We have read earlier a small account of the life and times of Capt. Charles McAnally M.O.H. of the 69th. Pen. Vols. Charles was from the townland of Glenviggan on the Sixtowns Road running from Draperstown ( Ballinascreen ) to the west through the Sperrin Hills. If we moved east along this road from Glenviggan towards Draperstown one reaches the townland of Tullybrick about four miles from Draperstown.
This is where one James Gillaspie was born. He like hundreds of others from around this area would have to face the emigrarant trail. He would like McAnally chose America. James Gillaspie was a quite a talented writer and indeed something of a poet. He left a journal of his life and times and we reap the benefits of the notes and comments he recorded. Here is a transcript of his handed down handwritten notes. I have also added a few notes that would be of associated interest and for clarification. I also wish to thank the descendant family relative who allowed me access to the notes.
I, James Gillaspie now of Crawford township Madison Co. Iowa intend to write here a brief sketch of my family history
as far as I know and in a truthful manner vis.
My grandfather John Gillespie was one of seven brothers vis, Patrick, Edward, Henry, Roger, Donald and Thomas. They all lived and died in Ireland and only one Patrick came to America before I was born, he married and became a farmer. His farm was near the Monongahela river not far from Pittsburg Pennsylvania. I cannot tell how many miles.
When I was a boy I remember the letters he would send home to his brothers and how glad they were to hear from him, Patrick as I learn was the father of sons and daughters. Of the sons I have not much information but I have heard that one of them was a priest. The girls his daughters were four in number. Two of them were married to two Ewing brothers. One of these men was a Senator and the other General Ewing. One of these Ewing brothers was the father of General Sherman’s wife whose name was Ellen Ewing. Another of these sister was married to a Mr. Blaine. She was the mother of James McBlaine. The fourth of these sisters became a Sister of Charity and during the Civil War was head of a hospital at Cairo Illinois where the sick and wounded soldiers were cared for.
Most part of my information regarding Patrick Gillaspie’s family has been obtained from Mr. Hoyt Sherman brother to the General W.T. Sherman. Mr Sherman was raised near them and as he told me they were like brothers and sisters and went to the same school and as he said they were all good Catholics.
Now as my grandfather John Gillaspie and Patrick Gillaspie were brothers my father Michael Gillaspie and the Ewing’s wives and the mother of James G. Blaine were first cousins consequently their children Mrs. General Sherman and Mr. James G. Blaine and I were second cousins.
The descendants of the other brothers of my grandfather have nearly all come to America. Many of them have settled in Pennsylvania and other parts of this country. Some are in and around New York City. I have lost track of most of them. There remains only three or four families of the Gillaspies in their old native family homes in Ireland.
Note: I feel that James got a mixed up history of the Sherman-Ewings-Boyle links. If one looks at the Boyles (this is where the Catholic links come into the Ewings) it is seen that Maria Wills Boyle who married a General Ewing was the daughter of a Boyle and Gillespie Irish immigrants said to be from Donegal. I feel that it may have been a supposition that hearing the name Gillespie he may have assumed that they were of his sept. This would need investigation but I would not jump to conclusions.
I James Gillaspie of Crawford township Madison County Iowa was born on the eighth day of March A.D. 1830 in the townland of Tullybrick, County of Londonderry Ireland.
The parish was and is still called Ballinascreen. I was born and raised within a quarter of a mile of an ancient edifice known as the Old Church of Ballinascreen.
This is the church which tradition tells us that a bell was heard ringing in the air for three days and finally fell
on a priests mantel where the old walls now stand. The Moyola river flows through the valley of Ballinascreen and close
to the old church.
My fathers name was Michael Gillespie and my mothers maiden name was Anne Crilly so called in Ireland but in America changed in some way to Crawley.
I was the oldest of the family. My mother was the mother of five children, namely myself, Sarah (or as we called her Sallie), John, Frank and Mary. Sallie died before reaching four years of age,
My boyhood was that of most boys. Going to school during the winter season and herding the milk cows during the summer.
