Absolom Alexander Harrison &
Susan Elizabeth nee Allstun
This story is similar to many stories of pioneers in the early nineteenth century struggling through many things; the coming of the steam locomotive, past the telegraph era, and the Civil War; from black powder rifles to repeating rifles and pistols; from horse propelled transportation to the automobile; on into the twentieth century with airplanes, electricity and radios. But this couple and their children are OUR Family and this is their story; with their struggles, relocations, set backs, war, death and mishap on through to peace, good crops, productive years, births of children, marriages, prosperity, and grandchildren. They never gave up on hard work, trying to advance themselves, their patriotism, nor the good in man or the Love of God. AA & Susan have shown us what it means to be Americans, a family with a bond that even a war couldn’t tear apart.
Absolom Alexander was born May 3 1831 in LaGrange, Oldham County, Kentucky. He was the third child and first son of Judith Elizabeth (Sherley) & Henry L. Harrison. His older 2 sisters died before he was born. He was the oldest of 4 sisters and 4 brothers that he worked, played and went to school with. For the time, he was a well educated man and for the rest of his life, he expanded his knowledge on many levels. He held jobs in his life that not only included farming, but a salesman, merchant, held a 1st Class Teachers License, owned 2 different general stores, large farms, worked as a Public Officer, Justice of the Peace and was a Supply Officer in the Civil War in Tennessee. We know that Henry & Judy moved the family from LaGrange, Kentucky between the1840 and the1850 census to Hardin County, Kentucky onto a large farm, but not much else is known about AA until his Marriage to Susan Elizabeth Allstun on 18th May 1854 in Hardin County, Kentucky.
Miss Allstun was born February 2 1836 in Elizabethtown, Hardin County, Kentucky. She was the eldest of 9 children of John W. & Lucretia (Brumfield) Allstun, she had 5 sisters and 3 brothers plus many relations near her parents home while she was growing into womanhood. Susan could read and write and was well educated for a woman in a farming community in the mid 19th century. Not many farm girls were allowed much schooling. From what we have learned and heard thru family tradition, she was a driving force to match AA. By the time of their marriage Susan had 5 younger siblings that she had helped raise, feed, and clothe. I am sure she helped her father in the fields like most children did. Planting and harvest time is about everyone working together including the kids. As we will learn later, Susan comes from a long line of heritage that came from Europe to this new land of America, not only to shake off the old, but to join the new ideal of freedom and democracy, as did Absolom and his fore bearers.
Just after AA & Susan’s marriage, on May 18 1854, the first train arrived in town on Oct 27 1854. This brought great prosperity to Elizabethtown and Hardin County, Kentucky. Today we would call it a boom town, with all the growth that was happening then. They wasted no time in starting a family, had 13 children in all: Lucretia Jane born 18th June, 1855, who later married Henry Clay Ward in 1877 in Elizabethtown, KY; John followed the next year, born November 7 1856, married Polly Noel in 1891; Elizabeth Frances born June 18 1858 future wife of John French; Robert B. was born on February 24 1861, it is not known why, but he died in June the 7th of that same year. This must have been a tremendous blow to the family, losing a son.
By this time, the Civil War had started April 12th that year. Fort Sumter was attacked by the Confederacy. There was no turning back from a Civil War that had been brewing for many years.
The state of Kentucky was a real hot bed with a divided people everywhere; neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother. By September 4 1861, the war was already in Kentucky, not far from Elizabethtown. Both the Union and the Confederacy were recruiting in Hardin County. AA and his brother Joel A. enlisted with the Union Army on October 20 1861. AA was 30 years of age and Joel was about 24 when they enrolled to fight for their country, home, and way of life. We have been left with a splendid record of the war and battles from 16 letters that AA wrote to Susan who was at home, pregnant with their 5th child, while raising 3 small children under 7 years of age.
December 24 1861 AA & Joel were mustered into Company D, 4th Regiment, Kentucky Calvary Volunteers, at Camp Anderson, Kentucky; from there they moved south into Tennessee. Susan Alice born April 17 1861 entered a world that was trying its’ best to tear itself apart.
