Friday, June 17, 2011

Collection Highlight : Civil War Soldier, John Mahard, On Loan

Obviously, John Mahard himself isn't visiting the library, but his image is...thanks to the loan of his painting to the Local History department by Brad Fraula.

John Mayard, a long-time resident of Lawton, enlisted in Company C of the Third Michigan Cavalry,  was discharged for disability, July 25 1862, and re-entered service with Company G of the 28th Michigan Infantry.  He enlisted again September 13, 1864 and served until his discharge April 16, 1866, having served for 4 1/2 years. 

From John's May 14, 1914, obituary in the Lawton Leader:

"John Mahard was born in Belfast, Ireland, of Irish and Scotch parents, Nov. 27, 1825, and died at Lawton, May 9, 1914...At the age of eight years he came with parents to this country, and settled to Rochester, New York.  June 26, 1849, he was married to Susan Robinson.  Soon afterward they came to Lawton where he has since resided...Thirteen children were born to them...During his residence of sixty years in Lawton he engaged in different branches of business, and was one of the first grape growers.  September 16, 1861, he enlisted in United States service at Porter, Mich., as a private of Co. C 3rd Regiment...This regiment took part in engagements at Island No. 10, Farmington, Holly Springs and numerous others...He re-enlisted September 15, 1864, in Co. G. 28th Regiment, Michigan Volunteers...participating in engagements at Nashville, Tenn., and Wises Forks, NC..."

John, as well as many of his descendants, are buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Lawton, Michigan.  Children identified so far include:  Thomas H. Mahard, Evaline Mahard Exceen, Jennie Mahard Caster, and Ann Mahard Langdon - all buried in Oak Grove Cemetery. 

The owner of the painting, Brad Fraula, is not a relative of Mr. Mahard.  He acquired it from an antique dealer in Dayton, Ohio.  Encased in a lovely oval frame (not the original), it had complete identifying information printed on the back including name, burial location, birth & death dates and some service information.  Intrigued by the image, Brad began to research John Mahard in hopes of locating living descendants that might be interested in seeing it and knowing more about the man.   Using online resources and with the assistance of Adam Oster, Byron Center librarian, Brad began learning more about John and his family.

Brad is anxious to share knowledge of this painting with John Mahard's descendants and has made a loan of the painting for six months to the Van Buren District Library.  Visitors may view John anytime during Local History hours, or may contact Brad directly with questions. 

Imagine how many descendants John Mahard must have today, probably numbering in the hundreds.  How rare & delightful it is to locate an image that is 150 years old, and have exact identification.  John had a little trip to Ohio for a time, but thanks to Brad's efforts, has made his way back home.