When I was at school I was easily learned and could get head of my class generally on the first day at school, although the other members of my class generally attended school all the year. When first learning to write I on one occasion wrote my name Gillespie on my copy book. The teacher who was said to be a good historian told me that I should spell my name by placing therein the letter “a” where I and all my people used the letter “e”.
He said that according to Irish history my name should be spelt Gillaspie. I then commenced to spell it so and always continued to do so. Although nearly all others of my relatives prefer to spell their name with the letter “e” thus Gillespie. The original name when spelled in Irish according to “Abbie McGeoghegan” was McAlaspie.
At the age of ten years and three months I was confirmed. I remember the night of the Big Wind in Ireland well. It was on the night of January 6th 1839. It was on a Sunday night. Some say on Tuesday night but I know it was Sunday night. I went to school the next morning.
When I was 14 years of age my mother died. Before I was 16 my father married again. My step mothers name was Anne Quigley also a native of Ballinascreen. She was the mother of 5 children, 4 of them are yet living and one the eldest dead.
The names of the living are Bridget, the eldest and only girl, Patrick, Michael, and Thomas. My brother John died in Wilmington Delaware on Feb 21st. 1910. My mother died in 1844. My father in 1856.
I came to America in the Spring of 1852 on an old sailing ship. We were six weeks and three days coming from Liverpool to New York. The fever broke out on the ship. Many died towards the latter part of the voyage. I took fever and was sent to the hospital at Quarantine at Staten Island and after four weeks there my aunt came for me and took me to her home in the City of New York.
Note: James would have attended the nearby Altaeskey school. Perhaps it had a straw roof in his days but stlll going strong and producing excellent students as it did in James era. It will be realised from the above image that the quality of farmland in Tullybrick townland was and still is of reasonable quality farming land. The Gillespie lands would be on the slopes of the valley through which The Six Towns Road runs. Maddison Co. would be better quality land and the area much flatter, but there would be a very big seasonal variation as compared with Tullybrick.
I lost all of my clothes and ten dollars of the
money which was sent to me from Pennsylvania by a comrade 9 or 10 months after landing.
(Note: I assume he means before setting sail for America.).
I gave him the key to my sea chest when I got too sick to help myself. He had no money and took two gold sovereigns out of my pocket. He said he thought I was going to die and would not need the money but on getting my address after some time, he sent me the money. What became of the rest of my money or clothes I never knew.
I lived in New York City for nearly 4 years. Nearly all the time in a part of the city called Bloomingdale which was along the Hudson river and extended from 58th. Street to nearly 125th. Street. I lived near Strikers Bay on the Hudson where General Grant’s tomb now stands.
Bloomingdale was then like a country place and the most beautiful in my opinion I have ever seen in America. It is now built up solidly. I have visited the place in 1907 and only for the curves of the Hudson River I would not know it.
There in Bloomingdale in the Spring of A.D. 1854 I first met with Miss Anne Kiernan who two years after became my wife.
She was born in the village of Drumconrath Co. Meath Ireland and as she has often told me on the 15th. of August A.D. 1831 and was nearly a year and a half younger that I was. She had one brother Frank who died in New York many years ago and two sisters Catherine and Mary. Catherine was married to Laurence Gerrard. They lived in her father John Kiernan’s place in Ireland. I visited them when in Ireland in 1899.They are now both dead.
Note: It would appear James foolishly trusted a fellow traveller with the key of his sea trunk when he got very sick on board ship. It would be the custom for relatives already in America to send passage out fares to relatives in Ireland.
I was married on the 6th day of April A.D. 1856 to Miss Anne Kiernan in St. Francis Xavier Church 16th Street New York
City and two days later on the 8th of April 1856 in company of many relatives and others we left New York City on our
way to Iowa. Some of our friends and acquaintances came to Iowa the previous October and bought land and highly
recommended the State to us which probably accounts for us coming at that time to Iowa.
Note: James and Ann were married by the Assist. Pastor.the Rev.W.Moylan.
