A PENDLETON COUNTY HERO
Brice's Crossroads by Rick Reeves
The Life and Death of Major A. G. Wileman
Generously submitted by Marjorie Stith Jones,
Transcribed by Bonnie Snow
Source: Pendleton County Historical & Genealogical
Society Newsletter: Vol. I - Issue 4 & 5
Eric C. Nagle, President of the Pendleton County Historical & Genealogical Society
The War of the Rebellion or Civil War, as it is more familiarly known, was a most difficult time for Kentucky. As a so-called "border state", its citizens were torn between allegiance to the Union and to the Confederacy. Many of Kentucky's counties became embroiled in the strife created by the conflict.
Despite its general state of calm during the Civil War, Pendleton County also shared in the troubles. Much of the northern half of the county was mainly Union while the southern portion around Morgan and McKenneysburg were mostly Confederate. Certainly, there was no other incident as gruesome during Pendleton County's war years as the murder of one of the county's respected and prominent citizens, Dr. Abram G. Wileham, who resided near Knoxville, on the Falmouth-Knoxville Road, now known as State Route 467.
Dr, Abram C, Wileman was born in Stark County, Ohio, in 1821. He was, we believe, the son of Mahlon Wileman and Elizabeth Logue, both Quakers and members of the Marlborough (Marlboro) Monthly Meeting of Quakers. (1) His grandfather, Abraham Wileman, migrated to Marlborough Township in Stark County in 1805, from Columbiana County, Ohio, and along with Mahlon Wileman, were the first settlers in the township. (2)
Of Dr. Wileman's (we shall later refer to him as Major Wileham) early life and professional training, we know remarkably little. The first knowledge we have of his early years is a divorce case in Pendleton Circuit Court which was filed 14 August 1858. (3) It is stated that he had been married in November 1844, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, to one Ester C. Coats. His presence so far away from Pennsylvania is unexplained, but may have been related to his professional training as he would have been 23 years old at the time, prime age for medical schooling.
At the time he filed the divorce papers, he had lived in Pendleton County for "at least three years" which places him there in 1855. He stated that he and his wife lived together until 1853 when she "became discontented and disposed to isolate herself from the company about the home of the plaintiff to such a degree as to render the married state to both miserable". According to the divorce suit, the couple agreed to separate. It is stated that she left Ohio, moved to Pennsylvania, and later to Massachusetts. She was never again heard from. All those who gave depositions in the case resided in Stark County, Ohio. They included: K. G. Thomas, Mahlon Wileman, Ester H. Walton (nee Wileman), and Mahlon Marshall. After her failure to appear to testify, Dr. Wileman was granted his divorce. They left a son, Erasmus D. Wileman, born 03 January 1854, who was apparently living at the time Eli Walton applied for a pension for Wileman's two children by his second marriage. An infant daughter died prior to the birth of Erasmus D. Wileman.
On 28 October 1858, Dr. Wileman was again married, this time to a local Pendleton Countian by the name of Parthenia A. Race. (4) They were married at the home of Thomas Scott, by William Tucker, in the presence of George W. Tucker and William A. Warner. Warner would later become Wileman's commanding officer in the 18th Kentucky Infantry.
Dr. Wileman enrolled in Company D, of the 18th Kentucky Infantry, a regiment which drew most of its members from Pendleton and surrounding counties of Grant, Harrison, and Bracken. (5) He enrolled on 14 October 1861, at Falmouth and was mustered into services at Paris, Kentucky, on 08 February 1862. Prior to his muster into U. S. service, he had served in the Kentucky Police Guard for which he received on month's pay from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He was commissioned as Captain of the Company on 15 November 1861. Most of his service roll shows nothing extraordinary happening during his service. However, he was appointed Acting Assistant Inspector General of the Second Brigade, Crook's Division, on 27 April 1863. He accepted appointment as Major of the Regiment on 11 May 1863. at Carthage, Tennessee, and until his demise, was shown as present.
On 27 September 1863, he requested leave while recuperating in the Officer's Hospital, at Nashville, Tennessee. The surgeon, R. D. Lynde, stated that he had suffered a gun shot flesh wound on the left forearm while in the battle of Chickamauga, on or about 10 September 1863. (6)
The most devastating occurrence happened to this family on 5
October 1863. Major Wileman, resting at home from his injuries received in
the Batttle of Chickamauga, Georgia, was burst in upon by "guerillas"
while sitting in his parlor with his wife and some neighbors. His ultimate
demise was described most graphically by his friend and commanding officer, Col.
