Ransom Myers

(1842 - 1897)


My great-great-great-grandfather was a man named Solomon Myers.  Solomon was born in 1794 in Lyons, New York (near Rochester) into a family that was among the earliest settlers of upstate New York -- think of "Last of the Mohicans" for the era and the area, and you get the idea.  I don't have any pictures of him, but according to a description written years later, Solomon had a light complexion with dark hair.  Solomon enlisted as a private in the War of 1812, fighting mostly in the upstate New York area, and told many exciting stories in later years about his adventures in that conflict.


After the war, 20-year-old Solomon married 13-year-old Charlotte Blackmore and they lived in Lyons for the next 16 years, where Solomon was a farmer.  In 1830, Solomon and Charlotte moved their family west to Michigan where they were deeded farmland in Redford, Michigan (near Detroit) for Solomon's service in the war.  I assume that Solomon and Charlotte used the Erie Canal to get from Lyons to Lake Erie (and then on to Michigan), because Lyons is located right along the canal and the Erie Canal opened that same year, in 1830.


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Above:  Ransom Myers, my great-great-grandfather, several years after the Civil War.


In 1841, Solomon and Charlotte had a son, my great-great-grandfather Ransom Myers, and in 1845, the family moved north to a farm near the small town of Fostoria, in the "thumb" of Michigan.  When Ransom was 16, he married 17-year-old Hannah Chaplin, who's family had been among the earliest settlers of North America (see News, August 6, 2001).  When the Civil War broke out, 19-year old Ransom enlisted in the Union Army and joined the 10th Michigan Infantry regiment as a private, just as his father, Solomon, had fought in the War of 1812.  I've read that Ransom was a drummer, which was actually one of the most hazardous positions in the Army.


Before leaving on my trip around the U.S., I found a website devoted to Michigan Civil War regiments and learned that Ransom's unit was shipped up the Tennessee River in April, 1862 and landed at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee just a few weeks after the Battle of Shiloh, an important Union victory early in the war.


Ransom's first military engagement was at the Corinth, Mississippi, an important railroad crossroads for the Confederacy, where the Union Army besieged the rebel troops and skirmished almost constantly before the Confederates withdrew.  His unit was then sent to Kentucky.  In September, 1862, Ransom was shot in the left arm near Hickman Bridge, Kentucky, his arm was amputated, and he was sent to a hospital in St. Louis.  He was then sent back to Fostoria, Michigan to recover.


Having only one arm, Ransom could have sat out the rest of the war but he felt so strongly about the Union cause that he decided to re-enlist.  Of course, he couldn't carry a rifle with only one arm but he was a very good horseman, so he became a one-armed courier with the 10th Michigan Cavalry (probably the most famous Michigan Cavalry unit was the 7th Michigan, led by a 24-year-old general named George Custer).  Ransom was enlisted as a Sergeant with the 10th Cavalry and, beginning in 1863, his unit fought primarily in Eastern Tennessee.  In 1864, his unit was involved in the capture of the Confederate General, John Hunt Morgan, in Greeneville, Tennessee.


Ransom was mustered out of service in Memphis at the conclusion of the war.  Many years later, Ransom's oldest son, who was a little boy in 1865, told the story of seeing his one-armed father riding his horse on their dusty road, returning to his farm near Fostoria.  His mother, Hannah Myers, ran out to greet her husband, who reached down with his right arm and lifted her up and put her on the saddle, and together they rode back to their house.



Above left:  This is Corinth, Mississippi, where Ransom first saw military action during the Siege of Corinth.  His unit later occupied this town during the summer of 1862.  He was then sent north to Kentucky where he was shot in the left arm, which was amputated.  He rejoined the Army the following year and became a one-armed courier Sergeant for the 10th Michigan Cavalry.

Above center:  Tommy Lee, a true Southerner and my Corinth guide.  Tommy spent a whole day showing my Corinth and the nearby Shiloh battlefield.  

