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Pvt George W. Thurston
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Birth: Aug., 1845
Switzerland County
Indiana, USA
Death: Sep. 9, 1929
Napa County
California, USA

Private GEORGE W. THURSTON, Co. H, 86th Illinois

George W. Thurston was born on August __, 1844/45 in Switzerland County, Indiana, the 7th of 8 children known to have been born to Jesse Thurston and Charlotte (Moore) Thurston. Jesse was born about 1805 in Easton, New York, the son of William Thurston and Sophie (Strickland) Thurston. Charlotte was born about January 18, 1811 in Ohio. Jesse Thurston came west to Indiana about 1828 and it was there in Switzerland County, Indiana that he was married to Charlotte on April 10, 1830. There in Switerland County, the first seven of their children were born. They were;
1. Sophia Thurston, born January 15, 1831; married to Phillip Kistner on Oct. 2, 1851 in Peoria County; died January 29, 1922 in Tygh Valley, Oregon.
2. Hannah Maranda Thurston, born in 1833; married to Gordon Smith Shanklin on Nov. 6, 1856 in Peoria County; died February 15, 1876.
3. Mary Ann Thurston, born in 1835; married to William H. Easton on March 5, 1854 in Peoria County.
4. Euphema Thurston, born February 2, 1837; married Flem Shankin; died April 8, 1904.
5. Matilda Thurston, born April 26, 1838; married to David Andrew on January 12, 1857 in Peoria County; married 2nd to Robert Jones; died March 22, 1908 in Fulton County.
6. William Franklin Thurston, born June 8, 1841; died April 6, 1918 in Fulton County, Illinois.
7. George Thurston, born on August __, 1844/45.

Sometime between 1845 and 1848, the Thurstons moved further west settling in what was to become Kickapoo Township in Peoria County, near Kickapoo, Illinois. Their last child was born there. She was;
8. Marietta (or Mauretta) Thurston, born August 11, 1848; married to John Tinney; died October 9, 1923 in Kirwin, Philips County, Kansas.