In Hardin County, KY, there was a war going on between neighbors and old friends, called the “Blackberry Patch” war. They were taking shots at people from ambush, harassing families, burning homes and killing one another. AA feared for his wife and family, but there wasn’t much he could do about it from Wartrace, Tennessee except write encouraging letters home and do his part to bring the war to a speedy end.
May 10 1862, the boys from Hardin County got the fight they had been hoping for, not being what they expected. While in Wartrace an up and coming Colonel, John Hunt Morgan was making a raid thru Tennessee, when Company D., 4th Reg. KY Calvary caught up to them at Lebanon, Tennessee. It was a bloody battle, mounted saber charges against hardened, battle tested soldiers, both sides lost men. They won the day by forcing Col, Morgan’s troops to flee Lebanon. But the boys had lost their hunger for battle. They fought nobly and hard, but learned what all men learn; that war is a painful affair, and old and new friends die quickly.
AA, his brother Joel, and many others in the regiment suffered sickness the whole time they were in and many were medically discharged because of the bad conditions they all lived in; sleeping in mud, drinking bad water and any number of assorted diseases. The thinking of the military at that time was, the sick could get better medical help at home, where family could take care of them. AA received a medical discharge in September of 1862 and Joel just before him. Joel didn’t make it home and died in Nashville in an army hospital, September 14 1862.
AA was home but a couple months, when on December 24 1862, the newly promoted Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his Raiders of the “Christmas Raid” moved into Hardin County and surrounded Elizabethtown. They shelled it, and then he moved up the L&N Railroad line, burning the bridges. While at Lebanon Junction, about 10 miles from AA & Susan’s home, the Union Army caught up with Morgan, with a battle raging into the night. Sure to have been a hard time for the folks in the surrounding area, including AA and family but again Gen. Morgan escaped to raid another day.
AA decided it was time to leave as soon as his health was good enough, and the railroad was open to get his family out of harms way. He got his chance in March of 1863, when the bridges were repaired and the L&N Railroad line opened again. AA took Susan & family north to Lebanon, Boone County, Indiana in April of 1863. AA’s father, Henry & family came along with other family members also. We think they sold little, if any land before they left for Indiana because AA returned later to take up farming the same land after the war was over and things had settled down.
Annie Grant was born May17 1864, in Boone County, Indiana, and William Alonzo, born June 4 1866. Then in February 1867, AA & family moved to Whitestown, Boone County, Indiana. On June 20 1868, Benjamin Franklin was born.
The census for 1870 shows AA and family living in Boone Co, IN, Worth Township. 31 August of the same year, Malissa Cora, who married W.B. Imhoff, joined the family, just in time for the move back to Hardin County, KY., where they arrived in November 1870.
In the next 11 years following their residents in Indiana they moved 4 times before settling down at Sikeston, Scott County, Missouri. Their 1st home after returning was Red Hill, Hardin county, Kentucky; they lived here for 1 year. Next move was to a area near Lacona Post Office, Jefferson County, KY, about 25 miles north, now called Pleasure Ridge Park. Mary Kate was born May 8 1873 who married A.L. Hardy; Thomas Edwin born May 13 1875, 6 months later AA headed back to Hardin County to Shithton a now extinct town on the Fort Knox military base.
AA & Susan’s oldest child Lucretia Jane married Henry Clay Ward in 1877, the son of Peter Ward and Kate nee Austin. That same year on October 4 1877 Isabell was born; she would later marry L.H. Barnes. AA & Susan, after 24 years and 1 month wore presented with their 1st grandchild, Bert Ward was born in June 1878. Charles Lewis, the last child of AA & Susan was born October 17 1879.
It was this same year after suffering many attacks from malaria, the sickness AA picked up while in the services of the army, he filed his application of Declaration for Pension at age 48, This document shows that he suffered many attacks that would put him in bed for at least 3 months at a time and until his death would always plague him. It shows that he and his family moved 5 times since April 1863 to Oct 1875. He had 5 major attacks that left him bed ridden. He rented land while in Indiana and became what we would call today a Gentleman farmer, doing what he could and hiring out the work that he wasn’t able to do. He had many different jobs after the war when his health would allow: teacher, salesman, a teamsters and a copper, an art he learned from his father. But he never faltered, he never gave up.
