James Perry

James Perry was my great-grandmother's older brother. He was born in Venango county, PA, on 20 Oct 1839, according to the family Bible of his parents, John and Mary Ann (Smith) Perry. Just before his sixth birthday, he moved with his family to Ohio, on a handcrafted flatboat. He remembered that one of the men on the flatboat gave him chewing tobacco, which he spat in the Ohio River. He remembered, also, that one of the members of the other family, who traveled with them was lost overboard when the boat hit the dock at Pittsburgh. These vivid memories stayed with James Perry the rest of his life and were repeated to his grandson, Walter Scott, who provided most of the information on this page.

The flatboat voyage ended in Gallia county, Ohio, and the Perry family soon moved on to Piqua, in Miami county, Ohio. One of James' first jobs was for the railroad near Dayton. He would walk the horses, which were used to saw wood for the trains.

During the Civil War, James Perry enlisted in the 134th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was a Private in Captain William B. Cheney's Company "E", as a 100 days volunteer, enrolling 2 May 1864 at Urbana, OH, and was discharged 31 Aug 1864 at Camp Chase, Ohio. He was honorably discharged, and presented with a thank you certificate signed by Abraham Lincoln. This document lists the places of service by his regiment:

In the Valley of the Shenandoah, on the Peninsula, in the Operations on the James River, around Petersburg and Richmond, in the Battle of Monocacy, and in the Intrenchments [sic] of Washington, and in other important service...

The rigors of service in the Union army during the long siege of Petersburg were recalled by an Army chaplain who described how much the men hated their rations of hardtack, officially called hard bread, which was made of flour and water and edible only if soaked in coffee or fried in meat juice or fat:

While at Petersburg, doing siege work in the Summer of 1864, our men had wormy hardtack served out to them for a time. It was a severe trial, and it taxed the temper of the men. Breaking open the hardtack and finding live worms in it, they would throw the pieces in the trenches where they were doing duty day by day, although the orders were to keep the trenches clean, for sanitary reasons.

A brigade officer of the day, seeing some of these scraps along our front, called out sharply to our men: "Throw that hardtack out of the trenches." As the men promptly gathered it up as directed, he added: "Don't you know you shouldn't throw hardtack in the trenches? Haven't you been told that often enough?" Out from an injured soldier's heart there came the reasonable explanation: "We've thrown it out a couple of times already, sir, but it keeps crawling back in."1

When James enlisted, he was described as "23 years of age, five feet ten inches, dark complexion, blue eyes, dark hair, a farmer. On 10 Aug 1863 he joined the National Guard, Private of Captain Chenney's E Company, Fourth Reg't, Battalion, Ohio National Guard, aged 23, residing in Union Tp. Champaign Co., OH."

The following certificate was received by James upon completion of his active duty:


The President's Thanks and Certificate of Honorable Service

To Private James Perry 134th Regt Ohio National Guard and Infantry

Whereas the President of the United States has made the following Executive Order, returning Thanks to the Ohio Volunteers for One Hundred Days, to wit:

Executive Mansion, Washington City,

September 10, 1864.

The term of One Hundred Days, for which the NATIONAL GUARD OF OHIO volunteered, having expired, the President directs an Official Acknowledgment to be made of the PATRIOTIC AND VALUABLE SERVICES during the recent campaigns. The term of service of their enlistment was short, but distinguished by memorable events. In the Valley of the Shenandoah, on the Peninsula, in the Operations on the James River, around Petersburg and Richmond, in the Battle of Monocacy, and in the Intrenchments of Washington, and in other important service, the NATIONAL GUARD OF OHIO performed with alacrity the duty of Patriotic Volunteers, for which they are entitled to, and are hereby tendered, through the Governor of their State, the NATIONAL THANKS.