William A. Warner. Rather than paraphrase his words, his letter will be
repeated here verbatim in order to preserve the attitude and information
contained in the text. This letter was taken from the Friday, 23 October
1863, edition of the Western Citizen, published in Parks, Kentucky, one of the
few extant newspapers which published throughout the Civil War. (7)
LETTER FROM COLONEL W. A. WARNER
PARTICULARS OF THE MURDER OF MAJOR A. G. WILEMAN OF THE 18th KENTUCKY INFANTRY:
Pendleton County, Kentucky
October 8, 1863
I have just returned from the funeral of Maj. A. G. Wileman, of the 18th Kentucky, who was foully murdered and robbed in this county on Monday night last. He had only returned on furlough, on Friday last. He was wounded at the battle of Chickamauga River. The Cincinnati papers have incorrect statements as to the particulars of his sad end. He was brave and true a man as ever lived; behaved with marked gallantry at the Battles of Richmond, Howe's Gap, and Chickamauga. He was a man of superior intellect and education; a Physician with a large practice when he joined our regiment as Captain, and was promoted for bravery and good conduct on the battle-field as Major in May last.
He was sitting in his house between 6 and 7 o'clock P. M.; with four of his neighbors, three gentlemen and one lady and his wife, when the murderers entered with pistol in hand presented, demanding money and person. They represented themselves as belonging to Breckenridge's Command, and said their forces had taken Falmouth and they had been sent for him. He refused positively to let them have his money, which they did not get, but they got near two hundred dollars from two of the gentlemen present. They then took him out and carried him about a mile and a half from his house, and there stripped him of all his clothing, with the exception of his boots and shirt, shot him through the head, the ball entering the left temple and powder-burning his wounded arm, his chin mashed down and jaw broken. After murdering him, they dragged him down a branch some thirty steps and left him dying on his face, his shirt over his head, being dragged by his feet. They afterwards robbed a store in the neighborhood owned by a former Lieutenant, Samuel Patterson, of the 18th Kentucky, who was severely wounded in the Battle of Richmond. They met in the road a farmer, Thomas Winn, whom they arrested. They held a consultation over him and determined (as they said) to serve him a disposition to make of him. He, however, overheard their conversation and concluded to run the chances by making his escape, which he fortunately did. The number of the gang is variously estimated from 8 to 40, and several of them recognized as former citizens of this county.
This is the beginning of a terrible state of affairs in this part of the State, and a stop must be put to it. If I only had my trusting Old Eighteenth here, we would soon quiet the Northern half of the state, as have done theretofore.
There is great excitement here, and well there might be - We have several returned Morgan men here that will have to take their washing further South. They are made heroes of and nursed as pinks of perfection, whose hands a short time ago were red with the blood of their fellow citizens, riding their stolen horses, and are allowed to settle down quietly amongst us until a fresh opportunity offers for them to commence their hellish work again.
The Major left a wife and three children to mourn his sad fate.
W. A. Warner
P. S. They got Winn's horse, saddle, and bridle, all the clothing of the Major, his gold watch, and a heavy gold ring, which I heard this evening, they cut off his finger to obtain. W.A.W.
Jim Kellar, the murderer of Major Wileman, a well-known and notorious "Rebel" is made mention of in the same newspaper edition. (8)
JIM KELLAR CAPTURED - A detachment of the 71st Indiana Mounted, Infantry, captured the notorious Jim Kellar, and five of this men, on Saturday night, near Sharpsburg. On Thursday night, Kellar and his gang were in Flat Rock and robbed Mr. Alexander Evans of about $400.00; Mr. W. Watkins of $350 and a horse; Mr. Lewis Earlywine of $180, and all his wife's jewelry.
