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Charles Hibbard and the Civil War


Cabin in which Charles Hibbard was born, picture taken around 1900This is not a story about generals, nor even officers. It is not about famous people of any sort. Rather, it is the story of a family, one of whose members was an ordinary soldier from Northwest Ohio who never rose above the rank of private. His name is Charles Ambrose Hibbard, and he served in Company I, 67th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

Charles Ambrose Hibbard was born July 16, 1841 in the village of Tedrow, or as it was then called, Spring Hill, in what is now Fulton County. At the time of his birth, Fulton County did not exist and Spring Hill was then part of western Lucas County. Charles was the seventh of twelve children that were born to Mortimer Dormer Hibbard and his wife, Polly Rice Green. In 1841 the Hibbards were recent newcomers to the region. They had previously lived in Athens County, Ohio, and had come north upon the recommendation of Polly's uncle, Ambrose Rice, who had been a government surveyor in this region and had purchased some choice pieces of land. Mortimer, Polly and their four children then living made the trip from Athens County in February of 1838. Their first home was a log cabin, but as the family prospered a nicer homestead was built. Over the next few years Mortimer, through his land purchases, plotted out a new village which he called Spring Hill. Years later, daughter Marie A. Hibbard wrote a narrative based upon family papers and the diary kept by her mother, and was used by later researchers when writing a history of Fulton County.

"The Hibbard family, founders of Spring Hill, or Tedrow, was one of the most prominent and capable of the pioneer families of Dover Township. The family genealogy connects with leading families of colonial Massachusetts, and that generation which settled in Dover seems to have been of superior education and refined upbringing. Judge Ambrose Rice, uncle of Mary Rice,... passed through the region, with a surveyor's chain, some years before white settlement began, probably in 1834... thinking he had never seen a finer location than the oak openings, Judge Rice induced his niece...and her remove here from Athens county (Ohio), in 1838."

Marie A. Hibbard, who writes the narrative...continues:

"With a good team of horses, and a covered wagon, they seem to have suffered no great discomfort on the way, although the trip was made in winter. They reached the little two-roomed log cabin, their future home for four years, on the fourth day of February. Their farm, selected for them by Ambrose Rice, consisted of a large tract of land lying half a mile north of the Maumee Road (present day Fulton County Road J)."

The Hibbards were proud of their history of service to God and country. The founder of the line in America was a man named Robert, who came from Salisbury, England around 1636 or '38. He and his family settled in Salem, Massachusetts. Over the next generations the Hibbard family spread throughout New England. The line that would produce Charles moved to Connecticut, then on to Vermont, upstate New York and finally Ohio. One member of the family once wrote,

"The Hibbards fearlessly say what they think -- often a little imprudently, but what others say or think of them disturbs their equanimity very little. They do not harbor ill will nor require others to think as they do. They are, as a race, short lived. The Hibbard family have furnished some captains, some editors, some members of Congress, some physicians, but more ministers. The Methodists, Baptists, and Congregationalists have all numbered among their clergy some of our family and generally of good standing though not very eminent."

Among those family members who were ministers were Charles's great-grandfather, the Rev. Ithamar Hibbard, and his grandfather Elisha. Ithamar "was a self-made man of much independence, and is remembered as an orator of great power. His presence was attractive, as he had a handsome form..." wrote one chronicler. Rev. Ithamar was married twice, and fathered twenty children. Born in Windham, Connecticut, he had moved to Rutland County, Vermont as a young man and had been the first Congregational minister in the town of Poultney. It was while he was living in Poultney that his son (and Charles's paternal grandfather) Elisha was born. He had served as a chaplain in a Vermont regiment during the War for Independence, and had been present at Ticonderoga and the battle of Bennington. An incident that occurred during this time was written in the family chronicles.

"By the rules of the army service he was entitled to a servant, but when orders came to retreat from Ticonderoga, his servant was sick, unable to do more than walk. Chaplain H. took his servant's baggage in addition to his own upon his shoulders. When the army moved at night from the fort to the floating bridge upon which they were to cross the lake, Gen. St. Clair, who had command, came riding through the ranks as they were marching on the bridge, and running against the Chaplain, knocked him off the bridge into the water. He was loaded with two old-fashioned saddle-bags, full of clothing and provision, a heavy cartouch box, full of ammunition, belted to him, and a heavy musket on his shoulder. His bodily strength, coolness, and energy were such that he gained the bridge and lost nothing of his load but the musket."

