By Pamela Pattison Lash
I discovered a list of Civil War veterans who had made petitions to the US government for pensions due to their various disabilities, attributed to their CW service. The soldier whom I detail here is a true example of courage under fire both figuratively and literally, based on his life after his service. He went on to perform honorable tasks for his community as the Williams County Auditor, editor of the Bryan Press, and an insurance agent. He suffered from an amputation, being taken prisoner, and later adjusting to civilian life.
Pension Certificate #25,696
Loss of left leg (below the knee)
Co K 68th OVI
A Treatise on Mark’s patent artificial limbs with rubber hands and feet, AA Marks, 1888, p32
Fitted from Measurements.
Office of the Bryan Press, Simeon Gillis, Publisher, Bryan, Williams Co., Ohio, Oct. 29, 1887. A. A. Marks:
Dear Sir :—I have been wearing your make of artificial limbs since 1868. Previous to that I had worn one of the highest-priced legs in this country, and consider yours much the better. Its points of superiority are chiefly in tile doing away with the loose togel joints found in all other artificial legs at the ankle and toe. Your rubber foot does away with the necessity for these joints, and gives the step a certainty of action that no other leg has. It also gives :i springy, light step that is impossible in a wooden foot. Your knee joint irons are much better than those of the other leg I wore. I have had three of your legs, and one was fitted from measurements furnished by myself, and I went to the shop and had the others fitted. The one made from measurements was as good as any of the three. I am very hard on a leg, as I am active and not careful to favor it, and weigh 186 pounds. My point of amputation is two and one-half inches below the knee I think the most difficult point to fit. for the reason that the bones are movable and change the form of the stump, and the prominence of some bones in standing and others in sitting makes it difficult to secure a perfect fit. Wishing you may have the opportunity to lighten the step of many more unfortunates, I am, truly yours.
Simeon Gillis (2 May 1842 near Iberia, Morrow Co, OH -15 Mar 1919, Bryan, Williams Co, OH); buried at Fountain Grove Cemetery, Bryan, Williams Co, OH. Simeon Gillis was the son of William and Jane McClaren Gillis. (Pulaski Township, Williams Co, OH Cemeteries, WCGS, p52); his online death certificate stated he was in the insurance business, widower. His father was born in Harrison Co, OH and his mother was born in Aughnagar, Ireland.
Obit for Simeon Gillis - Bryan Press, 20 March 1919 p10 c2
Bryan Democrat, 18 March 1919 p1 c2
It would appear that Simeon and his family moved from Morrow Co, OH to Williams Co, OH c1845.
Simeon Gillis married Myra Ball on 7 July 1870, Des Moines, Polk Co, Iowa. (familysearch.org)
I found this a bit odd as both the Gillis and Ball families were enumerated in Williams Co in federal census records for 1850 and 1860; the married couple was also listed in the 1870 Williams Co, OH census so perhaps they eloped or were visiting relatives in Iowa.
Myra Ball (30 July 1843, Deerfield, Portage Co, OH -20 Sept 1909, Bryan, Williams Co, OH); burial at Fountain Grove Cemetery, Bryan, Williams Co, OH. Myra Ball was the daughter of Thomas and Phebe Wright Ball. (Pulaski Township, Williams Co, OH Cemeteries, WCGS, p52)
Obit for Phoebe Wright Ball – Bryan Democrat, 21 Aug 1890 p5
Obit for Thomas Ball – Bryan Press, 12 May 1898
Ethel (10 May 1871 Bryan, Williams Co, OH - 1938) mar Frank Dorsey
Faie (16 Oct 1879, Bryan, Williams Co, OH – 1957) mar Omar L Spangler, 25 June 1903, Bryan, OH by Rev H Kohr (Marriage V8 p493)
Harlan Schuyler Wright (16 Sept 1881, Bryan, OH - 1959) mar Besse Stone, 18 Sept 1907, DeKalb Co, IN; res Shelbyville, KY, Mishawaka, St Joseph Co, IN