Iowa was then a pretty wild looking State. Houses were few and far between. Scarcely any bridges excepting on some larger streams on the main rivers of travel. Wolves prowled on the prairie and ranged through the timber. The capital was located at Des Moines a few weeks before we came. The old Capital was built in Des Moines that summer but the Legislature did not meet there for a year or two after.
The railway came only to Iowa City and we had to pay $100.00 to have two teams to take the women and baggage from Iowa City to Madison County. The men had to walk and help the drivers over the bad places and out of the shoughs. It took us all of a week to travel from Iowa City to our destination.
At that time Des Moines was a poor struggling village with perhaps three or four general stores on 2nd street.
There were only two or three brick buildings in the city and very few good frame buildings.
I was offered land for the $6.00 per acre that is now nearly in the center of the city.
On our way through Iowa on first coming to the State there was between Grinnell and Brooklyn a stretch of prairie 18 miles long and not a house on it. Prairie chickens and wild turkey were in plenty and the wild deer ranged through the forests and prairies.
I mention these things that those who may chance to read may know what Iowa was when I first came to the state. I bought land and built a house on the farm where I now live buying more and adding to the farm from time to time. And making other improvements as I could and as occasion demanded and required. I live in the old place yet and I must say that I never regretted coming to Iowa. I have travelled in many states of the Union and I will say I think Iowa the best and Illinois would be my 2nd choice.
Note: He speaks of "shoughs". These were the broad drains around fields or along lanes or roads. Name still used to this day. Probably more correctly spelt as "sheughs".
The names of my children are as follows commencing with the eldest viz, Michael, John, Mary Frances, Frances, Anne Elizabeth, Catherine, Gertrude, James and Thomas. We have raised my brother Frank’s daughter Mary Nora from when she was one week old and she has always been considered as one of our own children. Our first born Michael died at the age of seven months. John died before he reached the age of 35 years. The other six are yet alive. My wife died on the 27th. day of October A.D. 1898. At the time of her death she was 67 years two months and 12 days.
Note: Michael is buried in St. Patricks cemetery at Bevington Madison Co. Iowa.
Note: I see he mentions his brother Frank's daughter aged one week. Interesting. Frank would appear to also be in the locality and perhaps his wife died. It is also of note that there is a small note on the written pages of James's memoirs that Frank had been willing to substitute for James when James was drafted. Kind of confirms that Frank's wife had died and he was willing to protect his brother's family.
Note: His 1st.son Michael was born Mar.1st.1857.
His 2nd son John J.was born Mar. 15th. 1859.
During the Civil War when I was 34 years of age I was drafted into the U.S. Army in the year of 1864.
I served in Company A 16th. Iowa Volunteer Infantry. I was in what was commonly known as the Crocker Brigade.
During my service I was in the army commanded by General Sherman I marched with him from Atlanta to the sea, I
assisted in the taking of the city of Savannah Georgia and that of Columbia South Carolina and Fayetteville N.
Carolina and many other towns and places of less importance. During my service we marched through the following
named States. vis, Tennessee, Georgia, S. Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. I was
mustered out of the U.S. Service on the 30th of May 1865 in the camp near Washington D.C. and after remaining in
the camp for a week after waiting for transportation I with 200 others were sent to Iowa by way of Baltimore, Harrisburg,
Pittsburg and Chicago. We remained in Davenport for 5 days waiting for our pay and I reached home on the 17th of June
Note: James was drafted into the army aged 34 and is noted as enlisted Co. A. 16th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Sept. 28th. 1864 and mustered in the same day. He was discharged May 30th. 1865 in Washington D. C.
I left home for the army October 14th A.D. 1864. I came to Chicago on the 27th. October at 6 o'clock A.M. to Indianapolis
at 10 to 6 P.M. on the same day.
