CANNON, ISRAEL JASON
Israel Jason Cannon
He was born March 17, 1840 in Richmond, Crawford County, Pennsylvania. He was one of 14 children born to Gilbert and Lorain Gray Cannon.
The Cannon family in the 1820 federal census was settled in Gerry, Chautauqua County, New York. According to the 1850 census, Israel’s family moved back from Pennsylvania to Hanover, Chautauqua County, New York. Israel’s paperwork for admission to the Wisconsin Veterans’ Home indicates he moved to Wisconsin in 1855. In 1860, according to the federal census, the family was located in Scott, Columbia County, Wisconsin.
His Civil War military records show that on August 15, 1862 in the town of Scott, Israel enlisted for three years in the Union Army with the 23rd Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment, and was assigned to Co. C as a private. He was 22 years old, single, and working as a farmer.
The Regimental History of the 23rd Wisconsin tells us that the soldiers entered service on August 30, 1862 at Madison. This Regiment went on to serve in Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas. Israel fought in the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi during May – July 1863. His name is included on the Wisconsin Civil War Memorial at Vicksburg. Later on that year, the Company muster rolls show that Israel was absent due to being captured at the Battle of Carrion Crow, in Louisiana on Nov. 3, 1863. A prisoner exchange allowed him to return to duty with his Company on Jan. 23, 1864. He was captured again by the enemy at the battle of Sabine Cross Roads, Louisiana on Apr. 8, 1864. A prisoner listing shows he was held at Camp Ford, near Tyler, Texas. He was confined there over a year, until he was paroled and returned on May 27, 1865 to Red River Landing in Louisiana. He again reported to his Company for service. He was mustered out after completing his three years on July 4, 1865 in Mobile, Alabama.
Coincidentally, Camp Ford was destroyed on the same day as Israel was mustered out of service. A granite memorial marker stands at the site which reads:
Camp Ford -- On this site during the Civil War was located Camp Ford, the largest prisoner of war compound for Union troops west of the Mississippi River, named in honor of Col. John S. ‘Rip’ Ford who originally established a training camp here in 1862. It was converted in the summer of 1863 to a prison camp.
It first consisted of four to five acres enclosed by a stockade sixteen feet high. In the spring of 1864 following the Confederate victories at Mansfield, Louisiana and Mark’s Mills, Arkansas the enclosure was doubled to accommodate the large influx of prisoners. Approximately 4700 Federals were confined here during this period. This overcrowded condition was somewhat relieved through a series of prisoner of war exchanges between the North and the South.
Union soldiers representing nearly one hundred different regiments plus sailors from gunboats and transports were confined here. In addition there were imprisoned Union sympathizers, spies, and even Confederate deserters.
The prisoners constructed their own shelters ranging from log huts and burrows called “shebangs” to brush arbors and tents made of blankets.
A spring located about 100 yards southwest of this marker furnished an ample supply of good water. Their meager rations, essentially the same as that of their guards, usually consisted of beef and corn meal and were sometimes supplemented by vegetables purchased from nearby farms.
Although escape attempts were frequent, very few were successful due to the long distance to Union lines and the difficulty in eluding the tracking hounds used by the Confederate guards.
Even though conditions were primitive it compared favorably with the other Civil War prison camps. Camp Ford continued to serve as a prison until the surrender of the Trans-Mississippi Department in May, 1865. It was later destroyed by Federal occupation troops.
Following his military service, Israel returned to Wisconsin and settled in the town of Marion, where he worked as a farm laborer.
According to deeds filed, Israel bought land in Waupaca County, Wisconsin between April-May 1882.
Israel is listed as a charter member of the Irving Ramsdell Post No. 79, Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), which was organized May 11, 1883 in Marion.
As shown in the 1885 state census, he moved to the town of Dupont, also in Waupaca County.
On July 11, 1886 a marriage certificate proves that he wedded Parthena Quimby Lindsey in the town of Marion. At that time he was 46 and she was 21 years old. It was his first marriage, and her second.
A death notice for Israel notes that he built a log cabin home in the town of Marion, which was still standing at the time of his death in May 1941.
These children were born to Israel & Parthena Cannon:
1. Amelia Laureign, born May 9, 1887
2. Benjamin Edward, born May 2, 1888
3. Cecil Ray, born May 14, 1891
4. Eva Rowena, born October 14, 1894
5. Stillman Jason, born March 14, 1897
6. Adeline Luella, born December 11, 1900
Israel applied for a military pension on July 24, 1890.
In approximately 1901 Israel was admitted to the Veterans’ Home in Milwaukee, where he resided for four years.
In October 1897, his request for a military pension was deemed “invalid”.
On April 26, 1905 the four youngest children, aged 4-13, were admitted to the State Public School at Sparta, Monroe County. The School records state “The parents have given their consent to have said children sent to the State Public School. That said parents live in the town of Dupont in a state of filth and squalor and are paupers and a town charge.” The school was a foster facility, where children were kept only until they could be indentured out to live with families who paid the institution to have the children work for them.
Records from the Wisconsin Veterans’ Home in King, Farmington Township, Waupaca County, indicate Israel’s first admission there was on June 30, 1905 due to general disability (lumbago, heart). His occupation was listed as a day laborer. He noted he was destitute and unable to support his wife and children due to his disability.
State of Wisconsin divorce records confirm that Israel and Parthena separated in November 1905, and he filed for divorce from her on March 17, 1909. The stated cause was her desertion. His action was uncontested by Parthena, and an absolute divorce was granted on June 17, 1909.
Israel was readmitted and discharged from Veterans’ Homes several times in the subsequent years. In 1915, along with his youngest son Stillman, he traveled to New York to reside with his daughter Eva and her husband Charles for two years. He subsequently returned to Waupaca County. His last admission to the Vet’s Home at King was on May 7, 1925. He remained there until his death.
The occasion of Israel’s 100th birthday was celebrated in March 1940 with a reception at the Wisconsin Veterans’ Home. Local newspapers featured this story. The reception was sponsored by the Daughters of the Union Veterans, Ida McKinley Tent No. 16. Remarks were made by the commandant of the Home, Col. William A. Holden, and Civil War era patriotic songs were sung. A large birthday cake which was shared and a gift were presented to him by the Daughters organization. Greeting cards were received from numerous patriotic orders and individuals.
His death certificate establishes that Israel died on May 16, 1941 of cardiac failure. He was 101 years, 2 months and 3 days old. Funeral services were conducted May 20th with military honors, which included an observance conducted by the ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Daughters of Union Veterans, and brief remarks by the sole surviving Union veteran at the Home, Charles Cowan. Israel is buried in the Wisconsin Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery at King in Section 8, Lot 23, Grave 6. His headstone can be viewed at www.Find-A-Grave.com.
An obituary published for him relates a wisecrack he commonly told. “Who goes there?” a sentry called to him one night. “Cannon, without wheels,” came the prompt reply. To his identification, the sentry rejoined, “Pass on, Cannon without wheels!”
Israel Jason Cannon was the last surviving Civil War vet from Waushara County, Wisc. As such, he is honored on the following website: :
http://www.suvcw-wi.org/index2.html, by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, in their "Last Soldier Project".