Donna (Oct 1883 - 1966) mar Hugh Ernest McCurdy, 10 Jan 1910 Portland, OR
1850 Pulaski, Williams, Ohio; Roll: M432_741; Page: 90B; Image: 180.
h/h 338/314 Ball, Thomas 36 PA farmer
Phebe 35 OH
Joseph 13 OH
Sarah 9 OH
Almira 7 OH
Mary 5 OH
Angeline 2 OH
1850 Florence, Williams, Ohio; Roll: M432_741; Page: 59B; Image: 121.
h/h 822/824 Gillis, William 37 OH farmer
Jane 35 Ireland
Martha 13 OH
Rebecca 11 OH
Elisca 9 OH
Simeon 8 OH
James 5 OH
William 3 OH
Mary 1 OH
1860 Pulaski, Williams, Ohio; Roll: M653_1052; Page: 51; Image: 106; Family History Library Film: 805052.
h/h /773 Ball, Thomas 46 PA farmer
Phoeba 45 OH
Joseph 23 OH
Sarah 19 OH
Elmira 16 OH
Mary 14 OH
Angeline 12 OH
Flora 6 OH
Emma 4 OH
Begg, Joel A 15 OH
1860 Florence, Williams, Ohio; Roll: M653_1052; Page: 30; Image: 63; Family History Library Film: 805052.
h/h /447 Gillis, William 47 OH farmer
Jane 45 Ire
Martha 23 OH
Rebecca 27 OH
Eliza 19 OH
Simeon 18 OH
James 16 OH
William M 13 OH
Mary 11 OH
Alexander 9 OH
Rhoda L 7 OH
Sarah 2 OH
U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009
Name: Simeon Gillis
Residence: Spring Lake, Williams Co., Ohio
Age at enlistment: 19
Enlistment Date: 22 Oct 1861
Rank at enlistment: Private
State Served: Ohio
Was Wounded: Yes
Survived the War: Yes
Service Record: Enlisted in Company K, Ohio 68th Infantry Regiment on 13 Dec 1861.
Mustered out on 10 Dec 1863 at Memphis, TN.
Birth Date: abt 1842
Sources: Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio
Research by R. Ross Houston
The Medical and Surgical History of the Civil War
This data is from online pension application:
22 Oct 1861 Simeon enlisted as a private in Co K 68th OVI
16 May 1863 Simeon was wounded at Battle of Champion Hills, MS
26 May 1863 Simeon was taken prisoner by Rebel forces and detained for 29 days before being released.
29 Nov 1863 Simeon was discharge at Memphis, TN with a surgeon’s certificate of disability
Note that on 23 Apr 1863 Simeon filed for invalid pension (this date is on his official CW service for pension file which is before the wound at Battle of Champion Hills, MS)
1870 Bryan, Williams, Ohio; Roll: M593_1282; Page: 195A; Image: 393; Family History Library Film: 552781.
h/h 337/337 Gellis, Simeon 28 OH auditor mar July 1870
Myra 23 OH
1880 Bryan, Williams, Ohio; Roll: 1078; Family History Film: 1255078; Page: 647B; Enumeration District: 012; Image: 0156.
h/h 360/382 Gillis, Simeon 38 OH-OH-Ire editor
Myra wife 36 OH-OH-OH
Ethel dau 9 OH-OH-OH
Faye dau 8M (Oct) OH-OH-OH
1900 Bryan, Williams, Ohio; Roll: 1332; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 111; FHL microfilm: 1241332.
North Walnut Street
h/h 50/53 Gillis, Simeon 58 (May 1842) OH-OH-Ire mar 30Y insurance agent fire
Elmira wife 57(July 1843) OH-PA-OH 4/4 ch
Ethel dau 29 (May 1871) OH-OH-OH bookkeeper well drilling
Faye dau 20 (Oct 1879)OH-OH-OH help in family
Harlan W son 19 (Sept 1881) OH-OH-OH
Donna dau 17 (Oct 1883) OH-OH-OH
1910 Pulaski, Williams, Ohio; Roll: T624_1241; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0130; Image: 934; FHL microfilm: 1375254.
227 North Lynn St
h/h 104/106 Gillis, Simeon 66 OH-OH-Ire widower, insurance agent, living with son-in-law and dau Omar L Spangler and Fay G Spangler
(History of Williams Co, OH, Weston A Goodspeed, 1882, p557)
SIMEON GILLIS, of the Bryan Press, was born hear Iberia, Morrow Co., Ohio, May 2, 1842, and is one of eleven children, six yet living, born to William and Jane (McClaren) Gillis, who were natives respectively of Jefferson County, Ohio, and Northern Ireland. They were married in Ohio and engaged in farming. Mr. Gillis, Simeon's father, is one of the pioneers of Ohio, as well as of Williams County, having come to the latter place in 1845. They settled in Florence Township, where they are both yet living. Simeon Gillis was reared on the farm, in youth receiving but a very limited education.