The census of 1880 had him at Atchers Township, Hardin County, Kentucky, with 13 dependents. His daughter Lucretia and family living next door; with many relations in the neighborhood: Brumfield, Nall, French, Bogard, Mudd, Allstun and Hibbs; along with good friends like the Crowley’s, But for the most part, many old family and friends had either moved away or died by this time. Elizabeth Frances married John French in August 1881, just about the time that AA & Susan relocate for their last time, leaving behind the world they grew up in and knew like the back of their hand.
AA & Susan’s next move would take everything they could muster to accomplish all they had set out to do and strive for themselves and their family. Sometime in late 1881 they packed up, sold what they couldn’t, sold the land and said their farewells to family and friends. They headed for a new battle ground but this one was with the land. The move to Sikeston, Scott County, Missouri must have been a long enduring adventure for them all.
In the book “The Kentucky Lincolns on Mill Creek” by R. Gerald McMurtry, John French, son in-law of AA’s, says that there were “19 other persons” in their party that moved to New Madrid Co, MO, counting himself, Frances and their baby, there were 22 people at least. They suffered a lot of swamp fever after landing on the Missouri side of the Mississippi in Scott County, MO. After sometime John French took his ill wife and son back home to recuperate. She and her son died later that year.
The land they had in Scott County at this time was still full of swamps. This was before the federal projects to drain all the swamps in Southeast Missouri, with a massive ditch project started around 1900. But the land was great for crops and live stock, and as soon as the family set down their roots, they started to prosper. Susan Alice married James W. Cobb 4 January 1883; William Alonzo on June 3 1890 married May Allstun; Benjamin Franklin on December 24 1893, married Polly Noel in Stoddard County. The 1900 census had AA and Susan living in Richland Township, Scott County, Missouri. By this time, AA had a substantial size farm, large General Store and was a Justice of the Peace. The book he recorded the marriages he performed are on the internet.
Absolom Alexander Harrison died May 13 1914 at the age of 82 years, 10 months and 10 days; after a long life of struggle, pain and mishaps; to fruition, properties and happiness, he is laid to rest in the City Cemetery, Sikeston, Missouri.
Susan Elizabeth nee Allstun Harrison died December 31 1920, at the age of 84 years 10 months and 29 days; after bearing 13 children, having one die when he was only 3 months old and moving at least 5 times; to becoming a grandmother many times over, surviving countless set backs, not only to stand by AA and family, but to push forward and realize the dreams she must have had as a young lady back in Hardin County, Kentucky. Susan was a strong woman, a determined wife and a loving mother that wanted more for her children than she had growing up.
Although AA and Susan may not have given it much thought in 1859, but I am sure they did after Abraham Lincoln won the Presidential election in 1860 I am sure they were proud to tell others that they were both related to him and thus started a family tradition that was passed down thru the generations.
Absolom Alexander Harrison was a 3rd cousin, one time removed to President Lincoln; AA’s GGGGrandfather was Isaiah Harrison had a daughter Abigail Harrison who married Alexander Herring, this marriage produced child, Bathsheba Herring, she married Abraham Lincoln Sr. the grandfather to President Lincoln, in other words AA and Pres. Lincoln share a grandfather named Isaiah Harrison.
Susan Elizabeth nee Allstun Harrison has a closer relation to President Lincoln, he was her 1st cousin, one time removed; Susan’s grandmother, Nancy Ann Lincoln was a sister to Pres. Lincoln’s father. Abraham Lincoln was raised for a time in Elizabethtown, Hardin County, Kentucky; which is where both of these families settled after leaving Rockingham County, Virginia. Both of their family lines go back to England and other parts of Europe.
To use an old saying “when the going gets tuff, the tuff get going”, Alexander & Susan Harrison were a great example to us all.