Finding Annie (my search for a Vivandière)


Like my very first blog, the one on Ella Harper, I literally stumbled upon Annie’s story while doing some random surfing online. This was just as I had started my research for my blog on the actress Claire DelMar. It turned out to be fortuitous since I normally like to have a second tree to research while working on the main one. She fascinated me from the get-go and I knew right off she would be my next blog. As always, let’s begin with what her known story was.

The basic story on her was that she was born in Detroit and when her husband (James) joined the 2nd Michigan Infantry Regiment, she and 19 others went along and served as a vivandière. This is a term that had been in use for quite some time in Europe but translated here to a Daughter of the Regiment, who provided aid, comfort and encouragement to the troops. In Annie’s case though, she would be better classified today as a combat medic. She also became known as Gentle Annie.

After her husband deserted she stayed on and ended up serving with the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Michigan Infantry Regiments. Her work was praised unanimously by enlisted and officers alike, both officially and in letters home. She was also awarded the Kearny Cross for her valor. Her name became well-known during the war due to the battlefield reports and those letters home from the troops.

After serving the entire war and through most of the battles she settled in Washington DC and married a one-armed Civil War veteran named Hooks. She later petitioned the government for a pension and received it in 1887. When she died in 1913 she was given a military funeral and buried in Arlington National Cemetery. What I didn’t know at the beginning of this research was just how much of her story was missing and how much was truly wrong, but we’ll get into that.

After beginning her family tree with what I knew so far, I began searching. This started with my looking for her in the 1850 census, the first one after her birth. The problem was that there were a few girls that were possible. I needed some way of narrowing them down. I did a more general search for her in all categories. What I found next was the key. It was her will, made out 5 months before she died. 

In this document she starts off by signing over her share of the family cemetery plot in Detroit to a half-brother named John A Blair, half-sister Lucinda Blair, and a niece named Margaret Blair. After this, “Gentle Annie” becomes a lot less friendly to the rest of her family and who all lived locally in the Washington DC area. She points out how she was alone and had to take care of herself after her husband died. These family members also never showed her any kindness, consideration or even visited her. In lieu of this, she left them one dollar each. This was to a sister named Elsie Maria Parsons, nephews Albert and Herbert Parsons, and nieces Viola and Edna Parsons.

The one exception was her niece Bertha Smith (Bertha Estelle Parsons). Bertha was also a daughter of Elsie Parsons but she had apparently paid Annie attention over the years and consequently was given $100 and all of Annie’s personal items like jewelry, clothing and family pictures. Annie then left money to various people and charitable organizations around town. There are five pages to it but I’ll post just the first three. The last two are just the standard legal gibberish. Will-1  Will-2  Will-3

With this new information on her siblings I was able to locate the family. In the 1850 Census they are living in Detroit. Their father is John B Blair, a 62 year old blacksmith from New York whose property value is listed as $2000. Next is their 41 year old mother, Cynthia, who is from Massachusetts. Then comes Annie, whose name was actually Lorinda Anna Blair. Her age is 11, which matches her 1839 birth year from later sources. You’ll see some sources say she was born in 1844 but this is incorrect. After Annie is her sister Elsie, aged six. Next is Annie’s four year old brother, Edwin C. There is also a young Canadian couple living with them but it’s not known if they are husband and wife or brother and sister. The family is at the bottom of the page. 1850 Census

On 1 June 1860 the family was still in Detroit for the 1860 Census. In this one, Annie’s mother has died and her father has remarried to a young Canadian woman named Mary. After later pursuing the children John and Mary had together I found out that her name was Mary McClellan. I wasn’t able to find this marriage but it appears that they got married about 1853 or 1854, when Mary was in her early twenties and John was about 63 years old. Next up on the census is their first child together, a five year old girl named Lucinda. Then comes Edwin C again, who is about 14 and is now an apprentice blacksmith. The last two children are John A, aged about three and Mary, who is three months old and would pass away before the next census. 1860 Census

At this point I should stop and explain to those that are just beginning genealogy and to those unfamiliar with the U.S. censuses that the ones that were done from 1850 to 1870 are notorious for being hard to read and/or poorly transcribed. Consequently, even the best of family trees out there will be missing some of them. Mine are no exception. I have yet to find Annie or her sister Elsie in the 1860 Census. This is partly due to what I discovered next. 

