42nd WISCONSIN VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
Organized: August, 1864 Camp Randall Madison, WI
Mustered In: 9/7/64
Mustered Out: 6/20/65 Milwaukee, WI
This one-year regiment was formed in the wake of onset of Union Gen. U.S. Grant's Overland Campaign which saw seasoned troops pulled from garrison, railroad guard and other "rear echelon" duties to take to the field. To fill the void created by this troop reallocation, short-term units were formed. The 42nd was one such regiment.
The 42nd departed Wisconsin about 9/20/64 for Cairo, Illinois. From there, on October 15th cos. "A", "F", "D", "I" and "C" were sent to Columbus, KY to assist in defense against Rebel guerillas. Alternatively, cos. "B", "G", "K", "E" and "H" were ordered to Springfield, IL where co. "B" was assigned provost (military police) duty while co. "G" was sent to Marshall. Cos. "H" and "K" were afterwards sent in search of deserters and to forward drafted men to rendezvous/induction centers. The regiment was reunited at Cairo in early winter and performed provost and guard duty until final muster.
Original regimental strength: 877; Gain by recruiting: 130; Substitute: 1; Total: 1008
Regimental losses: 57 by death; 18 by desertion; 149 transferred; 138 discharged; 646 mustered out.
Residence: Verona, WI Age: 17 yrs. (est.)
Enlisted/Enrolled: 9/2/64 Madison, WI Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 9/2/64
Mustered Out: 6/20/65 Madison, WI
Discharged: 6/20/65 Madison, WI
Highest Rank: Pvt.
Franklin Jefferson Matts was born of the Union of Josiah H.B. (b. 1812 PA) and Lydia (nee Flick b. 1821 PA) Matts. While his specific birth month and birth date are not known, his birth year was 1847.
In 1840 the Matts family was residing in Lower Mount Bethel, North Hampton County, PA. It was likely in that community and county that Josiah and Lydia produced their first two children: Nicholas (b. 1825 PA) and William G. H. (b. 1840 PA).
Sometime after the birth of William and before that of their next child, farmer Josiah and Lydia departed Pennsylvania and moved their family westward to Wisconsin where they settled in or near Verona in Dane County.As identified, their children born in in Wisconsin were: Horace (b. 1845 WI), Franklin J. (b. 1847 WI), John H. (b. 1849/50 WI) and Emma C. (b. 1855 WI). All that is known about Franklin's youth is that it was spent on the family farm.
In September, 1864 teenaged Franklin enrolled/enlisted in the U.S. Army. At that time the farm youth was noted as being 5'4" tall, light-complexioned, and having black eyes and brown hair. As for his period of military service, being assigned to a primarily non-combat unit, it was apparently benign as no notations exist in his pension records pertaining to wounding, illness or other difficulties.
Army life, brief though it was behind him, Franklin returned to his parents' farm in Verona. He appears to have remained here until sometime in 1871 when he left the fold and moved to Nanticoke/Nauticoke, PA. No reason for the move is given and there is no documentation regarding his occupation while in Pennsylvania. However, as that was a coal mining and railroad region, perhaps he was employed in one of those businesses. Franklin apparently remained there until 1876 when he removed from Pennsylvania to Montgomery/Coal Valley, West Virginia. Again, the nature of his occupation endeavors in this region are not documented, but West Virginia is known for its coal mining.
Like his occupation, information bearing on other areas of Franklin's life during his West Virginia tenure is almost nonexistent. However, at some point, likely in the late 1870s he married to Estelle A. Hawes (b. l858 WI). Where the wedding took place is not known.
Franklin and Estelle produced once child: Grace Estelle (b. 9/1/80) before Mrs. Matts' sad and untimely passing on 12/23/80, likely from complications of childbirth. Suddenly, Franklin was a young father and widower at the same time. Grace would spend the majority of her younger years being raised by her maternal grandparents, Jasper T and Mary J. Hawes.
Although U.S. census data pertaining to Franklin has not been located for 1880 it appears likely he was somewhere in West Virginia. In later years when attempting to acquire a U.S. Government disability pension based on ailments which he claimed traced back to his period of Civil War soldiering, he would claim to have been in West Virginia until sometime in 1884 when he moved westward to Huron Beadle County, South Dakota. Once more, what his occupation was during this period and why the move are not documented. He would say, however, that circa 1885 (while in South Dakota) he contracted catarrh (respiratory infection of the head) and rheumatism).
Again, while no documentational dates exist, sometime during 1887 Franklin remarried. His new bride was his late wife's younger sister Mary Lititia Hawes (b. l867 WI). While the U.S. Census would later peg the birth of the couples' first child (Golda "Goldie" Edith to October, 1889, Franklin's pension files mark the South Dakota birth on 10/21/88.)
1890 found Franklin and family still residing in Huron, South Dakota. That same year he began in earnest the paperwork necessary for acquisition of the afore mentioned Government disability stipend. At that time his alleged ailments included rheumatism, eye disease, spinal damage, fever, ague, kidney, spleen and lever problems as well as a general weakening of his health. By mid-1891 the request had been granted and he was receiving an $8 per month payment. It would remain at that payment level until 5/24/09 when it was raised to $12. From that date on it moved steadily upward to where it may have peaked at $67.50 at the time of his death.
Whether Franklin's government disability pension had started in 1891 or slightly earlier, '91 was to prove significant for him in two ways; firstly, on July 1st he and Mary's second child, John Dudley was born. Secondly toward the end of '91 the Matts family departed South Dakota for the warmer climes of southern California. Although, it is not known for certain their settlement location was likely in the City of Gardena, on the outskirts of Los Angeles in Los Angeles County. It was there the 1900 census found Franklin employed as a farmer.
Before moving to the 1900s, however, the latter part of 1800's need to be addressed. The period, especially the year 1898 would prove bitter sweet for Franklin. First the good news: On 4/15/98 twin sons Lester Hawes and Leslie Hawes were born. Now the bad news: on 6/25 or 26/98 Mary died. Like her sister before her, the cause was likely complications from childbirth. Franklin, for the second time in his life was a new father and a widower.
Circa 1902/'03 Franklin moved from the L.A. area northward to the Puget Sound of Washington State where he settled in or around the Snohomish community of Marysville. Same story with this move: Why and exactly when it was made is not known. The only available incident in his life of note following his move was that in 1905 or ‘08 son Lester died. Where the death occurred is not documented. The same holds true for Son John who would die on 12/5/11.
1910. The census for that year found Franklin still in Marysville. At that time the former Union soldier declared his occupation to be that of a bookkeeper. A decade later he remained in Marysville employed as a real estate broker. In the household with him was son Leslie.
When 1930 rolled around Franklin's living status had changed. No longer employed or living on his own in Marysville, the then-82 year old was in Seattle, King County, WA residing in the home of his married daughter Golda Edith, her husband and ten year old daughter. Located at 2827 West 61st St., the residence appears to have been in or near the City's Queen Anne Hill district. This would be Franklin's last residential stop.
On 10/26/33 while visiting in Marysville Franklin was taken ill. Driven by ambulance southward into Seattle he was admitted to the Ballard area's General and Accident Hospital where he died on 10/30. Cause of death was listed as lobar pneumonia with general senility contributing. At his passing the old soldier was 85.3 years of age. His remains were transported back to Marysville for burial in that city's community cemetery.
Buried at Marysville Cemetery
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