General Joseph Bartholomew (1766-1840)

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Summary of Research in Indiana, and Illinois
by Joanne Robbins Bloxham & Ben Bloxham, 7 June 2004, Salt Lake City, Utah

InJoseph Bartholomew was an exceptionally good man. He was born somewhere in the Colony of New Jersey on Saturday, March 15th, 1766, and died on Tuesday, November 3rd, 1840, in Clarksville, McLean County, Illinois at the age of 19 days, 7 months and 74 years. There is no documentary proof that Joseph's father's name was Daniel. In the past this assumption may be the very reason the Bartholomew pedigree has stalled. Family trees, like nature's trees, may have to be pruned in order for them to grow. His mother's first name, on the other hand, was probably Catherine, but her surname is still unknown.

General Joseph lived in New Jersey for five years (1766-1771), Pennsylvania for 17 (1771-1788), Kentucky for 10 (1788-1798), Indiana for 32 (1798-1830), and Illinois for 10 (1830-1840). He married twice and had nineteen children - 8 sons and 11 daughters.

Though a peace loving man, most of his life was spent in the defense of his fellowmen, as he was involved in every war of his age: Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Black Hawk War and various other Indian battles. He had an unusual reputation for defending his friends and neighbors against hostile Indians, both as scout and fighter, which resulted in several commissions, including General. He thought the Indians had been badly treated by the whites, but when it was time to take sides in the defense of his family and friends he killed as many of them as anyone. A bullet from an Indian in the Battle of Tippecanoe in the War of 1812 broke both bones in his right forearm, as a result of which he afterward received a disability pension of $23 per month from the Federal Government.

He was a farmer of good reputation and built the first brick farm house in Clark County, Indiana. He was a successful trapper and surveyor, to supplement his income as well as assist new neighbors in settling on their farms on virgin lands. He also became a conveyancer, preparing deeds and other legal documents associated with land titles, as well as other county court business, including the settlement of testate and intestate estates.

His public service included serving as territorial and state representative and senator, special commissions, including selecting, on January 11th, 1820, the site for a new capital for Indiana, named Indianapolis. His contributions to the general public good led to the creation of Bartholomew County, Indiana, named in his honor on January 8th, 1821 when he was 55 years of age.

His religious devotions included regularly attending the Presbyterian church without being a member of record, and donating an acre of his land in Louisville, Clark County, Indiana for the location of a church. His friend and neighbor, F. C. Nugent, related that General Joseph "was one of the most moral men he ever knew, and that he could not brook a vulgar [swearing] or profane [taking the Lord's name in vain] word from anyone." He was an active member of the Masonic Lodge, and his Masonic apron and sash are in St. John's Lodge in Columbus (county seat of Bartholomew County), Indiana.

In politics he was very active, serving as a presidential elector for Indiana in the election of 1820 when he traveled to Washington, D. C. to cast his State's vote for James Monroe. In addition he campaigned vigorously for his friend and fellow officer William Henry Harrison for President of the United States in 1840, with the result that he died from exhaustion the very day of Harrison's victory after riding his horse 70 miles in one day, which was an astonishing feat for anyone, especially a man who was 74 years of age.

He was a happy man and jovial by nature and had a great love for young people and was an exceptional dancer. He weighed about one hundred and sixty pounds, was five feet nine inches
in height, and "straight as an arrow and of a very dark complexion." His hair became white as snow later in life.

He did not write an autobiography, leave journals, letters, or other memorabilia to chron-icle his life. The one personal historical item of importance listed in the Inventory of his estate after his death was his Polyglot Bible (meaning it was written in different languages). This was listed as Holy Bible when it was purchased by his son William Milton at the public auction in the settlement of Joseph's estate.

Of his nineteen children, one of them, Martha, joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and one of his grandsons, Joseph, son of John, whom General Joseph raised. Two of his sons left biographical accounts of their father, James Currie and William Milton Bartholomew. The last known owner of the General's Bible was his son William Milton, who died in Pingree, Stutsman County, North Dakota on 8 March 1903. Dan Bartholomew's attempts to find this Bible have so far not been successful.

