Great Great Grandfather of Ron Tyrl
|Joseph's Family 1900|
Being four generations from my Civil War ancestor, I knew only that we had family members that served in the Civil War. After my parents passed away in 1997, my Mom first through complications from surgery and my Dad seven months later, and after visiting the family cemeteries I became interested and started researching our family history. My Mom's family cemetery had six generations interned there and my Dad's had four, starting with Presley Tyrl's family in Niccum Cemetery Vermilion County, Illinois. It's a small country cemetery close to the farm where my family lived at the turn of the 20th Century. My great great grandfather Presley's grave had a soldier's stone with the inscription "Presley Terrell 112 Illinois Inf." on it. And there were six other family members next to his, including my Dad's brother Joseph Tyrl who died as an infant in 1921. It had always been a mystery why Presley's last name was spelled Terrell while all the others were spelled Tyrl, but that's the way our name is pronounced so we didn't think too much about it. After putting together my Mom's family history I decided to put together my Dad's. Once I came to Presley's family which I knew was the family that brought my family to Vermilion County, Illinois, where I was born and raised. Later, my family moved to Jackson, Michigan, during my sophomore year of High School due to my Dad's job being transferred there. This family was the most difficult family to research since I had to go outside the county to find records. I got the census records that I could find and I applied for Presley's pension records. I received his pension records a few months later and nothing matched. Presley Terrell, it said, had lived in Toulon, Illinois, all his life, which is by Chicago, and his wife's name was Melinda. I knew my family never lived in Toulon and our Presley's wife's name was Margaret. And my Great Grandfather Joseph was not listed as one of Presley Terrell's children. This would start the research that would end with the correcting of our family's knowledge of Presley's Civil War service information. The archives had sent me a brochure on the Sons of Union Veterans and the Jackson 1998 Muster was happening about this time so I decided to go to it and I ended up in the tent of the Austin Blair Camp of the SUVCW. I proceeded to join the SUVCW but I told the camp that nothing matched in my records I received from the National Archives on my Civil War veteran but I was informed that that wasn't unusual and to continue to do research.
I would check on-line every now and again on Civil War records and not finding anything new I resigned to the fact that the mismatched information would probably never be resolved. Then I decided one day to check the county where Presley came from before he moved to Illinois, Parke County, Indiana and I found the 1860 census showing his family there and on that same page I found a link with a Roll of Volunteers for U.S. Service from Indiana Parke County, Sugar Creek Township, posted 2002 and I scrolled down the names and there was Presley Tyrl's name listed as 9th Battery Indiana Light Artillery. In 2002, it seems Civil War information on the internet had exploded. I also found the National Park Service Soldiers and Sailors System site that had 3.5 million Civil War soldier's names listed and I entered my last name and two names appeared, Presley Tyrl 9th Battery Ind. L.A. and William Tyrl 23rd Ind. Inf. I told the Austin Blair Camp's grave registration officer Bill Lowe about this and he suggested I make a trip with other camp members the next time they go to the Michigan Library, which I did, and we found Private Presley Tyrl 9th Battery Indiana Light Artillery's pension record number. I also found his name listed in The Roster of Union Soldiers Broadfoot Publishing Company Series of 2000. I applied for Presley Tyrl 9TH Battery's pension of 1887 and when I received it everything matched, confirming that what I had found was correct.
This was the first clue in solving the mystery for the incorrect spelling of "Terrell" on his grave stone because we now knew that Presley Terrell was a soldier from Illinois, not my great great grandfather who served from Indiana. I can only guess that in 1910 when my Great Great Grandfather died in Vermilion County, Illinois, the family applied to the State of Illinois for a soldier's stone and when the state looked at their records and found a Presley Terrell 112th ILL. Inf they must have assumed this was their man, even though the spelling was different, and sent them the stone.
Now that I have the correct information on my Great Great grandfather's Civil War service this is his story. Presley was born on March, 1823 in Butler County, Ohio to William and Delilah Tyrl. He has a couple brothers William I know of, unsure of how many more for he says later in his pension records that all his brothers are dead by then in 1887 and he list two sisters Betsy Banker and Annie Song in Butler Co. Ohio. He moved to Parke County Indiana in 1844 and became a farmer. He married Margaret Butcher on April 5, 1852. Margaret was born in Kentucky in 1823 they were both 29 years old when they married. They had their first child William born 1855, Phoebe in 1857, Henry in 1859, Sarah in 1860 and then my Great Grandfather Joseph in December 26, 1861. One month prior to Joseph's birth, I have a deed showing that Presley and Margaret bought 40 acres from George and Eliza Phipps for $450. I wonder if this is the same Phipps family that their Descendant Tim Phipps, the name listed as the transcriber of the microfilm that was published on the Parke, County roll of Parks County Soldiers that helped me find the correct records of Presley's service in the Civil War. The next month, after Joseph's birth Presley joined the Union Army on the 22nd of January 1862.
Why Presley joins the Union Army, my family may never know, he had so much at home Margaret and six children and a farm to run and at 38 years old, an age older than most men joining. But the historical facts are, the Nation was in crisis and early in the war 1861 and 1862 historians say the men were joining for patriotic reasons and they thought the war would not last long. It wasn't until later that the quick war illusions were dispelled and the realities of the horrors of the casualties and the protraction of the conflict were realized. Also, the records show that Presley's brother William had joined the 23rd Indiana Infantry on the 23rd of July 1861, he was later mustered out as a veteran on July 23, 1865. These two men would see much of the same Battles during their service from Shiloh to Vicksburg. William's joining 6 months earlier may have influenced Presley's decision to enlist. Whatever the reason, Presley went, joining the men who throughout our history have joined the ranks to defend our Country and its liberties it provides.
