|From Adam Close's Will in Mercer County, Pennsylvania 1865|
When I found James' death date, I became confused. James did fight in the Civil War and was killed on May 8th, 1864, about 9 months before Adam wrote his will. Why didn't Adam know his son had been killed? And did Adam learn of his son's death before he died nine months after writing his will?
Just a few days ago, I got more insight into this family. I was surprised to find that Adam's widow, Catharine, had applied for a pension for her son's service. But, after reading through forty-four pages, I understood why. I guess it was somewhat unusual, but a dependent father or mother could also apply for a pension. And, from this file, it appears that James' parents had been dependent on him.
Adam Close suffered from Phthesis Pulmonalis, also known as consumption, for at least five years and possibly for fifteen or more years. Now known as tuberculosis (TB), this bacterial infection can attack any organ in the body though it most commonly is found in the lungs. It was also called "consumption" because it basically consumed a body causing a severe weight loss. Besides weight loss, patients often suffered from weakness, fever, and night sweats. When TB attacked lungs, patients would suffer from coughing, chest pain, and coughing up blood. [From CDC site.]
Although this disease was contagious, at this time people thought it was hereditary. Many people with a TB infection don't suffer from the affects of it but can still spread the disease.
For the last three years of his life, Adam was confined to his "room and bed." One affidavit states that Adam "was so reduced by the disease that he was a charge and care to his wife and family instead of a support for them..." It goes on to say that Adam refused prescriptions that an elderly doctor gave him which left James "soley and entirely" in support of his family... by his labor with all the necessaries of life for a period of five years previous to [James'] death.
James took on the responsibility of caring for his parents. By the age of 16, he worked as a farmer and gave his parents all of his money "except so much as was necessary for his own clothing." While in the army, he sent money home in his letters.James registered for the draft in 1863 at the age of 21, but he actually joined Company H of the 150th Infantry Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers on February 13th, 1864. Less than 3 months later, he took place in what I believe was his first battle, the battle of the Wilderness in Virginia. At the age of 23, James was shot "by a ball passing through from the back and coming out at the breast." [Widow's Pension Application]
Although James died less than three months after leaving to join the fighting, his parents evidently didn't know of his death for presumably many months. Some friends said that Adam and Catharine "could not maintain themselves but it became necessary for the neighbors to assist them in order to keep them from suffering." Catharine, who was only 62, was described as "old and feeble." "She has no means else of support and cannot possibly live without aid from some source having lost her husband and given her only son and support to her country."
So, Adam Close lived dependent on his only son for the last three to five years of his life. He suffered from a dreadful disease and had to watch his "feeble" wife depend on their son, and later their neighbors, too. As Adam approached death, it appears he held out hope that his only son was still living.
Adam's own father, Peter Close, had died when Adam was only about 12 years old. Though Adam lived with an older brother, I imagine he had to 'grow up' and take care of himself at a fairly young age. Adam was only 68 when he died and, though evidently quite ill, it must have been hard for him to depend on his own son for not only his welfare, but his wife's, also.
Source: All quotes are from Catharine Close's pension application for the service of James M Close (WC136993) found on Fold3
My Line of Descent
- Adam Close (1797-1865) m. Catharine [Longwell?] (1804-1889)
- Julia Ann "July" Close (1826-1905) m. John W McClintock (1825-1890)
- Catharine Jane McClintock (1852-1929) m. Alexander Stewart (1852-1922)
- Andrew "Andy" McClinock Stewart (1882-1954) m. Bessie Waldron Merrill (1879-1959)
- James Edward Stewart (1910-1972) m. Hazel Lucille Peters (1910-1975) (my paternal grandparents)
Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org