The Secretary of War is directed to transmit a copy of this Order to the Governor of Ohio, and to cause a CERTIFICATE OF THEIR HONORABLE SERVICE to be delivered to the Officers and Soldiers of the OHIO NATIONAL GUARD who recently served in the Military Force of the United States as Volunteers for One Hundred Days.

(Signed) Abraham Lincoln

Now, therefore, this Certificate of Thanks and of Honorable Service is conferred on Private James Perry in token of his HAVING HONORABLY SERVED AS A VOLUNTEER FOR ONE HUNDRED DAYS in Company E 134th Regiment of Ohio National Guard and Infantry.

Given under my hand at the City of Washington, this Fifteenth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four.

BY THE PRESIDENT(Signed) Abraham Lincoln
 President of the United States
 (Signed) Edwin M Stanton
 Secretary of War

James Perry was discharged from the Ohio National Guard when it was disbanded in April 1866. He married Francetta Snyder that year in Champaign county, OH, and they had the following children while living there:

Francetta's clothing caught fire while she was tending a trash fire and the wind blew up. James saw her, rushed to her aid, and struggled to put out the fire. She lived a week before she died on 11 Oct 1876, leaving four children. She was only 28 years old. The infant Willie had died six months earlier. James had his sister, Phebe Ann (Anna) Perry, and his aged parents living with him then. This was Francetta's obituary in the 2 Nov 1876 issue of the Urbana Daily Citizen:

Mrs. Fransettie Perry, wife of James Perry, was born in Rensselaer county, N.Y., April 6, 1848, and died October 11, 1876. Being engaged near a fire her dress caught fire, and her husband being a short distance away, did not know of the sad accident until the flames had communicated to her entire clothing. His greatest efforts only relieved her from immediate death. The poor woman sufFered untold physical agony from Monday until Wednesday morning, when she closed her pilgrimage in great peace. In July last they buried an infant, and though sister Perry had never professed religion, nor had a church relation, yet she had intended to become religious and join church, and in her general deportment as neighbor, wife and mother, she had but few equals. She desired baptism and church recognition before she died, and said, exultingly, "I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb," sang parts of hymns, and exultingly said, "I soon shall be with Willy," and seemed to be in perfect ecstacy until she peacefully died, without a struggle.

James Perry turns up frequently in public documents, which help us trace his movements and tell his life story:

1870 U. S. CENSUS, OHIO, Champaign Co. Salem Township, P. O. Kingston. James Perry 30 m farmer 4200 1400 PA 1 US citizen male over 21; Francetta 21 f NY, Catherine 3 f OH, Harrison 1 m OH. Next door is David S. Perry, Susan, Mary, Martha. Same neighborhood is John Perry, Mary A., Catherine & Harrison.
LANDOWNERS IN CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, OHIO 1874. Index to the Atlas lists J. Perry three entries in Salem Township, lot, section or survey # 7, page 27. cf. map.
LAND RECORDS [in chronological order]: Urbana, Champaign County, Ohio, Recorders Office. Index Book 6, 1877-1883.
Perry, James to D. C. Cary Vol. 49, p 413. James Perry & wife Francetta sold to David Cary2 land in Salem Township, Champaign Co. Ohio, $512.50 Six and l8/100 acres, range 12, MSR Section 7, Recorded Jan 26, 1876
Perry, James & William from James Nolan 49 285. James Nolan sold to James and William Perry for $600, City of Urbana Section 24 Town 7, Range 11 next to railroad, Dec. 8, 1875, recorded Dec. 11, 1875. cf. map
Perry, James to Geo Perry3 50 131, also on p 299 Perry, James from H. H. Pearson 50 212. Howard H. Pearson & wife Kate Pearson of Champaign Co. Ohio to James Perry, $1600, Champaign Co. Ohio, City of Urbana, lots 304 & 305 in subdivision of Hitt farm Depositors Addition to Town of Urbana, mortgage executed by these grantors to Barton C. Neal. 26 June 1876. N. Rhodes & Jennie Longby (witnesses) Signed by the Pearsons.
Perry, James from Wm. H. Boulton 51 381. Perry, James to William H. Boulton 53 55 Perry, D. S. & James from James K. Chatham et al 60 48
Land records, Urbana, Champaign County, Ohio, Recorders Office. Index Book 7, 1883-1889: 5 Dec 1884 Perry, James to John C. Rhodes 63 212

