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Isaac and Mary Jane (Craft) Hemminger
Mary's diary excerpts written while Isaac was a way in the Civil War.

Contributed by Phyllis Nilsson of Toledo, Ohio (April 2004)

The diary of Mary spans the period from January to October of 1863. She was with an infant child living in Bangor township at the time. Her words give us some perspective of this earlier time, and in particular, the feelings of young bride struggling with the agony of her soldier husband off fighting in the Civil War. To fully appreciate Mary's diary and that time period, read the materials provided below.

BACKGROUND TO DIARY

On 23 July 1854, Isaac Hemminger married Mary Jane Craft. He had been born in Ohio, she in New York (although one Bible entry states she was born in Plymouth, Michigan), but they were married in Bangor, Saginaw County, Michigan. Isaac was 23, Mary Jane was 20. Their witnesses were Samuel Copeland and Matthew Little of Bangor. The Justice of the Peace was Jacob H. Little.

On 3 July 1859, Isaac was a witness at the marriage of James Craft, born in New Brunswick, Canada (as were both his parents), and Amanda King who was born in Maine, as was her mother. Her father was born in New Brunswick. James was 20 years old and Amanda was 18. They were married in Bangor. Another witness at this marriage was Angus Mc Donald. The marriage was performed by G. W. Sayes, Justice of the Peace. In 1880, James and Amanda were still married, but by then had moved to Topsfield, Washington County, Maine. Their family included their sons George H, age 18 and Ona L, age 10 plus his daughters, B., age 14 and Nina J., age 14 (twins?).

The very next day, 4 July 1859, G. W. Sayles performed another marriage in which Isaac took part. It was the marriage of Helen Maria Craft and William VanVoorheis. Both were listed as being of "mature age", and Angus McDonald was a witness at this marriage also.

On 17 December 1861, Isaac again was witness at a Craft family wedding when Wilson O. Craft born in New York (as were both his parents) married Mary Ann Sheeley in Bangor, Bay County. Wilson was 29, Mary Ann was 21. Another witness, in addition to Isaac, was H. M. VanVoorheis. This marriage was performed in Bangor by Jacob C. Worttey, Minister of the Gospel. Wilson and Mary Ann had a daughter born 14 Oct 1872 in Bay County, Michigan. Isaac was not at Wilson's second marriage when he married Caroline (Carrie) Gardner, born in Greenbush, Alcona, Michigan, on 24 November 1973, in Clinton, Michigan. Wilson was then 40, Caroline was 28. In 1880, Wilson was a saloonkeeper in West Bay City, and in his family living with him at that time were Carrie, his wife, and his daughters Jessie, age 17; Lillie, age 9, and Etta, age 4. Also living with them were his son, William, age 13. In 1890, Wilson O. and Wilson J. Craft were listed as living at 207 S. Henry Street.

Just five months after Wilson and Mary Ann were married, Mary Jane presented Isaac with their baby daughter, Ella May, born on 9 May 1862, in Banks. Six months later, on 13 November 1862, Isaac was mustered into the 7th Michigan Calvary, Company C at Grand Rapids, Michigan, as a private. The Civil War had begun, and Mary Jane was among those women whose husbands had joined the Union Army.


  • Isaac Hemminger was taken prisoner at battle of Trevilian Station on June 11, 1864, died at Vicksburg, Warren Co., MS, on April 11, 1865 and is buried at the Vicksburg National Cemetery, plot L6192, Vicksburg, Warren Co., Mississippi.
  • Mary (Craft) Hemminger date of death is unknown at this time. In 1870 census she is still living in Bangor, with her daughter Ella.
  • Mary and Isaac were married 23 Jul 1854. After Isaac's death she married Bradley Brookins, at Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, on Oct. 7, 1874.
  • Alice Hemminger born about 1855, assumed died as young child.
  • Ella May Hemminger married Robert Warns and they had a daugher, Jennie who married a Lawrence Harper from Indiana. Ella died 13 Feb. 1893, at Toledo, Lucas Co., OH, and is buried at Ft. Meigs Cemetery in Perrysburg, Wood Co., OH.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

Bangor Township:

Before Bay County was organized in 1857, it was a part of Hampton Township of Saginaw County. The organized territory of the new county was comprised of two large townships, Williams and Hampton which include today's Arenac County. Two years later, the townships of Bangor, Arenac and Portsmouth were organized out of the territories of Williams and Hampton. The geographical area of Bangor township was a much larger at that time than it is today, and it had a population of about 200 people. Like other areas of county, it was still a wilderness of dense forests and traveling was over trails to other settlements.

