CHARLES WESTON FENLASON

INFANTRY – ARTILLERY – CAVALRY – SCOUT

THE EARLY YEARS

Charles Weston Fenlason was a son of Freeman Putnam and Harriet N. (Dunn) Fenlason, born in Alexander, Washington County, Maine on March 18, 1843. His father, reported to be the first child born in Alexander (June 4, 1814) was a son of Mark and Sally (Ellsmore) Fenlason and grew up on Breakneck Mountain. His mother Harriet was a daughter of Samuel and Dorcas (Cobb) Dunn. Harriet was born and grew up in Alexander at 329 Arm Road.

THE WAR YEARS

This information is from the Soldiers and Sailors Historical and Benevolent Society of Washington DC dated April 30, 1909. A-CHS member Jim Payne supplied the copy that is the basis for this section. The editor made some changes and some additions.

Charles Weston Fenlason enlisted from Farmington, Polk County, Wisconsin to serve three years during the war, and was mustered into the United States service at Milwaukee on November 2, 1861 as a private in Captain Daniel W. White’s Company G, 4th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.

The 4th Wisconsin Volunteers was organized as Infantry on July 2, 1861. It left the state on July 15, 1861 and went to Baltimore MD where it guarded railroads. It was there that Charles joined his regiment. In March 1862 the regiment was sent to Ship Island, Mississippi where they arrived on the 13th. On April 16, the 4th Wisconsin left Ship Island on the Great Republic for the mouth of the Mississippi. Both companies E and G were sent to work their way through Mumeets Canal to the Mississippi.

In early April 1862 the 4th was involved in the battles at Forts Jackson and St. Phillip on the Mississippi River below New Orleans. On April 25 New Orleans fell to the Union and the 4th Wisconsin and the 31st Massachusetts were the first troops to land in New Orleans.

On November 13, 1862 Company G was detached by General William Tecumseh Sherman to man a battery of artillery at the Camp Parapet up river from New Orleans and remained there until August 14, 1863 when they rejoined their regiment at Baton Rouge LA. On September 1, 1863, pursuant to Special Order No 375, the 4th was equipped and designated the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry.

The 4th as Cavalry was involved in a number of engagements in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana during the remainder of the war. Charles was part of these excepting five weeks when he was sick in hospital at Carrollton, Alabama.

On June 6, 1864, Lieutenant I. N. Earl was authorized to organize a Corps of Volunteer Mounted Citizen Scouts.

There were 35 men in the corps organized under this order, 8 of them from Company G, 4th Wisconsin including Charles W. Fenlason. On July 13, General Edward R. S. Canby gave Lieutenant Earl specific instructions. Here is the first of six. “Your operations will not be limited to any particular section of the country, but at all times you will assist the general operations of the army by deceiving the enemy, intercepting his couriers, carrying off detached parties, breaking up his mail communications, etc. You will endeavor to gain all possible information of the country, the general conditions of its inhabitants, the roads, byways, bridle paths etc. the condition in reference to trade and agriculture outside the lines, the resources of the country as to food for man and horses, securing guides, sending spies, reconnoitering posts, passages, defiles and positions, gain all possible information in regard to the number and position of the enemy, their relative amount of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, the strength of their positions calibre of their guns, position of their magazines, storehouses, strength and position of their guards and picket lines, preparations to stop fires etc.…”

The Scouts had their headquarters at Natchez and were furnished with a river steamer and crew. Their operations extended from the mouth of the White and Arkansas Rivers to Mobile, Alabama.

Charles received an honorable discharge at Baton Rouge, Louisiana on January 5, 1864 and re-enlisted as a veteran in the same company and regiment on the same day for three years more.

In August 1864 Charles took four of the Scouts at 11 PM into the country from St. Joe, LA and captured a Rebel Colonel and four men. Sending his prisoners with two of his men back to the boat, Charles joined Lieutenant Earl and 13 men about midnight on a scout after a Rebel wool train of 12 four-horse wagons, that was seeking to cross the Mississippi. Just before sunrise, Fenlason, leading the advance, found and captured the train, and a guard of 28 infantry soldiers, all this within a half mile of two companies of Rebel cavalry. Again they got safely back to their boat. They had ridden fifty miles, made the capture and returned to their boat within five hours.

