Sunday, March 2, 2014

52 Ancestors Challenge - Week 9 - John H.M. Vines - 34th Alabama Infantry - Civil War

Is this the picture of John H.M. Vines??  We will probably never know for sure.  It was found in some of my great grandmother, Mamie's, things.  We believe it might be John H.M. Vines, her grandfather.  We can not be 100% sure of this, but the resemblance to his sister Lucinda, and his daughter Nancy Elizabeth are strong.  It is a small tin-type photo.  Also in her belongings, was a handwritten letter from John to his wife, Elizabeth Miles Vines that he wrote while away during the Civil War.  It was dated July 11, 1862, just 10 days before he died.

John H.M. Vines was born about 1829 in, or around, Abbeville, South Carolina.  He was the youngest son of John "Jabez" Vines and Nancy Mattison.  He had at least 2 sisters and 2 brothers that we know of:
  • Mary "Pollie" Ann - born 1822, died 1846
  • Benjamin J. "B.J." - born 1824, died 1910
  • George Washington - born 1828
  • Lucinda Purcilla - born 1832, died 1913
1830 Federal census we find a "Jabish" Vines living in Abbeville District, South Carolina.  There are additional children living in the household, besides the 4 we know they had: 2 older male children and 3 older female children.  So there is a possibility that John could have had additional siblings.

1840, we find the family has moved to Tallapoosa County, Alabama.  In the household are children the ages of John, B.J., George, and Lucinda.  Pollie was married by then to George M. Berry, and also living in Tallapoosa County.

Then, on February 13, 1849, we find the marriage record of John H.M. Vines and Elizabeth Miles.  Elizabeth was the oldest daughter of Robert P. Miles and Palmira Jackson.  She was born October 5, 1834 in Georgia, probably near Meriwether County.  We can see the couple living next to John's father Jabez, in Township 22, Tallapoosa County, Alabama on the 1850 census.

Together, the couple had 7 children:
  • Mary Ann Melvina 1850-1897
  • Nancy Elizabeth 1851-1920
  • Lucinda Jane 1853-1915
  • Susan Margarett 1854-????
  • Robert Javis 1856-1934
  • Matilda Estella 1859-1924
  • George Washington 1861-????

1860 Federal census we see John, Elizabeth and their 6 older children living in Western Division (Beat 2), Tallapoosa County, Alabama.  John's occupation is shown as "farmer."  There was also a "Non-Population Schedule" done for the year of 1860.  In it, we can see he owned a farm of 320 acres, 30 improved and 290 unimproved, with a cash value of $700.  On this farm, he had 5 horses, 5 milk cows, 2 working oxen, 2 other cattle, and 16 pigs (or swine as it states).  This livestock had a value of $590.  On this schedule you can see the majority of crops raised in the area were of Indian corn and cotton.  John's farm had 30 bushels of Indian corn and 9 bales of ginned cotton (bales were of 400lbs each).  Comparing John's farm to those of his father and siblings, you see his farm was much lower in value.  Comparing acres you see he had more acres then his siblings, but less of those acres were improved.  He also had less livestock.  His siblings and father lived near each other in Beat No. 13 in Tallapoosa County, but John lived in Beat No. 2.

Then, in 1861 came the Civil War.  Its hard to read the index cards on, however, you find John H.M. Vines age 30 enlisting as a Private in Company D of the 34th Alabama Infantry.  His brother George Washington Vines also enlisted and served in the same company.  In the book Soldiers of the Southern Cross, The Confederate Soldiers of Tallapoosa County, Alabama, by William Gregory Wilson, "the 34th Alabama Regiment was organized at Loachapoka in Macon County, Alabama on April 15, 1862."  The company was brought together at Loachapoka, but was ordered, in June, to report to Tupelo, Mississippi.  According to Mr. Wilson's book, not only was there a lot of sickness and disease within the troops, water was scarce in Tupelo too.  The men had to "dig deep wells in search of potable water."  Because of the lack of water, and the heat of summer, Mr. Wilson believes some camps moved east of Tupelo.  We see this move shown in a letter from John H.M. Vines to his wife Elizabeth (except his camp moved north about 8 miles, not east).

