might find about Allen Urp. I was particularly interested in seeing if there would be any record of Allen’s injury to his right hand that was mentioned in his letter home and on his Invalid Pension Certificate. A few months later I received digital copies of Allen’s Service Record and Pension files. There was no specific Medical record.

The Pension files consisted of several pages of sworn testimony confirming Allen’s dates of service in the Union Army. There were also statements regarding his injury. 

Theodore Hesser, who served as 1st Lieutenant in Company G of the 86th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteers gave a statement that indicated that Private Allen Urp, “on or about the 18th day of December 1862 was wounded in his right hand by the accidental discharge of his gun while on picket duty causing the loss of the 1st & 2nd fingers of his Right hand.” The event occurred near Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Hesser also stated that “Said Urp was a good & faithful soldier and continued to serve on detached service in the Ambulance train till the Regiment was discharged.” 

So Allen was on “picket duty.” This was a line of soldiers who patrolled in advance of the main encampment, watching for any enemy movement. At this time in 1862, the Regiment was encamped near Nashville, making it’s way toward Murfreesboro, Tenn. His wounds were not caused in battle, but by an “Accidental discharge” of his gun. 

Allen’s own testimony of his injury was given as well. It adds a little more detail to the story. On January 22, 1870 he gave this statement in support of his Pension request: 

“On or about the 18th day of December 1862 while on duty on the skirmish line I was taken with the cramp & while endeavoring to relieve my self my gun was accidentally discharged wounding me in the right hand causing the amputation of my first and second fingers. My wound was dressed & attended to in the camp of the Regiment near Nashville, Tenn & I remained with the Regiment until I was discharged at the close of the war.”

So if I read that correctly, Allen was on picket duty, patrolling the area near the encampment, on the look-out for the enemy, when “nature called.” Who knows, he may have propped his rifle against a tree and it fell, causing it to accidentally discharge, or it may have fired as he was preparing to set it down. In one sense it may be lucky that he only lost some fingers!

This injury was not great enough to keep him from serving his tour of duty however. As mentioned in the statements, he served through the next two and a half years to the end of the war. He worked with the Ambulance service & as he said in his letter home, drove an Ambulance wagon. He may have also worked on the Ambulance train that took wounded soldiers away from the battle lines to field hospitals. These trains could have consisted of flat cars, freight cars or passenger cars used to transport the soldiers. Can’t imagine they were the best of accommodations. The Library of Congress website <> has pictures of Civil War Ambulance wagons and trains. I expect working with the Ambulance service was quite challenging at times. 

There was an Examining Surgeon’s Certificate dated November 2, 1869 attached to his file. The surgeon, W.P. Dunn, declared Allen “1/2 incapacitated for obtaining his subsistence by manual labor” due to his injury. Since Allen was a farmer, his lively-hood was affected by the limited use of his right hand. My assumption is that he was right-handed. According to other paperwork in is file, Allen was approved of his Invalid (Disability) Pension April 13, 1871 for $2 per month from June 5, 1865. 

In 1875, when Allen was 48 years old, he applied for an increase to a full pension. He gave the following statement to the Clerk of the Clinton County, Indiana Court:

He reported his disability from “Gunshot wound of right hand causing loss of first & second fingers of the said hand causing stiffness and lameness of said hand, greatly incapacitating him for manual labor.” Allen requested an examination and an increase in pension. He also seems to indicate that he had not received the appropriate compensation as he also requested back pension. He did have a Medical Examination and was still declared 1/2 disabled and entitled to $4 per month.

In 1878, Allen again pursued an increase in his pension & appeared before the Clerk of the Court of Tippecanoe County, Indiana. He stated that he is disabled due to the “gun shot wound of right hand causing loss of middle and index fingers and a contracture of tendons in the other fingers almost totally disabling him on such level equivalent to the loss of a limb.” He again received a Medical Examination, this time by 2 physicians, who stated:

“G.S.W. right hand=Ball destroyed 1st and 2nd Phalanx of Index and middle fingers—amputated at articulation of 2nd and 3rd Phalanx—stumps tender—becoming inflamed & ulcerated in labor—Hand of little use to Pensioner.” They declared his disability to be “total” such that he was entitled to $12 per month.

According to the file jacket for his pension, Allen received $2 per month commencing June 7, 1865. Then he received an increase to $5 per month commencing July 21, 1875. The final increase was to $8 per month commencing April 3, 1878. Allen died in 1885. He lived with what might seem a minor wound by today’s standards, but one that apparently caused him trouble most of his life. 

