Thursday, June 23, 2016

Peter Westerhouse - Civil War Years #1

Lexington and Freedom, Missouri, were the sites of many skirmishes during the civil war. Many people lost their real estate holdings, personal properties and their lives.  German immigrants, including the Peter Westerhaus family, were anti-slave advocates living in a pro-slave state. They supported the Union Army and its beliefs. Living near the Missouri River port in Lexington, Peter and his family would have interacted daily with pro-slave owners and their slaves.

Peter was strongly against slavery and joined the Missouri Home Guard Infantry, 14th Regiment, Company E, in Lexington, Missouri, 6 July 1861, for a three year period. His Missouri Home Guard unit supported the Union Army, but received very little income, equipment or training. His unit was composed mostly of German non-English speaking immigrants with the purpose of supporting anti-slave advocates in the community.

When Peter enlisted in the Missouri Home Guard, Anna and Peter had four children:
                   Henry - age 7
                   Mary - age 5
                   Amelia - age 3
                   Emma - new born

The Battle of Lexington began 18 September 1861, near Peter's property in the Anderson Addition.  The citizens were cheering the Confederate troops as they approached Lexington, hoping the Confederate Army would regain control from the Union Army. In the Battle of Lexington, there were 15,000 Confederate troops and 3,500 Union troops, including Peter Westerhaus and his Missouri Home Guard unit. Confederate troops used hemp bales as shields, and pushed the bales forward as they advanced toward the Union troops for their final charge 20 September 1861. Union troops surrendered at noon,  20 September 1861, with very few causalities.
Peter Westerhouse's Muster Roll
Peter Westerhouse was wounded and taken prisoner during the 'The Battle of Lexington'. Wounded troops were taken to the Anderson House which served as a Union Hospital.  However, no medical records have ever been found for Peter. 

Peter, along with 3,000 other captured Union troops, was released at 2 PM, 20 September 1861, after they all had listened to a speech by pro-confederate Missouri Governor, Claiborne Jackson.  Also paroled by Confederate General Sterling Price, troops were forced to take an oath not to fight again and to leave the area.  General Price told troops if they were caught fighting again, they would be executed.  Peter and other Home Guard troops walked home through crowds of cheering pro-slavery townspeople. As he was walking back to his home at the corner of Broadway Avenue and 3rd Street, Peter must have felt disappointment as to how the battle had ended.  He would have been welcomed by his wife and their four children, so excited to see he was safely home.  This may have been the moment Peter and Anna began to consider moving their family to the free-slave state of Kansas, and into a community having the views more aligned with theirs.

Peter was mustered out 19 October 1861, in St. Louis, Missouri.  His muster roll indicated he was wounded and taken prisoner at Lexington and afterwards, released on oath.  He was originally mustered in for a three year period, but only served 3 months before being mustered out.

The 'Hawkins Taylor Commission' authorized the Missouri Home Guard troops to receive a payment for their military service.  Peter received $54.65 for his 3 months and 13 days of service in the Missouri Home Guard.  He collected this 30 June 1864. 

Peter Westerhouse's  Hawkins Taylor Commission Pension Card

Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into Law 20 May 1862, encouraging settlers west, promising a wonderful life in the new frontier. The new law established a three step process by which to acquire 160 acres as a homestead for any American citizen. First, the homesteader must file an application with the local land office. Second, they must live on the land, improve it by building at least a 12 feet by 14 feet dwelling, as well as grow crops for five years. Third, after five years, they would need to file for a deed of title and prove to the local land office that the terms of the Homestead Act had been met. The land office would forward the paperwork to the General Land Office in Washington, DC, where it would be reviewed and either approved or denied.

Before leaving Lexington, Missouri, Peter and Anna had their fifth child, Edward Westerhouse, 22 September 1862.  Edward would join the growing family of three sisters and one brother.  After Edward's birth, the family started making final plans to move to Kansas and homestead 160 acres.  These must have been both exciting and scary times, leaving the security of having a home, income, friends and family, for the unknown in Kansas. Peter would leave his cooperage business behind, and learn the skill of farming.  

Peter and Anna sold all of the Lexington properties to Henry Sandler 2 January 1863. The four First Addition lots were sold for a profit of $4675 after an initial investment of $1000. The Six Anderson Addition lots were sold for a loss of $150 after an initial investment of $350.  The two Pomeroy, Houx & Grahams Addition lots were sold for a loss of $200 after an initial investment of $845. The Lafayette County Courthouse property deeds revealed that Peter and Anna were able to collect a total of $6520 for their properties.

Lafayette County Courthouse
On a February morning in 1863, Peter and Anna were packing in preparation for their move to Kansas. Two escaped slaves came to their doorstep asking for a place to hide.  Peter and Anna took them in and also offered passage to Kansas.  The Westerhouses must have welcomed the possibility of having help with their five children, including an infant, on the 300 mile trip to Kansas. 

The two Negroes, Betty and Abe, had escaped earlier from their owner, Mrs. Catherina Cavanaugh, and had been hiding in homes around the Lexington area. They were trying to leave the area and get to a free-slave state.  Only 4 or 5 hours after Betty and Abe had arrived at Peter's home, Sheriff Jacob Price knocked on their door, demanding to be let in to search for the escaped slaves.  Neither Peter nor Anna spoke English, so it must have been difficult for them to communicate with the sheriff.  It was not long before the sheriff was able to find Betty and Abe and take them away.  The sheriff then came back to the Westerhaus home to question Peter. He charged Peter with 'attempting to entice and decoy away slaves from Missouri to Kansas'.  Peter offered the sheriff money and explained that he was not aware he was doing something wrong.  The sheriff did not accept the money and Peter was charged with bribery.

