Bio: Steele, Thomas J.
Contact: Lani Bartelt

----Sources: Family Records

The Thomas J Steele Family

Thomas J Steele was born 3 Jan 1829 in NY. When he became an adult he immigrated to Sheboygan, WI, where he lived for a number of years. On 2 Feb 1853 he married Jane Dobbins.While doing the research for this biography I found an obituary for Jane’s sister, Catherine that said their parents emigrated to Sheboygan, WI from Morristown, NJ., and Catherine and Jane had a brother, Hugh Dobbins of Chilton, Jefferson Co., WI.

Lani note/Mar 2006 I believe Chilton is in Calumet Co WI

Thomas J Steele fought in the Civil War serving in Co C of the 4th WI. Inf.

He enlisted 3 Nov 1863 in Plymouth, WI with the rank of private and was mustered out 22 Aug 1865 with the rank of corporal.

This regiment was organized at Racine in June 1861, with a numerical strength of 1,047. It was mustered in 2 July and was first used in suppressing bank riots in Milwaukee and Watertown.

It left the state 15 July and on the refusal of the railroad company to transfer it from Corning, N. Y. to Elmira, it seized the train and ran it to Elmira. It went into headquarters at the Relay house, Md. and later joined the "Eastern Shore" expedition, going to Baltimore in December.

On 19 February 1862, it left for Fortress Monroe to join the New Orleans expedition, but was sent to Ship Island, Mississippi until 16 April. On the 28 April Companies E and G were landed 10 miles from Forts Jackson and St. Philip, after rowing 5 miles and drawing 30 boats loaded with arms and ammunition a mile and a half, while wading in mud and water waist deep.

The regiment, with the 31st Massachusetts, was first landed in New Orleans and took forcible possession of the Custom House. The 4th Wisconsin was occupied in scouting duty in detachments until July 26, when it was sent to Baton Rouge, Colonel Paine taking command of the troops there with orders to burn the city with the exception of the state library, paintings, statuary and charitable institutions.

This order was afterwards revoked on Colonel Paine’s representation to General Butler that the town "would be useful to our army for further military operations." The town was fortified thoroughly by the regiment, which was later ordered to Carrollton, near New Orleans, Company G being detached for service with the heavy artillery, and 40 men were also transferred to the 2nd U. S. artillery. The winter and spring were devoted to picket duty and small expeditions through Mississippi.

The regiment took a prominent part in the battle of Fort Bisland near Brashear City in April. It was then sent to Opelousas, where it met and defeated a large mounted force of the enemy. By order of General Banks the regiment was mounted and thereafter served as Cavalry. It was in numerous skirmishes until ordered to Port Hudson in May as part of the investing force. It took part in the first assault and reached the ditch surrounding the fortifications, having been temporarily dismounted. It was in the second assault on 14 June, losing 140 of the 220 men engaged in the charge.

It returned to Baton Rouge 25 July, and passed the following year in picketing, foraging and preserving the peace in that section, occasionally capturing or dispersing small bands of Cavalry and guerillas. On 27 November 1864, it formed part of a Cavalry force to keep the enemy near Mobile from advancing toward General Sherman.

The winter was passed at Baton Rouge and the regiment was sent to Mobile in April 1865. After the surrender of the latter place, the 4th was sent on a 70-day expedition through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. In July it was ordered to Texas and remained there until May 1866, to prevent smuggling, guard against the Indians and preserve the peace.

The regiment was mustered out 28 May 1866. Its original strength was 1,047. Gained by recruits, 982; substitutes, 16; reenlistments, 260; total, 2,305. Loss by death, 350; missing, 23; desertion, 74; transfer, 2, discharge, 474; mustered out, 754.

After the Civil War Thomas moved his family to Clark Co., WI, where they settled on a farm about five miles west of Greenwood, WI., near Humbird, WI. They would farm there until 1889 when they would once more move to Thorp, Clark Co., WI, to live out their lives.

Thomas & Jane had twelve children. On the 1880 Census Wisconsin, Clark Co., Warner the family is listed as follows:

Thomas Steele head married male white 51 b 1829 NJ farmer Father b England Mother b NJ

Jane E Steele wife married female white 41 b 1839 NJ keeping house Father b NJ Mother B NJ

Thomas S Steele son single male white 21 b 1859 WI laborer Parents B NJ

Malissa D Steele daughter single female white 18 b 1862 WI Parents B NJ

Eliza V Steele daughter single female white 16 b 1864 WI Parents B NJ

Henretta Steele daughter single female white 14 b 1855 WI Parents B NJ

Ida M Steele daughter single female white 11 b 1869 WI Parents B NJ

Willie R Steele son single male white 9 b 1871 WI Parents B NJ

Alice M Steele daughter single female white 6 b 1874 WI Parents B NJ

Arthur F Steele son single male white 4 b 1876 WI Parents B NJ

Myrtie L Steele daughter single white 2 b 1878 WI Parents B NJ

Myrtle died of typhoid fever

----Sources: Thorp Courier (Thorp, Clark County, Wis.) 25 Sep 1890


Peaceful by thy silent slumber,

Peaceful be thy silent grave;

Thou no more will join our number,

Thou no more our song will know.

Yet again we hope to meet there,

When the Day of Life is fled:

And in Heaven with joy to greet thee,

Where no farewell tears are shed

Lani note/Mar 2006 there is more of this poem that can be seen in her obituary

Charlotte J, (known as Lottie) Steele ,the oldest daughter, was b 25 Dec 1854,married J.W. Hommel on 19 May 1872 and lived in Neillsville ,Clark Co, WI till her death on 28 June 1903.

