Doyle, born Frank Reed:
Civil War deserter who hid his past
- by Alice
died as Thomas Doyle, but he was born as Francis Reed.
Nineteen months of the Civil War caused Frank Reed to be
reborn as Tom Doyle. He lived from 1864 until 1916 with
no one knowing who he was. The picture of Tom/Frank was
taken when he was an old man:
Jean Valjean became Father Madeleine in Victor Hugo's Les
Miserables in order to hide his past, Frank Reed
became Thomas Reed Doyle in order to hide his past. Just
as many who had known Father Madeleine could not believe
that he was Jean Valjean, many who have known of Thomas
Reed Doyle will have difficulty believing that he was
really Frank Reed. However, all evidence points to the
On 25 Jul 1861, in Bloomington, McLean Co., IL, Francis
Reed enlisted as a private in Co. K, 8th Regiment,
Illinois Volunteers, an infantry unit. He signed
enlistment papers for three years. He was poor and
illiterate, and English was not his first language. (On
the 1920 U.S. Census of Lockhart Township, Norman County,
Minnesota, the man's son reported that French was the
"mother tongue" of his father, the subject of
this study.) Why did he enlist for three years? Likely he
did not imagine the war would last as long as it did, and
it's likely the financial deal was better if he signed
for three years. He enlisted under the name
"Francis," the formal name for
For the next 19 months, Frank Reed served with his army
unit. He was listed with his unit daily from 25 Jul 1861
to 21 Feb 1863. During that time, his unit did battle at Fort Donelson, TN, in Feb 1862, and at Shiloh, TN, in Apr 1862. On 22 Feb
1863, his unit left Memphis, TN, by steamer ship to go to
Lake Providence, La. Frank never got on the boat.
The military reported him present thru 21 Feb 1863 in
Memphis, TN, and AWOL thereafter. Frank was finally
listed as a deserter on 26 Mar 1863. He had been paid
through 31 Dec 1862. The Army said he owed them $19.84 on
a clothing account.
Where Frank was from late Feb 1863 until early
Apr 1864 is so far unknown. By early April he must have
been in the same place as Permelia Payne, presumably in Vermilion Co.,
IL, because they conceived their first child about this
time. Also, he must have already begun using the created
name "Tom Doyle" because there is no indication
anyone in Vermilion Co., IL, ever knew him by any other
name. It is interesting to note that the woman he became
involved with [Permelia Payne] had recently lost her father. Her father had been shot in a
riot and died in late 1863; he had been shot because he
was wearing a "butternut pin," seen as support
for Confederate troops. Also, Permelia came from a family
filled with military men: Her father had served in the
U.S. Army. Three brothers fought for the Union during the
Civil War. One uncle began his military career in the
Black Hawk War and was a captain in the U.S. Army during
the Civil War.
Under Frank's new name "Tom Doyle," he married
this young woman from a locally prominent family. Their
first child -- a boy -- was named after Tom's wife's
family. However, when their second child --another boy --
was born in August 1866, the boy was named Francis and
called "Frank." His wife's family had no folks
by that name. While Tom/Frank could no longer use his own
real name, he could give it to his son.
It is evident that the relationship between Thomas and
Permelia had ended before May 1868 because in February
1869 Permelia gave birth to her first of five children
fathered by Joseph MALCOM. Tom/Frank never again saw
those two sons. For decades, Permelia told people that
Tom had died. She was finally forced to reveal the truth
when a first cousin of those sons married Tom/Frank's son
from his second marriage. (According to one of Permelia's
great-granddaughters her last words, on her death bed
were, "I'm coming home now, Tom."
In Jan 1873, in Vermilion Co., he married the widow Lucy RODERICK, born Lucy
was the daughter of Cornelius Peterson and Cilinda
Lane; thru her
father, Lucy descended from a man who arrived in America
on the Mayflower.)
On 13 Apr 1882, he filed for a military pension; his
claim was number 447342. He claimed he had been honorably
discharged at Memphis, TN, in March 1864. On the claim,
he used the name "Thomas R. Doyle." This is the
earliest document on which this researcher can find any
allusion to the middle name "Reed."
Obviously he was lying about being honorably discharged
in March 1864. Even if he had been with the military
until March 1864, he would have been four months short of
completing his three-year enlistment. However,
Frank/Tom's war experience had been one of mud and blood.
He was an illiterate man who would not have imagined that
the war of two decades before also existed in words on
paper, filed away in drawers in Washington, D.C.
Correspondence for this claim continued for years. He
even found other veterans willing to file statements that
he had been with his regiment long after he had deserted.
