A Soldier’s Saga
Hugh O’Harra, Jr., “Went West”
Hugh O’Harra was 18 years old when his father died in 1856. He would be a young man looking for a start his life just about the time the Civil War opened in 1861. Records show that he enlisted as a private 16 APR 1861 in Company E, First Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Calvary, under the command of his brother John Cochran O’Harra.
Hugh did his part. He was honorably discharged
He finally was honorably
discharged for the last time
The military service is just the beginning of the story. A review of Hugh’s pension records tells the tale of what happened then – and it’s not pretty. It’s probably the tale of many survivors of the war.
Records say Hugh contracted
hemorrhoids from camp diarrhoea and rheumatism from exposure in September or
October 1864 at or near Big Shanty, Georgia or Snake Creek Gap. And at
Hugh went back home. He married Emma Dontzella Welch on 24 APR
1867. She was from the South Bloomfield
Dontzella O'Hara vs. Hugh O'Hara
Plaintiff states that she was
lawfully married to the defendant, Hugh O'Hara on the 24th day of April AD 1867
at the City of
That from that time until the committing of the grievances hereafter mentioned, she conducted herself as a kind, affectionate, and dutiful wife.
That on or about the 15th day of March AD 1870, at the City of St. Louis, County of St. Louis and State of Missouri, the defendant not regarding his duty, as the husband of this plaintiff, deserted the plaintiff willfully and without reasonable cause and absented himself without the consent of the plaintiff, for more than one year next preceding and up to the filing of this her petition.
That said defendant for the last
three years, to-wit: from
Plaintiff says further, that she
is now residing and has for more than one year past resided in the City and
Plaintiff therefore prays that she may be divorced from the said defendant, and that the Bonds of Matrimony contracted between the said plaintiff and defendant may be dissolved. That she may have her maiden name Dontzella Welsh restored and for such other and further relief, as she is in equity and good conscience entitled.
It’s true, Hugh was not a
We follow the couple through the censuses.
Hugh O'Harra, 42, farmer, born
Sarah E., wife, keeping house;
John, 11, son, born
Lewella, 8, daughter, born
Also in household: Ernest Dewy, 19, servant/farmhand, born
Next door, we find James Russell,
53, farmer, born
We know from the pension file
that Sarah Elizabeth O'Harra's maiden name was Russell. Surely the next-door Russells are relations?
But Sarah was born in
And what about these children in
the household? Sarah and Hugh were married
It would appear that these children were adopted or came into the family some other way. The birthplace of each of the children's parents is different, and in no way match the birthplaces of either Hugh or Sarah. How ever the little family came together, we are glad they found each other. We hope that the next door neighbors were part of their extended family, as well.
After 13 years of marriage at the
age of 50, Hugh applies for a Civil War pension
The government pensions him at
$12.00 per month beginning
No census records are available
for 1890 so we went to 1900 knowing that Hugh died in 1901. We found Sarah and
Hugh living in
Hugh, born Jan 1838, age 62, had
been married for 25 years. He was born
Hugh O'Harra died at Assumption
acres of land in
houses and lots in
Total annual income: $500.00.
Taxes on the above property, and insurance: $50.00;
Living expenses and repairs on property: $300.00;
Total annual expenses: $350.00.
Surplus income over annual expense: $150.00. No pension for Sarah!
Cemetery inscription book
"Christian County Honor Roll (Revised Supplement, Sept 1986); Assumption
Township, Greenwood Cemetery, Assumption IL - pages 1 thru 3 of the book. AND
on page 2: O'HARA, Hugh, Civil War, Lt
Co "A" 45 Ohio Inf b. 1837, d.
Hugh’s story is an interesting one. But it’s nothing quite like the story of his cousin Sam Brantner.