On April 20, 1850 Jesse Thurston died, leaving Charlotte with eight children ranging from the age of 19 to 2.
In the 1850 census, Charlotte and the 8 children are found residing in Peoria County. Her oldest son, William Franklin Thurston is only 9 at this time, so to help out she has taken on a 19 year old farmhand by the name of Marian Callen.
On January 30, 1856, Charlotte was married to John Meakins in Peoria County. John was born about 1818 in England. No children were born to John and Charlotte. At the time of the 1860 census of Peoria County, John, Charlotte and two of her children, William (age 19) and Marietta (age 11), are found residing in the Meakin household. George Thurston (now age 15) is living and working as a farm hand with his sister and brother-in-law Matilda and David Andrews in Kickapoo Township. The other children are scattered all over. Charlotte (Moore) Thurston Meakins died in 1895.
On July 22, 1862, George volunteered at Peoria, Illinois to serve in a company which was being raised in the Peoria, Illinois area by David W. Magee, a veteran of the Mexican War, for service in the Union Army during the Civil War. When Magee had about 100 volunteers he assembled his company at Camp Lyons, located near present day Glen Oak Park in Peoria, where they remained in camp until they were mustered into service. On August 27, 1862 Magee and 89 of his volunteers were mustered into service as Co. H of the 86th Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry. George was now Private George Thurston, Co. H, 86th Illinois. Initially, the men of Co. H elected Magee to be their Captain. Magee, however, because of his past military experiences, was selected and promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel of the entire regiment. After this John H. Hall, was elected by the men of Co. H to be their Captain.
On September 7, 1862, the men of the 86th Illinois marched out of the gates of Camp Lyon, through the streets of Peoria, with much fanfare, and boarded a train bound for Camp Joe Holt, Jeffersonville, Indiana, across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky. Three weeks later, the men of the 86th were in the field in Kentucky as part of Col. Daniel McCook's Brigade, in pursuit of Confederate troops. On Oct. 8, 1862, the men of McCook's Brigade were engaged with those troops in the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, the 86th Illinois suffering their first casualties. There would be many more in the next three years.
After the Battle of Perryville, the Confederate troops withdrew from the State of Kentucky and the men of McCook's Brigade marched on to Nashville, Tennessee, where they would go into winter camp. During that first winter in the field, the elements, poor living conditions and poor food, caused many of the fresh troops to become quite ill. Hundreds upon hundreds died during that winter in Nashville. Hundreds of others were discharged from the service and sent home in hopes that family and home cooking would help them to survive. Among the many to become sick was Private George Thurston, who spent quite some time in the Army Hospitals in Nashville. Finally, on April 22, 1863, Private George Thurston was discharged from the service at Nashville, Tennessee and sent home in hopes that he could regain his health. His disability was listed as Chronic Articular Rheumatism and Impaired Hearing. By May of 1863, George was most likely back home in Peoria County.
With the help of family and that home cooking, George was soon regaining his strength and health, but George still had a great desire to serve his country in the military. On February 29, 1864 Lt. Col. David P. Grier was back in Peoria recruiting for the 77th Illinois in an attempt to fill up it's thinned ranks. George volunteered to serve as a Recruit and was soon assigned to Co. K of the 77th. At the time he volunteered, George listed his residence as Peoria, Peoria County, Illinois. George was mustered in on April 8, 1864. George served out the remainder of the war in the 77th. When the war ended, as a late war Recruit, he was transferred to Co. C of the 130th Illinois for a little more duty. He was mustered out of the service on August 15, 1865 in New Orleans, Louisiana and he was soon on his way back home.
With the war now over, George had itchy feet and had a great desire to go west and see the wild, wild west. Not long after leaving the service, George left the flat land of Illinois and moved to Augusta, Kansas. George is found residing there at the time of the 1870 census. He is residing in a Hotel and working as a Carpenter. At the time of the 1870 census, Charlotte Thurston and her youngest daughter, now listed as Nettie, are found residing in Peoria City Ward 3. Nettie, who is listed as 19 years of age, is listed as working in a Book Bindery. John Meakin is not in the picture at this point.
In the 1870's, George moved on to Colorado, where he took up mining. At the time of the 1880 census, George is found in Leadville Township in Lake County, Colorado where he is mining. George is believed to have remained in Colorado through the 1880's and 1890's.
Then in 1896 Gold was discovered in Alaska and George wasn't about to let this adventure pass him by and by April of 1897, George was on his way to Alaska, beating the big rush to Alaska. At the time of the 1900 census, George is panning for gold on a beach between the Cripple River and the Sinrock River in the Northern Supervisors District. His mailing address at this time is Victor, Colorado and his State side occupation is listed as Carpenter. George has a mining partner there on Cripple Creek & the Sinrock River. His name is Jeremy Graham. Jeremy was born about 1863 in Scotland, immigrated to America in 1878 and lived for some time in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania where he was employed as a Clerk. Jeremy came to Alaska in June of 1898. At least one other member of the 86th is known to have gone to Alaska and that was fellow Co. H'er, Sylvester McMahan, who went to Alaska to live in 1888.
In the early 1900's, George Thurston grew tired of the wilds of Alaska and returned to the lower 48. He is known to have eventually moved to California. From September 19, 1907 until July 11, 1908, George was a resident at the Home for Disabled Veterans in Sawtelle, Los Angeles County, California. In July, George is believed to have been transferred to the Veterans Home of California, located in Yountville, Yount Township, Napa County, California. At the time of the 1910 census, George was residing there. He is listed as being an "Inmate" there and is listed as being divorced, though no evidence has ever been found of him ever being married.
George W. Thurston is still residing in the Veteran's Home of California at the time of the 1920 census, although now he is listed as being "widowed." Private George Thurston's Civil War Pension Card states that he died on September 9, 1929 in _____________, California.
Private George W. Thurston's earthly remains were laid to rest in the Veterans Memorial Grove Cemetery in Yountville, Napa County, California. Interestingly, of the three regiments that could have been chosen to be placed on his tombstone, it was his service in Co. H, of the 86th Illinois that was recognized on his tombstone.

by Baxter Fite

(Baxter would enjoy hearing from anyone, especially descendants, who might be able to add some information to the biography about George and his family. Baxter would also love to get copies of any pictures which might survive of George Thurston, especially any showing George in uniform, for his Find A Grave site and for the local historical societies.) 
Family links: 
  Jesse Thurston (1805 - 1850)
  Sophie H. Thurston Kistner (1831 - 1922)*
  George W. Thurston (1845 - 1929)
*Calculated relationship
Veterans Memorial Grove Cemetery
Napa County
California, USA
Plot: Sec.H Row 14 Grave 35
Maintained by: Baxter B. Fite III
Originally Created by: Betty Patterson
Record added: May 07, 2003
Find A Grave Memorial# 7421323
Pvt George W. Thurston
Added by: Charles R. Villarreal
Pvt George W. Thurston
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Herbert Rickards
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.

Rest in Peace!
- Lois
 Added: Feb. 9, 2013

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