If found it may contain the General's genealogy. Missing are his birthplace, his parents names, the date and place of his first marriage, the birth dates and places of his two wives, and the birth dates of seven of his nineteen children. Joseph owned a Bible - did he record the genealogical details of his family in it?

The General's son James Currie Bartholomew was interviewed in 1894 in Lodi, Wisconsin by George Pence, Auditor of Bartholomew County, Indiana. Mr. Pence was an unapologetic ad-mirer of General Joseph, and the results of his interview with James were published in the Indiana Magazine of History (December 1918, Vol. XIV, No. 4, pp. 287-303). This source is cited in the Chronology as James, followed by the page number. James was then 75 years of age, feeble and blind. He lived on a large and fertile farm about a mile north of Lodi, and had been a hotelier. George Pence, who was accompanied by his brothers William and Edward, both protestant minis-ters, wrote: "That Mr. James Bartholomew was proud of his father was without question to us, as this feature cropped out more than once in replying to our numerous inquiries" (James, 288).

Another of the General's sons, William Milton Bartholomew, wrote a brief account of his father's life, which is cited in the Chronology as William, followed by the page number. William's account is especially well written. The full accounts of these two biographical sketches are includ-ed below in this Report. These two sons are the General's youngest children by his second wife (a younger son Isaac died as a young child).

Another biographical account of the General's life was written by General John S. Simon-son, a friend and fellow soldier. The only known survivor of this account is found in George Wells Bartholomew, Jr.'s Record of the Bartholomew Family: Historical, Genealogical and Bio-graphical, published in 1885 in Texas.

It may be that other children of General Joseph Bartholomew left accounts of their illustri-ous father and perhaps their equally valued mothers. Practically nothing is recorded about the General's wives, and little about their home life. Women qualified to attract the attention and love of a man of the caliber of General Joseph, would certainly be worth knowing about. And with any imagination it would be easy to picture their home life as being idyllic. What we know about their children would bear this out. His second wife, Elizabeth McNaught, was a sister to the wife of his son John, who married Nancy McNaught. Elizabeth and Nancy McNaught were born in County Tyrone, Ireland , and would have been as full of music and poetry as the General himself. In fact, according to his neighbor Mr. Nugent, "by reason of his very happy and jovial disposition and his love for young people, his home was the seat of constant gayety (sic) and hospitality. The general was an accomplished dancer and he took as much delight in that amusement as did the younger folks. His personal associations were of the highest and his social standing was the same." (See page 19 below).

Surely, there must be something out there that would tell us about the General's wives and family life! The reason we know what we do about the General, obviously, is due to his notoriety as a man of immense importance to the world around him, and no doubt his children were con-stantly being asked about their illustrious father, without intending any slight to his wives and family. Such has always been the case with prominent public figures. Now is the time to try to fill this void!
Martha, General Joseph's only child to join the LDS Church, was baptized, together with her husband Gamaliel Vail, Jr., on 21 April 1842 in Clarkesville, McLean County, Illinois (where the General died), one year and five months after his death. His grandson, Joseph Bartholomew, was baptized 14 August 1841 in Clarksville only nine months after his grandfather died. It is not known what the General knew, if anything, of the LDS Church or its members during his lifetime.

General Joseph's temple work was performed in the Manti Temple in March 1889 by his grandson and namesake, Joseph, whom the General raised, his father John dying when Joseph was only 7 and his mother when he was 10. The Manti Temple was dedicated in 1888, the year before the General's temple work was performed, and just 4 years after the publication in 1885 of the monumental work on the Bartholomew family in America by George Wells Bartholomew, Jr. (referred to above). The Utah branch of the Bartholomew family was able to perform important vicarious work for the General and some of his roots and branches with the help of this book.

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