There were various articles and stories written about Annie back in the day, mostly just re-hashing what was already known. As you might expect, not all of it was correct. However, a couple of times I ran across mention that John Blair was well-to-do and had moved the family to Wisconsin for a time. These stories never say when this occurred but it must have been either from 1846 to 1849 or from 1851 to 1855. Personally I feel it was the latter. As the story goes, he lost his wealth and moved back to Detroit. Annie had stayed in Wisconsin when he left and it was while later visiting in Michigan that she had joined the Army for the war. Here is a typical story like this about her done during the war (you’ll need to zoom in): 1863 Story

I’m not sure how wealthy blacksmiths were back then, but remember that John’s property value was $2000 in the 1850 census. Calculating what that would be to today is a very complicated process and varies anywhere from $45,000 up to $4,000,000. Regardless, he at least does not appear to have been poor. So this part of the story sounds correct. Annie’s mother (Cynthia) is said to have died when Annie was young, which we now know is also probably true. She would have died about 1851 or 1852.

As I said, Annie had stayed in Wisconsin and with this knowledge I had a new area to search. What this turned up was her true first marriage. She got married to David S Kellogg on 3 May 1856 in Fond Du Lac County, Wisconsin. Unfortunately there is no image available of the actual document but here is the link to it up on FamilySearch and a screenshot of the transcription. Marriage   Screenshot.  Truth be told, by this time I had actually already done quite a bit on Annie’s life, but this new marriage changed a few things. I had seen a couple of vague references to this “possible” marriage but there was never any proof.

This name change for her meant I had new search terms to use. It also threw the theory into jeopardy that she had joined the 2nd Infantry Regiment to follow her husband (James Etheridge) into battle. It was still possible that she had remarried before the war to Etheridge but as yet there was no proof of that. I was able to find James where he had joined Company C of the 2nd Michigan Infantry in Calhoun County, Michigan at age 24. With this I was eventually able to track him down. 

James was born about 1837 in New York to Leander and Sybil (Andrews) Etheridge, both of whom were from New York also. James grew up in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, Michigan. He had a brother named Andrew who was a machinist and died in 1896 and a sister named Almira who married a William H Collins and then moved to California where they raised a couple of sons. 

I never found James on the casualty listings for the war and when his father died in 1873 and his mother in 1879, there is no mention of him in either will. This means that he had most likely already died. I never found James mentioned again except for one very important thing and we’ll get into that a little later. 

The first thing to do was find this elusive first husband, David S Kellogg. This search for him also had me discover one thing I have never found in genealogy before, and that is a family of time-travelers. More on that shortly.

After checking out numerous possibilities through military and civilian sources I finally got lucky and discovered that he was born in Vermont in 1837, the son of David Kellogg and Harriett Thompson (some sources say Thomson). David and Harriett had moved the family from Vermont to Ashtabula County in Ohio and this is where they were for the 1850 Census done on 9 August. 1850 Census (A).  If you begin at line 6 you’ll find Francis Kellogg and his wife and two sons. Also notice that they are in the 68th dwelling the enumerator has visited. As you scroll down you’ll see two other families living in the same house. Francis is actually the elder David’s older brother. The next family is their mother, Christiana. Then comes David’s family. Go back to Francis and you’ll see that both of their sons were born in Ohio so they have been there for at least 16 years. In David’s though, the youngest is only two and was born in Vermont. This means that David and his family haven’t been there for too long.

Just concentrating on David & Harriett’s family, it shows that (with the exception of Harriett being born in New York) all of them were born in Vermont. The children are Francis M (Frank), Cornelia A, David S, Harriett L, Amanda V, Henry C, Nelson W, and Horace H (actually P). 

