Friday, January 11, 2013

My Union Soldier

Public Service Announcement: Here is a great FREE video course by Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL that she did for the Family History Library/FamilySearch, Rubik's Cube Genealogy: A New Twist on Your Old Data. When you load it, it goes to the middle of the course, I am not sure why it does that, so you will need to back it up to the beginning with the slider. The lecture is about how to manipulate your data in different ways to help you see new things.

I have approximately 40 Confederate Soldiers in my file and ONE Union Soldier. I thought it would be fun to take a look at him, especially since he married into a very Confederate family.

Irvin Louis Helpman was born 16 Jun 1845 in Hancock County, Ohio.1 On 15 Aug 1861, Irvin enlisted in Company A, 8th Regiment of the Illinois Infantry.2 He was a farmer described as being 5 foot 9 with dark hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion.3 His compiled service record is not complete but it does have a entry of him reenlisting on 02 Jan 1864 in Vicksburg.4

After the war, in 1870, he is living with the Fenwick family in Caddo Parish, Louisiana.5 Melvin Fenwick served in the same unit as Irvin during the war.6 We have two Union soldiers living in a formally Confederate state only 5 years after the war which is very interesting. I wonder how two Union soldiers ended up here and I also wonder if their neighbors knew who they were. I would think that their northern accents would have given them away.

Irvin married my first cousin thrice removed, Angerone Alice Gillespie, on 25 Nov 1871 in East Baton Rouge Parish.7. Angie was born in Mississippi, her father was born in South Carolina and her mother in Mississippi8 so their southern roots run deep with many family members serving in the Confederacy.

So what does that make Irvin? A closet Confederate? A carpetbagger? I thought a look at his occupation might help. On the 1870 census he is listed as a farmer,9 on the 1880 he is listed as a merchant10 and on the 1900 he is listed as a drummer11 [a drummer is a door-to-door salesman].

The newspaper yielded a couple of interesting tidbits. In 1888, Irvin was listed as being a wholesale store owner showing his wares in the exposition hall at the state fair.12 In the wedding announcement of his daughter Neffie in 1904, Irvin is described as "our clever citizen."13 Irvin doesn't really fit the profile of a carpetbagger but apparently he did do well for himself. Perhaps when he was in the south fighting he saw something he liked. Maybe the farmland appealed to him. Perhaps he had some sympathy toward the southern people he met. We will probably never know. All we do know is that Irvin left the north for the south and was able to make something of himself. He married and raised his family there and was apparently accepted into the community even though he was a northerner and a Union veteran. I would still like to know what Angie's family thought about it though.

Copyright © 2012 Scout Finch, used with permission

1 Illinois Secretary of State, "Illinois Civil War Detail Report," database, Illinois State Archives (, Irvin L. Helpman; The Illinois Secretary of State, in collaboration with the Illinois State Archives, abstracted the compiled service records of Illinois soldiers. The Illinois compiled service records are not available on

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 1870 U.S. census, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Ward 6, Shreveport post office, p. 30 [penned], dwelling 274, family 274, Milton Fenwick household; National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M593, roll 508.

6 Illinois Secretary of State, "Illinois Civil War Detail Report," database, Illinois State Archives (, J. Milton Fenwick.

7 Hunting for Bears, "Louisiana Marriages, 1718-1925," database, (, Irwin L. Helpman and Angie A. Gillispie; Waiting for the certificate to arrive from East Baton Rouge Parish.

8 1860 U.S. census, Iberville Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Rosedale post office, p. 27 [penned], dwelling 195, family 195, John Galaspie household; National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 411.

9 1870 U.S. census, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, pop. sch., Ward 6, Shreveport post office, p. 30 (penned), dwell. 274, fam. 274, Milton Fenwick household.

10 1880 U.S. census, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Shreveport, enumeration district (ED) 20, p. 22 [penned], dwelling 158, family 160, I.L. Helpman household; National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 449.

11 1900 U.S. census, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Shreveport, enumeration district (ED) 40, sheet 13A, p. 221 [stamped], dwelling 227, family 240, Louis T. Helpman household; National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 560.

12 "The State Fair," Times-Picayune, 06 Nov 1888, p. 2, col. 1.

13 "Shreveport" [social news], Times-Picayune, 17 Jul 1904, p. 10, col. 5.

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. I love researching Civil War ancestors and it is always fun to read about other's soldiers. Thank you for sharing!

    In case you don't have it, below is a link to the Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois, Volume 1, Revised by Brigadier General J.N. Reece, Adjutant General, 1900. You can find Irvin on page 390.

  2. I did not have that! Very cool :) :) A little mystery in the family... Irvin wife's names was Angerone Alice Gillespie (born 1848) . She was apparently named after her maternal aunt Mary Jane Angerone Simmons (born abt. 1821). What is weird is that this very unusual name does not turn up again until 1884 when Angerone Simmons is born (the previous Angerone Simmons was her 2nd great grandaunt). Very odd. I have always wondered about the origin of this name. (Is that a bunny trail or what!)

  3. It's been a *long* couple of weeks at work, and playing some with your bunny trail was the perfect therapy! Thanks, I needed that! I love names and name hunting.
    This is obviously not in *anything* like depth. More like 'stream of consciousness'. Angerone shows up sometimes as a female given name, and also as a surname, in Nova Scotia. One old woman had that as her married name in Quebec (b 1838). There are a number people with the Angerone or Angeron surnames in the US, most of them in Louisiana.
    I wonder if the source for this name is connected with the Acadian so-called migration? Just a thought....
    To go even wilder off the track of real 'research', French-speaking Canadians often used dit-names. The surname 'Angers' or 'Anger' is fairly common around Nova Scotia and fairly-early Quebec, and there is a city in France called 'Angers'. 'Angeron' would have meant someone from Angers.
    May mean nothing, but I really enjoyed this! I'm much more relaxed now.

  4. Well, the first Angerone was the daughter of two people born in SC that both migrated to MS as children (1798-1801ish). As far as I know, there were no Canadian/French connections but of course you never know. Now the wheels in my head are turning again...