His paternal grandfather was also a minister, the Rev. Elisha Hibbard. He had married Abby Owen in 1808, and the couple moved to Ellisburg, New York. Only two years after the birth of their only son Mortimer, Abby died (1811). Like his father, Elisha had also served his country by volunteering for service in a New York regiment during the War of 1812. After his service in the military he remarried, and with his new wife and young son moved to Athens, Ohio in 1816. There he embarked on a law career, which he practiced for 12 years. Around 1828 Elisha quit his law practice and entered the ministry instead, following the doctrines of the Church of New Jerusalem (Swedenborgian). Elisha was also a staunch abolitionist who, according to family tradition, operated a station on the Underground Railroad while living in Athens, Ohio. Elisha and his second wife Selah came to northwest Ohio, upon the urgings of his son Mortimer, in 1841.

His daughter-in-law Polly duly noted the event in her diary. In an entry dated February 1, 1841, she wrote of the arrival of her father-in-law, and on February 5 wrote, "Father left today, on his journey home. He has bought a farm, and expects to move on it in September." The 80-acre farm was located on either of the Maumee-Angola Road a mile east of Spring Hill, part of which is now the Tedrow Cemetery. As a resident of Spring Hill, Elisha was an active participant in community affairs. He was one of the judges in the first election in Dover Township, and was elected "overseer of the poor." He continued his abolitionist activities by participating in the organization of an anti-slavery society. He also held the area's first temperance meeting. "We had a temperance lecture here today, the first ever held in Clinton Township, wrote Polly on July 24, 1841. "There were about a hundred here. Father Hibbard addressed them. If anything deserves the name of glorious it is the temperance cause. This was the first of many such meetings, and Frank Reighard, in his history of Fulton county, noted that "the movement grew so strong in Spring Hill that no saloon was permitted in the village.

Charles's father, Mortimer, was a man of some influence in the local area.

"The first election in Dover Township was held in his house; and he and his father ably furthered the project which eventually resulted in the erection of Fulton county. He was the first county auditor; and he surveyed and platted the village of Spring Hill, upon land bequeathed to his children, Oscar and Jason, by their granduncle, Judge Rice."

Mortimer Hibbard's chair used at the Fulton County Court HouseThe chair he used as auditor, when the county seat was at Ottokee, is now in the Fulton County Historical Society's museum. Mortimer operated one of the first dry goods stores in Spring Hill, and also donated the land upon which the village school was built, the school that undoubtedly is where Charles received his education.

Charles Hibbard's mother, Mary (or as she was more commonly called, Polly) Rice Greene, could claim a lineage equally as ancient as her husband's. Thomas Greene, patriarch of the Greene family in America, arrived from Leicestershire, England ca. 1635-'36 and eventually settled in Malden, Massachusetts with later generations spreading throughout the northeast.

Like her husband, Polly's ancestors included ministers and patriots. Her grandfather Lemuel Greene, "an honest, Christian man," was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and was wounded at Bunker Hill.

Her father William was one of Athens, Ohio's early pioneers, coming to that area around 1802. Years later, William's grand-daughter Marie A. Hibbard wrote of him:

"Of...our mother's father, we have very little knowledge. She had no remembrance of him, and knew nothing of the place or manner of his death. The records say only, 'He went down the Ohio River on business and was never heard from.' In the then unsettled condition of the country and the lack of facilities for carrying news, it is nothing remarkable that word of his death, by drowning or otherwise, failed to reach them."

Polly's mother, Deborah Rice, was a descendant of Deacon Edmund Rice. Edmund came to Massachusetts in either 1638 or '39. Her maternal grandfather, Jason Rice, was also a soldier of the Revolution. He was at the battle of Bennington, and as a member of the Continental Army saw duty at Providence and Fishkill. He and his family left Vermont for Athens County, Ohio around 1799 or 1800.

It was into these families, rich in the history of a young America, that Charles Ambrose Hibbard was born.

Charley's Story

Charles Ambrose Hibbard circa 1862 (Fulton County Historical Society)Charles was about average height for his time, standing 5 feet, 10 inches tall. His complexion was light, with gray eyes and brown hair. Like most residents of the area, Charles was a farmer. Up until the war broke out, he had spent his entire life at home in and around Spring Hill, among his family and close friends.

Unlike many others who dashed off to the nearest recruiting office following the firing on Fort Sumter, Charles remained at home during that first year of the war. Perhaps his family did not want him going off to war, or he may have felt that he was needed at home. Instead he waited until the next year, after he had celebrated his 21st birthday. On August 20 of 1862 Charles Ambrose Hibbard and his younger brother, Francis Elisha, enlisted in Capt. George Ansell's Company I, 67th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Apparently Charley's enlistment came as a surprise to at least one person. In a letter from Spring Hill dated December 1, 1862, a friend wrote to him:

"Charles I think you took rather a sudden start to the army for I did not know that you had enlisted [until] I herd you had gone I never was so suprised as I was when I heard of it I dident know as you had the least thought of enlisting but I wish you good luch and safe return that is all I can do you know."

