by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator
“During the Civil War I was a member of Co F. 143rd Reg’t Ill Vol Infty. . . I have moved around a great deal since I was discharged from the Army. It is Impossible for me to find two persons who could testify as to my condition from the time I left the Army down to 1891.” -Henry Guyott, 14 June 1906, Civil War Pension Records, HCHM Archives
Henry Guyot was one of 287 men or their widows living in Harvey County that sought help from attorney John C. Johnston to apply for a pension for their service during the Civil War. The files include information on service in the army, activity and health issues. Some even give a glimpse into family life after the war.
Born in 1848 in Switzerland, it appears that Henry immigrated to the U.S with his mother, Emira, brother and several cousins and settled in Illinois. During the Civil War, he served served several months with the 143rd Illinois Infantry. He was approximately 17 years old.
After the war, Henry noted that he “moved around a great deal.” The 1870 census records find him in Illinois living with his mother. Ten years later he is still single, living in Sedgwick County, Kansas with his mother and cousin.
However on October 20, 1884, 34 year old Henry married 15 year old Effie M. Lantis at her parental home in Harvey County, Ks. The couple made their home near Walton, Kansas and started a family. Between 1884 and 1908, they had at least nine children. Henry settled down to farm and raise his family. In 1891, at age 58, Henry applied for a pension for his service during the Civil War. He may have dictated the above statement to John C. Johnston describing his service and health issues.
Civil War Pensions were offered to Union soldiers or their widows and minor children. The pension records in the collection include information on what the soldier did during the war in addition to medical information in the years following.
For example, Henry Guyot noted that Dr. J.H. Goddard, a physician in Sedgwick, “often treated me for cataracts, deafness, scurvy (?), diarrhea and rheumatism.” The files from other men describe injuries received during battle.
To obtain a widow’s pension, the widow had to provide proof of marriage, such as a copy of the record kept by county officials, or by affidavit from the minister or some other person. Applications on behalf of the soldier’s minor children had to supply both proof of the soldier’s marriage and proof of the children’s birth. For those reasons, Civil War pensions are fascinating, because of the wide array of things people submitted as evidence.
Henry died 23 January 1915, and Effie in 1921. Their son, Ben and daughter Edith continued to live on the family farm until the mid-1960s.
Henry, Effie and three of their children are buried in the Walton Cemetery, rural Harvey County, Ks.
The John C. Johnston Civil War Pension Collection is just one treasure that is part of the Archival Collections at HCHM. Throughout the month of October, we will feature the Archival holdings at HCHM and the behind the scenes work that happens to make the collections accessible.
- US Census, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910.
- Marriage License Collection, HCHM Archives, Newton, Ks
- John C. Johnston Civil War Pension Collection, HCHM Archives, Newton, Ks.
- Kansas Census, Harvey County, 1885, HCHM Archives, Newton Kansas.
All the information related to the Guyot family for this post was discovered in the archives at HCHM. What stories might you find? For more information on our Archives and the services available
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