One filed a statement that he was well acquainted with
Thomas R. Doyle and knew that he was "discharged at
Vicksburg, Miss., on or about the 4 day of July 1864 by
reason of expiration of service, I believe." An
obvious lie since by then Tom was married to Permelia and
living in Vermilion Co., IL. However, it was the 1880s,
and all the men were getting Civil War pensions. Civil
War pensions were a huge part of the U.S. budget, and
everyone was bellying up to the trough. Among the law
firms that worked on the case for Tom/Frank in his quest
for a pension were Samuel Erskine; and Pennebaker &
Pennebaker of Washington, D.C.
In Mar 1886, Tom was sent a letter from the Pension
Office, Department of the Interior:
|In response to the personal request
of Hon. John A. Logan as to the status of your
claim, the records fail to show the name Thomas
R. Doyle. If you served under any other name, you
should state the name under which you served.
[John A. Logan was John Alexander Logan,
1826-1886. Elected U.S. Congressman from IL 1858 &
1860. Resigned seat in 1861; entered Union Army as Col.
Served at Ft. Donelson (1862) and in Vicksburg
campaign (1862-63). By 1862, was general; in 1864,
briefly commanded the Army of the Tennessee. U.S.
Congressman from IL 1867-1871, Republican. U.S. Senator
from IL from 1871-1877 and 1879-1886, Republican.
Candidate for the vice-presidency of the U.S. during 1884
election. First President of Grand Army of the Republic,
organization for honorably discharged Union veterans of
the Civil War.]
Some time before Sep 1886 Frank/Tom must have revealed
who he was to someone working on the case. On 7 Sep 1886,
a report was written from The War Department, Adjutant
General's Office, Washington, D.C., to the Commissioner
|Frank Reed, a private
of Company K, 8th Regiment Illinois Volunteers,
was enrolled on the 25th day of July, 1861, at
Bloomington, 3 yrs, and is reported on roll dated
Aug 31, 1861, present. Same to Dec 31, 1862, and
to Jan. And Feb 1863 absent without leave since
Feb 21, 1863. Mar & Apr 1863 reports him
under the head of 'Deserted.' Dropped from the
rolls to date from Feb 21, 1863. Co. Mustering
Out Roll dated May 4, 1866, reports him Deserted
Feb 21, 1863, at Memphis, Tenn. His name is not
borne on rolls from Apr 30, 1863, to muster out
of Co. Records of this office furnish no evidence
of alleged disability. Regiment Hospital Records
prior to Feb 21 1863 not on file
There is no indication, however, that the report
got to Tom/Frank.
On 17 Mar 1888, someone wrote the following. It is in
Frank/Tom's pension file. Whether Frank/Tom attempted it,
or whether someone else was writing at his direction is
|March 17, 1888
Mr. Charley Black
I got your paper, and you wanted the name in
which I went under. Please find the name of Frank
Read. It is the name I served in Co. K 8 Illinois
is the one I served in. Frank Read is the name I
went and you will find it there. The [unreadable] were McClun of
Captain Harvey Regiment, and when you find it you
will find mine there. Our second captain was
Denison. After that [unreadable] siege at Shiloh [April 1862] the last orderly
sergeant was Mareen it was at Fort Donelson [Feb. 1862] where I first took
my disease, and it has followed me and will to
the grave. I must close and if you want any more,
please send, and do all you can for me and oblige
old soldier and friend. If you find it, please
It was first signed "Frank Read." That
signature was crossed out so that what remained was
"Doyl Doyl." Every other document found for
this man has only "his mark."
The years of correspondence ended Jul 1896 when the
Department of the Interior, Bureau of Pensions, wrote to
him citing claim #447342 for "Thos. R. Doyle alias
|Sir: Your above-cited
claim was rejected July 17, 1896, on the ground
that you have no title to pension, being a
deserter at large from the above-named
organization, as shown by a report from the
records of the War Department. Very respectfully,
D. [unreadable], Commissioner.
Finally, the Bureau of Pensions had said it: He
was Thomas R. Doyle with the alias Frank Reed, and he was
not eligible for a pension because he was a deserter,
having deserted after 19 months of a three-year
enlistment. Ironically, by 1896 men who had served less
than the 19 months he had served were getting pensions.
However, they had not made the mistake of enlisting for
three years for what turned out to be the bloodiest war
this country has ever seen. His 19 months of service --
including the horrors of Donelson and Shiloh -- got him
nothing but a new name.
In 1900 he was living as a boarder in Vermilion Co. By
the end of that year, his son from his second marriage
married the niece of his first wife. Able Wade Payne, who had also served at
Donelson and who had once been his brother-in-law, was
now the uncle and step-father of his son's wife. In 1910,
he was living with that son and daughter-in-law.
In 1915, he was at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Danville.
