Saturday, April 12, 2014

52 Ancestors: #15–William Lair and the “Lucky Thirteen”

This blog post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow 's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge.  Learn more at her blog.


On April 19, 1861, days after Abraham Lincoln called for men to defend the Union, thirteen men from Princeville, Illinois enlisted in Company A of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery.  One of those men was 19 year old William T. Lair. 

These men were referred to as the “Lucky Thirteen” because all of them survived the war.  In addition to William, his first cousin Noah Lair, and uncle Letz Lair, were also part of this group. While William did indeed live long enough to be mustered out, his service eventually resulted in his untimely death at age 35. 

William initially enlisted for a period of 3 years; after his obligation was fulfilled, he enlisted for another 3 years as a veteran on January 1, 1864.  He was described at that time as being 22 years old, with dark hair and gray eyes, and a light complexion.  Later on that year, during a war campaign near Mobile, Alabama, he spent many hours in the water raising a dismantled gun that had been thrown overboard.  Conditions were cold and damp; he slept in swamps during this period of his service, and it was this exposure, he felt, that resulted in the “lung disease” that would eventually take his life.  After being mustered out, he returned to his home in Princeville, where he began a slow but steady decline to his death on April 05, 1877.  He is buried at Princeville Cemetery. 

Four years before his death, he married Susan Hammer Givens, widow of Jacob Givens.  More about Susan’s story can be located here


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