John Rudolph: The Forgotten Son

During the course of the Civil War thousands of families sent their sons off to battle. It was fairly common for a mother and father to send two or three boys to the fight, increasing the odds that one or more would not return home. The Rudolph family of Hiram, Ohio saw both their sons, John and Joe, enter the Union army. Joe sought immediate adventure by joining the infantry while John, being the older and probably wiser, found a job with the Ohio Quartermaster Corps. Already the father of two young children, John’s position as wagon master kept him away from any duty at the front. Driving supply wagons seemed like a good idea to increase one’s chances of staying alive.

John Rudolph was born in 1835, the second child of Zeb and Arabella Rudolph. The family had a farm in Garrettsville, Ohio where John had some schooling and did his part clearing fields and harvesting crops. In 1850 the Rudolphs moved to nearby Hiram where John and his older sister Lucretia had the opportunity to get a better education.

Ellen, Joseph, John, and Lucretia Rudolph (later Garfield) pose for this photo.  Few photos of John exist.  (Lake County Historical Society)

Siblings Ellen, Joseph, John, and Lucretia Rudolph (later Garfield) pose for this photo. Few photos of John exist. (Lake County Historical Society)

There is little information about John’s activities in Hiram; however we do know in 1856 he married Martha Lane and set off on an adventure west to Iowa. Why he left his family and tried homesteading so far away is open to conjecture. Possibly he lived in his father’s shadow and decided he wanted to be his own man. Zeb was a big player in Hiram, one of the founders of the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College), a preacher, farmer, and carpenter. There may not have been room for John.

While in Iowa, a daughter, Adelaide, was born. The Rudolphs did not stay long in the Hawkeye State, moving east to the small town of Princeton, Illinois. The most prominent resident of Princeton was Owen Lovejoy, a congressman and close friend of Abraham Lincoln. (Over the years the town would be home to a diverse group of residents, including actor Richard Widmark and musician Keith Knudson, longtime drummer for the Doobie Brothers.)

John had apparently given up farming, taking a job as a clerk. A short time later a second child, Gilbert, was born. By 1861 the Rudolphs were back in Hiram during which time the Civil War began. John, like most of the Hiram boys, had the option of joining the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI), the regiment of his brother-in-law, Lieutenant Colonel James. A. Garfield. Instead, in June of 1862 he chose to go the safer route, answering an advertisement to drive wagons for the Ohio Quartermaster Corps. He must have had a great deal of skill with horses and wagons that led him to the job of wagon master. Here he would be in command of drivers and supplies vital to the Union army.

James A. Garfield, shown here as a Brigadier General, was the first commander of the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry and the brother-in-law of John Rudoplh.  (Library of Congress)

James A. Garfield, shown here as a Brigadier General, was the first commander of the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry and the brother-in-law of John Rudolph. (Library of Congress)

That same month, Private Rudolph led twelve supply wagons to eastern Tennessee, then on to the Cumberland Gap on the border of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. Union General George Morgan and his troops were holding the major passageway, but were in desperate need of food. Among the regiments at the gap were the 42nd OVI and John’s brother, Joe Rudolph. It is not recorded but quite likely the two brothers had a chance to visit for a brief moment. If they did, it was the last time the two would ever see each other.

After the journey to Cumberland Gap, John became seriously ill. High fever, severe diarrhea and bouts of delirium set in. He was sent to the army hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. Further examination revealed typhoid fever for which there was no effective treatment. During the course of the war thousands of soldiers on both sides were struck down with typhoid, usually dying within four to six weeks. Many of the soldiers drank tainted water which carried the deadly bacteria. John’s time was short.

The Rudolphs soon received word of John’s illness. His mother Arabella and sister Lucretia made their way to the hospital in Lexington. Martha Rudolph was unable to travel due to the imminent birth of twin boys, Louis and Ernest. While she reluctantly stayed home with her four children, John gave up the fight and died on August 12, 1862. He had been in the Quartermaster Corps a total of three months. His mother brought the body home for burial in Hiram. This scenario was unfortunately played out with families all over the country. Thousands of children were raised in the post-Civil War days without the benefit of a father.

