Archibald C. Gresham
Co. D, 22nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry
Post-Civil War picture of Archibald C. Gresham and his wife, the former Mary Jane Baker. The photo is believed to have been taken in Missouri in the late 1970's. Archibald died 18 Feb 1882.
Biography of Archibald C. Gresham
by Henry W. Gresham, gr-grandson
Archibald Columbus Gresham, the ninth child of Archibald Gresham, was born in Blount County, Tennessee, on May 9, 1839. He spent his childhood and early manhood on his father's farm, later moving with his parents to Elm Point, Bond County, in Illinois, where they established another farm. This move was apparently prompted by the growing ill feeling preceding the Civil War, and serves to show the sentiments of the family toward the impending conflict. They chose to leave the South rather than be dragged into the secessionist cause.
When the Civil War finally erupted, Archibald joined Company D of the 22nd Regiment of the Illinois Infantry Volunteers. Due either to a clerical error upon enlistment, or perhaps for some personal reason, he was enlisted and served under the name "Grisham" rather than the correct "Gresham."
(Despite this, his veteran's grave marker uses "Gresham," while the family stone uses "Grisham." The veteran's marker also shows his company as 'A,' when all archival records show 'D.' I cannot explain the origin of these discrepancies.) The date was June 11, 1861, two months and one day after the Confederate shelling of Fort Sumpter opened hostilities, and a little over one month prior to the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas). He was just past his 22nd birthday, a tall six feet one inch, with deep blue eyes. He completed his three-year enlistment with the 22nd Regiment of the Illinois Infantry Volunteers, mustering out with the rank of sergeant. He was thus a veteran of battles at Belmont and Charleston, Missouri; Stones River (Murfreesboro), Tennessee; Chickamauga, Mission (or Missionary) Ridge, Resaca, and New Hope Church, Georgia; and several others.
After Archibald C. Gresham was mustered out of Union Army service, he returned to his father's farm at Elm Point, Illinois. On June 27, 1867, he married Mary Jane Baker, a beautiful young lady of seventeen, who was born in Belleville, Illinois, January 2, 1850. They remained in the area for about two years. She gave birth to Olive Saforna on March 25, 1868, and Ellen (Nellie) on November 14, 1869. Some time around 1870, they left Bond County to purchase, for $630, a 62 acre farm near Carthage, Missouri. Little is known about their lives there, except that three more children were born: Chauncey Chaun (my grandfather) on November 16, 1871; Annie Lauretta on January 1, 1874, and Archibald Columbus (the third Archibald in three generations) on March 7, 1876.Around 1879, the family moved to the Madison County, Arkansas, farm on Penitentiary Mountain. No particular reason is known that caused them to move, but it is curious that they would choose such a remote site for a farm. Perhaps it was a simple matter of the availability of land, or perhaps a desire to be in hills similar to Archibald's childhood home in Tennessee. At any rate, with their oldest child a mere eleven, and the youngest only three, they began their farming lives anew on 120 acres of Ozark mountaintop. Perhaps for a veteran of such severe Civil War action, the task of carving a farm out of the Ozark wilderness seemed undaunting, but when I look at the woodland now there, I find it inconceivable that one man could turn it into a viable farm. Nevertheless, he did it, as did millions of other American pioneers. They were made of stern stuff! Incidentally, Archibald and Mary managed to have another child there, Bijou Aletha, born January 21, 1879.
He barely got a working farm in good order when, in 1882, he was stricken with typhoid fever. He died on February 18, 1882, and was laid to rest in the little country cemetery at the foot of the bluff below his cabin. A simple farmer, dutiful soldier, and family man, he had seen the best and the worst that life can offer. He survived some of the worst fighting of Americaís worst war, only to succumb to a disease long since eradicated in this country. But he left behind a large family that would survive the tough times after his death to go on and carve out their own successes in the world. Mary Jane Baker Gresham remained in the area. In 1890, she began receiving a widowís pension of eight dollars per month, with four dollars added for her remaining dependant children. By 1917 the pension had increased to twenty-five dollars monthly. She died on July 18, 1927, and was laid to rest beside her husband Archibald.
Researched by Henry C. Gresham, a WWII veteran and grandson of Archibald C. Gresham. Submitted by his son, Henry W. Gresham.
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