While taking the gang down in Flat Rock, Kellar told Watkins that he was the man who killed Wileham, and that he come to kill him; but as he was a pretty fellow he would not do it this time, but said if another Union Flag was put up in Flat Rock, he would kill him and Evans. The soldiers who made the capture, not being acquainted with the country, took with them, Mr. Wm. Fox of Flat Rock, who, it is thought, was mainly instrumental in securing success. The prisoners were taken to Mt. Sterling on Sunday morning, and while under guard, in the Provost Marshall's office, we are told, Mr. Watkins, late a member of the 9th Kentucky Cavalry, stepped in and shot Keller twice, who died from the effects of the wounds. On Monday night, we learned that a man named Jones, from the neighborhood of North Middleton, and two of the Sheshires from this place, were among the captured.
Major Wileman's death, it is interesting to note, was not brought before the Pendleton County Grand Jury for the trial of those accused of his murder. Of course, the accused Jim Kellar had been killed. Others involved in the crime were arrested by Deputy Provost Marshall for Pendleton County, and William G. Woodson, a respected citizen and early resident of Turner Ridge, Pendleton County.
After Wileman's death, Woodson began his investigation of the crime. Unfortunately, the Provost Marshall's records are scant and an actual trial and sentence record could not be found,
Two of the accessories in the crime were apparently Richard and John Slater, sons of Samuel Slater, Sr., of Knoxville, Kentucky. A deposition was mad by Missouri Devlin of Pendleton County on 09 October 1863. She was one of the first people Woodson examined upon starting his investigation. Her deposition states: (9)
"Missouri Devlin being of lawful age and first duly sworn upon her oath declared and says that she resides near Samuel Slater. That she spent the evening there on Monday last the 5th inst. That Samuel Slater asked her when she first met him if she knew whether Wileman was hom or not and remarked that he wanted to buy his wife and children, the two Negroes that he had living at his home with him (laughing) and that after she had that conversation with old man Slater, Dick Slater came up to the house, took a saddle and disappeared. This affiant saw him no more while she remained. She left there before darek."
On the following day, 10 Oct 1863, Mr. Woodson interviewed Lt. John T. Ford, of Grant County, Kentucky, who gave a most intersting deposition: (10)
Personally appeared before the undersigned, John T. Ford, a citizen of Grant County, Kentucky, and a Lieutenant in the U. S. Army and being first duly sworn according to law, declares and says that he is acquainted with Samuel Slater and his sons, Richard and John. That he stayed all night at Slater's on the night of the 6th instant. That the young Slaters, Richard and John, left home shortly after supper which was a little after dark. That they returned in the latter part of the night, precise time not known, perhaps tow or three o'clock in the morning. Richard Slater came and got in bed with affiant and slept with him the balance of the night. This affiant walked out in the morning and saw Andy Landrum pass. He had some conversation with Landrum and went into the house. Old man Slater then told him that the rebels had come into the county the night previous, and that they had arrested old man Wynn and robbed him; taken his horse from him and remarked further that Old Billy Woodson would have to go up tonight, that the rebels had told Dick so. Dick then told this affiant that he had met the rebels on the road; that they were cursing and talking in a loud and angry tone; some were crying out "shoot the damned old son of a bitch" meaning Thomas Wynn, and others opposed it. He stated that Rob McNay and young Wolf was with them."
On that same day, William G. Woodson addressed a letter to Capt. G. W. Berry stating: (11)
I have been engaged for two days past in taking proof in relation to the murder of Major Wileman. I am going there again next Monday. I design sending or bringing the proof down when I get through. We have some evidence against young McNay and against the Slaters that amounts to evidence and I think we have a clue to more; Co. Warner ordered the arrest of John Webster and James McGraw; we have some proof against them. It is rather slight. It is said that Patterson and McNay say that McGraw came to them and inquired if there were not rebels out on the road and cautioned them against saying anything about it. I am also told that Thomas Wynn recognized Nathan Thompson among the crowd. I would like to be informed in these points by Monday morning's mail. Please give this you attention.
W/ G. Woodson
Dep Pro Marshall
It is interesting to note that Woodson interviewed a witness who had strong testimony against the accused including another accessory, Robert McNay, Jr. The witness was Thomas Wynn (or Winn) spoken of above by Col. Warner in his letter to the "Western Citizen". Mr. Wynn's testimony was: (12)
"I saw Robert McNay, Jr., Richard Slater, and John Slater, Monday night, 5th October 1863, at the residence of Lindsey Johns; they met me in the road and halted me and asked where I had been. I told them I had been to Lindsey Johns on business. They then wanted to know where I was going. I told them I was going home. They then took my horse by the bridle and said "you God damned old black hearted abolitionist son of a bitch, you are played out. We are going to kill you and Jerry Tomlin and Samuel Patterson and clean this country out of all abolitionists". They kept me half an hour and I them managed to escape."