I remained in Indianapolis from the 27th. to the 31st. and on the morning of the latter I left for
Louisville Kentucky. On my route through Indiana I passed through the following named towns. Valparaiso, Winnamac,
Tippecanoe River, Logansburg on the
Wabash river, Wilton, Galveston, Indianapolis, Franklin, Edinburgh, Columbus, Seymour, Jeffersonsville.
On October 31st. at 4 p.m. I came to Louisville on the 1st. Nov. at 3pm. at 9pm I came to Cave City. On the 2nd I came
to Nashville Tenn. at 3 a.m.
I left Nashville on the 2nd at 2 p.m. and came to Chatanooga on the 3rd at 7 a.m. On the way from Nashville to Chatanooga I passed through Murfeesboro. I passed along the foot of the Lookout mountains and crossed the Tennessee river. We came this far by railroad. I remained in Chatanooga 5 days and on the 8th day of Nov. at 4p.m. we left for Atlanta Georgia and had to march by foot and guard a wagon train.
( All in Georgia) Ringold, Dalton, Rasacca, Calhoun, Kingston, Cartersville, Marietta, Kinnesaw mountain stands in front of Marietta, Chatahoochie River, and on the morning of Nov. 15th I came to Atlanta.
On arriving at Atlanta Sherman's army was in motion and on the march for Savannah Ga. The 17th Corps. the one to which I was assigned left Atlanta the day before I arrived there. I was therefore oblidged to start immediately in order to overtake them and after searching all day and part of the night being overcome with fatigue I with a few others lay down to sleep at the burning ruins of an old mill, and after a few hours repose we started again for the Regiment and came to where it was encamped on the morning of the 16th at 5 o'clock a.m. and after being consigned to companies we resumed our march for Savannah.
On the march from Atlanta to Savannah through the following villages and towns to wit. McDonough was I believe the first. We passed near Macon and near Millen and some others not of much importance and of which I took no notes, as my health was very poor for about two weeks. We crossed the Oconee, Ockmular, Oguckee and other rivers, the names of which has escaped my memory.
And after a weary march with only one days rest we arrived within 3 1/2 miles of Savannah on the 10th of December and there lay in the woods under heavy fire for 24 hrs. One man was killed in our company with a 24lb ball. We then marched arround the city to open communications with the fleet on the Oguckee river about 16 miles from Savannah. On the 19th. we marched back to within 7 miles of Savannah and there lay in front of a large port in the timber on the roadside for 2 days under heavy fire. On the march to this place we had to run the blockade past a large rebel fort that bore on the road we had to march. In order to escape their fire we marched past there in the night by moving on silently we gained our point in the timber before they knew of the fact of our advance. Here we lay two days seperated from the rebel fort by a large field of water placed there by the rebels by means of flood gates there being two other gates to open in order to let the water off. But the great difficulty was to get to this gate or gates to open in order to let the water off. But the great difficulty was to get to this gate or gates as the rebels had them strongly guarded. On the morning of the third day it was said the fort was to be stormed by some means or other, but on that morning it was discovered that the rebels had evacuated not only the fort but evacuated also the city of Savannah.
So accordingly we had orders to march and on that morning being the 21st. December a.m. 1864 we marched into Savannah.
We remained in Savannah until Jan 6th A.D. 1865 we being also starved while there getting about 1/4 rations but even that was better than how we fared for 2 weeks before we entered Savannah. All we had to live on there was a little fresh beef without any salt to salt it and only very little of that. The man that was able to get hold of an ear of corn was considered a lucky man. I have seen 2 ears bough for 25 cents. I have seem men offering two dollars for one cracker. This treatment caused the death of a great many men.
On the 7th of January 1865 we marched out of the city of Savannah and proceeded to Fort Thunderbolt on the Thunderbolt river about 6 miles from Savannah and then about 10 o'clock a.m. we took a steamer for Beaufort South Carolina. We sailed down the Thunderbolt to its junction with the Savannah river thence down the Savannah past Fort Pulaski, Hilton Head to the Atlantic Ocean. Thence around to Port Royal Island and on the evening of the same day we left Savannah at 5 o'clock we entered Beaufort.