Martha Rudolph chose to stay in Hiram where her children had aunts and uncles and cousins all around. Nearly ten years after John’s death she applied for a widow’s pension with the federal government. She had assistance from Congressman James A. Garfield and Hiram College President Burke Hinsdale. The request went to the Committee on Invalid Pensions for consideration and vote. On April 23, 1872 the petition was read to the committee. A congressman from Maryland asked for an explanation of the request. It was revealed that John was never mustered in the army. At the time of John’s service, wagon masters were considered part of the army and subject to the benefits of a soldier. However in September of 1862 the army changed its stance and no longer recognized wagon masters as regular army. John’s death prevented him from mustering in to military service. The matter was further discussed but due to additional objections the petition was tabled.

Congressman Garfield was present for the committee hearings. He remained silent for the proceedings, which was contrary to his usual participation. Due to his relationship with the petitioner, it is likely he decided not to voice his opinion. Perhaps there was politics in play. The Congressman who objected to the pension request was a Democrat; Garfield, of course, was a Republican. Whether or not that was the case, the petition was moved to indefinite postponement.

Senator George Edmunds, Republican of Vermont, worked behind the scenes with Representative James A. Garfield to see that John Rudolph's widow receive a pension after his death.  (Library of Congress)

Senator George Edmunds, Republican of Vermont, worked behind the scenes with Representative James A. Garfield to see that John Rudolph’s widow received a pension after his death. (Library of Congress)

At a later date, Senator George Edmunds, a Republican from Vermont and an old friend of Garfield, introduced a resolution to reconsider the pension request. Edmunds stated, “Some additional evidence has been furnished which may change the complexion of the case.” Who furnished this evidence and why was Senator Edmunds involved? Possibly the congressman from Hiram had called in a few favors behind the scenes? A vote was taken and the resolution was passed.

Within days the Committee on Invalid Pensions brought the Rudolph pension request back to the floor. Senator Daniel Pratt reported the new evidence satisfied the committee that Martha Rudolph was entitled to her request. On June 1, 1872 both the House and Senate voted to grant a pension of eight dollars monthly to John’s widow. In addition, she would receive two dollars monthly for each child until they were adults. The record stated, “That the name of Martha G. Rudolph widow of John Rudolph be placed on the rolls to receive the pension now provided by law for the widows of enlisted men who died in the service and in the line of duty.”

Martha and her children remained close to the Rudolph and Garfield families. Whenever Congressman Garfield left Washington and took a train to the Hiram area, usually one of John Rudolph’s boys would pick him up at the depot. They may have owed him a small debt of gratitude for the “evidence” that cleared the way for their mother‘s pension. Regardless of how the pension was granted, one thing is for certain; John Rudolph earned it.

Thanks to Dan Reigle of the Cincinnati Civil War Roundtable for locating the pension papers for John Rudolph.

Thanks to Bill Stark

Rudolph pension files from the National Archives, Washington D.C.

-Scott Longert, Park Guide

What’s in a Name?: National Park Service Areas in Ohio

I am sure this was a question asked many times by the Garfield children as they acted out Shakespearian plays in their parlor, but it is a question that can also be asked about the various units of the National Park Service.

In Ohio, there are 12 National Park Service sites, and while we are all a part of the same agency, there are several different types of sites, such as: National Historic Sites (like James A. Garfield, William Howard Taft, Fallen Timbers and Fort Miamis, or First Ladies), National Parks (Cuyahoga Valley), National Historical Parks (Hopewell Culture or Dayton Aviation), National Memorials (David Berger), Memorials (Perry’s Victory and International Peace), National Historic Trails (North Country or Natonal Aviation), and National Monuments (Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers).

The Arrowhead is the official insignia of the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior agency that administers all of the National Parks in Ohio and across the nation.  There are currently 401 sites in all 50 states and in several U.S. territories as well.  (NPS image)

The Arrowhead is the official insignia of the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior agency that administers all of the National Parks in Ohio and across the nation. There are currently 401 sites in all 50 states and in several U.S. territories as well. (NPS image)

You may be wondering what the big difference is if we’re all National Parks.

Let’s start with what we are, a National Historic Site. The NPS designates a site as a National Historic Site if is “not a complicated site,” meaning that it is clearly distinguishable as to what the subject matter is, and that within that site, there is a cultural or historical resource that should be preserved for future generations. Here at James A. Garfield NHS, it is clearly distinguishable that this site is that which was the home of the 20th President of the United States, and that the artifacts found here, coupled with the Front Porch Campaign of 1880, makes it perfectly clear that the NHS designation is the right fit for us.