© MJM 2020

Worldly Possessions…

Josiah Earp, a soldier of the American Revolution, moved from Maryland to North Carolina to Kentucky. He died in Pulaski County, KY November 25, 1844 at the age of 83.

The final statement from his pension file is a report from the Executor of his estate, George Randal, stating that Josiah died and left no widow & was survived by the following children: Singleton Earp, Allin Earp, Eleanor Randal & Jemima Randal. (The Randal name is spelled Randolph in some records)

The surviving children listed in the statement are Singleton Earp (1802-1886), my GGGG Grandfather; “Allin” or James Allen (1796-1862), who moved to Arkansas; Eleanor (1800-1860), the wife of George Randal; and Jemima (1786-1853), wife of James Randal. Other sources I found through the years also listed a daughter, Drucilla (1784-1878) wife of Thomas Clark, Phillip Hawker (1797-1860) and Anna (1804-before 1835) wife of John Herrin. I’m not sure if all of the dates are correct for these children. However, it is unclear why Phillip H. & Drucilla were not listed as survivors of Josiah in the statement from George Randal.

As far as I know, Josiah did not have a will, but there was a record of his estate filed with the court by George Randolph. It is thought that Josiah did not own land, so his estate was simply his worldly possessions.

First, George submitted an inventory & assessment of the estate:


At the time of his death, Josiah owned 1 sorrel mare, 6 pewter plates & 1 dish, 1 table, 2 bottles, 1 tea canister, 1 chest, 1 coffee mill, 1 pot, 1 oven & lid, 1 pair of pot hooks, 4 chairs, 1 trunk & 1 smoothing iron. The value of the estate was $39.62 1/2.

So then there was the “estate sale.” And on February 17, 1845, George Randolph once again filed a statement with the court:


So Josiah Earp’s personal property sold for a total of $39.31 1/4.

Several of the names on the list of buyers are familiar—Josiah’s son, Singleton Earp, and sons-in-law Thomas Clark, James Randolph and George Randolph. Balis Randolph was the son of George & Eleanor. William Randolph was the son of James & Jemima.

Looking at the inventory assessment and the sale records I noticed that some items were valued with a half cent. I didn’t know the US had half cents. Turns out the 1/2 cent coin was minted from 1793 to 1857.

Regardless, Josiah Earp left only a few items as his worldly possessions & these items ended up in the hands of family members. I wonder if any have survived in the family through the generations.

Incidentally, with inflation, Josiah’s worldly possessions would be worth about $1,202 today.

© MJM 2017

A Connection to the Revolution

On July 4, 1776, a group of men representing the colonies signed a Declaration of Independence from the Crown of England. But the fight for that Independence continued for 5 more years. All of the colonists would have been involved, choosing sides, even if not actively fighting.

While researching ancestors from Kentucky, we took a trip to Somerset, the Pulaski County seat. While there, we came upon the DAR monument “In Memory of Those Revolutionary Soldiers Who Contributed to the Establishment and Development of Pulaski County, KY.”


We noticed a familiar name on the monument.


Was this one of our Earp/Erp ancestors? And what was his story regarding the Revolution?

Turns out, Josiah is an ancestor of mine. He was the father of Singleton Erp, who was the father of Allen, who moved to Indiana, served in the Civil war, and was the subject of my first blog post. Josiah is my GGGGG Grandfather. Josiah was born March 10, 1761 in Montgomery County, Maryland. He died November 25, 1844 in Pulaski County, Kentucky.

So what about the “Revolutionary Soldier” part of his story? The site, has copies of Josiah’s request for pension, based on the legislation from June of 1832. This law allowed full pay for soldiers who served more than 2 years and partial pay for those serving under 2 years but at least 6 months.

There are 8 pages included in Josiah’s file on The digitized records are a little difficult to read as this partial page indicates:


