Exploring Almost Forgotten Gravesites in the Great State of Ohio

Dedicated to cemetery preservation in the great state of Ohio

"A cemetery may be considered as abandoned when all or practically all of the bodies have been Removed therefrom and no bodies have been buried therein for a great many years, and the cemetery has been so long neglected as entirely to lose its identity as such, and is no longer known, recognized and respected by the public as a cemetery. 1953 OAG 2978."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sharing History of Civil War Veteran Jacob LaPole Buried in Auglaize County, Ohio

March 21, 2017
From Scott Knerr:
"Harruff Cemetery is a unmarked cemetery on the south side off St. Rt. 33 between Wapakoneta and St. Johns.
I remembered during Memorial weekend and Labor day that there was always flags flying there near the highway. This time I pulled in with my camera and decided to study this small country cemetery a little closer. I have to say it is in pretty sad shape. Many of the headstones are broken, leaning, crooked, and laying on the ground.

But I got lucky when I walked up to this small white headstone and seen all the info printed on it. The stone belongs to Jacob LaPole. This stone was furnished by the government and all the info on it. There are no dates on it because the government didn't provide this kind of info for the stones. That was up to the family if they chose to have it dated. 

I snapped some pictures and came home and researched him. Below is everything I could find on him. Hope you enjoy the life story of Jacob LaPole.

Philip LaPole immigrated here from France and settled in Maryland in the 1840s. Shortly after he met a sweet young lady named Mary Ann Stone from Virginia. Together they had 3 girls and one boy who they named Jacob.

Jacob LaPole was born Aug 17th 1848 in Hagerstown Maryland. Jacob would have a very short childhood here. In 1861 the Civil War broke out. Hagerstown was a primary spot for both sides and was used right at the beginning of the Civil War as a post for supplies.

In 1863 Hagerstown was the site for several military battles as Gen. Robert E Lee's army invaded and retreated in the Gettysburg campaign. Even at the young age of 15 Jacob felt he had to help protect his town and signed up with the Union Army. Jacob mustered in Feb. 29th 1864 into "Company H First Regiment Potomac Home Brigade Cavalry Maryland"( this is what all the initials stand for on his tombstone} just being over 15 1/2 years old.

He wouldn't have to wait long. On July 6th the Confederate Army sent 1500 men in and held the town for ransom of $20,000 and a large amount of clothing. Jacob would be in this skirmish as a rookie. I couldn't find what actually happened around July 29th 1864 but the Confederate Army captured at least 7 of Jacob's company with Jacob being one.

Jacob and his comrades were taken to the Andersonville Georgia POW camp in August of 1864 and be held there until the end of the war. I remember hearing of this place when we studied the Civil War in school. As I researched it again after all these years I discovered just how bad this place was.

Andersonville was built by black slaves to hold Union soldiers captured during the war. It was built on 16 acres and was meant to hold 10,000 prisoners. It had a creek running through the middle of it and was suppose to be used for water and cooking.

But by August of 1864 when Jacob was brought here the prisoners totaled more then 33,000. By now the creek was polluted by men bathing in it and human waste so very little water was available for the men and even less food. The creek beds had eroded away and caused a huge swamp that took over a large portion of the camp.

The Confederate Army had run out of supplies to build barracks for the men so they either had to sleep under the stars or make makeshift shelters from scraps of wood they may find and blankets. There was so many prisoners and so little space that the men would sleep in shifts because there wasn't enough room for all to lay down at once.
The guards were also very brutal to the prisoners. The prisoners only had the clothes on their backs and as they would wear out they had to do without. 

In the end more then 13,000 men died from disease and starvation. One of the young men in Jacob's company did die there of starvation.

I can't even begin to imagine the horrors Jacob must have seen there being only 16 years old and what he must have went through. Jacob spent almost a full year there before the war ended in 1865. But luckily Jacob was be one of the survivors.

Jacob returned home and within a few years moved to the Troy Ohio area where he married a young lady named Mary Kantner and started a farm. Jacob and Mary had 10 children there and raise them on the farm. They then moved to Auglaize county 9 years later near St. Johns and started another farm. They had one more child in 1881 that was born here in Auglaize county.

I couldn't find when Mary died but the 1890 census shows Jacob as widowed so she must not have lived long much after they came here. Jacob would never remarry and raise his 11 children on his own. By the 1910 census it shows Jacob had picked up a side job from his farming as a mail carrier.

Jacob would have one last big event in his life in 1922. In Minster Ohio a man had asked the priest of the church to come to his house because he was sick. When the priest arrived and came in the house the man shot him dead. This turned into a big court case at the courthouse.
Jacob was chosen as one of the jurors of this case. In the end the jurors found the man guilty and he was sentenced to life in prison. But the attorney asked for a new trial because for one reason he had found out that Jacob was biased and prejudiced and that he had formed and expressed an opinion before the case came to trial. Jacob had stated if he had his way he would like to see the man hang for his crime.

On Nov 28th 1928 Jacob passed away in St. Johns at the home of his daughter Mrs. Estelle Decker. Jacob had been suffering from a congestive heart for about 3 months and was bedfast the last 8 days of his life before he died from a heart attack. Jacob lived to be just over 80 years old.

Jacob was a member of the Christian church of St. Johns and was known as a devoted father and a kindly Christian man. Jacob's reverend Joseph Shellhaus had moved to a church in Carey several years before but came back to assist in Jacob's funeral. That kind of tells me the reverend and Jacob must have been close friends.

Well that's all I could find on Jacob LaPole. But again I learned so much about him. He had a very hard life in the first 16 years of his life. He saw horrors that most of us could never imagine. But he overcame all of it and became a great husband, father, and friend to all who knew him.

But the next time you are driving down 33 and see the little cemetery on the hill think about Jacob. He truly was an awesome man. 

One last note there are I think two more Civil War soldiers buried there. As I get time I want to study these men also. I'll let you know what I find. Hope you enjoyed more Wapakoneta History."