Thomas (X) Wynn
Witness: Granville Gardner
Needless to say, Major Wileman's family must have been over whelmed with grief. A short time after his death, his wife, Parthenia, left Pendleton County and moved to Stark County, Ohio, from which the Major had come. She would never again see her home and birthplace. Can anyone blame her?
Major Wileman's ravaged body was carried to town and sent back to Ohio for burial. He lies buried next to his daughter, Elizabeth, born 21 December 1860, who died unmarried sometime between 1889 and 1900. Another child, a son, Darwin Wileman, must have died just after his father's death as he is not mentioned in the guardianship for the other two children. A daughter, Katy Wileman, born 12 December 1862 (13) was deceased in 1863. Major Wileman's tombstone in the Marlboro Cemetery, near Marlboro, Ohio reads: (14)
A. G. Wileman
Died Oct. 5, 1863
Aged 42 years
18th Ky. Vols.
A. G. Wilman's widow, Parthenia Race Wileman, grief stricken, continued to reside in Stark County, Ohio, until sometime around 1900, when she moved to Cleveland, Ohio. She remarried on 19 September 1870, at Marlboro, Ohio, to Eli H. Walton and by him had one son, Howard J. Walton, with whom she resided while living in Cleveland. He died prior to 1908. Her husband, a mechanic, died on 24 October 1894, of paralysis and is buried in Marlboro Cemetery. (15)
All alone, Parthenia Race Wileman Walton, spent her declining years living in Cleveland. On 25 January 1928, she was admitted to the Cuyahoga County Infirmary at Warrensville, Ohio, suffering from facial erysipelas, chronic myocarditis, and senile dementia. She passed away there on 11 February 1928. (15)
This comes to a close the story of the death of the heroic Major Abram G. Wileman, M. D., who, but for the acts of a few guerillas, might have lived out a quiet life in Pendleton County, and whose children may have grown to have children themselves.
One last note, however. Major Wileman was never forgotten by his fellow soldiers. When the G. A. R. Camp was formed in Falmouth, it was named for him - Major A. G. Wileman Camp. Number 5, Grand Army of the Republic.
1. Hinshaw, William Wade, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy (Ann Arbor, MI., Edward Brothers, Ind., 1946) Vol. IV, p. 895
2. Perrin, Wm. Henry, ed. History of Stark County, Ohio (Chicago; Baskin & Battery, 1881.
3. Civil Suit, A. G. Wileman vs. Ester C. Wileman, Pendleton Cir. Clerk's Office, Falmouth, Kentucky. Filed 14 August 1858.
4. Marriage License and Return, A. C. Wileman and Parthenia A. Race, Pendleton County Clerk's Office, Falmouth, Kentucky.
5. Military Payroll and Service Record, A. C. Wileman, National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D. C.
7. The Western Citizen", Paris, Kentucky, 23 October 1863.
8. Deposition of Missouri Devlin, 09 October 1863, in Military Payroll and Service Record, A. G. Wileman, National Archives and Record Service, Washington D. C.
9. Deposition of John T. Ford. 10 October 1863, Military Payroll and Service Record, A. G. Wileman, National Archives and Record Service, Washington D. C.
10. Letter from William G. Woodson, to Capt. G. W. Berry, 30 October 1863, in Military Payroll and Service Record, A. G. Wileman, National Archives and Record Service, Washington D. C.
11. Deposition of Thomas Wynn (Winn) in Military Payroll and Service Record, A. G. Wileman, National Archives and Record Service, Washington D. C.
12. Pension File of Parthenia A. Walton, Formerly Wileman, National Archives and Record Service, Washington D. C. File No. WC 21,902
13. Tombstone, Sec. 2, Row 3, Marlboro Cemetery, Marlboro Twp., Stark County, Ohio.
14. Death Records, Stark County, Ohio. Vol. 3, pg. 586.
15. Death Certificate, Parthenia S. Walton, formerly Wileman, Certificate # 55643-07546, Ohio Historical Society Library, Columbus, Ohio.
Return to "Memory Lane"