1862: Lyman R. Church to Cousin

This cryptic letter was written by Lyman R. Church (1834-Aft1900), the son of Oliver Church (1811-1900) and Mary LaRue (1811-1897) of LaRue P. O., Montgomery township, Marion county, Ohio. The letter pertains to the death of Lyman’s brother, Oliver Hazard Perry (“Pary”) Church (1842-1862) who enlisted in Co. G. 82nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) in November 1861. We learn from Lyman’s letter that Pary was with his regiment in the battles of McDowell (8 May 1862) and Cross Keys (8 June 1862)  but died of typhoid fever in a hospital at Winchester, Virginia, on 14 July 1862. We know from government military burial records that Pary was originally buried in the Lutheran Graveyard but his body was later reinterred at the Winchester National Cemetery, Grave No. 279.

In the 1850 U.S. Census, the Church family was enumerated in Miegs county where Pary’s father and older brother Lyman worked as miners in the coal fields of southeastern Ohio. By 1860, the family had relocated to Marion county where they made their living as farmers. We know from the 1850 Census that Pary’s full name was actually “Oliver Perry Hazard Church”—named after the “Hero of Lake Erie.” In military enrollment records, Pary was identified as “Oliver P. Church.” Mentioned in the letter is Lyman’s younger brother, James Church, born 1845.

Lyman Church was married in 1861 to Susan Frazier. In May 1864, Lyman enlisted in Co. B, 136th OVI. He remained with this regiment for less than four months and mustered out at Camp Chase, Ohio. In 1868 he and his wife relocated to a farm near Girard, Crawford county, Kansas, where he remained until 1882 when they moved to Fort Scott and he entered the book business. [Source: William G. Cutler’s History of the State of Kansas, Bourbon County, Part 9.]

Lyman wrote the letter to his cousin, otherwise unidentified.

Lyman R. Church’s 1862 Letter with tintype of unidentified Union soldier


LaRue [P. O., Montgomery township, Marion county, Ohio]
July 25th 1862

Dear Cousin,

We have just received a letter from you enquiring about Pary. I have just returned from Winchester, Va., coming last Thursday night. I went to see Pary who was in the hospital there. I only found the poor boy’s grave. He died on the 14th of July at Winchester of typhoid fever. He was at the battles of McDowell & Cross Keys & escaped unharmed but came back to Strasburg only to take sick & die. Father’s health is fast failing him & I expect to soon be left without him. Mother is reasonably well. So is James’ & myself. But cousin, I cannot write at present. I hope that you will write soon. P. S. Uncle William LaRue ¹ is here. They are all well. So farewell. — L. R. Church

¹ Maj. William LaRue (1799-1880) was Lyman’s uncle, the son of Jacob and Sarah (Gardner) LaRue. He laid out the village of LaRue in Marion county, Ohio, in 1851. The village rested on the east bank of the Scioto river. Major LaRue was described as “a large, strong man, standing about six feet two inches and weighing a little better than two hundred pounds.” [Find a Grave]

The Headstone of O. P. Church in Winchester National Cemetery

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