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Margaret Meseroll Hayes, Oldest Civil War Nurse
User Rank: Contributor
Joined: 10/18/2011
Posts: 30


Created By:Michael Fiske

 This is a follow-up to my post on Adams General Hospital.  I think Margaret deserves her own post.  The following is the result of my research.

Margaret Meseroll Hayes was the last living Civil War nurse according to a notice in the Ingham County News, Mason, Michigan, dated 21 June 1934.   The notice reads, “Here is pictured Margaret Hayes, the oldest living nurse who served in the Civil war, being presented with a medal from the Los Angeles school children and from the people of Los Angeles, by Mrs. J. A. Allred.”

 

Margaret tells her story as a Civil War nurse in the 1895 book, Our Army Nurses: Interesting Sketches, Addresses, and Photographs of Nearly One Hundred of the Noble Women Who Served in Hospitals and on Battlefields During Our Civil War, compiled by Mary A. Gardner Holland (B. Wilkins & Co., Boston).

 

“On the 17th day of February, 1863, I left my home in Mendota, Ill., for Chicago.  Arriving there we went to the Sanitary Commission rooms, and were cared for by Mrs. Livermore, who gave us our commissions, put us up a lunch, gave us each a pillow and a small comfortable, as there were no sleeping cars in those days, procured transportations, and started us that same evening for Memphis, Tenn.  Another lady went with me who was as anxious as I to do something for the ‘boys in blue.’  We arrived safely, and I was immediately assigned to the Adams General Hospital, No. 2 (which had just been opened to receive the sick and wounded from Arkansas), in Ward 2 Room B, where there were seventy-two men.  I think the ward master was one of the kindest men I ever knew.  Poor fellow!  He went through the war, and returned to his home with the regiment, but only to die soon after his arrival.”

 

Prior to enlisting in the army, Margaret lived in Manlius, LaSalle County, Illinois.  She appears in the 1860 Federal Census as Margaret Mesarole, age 26, value of personal estate $200, birthplace NB (probably New Brunswick, Canada).  A daughter, Alice, age 3, born in Illinois, is listed with her.

 

Margaret’s service as a nurse at Adams General Hospital is documented in the Civil War correspondence of Thomas Hannah, Jr., a private in the 95th Regiment, Illinois Infantry Volunteers, Company G, who while suffering from rheumatism, was assigned to Adams General Hospital in late January 1863 when his regiment went south to begin operations against Vicksburg.  Thomas Hannah is the ward master in Ward 2, unnamed by Margaret. 

 

Thomas first mentions Mrs. Meseroll in a letter dated 9 February 1863, “Dear wife for as soon as I finish writing I shall ask Mary or Mrs Messeroll to kiss me a few score times for you …” On 16 April 1863, Thomas writes to his wife, Elizabeth Marshall Hannah, in Belvidere, Illinois, “I have felt the blues more than usual Mrs Messeroll was taken sick and went into the country for to spend 4 days in order to enjoy the quiet and pure are of the country and I missed her very much …” In a May 1863, Thomas exhibits concern “…but dear Wife I must not forget to tell you that poor Mrs Messeroll is very sick she has been going into the consumption for sometime and I fear she will not be much longer for this wourld I went to her room this eavening and she felt very low spirited indeed she is a widow and depends upon her own efforts and earnings for a livelyhood for herself and little girl 7 years old = she told me with tears in her eyes that if it was not for her little girl she would be glad to leave this cold and cheerless wourld …”

Thomas continues to mention Mrs. Meseroll or Maggie throughout his 1863 and 1864 letters to his wife.  Their friendship must have been strong.  On 11 December 1864, while at division headquarters in line near Nashville, Tennessee, Thomas writes to his wife, “…you did not seem to feel much sympathy for my poor friend Mrs Messeroll but intimated she was to lazy to work now darling you are hastey in conclusions she is a hard worker and stayed in the hospital as long as her health lasted when she was forced to leave and seak other imployment now she has no home of her own no one to advise her nor asist her but ondly her own hands to depend upon for her own suport and one little girl and as high as everything is it is hard to be be denied the privelage of work when she is willing …”

 

Thomas indicates that Margaret Meseroll had stopped working at Adams General Hospital by the end of 1864.  Margaret, however, writes in Our Army Nurses, “I remained at the Adams until January, 1865, when I was transferred to the Gaysoso, and was discharged from there at the close of the war.”  Forty years after the end of her service, an article in the Suburbanite Economist, Chicago, Illinois, 25 August 1905, says that Margaret’s commission dated from 17 February 1863 to 2 July 1865.