We went into camp about 3 miles out from and there remained for one week. Then removed about 4 or 5 miles more out and remained about 3 days. We then advanced to the Pocataligo River and there remained a few days.
Then our regiment was sent out on a reconnaisance towards the rebel fort called Fort Pocataligo it being on the 17th of January. We drove into the rebel picketts and formed in a skirmish line down the railroad that leads from Charleston and Savannah. It was there I saw for the first time the rebel flag floating in triumph over their fort and the men walking behind their breastworks and there also I fired the first shot at the rebels.
We were then ordered back to camp and remained 2 or 3 days in camp and were then back in another direction to guard a steamboat landing were provisions were landing. This was called Pocataligo Landing and on our way to this place we went astray which caused us 2 days of the severest marching we had in the whole campaign. It rained and the mud was awfully deep. We remained there one week and on the 29th of January we started on the march through the Carolinas.
We rested in camp on the 1st of Jan and on the 1st of February we resumed our march. On February 3rd we waded the great swamp known as the Salkehatonie swamp. It was a terrible undertaking. It was 1 1/4 miless wide. It was said to contain running streama or channels each one about waist deep and the intervening space was all one sheet of water filled with trees and bramble of all shapes and sizes. The bottom was all mud and full of cypress roots which would catch on your toes and very easily throw you down in the water. I have seen several thrown down by such means. Some were so worn out with fatigue that they could scarcely stand their feet being numb with the cold so as to render their almost powerless. I have seen some that lost their boots others their shoes and some took sick and died from the effects of the swamp. Our progress was very slow. It took us about an hour and a half to cross and on our arrival at the other side we had to fall into line of battle and prepare to meet the enemy. Our skirmishes and those of our enemy had a very brief fire for some time the enemy finally retreating. After spending the night making breastworks and so forth with a little sleep we got up in the morning to find that the rebels had evacuated their fort. We took them entirely by surprise for they thought it beyond any possibility to cross where we did so they found themselves completely flanked. There was not one of our division that crossed the swamp killed by the enemy. But another division that went by the road led by General Mouer suffered severely. It was said for love of glory rushed his men even against orders in order to have the honour of being the first to dislodge the rebels. His orders were to hold back until we accomplished the job by the flank movement.
The next day we returned to our camp of the day before. We remained there that day and the next and then resumed our march. On Feb. 7th. we took possession of the Charleston and Augusta Railroad at a village called Midway.
On the 8th. we tore up the railroad near Branchville. At Branchville the 13th corps had 3 days hard fighting with the rebels. On the 9th. we resumed our march. On the 10th we were temporarily stopped by the rebels at the South Edista river. On the 11th we were stopped for 24 hours by the rebels at North Edista. There they were strongly fortified and had a large fort, beside they had burned down the bridge. But on the 12th we drove them out and took possession of Orangeburgh. On that day I saw the only dead rebel I have seen in the service. He was lying on the roadside on a blanket thrown over him. The rebels in the retreat did not find him I suppose. I was told by boys belonging to an orphan asylum in Orangeburg that the rebels took along with them several wagon loads of killed and wounded on their retreat through the town.
On the 13th we tore up the railroad and marched about 13 miles. On the 14th, 15th, and 16th we continued on our march and arrived on the last named day on the banks of the Congarve opposite Colombia the capital of South Carolina and just as we arrived and brought to a halt a shot was fired by some rebel and killed a man a little piece in front of where I stood. It was allowed that the ball must have come a mile.
On the 17th. we cossed the Saluda and Broad rivers a little above their junction and entered Columbia. That night the city was burned almost entirely and plundered.
On the 18th. we left Columbia and tore up the railroad. We marched at the rate of 10 or 12 miles per day and destroyed railroad the balance of the time for 5 days in succesion. On the 22nd we marched through Winnsboro a pretty large town and it was pricipally burnt. On the road we crossed the Vatrce river and went through a village called Liberty Hill. On the 25th we crossed another great swamp by wading called Big Lynch ( at least I was told that was its name).