In essence, Josiah appeared before the court at Pulaski County on November 18, 1833. He was 72 years old at the time. He testified that “while a resident of Montgomery County, State of Maryland, according to his present recollection, in the month of March 1781 he volunteered for the Term of nine months in the Company of Captain John Nichols, the Lieutenant’s name was Thomas Nichols. After he volunteered he was marched to George Town…We were rendezvoused at Montgomery Courthouse in the state aforesaid and at that place received the proper arms and accoutrements for the service and was there a short time harried & exercised and from thence was marched to George Town, now in the District of Colombia, and was there stationed remained there engaged until news arrived that Lord Cornwallis had retreated towards North Carolina; was then directed by the Commanding Officers to return home but to carry with him his arms & other accoutrements and to hold himself ready to march into the service immediately when called on. The whole company were dispersed under like orders. In a few days after his return from George Town, he was again together with the rest of the Company to which he belonged, ordered into the service of the United States by his Commanding Officers and was ordered to march to Dumfries, a small town beyond Bladensburg and while on the march, our Officers were informed there was no need of our services at that point & was then directed to return home but to hold ourselves in readiness to march again into the service when called on. After the Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, he together with the rest of the Company was called in to the Service by the Commanding Officers and were then marched to Frederick Town, Maryland to Guard the prisoners taken at the Surrender of Cornwallis & continued there engaged in that service until about the 15th day of December of that year and was then discharged from the service. He received no discharge in writing.”

So breaking down his service, he was a single man, 20 years old when he volunteered. Most of his time in the service was spent around the area which would become Washington D.C. Seems like he prepared for the fight, but never had to. Cornwallis went to North Carolina & was victorious at the battle of Guilford Courthouse March 15, 1781. Then at the Battle of Yorktown, Virginia, his troops were greatly outnumbered & Cornwallis surrendered on October 19, 1781. So Josiah guarded prisoners for about 2 months before he was discharged. According to his papers, he received an annual pension of $20, starting March 4, 1831, until his death in 1844. The paperwork also indicates that Josiah was “entirely illiterate.” He moved to North Carolina and lived there about 4 or 5 years, then in 1817 he moved to Pulaski County, KY.

So no great war stories from his statement. Just the story of a young man ready to contribute to the fight for Independence, waiting for the call to arms. His contribution was at the end of the war, guarding British prisoners. But even that service was needed at the time.

© MJM 2017

A Connection to Wyatt Earp

When I was in school & had to do a genealogy project, I asked my Grandmother for information on the family. I remember she said we were related to Wyatt Earp & Daniel Boone. This made sense because there are Boone and Earp ancestors on my Dad’s side of the family, however our Earp’s spell their name, Erp. Grandma did not have the information that made the connection to either of the famous men. Part of the fun of genealogy is to find a famous ancestor. As of right now, I still don’t have the definitive connection to Daniel Boone, but I did find the family lines that connected to Wyatt Earp.

One day several years ago, I made a chance discovery at my local library. There is a genealogy wing at the library & even though most of my research is not from this locality, I check the library resources from time to time as there are several items available from other states. I was getting ready to leave the area and passed by the desk & saw the shelf of “New Books.” One of the books was a large volume, The EARP Family in America, by Sharron Studebaker Spencer and Irmalee Earp Williams. It was a pretty in-depth work taking the Earp family back to the earliest Irish immigrant, Thomas Earp, Jr. This book gave the full connection from my direct Erp ancestors to the relatives of Wyatt Earp. Of course, I contacted the author and purchased the book to add to my own reference library.

So Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp (1848-1929) was a famous figure, best known for his exploits with his brothers as law men and gamblers in the “Wild West.” The most recognized incident is the “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” between Wyatt & his brothers and the Clanton brothers, which took place in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881. He has become a larger-than-life character with stories of his life portrayed in movies and TV shows through the years.

Wyatt was born in Monmouth, Warren County, IL and died in Los Angeles, CA. His parents were Nicholas Porter Earp (1813-1907) & Virginia Ann Cooksey (1821-1893). Going back farther on the paternal side, Nicholas’ father was Walter Earp (1787-1953); Walter’s father was *Philip (ca 1755-ca 1833); then William (ca 1729-ca 1778); then Joshua (ca 1705-ca 1751); then John (ca 1680-1744); then Thomas Earp, Jr (ca 1656-1720).

Going forward from Wyatt Earp’s ancestors to connect to my direct line:

  • Thomas Earp, Jr. (ca 1656-1720)
  • John Earp (ca 1680-1744)
  • Joshua Earp (ca 1705-ca 1751)
  • William Earp (ca 1729-ca 1778)
  • *Josiah Earp (1761-1844)
  • Singleton Erp (ca 1802-ca 1886)
  • Allen Erp (1826-1885), my GGG Grandfather

Wyatt’s great-grandfather, Philip and Allen’s grandfather, Josiah, were brothers. They were both born in Maryland & fought in the Revolutionary War. Both families moved a few times. Philip spent most of his life in North Carolina and Virginia. Josiah finally settled in Pulaski County, KY, which is where his son, Singleton, raised his family.