Her obituary said she had been in poor health for several years before her death. At some point In time J.W. Hommel must have been in service with the rank of Major as her obit said "(She eaves to mourn her - her husband, two grown daughters and her adopted son, Placido, who returned from Puerto Rico with Maj Hommel (probably the Spanish American War) Her funeral was held at their home with Rev. G.W. Longnecker officiating.

Charlotte’s husband, John W Hommel was b 30 Dec 1852 in Long Island NY and came to La Crosse, WI., with his parents as a small boy. At age 17 he came to Clark County and worked as a blacksmith at Staffordville for a time. Later he worked that trade in the lumber camps and established a shop at Neillsville, WI. He was an expert at his trade and was quite a mechanical genius, picking up a good working knowledge of plumbing and various other trades. Soon after Neillsville was incorporated he was appointed City Marshall and for many years held that office, later receiving the title of Chief of Police. He was also Street Commisioner performing for some time the duties of both offices. In many ways, besides this he was active in looking after the city's interest, in later years taking particular interest in Schuster Park, for which he constructed a large amount of play apparatus for the children and other valuable conveniences for the public. He early took an interest in military matters and joined the local militia company in the service of the state, March 22, 1882, On May 16, 1887, he was commissioned Second Lieutenant; on Nov. 14, 1887, a First Lieutenant, and received his commission as Captain on May 22, 1891. He kept up the efficiency of the organization and went out as Captain of Co. A. at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War and served throughout the war. During his Puerto Rican service in this war he was appointed Commissioner for the U. S. to take over for our government the barracks, hospitals, and other Spanish property, which was done formally at Cayey Sept. 25, 1898. Capt. Hommel received special recognition while in Puerto Rico, being presented with a sword by the mayor of Cayey, this sword being one that had been used in an ancient war between Spain and England. He was also appointed Commissioner of Highways and supervision of police powers. On his return to Neillsville after the war, he reorganized Co. A., after it was mustered out of the U. S. Service. On June 12, 1899 he was commissioned Major; on Oct. 1, 1913 he was made Lieutenant Colonel. When the Mexican trouble arose in the fall of 1916, he went to the border with the Third Regiment, Wis. Infantry. On March 24, 1917, he received his commission of Colonel, a rank he retained to the end of his life.

Monday morning, Jan. 31m 1927, J. W. Hommel died suddenly at his home on Grand Avenue (Neillsville, Clark County, Wis.). Although he had been in poor health for some time, his death came as a shock to the people of this city. Just a year ago he underwent a severe operation at the hospital, but regained considerable strength and was active in his duties as Street Commissioner up to Saturday night

I looked for an obit or burial records For an I. A. Smith (which would have been the other daughter listed as deceased at the time of Thomas J. Steele’s death) but could find no records.

Top of Form

Jane E (Dobbins) Steele died at her home in Thorp, WI, after an illness of about two months duration. She died of dropsy, heart disease, and liver complaint on 21 May 1901. She is buried at East Thorp Village Cemetery, Thorp, Clark Co., WI.

Thomas J Steele died at the home of his daughter in Thorp, WI on 26 Oct 1909. The cause of death was pneumonia and he was eighty years old. Funeral services were held at the M. E. Church with J. B. Bachman officiating.

He was the father of twelve children, three of whom, Mrs. J. W. Hommel, Mrs. I. A. Smith, and Myrtle, who died at the age of four years, have preceded him into the great beyond. The others are Mrs. Catherine Holmes, Seattle, Wash; Mrs. Geo. Smith, Cox, Wis.; Thomas S. Steele, Thorp, Wis.; Mrs. Lissian Seeley, Rib Lake, Wis.; Mrs. Elizabeth Rusch, Glendive, Mont.; Mrs. Ida Richeleu, Greenwood, Wis., Wm. Steele, Mrs. Harry Aucutt, Arthur Steele, all of Thorp, WI."

Thomas J Steele is also buried at East Thorp Village Cemetery.

The following Steele family members are buried at East Thorp Village Cemetery:

Anna Isabel Steele, Arthur F Steele Sr., Arthur Steele Jr., Christina Auerila Steele, Ernest Steele, Jane E Steele, Myrtle Steele, Phylis Steele, Ralph Steele, Roger Lloyd Steele, Son of William Steele, Thomas L Steele, and Thomas S Steele.

The following Steel family is listed on the 1842 State census for Wisconsin, Sheboygan County

Henry B Steel.

The following Steel and Dobbin family are listed on the 1855 Wisconsin, Sheboygan Census, Plymouth

H Dobbin, S Dobbin, Thomas Steel, William Steel

The following Steel and Dobbin family are listed on the 1865 Census Wisconsin, Sheboygan County, Plymouth

Solomon Dobbin 2 males 1 female, Wm Steele 3 males 4 females, George Steele 2 males 2 females

Lani note/Mar 2006 I have also found Charles Pradt and James W Courter on this census

These families would also emigrate to Clark County and Marathon County, WI.

The following Steel families are listed on the 1880 Sheboygan Census

Joseph Steele born 1873, William Steele born 1801, William Steele born 1833

These census records can be found at Sheboygan Census Records:

There are also a number of Steele, Dobbin, and Stenson persons buried at the Maple Grove Cemetery, Sheboygan Co, WI., which may be of interest to Steele and Dobbin family researchers. The cemetery can be found at

Maple Grove Cemetery, Town of Plymouth. This cemetery was transcribed and contributed by Lois Andrews.

The person who seems to have officiated at most of the Steele family members funerals from the M.E. Church in Thorp, Clark Co, WI Rev J Bachman I found this information on him while researching the Steele family.

----Sources: Thorp Courier (Thorp, Clark County, Wis.) 21 Sep 1893

Rev. A. T. Adams, pastor of the M. E. Church here the past year has been assigned to Bruce. Rev. J. Bachman, of Medford takes his place here for the ensuing year.



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