A few weeks later, while scouting alone near the same place, he captured Captain Wilson bearing dispatches from Kirby Smith to General Taylor at Mobile.

In September, while scouting near Vicksburg, the party captured the train of the Rebel Commodore Montgomery on its way to Galveston to fit out blockade-runners. The Commodore and the most of his men fled into a swamp of canebrake. Fenlason followed alone, succeeded in separating the Commodore from his men, captured him and brought him back a prisoner.

In December the Scouts landed at St. Joe and marched about three miles to Lake Bruin in search for a Rebel train that intended to cross the river. The lake is horseshoe shaped, and while at the bend of the lake, the scouts saw a force of Rebel cavalry making for each end of the lake and a second larger force charged down on them. The scouts formed a line in the woods and repulsed the first charge by the rapidity of their fire. Before the Rebels reorganized, the men swam their horses across the lake and escaped. In the battle Mr. Fenlason was shot in the right leg below the knee, the ball passing between the bones and lodging in his flesh. Being unable to ride he hid in a thicket of blackberry bushes until about 11 A M when the Union gun boats shelled the woods and the Rebels left. He then crawled three miles on his hands and knees to the river, arriving there after dark. In the morning he was found by the Scouts, taken onto a gunboat, and the ball cut out of his leg.

On the Mobile Campaign, while the Signal Corps was moving in the night from Spanish Port to Fort Blakely, they took the wrong road and got lost out in the Rebel country. General Canby sent Mr. Fenlason with a company of cavalry out to find and bring them in, if possible. Charles found them about 2 AM near a force of Rebel cavalry and brought them back safely.

Between July 1, 1864, and May 1865, the Scouts captured over 500 prisoners, and seized public property and smuggled goods amounting to over $1,500,000.

Charles received an honorable discharge at New Orleans, LA on June 8, 1865, by reason or the close of the war.

AFTER THE WAR

Charles returned to Wisconsin and was united in marriage to Emma J. Ayers on May 29, 1866. They were the parents of two children, Sylvia Grace and Leon. See next article for more on Charles’s life after the Civil War.

EMIGRANTS

CHARLES WESTON FENLASON’S EXTENDED FAMILY


Vital Records of Alexander compiled by Sharon Howland, family records supplied by Jim Payne and A-CHS files were used for this article. Vital records usually are written at or close to the time of the event, so would be most accurate; however they don’t tell much about emigrants.

FENLASON GRANDPARENTS OF CHARLES WESTON FENLASON

Mark Fenlason and Sally Ellsmore were married October 20, 1811. They lived in Alexander on their Breakneck Mountain farm. Mark [July 4, 1788] died before 1840. His widow Sally [March 24, 1793] was living with the Benjamin Strout family in 1850 then disappears from record. Their Fenlason children:

Sally was born April 14, 1812 married Rowland Dudley.

Freeman Putnam Fenlason was born June 4 1814.

Mary Ann Ayers was born March 12, 1817 married her cousin Fenlason on Sept. 13, 1835

Daniel Allen was born January 13, 1819 married Almira Foster

Lydia was born January 23, 1821

Nancy was born November 24, 1822

Mark Harris was born March 23, 1825 married Orinda Getchell in Wesley.

Ruth Allen was born on February 21, 1827

Hannah was born May 25, 1830. Did she marry Daniel Seavey in Crawford in 1850?

Moss Stillman was born April 27, 1832 married and lived in Wesley

This family is found on the 1820 census of Alexander. They resided on Breakneck until after mid century.

COBB GRANDPARENTS OF CHARLES WESTON FENLASON

Samuel Dunn and Dorcas Cobb were married at Limington, ME in November 1800 and had the following Dunn children

Faney (Frances) was born May 9, 1802 (see Joel Scott)

Samuel Jr was born September 21, 1804. He married Julia Ann Archer. Sam died at Santa Cruz, CA

Betsey was born March 7, 1806. She married Joel Scott. Joel is buried at Farmington Center Cemetery near Osceola, Wisconsin. He died on January 2, 1877. Listed on the same stone is his wife Frances, died October 18, 1882. Frances was Betsey’s older sister. When and where did Betsey die?

