When I started researching family history and posting on public genealogy forums, people occasionally reached out to me, wondering if we might be connected. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to be contacted by a number of cousins offering up vital information about far-flung branches of the family tree. However, one of the most exciting communications I received didn’t come from a family member, just someone doing a good deed.
In 2006, I received an email from a woman named Lois, wondering if I might be related to Wallace Partridge. I had posted on a genealogy message board about my third great-grandmother, Ellen Partridge, the wife of Samuel G. Smith. Was she connected to Wallace Partridge of Bunker Hill, Illinois? It took only a quick look at my family tree to confirm that Wallace Partridge was the older brother of Ellen Partridge. Lois said that some elderly friends had passed away, and while helping to settle their estate, she had come across a very old photo labeled “Wallace Partridge.” She then spent several years trying to find out who Wallace was and tracing his genealogy so that a descendant might have the photo. The photo, circa the 1860s, shows young Wallace, who fought for the Union Army in the Civil War, wearing his military uniform. Lois sent me the photo and the research she’d done on his family. What an incredible gift! It’s rare to have an original photo of that age, and it made me especially curious to know more about Wallace.
Wallace Partridge was born on September 14, 1843 in Brooklyn, New York. He was three years older than my ancestor Ellen Partridge, who was born in 1846. They were two of the eight children of James Partridge and Sarah Pendleton Partridge, who had come to New York from High Wycombe, England. The family later moved to Bunker Hill, Illinois.
Wallace Partridge registered for military service at Springfield, Illinois on April 17, 1861, just five days after war was declared. He was 17 years old. He enlisted as a private in Company F, 7th Infantry Regiment.
Wallace was wounded at Shiloh, or perhaps immediately afterward in a skirmish on the Corinth Road and had to leave military service for some time to recover. A local newspaper, the Carlinville Free Democrat, made note of the injury and the terrible losses suffered at Shiloh. On December 22, 1962, Wallace re-enlisted and served until the end of the war.
In 1864, Wallace took part in the March to the Sea, a very famous moment in the history of the war. From Wikipedia:
Sherman's March to the Sea is the name commonly given to the Savannah Campaign conducted through Georgia from November 15 to December 21, 1864 by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army in the American Civil War. The campaign began with Sherman's troops leaving the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia, on November 16 and ended with the capture of the port of Savannah on December 21. Sherman's forces destroyed military targets as well as industry, infrastructure, and civilian property. Military historian David J. Eicher wrote that Sherman "defied military principles by operating deep within enemy territory and without lines of supply or communication. He destroyed much of the South's physical and psychological capacity to wage war."
After the war, Wallace worked as a teacher in Bunker Hill. On October 6, 1881, at the somewhat advanced age of 38, he married Isabella Gladys Eddington, daughter of Thomas Eddington and Rebecca Guilliford. Together, they had nine children.
In a terrible irony, one of Wallace’s younger sons, George Partridge, was killed in action in France during World War I. He is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne, France, near Verdun.
Wallace died on June 7, 1929, aged 86. His military record notes “Distinguished Service” and his gravesite in Woodburn, Illinois bears a military marker.