The James and Lucretia Garfield home at James A. Garfield National Historic Site.  (NPS image)

The James and Lucretia Garfield home at James A. Garfield National Historic Site. (NPS image)

On December 28, 1980, by an act of Congress, Public Law 96-607, Title XII, Section 1201, this site was designated as a National Historic Site “…to preserve for the benefit, education, and inspiration of present and future generations certain properties associated with the life of James A. Garfield…” This meant that the National Park Service could become a part of the team that would preserve the artifacts here, as well as tell the story of President James A. Garfield.

James A. Garfield National Historic Site is one of four NPS Sites in Ohio with the National Historic Site (or NHS) designation. The others are Fallen Timbers and Fort Miamis (www.nps.gov/fati); First Ladies (www.nps.gov/fila); and William Howard Taft (www.nps.gov/wiho).  Only one site in Ohio, Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers, has the National Monument designation.  A National Monument is intended to preserve at least one nationally significant resource. It is usually smaller than a national park and lacks its diversity of attractions.

Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument is one of the newest National Parks in the entire system.  It commemorates the life of Colonel Charles Young, an African American West Point graduate, Army officer, diplomat, and civil rights leader.

Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument is one of the newest National Parks in the entire system. It commemorates the life of Colonel Charles Young, an African American West Point graduate, Army officer, diplomat, and civil rights leader.  (Library of Congress)

So, what then, is a National Park? National Parks, in the traditional sense, are lands which are set aside for the “preservation of nationally and globally significant scenic areas and nature preserves.” When we look at Yellowstone (www.nps.gov/yell), Grand Canyon (www.nps.gov/grca), or even closer to home, Cuyahoga Valley (www.nps.gov/cuva), it is apparent that these locales are home to exactly what they seek to preserve. At Cuyahoga Valley, for example, there are primeval forests, wetlands, grasslands, and other natural wonders that are significant to the area, as well as to the nation and world. Additionally, to find natural treasures sandwiched between two metropolitan areas like this is even more special.

Cuyahoga Valley was originally designated as a National Recreation Area (a separate designation) in 1974, and received its National Park designation in 2001. It is Ohio’s only “traditional” National Park.

Brandywine Falls, located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  (NPS image)

Brandywine Falls, located in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. (NPS image)

In the Buckeye State, we have two NPS Site which have the designation of National Historical Park (NHP). These sites deal with broader topics, such as Dayton Aviation Heritage (www.nps.gov/daav), which have multiple venues, such as the Wright Bicycle Shop and the Huffman Prairie, as well as the Paul Laurence Dunbar house, but also hit on multiple points of historical significance. The other NHP in Ohio is Hopewell Culture (www.nps.gov/hocu), which discusses the broad topics concerning some of Ohio’s native peoples.

This brings us to the four remaining NPS sites in Ohio.

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial (www.nps.gov/pevi) is a National Park located on South Bass Island in the Village of Put-in-Bay. It is a Memorial, which means it commemorates an important event or person, but does it in a two-fold manner. It first commemorates the decisive naval victory in 1813 of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie, where he defeated the British Navy. Secondly, it honors the lasting peace among the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It is the only International Peace Memorial in the National Park System, and is the only U.S. National Park to fly the flags of three nations side-by-side.

Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, flying the flags of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.  (NPS image)

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, flying the flags of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. (NPS image)

David Berger National Memorial (www.nps.gov/dabe) in Beachwood is a National Park site which pays tribute to David Berger, an athlete and native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, who was killed in the attacks at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. A National Memorial is a place of national importance which honors the sacrifice of an individual or individuals thought to be significant in our nation’s history. David Berger, although an American by birth, had Israeli citizenship, and was a member of the 1972 Israeli National Wrestling Team.

Finally, the last two NPS Sites in Ohio are part of the National Trails System. The National Aviation Heritage Area (www.nps.gov/avia) links sites that were part of the early days of aviation in and around the greater Dayton area. The North Country National Scenic Trail (www.nps.gov/noco) is a nine-state trail that takes travelers to some of the most scenic areas in the nation.

12 National Parks. 7 designations. 1 state. These are your National Parks in Ohio.

-Andrew Mizsak, Site Volunteer