October 22, 1861, he enlisted as private in Company K, Sixty-eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. They went into camp at Napoleon, afterward at Camp Chase. They left the latter place the Sunday previous to the Battle of Fort Donelson, and were present but not actively engaged in that battle. Mr. Gillis was at the battle of Shiloh, and was with Grant on his Mississippi campaign in the fall of 1862. Was at Port Gibson, Jackson, and engaged in the Battle of Raymond. Early in the Battle of Champion Hill, he was shot by a minie ball through the left leg, the result of which was the amputation of that limb below the knee. After lying on the battlefield from about 1 o'clock to sundown, he was conveyed to the field hospital, and ten days later, on the 26th of May, was taken prisoner and remained in rebel hands twenty-nine days. He was then in the hospital at Memphis until December 1, 1863, when he was discharged.
The fall of 1866, he was elected County Auditor by the Republican Party; re-elected in 1868, and again re-elected in 1870, serving in all six years; and by act of the Legislature, in changing time of taking seat of office, served eight months longer than six years. In 1875, Mr. Gillis engaged in the saw-mill and lumber business, which he ran until the fall of 1877, when he and Judge Bowersox purchased the Bryan Press, continuing as its proprietors and publishers for one year, when Mr. Bowersox sold his interest to Elisha M. Ogle, since when Gillis & Ogle have conducted the periodical. The Press, under the supervision of Gillis and Ogle, has increased its circulation, and has prospered, and today is the leading Republican paper of Williams County, and one of the best county papers of Northern Ohio.
Mr. Gillis was married, July 7, 1870, to Miss Myra Ball, and to this union have been born three children - Ethel, Fay and Wright. The mother is a daughter of Thomas and Phebe (Wright) Ball, of Williams County, Ohio. Mr. Gillis is a member of the G. A. R., and he and wife are members of the Presbyterian Church.
James F. Gillis, brother of Simeon and two years younger, enlisted in the same company and regiment one year later than did Simeon. By exposure, he contracted bronchial consumption, and went to the hospital, when Simeon was wounded, and acted as nurse, not being able to do active service in the field. After doing efficient services in this capacity, he was paroled, sent to St. Louis, and a few days later sent to the hospital at Columbus. He was discharged September 23, 1868, and died at Mount Gilead, Ohio, four days later, while on his way to his home in Williams County.
(History of Williams Co, OH, Weston A Goodspeed, 1882, p748)
WILLIAM GILLIS, one of the early settlers of Florence Township, was born in Harrison County, Ohio, May 11, 1813. He is one of the family of nine, but four of whom survive, born to William and Rebecca Gillis. He remained in Harrison County until 1832, when he went to Richland (now Morrow) County, remaining there until 1845. Moving to Williams County, he settled on the farm he now owns in 1855; it embraces 120 acres. Mr. Gillis has spent most of his life in farming and clearing land, and but few men, if any, have cleared more than he. Before his marriage he worked chiefly at chopping and clearing. He was married in Richland County, Dec. 24, 1835, to Jane McClaren. They have had ten children, with six living - Rebecca M., Eliza J., Simeon, Mary, Alexander C. and Rhoda L. Mr. and Mrs. Gillis are members of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Gillis has been and is yet a hard worker, and his success is due thereto.
(1 microfilm reel; 35 mm. Call# Archives MS746mf LIB USE ONLY. Center for Archival Collections. Bowling Green State University. Bowling Green. Ohio)
Gillis Family Papers 1780-1988.
Family from Spring Lake, Williams County, Ohio. James and Simeon served with the 68th O.V.I. during the Civil War, during which James was killed; Simeon went on after the War to become the editor of the Bryan Press, in Bryan, Ohio. Civil War diaries from 1862 and 1863 of James and Simeon Gillis while serving with the 68th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, along with post-war reunion material, correspondence, and genealogical information.
A History of Northwest Ohio, Otto Nevin Winter, 1917,V3, p2144-2146
SIMEON GILLIS. As soldier, county official, a business man and citizen, Simeon Gillis has lived up to the most exacting standards of responsibility and faithfulness to duty' during his long career. His home is in Bryan, where for a number of years he has represented the Continental Insurance Company and other companies, and his family was among the pioneer makers of Williams County.
His birth occurred near Iberia, then in Richland, but now in Morrow County, Ohio, May 2, 1842. His parents were William and Jane (McClaren) Gillis, the former a native of Ohio and the latter of Ireland. His mother was of Scotch ancestry, her forefathers having gone to Ireland with William of Orange during the latter part of the sixteenth century. She always boasted that her ancestors had retained their Scotch blood in all its purity despite their residence in Ireland.