In 1878 James purchased land in Maries county, Missouri, near where his brother John Lane Perry lived with his wife, Lucinda (Cindy Bradley) Perry and their family. James didn't ever live on this land, but turned it over to John, who farmed it and lived on it. John also bought some of his own land within a few years. The idea at first was to produce broom corn for David's factory in Urbana. In James' application for pension, he lists his residences, but does not mention Missouri. The 1880 U.S. Census lists James Perry with his oldest four children, his parents, and his sister Phebe Ann (shown as Anna) at 605 Orange Street,2 Urbana, Champaign county, Ohio. He was a broom maker.

On 15 Aug 1880, James Perry married Minerva Jane (Jennie) Kuhns in Maries county, Missouri, near Dixon, where she was living with her parents. He was visiting his brother John, who was a neighbor of Jennie's parents, Daniel and Nancy (Stover) Kuhns. James took Jenny back to Urbana, OH, to live with his family. While living there, they had the following children:

Soon after Lucile's birth, the Perrys moved to Iola Twp, Allen county, Kansas. A photograph of Lucile was taken when she was about one year old in Kansas City, MO, either while the Perrys lived there briefly, or when James went there on business.

When they moved to Kansas, Lucile had not yet been named. They just called her "Baby." The Perrys lived next door to a family named Williams, who were no relation. The Williams children thought the baby was wonderful, cared for her, and fussed over her. When she was a year old, the Williams children said she should have a name. So James and Jenny told the Williams brothers and sisters that they could name the baby. They agreed right away that the first name should be Lucile, but they didn't have any idea for a middle name. So one of them said, "Let's name her for us!" And so she was named Lucile Williams Perry.

When they went to Kansas, Billy was to be the salesman and James was to raise the corn. John Lane Perry also moved to Iola at about the same time, while Billy moved to Indianapolis, IN, and started his own broom factory. In Kansas, James and Jennie had one child:

James Perry & Jennie Perry his wife of the county of Allen and State of Kansas in consideration of $1200 paid by John C. Rhodes, real estate in Champaign Co., Ohio and in the city of Urbana: lots 304 and 305 in subdivision of the Hitt farm as depositors addition to the city. 22nd Nov. 1884. Geo. A. Bowlus & W. M. Heartman, (witnesses). Signed & sealed James Perry, Jennie Perry The State of Kansas, Allen Co. S.S.
22 Nov. 1884 before a notary public for Allen Co. Kansas, James Perry & wife Jennie Perry acknowledged signing and sealing of above to be their voluntary act and deed.... Jennie Perry examined separately... Notarial seal, Allen Co. Kansas Geo A Bowlus Received Nov. 25th, 1884.
Perry, James to Joseph White 63 626. James Perry & Jennie Perry of Allen Co. Kansas for $3750 to Joseph H. White of same county and state, premises in City of Urbana, County of Champaign, Ohio, lots (1) and (2) recorded plat of the subdivision of outlot numbered 427 of Depositors Addition to City of Urbana. 22nd Nov. 1884. Geo. W. Bowlus & W. M. Heartman (witnesses), signed James Perry & Jennie Perry Kansas, Allen County [also the same paragraph re notary public, Jennie separately]
1885 Kansas State Census, City Iola, Iola Township, Allen County, 7 7 Perry, James 43 m w (1), Jenny 26 f w (1), Katy B 18 f w, Sherman 16 m w, Fanny 14 f w, J. E. 12 m w.4

The four years on the farm were not a good time. In the midst of their stay in Kansas, both Perry families suffered through one of the worst winters in history. "...Then came the blizzard of 1886 when freezing rain encased the buffalo grass the cattle depended on for winter feed. ...that notorious winter...."5 Tornadoes, drought and poor crops plagued them. Lucile remembered, when she was about four years old on the Kansas broom corn farm, being scooped up by the hired hand, who carried her to the storm cellar when a tornado approached on more than one occasion. The difficulties in Kansas, combined with Billy's call for help with his broom business caused James and Jennie to decide to move to Indianapolis in 1889. Our next picture is of Jennie, some time in her later years.