One question I don’t have a good answer for is why some families retained the spelling “Earp” and some used “Erp.” Singleton Erp’s name is spelled both ways in different census schedules. Allen Erp is listed in the 1860 census as not being able to read or write, perhaps this has something to do with the spelling of the name—using the simplest spelling. Regardless, I’m glad I was able to find the connection to Wyatt Earp so when someone asks if there was anyone famous in the family I can answer quickly. Now all I have to do is find the proof one way or another for the Boone connection.

© MJM 2016

Boy Soldier

Hanging by a chain on the wall of my Grandmother McKinley’s home was a picture encased in glass with a black background. The picture was difficult to make out because it was so old. It now hangs in my living room. The picture is actually a tintype of a young boy. It took me quite a while to figure out that it is the memorial picture of William Singleton Erp.

William Singleton was born April 9, 1846 in Pulaski County, Kentucky. His parents were Allen Erp and Sarah (Alexander) Erp. He carried the names of his Grandfathers: William Alexander and Singleton Erp. He moved to Indiana with his parents when he was about a year old.

Grandma said he was known as “Uncle Sing.”

There is a commemorative marker in Spencer Cemetery, Hamilton County, IN leaning against his parents’ grave marker that states: “Wm. S. son of Allen & Sarah Erp belonged to the 40th Ind. Co. E. He lies buried at Nashville Tenn. Age. 15Y 11M & 28D”

So, he was a soldier during the Civil War? What happened to this 15 year-old boy? Grandma said the story was that a group of Southern women entered a train with a basket of cookies for the soldiers, over half the soldiers died, including Wm. S. Erp. Grandma requested that I find his grave in Nashville.

I found a Roll of Honor book in my local library: Roll of Honor: Names of Soldiers Who Died in Defense of the American Union Interred in the National Cemeteries, Vol XXII-XXIII, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1869, p. 76, that listed his death date as April 2, 1862 & that Wm. S. was buried at the National Cemetery at Nashville, TN. I had no idea there was a National Cemetery in Nashville. One day I went to Nashville, stopped by the cemetery and found his grave marker. I couldn’t stay long because a storm was coming up. I had enough time to find the marker and take a picture for Grandma.


But I wasn’t satisfied there. Was the story really true? Was he poisoned? I found a book in the Clinton Co. IN, library: Muster Roll of Co. E. 40th Regiment Indiana Infantry, by Helen E. Grove, 1990. This gave his rank as Private, Age: 15, Height: 5’4”, Eyes: Brown, Hair: Dark, Complexion: Dark, born in Pulaski Co., KY, occupation: Farmer. He was enrolled Oct. 16, 1861 at Hillsboro, IN. His Residence was Hillsboro, Clinton Co., IN. It states he died in April 1863 (off by 1 year) in a hospital at Nashville, TN of Lung Fever (pneumonia). So I guess the story of poison wasn’t true.

William Singleton spent 6 months in the Union Army. According to the National Park Service information about the 40th Indiana Infantry, the unit was mustered in December 30, 1861. Went to Bardstown, KY until February 1862. Then marched to Bowling Green, KY & on to Nashville, TN from Feb. 10 to March 13, 1862. Then they started for Savannah, TN March 29 & on to the Battle of Shiloh April 6, just after Wm. S. died. Who knows how long he was ill before he died. I expect he got sick during the march to Nashville. I wonder how his parents were notified. And did his Father, Allen, know where Wm. S. was buried when he came through Nashville while he was in the Union Army?

Also in Grandma’s collection of pictures,was this picture of the boy soldier:


The photographer who took the picture was located in Frankfort, IN. So the picture was probably taken soon after he enlisted.

Then I wonder how a boy was allowed to join up. But in doing research on the 40th Indiana, I found through the National Park Service website that some of Wm. S.’s relatives were in the same Regiment. John T. Alexander is listed as a soldier. I don’t have much on him, except he may be Wm. S.’s Great Uncle. Another Great Uncle, Galen Alexander, age 30, died in January 1862 in Louisville, KY after contracting a fever. So illness was an issue for the soldiers. Hard to imagine what the conditions were like. The Regiment lost more soldiers (206) to disease than to wounds (143).

Finally, in a small photo album full of tintypes, many not labeled, I found another copy of the picture that is in the black frame:


I like this one better than the one of him in uniform. But he looks so young!
Rest in peace “Uncle Sing.”