(It is called United Samaritans Medical Center, Sager
Campus; 600 Sager; Danville, IL. It was and still is a
Catholic hospital. Records as far back as 1916 no longer
exist.) On 30 Nov 1915, having
"caused trouble" for the sisters at St.
Elizabeth's and for the nurses at the county hospital in
Vermilion Co., he was sent to the State Hospital in
Kankakee, Kankakee Co., IL. It was a mental institution,
and and it is recalled as an especially grim place. He
remained there until he died on 8 Feb 1916. He died under
the name Thomas Doyle. According to his death certificate
(#017601), he died of "organic heart disease."
Not knowing what else to do with the body, the State
Hospital sent the body back to Danville. On 12 Feb 1916,
the following notice appeared in the local newspaper:
TO FIND DOYLE'S KIN
County Clerk John R. Moore is making a
hard effort to locate the relatives of Tim [sic]
Doyle, the eccentric octogenarian, who after
causing the sisters at a local hospital and the
nurses at the county hospital a lot of trouble,
was sent to the state asylum at Kankakee. Doyle
died at Kankakee last Tuesday morning. The
addresses given as to relatives on file at the
hospital failed to bring responses to telegrams.
At 4 o'clock Friday afternoon Clerk John R. Moore
received a message from the superintendent asking
that he assist in the search. Mr. Moore has
exhausted nearly every endeavor. He now appeals
to the public through the newspaper. Doyle was
about 85 years of age, and was sent away late
On 15 Feb 1916, Tuesday, in the dead of winter,
with no family member having made any payment, the old
man's body was buried at St. Patrick's Cemetery, the
cemetery with a connection to Danville's St. Elizabeth's
Hospital. In the Feb 15th evening paper funeral notice
|Funeral services for
Thomas Doyle, who died on Tuesday of last week at
the state hospital at Kankakee, were held at 9
o'clock Tuesday morning at St. Patrick's church.
The body was taken to St. Patrick's cemetery for
interment. Mr. Doyle was 83 years of age and had
spent the greater part of his life in this
county. For many years he resided at Potomac.
St. Patrick's cemetery is now called
Resurrection Catholic Cemetery. It is at 818 Wendt St.,
Danville, IL. St. Patrick's Church and St. Joseph's
Church merged and are now called Holy Family Church, 444
E. Main, Danville, IL. The church did not begin keeping
records on funerals until 1937. According to the
caretaker at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, the file
cards in his office show that Thomas Doyle was buried in
February 1916 in lot 14, block 4, space 6, with no
gravestone. Frank/Tom is buried in a space which had been
one of four spaces in a block purchased by Edward Boyle.
Boyle, not Doyle.
Others buried in the three other spaces in that block are
Maggie Boyle, buried 1876; Anna Boyle, buried 13 Feb
1884; and Matt Boyle, buried 1890. According to Holy
Family Catholic Church, they have baptismal records
beginning about 1870. A search for baptism records for
any last name DOYLE with a father Tom found nothing.
However, the search found a baptism for a Margaret Boyle
on 27 Oct 1876, born to Thomas Boyle and his wife whose
maiden name was Hannah Sullivan. The search also found
mention of an Edward Boyle who had a son John baptized in
1883; a daughter Margaret baptized 26 June 188?; and a
daughter Nettie baptized 1887. In other words, there was
an Edward Boyle with a definite connection to St.
Patrick's, and this Edward Boyle had reason to name a
daughter Margaret. The Boyles were not related to
Tom/Frank. Why Tom/Frank was buried in their family block
is unknown. Most likely it was the solution found by the
pastor at St. Patrick's.
Thus, we began with a man named Francis Reed who was also
known as Frank. He changed his name to Thomas Doyle after
he deserted from the Army. After several years, he added
his old last name as a middle name: Thomas Reed Doyle. A
newspaper typo had him called "Tim" in one
article rather than "Tom." His body was buried
in a cemetery plot purchased by a "Boyle"
family because some Catholic priest was stuck with the
task of trying to figure out what to do with his body.
Over the years, folks working with the records for the
cemetery became less certain that the surname for the man
who was buried in 1916 was "Doyle" and wondered
more than once in penciled notes whether the surname
should have been listed as "Boyle." However,
like Jean Valjean under the unmarked rock, he was only
one man -- no matter how many names.
Basics on Thomas
"Tom" Reed DOYLE,
1st known as Francis "Frank" REED
- born about Nov
1835 [or as early as 1828 or as late as 1842]
near Quebec City, Quebec
- original name
apparently was Francis REED
- immigrated to U.S.