Peter was allowed to continue on his trip to Kansas, as long as he would promise to be present at his trial which had been set for 5 March 1863, at the Lafayette County Courthouse in Lexington, Missouri.  The Lafayette County Courthouse was newly built in 1847, and located only four blocks south of Peter's home.  Today, it is the oldest active courthouse west of the Mississippi River.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Peter Westerhouse - Pre-Civil War Years #2

Peter was naturalized as a United States Citizen 20 November 1855 in Lexington, Missouri, based upon a Lafayette County Courthouse Naturalization Document, transcribed below..

"Peter Westerhouse" a native of Prussia who applies to be admitted a citizen of the United States comes into open court here and proves to the satisfaction of the court here that he has resided in the United States for more than five years and in the State of Missouri at least one year immediately  preceding the application during which time he has conducted himself as a man of good moral character attached to the principles of the constitution of the United States and well disposed to the good order and happenings of the same and the court more over being satisfied that said applicant had taken the preparatory steps required by the laws of the United States concerning the naturalization of foreigners and he the said Peter Westerhouse declaring here in open court upon his oath that he will support the constitution of the United States and that he doth absolutely and entirely renounce and forever all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign power prince potentate State and sovereignty whatever and particularly to the King of Prussia of whom he was late a subject


Therefore the said Peter Westerhouse is admitted a Citizen of the United States

Lafayette County Courthouse Naturalization Document

Peter's and Anna's second child, Mary Anna Westerhouse, was born 28 September 1856, according to her Certificate of Death.

Peter's and Anna's third child, Amelia Westerhouse, was born 1858, based upon the calculated date from the 1860 Federal Census for Lexington, Missouri.  The 1860 Federal Census was the only record ever found for Amelia.

During the same year as Amelia's birth, Peter and Anna purchased property 27 September 1858, located at 319 3rd Street (816 Highland Avenue) in the First Addition section of Lexington for $275.  This property was adjoining Peter's properties to the east on 3rd Street.

Peter and Anna purchased another property 19 January 1859, located at 8 Commerce Street in the First Addition section of Lexington for $75.  This property was behind Peter's 319 3rd Street (816 Highland Avenue) property.

Anderson House Exterior

Wealthy southern plantation slave owners, such as Oliver Anderson, were building large mansions in Missouri during the 1850's.  He moved his family from Nicholasville, Kentucky, to Lexington, Missouri, during 1851.  He went into partnership with his son-in-law, Howard Gratz.  Together, they built a large factory for the processing of hemp into rope.  Oliver also built a mansion high on a bluff overlooking Lexington. This mansion was of Greek Revival style, with large rooms, high ceilings and wide hallways. During 1857, there was an economic downturn which impacted the rope market and caused the financial downfall of Oliver's and Howard's business.  During 1859, they were forced to auction off everything including real estate, personal property, slaves and the Anderson House.  The property surrounding the Anderson House was referred to as The Anderson Addition.   


Anderson House Interior

Peter and Anna purchased six lots of this property which were being auctioned off on 31 December 1859.

The first three wooded lots were located on Poplar Street, North of Delaware Street (Near 406 North 12th Street) in the Anderson Addition of Lexington for $175.  

The last three wooded lots were located on Cedar Street, North of Delaware Street (Near 406 North 12th Street) in the Anderson Addition of Lexington.


1860 Federal Census, Recorded 8 September 1860 in Lexington, Missouri

The Peter Westerhouse family was listed in the 8 September 1860 Federal Census with the Henry Holt-Kamp family and Herman Holt-Kamp.  Herman may have been Anna's father and Henry Holt-Kamp, her brother.  The census listed the occupations for both Peter and Henry as coopers.  The census revealed the value of Peter's real estate as $3,000 and his personal estate as $900.  For Henry, his personal estate was listed as being valued at $300.  The census was recorded at Peter Westerhouse's property, located at 317 3rd Street (824 Highland Avenue) in the First Addition section of Lexington.


Pro-Confederate Antebellum Home on 3rd Street
Peter and Anna purchased property 3 December 1860,  located at 3rd and Plum Streets (324 Highland Avenue) in the Pomeroy, Houx & Grahams Addition section of Lexington for $800.  This property was located along the Missouri River, west of his first property on 3rd Street (Highland Avenue).

This property was located in the Pro-Union, German and Irish working class area of 3rd Street, West of the large Pro-Confederate Antebellum homes.  Local historians believe he would have moved from his cooperage business building at the corner of 3rd Street and Broadway Avenue to this home. 


Peter and Anna purchased another property 8 December 1860, located at 2nd Street, west of Plum Street in the Pomeroy, Houx & Grahams Addition of Lexington for $45.  This property was located along the Missouri River on 2nd Street (Highway 224) and west of Plum Street.


Pro-Union German-Irish Home on 3rd Street

According to Emma Westerhouse Foust's obituary, Peter's and Anna's fourth child was born 2 June 1861.


A map showing the locations of all of Peter's and Anna's properties in Lexington, Missouri is pictured below.


Lexington Missouri Map
A - Peter Westerhouse's First Addition Properties
B - Peter Westerhouse's Anderson Addition Properties 
C - Peter Westerhouse's Pomeroy, Houx & Grahams Addition Properties
D - Lafayette County Courthouse