© MJM 2016


Chickamauga Battlefield

Recently, my folks made a visit to Chickamauga Battlefield National Military Park in North Georgia. Relating to my early blog posts about our ancestor, Allen Erp, they followed the 86th Indiana Infantry markers at this battlefield. One of the places they visited was the Snodgrass Cabin, which was used as a field hospital. So, if Allen was still working as an ambulance driver, he would have frequently been close to this cabin.

In general, after spending time at Murfreesboro, TN, Allen and the 86th moved on to Chickamauga as part of the Army of the Cumberland. The battle occurred September 19 & 20, 1863. The Union Army was defeated at this battle and withdrew back to Chattanooga to then find victory at Lookout Mountain & Missionary Ridge in November 1863. There were about 62,000 Union soldiers and 65,000 Conferderate soldiers involved in the Chickamauga battle. The approximate number of casualties (killed, wounded, missing/captured) was 16,170 on the Union side and 18,454 on the Confederate. Hard to imagine all of that in only 2 days.

The book mentioned in the early blog: The 86th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry. A Narrative of It”s Services in the Civil War of 1861-1865. James A Barnes et al. Crawfordsville, Ind. 1895 (available on Google Books) gives a very detailed story of the Chickamauga battle. The book was published at the same time the Military Park was dedicated. The author ends the chapter on this battle with the following:

“Thus has been given the part that this, the Eighty-sixth Indiana, bore in one of the severest battles of modern warfare, in many respects the severest. The members of the regiment who yet survive may glory in the part they bore on that deadly field. The children of all of the members of the regiment, of the members living and of those who are dead, will never have cause for feelings other than of honest pride that they whose names they bear, were with those who fought at Chickamauga. They joy of to-day comes to the survivors in that the war in which they participated has passed, and Peace shall ever reign within this land. He who shall visit Chickamauga in the future may read in enduring bronse and firmest granite the deeds of valor of the men of the North; and the sons of the South, may see the pride and glory of the Nation in that now all cause for strife has passed, and that only deeds of bravery are remembered where once ran the red tide of battle.

“The roar of the battle on the field of Chickamauga is hushed and in its stead from the leafy bowers and beside the quiet stream is to rise for all future time the anthem of peace. The men who died on this field did not shed their blood in vain. The cause for which they of the Union army fought was triumphant, and Chickamauga was the beginning of the end of the years of strife.” (p. 209-210)

So one of these days I hope to visit the battlefield myself and walk in the steps of my ancestor from the Indiana 86th.

©MJM 2016

Remembering with Granny Boone, Part 2

As mentioned in the previous post, my Grandmother, Margaret Millikan, kept some notes of conversations with her Grandmother, Sarah Alzada Erp Boone, “Allie” or “Granny Boone.” Allie’s mother was Sarah Alexander Erp. Here are more of those memories.

Sarah Erp washed on a big rock by the stream. Water was heated in a big iron kettle over an open fire. A paddle was used to beat dirt out of clothes on a big flat rock. One of the sons made a paddle & bored holes in it as a gift to his mother to help with the washing. A big board with grooves cut in it made a scrub board. Clothes were spread on grass, bushes and fence to dry. They would “wash clothes on Saturday night for Sunday School.”

All clothes, dresses, overalls, men’s clothes were cut and sewed by hand. As mentioned before, Sarah wove cloth on her loom. Clothes were not plentiful. There were two outfits for each with “one on & one extra.” Allie had a little white dress with “saw teeth” (rickrack?) around the neck and sleeves and she was afraid it would cut her head! She remembered a little pink bonnet and a black and white dress. Her first high boots had red tops or “uppers” and copper toes. Their stockings were knit from wool they had spun. The wool came from sheep they helped to shear. Natural dyes made “butternut” pants and “hickory” shirts. Sarah Erp also wove “coverlets.” She sewed for neighbors too.

A baby would be placed in a horse collar on the floor with a pail of water with a rag in it in front of the baby to teach it to sit up. What child could resist playing in water!

Christmas was “slim.” They would shoot guns, had gun powder “fireworks” and used big boards to make “spring boards” to make noise.

There were few toys. Allie was seven or eight years old when she had a rag doll, “Dinah,” with shoe-button eyes.

Allie must have gone to school when 4 years old. It was a log house with no desks. Seats were split logs around the room and heat came from a long box stove. Spelling and ciphering were about all they did. They were called to a long bench in front to read in concert. There were “spelling schools” and “singing schools!”

There were no musical instruments in church.

