I am happy to share the stories of two more local men who served in the Civil War, ancestors of much-missed former historian of the village of Schaghticoke, Dick Lohnes. Edward and Atwater Lohnes were two of the sons of George and Nancy Lohnes. Lohnes family members had first moved to Rensselaer County around the time of the Revolution. George, born in 1804, died in 1845, leaving Nancy and five children.
By the time of the Civil War, Atwater, born in 1838, was a 24-year-old axe maker, living in Johnsonville, married to Joanna, and the parent of two children. He enlisted in Company K of the 104th NY Infantry on March 5, 1862. Also in Company K was a Chauncy Lohnes from Brunswick, who must have been a cousin, and two other local men, whom he may or may not have known. Atwater survived the bloody battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg in fall 1862, but was wounded at the battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, one of 194 casualties among the less than 1000 men of the 104th at that battle. Atwater had his leg amputated at a makeshift hospital in Gettysburg and died there, either on July 6 or August 20, depending on the source used. I have not been able to find a record of his burial. Widow Joanna applied for a widow’s pension in December 1863. I believe she may have survived until 1923, not remarrying.
Edward was the youngest of the five children of George and Nancy, just three when his father died. He was 18 when he enlisted in the 1st NY Mounted Rifles in June 1862. He was described as a farmer with grey eyes, a light complexion, and light hair, and was 5’8” tall. At least two other local men were in the same unit, which served throughout Virginia and North Carolina during the war. Edward was promoted to Corporal, then to Sergeant. He mustered out with his Company on July 6, 1865 in Washington, D.C. The 1865 NY Census for Schaghticoke listed him living with his brother John and his mother, but if he was home, it wasn’t for long.
Fort Rice, North Dakota Territory about the time Edward Lohnes was there
Thanks to a blog from the Lake Region Heritage Center in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota, I learned that Edward enlisted in the 31st U.S. Infantry in 1867. This is confirmed by the 1870 US Census, which lists Edward as a soldier at the Fort Rice Garrison in the Dakota Territory. Fort Rice was established in 1864 and was an extremely active military post. It sent out a number of expeditions against the Indians, hosted peace conferences with the Sioux Indians in 1868, and sent companies of Cavalry to fight beside General Custer at the Little Big Horn in 1874. Edward and his company helped build Fort Totten nearby, then served in the garrison.
Edward definitely was at peace with the Sioux: he married a Sioux woman named Mary early on during his time in the Dakota Territory. An ancestry.com family tree states her name was Mary Wannatan, or Blue Nest, and that they married in 1865, which seems a bit early to me. The Heritage Center blog states that after his second discharge from the Army, in 1870, Edward was a mail carrier between the Missouri River Forts, a dangerous and demanding job. Then he and Mary were the first settlers of Freshwater Township. According to Dick Lohnes, Edward participated in the 1889 State Convention establishing the state, then the 1894 North Dakota State Constitutional Convention. The Heritage Center blog adds that he was then elected to the new State House of Representatives, where, his obituary stated, “He did not waste much of the people’s time in long speeches, but always voted right.” The state school for the deaf was located at his home town of Devil’s Lake due to his efforts.
Edward Lohnes at the time he was in a delegate to the North Dakota State Convention
In the 1900 US Census, Edward was listed alone in Freshwater, ND, as a 56-year-old unmarried farmer. In the same census, his wife Mary Lohnes was listed in the section for the Devil’s Lake Indian Reservation. She was 49-years-old, with children James, 22; Gertrude, 20; Chauncey, 15; Hattie, 13; Mattie, 11; Clement, 18; Aaron, 16; and Sarah, 11. Son John, 24, and his wife Emma, 22, lived next door. By the 1910 US Census Mary and Edward were listed together, though he was mis-indentified as having been born in Minnesota, as was Mary, who was listed as 50. She was identified as Sioux, and as having had twelve children, nine of whom were living. Children Clement, 18; Aaron, 16; and Sarah, 11, lived with their parents. Obviously some of the ages have been misrecorded by the census takers. They lived in Wood Lake, North Dakota.
By the 1920 US Census Edward and Mary lived with just daughter Sarah, age 21, but were next door to son James and his family. Interestingly, Edward and Sarah were listed as white in the census, while Mary and James and his family were all Indian. Edward was now 74 and Mary 70, and they were in Mission Benson, North Dakota. Mary died in 1924. The 1930 US Census showed Edward living alone in the village of Crary, North Dakota. He was not listed as a veteran, though he had applied for a pension in 1891, but when he died on March 31, 1933, his son James applied for a veteran’s headstone for him. According to the blog cited above, he was buried in the Crary Cemetery in North Dakota with full military honors. I know that Richard Lohnes, village historian of Schaghticoke, visited Edward’s descendants in North Dakota, Native Americans all.
Tombstone of Edward Lohnes in Crary, North Dakota
This may be the most amazing of all the stories of all the Schaghticoke veterans. Edward must have had tremendous skill and perseverance, fighting through the Civil and Indian Wars, being the first settler in his part of North Dakota, and raising a large family. Obviously Edward’s marriage to a Sioux woman did not affect his standing as an important person in his community, representing his fellows in the new state government. The Heritage Center blog was illustrated with a photo of a quilt donated to the center by Edward or a descendant. There is no mention of his wife or their descendants in the blog post, nor of Edward’s birth in upstate New York.