John Jackson Ketchum was my 3-g-grandfather. He was born in 1818 in Tennessee, married Mary Catherine Fields and had 11 children. At some point before 1850, they moved to Missouri, first Crawford County and then settling in Phelps County, Missouri.
John was a farmer and worked hard to feed his large family. When the Civil War broke out, he did not enlist due to his large family and needing to keep them fed. At this time Missouri was on the of the few states that was neutral. When the Union Army came into Missouri, they ordered the men to enlist or have their farms burned or worse. The "Jay Hawkers" would ride in and do horrible things and if the men fought back they were arrested as bushwackers and/or executed. This is what family researchers believe happened to John. He was arrested as a bushwacker, taken to Gratiot St. Prison then to Alton, Ill. prion on September 12, 1862. John was sent to Sandusky, Ohio prison on November 14, 1862 and was reported as having died (executed) on Johnson's Island on December 23, 1862. His grave cannot be located and he is believed to be buried in an unmarked grave along with others that had been executed with him.
Johnson's Island Prison, Ohio
As far as is known, no correspondence was received from John from the time he was arrested so what he had to endure is not known except from reading histories of the prisons and other people's first-hand accounts. I have found one such account entitled "Narrative of Prison Life at Baltimore and Johnson's Island, Ohio" by Henry E. Shepherd, M.A., LL.D. who had also been a prisoner at Johnson's Island during the same time as John. Below is the book detailing his experience, it is a short read, only 30 pages, but this gives the reader an idea of what John experienced when he was at Johnson's Island.
A great website to visit to learn more about Johnson's Island then and now please click below:
My name is Vicky, and after researching my family history since 1999, I have found amazing stories that need to be told. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!