I've been building my family tree online for the better part of 8 years, but only recently purchased access to the vault of records on Ancestry.com. Today, I made one of the coolest finds to date. First, let me give you a bit of family history...
Back when Indiana Territory was a vast wilderness of tall timber, unspoiled watersheds and every kind of wild beast, my pioneer ancestors came from all points south and east to settle this veritable, backwoods paradise. Of the New England-born pioneers, was the family of Richard and Aphia (Mills) Hussey.
According to Gibson County newspaper man and historian Gil R. Stormont, the couple and their 4 children left Maine and travelled overland through the Genessee Valley (NY) to Washington
County, Ohio. Richard Louis Hussey (1789-1851) was a cabinet maker there for four years. Aphia bore him two more children before they left in late 1821 for Gibson County, Indiana, locating 5 miles east of Princeton, near Francisco. There, Richard cleared a farm and opened a blacksmith shop. He is my 5th great-uncle on Mom's side.
The last of the four children to be born in New England was James Madison Hussey (1817-1862). He would have made the long overland trip as an infant, knowing only thick woodlands of southwestern Indiana as home. After many years service to his father, clearing and cultivating a farm, James owned and operated a flour and a saw mill on the Patoka River in nearby Kirksville (now Wheeling), Indiana. That was before he heard the call of duty to put down the rebellion. James enlisted in the Union Army on August 2, 1862, and served as First Lieutenant in Company B, 65th Regiment, Indiana Volunteers.
It wasn't long before 1st Lt. Hussey contracted a serious illness and found himself bedridden at Camp Comeback in Henderson, Kentucky, southward across the Ohio River from Evansville. It is at this juncture we come to the present moment and my great find. Thanks to another Ancestry member, some of J. M. Hussey's correspondence has been saved in digital format for antiquity. Below is a scanned image of the opening of one of his last letters to his wife, Sarah, dated (on my birthday, no less) September 12, 1862. (Click on the image for a more readable, full-size version.)
By early November of that same year, James Madison Hussey was dead. He never recovered from his illness, as historian James T. Tartt recalls, James died of pneumonia in a Henderson, Kentucky, hospital. He received a military burial on the family farm back in Indiana. Now owned by the McConnell family, Lawrence Cemetery sits at the corner of a field just off Fairview Road near Francisco.