Allie told of a trip to visit “Uncle Henry” (possibly an Alexander relative) who lived right on the Wabash River in a two room house or cabin. He could sit in front of his house and fish in the river. He built a 6 or 8 foot rock-lined pool where he kept fish to sell. Steam boats came up the river at night and the boat lights scared Allie. Uncle Henry had a big watermelon patch, would thump a big one, drop and burst it and “the kids ate out of it by the fist-fulls.” She told about dividers in a door made of dried corn stalks cut into different lengths & strung on twine.

Granny talked of “love apples;” tomatoes planted in the yard like flowers. They were afraid to eat the fruit. (Maybe she was talking about passion fruit.)

When she was 20 years old, Allie married 28 year old Alva Lorenzo Boon, November 28, 1889 in Clinton County, Indiana. (The “e” shows up at the end of Boon after their marriage.) They lived in the Dillard community of Clinton County, Indiana; then moved East of Sheridan, Hamilton County, Indiana around 1908. They stayed on this farm until just before Alva’s death in 1945. They are buried in Spencer Cemetery, Sheridan, Hamilton County, Indiana.

Allie and Alva had 6 children:

  • Nora Mabel, born in1891 and died less than one year later in 1892
  • Chester Emmett (1892-1954)
  • Rachel Gertrude (1896 or 1898-1969)
  • Mary Geneva (1897-1992) my Great Grandmother!
  • Chauncey, born in 1902 and lived 7 days
  • Richard Edwin (1906-1980)

Mary Geneva Boone reminisced with her daughter, Margaret: She told of few toys. Jimson weed blossoms were dipped in suds and used as bubble pipes. Balls were not from stores but “we raveled Papa’s heavy work socks and wrapped the string around a wad of cloth to make balls.” The only dolls were corn cob dolls.

The school house was just South of the house at Dillard and a store was South on the West side of the road. The church was North in the N.W. corner of the cross roads.

Granny (Allie) & Chester sold Larkin goods. (soap products & household goods. The company offered premiums that could be redeemed for other items.) He got a guitar through sales for Larkin. Granny Boone’s bookcase desk was a Larkin premium.

©MJM 2016

Remembering with Granny Boone, Part 1

My Grandmother, Margaret (Millikan) McKinley, put together some notes of conversations she had with her grandmother, Sarah Boone. I figured I would include some of those notes here.

First, Sarah Alzada Erp Boone was born May 17, 1869 in Clinton County, IN & died September 8, 1955 in Sheridan, Hamilton County, IN. She had been living with her daughter, Mary Boone Millikan, for 10 years since the death of her husband, Alva Lorenzo Boone (1861-1945).

Sarah’s grandchildren called her “Granny” at her request. She was known as “Gee-Gee” to her great-grandchildren. She also went by “Allie” because her mother was also named Sarah. Her parents were Sarah Alexander Erp (1829-1912) and Allen Erp (1826-1885). Allen and Sarah were married at the home of her father, William P. Alexander, in Kentucky on October 17, 1844. Sarah Erp later rode horseback to central Indiana with one baby and “one on the way.”

Margaret did not remember talk of the Alexander relatives in Indiana, but many Erp relatives were there. Granny kept in touch with Kentucky “cousins” through letters for years. She even took a trip to visit them in her later years. The Erps settled in Sugar Creek Twp, Clinton County, Indiana.

Allie was the 8th of 9 children recorded in the Erp family Bible. The first son, William Singleton Erp, died before the age of 16. The second child, Hannah, died at age 3. Daughter, Mary, married and died childless six years later. The youngest, Norman Frank, married but died a year later without a child. Allie and four brothers, Andrew Jackson (1850-1909), Allen Jefferson (1852-1927), Joshua Kerry (1858-1912) and Aaron Union (1861-1937), lived to marry and raise families. Below is a picture of Allie and these siblings with their mother, Sarah Alexander Erp.saerpandchildren2

Back row: Aaron, Allie, Joshua. Front row: Allen, Sarah, Andrew

The Erp family lived in a one room log cabin with a door that was fastened with a bar, one window and a fireplace. It had a floor but no carpet. Later, a “lean-to” kitchen was added on. It was made of boards, not logs. Not only was it used as a kitchen but it had a bed. They kept a “boarder” who slept there. The “lean-to” also had an oblong “step stove” with two holes on one level and two more on a higher level.

The log cabin fireplace was a source of heat and light and was used for cooking. Sometimes they filled a pie pan with grease, soaked a wool rag in it, hung the rag over the edge of the pan and burned it for light. They had some tallow candles which they probably made and must have been treasured items used for special occasions.

