Wesley J. Perkins, One Who Did Not Go To The Civil War


John James Perkins was born at Grand Lake, New Brunswick on November 3, 1812. He married Sarah Perkins, the daughter of Henry and Anna Stretch) Perkins in October of 1837 at St. David Parish, New Brunswick. She was born on November 22, 1811.

Their children included 1) Amanda Matilda (1831 - 1860) married Joseph Bailey of Alexander; 2) John James, Jr. (1838 - 1924) married Viola Strout of Alexander; 3) Margaret Ann (1841 - 1875) married James Jeffery of Halifax, later Crawford; 4) Wesley (see article that follows); 5) Alfred (1844 - 1862): 6) Mary Emeline (1848 - ) married Joseph Bailey; 7) Augusta Maria (1849 - ) married James Fenlason; and 8) Alice Victoria (1852 - ) married Reuben Craft, and later married Fred Sprague. Likely all the children except the first were born n Alexander, in the house that John built at the site across from the Alexander Elementary School at 1437 Airline Road.


When Wesley J. Perkins was drafted to fight in the Civil War, his father mortgaged the homestead to the Ministerial and School Fund so a to get money to hire a substitute. The mortgage went unpaid and the family homestead was lost.

There are several possible reasons why John and Sarah mortgaged their home to keep Wesley out of the Army. The universal fear that their son would die was likely enough but added to this was the fact that Wesley's younger brother, Alfred M. had died here in Alexander on May 6, 1862. The grieving parents did not want to risk another son. And Wesley, with his new bride Lydia, was living in his parents’ home, helping his father on the farm. Finally, the hiring of a substitute was legal and common.

Wesley Perkin’s brother Alfred M. is buried at the Alexander Cemetery between his sisters. Amanda Matilda Perkins was the first wife of Joseph Bailey. After Amanda died, Joseph took Amanda's younger sister Mary for his second wife. Margaret Jeffery is the other sister buried here.


The mortgage deed from John James Perkins to the Ministerial and School Fund Trustees was never recorded at Machias. This was not unusual since it cost money to register deeds, and Machias was a long way to travel. John Perkins, more so than many people in rural Maine, was often short of money. His debt for his son could have been as much as $300.00.

John Perkins also borrowed from others. Deeds in the Registry in Machias reveal that he mortgaged his property to John P. Carlow of Wesley on February 19, 1870. Was the property his to mortgage?

On February 18, 1876, John transferred the place to his son Wesley. Wesley transferred it back to his father on April 15, 1882; and John then mortgaged it to Isaac Huntley of Wesley.

On November 19, 1888, for $1.00, John James Perkins deeded to the Inhabitants of the Town of Alexander the homestead and the east part of lot 56, which he had acquired from the Bingham Estate.

The home and real estate were acquired by Thomas Edward Frost on May 9, 1895. For this he borrowed $500.00 from the School Fund, the mortgage being discharged on March 31, 1902. The house was hit by lightning in either 1898 or 1899 and burned. Thomas and his wife, Dora Belle (McGraw), built a new house just in back of the original foundation. That building still stands, it is the home of Thomas's grandson David Frost.


When the War of Rebellion started in 1861, plenty of men volunteered to save the Union. However as news came north of the horrors of battle, of the diseases, of the heat and humidity, of the amputations, the thirst for running off to war dissipated. Suddenly, the Union needed soldiers, and needed them desperately.

The Enrollment Act of 1863 was to solve that problem by setting up a military draft. This Act did not work for two reasons. First was a provision whereby a drafted man could send a substitute. Simple enough, if one were drafted, find and pay someone to go in one's place. The price: ''not exceeding $300.00. That was in the law.

The other provision which caused more trouble was paying ''commutation'' or paying the Secretary of War ''not exceeding $300.00'' for the procurement of a substitute. This was much easier than finding a relative or neighbor to go to war for you. With this provision, all one had to do was to send the money to Washington.

The Enrollment Act enriched the coffers of the national government, but did not supply men to fight the War. In 1863, only about 2500 Maine men entered military service, only a third of them were drafted. During the other three years of the War, Maine sent nearly 70,000 men. Of courses then as now, a few skedaddled to Aroostook or Canada. (from The Twentieth Maine by John Pullen)

The (Maine) Adjutant General's Report for 1863 lists the following:

Total drafted ------------------------------ 15718

Those exempted under the Act --------- 11601

Those who paid commutation ------------ 1937

Those who supplied substitutes ---------- 1373

Those drafted and entered the service ---- 807

For the 35th Maine sub-district: Alexander, Baileyville north into southern Aroostook County.

Drafted, reported, and paid commutation: Robert H. Brown, George W. Hill, Benjamin J. Hailey, Freeman R. Dakin, Wesley J. Perkins, Eben C. Donne, Henry A. Fitch, John T. Crabtree, Emerson Getchell, William Webber.

Drafted, reported, and furnished a substitute: Isaac A. Cowell, his substitute was John S. Bridgham; Henry A. Sprague, his substitute was Thomas A. Baker

Drafted, reported, and enlisted: John Courey

Of the 13 drafted, only one went to war, two got substitutes, and ten including our Wesley J. Perkins paid commutation money. This string of evidence pretty well proves



Wesley and Lydia Brewster Strout had married on December 18, 1861 here in Alexander. Lydia was a daughter of Solomon and Lydia (Bailey) Strout. Their children of record were Horace (1864) married Rose Crockett, Stanley Abbott (December 28, 1866), Morton Edgar (October 31, 1868) who married Elizabeth Fields, Edwin Delmond (April 28, 1871) died in Princeton on June 1, 1889, Guy Moulton (May 21, 1873) married Isabel Edgerly in 1902 and died in Madison on August 18, 1974, Hazel born in Princeton and married Grover Jamison and Earl also born in Princeton who married Edith Colson.

Wesley’s wife Lydia died in Princeton in 1894. Wesley subsequently married Olive Hutchins of Anson. Wesley died at Skowhegan on December 13, 1902.