 

By 1868, Margaret had married Samuel Hayes and relocated to Cannon City, Rice County, Minnesota, where a daughter Jennie was born to the couple.  The family is recorded in the 1870 Federal Census in Cannon City.  Samuel Hys, farmer, age 37, born in New York; Margaret, keeping house, age 35, born in New York; Alice, at home, age 13, born in Illinois; and Jennia, at home, age 2, born in Minnesota.   

 

The family appears again in the 1 May 1875 Minnesota State census.  Margaret, age 39, born in New York, lives with S E Hayes, male, age 42, born in New York; Alice M Searle, age 18, born in Illinois; Jennie Hayes, age 7, born in Minnesota; and Essu (?) Hayes, male, age 4, born in Minnesota.    

 

Within five years, Margaret and her daughters had moved to Santa Barbara, California.  In the 1880 Federal Census, she is listed as a widow, housekeeper, age 44, born in New Brunswick, Canada, with two daughters, Alice M Hayes, age 23, born in Illinois, and Jennie M Hayes, age 12, born in Minnesota.  Had Samuel Hayes and Essau died?  The use of the middle initial “M” by both Alice and Jennie is clearly a reference to Meseroll.  While Jennie is reported “at school,” Alice’s occupation is given as “work in Pres office.”

 

Margaret, born December 1933 in Canada (English), is found in 1900 Federal Census records living in Los Angeles Ward 6, District 59.  This record states that she had four children, two of whom were then living.  The 1920 Federal Census lists Margaret, age 86, born New Brunswick, Canada, living in Los Angeles Assembly District 73, District 393, Precinct 122.  Margaret says that she immigrated to the United States in 1834 and became a naturalized citizen in 1851.

 

Margaret filed for an invalid’s pension on the basis of her Civil War Service in December of 1926.  Civil War Pension Index: General to Pension 1861-1834 Files [Ancestry].

 

In1930, Margaret, age 98, born in Maine (?), was living with her granddaughter Margurite and her husband Raymond Baldwin in Los Angeles, California, Assembly District 61,Ward 13, Block 1 [1930 Federal Census].  Raymond, age 40, a music teacher was born in California.  Margurite, age 37, gives her occupation as choir singer.  Margurite reports her father and mother as having been born in Illinois.  Thus, Margurite must be the daughter of Alice Meseroll and an unknown father.

 

Margaret Meseroll Hayes probably died before 1940.  She is buried in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

 

“I often think of my ‘boys’ and wonder where they all are.  The old ones are mustered out, the young are now gray and old, and would not know me or I them if we should meet.  I have even changed my name.  I was Mrs. Maggie Meseroll then; they called me ‘Sister Maggie.’” [Our Army Nurses]

 

 

 

 

 

 


File Attachment(s):
Margaret Hayes.jpg (66438 bytes)

User Rank: Contributor
Joined: 10/18/2011
Posts: 30


Created By:Michael Fiske
As frequently happens with Google, the more you search and find, the more your searches are targeted.  Thus,  i found the marriage of Margaret Meseroll and Sanford Hays on http://files.usgwarchives.net/mn/steele/marriage/marrimgm.txt.  They were married 5 May 1866 in Steele County, Minnesota.  Now, was it Sanford or Samuel?

User Rank: Contributor
Joined: 10/18/2011
Posts: 30


Created By:Michael Fiske
Here is a web link for a vide of Margaret Meseroll Hayes on her 96th birthday.http://mirc.sc.edu/fedora/repository/usc%3A1954
User Rank: Contributor
Joined: 10/18/2011
Posts: 30


Created By:Michael Fiske
An article in the Riverside Daily Press, Riverside, California, 30 April 1930 lists Margaret as a participant in the department encampment of the G.A.R in Riverside.  Her birth date is given as 11 December 1833 in St. Johns, New Brunswick, Canada.  The article states that she was the youngest of seven children.  The article also gives a date for the video which I posted here.  "The members of Margaret Hayes tent, No, 55; planted a live oak in he honor in Memorial grove, Exposition Park, Los Angeles." on he 96th birthday, 11 December 1929.
User Rank: Contributor
Joined: 10/18/2011
Posts: 30


Created By:Michael Fiske
The tree planting in the video was at the Memorial Grove, Exposition Park, Los Angeles, California, on 11 December 1929 in celebration of Margaret Meseroll Hayes 96th birthday.  This is reference in a Riverside Daily Press (Riverside, California), article dated Wednesday, 30 April 1930.

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