- served 19 months
of a three-year enlistment in Co. K, 8th
Regiment, Illinois Volunteers
- deserted and
changed name to Thomas DOYLE
- married first 17
May 1864, Vermilion Co., IL, to Permelia PAYNE
- Permelia left him
before May 1868, taking with her their two sons.
- married second 11
Jan 1873, Vermilion Co., IL, to the widow Lucy RODERICK (born
- Lucy died in 1883.
- married third 10
Feb 1886, Vermilion Co., IL, to Eliza/Lizzie
- married fourth 26
Oct 1893, Vermilion Co., IL, to the widow Sarah
LANE (born MANLY). Sarah was widow of Aaron Lane,
maternal uncle of Tom's #2 wife, Lucy Peterson.
- died 8 Feb 1916
Kankakee, Kankakee Co., IL
Resurrection Catholic Cemetery [formerly known as
St. Patrick's], Danville, IL
FATHER: Robert REED, b English Ireland. On his 1886
marriage license application, Frank/Tom listed his father
as "Robert Doyle." On his 1893 marriage license
application, he listed the name as "Roband
Doyle." These questions would have been asked by a
clerk who wrote the answers in. Likely, the clerk simply
asked him, "What is your father's first name?"
The clerk would have assumed the father's last name was
the same as the man getting the marriage license. That is
an assumption that Frank/Tom would not have corrected.
MOTHER: Agnes BELDON or MONK, b Quebec, Canada. On the
1886 application, Frank/Tom listed her as Agnes BELDON;
on the 1893, he listed her as Agnes MONK.
Frank/Tom's siblings (two sisters):
(1) Ellen REED
(2) [unknown female] REED
There is no documentation for either sibling. However,
Frank/Tom's youngest son claimed that his father always
said he had two sisters and that one was named
"Ellen." Tom/Frank did use that name as a
middle name for a daughter.
Frank/Tom's four wives:
(1) Permelia PAYNE (1843-1935), daughter of John Payne & Virletta O'Neal. After the relationship between
Permelia and Frank/Tom ended, she began a life-long
relationship with Joseph MALCOM, with whom she had five
(2) Lucy PETERSON (1837-1883), daughter of Cornelius Peterson and Cilinda
Lane; widow of
Solomon Roderick when she married Tom/Frank. Entered
marriage to Tom/Frank with four children from first
husband. Died 21-Feb-1883; buried in an unmarked grave at
Potomac Cemetery, Potomac, Vermilion Co., IL. The grave
is very near the grave of Permelia Payne's brother
(3) Eliza/Lizzy HARBAUGH (b 1861/1862), daughter of Henry
HARBAUGH. What became of Eliza after marrying Tom/Frank
cannot be found in available records.
(4) Sarah MANLY (b abt 1841), daughter of John MANLEY and
Christina KELCH; widow of her 2nd husband, Aaron LANE.
What became of Sarah after marrying Tom/Frank cannot be
found in available records.
Two children from wife #1, Permelia Payne:
(1) Addison Ithamore Doyle (1865-1954).
(2) Francis Marion Doyle (1866-1940).
Four children from wife #2, Lucy Peterson:
(1) Itha Elmer Doyle Elmer Doyle (1874-1958)
.....m. Mary Payne [dau. of Wm. Payne; granddau. of John Payne & Virletta O'Neal]
(2) Ida Ellen Doyle (1874-1943)
(3) Amanda Doyle (1878-1927)
.....m. 1st PHIPPS [a 1st cousin marriage; Lucy
Peterson's sister's son]
.....m. 2nd SMITH.
(4) Minnie [a nickname?] (1880-1949)
.....m. 1st PATTEN
.....m. 2nd MEEK.
- military records
under name "Frank Reed" at the National
- pension papers
under name "Tom Doyle, a.k.a. Frank
Reed" at the National Archives
- 1880 US Census,
Pilot Twp., Vermilion Co., IL: ED 220, Page 28,
- 1900 US Census,
Blount Twp., Vermilion Co., IL: ED 56, Sheet 19,
- 1910 US Census,
Grant Twp., Vermilion Co., IL: ED 166, Sheet 5,
- marriage license
applications, Vermilion Co., IL
- birth records for
some of his children, Vermilion Co., IL
- death certificate,
Kankakee Co., IL
- cemetery records,
Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, Danville, IL
clippings from Feb. 1916, found at the Danville
To see a poem written
by Frank/Tom's one-time brother-in-law [the man who
became both the uncle-in-law and step-father-in-law of a
son of Frank/Tom], click here: Roll Call of Heaven
Tom/Frank's relationship to the PAYNE family of Vermilion
Co., IL, was complicated. Further reseach into the Paynes
may explain Frank/Tom even more. To see the family he
first married into, click here: John Payne & Virletta O'Neal
[Folks, this page and research are copyrighted.]