Monday, August 12, 2013

Mystery ( & Military) Monday, Part 2: H. Jay Hanchette's Father, Capt. Hiram Solon Hanchette

This is part 2 of my series on the mysterious disappearance of H. Jay Hanchette in 1891.  One of the articles I found, from The Chicago Herald, May 19, 1891, page 3, via the Archive of Americana database, had this interesting paragraph at the end (at right):

Harry / Henry Jay Hanchette was the oldest child of Hiram Solon Hanchette / Hanchett and Nancy Jane Griffith, who married in Indiana.   H. Jay was born there in Sullivan County on August 16, 1856.  By 1860, the family was living in Dorr township, McHenry County, Illinois.  Here's a brief biography of Hiram Solon Hanchett, from page 638 of The Life and Times of Samuel Gorton* (Hiram was a descendent of Gorton through his mother):

According to A History of Woodstock 1852 - 2002, Sesquicentennial Edition, page 56, Hiram Hanchett was actually president of the town's Board of Trustees in 1862-63, not mayor. Other records show that he was at Camp Butler in Illinois in June, July, and September, 1863.  There are also a number of different versions of just how Hiram Hanchett died.  Here's one, found in the database Heritage Quest Online – Books, from the 1886 Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois** by J. W. Vance, in the section on page 561 about the Sixteenth Cavalry:

That account appears to have been taken verbatim from page 558 of The Patriotism of Illinois***, written by Thomas Mears Eddy in 1866.  Probably a more accurate account can be found in the 1899 Congressional Serial Set, on pages 117-120, 467, 794-795, 834-835, and 951 of Series 2, Volume 8, Part 1 (Prisoners of War and State, Etc.) in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies****.

The image at left comes from an interpretive sign about Hiram S. Hanchett at Old Cahawba Archaelogical Park in Alabama.  There is a marker for Hanchett in the Civil War - era cemetery in the park (which has the remains of many of the former prisoners of the Confederate jail once there).  However, Hanchett is not buried there - his grave is unknown and unmarked.

A note on on Hanchette in the "U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865" database raises the possibility that a grave found in the 1970s, quite some distance from the 224 known graves, might be that of  Hiram Hanchett, and that DNA testing was a possibility.

H. Jay Hanchett was not quite nine years old when his father died.  His widow and children had moved to Chicago by 1870 and were living with his maternal grandparents on the Census that year.  His mother Nancy died at age 41, in 1877, when H. Jay was 21.

*Gorton, Adelos,. The life and times of Samuel Gorton : the founders and the founding of the Republic : a section of early United States history and a history of the colony of Providence and Rhode Island plantations in the Narragansett Indian country now the state of Rhode Island, 1592-1636-1677-1687 : with a genealogy of Samuel Gorton's descendants to the present time. Philadelphia: unknown, 1907.  Page 638, found on the Internet Archive.

Note that H. Jay is listed as Harris Joy in this book - most other references say his first name is Henry or Harry, and his middle name is Jay.  It's notable that the above-referenced book has separate entries for H. Jay's brother Charles and sister Minnie Estelle, who lived to adulthood, but there is no separate entry for H. Jay -  probably because of all the scandal that had accrued to his branch of the family by the time of the book's publication in 1907.

**Vance, J. W.  Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois.  Springfield, IL: H.W. Rokker, state printer and binder, 1886.

***Eddy, Thomas Mears.  The Patriotism of Illinois:  A Record of the Civil and Military History of the State in the War for the Union, with a History of the Campaigns in which Illinois Soldiers Have Been Conspicuous, Sketches of Distinguished Officers, the Roll of the Illustrious Dead, Movements of the Sanitary and Christian Commissions, Volume 2Clarke & Company, 1866.

****Scott, Robert N., Lazelle, H. M., Davis, George B., Perry, Leslie J., Kirkley, Joseph W, et al.  The War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies. 
Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. Very interesting finds and a great read. Thanks for what you have put together. There are just so many interesting stories out there. Great job.

  2. Hiram is one of my ancestors (on my grandmother's side. Good job!! I was wondering if you could post this to the site about Hiram Solon Hanchett and his picture?

    1. I think I can, Pam. Give me a few days; I am a university librarian and it is the first week of classes!