The Gillis family has been resident in Ohio for more than a century, in fact since Ohio was' part of the Northwest Territory. The paternal grandparents of Mr. Gillis were born in Maryland and came to Ohio in the spring of 1800. William Gillis, his father, was born near Annapolis, in what was then Harrison but is now Jefferson County, Ohio, May 11, 1813. When nineteen years of age he moved to Richland County with the family of his widowed mother and settled in Congress Township, in what is now Morrow County. There he assisted his brothers in clearing up the farm acquired by their mother. Having had only three months of schooling William Gillis was in every practical sense a self-educated man.
On December 24, 1835, he was married in Richland County to Miss Jane McClaren. Her parents, James and Jeanette (McClain) McClaren, arrived in Richland County about the same time as the Gillis family. From Richland County in October 1845, William Gillis removed to Williams County, reaching that section on the 27th of October. His first location was eighty acres of land, covered with dense woods, in Florence Township. He spent about nine years there clearing and cultivating his land, but in 1854 sold out and bought 160 acres in section 11 of the same township. The unsettled and undeveloped condition of Williams County at that time is well illustrated by the fact that in order to reach his new purchase Mr. Gillis had to cut a byroad through the woods.. He and his family arrived and took possession in the early spring of 1855. That farm, the fifth to be cleared by his sturdy arm, was ever afterward his home. While distinguished by a sturdy application of his energies to his private affairs and the development of a successful farm property, William Gillis was nonetheless a leading citizen in every community where he lived. The respect and esteem of his fellow citizens were paid him in generous measure, and in public affairs he took a patriotic interest and to the best of his means and ability aided all projects that had in view the best interests of the community. In politics he was strongly anti-slavery, though never a radical abolitionist. He was successively allied with the liberty, the free-soil and the republican parties. He was also a militant Christian, and he and his wife as Presbyterians became charter members of the Eagle Creek Presbyterian Church, organized at the home of Robert Ogle in Superior Township. William Gillis died April 30, 1889, at the age of seventy-six, while his wife passed away in 1903.
They had children that did them honor. Martha E. was one of the early schoolteachers of Williams County, and died unmarried at the age of twenty-six. Rebecca McC. in early womanhood performed a feat. as a weaver which possibly has never been equaled; on a hand loom with an ordinary hand shuttle she wove in one day twenty-two yards of linseed, a cloth with cotton chain and wool yarn filling; she afterward became the wife of Samuel A. Young, a soldier of the Civil war and a farmer of Northwest Township, both now being deceased. Eliza J. married John W. Van Fossen, a soldier of the Civil war. The next in order of age is Mr. Simeon Gillis. James F. had a notable military record. Enlisting in September 1862, in Company K of the Sixty-eighth Ohio Infantry, he went directly to the front, served through the early campaigns of the regiment up to May 16, 1863, and then through loss of health being incapacitated for further duty in the army he was detailed nurse in the field hospital at Champion Hill. battlefield. Only a few nurses were assigned to care for the hundreds of injured, and he had to labor twenty hours out of every twenty-four until he was completely exhausted at the abandoning of the hospital. He and others left at the hospital were taken prisoners by the enemy, but he was paroled and sent north, where he died one year after the date of his enlistment. William M., the next of the family, was a school teacher, farmer and carpenter, and died in 1877, at the age of thirty-one. Mary, a teacher and milliner, married Benjamin S. Carpenter, who died some years ago, and she is now a resident of Montpelier in Williams County. Alexander C., who followed school teaching and farming, now resides at Orland, Indiana. Rhoda L., a former teacher, married Edward L. Brooks, who was one of the pioneers of Northeastern Nebraska, was successful as a farmer, merchant and banker, and died suddenly in 1913; after his death his wife returned to Williams County and is now living at Montpelier. Sarah, the youngest of the family, died at the age of eight years.
It was 3 ½ years after the birth of Simeon Gillis that the family came into Williams County. His early years were spent on his father's farm in Florence Township, and his developing strength had full practice in assisting to clear up the farm of eighty acres.