Above right:  During the last two years of the war, Ransom's cavalry unit fought in eastern Tennessee near Knoxville.  In 1864, his unit helped capture the Confederate General, John Hunt Morgan, in this building in Greeneville, Tennessee.  After the war, one-armed Ransom became a farmer and Methodist minister near Fostoria, Michigan.

Life After the War

After the Civil War, Ransom returned to his farming duties, became an itinerant Methodist Minister, and served in numerous civil servant capacities, becoming one of the most prominent citizens of Tuscola County, Michigan.  He and his wife Hannah raised a large family on their farm in Fostoria, the youngest of whom, Minnie May Myers, was my great-grandmother.  


When Minnie was 16, she eloped with a local French fur trapper named Harrison Everette Plane, much to her father's displeasure (Ransom was a rather strict disciplinarian), though Minnie's mother, Hannah, was much more understanding.  After a while, though, Ransom reconciled with Minnie was she was once again welcomed into Ransom and Hannah's house.


Hannah died in 1896 and Ransom died the following year.  In 1900, Minnie's husband Harrison died of tuberculosis at age 29 and Minnie was heartbroken, having lost her husband and both parents within four years.  No longer able to bear living in that area, Minnie packed up her belongings and, with her 8-year old daughter (also named Minnie May, my grandmother), took a train to Seattle, Washington where her sister Ida lived.  Minnie May Jr. grew up in the Seattle area, met my grandfather (George Leu) and married him on her 20th birthday in 1912.  Their youngest son was my father, Donald Leu.  As for Minnie May Sr., she married three more times in the Seattle area but never found the true love that she had known with her first husband, Harrison.  In 1958 at age 87, she died in Seattle, a year after the death of her daughter, Minnie May Jr..

My Visits With Ransom

One of the reasons that I decided to take this 18-month trip was to trace my family's history and to learn as much as I could about my ancestors, including Ransom Myers.  I visited Corinth, Mississippi during a very hot and humid weekend in June, 2001, to see where Ransom fought (for more information on my visit, see News: June 30, 2001).  The weather, I'm sure, was similar to when Ransom and the 10th Michigan Infantry occupied Corinth, in June of 1862.  A week later, I visited Greeneville and several other towns in eastern Tennessee where Ransom fought after he lost his arm and re-enlisted with the 10th Michigan Cavalry.  I also visited the house in Greeneville where Ransom's unit captured the Confederate General Morgan.  I've described those visits in News: July 5, 2001.  Needless to say, tracing Ransom's footsteps was an interesting and fulfilling experience.


About a month later in early August as I was traveling through the Midwest, I visited Ransom's farmsite near the small town of Fostoria, Michigan, where he returned after the Civil War and where he lived out the rest of his life.  Through research in the local library, I found Ransom and Hannah's farmsite near Fostoria and discovered several Myers' in the local phonebook, who are probably my distant relatives.  I also found the graves of Ransom, his wife Hannah, and those of his parents, Solomon and Charlotte Myers, in the local cemetery.  Thus, I "completed the circle" on this remarkable man.  For more photos on my visit to Fostoria and nearby Mayville, see my update on News: August 10, 2001.


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Above left: Ransom's farmland near Fostoria, Michigan.  This land had previously belonged to Solomon. 

Above center:  The graves of Ransom's parents, Charlotte (front, center) and Solomon (front, right), who were both born in the 1790s.  Note the cannon statue in the background, a tribute to Solomon's participation in the War of 1812.  This is in the Watertown Township cemetery near Fostoria.

Above right:  Nearby, Ransom (right) and his wife, Hannah Chaplin Myers (left), are buried.  They died a year apart in the 1890s.


Left:  The graves of my great-grandfather, Harrison Everette Plane (background) and his two-year old son, Emerson (foreground).


Left: Map of the Watertown township cemetery, north of Fostoria, Michigan.  This shows the location of the Myers plot.  I've also shown the location of the graves for Ransom Myers' son-in-law, Harrison Everette Plane and Harrison's young son, Emerson.