John J. Alexander

Civil War Soldier

Co. D, 20th O.V.I., V.R.C., Co. H, 174th O.V.I.

by John Quist

      Farmer John J. Alexander was born on February 11, 1841 in Delaware County, OH. (1)

      His farmer father, William Alexander, was born on June 17, 1801 in Ireland. (2)  On June 23, 1839 at Central Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, PA, he married a widow, Jane Caroline (Tench) Shaw, born on June 17, 1801 in Leesbury, Northumberland, England. (3)  In about 1833 at Utica, Oneida County, NY, she married John Shaw, born on an unknown date in England.  Only one child was reported born to them, Mary Olive (1835).  John died at Utica in about 1839. (4)  William, Jane, and Mary were living in Berkshire Township, Delaware County, OH for the 1840 U.S. federal census.  Three children were reported born to William and Jane Alexander:  Sarah Elizabeth (1840), John J. (1841), and Hugh (1848).  Jane (Tench) (Shaw) Alexander died on October 11, 1822 in Berlin Township, Delaware County (5) and was buried in the Blue Church (Presbyterian) Cemetery in Kingston Township, Delaware County. (6)  William died on February 12, 1886 and was buried with Jane. (7)

      On September 24, 1861 at the age of 19, John J. Alexander enlisted as a Private in Company D, 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment (20th O.V.I.). (8)

      The regiment was reorganized from a three month regiment to a three year regiment at Columbus, Franklin County from August 19 through September 21, 1861 and mustered in for three years on October 21, 1861.  They were first moved to Camp King near Covington, KY, and then stationed at Covington and Newport, KY until February 11, 1862 to defend Cincinnati, OH against a threatened attack by Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith.  Following its first major engagement in the Battle of Fort Donelson, TN (February 14-16), in which the Union forces were victorious, the 20th was involved in the following actions:  the bloody major battle at Shiloh/Pittsburg Landing, TN (April 6-7), siege of Corinth, MS (April 29-May 30), guard duty at Pittsburg Landing, TN through May, at Bolivar, TN through August, General U.S. Grant’s Central Mississippi Campaign (November 2-January 10, 1863), Memphis, TN (January 26), Lake Providence, LA (February 22 through March), the Battle of Port Gibson, MS (April 25-May 1), Battle of Raymond, MS (May 12), Battle of Jackson, MS (May 14), Battle of Champion Hill, MS (May 16), and Vicksburg, MS siege and assaults (May 18-July 4). (9)  On May 24th, Private Alexander was wounded there, (10) and after the siege, he was awarded a silver medal “for special acts of bravery.” (11)  His injury was severe enough for him to be transferred on January 1, 1864 (12) to the 105th Company, 2nd Battalion (13) of the Veteran Reserve Corps (V.R.C.) organized at Madison, Indiana on November 27th. (14)  The V.R.C. “was created to make use, in a military or semi-military capacity, of soldiers who had been rendered unfit for active field service on account of wounds or disease contracted in the line of duty, but who were still fit for garrison or other light duty, and were, in the opinion of their commanding officers, meritorious and deserving. … The Second Battalion was made up of men whose disabilities were more serious, who perhaps lost limbs or suffered some other grave injury.  These [latter] were commonly employed as cooks, orderlies, nurses, or guards in public buildings.” (15)  The date of his discharge from the V.R.C. was not found.  However, on May 27, 1864, he applied for a U.S. government pension as an “invalid” Union veteran. (16

      On September 5th, John Alexander enlisted for one year as a Private in Company H, 174th O.V.I. (17)       

      The regiment was organized at Camp Chase in Columbus, OH from August 16th through September 21st, when it was mustered in for one year service. (18)  On that date, John Alexander was appointed First Sergeant of Company H. (19)  They traveled to Nashville, TN (September 23-26) and to Murfreesboro, TN, where they served in the defenses of the city until October 27.  They moved to Decatur, GA and served there until November 25, when they moved back to Murfreesboro.  They saw action at Overall’s Creek (December 4) and were then involved in the siege of Murfreesboro (December 5-12).  They were ordered to Clifton, TN and served there until January 17, 1865.  They next moved to Washington, DC (January 17-29) and were stationed there until February 21.  From there, they moved to Fort Fisher, NC (February 21-23), to Morehead City, NC (February 24), and to New Bern(e), NC (February 25).  They advanced on Kinston and Goldsboro, NC (March 6-21), during which time they fought in the Battle of Wise’s Forks (March 10-14) and occupied Kinston (March 14) and Goldsboro (March 21).  They advanced on and occupied Raleigh, NC (April 10-14).  They were present for the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston and his armies at Bennett’s farm near Durham, NC (April 26).  They were then stationed at Raleigh and Charlotte, NC. (20)  On June 16, 1865, Sergeant John Alexander was promoted to Second Lieutenant, but not mustered as such. (21)  He was mustered out of service with his company on June 28, 1865 at Charlotte. (22)

      John may have returned to his parents’ home in Berlin Township, Delaware County after his discharge, but if so, he did not remain long.  On March 7, 1867 in Tippecanoe County, IN, he married Violetta (recorded as Vilety) Smith, (23) born on April 17, 1841 in Indiana. (24)  Her cooper/woodworker father, Jeremiah Smith, was born on October 19, 1808 in Ohio. (25)  In about 1824 (probably in Ohio), he married Elizabeth Ross, (26) born in about 1808 in New Jersey. (27)  Ten children were reported born to them:  Hannah Lee (?), Elisheba/Elisheha (1829), William A. (1832), Vashti (1833), Sarah Jane (1836), Charles Francis (1839), Violetta (1841), Elizabeth (1843), James R. (1844), and Albert B. (1849). (28)  The family moved to Tippecanoe County, IN between 1836 and 1839, where Elizabeth died on November 25, 1869 and was buried in the Monroe Cemetery. (29)  Soon after, Jeremiah and some of the children moved to Carl Junction, Jasper County, MO, where Jeremiah died on July 10, 1884 and was buried in the Twin Groves Cemetery. (30)