Every passing year lends a heightened appreciation of the services of those brave and faithful men who went through the struggles of the early '60s to preserve the Union. It is therefore consistent to give record in this publication to Mr. Gillis' past service as a soldier. October 22, 1861, he enlisted as a private in Company K of. the Sixty-eighth Ohio Infantry. He was not yet twenty years of age. He had a sturdy physique developed by work on the farm, and went into the army with such education as was supplied by the pioneer schools of his day and a course in a commercial college at Flint, Michigan. The regiment first encamped at Napoleon, Ohio, and later at Camp Chase, where he was assigned to guard duty over the Confederate prisoners. He also took part in the drilling exercises and other preparations for the campaigns to follow. Early in the spring of 1862, on the Sunday previous to the battle of Fort Donelson, his regiment entrained for Cincinnati, then took passage on a steamboat and the following Friday morning debarked and took its position in line with the army surrounding Fort Donelson. The regiment faithfully performed its duty in the line until the surrender on the Sunday morning following. The regiment next marched across the country to Metal Landing on the Tennessee River, embarked on a steamboat and arriving at Crump 's Landing became a part of General Lew Wallace's division on the battlefield of Pittsburg Landing or Shiloh. During the great battle that. Followed on the days of April 6th and 7th the regiment was detailed to guard the division property at Camp Crump and Camp Crump No. 2, close enough to hear and realize the horrors of that sanguinary struggle, without the excitement of actual participation. In the siege of Corinth the Sixty-eighth the Regiment was on the extreme right of the line and performed its full share of work in building roads and entrenchments. Following the evacuation the regiment marched to Bolivar, Tennessee, and spent the summer engaged in guarding the railroads from Jackson to Grand Junction. The regiment was present and took part in the battle of Metamora, Tennessee, and was highly complimented in general orders by the division commander, General Hulbert. Starting from LaGrange, Tennessee, November 28, 1862, the regiment took part in. General Grant's winter campaign to reach the rear of the Confederate works at Vicksburg. However, the supplies being cut in the rear, after the regiment had reached Water Valley, the project was abandoned and the army retreated to Memphis, where it arrived January 19, 1863, and remained until February 20, 1863. When the regiment, with the Army Of the Tennessee, embarked on steamers to join the army 'encamped just above Vicksburg, Mr. Gillis and his comrades had their share in constructing the famous canal by which General Grant expected to reach the high ground south of Vicksburg. April 23, 1863; with the rest of the army, the regiment began to march around Vicksburg, crossing the swamps, bayous and swollen streams, and on May 1st crossed the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg, Louisiana, and following a forced march arrived -at 'the battlefield while the engagement of Thompson's Hill was in progress. Then followed the, battles of Raymond and Jackson' and the battle of Champion Hill. Champion Hill was the end of the military career of Mr. Gillis. Early in the day he was wounded, a ball piercing his left leg and necessitating amputation below the knee. From shortly afternoon until sundown he lay on the battlefield before being conveyed to the field hospital, and on. May 26th he was taken prisoner. Released June 24th, he remained at the hospital in Memphis until December 1863.
Thus for two years Mr. Gillis accepted every hazard and fortune of the brave and efficient soldier, and came home with an honorable record that will always be cherished by his descendants. In the fall of 1866 Mr. Gillis was nominated on the republican ticket for auditor of Williams County. He was elected, and in 1868 re-elected and again in 1871. Altogether he served six years and eight months, and for one year following was deputy in the office.
Retiring from his official duties, he spent two years after 1875 in the sawmill and lumber business. Associated with Hon. C. A. Bowersox and A. W. Killits, they then bought the Bryan Press and for a number of years he was influentially and actively identified with that prominent Williams County paper. The firm afterward became Gillis & Ogle, and after several years Mr. Gillis became sole proprietor of the Press. He sold it in 1889, and definitely retired from the newspaper business. For the past quarter of a century he has been engaged in the insurance field, and he has also served as pension attorney at Bryan.
For nearly forty years he enjoyed the companionship of a devoted wife, and in his declining years he may take a full measure of comfort in the character and attainments of his worthy children. On July 7, 1870, he married Miss Myra Ball, daughter of Thomas and Phoebe (Wright) Ball. Her parents were early settlers in Williams County, locating there in 1845. Mrs. Gillis died October 20, 1909. She was the mother of four children. Ethel, who after fourteen years of a successful business career became the wife of Mr. Frank Dorsey, and is now devoting her energies to the domestic duties of her home at Perth, Amboy, New Jersey, and is the mother of a son, Frank G. Faie, a former school teacher, is the wife of Omar L. Spangler, a manufacturer and jobber of candies and confectionery; they have two children, Helen and Harlan G. Harlan W., who spent some years in the building and superintendence of telephone plants, is now superintendent of the cost, stock and statistical department of the Dodge Transmission Company of Mishawaka, Indiana: Donna is the wife of Hugh E. McCurdy, a life insurance agent and expert bookkeeper at Toledo ; they have one child, a daughter, Ardis.
Mrs. Gillis was for many years a successful teacher in the common schools of Williams County and for two years in the graded schools of Greensburg, Indiana. After her marriage she was intensely devoted to the welfare of her home and children. Mr.. Gillis is an active member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and he and his children worship in the Presbyterian Church.