From Presley's pension records in his own words and the adjutant general's Report of the 9th Battery's Service in the War of the Rebellion, Presley Tyrl's service follows: Presley joined the 9th Battery in January 1862. The Battery was drilled and then reorganized in Cairo, Illinois, in February 25, 1862, the official start of his 3 year enlistment. The Battery remained in Camp at Cairo until the 27th of March, drilling and preparing for service. It then embarked on a steamer and proceeded up the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers to Crump's Landing, where it disembarked on the 31st of March and joined the division of General Lew. Wallace. Presley's occupation was listed as a driver for the Battery. After a reconnaissance toward Adamsville it returned to camp near Crump's Landing, and on the 6th of April moved to Shiloh Church. The Battery arrived on the night of the 6th as part of the reinforcements for General Grant's Army, one day after the beginning of The Battle of Shiloh. The 9th Battery is listed as the first Union battery on the 7th of April to commence the firing. The Battery's six guns fired eleven hundred and fifty two rounds and sustained a loss of one man killed, five men wounded and five horses killed. After the battle the battery moved on and formed part of the army that besieged Corinth. Presley said in his pension records that the carriages were getting stuck in the spring mud and the men had to assist the horses in getting them unstuck and this lifting caused his right arm to intermittently become numb for the rest of his life. In 1887, at the age of 64 years old, he would receive three quarter disability pay, one quarter for partial paralysis in his right arm due to this action, one quarter for hernia and hemorrhoids and one quarter for deafness that developed during his three years of service. After Corinth, his battery was attached to the 13th McPherson's Corps until November 1862. His battery quartered for the winter at Union City, Tennessee. During this time many of the men came down with Typhoid fever. In March 1863 Presley was detailed for four months as a nurse to the Post Hospital No. 2 at Columbus, Kentucky, assisting in the care of the numerous men who were coming down with fever and communicable diseases. His battery during this time was reinforcing divisions throughout Tennessee and Missouri.
He returned to the Battery in July and August of 1863 and he then applied for furlough and went back home for the month of September 1863. Nine months later Margaret gave birth in June 1864 to Ambrose B. Tyrl, their last child, bringing the number of children back home to seven. In November 1864, with Presley in the service, I have a deed showing that Margaret had to sell 40 acres of the farm for $600 to Mr. Henry M. Roe. Just like many families during the Civil War, with the men gone in the Army, the family was suffering financially at home. After returning from furlough, Presley came down the next month with Typhoid Fever and was sent to the hospital on the 28 of October 1863. He was a patient for 2 months and then was in the convalescence ward and performed light duty until the first of October 1864 when he rejoined the Battery in St. Louis, Missouri. The Battery had participated in the Vicksburg Campaign and the Red River Campaign in Louisiana and then in the march through Missouri in 1864. On the 15th and 16th of December 1864, Presley and the 9th participated in their last battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Nashville.
On the 26th of January 1865 the battery was ordered to report to Indianapolis for the mustering out of non-veterans, in which Presley would have been since he hadn't reenlisted, especially since the family was struggling financially. The Battery embarked on board the steamer Eclipse reaching Johnsonville, 115 miles above Paducah, Kentucky, at 7 o'clock the same evening, the steamer laid up for the night. At about six o'clock on the morning of the 27th, while getting ready for departure, the steamer exploded and was consumed by fire. Of the sixty-eight men and two officers of the 9th Battery on board the Eclipse, about 30 men were either killed or died subsequently from their wounds, only ten escaped unharmed. The wounded were transferred to the general Hospital in Evansville. The uninjured and slightly wounded were ordered to proceed to Indianapolis. On arrival the non-veterans were mustered out of service on the 6th of March, 1865. I wondered when I first read this whether Presley was one of the non injured during the explosion since I knew he survived the war and was discharged on the 6th of March and I found the answer in his pension records when he said after the fight at Nashville he again was detailed, this time to take the Battery's horses to an Army Depot, and then the detail proceeded from there to rejoin the Battery in time to be mustered out on the 6th of March 1865. The Battery was being reorganized in Indianapolis but on receipt of the news of the capture of Richmond and the surrender of Lee's Army, an order was issued for the discharge of all light artillery units.
After he was mustered out, Presley returned to his family and continued to farm. The family lived in Parke County for a couple of years and then moved to Vermillion County, Indiana in 1867 living their until 1874. It is during this time that Margaret is no longer listed with the family census records and I can only assume she died after which Presley moved with the seven children to Vermilion County, Illinois, and began farming just south of the city of Danville, where I was born. In 1882 Presley remarries Elsey Pettigrew and in 1887 he applies for an invalid pension at the age of 64. According to the 1900 census Presley is living with his daughter Mary and her husband John Howard on their farm. He lists his occupation at the age of 77 as a farm laborer and cooper.
On Halloween, October 31, 1910 my Great Great Grandfather a Husband, Father, Farmer and Civil War Veteran died at the age of 87 years old and was interned in the Niccum Cemetery. It is fitting that he has been the oldest man I've found in my paternal lineage. Having served three years as a Union Civil War Soldier and mustering out at the age of 42, he must have been in excellent shape during those years of his life.
We were also fortunate to have found Presley's correct information. With this, my uncles, brothers and I were able to replace the original gravestone, with the incorrect information on it and was sunken almost completely in the ground, with a new correct one.
I'm glad to have been a part of restoring his grave site to it's rightful state and I'm very proud that Presley was one of Lincoln's Men that helped preserve our land of liberty during a tragic time in our nation's history.