      Five children were reported born to John and Violetta:  William Reed (1870), Logan A. (1874), Bertha (1875-1875), Morton (1875), and Bertha (1877). (31)  For the 1870 U.S. census, they were living in Newtonia (now part of the Joplin metropolitan area), Newton County, MO, and for the 1880, in Mineral Township, Jasper County (north of Newton County).  John J. Alexander died there on February 13, 1881 (two days after his 40th birthday) and was buried in the Twin Groves Cemetery, Jasper County. (32)  On October 2, 1882, Violetta applied for a U.S. government pension as the widow of a Civil War veteran. (33)

      On July 7, 1883, Violetta married widower, a farmer Isaac Watts Wren, born on July 11, 1839 in Bloomfield, Logan County, OH. (34)  On January 19, 1860 in Logan County, he married Martha J. Kiger, (35) birthdate unknown, born in Ohio (possibly Logan County), who died there on December 24, 1860 at the age of 19 years and was buried in the Plum Cemetery at the village of Lakeview. (36)  Isaac Wren enlisted on November 2, 1861 as a Private for three years in Company K, 57th O.V.I. and was mustered out on August 14, 1865 at Little Rock, AR. (37)  On October 12, 1865 in Logan County, he married Sarah A. Kiger (38) (sister of Martha?), born in about 1839 in Ohio (possibly Logan County). (39)  Six children were reported to them:  Jabeth (Jabez?)/Julis/Julius W. (40) (1867), Mary E. (1868), Pearlia (1870), Emma (1873), Georgie (1875), and Alfred (1878). (41)  For the 1870 census, they were at Owl Creek, Woodson County, KS, and for the 1880, at Summit, Chautauqua County, KS.  Soon after the 1880 census, Sarah died, but no information was found. 

      One child was reported born to Violetta and Isaac:  John Burton (1886). (42

      Violetta (Smith) (Alexander) Wren died on March 29, 1906 and was buried in the Twin Groves

Cemetery, Jasper County. (43)  Isaac Watts Wren died in Joplin, Jasper County on January 11, 1934 and was buried in the Twin Groves Cemetery. (44)


Compiled by John W. Quist

Delaware, Ohio

November 5, 2013



1  “John J. Alexander.” Dawson Family Tree, (online)

 2  “William Alexander.” Dawson Family Tree

 3  “Jane Carolyn Tench.” Dawson Family Tree

 4  “John Shaw.” Dawson Family Tree

 5  Footnote 3

 6  “Alexander, Jane.” Blue Church Cemetery records, Kingston Township,

      Delaware County, delaohio.-com/Cemetery/DelCo_cem/a.txt (online)

7  “William Alexander.” Find A Grave Memorial, (online)

8  “John J. Alexander.” U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-
,  (online)

9  “20th O.V.I.” (online)

 10  “Alexander, John.” Co. D, 20th O.V.I., Official Roster of the Soldiers of the

      State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, Vol. II, Wilstach,
       Baldwin & Co., Akron, OH, 1886, page 698

 11  History of Delaware County and Ohio, O.L. Baskin & Co., Chicago, IL, 1880,
       page 288

 12  Footnote 10

 13  “John Alexander.” Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files,


14  Dyer, Frederick H. “105th Company, 2nd Battalion, Veteran Reserve Corps,”
      A    Compendium of the
War of Rebellion, Part III, The Dyer Publishing
      Company, Des Moines, IA, 1908, page 1745

15  “Veteran Reserve Corps.”

16  Footnote 13

 17  “John Alexander.” Co. H, 174th O.V.I., Official Roster of the Soldiers of the

        State of Ohio in the War 
of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, Vol. IX, The Ohio
        Valley Press, Cincinnati, OH, 1889, page 498

 18  “174th O.V.I.”

 19  Footnote 17

 20  Footnote 18

 21  Footnote 17

 22  Footnote 18

 23  “John Alexander.” Indiana, Marriage Collection, 1800-1941,

 24  “Violetta Alexander Smith Wren.” Find A Grave Memorial

25  “Jeremiah Smith.” Dawson Family Tree

26  “Elizabeth Ross.” Dawson Family Tree

27  “Elizabeth Smith.” 1850 U.S. federal census, Lauramie Township, Tippecanoe County, IN

 28  Footnote 26

 29  “Elizabeth Ross Smith.” Find A Grave Memorial

 30  “Jeremiah Smith.” Find A Grave Memorial

31  Footnote 1

32  “John J. Alexander.” Find A Grave Memorial 

33  Footnote 13 

34  “Isaac Watts Wren.” Dawson Family Tree 

35  “Isaac W. Wren.” Ohio, Marriages, 1800-1958, (online) 

36  “Martha J. Wren.” Find A Grave Memorial

37  “Isaac Wren.” U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865

 38  “Isaac W. Wren.” Ohio, Marriages, 1800-1958

 39  “Sarah A. Kiger.” 1850 U.S. census, Miami Township, Logan County, OH

 40  “Isaac W. Wren.” 1870 U.S. census, Owl Creek, Woodson County, KS

 41  “Sarah A. Kiker.” Dawson Family Tree

 42  “Violetta Alexander.” Dawson Family Tree

 43  Footnote 24

 44  “Isaac Watts Wren.” Find A Grave Memorial


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