Levi Cobb was born August 24, 1812. He married Sally Carle. Levi and his brother Charles were Methodist ministers serving around Maine. Two of Levi’s sons, Emery and Russell, fought and died in the Civil War.

Charles Bean was born December 10, 1815. He married Olive Scribner.

Harriet Newell was born February 14, 1818.

Laura Jane was born November 2, 1820.

This family was in Alexander before 1820 until after 1850. They resided on the Arm Road, lot 85. I expect Samuel and Dorcas are buried somewhere on that lot.

PARENTS OF CHARLES WESTON FENLASON

Freeman Putnam Fenlason was born likely on June 4, 1814 being the first child born in Town of Alexander. Harriet Newell Dunn born February 14, 1818 at Alexander. They were married November 2, 1837 by Reverend George Childs at Alexander. Their Fenlason children:

Myra Adelaide was born November 4, 1839 or November 11, 1839 at Alexander. She married James Morris Godfrey. She died at Wabasha, Minnesota on January 14, 1889

Elvira Eveline was born October 23, 1841 at Alexander. She married Crocker F. Nason of Crawford and in 1918 was living in Pipestone County, Minnesota.

Charles Weston was born March 18, 1843 at Alexander. He married Emma Jane Ayers. He died at Rocky Ford, Colorado on August 26, 1914.

Harris Freeman was born April 10, 1845 at Crawford. He died in March 1855 in Osceola, Wisconsin in 1885

Francis Albert was born February 28, 1848 at Alexander

Laura Ellen was born in 1852 at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She married Ellis Seavey and was living in Taylors Falls, Minnesota in 1918.

Harris Albert was born in 1859 in Osceola Wisconsin and died in 1886 in Pipestone County, Minnesota.

Elizabeth Evangeline was born on March 29, 1861 at Osceola, Wisconsin. She married Hiram Kenison and in 1918 was living in Berkley and died about 1921 at San Francisco, California.

Freeman and his family listed on the Alexander 1840 census, living either on Breakneck or the Arm Road. The birthplaces of children born to he and Harriet trace their travels. It is possible they moved to Crawford before 1845 when Harris was born. Harriet may have been at her parents’ home in Alexander when her mother died in September 1847 and her father died in April 1848. By the 1850 census the family was in Crawford. By 1852 they were in Wisconsin. Freeman was a farmer and a lumberman, a Republican and a Methodist. Freeman died at Osceola, Wisconsin in June 1871. His gravestone at Farmington Cemetery, also called the Ramsey Cemetery, gives his death date as June 15, 1870. Harriet died on December 9, 1898 at Soquel, California.

AYERS GRANDPARENTS OF EMMA JANE AYERS

Ebenezer and Sally (Scott) Ayers were in Baileyville before the 1800 census until maybe after ther1810 census. They were the parents of:

Ebenezer Ayers was born on December 4, 1805. He died on August 22, 1876 and is buried at the Farmington Cemetery, also known as the Farmington Center Cemetery near Osceola, Polk County, Wisconsin.

Charles?

Seth ?

We have not found more about his parents or siblings.

STEVENS GRANDPARENTS OF EMMA JANE AYERS

Jacob Stevens was Ruth Stevens’ father. He came from Nova Scotia in 1802 and was married to Mary Hadley according to the 1850 census, but she or Patience Brown of Beals might be the mother of his children. He was in Crawford prior to the 1820 census with the Stevens children listed below plus two males between 16 and 26.

Ruth was born August 3, 1808 married Eben Ayers. She is buried at Farmington Center Cemetery. Date of death listed as March 5, 1879.

Ephraim was born April 1, 1810 married Almira Cathrine Crockett. They moved ‘out west’ in September 1852.

Peter was born ca March 30, 1812 left Crawford before 1850.

Jacob was born ca April 3, 1814 married Mary Isabella Crockett. They both died in Calais

Mary was born ca 1819 married on November 27, 1834 James Wright of Crawford. Both are buried at Farmington Cemetery. She died on July 22, 1873 and he on February 10, 1876.

Sarah was born September 21, 1822 in Crawford and married William Ramsey who was born in County Antrim, Ireland, but was living in Crawford. William and Sarah both died in Wisconsin and are buried at the Farmington Cemetery

Jacob Stevens died in Crawford on July 9, 1847 and is buried in a marked grave there. .

