Jacob Sowle: Abandoned Cemeteries and Unmarked Graves – One of America’s Forgotten Civil War Soldiers

Between family events and trying to kick some version of the seasonal plague, I have struggled to get my next blog post done. With no further delay, I introduce Jacob Sowle.

I decided to feature Jacob Sowle recently upon discovering he was a Civil War soldier that rests in an unmarked grave in an abandoned family cemetery. He was my third great grandfather on my maternal grandmother’s side, a link in generation chain leading to George Soule, a passenger on the Mayflower.

Jacob Sowle was born on 10 August 1831 likely in the Montgomery or Fulton County area of New York. His parents were William Dickerson Sowle and his wife Susan. During his lifetime Jacob’s branch of the Sowle family would move west first to Ohio and then onto Michigan.

On 5 May 1852 in Trumbull County Ohio Jacob Sowle married for the first time to Mary Ann DeLong. The couple had four children over the next several years. During that time, the couple followed Jacob’s parents as they left Ohio to settle in Eaton County, Michigan.

jacob sowle mary delong marriage 5 may 1852 trumbull ohio

Marriage Record from 5 May 1852 for Jacob Sowle and Mary Ann DeLong Trumbull Ohio

The 1860 federal census shows Jacob and Mary Ann Sowle living in Brookfield, Eaton County, Michigan. In the household are two sons, William and Riley, and two daughters Susan and Mariley. Jacob lists his profession as carpenter.

1860 census clip jacob sowle

1860 Federal Census Image showing Sowle family

Tragedy struck the family not long after this census was taken. In 1863, Jacob signed up for the Civil War draft. He reported himself as single at the time. His wife Mary Ann died, cause of death and exact burial location are unknown, but it is likely she is likely buried in an unmarked grave in the abandoned Sowle family cemetery in Eaton County, Michigan.

Jacob Sowle draft registration July 17 1863

Jacob Sowle 1863 Draft Registration

Jacob was spared the worst of any of the Civil War but he was drafted into the Union Army in 1865. He would serve nine months and seventeen days in C Company 195 Ohio Infantry. His term of service started on 13 February 1865 and ended on 30 November 1865. His rank was private. Jacob farmed his children out to friends and relatives during his time in the service.

After Jacob’s service in the war, he returned to Michigan. In Michigan, he remarried and fathered five children with his second wife, Esther Loisa Gurnee. Domestic bliss was not in the cards however and by the 1880 census the couple was living apart. Jacob was living in Eaton County as a divorced father raising three of their children. Esther was living in a nearby town with the couples other two children.

Jacob married again for a third time on 15 March 1881 in Eaton County, Michigan to Catherine Ann Wixon. The two would remain married for the rest of Jacob’s life.

jacob sowle death cert

Jacob Sowle Death Certificate showing place of burial

Jacob died 21 August 1904 in Coldwater, Michigan. He was survived by 8 of his 9 children and his son William Sowle provided the information for his death certificate. Jacob Sowle is buried in the Sowle Family Cemetery in Eaton County, Michigan. The grave is unmarked and the cemetery is now abandoned.

Sources:
Title Ohio, County Marriages, 1774-1993 Author Ancestry.com Publisher Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. Publisher Date 2016 uPublisher Location Lehi, UT, USA Repository Information Name Ancestry.com
Year: 1860; Census Place: Brookfield, Eaton, Michigan; Roll: M653_542; Page: 579; Image: 83; Family History Library Film: 803542
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110, Records of the Provost Marshall
https://www.fold3.com/page/635070477-jacob-sowle?xid=1945
Year: 1880; Census Place: Brookfield, Eaton, Michigan; Roll: 578; Family History Film: 1254578; Page: 305C; Enumeration District: 077; Image: 0377
Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952
Year: 1900; Census Place: Coldwater, Isabella, Michigan; Roll: 718; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 0066; FHL microfilm: 1240718
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/53164249

2 replies »

    • It is a very interesting photo. Yes, according to the information my Grandmother (91 and still kicking around) received growing up that is Jacob Sowle. I’ve tried to decide what he is holding in the photo… it looks like a child’s pinwheel type toy to me which I haven’t been able to logic out so far.

      Liked by 1 person

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