Sarah Erp wove cloth to make their clothing and bedding and her loom filled one corner of the cabin. Three beds and a trundle bed were also in the cabin. As Allie grew up, walls were papered with pages of “The Police Gazette.” Once a snake worked behind the paper and someone grabbed it, thinking it was a mouse!!

In the Summer, they cooked over an open fire out of doors using a crane to hold big iron kettles. Allie spoke of four posts with morning glory and cucumber vines and a shed sheltering the open fire. The family raised 8-10 hogs and had chickens that provided meat & eggs. A cow provided milk and cream butter. They had to dry beef, cure meat and eat the rest. With refrigeration unheard of, they sometimes had to “sweeten” meat with soda. They fried some meat, put it down in jars and poured on lard to cover it and had it for later use.

They had potatoes, dry beans and dried green beans, which “weren’t good!” They also had dried apples, peaches and pumpkin. Pumpkin was cooked until done, cut into thin slabs on a bread board and stood up by the fire until dried. Later, it was soaked and used to make pies. Grapes and elderberries were gathered, put into jars and covered with sorghum molasses.

Fireplace cooking was done in big iron kettles hung over the fire on hooks on an iron bar. Bread was cooked on a board. They had biscuits once a week. Cornbread was made of corn they ground or grated on a “grater.” “Egg butter” was made in a big iron skillet: “Heat butter, pour in molasses, add beaten egg, spices or nutmeg.” Sounds good and rich!

More next time…

©MJM 2016

Allen’s “brother & sister,” Emberson & Millie Cox

Continuing from the last post; Allen Erp sent a letter from Murfreesboro, TN in 1863 to Emberson & Millie Cox. He called them “brother & sister” in his letter. The thought is that since Allen & his wife, Sarah, could not read or write, someone wrote the letter for him & he sent it to a family member.

Walter Emberson Cox (1822-1879) was married to Millie Alexander (1834-1921). They lived in Sugar Creek Twp. of Clinton County, Indiana. They are buried in Hills Baptist Church Cemetery. Walter served in the US Army, Company F of 30th Indiana Infantry from October 26, 1864 to August 15, 1865.

Allen Erp was married to Sarah Alexander, so Millie and Sarah were sisters. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

However, there is some confusion out there about the Alexander families.

From what I have found, the father of both Sarah and Millie was William P. Alexander (1810-1863), his wife was Elizabeth Stogsdill. William P. is buried in Hills Baptist Church Cemetery.

William P.’s father was William Alexander (ca1777-1855), wife was Mary Hargis.

William & Mary had several children, how many is not clear. He is also often listed as Sarah Alexander’s father. I’m not sure what sources people use for this information, but it is the predominant theory. One problem is that the first Census to name all members of the household was the 1850 US Census and by then Sarah is married to Allen Erp and out of her father’s household.

The 1850 US Census for Clinton Co, IN has several Alexanders listed, including a few Williams and another Sarah Alexander of about the same age as my Sarah (she fits as being a wife of one of the Williams). And again, Sarah and Allen are already married by 1850 and show up in the same area of Clinton County as many of the Alexanders.

Also, the US Census record for William P. Alexander in Clinton County, IN, shows him and his wife Elizabeth; a 19 yr old daughter, Mary; 10 yr old daughter Oma A; and another 4 yr old girl named Sarah “Leioel”. So I guess people figure that this Sarah would be William P.’s daughter and it wouldn’t make sense to have another daughter named Sarah. The Census record is very difficult to read. But I did notice that the enumerator only listed 2 names when he was indicating first and last names, otherwise he used first name and an initial. So perhaps Sarah “Leioel” was a neighbor or family member who was visiting the home. I can’t find any similar names in the rest of the local Census region yet. So, still looking.

1850 US Census, Clinton County IN, Sugar Creek Twp.(from


  • William P Alexander 40
  • Elizabeth 44
  • Mary 19
  • Oma A 10
  • Sarah “Leioel” 4
  • Allen Erp 22
  • Sarah 21
  • William 5
  • Hannah 2
  • Andrew 2/12
  • Walter E Cox 24
  • Milla (Millie) 15


The Erps and Alexanders came from Pulaski Co, KY and moved to Clinton Co, IN.

Anyway, William P. and Elizabeth are listed as Sarah Alexander Erp’s parents in the family Bible record of her marriage, on her Death Certificate and in her obituary. Millie Cox is listed as her sister in the obit. Millie was still alive when Sarah died in 1912, so I doubt this listing was a mistake.

So, Walter Emberson Cox was Brother-in-law to Allen and Sarah, with Millie being Sarah’s sister.