Now for the time-travelling. The very next day, on 10 August 1850, they were back in elder David’s home of Addison County in Vermont. 1850 Census (B). They are all there again, in order, except that the youngest three are not present. There is a Margarett instead of Harriett but I think this was just a mistake by the enumerator. Where Henry would be is a Mary, but this could be a mistake also. I never saw a Margarett or Mary again so that is the most likely possibility. Regardless, this is where they were from and it is definitely them. So what is going on? Well, if you remember the other census, elder David’s mother was back in Ohio. It appears that they made a trip back home to Vermont and the enumerator in Ohio got the information on the family from Christiana. The youngest three missing from the one in Vermont is probably because they stayed behind in Ohio since they were so young and it was such a long and arduous trip. I assume then that they were cared for by their grandmother.

This is what I originally thought. Then I discovered that elder David’s father had died in March of 1850. So THAT was the reason for the trip. They had gone back to Vermont to settle affairs. So someone at each end had given both enumerators the information on the family. We’ll never know exactly which family members made the trip but my guess is that Harriet stayed in Ohio because the information on the children is so accurate. 

By 1855 the family had moved to Muscatine County in Iowa and they were caught in the 1856 Iowa State Census there in the town of Sweetland. David and Harriett are there, along with all of the children, except for two. David S is missing. Remember that this is when he had married the subject of this blog next door in Wisconsin. Also missing is the young Horace P. He had died the month after the 1850 census back in Ohio and is buried back in Ashtabula County. The elder David’s brother (Francis) had died there in 1852 and his mother (Christiana) had died there in March of 1855. This may be what precipitated the family’s move to Iowa.

There are three extra children in this census though. William and Clinton are both born in Pennsylvania, leading me to believe that they are actually nephews but if they are then they were raised by the family and always claimed David & Harriett as their parents. The third new child is Emma Eunice, born in Iowa in October of 1855. Harriett would have been about 42 when Emma was born. It’s possible but it’s also possible she is a granddaughter instead. She also claimed David & Harriett as her parents for the rest of her life. 1856 Iowa Census 

In 1860 the entire Kellogg family is still in Sweetland, with the notable exception of David S. Don’t forget, I was never able to find Annie or her sister Elsie in this census either. I suspect they were all together somewhere, or Annie and Davis S had split up and she and her sister were staying with friends. 1860 Census

This brings us up to the Civil War. Brothers Frank and Henry Kellogg joined Company A of the 11th Iowa Infantry on 2 September 1861. Their younger brother (Nelson) enlisted the following year on 26 August 1862 and ended up with his brothers’ unit. Believe it or not, their 61 year old father joined Company B of the 37th Iowa Infantry on 7 October 1862. All four survived and returned home after the war. Try as I might, I never found a single piece of evidence that David S ever joined. And this is important later, as you’ll see.

David S didn’t turn up again until 1866, where I found him on a tax assessment list in Iowa. The only property he owned was a horse. The next I found him was 1885 in the Iowa state census in Woodbury County. Some of his siblings were in the same county, though they were all in different towns. After this, David S just disappears and I never found him again.  

There are numerous versions of which unit Annie followed into the war, mostly whether it was the 2nd or 3rd Michigan Infantry Regiment. There are also numerous accounts of her on the battlefield. I deal with genealogy and facts, but this website does a good job of relating the various versions of Annie’s exploits:  Men of the 3rd Michigan. However, neither he nor I can conclusively say which unit she started with or how true her exploits were. That being said, I am pretty sure she left with the 2nd because they were organized in Detroit. The 3rd was organized in Grand Rapids. 

What I CAN tell you is that she didn’t join up in Detroit as Annie Etheridge. Three years after the war, in July of 1868, Annie went to court in Washington DC to get a divorce from James Etheridge. In this divorce filing she claims that she and James were married by a Reverend Dr. May on 8 March 1862. She doesn’t say where but I’m fairly certain it was in Washington DC. This is almost a year after she had joined up with whatever regiment she started with. By the time of the marriage to James, both the 2nd and 3rd regiments were assigned to the defense of Washington. Both of the regiments left shortly after the marriage. In the divorce filing she states that she had initially believed that her first husband (David S Kellogg) to be dead but was amazed to find out later that he was alive. Due to this she requested a divorce from James Etheridge. Divorce

