Several local county history books have biographies of the family that say, “During the war he served in the 100-day service, enlisting in the spring of 1864.” Neither he nor his widow ever applied for a pension, however, he was quite well off and perhaps, did not feel the need or did not qualify to draw one. A G.A.R. marker stands in front of his tombstone.
A Veterans Grave Registration card for him is on file in the recorder’s office at the courthouse.* So, are the grave registration cards for many of his relatives, including his cousin, James Neely and that is where the problem begins.
The military information on my great, great grandfather, James H.’s card (top card on image) and the information on the card for his cousin, James (bottom, left) is the same. I ordered the only pension file and compiled service records for James Neely with this service information. Since the information I had found about the pension file before ordering showed that a James Neely served as a sergeant in Co. K, 118th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (O. V. I.) and a private in the 183rd O. V. I., I thought that it was possible that the pension files for both men might have gotten put in the same folder. No such luck. Cousin James served first in the 183rd as a private. When he got promoted to sergeant, he was transferred to Co. K, 118th.
I made two trips to the National Archives in Washington, D. C. and looked in the index at approximately 200 men named James Neely or names which could be misspellings for Neely. I looked at the actual pension files and compiled service records for all of these men who served from Ohio.
In 20 years of searching, nothing has turned up showing different military information for my great, great grandfather. Everything shows the same information as that which is on his cousin’s records.
To throw an iron in the fire, recently, I did a search on Fold3 to see if anything new showed up for my great, great grandfather. What I found was a third James Neely’s grave registration card with the same information (bottom, right).
It is no mystery which James Neely did serve in Co. K, 118th and 183rd O. V. I. Reading his pension file leaves no doubt as he and his wife and several other relatives are clearly identified in the pages. Also, the dates of birth and death and burial place match those on the graves registration card.
The mystery remains as to what regiments did my second great grandfather and James Neely buried in Franklin County, Ohio served in. These men need honored and their service needs to be found and preserved. I’m at a loss of what else I can do to locate the right records for them. Any suggestions or takers?
*These cards are available at the courthouse, on microfilm, and now online.