On March 2nd there was a rebel prisoner shot in our camp for retaliation for the murder of one of our foragers killed by some rebels or at least supposed to have been killed by them. There were 12 rebel prisoners taken out and they cast lots in order to find out which was to die. The lot fell on a man who said he had nine children. That he did not take up arms until compelled to and that he did not fire a shot within at least 10 years. But still he had to die for the crime of some other person. It may have been necessary but I cannot think it was just. This execution took place when lying over a day within 14 miles of Cherow.
On the 5th we marched through Cherow and crossed the great Pedee river. In Cherow we captured 17 pieces of cannon and several thousand stand of small arms. On the 6th. we marched through Bennettsville a very handsome town within 8 or 10 miles from the North Carolina. On the 8th of March we crossed the line into North Carolina. After spending 2 months and 2 days in South Carolina and indeed that state may be glad to get rid of her sandy visitors for a while where they asked for nothing, but helped themselves to all they could lay hold of such as meat, flour, meal, poultry hogs, cattle, horses, sheep, and a great many other things too numerous and various for me to mention here. Houses, barnes, stables, fences and so forth were burned without number, and without mercy and as for carriages of all description and of the most splendid kind that were broken on the march is beyond all description but truely shameful to think of. I often thought it sinful to stand by and see a splendid carriage pulled on top of a large fire of fence rails and consumed, a carriage worth perhaps a thousand dollars or more. I always said such things could no way aid the rebels against us and it was therefore wanton destruction but there was no use in talking, so it was and so it would have to be.
On the 8th and 9th of March it rained without ceasing almost day and night. It was nothing but dash and splash, fall, use and wade and do the best you could. On March 11th we took Fayetteville. On the 12th the first mail went out that we got for sending for 6 weeks. It was sent down the Cape Fear river. We remained one day at Fayetteville and then resumed our march.
On the 13th. we crossed the Cape Fear river and continued our march towards Goldsboro on the Nuesa river. On the 19th and 20th was fought the battle of Bentonville near Goldsboro. Our Corps was all engaged in that fight. Only our regiment and another. It was our turn for train guard and we were left back with the train. We could hear the battle raging for the roar of artillery was deafening. On the 24th we crossed the Neuse river and entered Goldsboro a beautiful little town situated on the Neuse through which two railroads passed and valuable to Sherman on that account. Here we took full communications with the outside world for we got letters and sent letters for nearly 3 weeks.
On the 10th of April we left Goldsboro enroute to Raleigh and on the 14th we again crossed the Neuse and entered Raleigh. It was a terrible rainy day. Raleigh was the capital of North Carolina. On the morning of the 15th. we started in persuit of Johnston who had evacuated Raleigh. We marched about 6 miles and were then halted. As Johnston had proposed sometimes and said he was desirious to surrender on the 19th. We were marched back to near Raleigh. We all thought that all trouble was at an end then and so I might say it was.
On the 24th we were reviewed in Raleigh by General Grant and Sherman and on the morning of the 25th we were again marched in the direction of the rebel Johnston. The terms of surrender agreed on betwixt Sherman and him not acceptable to the authorities at Washingon and Sherman was ordered to again give chase.
On the 26th Johnston surrendered to Sherman. On the 27th. we marched back to our old camp near Raleigh. On the 29th we left Raleigh enroute for Richmond Virginia.
On the 1st of May we crossed the Neuse river for the 3rd time and passed Forrestville and Wood Forrest North Carolina being two small villages. On the 3rd. we passed through Ridgeway and passed by Warranton leaving it three miles to the right.
On the 4th we marched on to the Roanoke river and camped on the banks. On the 5th. we crossed the Roanoke river in North Carolina within about 2 miles of the Virginia lines. We entered Virginia and crossed the Makerin river in Virginia.