Communities:

The largest and only significant community of size were the villages of Bay City and Portsmouth. Bay City was the largest of the two with about 1500 residents and a significant number of merchant stores. At that time, Bay City's boundaries were limited to land on the east side of the Saginaw River -- Portsmouth was due south of it. On the west side of the river were the small villages of Banks and Salzburg. Banks, the older of the two, was platted by Joseph Trombley in 1851. Salzburgh was platted by Dr. D.H. Fitzhugh. The area between them just opposite of Bay City was still a wilderness and was owned by James G. Birney for grazing cattle. It wasn't developed until 1866, when the Sage & McGraw sawmill was built at the river's edge just south of today's Midland Street. A company town, called "Wenona," was created by the sawmill, and a few years later became a village. The these three villages eventually merged to West Bay City.

Living Conditions:

To purchase provisions, settlers living outside of the villages of Bay City or Portsmouth had to travel by foot or horseback over a trail for hours. Settlers living on the west side of the river had to use a boat or take a barge to cross the Saginaw River. The first bridge was a wood toll completed in 1865 by the Bay City Bridge Co.

Maintaining a homestead was a hard life for settlers. Water had to hauled from the nearest source and reason why most settlers lived close to a river or stream. Because of this baths and washing of clothes were usually done at the water's source. Wood had to be cut regularly for fuel for cooking and heating the house. Securing food for meals was a daily chore. They had to maintain a garden for thier vegetables, raise chickens for eggs and meat, and those fortunate enough -- had pigs and a cow. Fishing and hunting small game animals helped to supplement thier meals. And, they had to deal with the constant threat of wild animials such as the wolves and bears that frequented this area at that time.

Significant Local Events During Civil War Period (1861-1865):

1861:
- Portsmouth Salt Co. produces first salt barrel product.

1862
- Village of Salzburg is platted.

1863:
- Western Union Telegraph begins operations in Bay City.

1864
- Post office opens in village of Banks.
- William Crothwaite opens shipyard in Banks.
- John Culbert starts publishing Bay City Journal.
- A.N. Rouech bring first circus to Bay City.

1865:
- John Weed starts up a shipyard.
- Bay City incorporates as a city.
- Fraser House opens at Center & Water streets.
- Horse-drawn streetcars introduced in Bay City.
- Third Street Bridge, a wooden toll bridge, opens.
- Brewery opened in Salzburg by John Ross.
- Sage & McGraw sawmill being built on west bank of river opposite Bay City.
- The Civil War ends (casualties 364,511).

Diary: Jan-Feb-Mar-Apr

Hemminger Diary Pages

Soldier's Coffin


Headstone
at Vicksburg

Diary: Jan-Feb-Mar-Apr
Diary: May-Jun-Jul
Related Pages
Return to Groups/
Cival War History
Craft, Wilson O.
People Referenced
Birney, James G.
Copeland, Samuel
Craft, B.
Craft, Emma
Craft, George H.
Craft, Helen M.
Craft, James
Craft, Jessie
Craft, Lillie
Craft, Mary Jane
Craft, Nina J.
Craft, Ona L.
Craft, William
Craft, Wilson J.
Craft, Wilson O.
Crothwaite, William
Culbert, John
Fitzhugh, D.H. (Dr.)
Gardner(Carrie), Caroline
Hemminger, Ella May
Hemminger, Isaac
King, Amanda
Little, Jacob H.
Little, Matthew
McDonald, Angus
Ross, John
Rouech, A.N.
Sayes, G.W.
Sheeley, Mary Ann
Trombley, Joseph
Van Voorheis, H.M.
Weed, John
Worttey, Jacob C.
Subjects Referenced
1st circus
7th Mich. Calvary, Co. C
Alcona County, MI
Arenac County, MI
Banks post office
Banks (village), MI
Bangor Township, MI
Bay City Bridge Co.
Bay City Journal
Bay County, MI
Civil War
Clinton, MI
Crothwaite shipyard
Fraser House
Grand Rapids, MI
Greenbush, MI
Hampton Twsp., Bay Co.
Hampton Twsp., Saginaw Co.
Horse-drawn streetcars
Maine
New Brunswick, Canada
New York
Pymouth, MI
Portsmouth Salt Co.
Portsmouth Township, MI
Portsmouth (village), MI
Sage & McGraw sawmill
Saginaw County, MI
Saginaw River
Salzburg brewery
Salzburg (village), MI
Third st. toll bridge
Topsfield, ME
Union Army
Washington County, ME
Weed shipyard
Wenona (village), MI
West Bay City, MI
Western Union Telegraph
Williams Township, MI
Additional Records
1870 MI Census - Bangor
Hemminger, Mary, age 35, born NY
Hemminger, dau., age 8, bron MI
View pdf [Roll 662, 361R]
1850 US Census
Wood, Ohio:
Name/Age/Birth Place
Heminger Family
Daniel, age 43, PA
Catherine, age 40, OH
Isaac age 18, OH
Martha, age 16, OH
Sarah A., age 12, OH
Roson, age 12, OH
Thomas, age 11, OH
Source: [FamilySearch.org]
1900 US Census -NY
[Article 2008] by Dave Rogers, cites Hemminger and other local veterans who died in the Civil War.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.