The House Family

George House had nine children: seven by his first wife and two by his second wife, Anna Elizabeth. Of those children we know that one-Henry (1839-1916)-is buried here. Near Henry’s tombstone is a badly worn marker that reads: “son of George House” but we cannot make out the name or dates to verify it is the son of this George (and not his son George).

Little is known of George and Anna, but they lived in Union Township. When George died in 1863 (at age 72), he left $50 to be divided among the children he had fathered with his first wife and the remainder of his assets to Anna and their sons, Henry and Louis.

At age 25, Henry signed up as a private in the Union Army. He served only 10 months–August 26, 1864 to June 14, 1865 as a fireman 2nd class. His tombstone says “USS Black Hawk,” the name of one of the three boats he served on. The Black Hawk was a 902-ton side-wheel “tinclad” river gunboat that had been built in New Albany, Indiana in 1857 as the civilian steamboat New Uncle Sam. Purchased by the Navy in November 1862 and was renamed the Black Hawk, she served as a Mississippi squadron flagship under rear admirals David Dixon Porter and Samuel Phillips Lee. Although the Black Hawk was at the 1862-1863 campaign against Vicksburg, Henry had not yet joined the Navy. Henry also missed the Red River campaign of March-May, 1864. But he was there when the Black Hawk accidentally burned and sank near Cairo, Illinois April 22, 1865. He was discharged June 14, 1865 at Mound City. His pension records report he was just over 5 feet 8 inches tall and had grey eyes and blond hair. He also had a vaccine scar on his left arm.

Henry, a blacksmith, also served on the USS Grampus and the USS Great Western, a tinclad, side-wheel steamer that served as an ordnance boat for the Navy operating from Cairo to various points on the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

According to an 1876 map of West Liberty Borough, Henry’s mother lived close to Capt. John R. Neeld. The families knew each other as Henry’s father’s will listed George Neeld (John’s brother) as executor. So it is conceivable that Henry admired Capt. Neelda riverboat man 15 years Henry’s seniorand joined the navy on his recommendation.

Henry married Jane Moore (1853-about 1912), a native of England. The couple lived in Union Township and had eight children–Alice, Harry, Emily, Minnie, Fredrick, Gus, Mary and Muriel. Emily, known as Emma, married Thomas Cunningham and died at age 28 after falling down a flight of stairs in her home (she broke both legs and must have suffered internal injuries). Her obituary lists her parents as living at 170 Montgomery Street in the West End.

Burning of the USS Black Hawk

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