On the 7th we came to Dinwidily Court House and passed on to General Grants old camping ground in font of Petersburg and crossed the Appomatox river. On the 19th. we marched into Manchester on the James river opposite Richmond. On the 10th. General Sheridan's cavalry passed through Manchester enroute to Washington. Petersburg is a pretty large city or town built on the Appomatox river and is a pretty nice town. Manchester is not of very much importance in the city line but still is quite a place. Richmond is a large city compactly built and in it there stands a very large monument of General Washington and on the top stands the statue of the worthy man riding on a magnificent horse. It is the finest and most nobel statue I have ever seen.. On the 12th we crossed the James river and marched through Richmond. On the 13th. we crossd the Chickahominy river and camped at Hanover Court House. On the 14th we crossed the Ramousky river. On the 16th we marched through Fredericksburg and crossed the Rapahanock river. Fredericksburg has been quite a large place but it was then mostly in ruins on account of the great battle that was fought there about two years before. It is built on the Rapahanock and is partly on a level part of land on the banks of the river and partly on a side hill at the back of the town or side. Richmond is pretty rough and steep hills on which the rebels had their battering planted at the seige of that place. In passing through the town could be plainly seen the doors, walls, and fences, the bullet holes and so thick were they in some places that the houses were perfectly riddled with them. The towers and Steeples of the churches up almost to the top were pierced with cannon balls and many chimney was left a pile of ruins. A great part of the city was burned and otherwise destroyed. It was here that the Irish Brigade under General Franis Meagher suffered so severely.
On the 11th we marched about 28 miles. It was very hot and a great many of the men almost died with fatigue and heat. More than half the army gave out and were struggling along the road. On the 18th. we crossed the Occoquan river one mile east of where Bull Run enters into it. On the 19th we marched past within 7 miles of the Bull Run battlefield close to Faixfax Court house and camped within 4 miles of Alexandria. On the 23rd we marched through Alexandria and camped on Arlington Heights opposite Washington. On the 24th we crossed the Potomac river on long bridge into Washington D.C. and were reviewed there on that day by the President of the United States Andrew Johnson and other high officials in the affairs of the nation. After review we marched about 5 miles out of town where we camped for 15 or 16 days.
On the 30th I was discharged from the service of the United States On June 5th we left Washington at 8 o'clock p.m. enroute to Iowa. On the morning of the 6th we came to Baltimore Maryland at 1 or 2 o'clock the same morning and came to Harrisburg at 12 o'clock that day. On the 7th of June we came to Pittsburg Pa and were there received with every mark of respect possible from them to show and were treated to a free dinner and left immediatley after dinner and came to Chicago Illinois at 12 o'clock the next day the 8th of June and left at half past two. On the 9th of June we came to Davenport Iowa at 7 o'clock in the morning. We remained there until the 14th waiting to get paid and get our final discharge. We were nearly starved with hunger in the barracks in Camp McClellern Davenport Iowa. Some of the soldiers had to go to town to board and pledge their hapsacks and what clothing was on them for their board and pledge to pay on pay day. About one half did this which left more plentiness for the other half. On the evening of the 14th we were paid and got our discharge papers and on the morning of the 15th I left Davenport for home. On the evening of the 16th I came to Fort Des Moines.
On the night of the 17th of June I reached home being gone from home 8 months and 4 days.
Note: At the bottom of this page is a note vis "Note my grandmother Anne Gillespie Reilly was born when my great grandfather James Gillespie fought in the civil War" Signed Helen Brayton Smith. This ties up the 1870 census where Anne E is recorded as being 5 years of age in 1865 as the war ending.
It has always been my desire to visit my native land. I wished to see the home of my childhood and to see once more the many relatives and friends of my youth. I wished to visit the graves of my parents and the green churchyards where my forefathers slept. I desired to climb its lofty mountains, to gaze on its beautiful green valleys and to drink once more from its cool crystal fountains.