Aunt Lucile and Aunt Velma recalled that when the Perrys moved from Kansas to Indianapolis, they lived in the 400 block on N. East Street. Later they moved to Montcalm St. "All the kids put labels on the brooms, and the boys were supposed to fill the big container of water for bleaching the broom straw," Aunt Lucile said. James invested $200 in Billy's broom business. When the business failed, he was able to get his $200 out, and Billy lost everything. They set up again, and then separated into two separate broom factories. Neither of them became wealthy, but they both did all right. James had helped both younger brothers.

Walter Scott tells us that Billy and Pop (James) had a broom factory on Alabama Street in Indianapolis and later in Cerleentown (no one knows how to spell Cerleen), near the cereal factory, Cerleen Mills, around 18th street. Circa 1936 Uncle Billy and Aunt Mary lived in New Augusta. Katie did the bookkeeping for Uncle Billy. Aunt Lucile would come home from school with Bess and her brother (Billy's children). They would go out to the broom factory and get into mischief, till Katie would scold them and send Lucile on home.

Indiana State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1890. Vol. V, R. L. Polk & Co., Indianapolis, IN p. 465 "Perry Bros., Broom Mnfgrs and Dealers in Broom Corn and Broom makers' Supplies, 373 N. Alabama"

While living in Indianapolis, James and Jennie had the following children:

Jennie and CindyJames and Jennie traveled to Urbana for the Carey / Perry reunion. The picture at the right may have been taken during that reunion. The names at the bottom were probably written by Edythe, since she refers to Jennie as "Mom". It was sent to us by Edythe's daughter-in-law, Nancy Scott, who writes:

Chuck, attached is picture of Aunt Cindy (John Lane Perry's wife) and Jennie (James Perry's wife). I wonder if it was taken on the same trip to Urbana. They would not have been together very often. Same blouse as I see in the large photo. I saw Jennie first when I looked at the big picture.

Lucile Perry married Albert Bradley, whose father, George Thomas Bradley, became close friends with James Perry, in spite of their having served on opposite sides during the Civil war. Nancy Scott writes:

To brighten your day I am attaching a photo of James Perry, that we received from Walter's cousin's daughter Leslie Ann (Bradley) Bowen. The photo is of two patriarchs: George Thomas Bradley, left, and James Perry, right.


George Thomas Bradley is the father of Albert Bradley, who married Lucile Perry, daughter of James Perry. James Perry fought in the 134th Ohio Volunteers. As a young teen, George Thomas Bradley would run the livestock up into the mountains of North Carolina, when the marauding Union soldiers came. Those two old men would sit on the Bradley (Albert & Lucile's) Indianapolis front porch and argue the Civil War. They must have enjoyed it, because they did it year after year on the national holidays!

Lucile's son Leslie Williams Bradley recorded his mother's reminiscences of the Perry family's Indianapolis days on audiotape and Walter Scott has transcribed much of this information. This is a part of Lucile's story:

Uncle Dave lived in Urbana the rest of his life. He came to Indianapolis once for a visit. Never got farther from Urbana than that, although he did take a vacation trip to Niagara Falls once. He had a large broom factory in Urbana. He and James were in it together until Uncle Billy called for James to come help him with his broom factory in Indianapolis. Uncle Billy was having financial problems, so James went into the business with him for $200. They continued to fail, but James managed to get his $200 out of it again, before the business went under. After that loss, they started up again, and later separated. They each had their own broom factory. James' factory was a "shed" or "barn" on the back of the lot where the house was on Montcalm St. He had three employees, plus his two teenage sons, working to manufacture brooms. He sold them to a grocer named Stout, whose store was nearby.