He was also informed of social events taking place in his absence.

"I was down their (Uncle Carter's) to dance last Saturday evening we had a good time the house was crouded they was a lot their from Ottokee, but none from Springhill but Ell, Cuff and Amanda Jones and they were going home...we had a good time." But chores needed to be finished, and the author of the letter concluded, "Charley it is a getting dark and I have got lots to do yet to night and I guess I will have to bring my letter to a close you answer this and I will try and do better next time."

Charles Ambrose Hibbard circa 1864 (Fulton County Historical SocietyOne of the bloodiest fights that the 67th Ohio was involved in was the July 11th assault on Fort Wagner overlooking Charleston Harbor. Perhaps it was fortune smiling down upon them, or maybe it was just blind luck. Whatever the reason Company I, 67th OVI did not take part in the attack upon Fort Wagner. While the rest of the regiment was being cut to pieces on the beaches of Morris Island, Charley, brother Frank and the rest of Company I were left behind on picket duty. Looking back at the results of that disastrous assault, Charley and the rest of Company I may have offered up a silent prayer of thanks that they had been spared the ordeal.

Later in the war they took part in the siege operations against Petersburg, Virginia. One of the greatest fears of those back home, as in many a household during these terrible years, was that Charley or his brother Frank might have been hurt. They were greatly relieved to learn, following the latest reports of fighting that had taken place, that all were well, and said so in the letters they wrote to their soldier boys at the front.

"Since I last wrote to you I have [heard] you have been in some pretty hard battles and herd you was killed and Capt. Stevens was wounded. I am glad that report was not true but I do not see how so many did escape. I expect you see some hard time. Some times harder then the bill calls for. I presume you have seen some [hard?] fighting since you have been out the last time. Well that is what you went for and I hope you all will come out safe but we must expect that some will get killed. Charley when you get into richmond I want you to write me a long letter and tell me all the perticulars, and if you be not in richmond write any way."

Charles served for two years, ten months, and one day, and was mustered out on June 21, 1865. Throughout his service, he kept a diary. His regiment saw action in some fierce battles, but throughout it all Charles was never wounded. He did, however, suffer from such complaints as "Camp diareeah [sic] causing piles, also rhumatism [sic]".

Letters from home were always welcomed, and helped keep Charley abreast of what was happening while he was away. One topic in letters sent and received was, what were the girls back home doing. One friend wrote, with tongue in cheek, about Charley's "wife" (he wasn't married at the time). Friend Mattie wrote about the different girls back home, wondering which one would make the right wife for Charles Hibbard.

"Charles, I think you are not in any more of a hurry to see your friends then they are to see you, but I think your wife will be very glad to see you (a little more so then any one else.) But I truly think that Dasy Halls girls is all married that is too bad haint it but there is Elsey Coll perhaps she would like to marry, how would she sute you. Well Charles I think you are not any to blame for not getting married."

Not only did Charles get letters about the girls back home, he also received letters from the girls back home. At some point late in the war, he was corresponding with a young girl living in Pontiac, Illinois. From the contents of the letter, she and Charles appear not to have ever met, but were possibly introduced to each other through the mail by a third person. The girl's mother disapproved of her daughter writing to soldiers, but the daughter was not about to be intimidated. She wrote:

"I am pleased with your letter for you speak my sentiments exactly in regard to the war. I have no Brother in the army at all but if I had I should tell them to see it through.

"Now my dear friend I want to tell you a secret and that is this.--I got your letter out of the Post Office and took it home and read it but while I was reading it my Mother came in the room and asked me what I was reading and took the letter out of my hands and said I should not answer it but I am determined to do so if she kills me, and when you answer this I want you to direct to Miss Annie Hemlock Pontiac Illinois and then I can get them and no one will know it but you and me.

"I am going to school now yesterday was my birthday and I was 17 years old I tell you we had gay lives I wish you could been here.

"Now I want you to send me your Photograph when you write and be sure to write just as soon...I doont care for any of the boys in this town and I have no one to write to and when you come to this town you must come & see me the first more this time but remain anxiously Your Friend."

When the war was over, Charles's sister Carrie celebrated the regiment's, and her brothers', return home with a poem dedicated to "the boys in blue from Fulton County who served in the 67th Ohio.

They are coming from the Southland, to the tread of martial drum;
They are marching from their campfires,--loyal, brave, and true they come;
And our hearts go out to give them gladsome welcome as they come.

