Wednesday, September 8, 2021

William S Denyer & Danyer - Confederate & Union Soldier

The below Pension Record appeared in my ‘hints’ on Ancestry. 

William S Danyer - Union Soldier in Louisiana Cavalry Scouts

The record identifies a Widow named Sarah E Danyer, who filed from Arkansas in 1896, and a minor with a guardian named Nancy E Danyer, who filed in either 1880 or 1890. The handwriting isn’t clear. I am unsure if the Certificate No. column indicates that the first two applications were successful, and the one for the minor was not.

Could this be William Sliver Denyer, brother of my 2nd great grandfather?

William S Denyer, my great great granduncle, definitely served under the Confederacy 1861-1862 in Louisiana. He was injured in 1862 and his hospital records are the last in the file at Fold3. Both of his brothers Ebenezer and Samuel served under the Confederacy in Texas. However, their father had died in Louisiana in 1848, and William appeared to stay there until the war. (All three sons were born in Bucks County Pennsylvania, and their father was born in England, so traveling was in their blood.)

William S Danyer also has a file on Fold3.  Here is his enlistment record. William S Danyer enlisted in the 30th Regiment of Missouri while in Vidalia, Louisiana in Feb of 1864. He was born in Buck County, Mississippi.  

There is currently no Buck County in Mississippi. I suspect there wasn't in 1864. My 2nd great granduncle was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  This is almost definitely him, and we now have evidence that he fought for both the Confederacy and the Union.  Why he claimed to have been born in Mississippi is a mystery, but that could have simply been a clerical error. Other documents in the Fold3 folder indicate William S Danyer deserted in April of 1865, (Perhaps only a couple days before the war ended.) During his year of service between April 1864-April 1865 he was listed on muster rolls as under detached service in Louisiana, which may be why the pension application indicates he was with the Louisiana Cavalry Scouts.

The pension file indicates William's widow filed from Arkansas. If he is my relative, who are Sarah E and Nancy E? That is a question with a potentially intriguing answer. 

William S Denyer had two known wives - Susannah Dilly (who died in 1863) and Nancy E Rhodes, who he married in February of 1865 in Illinois (shortly before he deserted, and likely the reason he deserted.) They had a son, Andre, 9 months later. He would have been 25 in 1890, so it’s likely the year on the document is 1880. But Nancy should be the widow too. Who is Sarah Denyer?

Could she be the widow of William’s brother -- My 2nd great grandmother, Sarah Hartley Denyer Foster. Her father had died in Little Rock Arkansas in 1840. His children ended up in Texas, but Sarah might have returned after her husbands died. 

I don’t have a date of death for William. He could have been deceased and his widow could have tried to help her sister-in-law draw a Union pension since her sister in law’s first husband, Ebenezer Denyer, served the Confederacy. He died in 1872. I’m not sure when her husband George Foster died but it is likely he died before she did. My great grandfather testified in 1900 in front of the Dawes Commission that she was living with them in 1898 when she died. So in September 1896 she could have been a widow again. But while I have been unable to find her 1898 death records, I have not looked in Arkansas for them. And my primary focus has been searching for the name Sarah Foster. But there’s a chance she returned to the name Denyer.  

I like how these documents indicate that there was at least one Denyer who fought, however briefly, for the Union. Just like my ancestor, David Vanevery, fought in the American Revolution on both the Patriot and Loyalist sides. It also seems to show that there was a close relationship between my 2nd great grandmother, Sarah Hartley Denyer Foster, and her sister-in-law.  If Sarah was living with her daughter's family when she died, as the Dawes Commission was told, she almost certainly died in Texas, but she may have briefly been in Arkansas, and I might be able to find records for her there.