Civil War Veterans Buried In Washington State - Justus Rockwell

Justus O. Rockwell

Representing: Union

G.A.R Post

  • John F Miller Post #31 Seattle, King Co. WA

Unit History

  • 97th New York Infantry E

See full unit history

Justus Rockwell
Full Unit History

Organized: Jan. / Feb., 1862 Booneville, NY
Mustered In: 2/18 or 19/1862 Booneville, NY
Mustered Out: 7/18/1865 Washington, D.C. 

Regimental History


The 97th New York – also known as the Conkling Rifles – was a three year infantry regiment. . Recruited in the counties of Oneida and Herkimer, during the American Civil War (ACW) it served in the eastern theater of combat.

Leaving the state on 3/12/1862 the regiment travelled to Washington City. There it was quartered at Ft. Corcoran until May when it moved southward into Virginia. There it occupied various posts in the neighborhood of the Rappahannock River.  It’s first engagement was at Cedar Mountain, VA (8/9/1862) where it lost one hundred eleven killed, wounded and missing.

In September, ’62 it faced the enemy again at South Mountain, MD (9/14/1862) and Antietam, MD (9/17/1862). At the latter place it suffered its most severe loss – twenty four killed, seventy four wounded and nine missing - than at any other time within its period of service. It concluded the year by being prominently engaged at Fredericksburg, VA (12/11 – 15/1862).

May, 1863 found the 97th at Chancellorsville, VA (4/30 – 5/6). From there, it marched to Gettysburg, PA where (7/1 – 3) it distinguished itself by capturing the colors of the 20th North Carolina and three hundred eighty two prisoners.

Moving southward from Pennsylvania the 97th was present at Bristol Station, VA (10/14/1863). It completed the year with the Mine Run, VA movement, (11/27/- 12/2/1863).

In 1864 the veteranized 97th was joined by veterans and recruits of the 84th New York Infantry. Earlier, it had assimilated men from the 94th and 26th New York.

Heavy losses were sustained by the 97th during Union Gen. U.S. Grant’s Overland Campaign into Virginia. . Costly actions included The Wilderness (5/5 – 5/7/1864), Spotsylvania (5/8 – 21/1864) and along the Weldon Railroad. Other engagements of this period included the North Anna River (5/25 5/26/1864), Totopotomoy Creek (5/28 – 5/30/1864), White Oak Swamp (6/30/1862) and in front of Petersburg (6/1864). The regiment’s final campaign was that of Appomattox, VA (4/1865).

Officers Killed Or Mortally Wounded:  12; Officers Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.: 1; Enlisted Men Killed Or Mortally Wounded:  169*; Enlisted Men Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.:  156.

* The 97th was one of a scant few Union regiments to lose more men in combat than it did to non-combat hazards.

Soldier History

Residence: Booneville, NY   Age: 27 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled:  9/22/1861 Prospect, NY   Rank:  2nd Lieut.
Mustered In/Commissioned: 10/15/1861 2nd Lieut.
Promoted: 10/24/1862 1st Lieut.
Discharged: 3/15/1865
Highest Rank: 1st Lieut.
Rank At Discharge: 1st Lieut.

Family History


Justus O. Rockwell was born 4/19/1834. His place of birth was Prospect Oneida County, NY.

Parenting Justus were Samuel Rockwell (b. 2/28/1879 Wethersfield Hartford County, CT – d. 9/29/1866 Trenton Oneida County, NY) and Mary A. (nee McKibbe b. 8/27/1790 – d. 12/21/1879 NY) Rockwell. By trade Samuel was a shoe maker.

As best as can be determined, Samuel and Mary produced at least seven children. Of those seven, Justus was the sixth. His older siblings were Silas Rockwell (b. 1816 NY), Andrew H. Rockwell (b. 1818 NY), Mary A. Rockwell (b. 1821 NY), John Watson Rockwell (b. 2823 NY) and Harriet E. Rockwell (b. 1827 NY). Younger than he was Dean Milton Rockwell (b. 1837 Prospect Oneida County, NY).

As of 1855 Justus was residing in his parents’ home located in Trenton, Oneida County, NY. Five years later, however, - 1855 – he was still in Oneida County, NY, but by then living in Boonville with hotel keeper Robert Hulbert and his wife.

In 1855 Justus noted his occupation as “painter”. While the broadly brushed term is not defined, many years later he would indicate that he was a sign (writer) painter. Apparently, he was also a musician. More on this later.

At some point in time during the calendar year, 1862, Justus married. Exactly when and where – although it was likely in New York –are unknowns.

