Patrick Marion Churchman is my 2x great-uncle on my mom’s side. He was born on Christmas Day in 1836 in Grainger County, Tennessee. He and his two brothers eventually made the trek to Oregon and settled in the Sheridan area, but before that, he surely found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In the 1850 U.S. federal census, Patrick was a fourteen-year-old boy living with his parents, Joseph Blackburn Churchman and Harriet Mynatt Churchman, in Jefferson County, Tennessee…nothing out of the ordinary here. 1
By 1860, P. M. Churchman was listed in the census as a 23-year-old farmer living in Rapides Parish, Louisiana with $7500 worth of real estate.2 How did that happen? I searched the pages before and after his entry hoping to find a surname I recognized or at least someone else who listed their place of birth as Tennessee…nothing. Most of the people living around him were from Ireland, Scotland, and Germany. Trying to find the how and why of his residence and wealth in Louisiana will take a bit of digging, but I will save that research and story for another time. Patrick was the only sibling who left Tennessee…everyone else at this time was in Grainger County. It seemed Patrick wanted adventure, but it wasn’t too long before he found more than he bargained for.
A 1918 article in the Sheridan Sun newspaper included his obituary, but also quotes from Patrick during an interview he had given sometime earlier.3 This was the story he told. He was in New Orleans in the spring of 1862 when several men approached him and ordered him to get off his horse. He was being drafted into the Confederate Army. He told the writer he was joining the 13th Louisiana Regiment, but Civil War records listed him as a private in Company H of the 16th Regiment Louisiana Infantry.4 He said his first big battle was in Corinth, Mississippi and it was his job to follow behind the lines and retrieve bodies. I just can’t imagine!
Patrick’s Civil War Service Records support the story he continued to tell. He became so sick that he was transferred to a hospital. As he was recuperating he was asked by one of the doctors to help fill out furlough slips for some of the soldiers. Not only did he comply, but added his own name to the list and removed someone else’s. His records confirm that in May/June of 1863, he was recorded as absent because he was in the hospital in Jackson, Mississippi.5 In the following months of July and August, he was “on sick furlough at home in Tennessee” where he stayed until April 1864.6 He said while he was close to family he got word to his father in Mossy Creek (now Jefferson City) that he was under arrest and in the hospital. His father came the next day, gave him money, and told him to take the oath of allegiance.
Apparently, it worked as he married Christina Metzger in September 1864 in Jefferson County, Tennessee.7 In the 1870 census, he was a grocer working in Jefferson County, but by 1880 he was a 44-year-old farmer living in Polk County, Oregon.8
If Patrick had stayed in Tennessee it’s likely he still would have fought in the Civil War, but it would have been for the Union as men from East Tennessee did. Who knows if he would have survived that version of his life, but he did live to the age of 81 fathering 8 children. He died while visiting family in Tennessee and is buried in Oregon.
No doubt Patrick was a strong and clever man as shown throughout his life experiences. But anyone who can live through the Civil War and then travel west to Oregon to start a new life in the wilderness is also brave in my book. His unusual “out of place” life was at the very least, fascinating.
Until next week…
1 1850 U.S. census, Jefferson County, Tennessee, population schedule, District 13, p. 385b (stamped), dwelling 787, family 814, Joseph B. Churchman household; digital image Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com: accessed 2 Feb 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 885.
2 1860 U.S, census, Rapides Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, p. 188, dwelling 1337, family 1318, P. M. Churchman; digital image Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com: accessed 2 Feb 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M653.
3 “Death of P. M. Churchman,” Sheridan Sun (Sheridan, Oregon), 5 December 1918.
4 National Park Service, “Soldiers,” database, Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System (www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers-detail.htm: accessed 15 Jan 2023), entry for P. M. Churchman, Pvt., Co. H, 16th Louisiana Inf., Confederacy.
5 “Civil War Service Records (CMSR) – Confederate – Louisiana,” Fold3.com (https://www.fold3.com/image/77835889: accessed 15 Jan 2023), P. M. Churchman, p. 4; citing Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Louisiana, National Archives microfilm publication M320, roll 274.
6 Ibid, P. M. Churchman, pp 5-8.
7 “Tennessee, U.S., Marriage Records, 1780-2002,” digital image, Ancestry.com (www. ancestry.com: accessed 2 Feb 2016), Patrick M. Churchman and Christiana E. Metzger, 5 Sep 1864, image 331; Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002, Jefferson County, Tennessee, 1792 – Dec 1881: Marriages, p. 217; citing Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN.
8 1870 U.S, census, Jefferson County, Tennessee, population schedule, District 9, p. 25, dwelling 181, family 178, Patrick Churchman household; digital image Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com: accessed 2 Feb 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication M595, roll 1540. And 1880 U.S. census, Polk County, Oregon, population schedule, Jackson Precinct, p. 8, dwelling 67, family 68, Patrick M. Churchman household; digital image Ancestry.com (www. ancestry.com: accessed 2 Feb 2016); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1083.