William J Applegate – Herkimer Co NY to Mille Lacs Co MN

I can trace him back to his father’s household in Herkimer Co., NY, but I can’t go any further back.  Hints and clues appreciated!

PR1B William J Applegate, b. Aug 1837 in Oswego Co., NY (1850 US Census, NY, Herkimer Co., German Flats, 395/423 [age 14, birthplace NY]; 1855 NY State Census, Herkimer Co., Litchfield, 165/173 [age 18, birthplace Oswego Co.]; 1860 US Census, NY, Herkimer Co., German Flatts, p. 35, 201/202 [age 23, birthplace NY]; 1865 NY State Census, Herkimer Co., German Flatts, ED 1, p. 75, #637 [age 28, birthplace Herkimer Co.]; 1875 MN State Census, Mille Lacs Co., p. 1074, #76 [age 39, birthplace NY]; 1880 US Census, MN, Hennepin Co., Minneapolis, 2/254, p. 38, 311/394 [age 43, birthplace NY]; 1885 MN State Census, Mille Lacs Co., Princeton, p. 20, #149 [age 48, birthplace NY]; 1900 US Census, MN, Mille Lacs Co., Princeton, 6/248, sheet 11B, 215/222 [August 1837, birthplace NY]; d. 1 Dec 1919 in Princeton, Mille Lacs Co., MN (MN ODM Database available at Familysearch.org).  He married (1) UNKNOWN, who gave him up for dead in the Civil War.  He married (2) abt 1870 (1900 US Census, supra [married 30 years] Harriet Delia Eccleberger, b. Aug 1852 in IN (1875 MS State Census, supra [age 23, birthplace IN]; MN State Census, supra [age 27, birthplace IN]; 1885 MN State Census [age 39, birthplace IN]; 1900 US Census, supra [Aug 1852, birthplace IN]; 1930 US Census, MN, Mille Lacs Co., Princeton, ED 48-23, SD 6, sheet 16A, 338/390 [age 77, birthplace IN]; d. 14 January 1932 at Princeton, Mille Lacs Co., MN (Findagrave Memorial # 96631784); bur. Oak Knoll Cemetery, Princeton, Mille Lacs Co., MN (Id.).

William was enumerated with his parents in Herkimer County in 1850 and 1855.  In 1860, he was living in the household of Matthias Cain in German Flatts near his mother and youngest siblings.  He was 23 and a day laborer.

Sometime after this, but before August of 1862 when he joined the 121st NY Infantry, William married his first wife and fathered his first two children.

In August 1862, William joined Co. B, 121st NY Infantry.  According to a story published in the Princeton Union more than 40 years later, he was captured and held at Libby Prison until the close of the war.  Believing him to be dead, his first wife remarried and moved west with her new husband.  (Princeton Union, July 14, 1904, p. 1).  William moved to New York City, where he worked for a street car company.  He was injured in an accident and his wife (who apparently had found out he was still alive) again decided he was dead.

The story may be somewhat embellished.  On  6 November 1863, the New York Times published a list of Union officers held in Richmond, VA.  William Applegate does not appear on the list.  However, L. Applegate, assistant surgeon of the 102d N.Y. Volunteers does appear.  This person is William’s younger brother, Lewis.

In 1865, William was enumerated with his mother and several siblings in the 1865 NY State Census in Mohawk, Herkimer Co., NY.  He was 28 and born in Herkimer County.  This Census—taken only a few months after the end of the civil war—inquired about military service.  William had joined the 121st New York Volunteers on 2 August 1862 and served for 34 months.  He had, by the time the census was taken in July of 1865, been mustered out.  His health was good, but he had an unspecified other wound.

Sometime prior to 1875, he moved to Princeton, Mille Lacs Co., MN with his brother Henry, his sister Mary, and his mother Elizabeth.  In 1875 he was enumerated in the Minnesota State Census in Mille Lacs County.  William was 39, born in NY; his wife Delia was 23, born in IN; daughter Tillie was 3, born in MN; daughter Ida was 5, born in MN; and son Melvin was less than a year, born in MN.

In 1880, William and family were enumerated in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, MN on Riverside Avenue.  Their home at 206 Riverside Avenue is now the site of a large parking ramp for the University of Minnesota Hospital.  William was a laborer, 43, born in NY; Delia was 27, born in IN; Tillie was 8, born in MY; Ida was 10, born in MN; Melvin was 5, born in MN; and Willard was 1, born in MN.

By 1885, the family had returned to Princeton, where they were enumerated in the 1885 MN State Census.  William’s mother Elizabeth had joined them.

In 1900, William and Delia were enumerated in Princeton with their younger children. William was born in Aug 1837 in NY and was a harness maker; Delia was born in August 1852 in IN; Melvin was bonr in January 1876; Willard was born in May 1880; Marjorie was born in December 1889; Orva was born in May 1892; and Myra was born in May 1894.