They are coming nearer, nearer; we can hear their gallant tread;
In a lava tide from Wagner, and vanquished Sumter fell;
Let its glory gild each forehead; it befits them passing well.

O gallant Sixty-Seventh! When was sent upon the wire,
The tidings daily, hourly, of the sacrificial fire
How our heart-strings drew about you, husbands, brothers, sons and sires.

For those whom God commissioned, we have little need of tears
Their footprints shall be stardust, through a thousand thousand years
And the banners o'er those battlements are never drenched with tears.

And to you, O brave, returning to your North, tried, gallant, true,
Every breeze shall bear the greeting the united waft to you;
And our grateful tears of welcome fall as the evening dew.

We have suffered, when your noble ranks were thinned upon the plain;
Have exulted when your banner rode the victor breeze again;
And gloried that its triple folds have never caught one stain.

Our glad exultant shout shall rise, to greet you as you come;
'Twill die away against the skies, above the clash of drum;
God bless the Sixty-Seventh! A thousand welcomes home.

Charley wasn't much of a writer but, like many Civil War soldiers, he kept a diary. You won't find any great revelations, but if you're interested in reading what an ordinary soldier wrote, click here to read a transcript of some of those diaries.

Post-War Years

Charles Hibbard later in lifeThe war was over, and Charles, like many young men who had survived the war, returned home with the idea of starting his life anew. Among the important items ahead for him was marriage. On September 12, 1867 Charles A. Hibbard married Mary Jane Riddle. They continued to live in Spring Hill, or Tedrow as it was beginning to be called, where they made their living by farming. For a while brother Francis lived with the young couple. In 1868 their first child, a son whom they named Lowell Earl Hibbard, was born. Over the next few years a total of five children, two daughters and three sons, were born to Charles and Mary Jane. In 1875 they, along with Francis, moved to Isabella County, Michigan, near Mount Pleasant. Though Francis remained in Michigan, Charles and his family returned to Tedrow in 1878.

Like many veterans, Charles suffered in his later years from complaints that originated while he was in the service. He applied for a government pension when the combined effects of rheumatism in the spine and hips, along with bleeding piles, prevented him from performing those chores necessary to run a farm.

His son Lowell grew up in the small farming village, and on May 22, 1893 married Margaret Watkins. They, in turn, had three daughters and three sons. Their oldest was daughter Candace Marie. Candace in her lifetime married three times, and was three times widowed. Her second husband was John Richard Jones. Candace and John lived in Toledo, and had two sons:-- the oldest, John Patric, born in 1927. On March 3, 1950, John Patric Jones married Dolores Ann Walker, and the result of that union was two daughters. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I came to be.

How Spring Hill Became Tedrow

Charles Hibbard with wife Mary Jane and daughter Maude at home in Tedrow

Spring Hill seems a much more pleasing name than Tedrow. If so, then how did it come to be called by the latter? Marie A. Hibbard explained how the name was changed.

"The village (Spring Hill) received its name from the farm of which it was a part. When the post office was removed from Mr. (Isaac) Tedrow's several miles south, it was found that the name could not be changed to that of the village, as there was an office called Spring Hill in the state. Therefore, it kept the name of the former postmaster, Tedrow."

Isaac Tedrow was another early pioneer of the area, residing near Spring Hill as early as 1842. Isaac and many of his family are buried a few miles up the road from Tedrow in Ayers Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Fulton County.


  • Charles A. Hibbard,
    Pension Records. National Archives, Washington, DC.
  • Charles A. Hibbard,
    Service Record, Co. I, 67 OVI. National Archives, Washington, DC.
  • Dyer's Compendium, Part 3 (Regimental Histories).
  • Fulton County Chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society,
    1890 Special Census of Union Veterans. 1993.
  • Fulton County Chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society,
    Civil War Soldiers Discharge Abstracts. 1993.
  • Fulton County Historical Society,
    Fulton County Ohio 1850-1976: A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories. 1976.
  • Hibbard, Augustine George, compiler and publisher,
    Genealogy of the Hibbard Family Who are Descendants of Robert Hibbard of Salem, Massachusetts. Woodstock, CT: 1901.
  • Hibbard, Marie A. and Ellen L., compilers,
    Lineage Book of Mortimer Dormer Hibbard and Mary Rice Greene Hibbard of Wauseon, Ohio. Unpublished manuscript, dated 1914.
  • Hibbard Collection,
    Fulton County Historical Society, Wauseon, Ohio.
  • Reighard, Frank H.,
    A Standard History of Fulton County. Chicago & New York: Lewis Publishing Co., 1920.
  • Wise, Stephen R.,
    Gate to Hell: Campaign for Charleston Harbor, 1863. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1994.

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