This Rev. Dr. May that performed the marriage turned out to be fairly well known at the time and, as near as I can tell, was in the Washington DC area at the time. In the end, I feel that she probably met James during her first year of serving with the 2nd Regiment and, as they were leaving Washington DC very soon, rushed and got married while it was still possible. Getting married would have been much more difficult once they left the area heading for battle. As far as the rest of her story that she told the judge, I think it’s possible that she had actually been deserted by David or she had already divorced him or had it annulled. As embarrassing as divorce was back then, it’s possible she made the story up to be spared the embarrassment of two divorces in a row. This is just a theory though. I’m hoping a descendant of Annie’s niece (Bertha Smith) still has her family papers and contacts me.

The first I find her after the war is in the 1868 Washington DC city directory. She’s living at 466 West 10th and is working for the Currency Bureau (Treasury Department). She’s using the Etheridge last name: 1868 Dir.  The following year her father died back in Michigan. He and Annie’s step-mother (Mary) had ended up having four children. These were John A, Lucinda, Mary and Charlotte. Mary had died as a child and Charlotte died in 1896. This leaves the John A and Lucinda that Annie later names in her will. The niece she had mentioned in the will named Margaret Blair was the daughter of her brother Edwin. As near as I can tell, Edwin died sometime from 1900 to 1910.

On 1 March 1870 Annie married Charles E Hooks in Washington DC. Charles had grown up in the Windham County area of Connecticut and had joined Company H of the 7th Connecticut Infantry and had lost an arm in the war. His mother Almira died just a few months after this marriage. Four months after the marriage, Annie and Charles are in the 1870 census. This one is very faint and faded but you can find them towards the bottom on line 37. It shows Charles as a watchman at the Navy Yard, a job he’ll keep for most of the rest of his life. 1870 Census

Because there was a rule against two family members holding government posts Annie lost her job at the Treasury sometime about 1877. When this happened there was an uprising against it, especially among the veterans, to get her job back. Here are two examples of it:  Feb 1878   Apr 1878. From what I gather, it didn’t work and she never got her job back until after her husband died in 1910. Even then, she had to quit after a year or two due to ill health.

When the census was done in June of 1880, Charles and Annie were living at 115 Sixth Street S.E. in Washington. Nothing in particular stands out. Charles is still a watchman and Annie has been relegated to being a housewife. 1880 Census. During the mid-1880s a push was mounted to get her a pension for her service to the troops during the war. Annie had never received any kind of pay and had spent much of her own money during the war. It was requested that she receive $50 per month. It was finally approved but, the government being the government, reduced it to $25 a month. It just goes to show that even back then veterans lost out to politics. Pension

During the 1890s and on up to her death Annie became involved with the veterans and attended reunions. She was very popular with the old veterans who just loved her. There were many stories I found in the newspapers and here are just a sampling of them: 30Aug1892  21Sep1892  27Aug1895  24May1903  25Aug1908

Annie and Charles were in the 1900 census living at the same address as the one from the 1880 census. In fact, it’s the same address they had their entire lives together. He is now a messenger and before he dies he ends up being a doorman at the Capital building. Notice that Annie has lied about her birth year. She also did it in the 1870 and 1880 census. I’m betting Charles never knew that she was a few years older than him. 1900 Census. Why do I think that? Well, Charles died 22 January 1910 and in the 1910 Census taken later that year Annie uses her correct age for the very first time since they got married. You’ll find her near the top of the page:  1910 Census.  Speaking of Charles, here is his and Annie’s grave-site: Grave

Annie finally passed away on 23 January 1913 and was buried with her husband at Arlington. Here is her interment form and her obituary. Interment   Obit

Even after the war, Annie continued to live on. First in print, and now online. Here are two examples of print:  June1917   April1963. As far as online, just Google her and you’ll find many sites about her. So, unlike most of my blogs, Annie was never truly forgotten. This is a good thing. She deserves to be remembered and to be remembered respectfully. I’m very surprised that the state of Michigan never put up a statue of her. As a retired military man, I can really appreciate what she did and I am grateful to her for her service.

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Thanks for stopping by! -Ray

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