I left home for Ireland on the 11th day of July A.D. 1899. On the way to the sea port I visited relatives in Pittsburg Pa. and in New York City and on the 19th day of July I left New York for Liverpool England. I sailed on the White Start liner Germanic. We were 8 days making the voyage and had a very pleasant time on the sea. We landed in Liverpool on the evening of July 27th and at 10 o’clock that night I took the Belfast boat for Ireland. On the morning of July 28th we landed in Belfast Ireland. I having been absent from my native land at that time for 47 years and 2 months and on the same evening at six o’clock p.m. I came to Draperstown County Derry Ireland my native town, or rather the town nearest to my birthplace. I was once more in the parish of Ballinascreen.
I tried to remain incognito for a week, but on the second day a relative suspected my identity and I had to acknowledge
who I was. I was very kindly received by all my relatives, and by many others of my old time aquaintances and by many who
were not yet born
when I first left my home. My welcome and the great kindness with which I was treated during my two months
stay amongst my friends was far greater than I ever expected. None could receive a heartier welcome or be treated better.
When in Ireland places that I had never seen before. Many towns and several large cities. I also visited the Giants Causeway one of the greatest wonders of the world. During my stay in Ireland I have seen and mediated on all that I went there to see. I have roamed through the valleys, I have stood on her valleys. I have stood on her mountains, I have bathed in her waters, I have medidated in her cemeteries and mourned for relatives and friends long departed from this life. May they rest in peace. I have found great improvements in Ireland since the days of my youth, they live better, and are not oppressed as they formerly were but there is still much room for improvements. I have bid farewell to Ireland and sailed from Belfast to Liverpool on the 27th. day of September 1899 in the evening. Boarded the Germanic to return to America on the 28th. We reamained in the harbour of Queenstown Ireland and late that afternoon I saw the last sight of my beloved land. We had one very rough and stormy day on our return trip to America, otherwise a fine passage and a good time. We landed in New York on October 5th. after a voyage of eight days duration it being the third time I had crossed the Atlantic.
After visiting friends and relatives in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Camden, Chester and Pittsburg and reached home on the 19th. of October being gone from home three months and eight days.
I have never regretted my visit to my native land. There I found friendship and hospitality. Some of those friends are now no more but their memory is evergreen. Others have always since that time corresponded with me which correspondence passes the time and help make life more enjoyable. I have since in 1907 visited my relatives in Wilmington, New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburg and in 1908 took a trip to Minnesota and South Dakota. I was from home about three weeks. Since then and until now April 1910 I remained pretty closely at home.
Note: The ship shown above is the White Star Ship Germanic which James speaks of.
I have travelled through 20 states and have been in the District of Colmbia. The following named states I have been in.
New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, No. Carolina, So. Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennesee, Kentucky, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, So. Dakota, Iowa and the District of Colombia.
And now here in Iowa being 1 month past my 80th. birthday anniversary I write this brief sketch of my past life and I hope it may be use to some of my childen or grandchildren to know who my relatives were and where they came from.
With this I close
April 7th. 1910
Having mentioned and written of my grandfathers six brothers not including myself lest it might be inferred
that he had no sisters I write this to say that he had a least four sisters three of
whom were married in Ireland and died there in the old family home when I was 21 years
of age.The others I do not remember their names as they were married and left the neighbourhood
and I believe were dead before I knew much
Note: James in all his years away from Ireland would appear never to have forgotten his roots and homeland and on Sept. 1887 when he was aged 57 saw fit to compose the following verses to the tune of "The Country of Sweet Liberty".
Note: James died in his 86th year on Feb. 15th. 1916 in Madison Co. Iowa. He was buried along with his wife
in Cavalry cemetery in nearby Jefferson Township of Warren Co.Three of his grandsons served in the America Forces in WW II.
Thanks: Thanks to all the people associated with the Maddison Co. and Warren Co. Websites and the good people in both counties and in Des Moines who have been so helpful in assisting me in putting this information on my website. I would particularly like to thank James Gillaspie's descendant family relative here in Ireland for giving me access to his notes on his life. James Gillespie was something special.
Thanks: To Dan and Sandy McLernon for coloured postcard of Draperstown some 80 years old.