PARENTS OF EMMA JANE AYERS

Ebenezer Ayers and Ruth Stevens were the parents of Emma Jane and nine other Crawford born children plus Andrew. The Ayers purchased part of lot 83 from M. J. Talbot in 1843 and sold the same to John Lydick in 1846. Their Ayers children:

Elizabeth was born on August 3, 1827. She married Ambrose Seavey in Crawford and died at Taylor Hill, Minnesota.

Charles was born March 12, 1829. He married Cynthia “Carrie” Woodruff and died at Fowler, Colorado.

Seth was born January 2, 1831. He married Virginia Creech and lived in Osceola, Wisconsin.

Warren was born November 14, 1832. He married Elizabeth Waugh and died on April 14, 1863 at Muscatine, Iowa.

Ruth was born October 6, 1834. She married Walter Carrier and died in 1917 in California.

Mary was born April 30, 1837. She married Franklin Eddy and died on May 30, 1902 in Columbus, Iowa.

Sarah, twin of Mary married Edwin St. Claire. She died in 1875 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Abigail was born April 29 1839. She married William E. Doe and died at Seattle, Washington on December 28, 1923.

Almenia was born October 19, 1842. She married Levi Clough and William Wallace. She died at Osceola, Wisconsin in October 1873.

Emma Jane was born January 19, 1846. She married Charles W. Fenlason.

Andrew was born at St. Croix Falls, Minnesota on November 26, 1851. He married Ellen Nelson and died on August 7, 1924 at Sumas, Washington.

Gravestones for Ebenezer and Ruth are at the Farmington Cemetery in Wisconsin.

Other area names not mentioned in this article, but with area connections to these families are Ackley, Andrews, Berry, Bryant, Emerson, Hanscom, Holmes, Huntley, Libby, Longfellow, Maker, Ramsdell and Smith. Other Crawford families at the Ramsey Cemetery near Osceola, Wisconsin are Nason, Hanscom, Seavey, Morasses and Ford. Crawford’s population dropped from 324 in 1850 to 209 in 1870, truly a great exodus.

LIFE AFTER THE WAR FOR CHARLES AND EMMA FENLASON

Charles Weston Fenlason returned from the Civil War and married Emma Jane Ayers on May 29, 1866 at Osceola, Wisconsin. They were the parents of two children:

Sylvia Grace Fenlason born March 20. 1869. She married Ira Dodge Hale. They had four children: Gladys (July 29, 1894), Beulah (May 4, 1896), Donald (May 7, 1898) and Lois Jean (November 21, 1905). Jim Payne, who provided the information for these articles, is descended from Charles Weston Fenlason through Lois. Sylvia died at Los Angeles, California on October 27, 1927.

Leon Raymond Fenlason born February 28, 1872. Leon married Nonette Hovey and they had two children: Dorothy Barbara (November 2, 1904) and Jack Dana (December 14, 1905). Leon died on October 22, 1929 at Rocky Ford, Colorado.

Charles was a teacher starting in 1866, spending 20 years in the schoolroom. He was County Register of Deeds and County Superintendent of Schools in Pipestone County, Minnesota and County Superintendent of Schools and County Assessor in Otero County, Colorado. After leaving Wisconsin and Minnesota the family moved to Colorado in 1887, first to Denver, then Fowler, and finally moving to Rocky Ford.

In 1891 Emma Jane (Ayers) Fenlason and ten others organized what was to become the First Baptist Church of Rocky Ford.

Charles was a member or Wadsworth Post, No. 95, Department of Colorado and Wyoming G. A. R. in which he has held office as Adjutant and Commander. He was a member of the A. F. and A. M. Royal Arch. He had been president of Oxford Ditch Company for a number of years. Fowler and Rocky Ford both are located on the Arkansas River. The Oxford Ditch may have been a canal around the falls at Caddea, down river from the two towns. The Santa Fe Trail followed along the river, swinging south just east of Rocky Ford.

Charles Weston Fenlason died at Rocky Ford, Colorado on August 26, 1914 from injuries suffered when struck down by a horse. A strange ending for a man whose Civil War activities were so dangerous.