A House Divided
by R. Wilt

     A lot of kids now days come from broken homes but how many can say they descend from a House Divided. In West Virginia there could be quite a few.

     My grand children are descendants of four ancestors that fought in the Civil War (1861-1864), three Great Great Great Grandfathers and one Great Great Great Great Grandfather. They each have a story.

     Jacob Wesley Sirk hailed from Braxton County, WV originally southern Lewis County, VA. When Rosecran with Union troops moved south from Clarksburg into Lewis County and points south his troops raided several farms to obtain supplies to maintain their food supplies. The Union made a lot of enemies in the south by raiding and sacking the local farmers where ever they went.

     Many of the locals including Jacob Wesley Sirk and Jehu Cunningham volunteered to fight for the Confederacy. Jacob and Jehu both traveled to Cold Knob in Webster County VA. to sign up. Shortly after being inducted into the 14th VA Cal CSA they were attacked by a Union force which took Jacob prisoner and transferred him via railroad, first to Wheeling where he was listed as being a POW. He was then transferred to Camp Chase near Columbus OH for further processing to be transferred to Alton Federal Prison located on the outskirts of St Louis, IL where he remained for over three years and was repatriated in 1864 to sign the Union oath of Allegiance and returned to his family in Braxton County later to move to Clay County where he reared his family with his wife, Delilah Dickey.

     Jehu Cunningham when arriving in Clay County with a son from Pennelton County married Temperence Riffle and their daughter later married the son of Jacob. After joining the the Confederacy 14th VA Cal. Jehu averted capture at Cold Knob and went on to stay with the 14th VA Cal. serving as a Confederate Spy traveling back and forth the Kanawha Valley following Union troops along the Little Kanawha River which runs from Braxton County to the Ohio River near Parkersburg. It was reported several times of Jehu’s duties having at one time a new horse issued to him due to his steed being shout out from under him in a skirmish with Union forces. Jehu remained in the Confederate Army until the end of the war when he was listed being a deserter signing the Union Oath of Allegiance in Charleston, WV and returned to Clay County.

     On the Wilt side of the family Samuel Asbury McRobie joined the Union Army shortly after the beginning of the war in Kingwood, VA. Samuel was from Oakland, MD just a few miles east of Kingwood. He was attached to Company “O’ of the 6th West Virginia Inf. USA. His duties consisted of patrolling the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad which ran from the east coast to the Ohio River and beyond. His particular company worked repairing and defending the part of the B&O which ran between Cumberland, MD and Parkersburg and Wheeling, WV. About the middle of the Civil War Samuel requested a furlough to visit his new bride, Sarah Elizabeth Weimer living in Crelin just outside Oakland, MD. During his time home in Oakland he was walking down the street and happened to see a Confederate Soldier who approached him and a fight pursued. During the fight fearing for his life Samuel removed an ax handle from a small wooden barrel display in front of Offett’s Store and hit the Johnny Reb, killing him. Samuel returned to his unit in Kingwood, WV and when the Sheriff came to arrest him his commanding officer would not turn him over to the Sheriff stating, “That is what a Union Soldier should do, Kill Rebs”, so Samuel remained a free man and nothing more came of the incident after the war since the Union won. Samuel was released at the end of the war and returned to his home and family in Oakland. Here he toiled as a farmer on a small track of land which at this date is at the bottom of Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County, MD. His widow filed for and obtained an eight dollar a month pension after his death in 1899.

     Another ancestor is Minter B. Miller, a son of Benjamin Miller a veteran of the War of 1812. In 1859 Minter, first married a young lady by the name of Frances Fitzpatrick and had one child, Harriett Belle Miller. Frances died shortly after the birth of her daughter and in 1861 Minter married Elizabeth Alexander, a spinster from a very old family of Upshur and Randolph Counties in West Virginia. Minter was a farmer owning a moderate amount of land in Upshur County and when the Civil War broke out he joined the 133rd Upshur County Militia. He remained with the 133rd and defended Upshur County from several attacks by the Confederacy. The 133rd was very similar to what is know today as the “National Guard” and was never considered a part of the Union Army although they fought gallantly through out the Civil War. Minter remained a farmer in Upshur County until 1873 when he had a little brush with the law. He had entered into a business agreement producing sugrum molasses with a man by the name of Lewis. They were having a dispute about shares since one owned the horse to operate the press and the other owned the press. During the dispute objects were thrown back and forth and Mrs. Lewis was struck in the head and died of the wound. Minter was being accused of murder so he left West Virginia deserting his second wife and child. He moved to Ohio where he sold most of his holdings in West Virginia leaving a small portion in trust with a John Miller of Ohio. In 1896 a letter was received from a lawyer in Philadelphia passing a 65 acre tract a land in Upshur County to his grand children. He migrated to Kansas where he met and married a young lady by the name of Sarah Wilson. In the move from West Virginia, Minter changed his name to Thomas E. Johnson before marrying and settled on a 128 acre homestead near Hutchinson, KS. He built and with his new family run and maintained a boarding house or hotel for several years. In 1896 he disappeared from Kansas and reappears in Harrison, Arkansas where he marries again and applies for another 128 acre homestead. In 1903 he reappears in Los Angeles, California a proprietor of a hotel. He passed away in 1904 and is buried in the Rose Dale Cemetery in South Los Angeles, CA.

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