Thursday, October 1, 2015

Chapter 23: Cyrus Dies at the Sailors and Soldiers Home

Military pension files can be rich sources for biographical information because applicants had to establish details of their physical condition and, oftentimes, the facts of marriages and family relationships. Physician's reports and affidavits regarding personal habits dominate Cyrus Fawkner's file.

Cyrus had multiple physical ailments, including heart disease and a double oblique inguinal hernia. Several affiants -- all using the same language -- attested that the hernia was not caused by "any vicious or immoral habits." They said the hernia was not any fault of the veteran. In a May 1895, while a resident in the Sailors and Soldiers Home at Quincy, Illinois, Cyrus swore that the hernia was sustained about 1884 while working with hogs. Cyrus said that he could secure no testimonials for the cause of the hernia because his wife and daughter "who knew of it are dead and no one here knows about it." He said it happened some 200 miles away (in Fairbury) and consequently he could not witnesses who knew of it. In August, he stated that the injury was sustained in January 1888 when he took a severe fall in the hog lot.

Details of the accident may be sketchy, but Cyrus most certainly was in the hog business. A February 1881 newspaper reported that Thomas Weeks of Fairbury had sold "to Fawkner & Hanna this week, 20 head of hogs that averaged 480 pounds each. A run in with a 480 pound hog could do a man some damage!

An acquaintance from Fawkner's Fairbury days observed that he "was a drinking man but her never saw him drunk and that he [claimant] might have been drunk a good many times and affiant not know it." Genealogists understand the logic: just because there is no evidence of something happening doesn't mean it didn't happen. Another affiant state,"the claimant is a moderate drinker.” The Special Examiner for the Pension Bureau responded: “The claim will probably bear investigation.”

It is not clear how long he lived in the Soldiers and Sailors Home in Quincy. He may have lived in St. Louis at least part of the time between 1900 and 1910, because he was examined by doctors there in April 1905 and February 1907.

He apparently recovered enough to be able to live semi-independently for at least a short time. The 1910 census recorded him as a boarder in a private home in St. Louis, Missouri. At age 72, he was still working as a saddler in a harness shop. However, he soon moved into the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Danville, Illinois – a mere 60 miles from his hometown of Danville, Indiana. Cyrus died at the Soldier’s Home 22 June 1911.[14 Burial was in section 6, row 8, lot 1,478 of the Danville National Cemetery.

NOTE: The 4Gen Genealogy blogger is hitting the road again this morning for a visit to Wyoming and Colorado to commune with geysers, hot springs, and granddaughters. He expects to resume blogging in the last half of October -- perhaps venturing into entirely new territory. 

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