Sibling Saturday: Olive Beerbower and Mary Emma Beerbower

Ollie Beerbower and Caspar Beerbower
Ollie Beerbower and Caspar Beerbower, children of Samuel and Jane Huggins Beerbower. Courtesy of Marion County [Ohio] Historical Society. c mid 1860s? (Click to enlarge.) 
Beerbower Family-

Mary Emma Beerbower and Olive Beerbower were not siblings, but instead, children of two siblings, our direct ancestor Eleazer John “E. J.” Beerbower (1815-1882) and his brother, Samuel Beerbower (1824-1890); this made them cousins.

Olive Beerbower was the daughter of Samuel Beerbower (1824-1890) and  Nance “Jane” Huggins Beerbower (1834-1930- she was 96 when she died!). Born on 13 March 1855 in Prospect, Marion County, Ohio, Olive was the first of three children born to Samuel and his wife.

Olive probably helped out at home when her brother, Caspar Samuel Beerbower, pictured above, was born four years later, in 1859.

“Ollie” as she was affectionately known, grew up in Marion, Ohio with her brother.  They lived next to her uncle E. J. and his family, and she would have played with her cousins, particularly Mary Emma Beerbower, who was just 3 years older, but who only had brothers. Ollie’s father was a marble cutter, and they likely were fairly comfortable, as the 1860 census notes that he owned $1500 in real estate and had $850 in personal value. Her uncle E. J. was also a highly skilled craftsman, as he was a buggy upholsterer. Neither family was rich, but they probably had enough to get by.

Mary "Emma" Beerbower and her brother John Eleazer Beerbower
Mary “Emma” Beerbower and her brother John Eleazer Beerbower, children of Eleazer John Beerbower and Matilda Louise McKelvey Beerbower, c late 1860s? Courtesy of Marion County [Ohio] Historical Society. (Click to enlarge.)
Mary Emma Beerbower, or “Emma” as she was called (Germans often used their middle name on a daily basis, rather than their first Christian name), was the daughter of Eleazer John Beerbower and Matilda Louise McKelvey Beerbower. She was the eighth of nine children, born 10 March 1852 in Marion. Her brother John E. Beerbower, above, was the baby of the family.

The early 1860s were an unsettling time for both families, as it was for the whole nation as southern states seceded and war broke out to preserve the Union. Emma’s brother and Ollie’s cousin, Samuel T. Beerbower, decided to enlist for a term of 3 years in the Union Army beginning October 23, 1861; he was just 19, and 10 years older than Emma. The Underground Railroad operated through Ohio, and much of the state had northern sympathies. The family would have closely followed the news of battles and Samuel’s unit, hoping to not hear the bad news so dreaded by families who have members serving their country.

The terror of the War of the Rebellion really came home to Ohio in July of 1863, when Morgan’s Confederates entered southern Ohio as part of their 46-day, 1,000 mile raid through Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. Thankfully the Raiders did not get as far north as Marion, but they were close enough, and people were afraid they might get that far. Although captured in Ohio (but they escaped), the Confederate Raiders successfully diverted Union troops from southern campaigns, and definitely did strike fear into the population as part of the psychological warfare of the time. Ollie was just eight, Emma eleven- it must have been very frightening to children, especially with so many young men away fighting, and not there to protect their families.

Even more frightening was what happened next, just four months after the Raiders hit Ohio-  Samuel T., who had fought in many of the War’s battles, was wounded on November 25, 1863. He was charging up the mountain bravely at Mission Ridge, Georgia, when a ball went through him near his shoulder blade and spine, lacking an inch or so of paralyzing him from his chest down for life. He spent three months recuperating in military hospitals, until his arm was more usable, and then requested a discharge home to more fully recover. It was granted, and he mustered out March 23, 1864. It must have been quite a homecoming!

Emma’s brother Stephen Russell Beerbower, age 19, enlisted just six weeks after his brother Samuel T. came home. Emma was probably heartbroken, but grateful that her two little brothers were too young to enlist.

And then Ollie’s nine-year-old world really fell apart- her father, Samuel Beerbower, enlisted in the Union Army on the same day, in the same unit as Stephen: May 2, 1864, Co. B, 136th Ohio.

The mix of emotions must have been so difficult for the two girls- pride in their family serving the Union (and going to get those Rebs who hurt their Samuel!), fear for the safety of their loved ones, especially after seeing Samuel’s injury, and that hole in their heart as the 136th Ohio marched off to war.

Why would they enlist- especially Samuel, at age 39, and a husband and father?

As the war continued and more soldiers were needed, conscription was begun in 1863 for men between 20 and 45 years old. Samuel was thus eligible- maybe he enlisted, knowing that he might be drafted, or perhaps he felt he needed to help the Union finally win the war.  All the men in his unit were mustered in on that same date, with those in higher positions knowing the Union was preparing to launch a massive campaign on many fronts to try to finally end the war.

Samuel and Stephen had 100-day enlistments, and those units generally did guard duty at facilities and strategic places, such as Washington, D.C., freeing up the trained troops for actual fighting elsewhere. It wasn’t quite as dangerous as being in the field, though at times it could be a dangerous, possibly even lethal, situation.


It was probably a very long 100 days for the whole family, including Ollie and Emma.


To be continued…



Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) 1860 US Federal Census for Samuel Beerbower: Year: 1860; Census Place: Marion, Marion, Ohio; Roll: M653_1006; Page: 326; Image: 123; Family History Library Film: 805006. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

2) Morgan’s Raid:

3) Civil War conscription:

4) Wilson Peters, who would later become Samuel T. Beerbower’s brother-in-law, was in the 136th Ohio as well. There are other familiar last names on the roster as well, which shows that the company was tight-knit, and all from the same area.

5) See “Those Places Thursday: Bertha Beatrice Beerbower and her World Travels” to learn more about Ollie’s youngest sister Bertha.


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