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Local Civil War letters uncovered

Between 1861and 1865, 3 out of 5 Ohioans between the ages of 18 and 45 served in the Civil War.

Local regiments answered the call to service, first with Company H of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and second with the “Trumbull Rifles,” which comprised Company C of the 19th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

The war hit close to home when the Trumbull Fairgrounds, where present day Warren G. Harding High School now stands, was converted to Camp Hutchins, a training ground for the 6th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.

This past year, the Trumbull County Historical Society received two donations of Civil War letters that are now accessible to the public. These donations allow us to read directly from Trumbull County men who served and fought for the Union and to understand the toll that the war had on local families.

Dave Cover and Leonard Luoma donated more than 90 letters to TCHS this year from the Civil War era, many of which are written from men writing home to their families. One letter from Lowtrop Taylor to his brother, Otis, mentions the struggles that the men faced far from home:

“I have been on duty since I came here, and I do not expect to be. It is rather rough to have Wallace and Ames killed is it not. However it is the fact of war. I may be the next one, but if I do fall, I would like to be brought home to be buried, if it costs all that I am worth.”

Lowtrop, who was from Fowler and served in the 14th Ohio Infantry, died in 1863 in Tennessee.

Another letter from this same collection, written by David M. Musser to Aaron Keen of Brookfield, tells Keen that his son had been killed in the war:

“I write you a few lines but with sorrow that I tell you the misfortune that happens John was killed the 27th. We started on a raid and John had charge of the advance gard and when he came up to the rebs picket they fyerd on him and the hall hit him in the head he lived about two hours before he dyed …”

Aaron Keen is listed in the 1860 census as a farmer in Brookfield. He was married to Elinor Keen, and their son John was one of six children. Two other sons, William and Ezekiel, also served with the Union Army. Both also died during the war in 1864: Ezekiel of disease and William of unknown causes at home in Ohio.

Another donation from Steve Belden of California includes eight letters that document the story of Isaac Austin, a Union soldier. After Austin’s disappearance, his sister, Nancy, searches for her brother’s location. She learns he was captured by Confederate soldiers and died in a Confederate hospital as a POW.

In addition to these letters, TCHS preserves the diaries of three Trumbull County Civil War soldiers: James Rudolph, Daniel Bolendor and Nelson Bailey, as well as many objects that tell the stories of local Civil War soldiers.

All of the donated letters are now available to read on our online database, CatalogIt! Head over to our website and click on the “Online Database” tab under Collections & Research. From there you can search more than 7,000 archives in our collection.

For more information or to schedule a research appointment to read the diaries, reach out to us at 330-394-4653 or email us at info@trumbullcountyhistory.org.

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