In 1904, William’s mother Elizabeth died in Utica, NY.  Somehow, William’s son William from his first marriage saw an obituary for her and knew she was his grandmother.  He also saw she had two surviving sons living in Princeton and he traveled to Princeton to meet his long-lost father.

William died 1 December 1919 just north of Princeton.  His obituary is attached in the Appendix.



Princeton Union, December 4, 1919, p. 1

William J. Applegate.

William J. Applegate died at his home in North Princeton on Monday at 2 o’clock.

He was born in Mohawk, N. Y., 84 years ago last August. Two sons, Albert and William, were born of his first marriage in Mohawk.

When Lincoln called for volunteers the deceased responded and for three years rendered valiant service to preserve the union and free the slaves. He was in some of the fiercest battles and to his deathbed carried a bullet as a souvenir of his war experience. He was a member of the G.A.R. and always enjoyed the fellowship of the old boys. He was optimistic and a ready wit, cordial and polite in manner and active in mind and body to the end of life. Fifty-two years ago he came to Princeton and four years later was married to Miss Harriet Ecclebarger. He is survived by his wife and the following children: Mrs. Ida Coons, Mrs. Frank Guyette, Melvin, Willard, William, Albert, Mrs. Alexander Burke and Mrs. Harry Olson. He also leaves 21 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Funeral services were held yesterday afternoon at the Methodist church and a quartet furnished hymnal selections. The interment was at Oak Knoll.

William Applegate was a man who commanded the respect of everyone who knew him.


The Princeton Union, July 14, 1904, p. 1


William J. Applegate Meets Son He Had Not Seen Since Breaking Out of Civil War.

An Interesting and Romantic Story of a Long Separation and a Happy Meeting.

Many an interesting story of romance and adventure has resulted from the civil war, and in their reality have made the most exciting fiction very tame indeed.  The fortunes of war have told of many strange separations of families, and of lovers, the partings with many to be forever, while with others after a lapse of many years there have been happy re-unions.  One of these romantic chapters that opened with the call to arms at the beginning of the war and closed well nigh forty years later, is that in which William J. Applegate of Princeton and one of his sons figure conspicuously.

In 1862 William J. Applegate enlisted in Company B, 121st N.Y. Infantry at Mohawk, N.Y., and when he donned a soldier’s uniform and started to the front he bade an affectionate au revoire to his wife and two little boys one named after his father, but two years of age, while the other was a mere infant.

Mr. Applegate served through the war, but never returned home on a furlough to visit his family.  He was taken prisoner and was sent to Libby prison where he remained until the close of the war.  It was rumored that he died in that horrible abode of suffering, and his wife not hearing from him mourned him as dead and in time married again and moved west.

After being discharged Mr. Applegate ascertained that his wife had given him up for dead, had married and gone west, and he went to New York and worked for the street railway company. He was injured in an accident and his first wife and his children who it appears in time learned he did not die in the war, had tidings that he met death in the street car accident, and supposed him surely dead.

Thirty years ago he moved to Princeton where he married and started life anew, and has by his second marriage four daughters and two sons.  In course of time the babe and the little lad he left with their mother in Mohawk, N.Y., grew to manhood and went out into the wide, wide world to seek their fortune.

Less than a year ago, the mother of William J. Applegate died at a ripe old age in Mohawk, and her death notice appeared in the local paper, as well as papers in Utica, N.Y., and other places.  The oldest son of William J. Applegate, who lives in Minneapolis, saw the notice of the death of his grandmother in one of the papers and to her surprise that two of the sons, William and Henry were living in Princeton.  He could hardly believe the statement, and for a time put little credence in the story of the obituary notice, but he was not satisfied and concluded to make a visit to Princeton and verify the statement if possible.  He arrived on June 28th and begun to make inquiries, and soon found that two sons, William and Henry Applegate lived here.  He engaged A.H. Steeves to drive him to the home of William Applegate, and on the way over they met him.  Mr. Steeves called to Mr. Applegate and informed him that the man with him in the buggy was looking for him and claimed to be his son.  The father was startled at the statement as he had long given his oldest son up for dead, and could not believe that he was looking at his first-born child, but here was a case where “truth is stranger than fiction” and it did not require much comparison of family data to prove that father and son after a separation of nearly forty years were re-united, and here the curtain drops, but it is proper to say that the father and son lived over the long years that had flown and the first meeting was a long one.

The son is married and has a family.  He is a painter and paper hanger by trade.  He said that he expected when he met his father to see a gray-haired man on crutches, bent over with the infirmities of years, but he was agreeably surprised for though sixty-eight years of age Mr. Applegate does not look to be much over forty.


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