Sarah and Millie had other siblings: Mary (1831-1907) who married Sam Boyer, Sr.; Nancy (ca 1833-1900) who married Nelson Louks; Malinda A. (1837-1848); Naomi America (1840-1857); then the mysterious Sarah “Leioel”.

Not much of a story here except a learning experience researching the family history.

So adding a few generations to the tree: William & Mary (Hargis) Alexander—son William P. & Elizabeth (Stogsdill) Alexander—dau Sarah Alexander & Allen Erp—dau Sarah Alzada Erp & Alva Boone—dau Mary G. Boone & Arza Millikan—dau Margaret P. Millikan & Loran McKinley—son (my father)–me.

© MJMcK 2016

A Letter from War

As mentioned in the first post, my grandmother, Margaret McKinley, had a collection of family history treasures. She was the family historian before me & had a wealth of information. I am grateful to her for sharing some of her knowledge with me and for giving me most of her collection before she died in 2007.

Allen Erp, my 3rd Great Grandfather, served in the 86th Regiment, Company G, of the Indiana Volunteers from August 2, 1862 until June 6, 1865.

Grandma had a copy of a letter that Allen sent home from the war. According to Grandma, Allen and his wife, Sarah, were not able to read or write. So the letter was sent to a family member. She said the original was given to descendants of that family member. The copy that Grandma had was old and dark, very difficult to read. But here goes:

The letterhead is a graphic of soldiers fighting with the caption, “Desperate Bayonet Charge at Battle of Winchester, March 23, led by Gen. Tyler.” (I think this is referring to a battle of Winchester, VA)

The letter reads as follows (with lack of punctuation and capitalization as common in letters of the time period):

Murfreesboro Tn, June the 4 1863 Co. G. 86 Ind reg vol (2nd) ) Brigade 9th division 21st Army corps Dep of the cumberlain / brothe and sister it is with pleasure that i write to let you no that i am well and hope that this will find you in joying good health allso amberson i thought that i would rite you if you did not to me i think you ought to write for you donte have to git some boddy els to write for you and have plenty time and have every thing proper to your hand. there is a move here now sertain and i donte no where nor wich way write if you please if you donte hold eny mallis againste me and if there is any thing betwix us i donte no it so write enny how emberson i would like to see you verry much but i cannot so i wante to keep up communication with you for resons that i will tel you when i get an answer to this write all of the times of the neiborhood and country and of the people in genarl i am a ambulance driver it is a good birth a good plase eassy i donte have to cook enny and see a good time of it but i have not received enny pay since i have left indiana but expect every day when i will the loss of my fingers is painfull in boddy and mind and i am lost when i go to take hold of enny thing for i forgit that thare are gone i am sure to hit them againste enny thing when i go to take hold of enny thing if i am in a hurry but if i coud be there talk with you and see my family and no how there a gitting alonge i woud be rather [hole in page] in the army but as it is i am not if i was there i coud tel you a great menny things to that you cannot write i coud contain you a weak or more and it woud all be interesting to you and it woud pay enny man that has got the money to spare to come and see for himself it woud not take much for a person to come here i send this letter to this office to see which wone tha come to the quickest and if tha come to that me sooner i will send my letters there so write and let me no about it do be sure to answer this letter for it might pay you to write for i can find out [too faded to read] regiment you may rest a shurd of that it come from an nother and i wante you to tend a little to my family and i will reward you for it for i put conffidcnce in you for i no that you will not see enny thing go to loss if it can be hope so no more at preasant but ever remain your brother and sister until death Allen erp to emberson cox and milly cox milly i woud like to hear from you

Well, I guess it is a little hard to get through, but a few things stood out to me. Allen has been in the Army for just under a year, and has already lost his fingers. He was most likely no longer able to fire a rifle, but worked as an ambulance driver. Hard to imagine what that was like.

He also hasn’t been paid since leaving Indiana. He’s concerned about his family back home and would like to hear any news.

There is a history of the 86th Regiment available free on Google Books: The Eighty-Sixth Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, by James A. Barnes et al., published in 1895. It indicates that the Regiment became part of the Army of the Cumberland. They had been in Murfreesboro, TN for about 6 months when this letter was written. They continued on through Southern Tennessee and North Alabama for most of the War. It is a little awkward living in the South & discussing Civil War ancestors, knowing that one of my ancestors was a part of what was considered the invading and occupying forces down here.

So to whom did he write? “brother & sister” Emberson and Milly Cox. Who were they? More to come…

©MJMcK 2016