In her story, Aunt Lucile tells also of the 1913 flood and how the family was rescued, who came, the route they took, etc.

In his later years, James lived in the home of his daughter Edythe Scott and her family at 2425 College Ave., Indianapolis. He was well known around the city as the oldest surviving Civil War veteran in Indiana. He was honored in the parades, given passes on the streetcars and to the movies. As mentioned in his obituary, "he was active in his hobby of gardening until stricken with his last illness."

PENSION RECORD, James Perry, C-2 564 566, (801 file combined) rec'd from National Archives, 18 Nov 2000. 25 pages. Company E, 134th Regiment of Ohio Infantry, Civil War, Union army. Date of birth 20 Oct 1839, Date of death 29 Nov 1936, Indianapolis, IN. He was enrolled May 2, 1864 and mustered out with company Aug 31, 1864. From enrollment to mustering out, he held the rank of Private, No records other than enrollment and mustered out are found, and no medical records are found. (Sept 11, 1895) Record and Pension Office, 1248955, War Department,
Declaration for Invalid Person 20 Aug 1895, James Perry, age 54, resident of Indianapolis, "partially unable to earn a support by reason of... Rheumatism affecting right arm and shoulder." Address 373 N. Alabama St., Indianapolis, Ind. Attest: Daniel W. Sharp and J. c. Perry.
Apr. 6, 1915, James Perry, 1323 Montcalm St., Indianapolis, Ind. 986490 Act May. Birth: October 20, 1839, Venango Co. PA. P.O. at enlistment Urbana, Ohio. Wife's name Jennie Perry; maiden name Jennie Kuhns.
Married August 15, 1880, Dixon, MO, Rev. Hanson. Official record of marriage in Vienna, Mo.
Previous marriage: Fransittie [sic] Snyder, Feb 6, 1866 Urbana, O.
Death Oct. 11, 1876. No other previous marriages.
Present wife married before: NO
Living with wife now: Yes
Names & dates of birth of all your children, living or dead: Dated April 4, 1915 Signed James Perry. [Earlier writing not in his hand. Looks like Edythe's.]
That his several places of residence since leaving the service have been Urbana, Ohio; Kansas City, Mo; Allen County, Kansas, and Indianapolis, IN. He is now a pensioner under Certificate No.986,490. Witnessed Edythe L. Scott, 1323 Montcalm St., [answers are in her hand] and signed James Perry, same address. 3rd January 1930.

The picture at the right was taken about 1915 at some location other than the Montcalm Street house, according to Edythe. In the front row are Katie, James, Jennie, Sherman, and Fanny. In back are Edythe, Walter, Lucile, Dick, Ralph, Velma, and Edward.

A 1917 letter from Edythe to her mother reveals that the sons and son-in-law went to war. James was sick, probably with influenza. In James Perry's old age he lived with his daughter Edythe and husband Cleon Scott, and their two children, Martha and Walter. When Walter was in the second grade, they learned about Lincoln, and Walter volunteered that his grandpa was in the Civil War. At the PTA, the teacher told his mother to straighten Walter out, because it would have been his great-grandpa who was in the Civil War. Edythe had to straighten out the teacher instead! By that time James was a very old man. Martha played checkers with him, when she'd rather have gone outside to play with her friends.