The new Mrs. Justus Rockwell was Hannah H. “Hattie” Smith. Hattie had been born 2/17/1839 in New York State. When and where the two had met – like their marriage date – are unknowns.

During their years together Justus and Hattie produced no children.  The couple did, however, adopt a son (b. 2/1875 PA) they named Harold L. Rockwell.

April, 1861 saw civil war spread across the American landscape. On 9/22 of that same year, in Booneville, NY Justus enlisted in the U.S. Army. His unit was the 97th New York Infantry’s company “E” and his commissioned rank was second lieutenant.   A little over a year later, however on 10/24/1862 he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.

All seemed well for 2nd, then 1st Lieutenant Rockwell until mid-1863. On 7/1 of that year in or near a little Pennsylvania crossroads town called Gettysburg, Lieutenant Rockwell was captured by enemy forces. The capture resulted in his serving extensive time in two Rebel prisoner – of – war facilities. The first was located in Macon, GA. The second was Camp Asylum located in Columbia, SC.

Available documents are silent on how long Lieutenant Rockwell was imprisoned, but it was, apparently, for a significant period of time – perhaps until The War ended. This is said because, on Christmas day, 1864, while incarcerated at Camp Asylum in South Carolina word was received that Union troops under the generalship of William T. Sherman had captured Savannah, GA. The news prompted painter/musician Rockwell to compose a song he called “Sherman’s March To The Sea” which, went on to become “super, super famous.”

Following the ACW we lose contact with Justus and family for many decades. Where he and Hattie resided during those years are unknowns. There are, however, some hints. For example, in 6/1889 former Lieutenant Rockwell applied for and was granted a U.S. Government disability pension. Without accessing his pension files from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. we don’t know the details of his monthly stipend, but we do known that at the time of application Justus and family were living somewhere in Missouri. 

1880. A new decade.  A new U.S. Census. That year’s population tally found the Rockwells, not in Missouri, but in Tomkins Warren County, IL. There, Justus listed his occupation as “carriage porter.”

Most of the U.S. Census for 1890 was destroyed by fire, so we do not know where the Rockwells were residing at that time. But, by 1892 Justus, Hattie and Howard were in Seattle King County, WA. What had drawn them to the shores of Lake Washington and the Puget Sound and when they had arrived here are unknowns.

In 1892, here in the Pacific Northwest, Justus continued to ply his sign painting trade.  By 1900, however, he had changed livelihoods and noted himself as being in “real estate.”

Hattie died in Seattle on 12/13/1908. The cause of her death at the age of seventy one (71 check) years is not known. She was/is buried in the Grand Army Of The Republic (G.A.R.) Cemetery located near the north end of the city’s Capitol Hill.

After Hattie’s passing Justus remained in Seattle where, on 8/24/1914, he remarried. On this occasion his bride was (the previously married Eva A Adams (nee Ryder). Born in Vermont, several birth years exist for Eva. Herein we are adopting 7/28/1856.

At some point in time after marrying, Justus and Eva quitted Seattle and moved northward to Snohomish, Snohomish County, WA. The Snohomish census tally for 1920 noted their residence there and the fact that, at age 85 Justus was, once again, painting signs.

Eva died in Seattle King County, WA on 9/13/1926. She was/is buried in the Seattle GAR Cemetery King County, WA. Sometime after that, Justus returned to living in Seattle.

In 8/20/1930, in Seattle King County, WA Justus married for a third – and final – time.  The last Mrs. Rockwell was the previously wed Hattie Elizabeth Alexander (nee Royal). Hattie had been born ca. 1864/’65 in Maine. Hattie was living with Justus in 1920 Census and was noted as his Nurse.

On 5/25/1932 Justus died in his home – 3505 Hudson St – on 5/25/1932. Cause of the ninety eight (98.1) year old’s death was terminal bronchial pneumonia with urinary retention (uremia) due to a hypertrophied prostate, contributing.  Notification of the death was provided to authorities by his wife, Hattie Burial was/is in Seattle’s G.A.R. Cemetery with first wife, Hannah.

Dropping back a half century, on 6/18/1890 while in Missouri, Justus applied for and was granted a U.S. Government disability pension based on his days of Civil War soldiering. Without accessing his pension files the details of his monthly stipend remain unknown. What is known, however, is that after his passing, on 6/28/1932 Hattie requested to receive a portion of that payment. Based on one pension document available it does not appear the request was granted.

And Hattie? She died in Seattle King County, WA on 6/14/1933 and was cremated. Her final resting place is not known.

 Posted: 9/14/2023


Buried at Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery Seattle
Site: 533

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