Itawamba Cty, Saltillo Miss
July 11th 1862
Dear Wife I seat my self this morning to reply to your kind letter that I received yesterday and was proud to hear from you and that you was all well.  Beffy I must say to you that I haven't seen a well day since I have been hear with the exception of one week though I have been up all the time except four days and I was very bad of(f) then.  I could not walk a step with out help it was mumps that got me so lo.  I am doing tollerable well now but not able to do duty.  Beffy a soldiers life is a hard life you need not dout it.  Some of the doctors says it is my liver that is wat is the mater with me now and some of them says it is plurisy.  Ever since I have got up from the mumps I have had a sever misery in my left side and a sever cough which hurts me very much but I am a great deal better than I have been.  Beffy George holds up fine he is as lively as you pleas and has been all the time.  Beffy we have moved from Tupelo up to Saltillo about eight miles.  Walking up here worsted me mighty.  You must still direct your letters to Tupelo a while longer we will still keep marching toward Tenesee I recon some thinks we will go to Tenesee.  Beffy as you want to go to your Paps you are at liberty to go when ever you want to go.  Beffy I am more than to gratify you in any respect that you wish so I want you to go when ever you get ready.  God bless your sweet soul.  I wish I could be with you but it is out of my power at this time.  Beffy I wrote to you in a letter that I sent by Elias Berry what & how I wanted you to manage when you left for your Paps.  Beffy you no it is my wish for you to go.  Beffy you wrote for me to try to do better.  I have quit swaring entirely and have been ever since I have been here.  I will close with you and reply to Melly.  I remain your affectionate husband until death.  J.H.M. Vines
My dear daughter I am proud that you can write to your Pa.  Melly I want you to be good girl bless your sweet little soul and all of the rest of my children.  I wish I could be with you all.  Melly kiss Til and Budy for me.  I want to see you all so bad.  Melly when you all go to your grand Paps be sweet children.  I hope I will be with you all before long.  Melly write to me you and your ma as soon as you get this.  Farewell your loving Pa whose love shal never fail.
J.H.M. Vines

Such a sweet letter, and he must have been really ill.  On a widow's pension filed by Elizabeth in 1892, she put down as his date of death, July 21st, 1862.  Only 10 days later.  Whether he was still in Saltillo, MS, I'm not sure.  Towards the end of July, the 34th Alabama went by "rail roundabout through Mobile to Chattanooga in preparation for a Confederate offensive into central Kentucky."  This is according to Mr. Wilson's book.  It is certain that John did not have to see, or fight, in any battle in the war.  The 34th didn't see their first battle until December 31, 1862 at the Battle of Murfreesboro.

Where John would have died, and is buried, is a mystery.  If he could have made the journey to Tennessee, I've been told he may have died at Tyner's Station, Tennessee or camp Recovery.  However, since the 34th didn't move until late July, its quite possible he died prior to the journey, or could have been too sick to make the journey.  No, I believe he probably didn't make the trip and died somewhere near Saltillo, or Tupelo, Mississippi.  There is an unknown Confederate soldier buried in a plot next to Elizabeth's parents in Fayette County, Alabama, where Elizabeth was wanting to move per the letter from John shown above.  I'm not sure they would have brought the body back to the family.  Seems like there wouldn't have been the time or money for that.  He was probably buried with the many other men who died of disease in the area of Tupelo at that time.

Elizabeth did indeed move back with her parents.  You can find her and the 7 children in the 1870 Federal census living next door to her parents, Robert and Palmira Miles, in Fayette County, Alabama.  In fact, the 1866 Alabama state census shows Robert Miles household.  In that household is him and his wife, their remaining children living at home, and the added number of Elizabeth and her 7 children.  This particular census is interesting because it asks about the Civil War soldiers who would have been living in the household.  Where it says "died of sickness" we see they marked "2."  One would have been Elizabeth's brother Absalom Jackson Miles who died of sickness near Richmond, Virginia, and the other was probably her husband, John H.M. Vines.

It would have been interesting to hear what stories John's granddaughter, Mamie, would have heard about him.  I assume Mamie's mother, Nancy Elizabeth, must have mentioned her father at some point.  We do know his wife Elizabeth was around when Mamie was a young girl too.  So its safe to assume Elizabeth might have mentioned him to Mamie as well.  I don't think anyone asked Mamie, or even knew about this man or the letter she carried with her.

If you have any questions, or concerns, about any of the information listed above, please leave a comment.  I'd be happy to provide any additional information.  Thanks for reading!!


  1. John was my great great great grandfather

    1. Thanks for your comment!! Do you mind me asking, which of his children you're related to??

  2. Lucinda vines born 9may1853 died 5july 1915 my name is Bryan white I live in Memphis tn

    1. Thanks for the information. It does look like Lucinda died in 1915. I'll change my records. Are you a relative?

  3. Yes I am and I was born in salem Arkansas on January 15 1979

  4. John Vines is the brother of my great great great great grandfather Benjamin Marion Vines. Benjamin had a daughter named Jesse Ruth Vines who had my great grandpa Clifford lee Short then my grandmother then my mom and me