General Affidavit 3 Jan 1930. "I am the youngest daughter of James Perry. Have lived with him all my life, resumed the care of him at the death of my mother Jan. 1920. His health is declining, rapidly since May 1929. I prepare foods especially for him because of no teeth, wash soiled clothes from his inability to attend to nature properly at all times. I assist him with his underwear, socks, shirt, vest and coat most of the time. Always prepare and help with the bath. He has not been able to leave the house much since May. When he did I took him or saw to it someone capable did. His pension is his only income. His condition is likely to become serious at any time, so we are asking the increase because he will need it badly. I also ask that the medical examiner come to the house for examination." Address: 1323 Montcalm St., Indianapolis, Ind. Pension Claim 986 490.
Application for Reimbursement: 3 Dec. 1936, Mrs. Cleon Scott (Edythe) 2425 College Ave., Indianapolis, Marion Co., Indiana. expense in last sickness and burial of James Perry... died No. 29, 1936 Indianapolis, IN, buried Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, IN. Francetti Snyder died 1876 Oct 11; Jennie Kuhns died Jan. 12, 1920.
Dr. I. W. Riggans $14 and undertaker Chas. A. Hockensmith 726 N. Ill St., Indianapolis $269.50. Witnesses: H. O. Waddy and Edward W. Springer.
Date of commencement of last sickness: Nov. 10, 1936. required regular and daily attendance of another person constantly until death for years. Senile dementia associated with arteriosclerosis. Claim for Edythe Scott, who attended him constantly.
DEATH CERTIFICATE, Indianapolis, recorded Dec. 3 1936. James Perry, male, white, birth Oct. 20, 1839, age 97 years, 1 month, 9 days, widowed, birthplace Penna., Name of father John, Birthplace of Father, Penna., maiden name of mother Mary Ann Smith, birthplace of mother, Penna. Occupation retired, usual residence: 2445 College Ave. Date of Death Nov. 29, 1936, cause of death: senility; contributory: arteriosclerosis, Place of death Residence. Signed I. W. Riggans, M.D. 424 Home Mansur Bldg. Burial Crown Hill, Undertaker Hockensmith.

This is James Perry's obituary, which appeared in an Indianapolis newspaper:


Services Wednesday for Veteran, 97, Believed Oldest in Indiana G.A.R.

As "taps" echo through the valleys of Crown Hills cemetery Wednesday, a little group of civil war veterans will bow heads in tribute to James Perry, age ninety-seven, believed to have been the oldest member of the G. A. R. organization in Indiana, who died Sunday in his home, 2425 College avenue. Funeral services will be held preceding at 2 p.m. in the home.

Born in Venango county, Pennsylvania, Mr. Perry moved to Ohio with his family at age six. The trip was made by flatboat on the Ohio river. He served with the 134th Ohio volunteers in the civil war and was honorably discharged in 1865. Moving to Indianapolis in 1889, he established a broom manufacturing company and remained in that business until retiring twenty-five years ago. He was active in his hobby of gardening until stricken with his last illness a week ago.

Survivors are five sons, Sherman Perry, Ed Perry, Ralph Perry, Dick Perry, all of Indianapolis, and Walter Perry, Tacoma, Wash.; four daughters, Mrs. Lucille Bradley, Mrs. Edythe Scott, both of Indianapolis; Mrs. Velma Hawkins, Shelbyville, and Mrs. Fannie Bean, Walla Walla, Wash.; a brother, William Perry, New Augusta; thirteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

1 This description is taken from MISSING LINKS: RootsWeb's Genealogy Journal, Vol. 6, No. 21, 23 May 2001.
2 David Clark Carey was James' brother-in-law and my great-grandfather. He and his wife, Sally Perry, lived two or three blocks from James and Francetta, at 201 Bloomfield Avenue, in Urbana.
3 George Perry doesn't seem to be any relation to James.
4 Walter Scott comments on this census entry, "We read this at Jerry Hamilton's home Aug 2000. Notice that Fred and Lucile are not listed. Why 'H' after Edd?"
5 A SHOVEL OF STARS, The Making of the American West 1800 to the Present, by Ted Morgan.
This page was last updated 16 May 2014.