Friday, January 19, 2024

Karma, More Asses, and a Tragedy


According to my great grandfather's obituary, he became injured while serving in the U.S. Army. But before that tragedy, he also encountered some more mules which they used to drive wagons. At the end of the Civil War, Harrison Blacketer's company was sent to the Plains in order to escort the U.S. Mail between Fort Mitchell in Nebraska and Fort Laramie in Wyoming. [1] While driving the mules to grass to eat, possibly in the fall of 1865, a mule kicked Harrison in the chest. [2]

The meditative mule by Forbes, Edwin, 1839-1895. Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Civil War Photographs, LC-DIG-ppmsca-20669.

A person might think this was just karma for him shooting a mule while stinkin' drunk. And that person might be right. While it hurt, Harrison did not stop what he was doing that day. He just went on about his business.


Then on an icy winter evening in January of 1866 he and some of his comrades were headed to Fort Laramie escorting the mail when his horse slipped on ice while crossing Horse Creek. Harrison explained:

"In crossing Horse Creek, which was frozen, my horse slipped and fell. He fell on me. When he tried to get up he fell on me again. He tried several times to get up, and each time fell on me. The ice was so slick he could not get up. He was not sharp shod. Some of the horses were sharp shod, but not all were shod. When my horse fell I was thrown on the ice, striking my head and stunning me, and while I lay there my horse kicked me in the face in his efforts to get up. In falling the horse fell on me, crushing my left hand, arm and shoulder. I could not get away. I could not move. Although stunned at first, I was not entirely unconscious. But it all happened so quickly that I could not get away. The soldiers who were there rescued me. There were five or six of us...the bones of my left hand, left elbow and left shoulder were broken as well as dislocated. There were two gashes in my forehead. I could not say whether the frontal bone was broken. There was also a gash in my upper lip on the left side. A couple of teeth were knocked out, but my jaw was not broken..."[3]

Despite his injuries, Harrison continued on to Fort Laramie:

"I went horseback. There was no other way to go. The mail was carried on a mule. At Ft. Laramie there was no hospital or doctor. At Ft. Laramie I was cared for only by the soldiers. I was cared for in the tent of T.J. McBeath by him and James Thibedeaux. They merely tied up my wounds. They couldn't do anything else. I remained at Ft. Laramie a day or two, then returned to Ft. Mitchell with the mail escort. I went horseback. There was no other way to go...there was no hospital at Ft. Mitchell. Sgt. Reynolds took me to the tailor and had him sew up my lip. He sewed it with common black thread and a big needle. I took cold and the wounds of my lip and forehead swelled up and my eyes were affected. My eyes were sore and the sight was affected. My eyes were not wounded...Dr. Linn attended me at Ft. Mitchell for a time, but he was not there all the time...My captain John Collar, and some of the boys took care of me...Dr. Linn dressed my wounds, but did not set any broken bones or replace any dislocated joints...gangrene set in in the wound in my elbow, but not in the other wounds. The wounds had healed by the time I was discharged, except the left elbow, and that healed over afer my discharge."[4]

I cannot imagine the pain Harrison endured that fateful night or the days after. I think it is safe to say Harrison incurred a traumatic brain injury (TBI) which might explain the blurry vision though his eyes were not directly hit. I can't imagine having to endure the crushing of his left shoulder, elbow, and hand. and them never being fixed. However, much like him dusting himself and going about his business when the mule kicked him in his chest, after discharge, Harrison carried out a pretty active life considering his handicaps after he mustered out on 9 April 1866 at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. 

I'm waiting for some documents to help tell that part of his story after the Civl War, but next up we'll fast-forward and look at his later and, apparently, only marriage to my great grandmother. At least, I think it was his only marriage. I hope. You'll see what I mean. Because ancestors.

Harrison Blacketer > James Wesley Blacketer > Carolyn Marie Blacketer > Caroline Martin Marshall


1. Harrison Blacketer Civil War Pension File; p.115; Pointer Family Papers; privately held by Caroline Pointer [Address for Private Use,] Conroe, Texas, 2020. This photocopy of the file was made by Judy Hopkins of Boise, Idaho in 2018 from her own family collection. She obtained the file from the Veterans Administration in 2000. Each page was numbered by hand by Judy 1-256, but is missing pages 149-156. The photocopy is easily read. The VA has declared the original file to be lost.

2. Ibid.; p. 121; Pointer Family Papers.

3. Ibid.; p. 115-116; Pointer Family Papers.

4. Ibid.; p. 116-117; Pointer Family Papers.


Monday, January 15, 2024

How Did Harrison Blacketer's Life Turn Out?

I thought we'd jump back to my great grandfather Harrison Blacketer.  How did his life turn out? We left him doing hard labor with a ball-and-chain on his leg and a sign on his back. Despite his poor choice as a young soldier, he went on to have a good life as far as I have been able to uncover. He and his wife did get caught in a lie at one point, but we will get to that later this week. But I thought I'd share a transcription of his obituary and a picture of his and Mattie's tombstone that I took a year-and-a-half ago. Any genealogist would be elated to find this obituary, I think. It is chock-full of information and stories to unpack. And we will get to those this week with some of the storytelling coming from Harrison himself. The information in the obituary is mostly true. For fun, any guesses of what isn't true? 


Harrison and Martha Jane Blacketer's Tombstone in Graceland Cemetery.

Obituary Transcription

Source: "Harrison Blacketer Dead," The Cameron Sun (Missouri), 22 April 1915, p. 5, col. 5; ( : accessed 6 May 2018).


Had Been a Resident of Cameron

For Many Years—Funeral

Services and Interment


     Harrison Blacketer was born in

Indiana, April 21, 1845.  Died at

Cameron, Mo., April 16, 1915, fol-

lowing an illness of a week.  He

moved with his father when a boy

to Missouri, locating at Bethany in

Harrison county.  At the age of 16

he enlisted as a soldier in the Army

of the Republic, Company H, Twelfth

Missouri Cavalry, and served three

years.  At the end of the war his 

company was transferred to the

plains to fight the Indians.  It was

while he was in this service carry-

ing the mail from Fort Loramie to

Fort Mitchell he received his injury

from his horse falling on the ice.

     He was married to Miss Martha

Jane Smith April 27, 1890.  To this 

union were born three children:

Wesley, 21; Mildred, 13; and Mau-

rice, 9.  Mr. Blacketer moved to

Cameron in the year 1895 and lived

here till his death.  The funeral serv-

ices were held at the First Methodist

Church, conducted by the pastor,

Rev. G.H. Zentz, Saturday, April

17.  Interment was made at Grace-

land cemetery.

[End of transcription.]



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