click here to a list of names that appeared in the Papers of John North, from his file at National Archives

Biography of John North (1833-1906)

By Julie North 2002

     John North was the third child born to *Henry NORTH and Electa JANES on November 5, 1833 in Athens, Ohio.  John grew up in Athens County and on April 27, 1853, at the age of nineteen, he united in marriage to Lucy TINKHAM. To this union were born two children, Martha A. NORTH (Feb. 13,1854) and Horace Lincoln NORTH (March 13, 1861). Henry NORTH (Sr.) was employed as a miner, but by 1860, he had quit the mining business and become a cooper (barrel maker). His sons John NORTH, the subject of this biography, and Henry NORTH (Jr.) were also engaged in the cooper trade. John’s estate and personal property value in 1860 was $60.00; five times greater than his father’s ($12) and was twice that of his eldest brother Henry’s ($30).

                On August 9th, 1862, at the age of 29, John NORTH answered the call to duty and was enlisted by Lieutenant Miller into Company B of the 75th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (O.V.I.), commanded by Colonel Andrew L. Harris. He enlisted as a Private for a three-year term with the Union. He left his 28-year-old wife, Lucy, at home to care for his 8-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son.

                John fought with the 75th O.V.I. without incident until July of 1863, when the 75th was engaged at the Battle of Gettysburg. John survived the first day of the battle, but on the second day (on or about July 1st, 1863) he was captured and sent to Libby Point Prison in Richmond, Virginia. He was later transferred to the rebel prison of Belle Isle. The conditions in prison were so poor that many men died from exposure and disease. In less than a month at Belle Isle prison, John contracted an illness, which resulted in chronic diarrhea, piles, lung and liver damage. He would never recover completely from these ailments and suffered the remainder of his life with debilitations. In late August of 1863, John was part of a prisoner exchange and was sent to Camp Parole, Maryland. He was then sent to the Regiment at Folly Island, South Carolina in October where he was admitted to the Regimental Hospital for his illnesses. There was no doctor there at that time, so a doctor from a New York Regiment came and took care of John and the other ill men until orders came in December to send the sick men away. John was taken on the Transport Cosmopolitan on Dec. 28th, 1863 and taken off the Cosmopolitan 2 days later for illness. He was admitted to Hilton Head General Hospital on New Year’s Eve where he stayed for three weeks. On January 21st, 1864 he was again put on the Transport Cosmopolitan but his illness continued and three days later John was admitted to the General Hospital at David Island, New York. On February 22nd, 1864, after eight months of being shuffled around, John was given a three-month furlough and returned home to Athens County, Ohio. He continued receiving treatment by Dr. W. P. Bright. John was returned to service but spent July and August sick in hospitals. He left the hospital in September and in November was transferred to Company A of the 75th O.V.I.  He was honorably discharged from Jacksonville, Florida and mustered out of service on July 27th, 1865 at Hilton Head, South Carolina.

                John North was fortunate enough to survive the War, but he shared few stories of this horrible experience. John claimed that there was only man he knew for sure he’d killed. A rebel soldier and he were positioned directly across from one another on opposite sides of a ravine. Both knew that the first man to load his gun and shoot, would be the one left standing. Both men furiously packed their barrels with powder and shot, packing it down with a ramrod. John made a split second decision, aimed and fired at the rebel without ever removing the ramrod, thus piercing his opponent through. The moments saved by this move, most likely also spared his life. John relayed to his son Ronald Bruce in later years, that at one point, the boys in the 75th had fashioned two cannon balls together with a length of heavy chain. They packed both balls into a cannon and fired them during battle to see how it would work. He stated that when the balls began to fly, the entire apparatus had a spinning motion to it with a ball on either end, and the chain pulled tight in-between. The new weapon cut through the bodies of the rebels creating a scene so horrible and inhumane, that John said they never used the method again.

In July of 1866, almost a year after John returned home from the war, his 32-year-old wife died. John was left to care for his children, 12-year-old Martha and 5-year-old Horace. John remarried on May 15th, 1867 in Canannville, Athens County, Ohio to Sarah Maris HARRIS, daughter of Eli HARRIS and Evaline P. MARIS. To this marriage eight children were born; Eli T. NORTH, March 9th, 1868; William Sherman NORTH, November 16th, 1869; Lucy Jane NORTH, February 10th, 1871; Charles Peter NORTH, July 1st, 1872, died October 7th, 1873; Catherine Estella “Katie” NORTH, April 28th, 1874; **Ronald Bruce NORTH, August 24, 1876; Marcella Evelain NORTH, July 1st, 1879; and Henry Harrison NORTH, January 29th, 1883.

                John and Sarah purchased 2 acres of Ezra SMITH’s farm for their home. John’s health continued to trouble him and in 1881, John applied for, and was granted an invalid’s pension of $2.00 a month for chronic diarrhea. His pension was re-issued at $.6.00 a month and back-dated to the original date of pension. In April of 1887 he again received a raise to $8.00 a month. He continued to apply for increases in 1888 and 1890, receiving $10.00 and $12.00 pensions respectively. His pension required him to have frequent examinations by both local doctors and military teams of doctors. Friends and acquaintances were often called upon to offer affidavits on John’s behalf, all testifying to his medical condition and inability to complete a day’s work due to his afflictions.

                They continued to live on their farm, their only income being from John’s pension, and Sarah’s earnings as a weaver.  Their children all married and had children of their own. Martha to Frances STUFFELBEAM, Horace Lincoln to (1) Susanne C. JOHNSON and (2) Mrs. Mary WEST HUNTER, Eli Thomas to Louisa A. McKINLEY, William Sherman to Lucy Evelyn JONES, Lucy Jane to Richard R. McKINLEY, Catherine Estella to Dota Manchester LINSCOTT, **Ronald Bruce to Lola May HALE, Marcella Evelain to Leroy ROBERTS,  and Henry Harrison to Rosabelle WEAVER.

Illness finally caught up with John North and he died on February 2nd, 1906 in Athens County, Ohio. The government paid for his interment in the Amesville Cemetery. His wife applied for and received his pension one month later. In September of 1916, an act of Congress enabled widows receiving pensions, who were at least 70 years of age to receive an increase in rate to $20 per month. Sarah North qualified and received the increase. Sarah had moved in with her youngest daughter and son-in-law, Marcella and Leroy ROBERTS, near Broadwell in Athens County. It was at their home that she remained. On March 2nd, 1922, Sarah came down with pneumonia. The doctors could not cure her ailment and she died at 4 a.m. on the morning of March 4th, 1922. Ironically, her last pension check arrived later that same afternoon and had to be returned to the issuing agency. Her oldest son William North attended to her final affairs, petitioning the government for the $96.00 it cost for her burial and $14.00 in final medical bills. She was buried next to her late husband in Amesville Cemetery, Athens County, Ohio.  

* Probable parents based on census records, family ties, locations and circumstantial evidence derived from Pension file from the National Archives of Washington D.C.  

** Author’s direct descedancy line  

·         Athens County Marriage records
·         Athens County Death records
·         Pensioners File from National Archives for John North
·         Widow’s Pensioner’s file from National Archives
·         Bible records, Bible of John North and Sarah Maris Harris North. Original in possession of Judy Smith Martin, Photocopies made by Julie North
·         Births Athens County
·         Family Knowledge
·         Athens County census records 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900