|Birth: ||Dec. 7, 1804|
|Death: ||Aug. 21, 1879|
From the 1880 Peoria County History
BALDWIN WILLIAM J. farmer, Sec. 13, was born in Pittsburg, Pa.; is the only son of a family of two children of Capt. Thomas Baldwin and Letetia Jackson, both natives of the "Keystone State," where they were married in 1834. Their only daughter, Fannie, is now the wife of Dr. H. T. Coffey, of Peoria. Capt. Thomas Baldwin was born on Dec. 7. 1804, near Pittsburg, Pa., where his father, Col. Robert Baldwin, owned a large farm and a flouring mill, located on Chartier's creek. In shipping their flour to market, Captain and his brother conveyed it up the river in canoes and other small crafts, which was a tedious process, and young Thomas resolved, while a mere youth, to do what he could to develop a better system of water transportation, and such progress had he made in the art of boating that at the age of nineteen years he was captain of a steamboat on the Ohio river. Nature had so well adapted him to his chosen work, that he became one of the leading steamboat men of his life-time; devoted forty-five years of his life to it, during which he built and was sole, or part, owner of twenty-six steamboats, a number of which were among the finest and swiftest upon the western rivers. Captain Baldwin's boating experience was chiefly upon the Ohio, Mississippi and Illinois rivers. He removed to Peoria in 1844, and when the California gold fever broke out in 1849, Commodore Vanderbilt selected him to superintend a line of steamers to Central America, that being then the principal route, at a salary of $10,000 a year. His health failing, he resigned the position at the end of ten months, and Mr. Vanderbilt presented him with a check for $10,000 in gold. Soon after the beginning of the late civil war he offered his services to the Government, which were accepted, and he was put in command of a transport vessel; later was appointed to the command of the gunboat Romeo, which he retained till the close of the war. He then retired from active business, and on Aug. 23, 1879, died at his residence in Peoria, ending a very active and useful life. Mrs. B. still occupies the elegant homestead on East Bluff."
Info on the Gunboat ROMEO and it's activities;
(Stern wheel Gunboat: tonnage 175; length 154'2"; beam 31'2"; draft 4'6"; depth of hold 4'; armament 6 24-pounders howitzer)
Romeo (Gunboat No. 3), a wooden, stern-wheel "tinclad," was purchased at Cincinnati, Ohio, on 31 October 1862 for duty in the Mississippi Squadron. Fitted out at Cairo, she was commissioned on 11 December, Acting Ensign Robert B. Smith in command.
On the 12th she moved downriver to Helena where she joined the squadron and prepared for an expedition up the Yazoo River in support of Army operations against Vicksburg.
On 21 December, the gunboats left Helena and on the 23d they started up the river, the lighter draft vessels - including Romeo - proceeding first to clear torpedoes (mines) from the water just below Drumgould's Bluff. From the 26th to 3 January 1863, Romeo remained in the Yazoo and its tributaries, patrolling to prevent Rebel boats from launching and placing more torpedoes in cleared areas; to protect refugees; and to engage Confederate batteries and troops in the rifle pits which lined the river. By 3 January, heavy rains had prevented the Union assault from taking the city and the gunboats were withdrawn.
From 4 to 11 January, Romeo participated in the successful campaign against Port of Arkansas (Fort Hindman); then after rearming and refueling at the mouth of the White River, ascended the river again to lead the ironclads up to Devall's Bluff and Des Arc, Ark. There the naval squadron supported Army forces as the approaches to Little Rock were secured.
The gunboat returned to the Yazoo on 6 February. At the end of April, she participated in a feigned attack on Haynes' Bluff to prevent Confederate forces from massing to repel the Army's land attack at Grand Gulf, and from then until the fall of Vicksburg in July, engaged Rebels at various landings to assist in the isolation of the city. Further operations during the summer and early fall took her back to the White River and up the Little Red River. In October, she shifted to the Tennessee; gained a brief respite at Cairo in November; then returned to the Tennessee for patrols into December. In February 1864, she resumed operations in the Yazoo area and in May was assigned to patrol between Natchez and Vicksburg. For the remainder of the Civil War, interrupted only by a run to the Ohio during the final weeks, Romeo patrolled in that area, and from there to the mouth of the Arkansas River.
In May, Romeo returned to Cairo, thence proceeded to Mound City where she was decommissioned on 30 June and was sold at public auction on 17 August 1865 to Nathaniel Williams."
One of the engagements that the Romeo was involved in was written about:
"Small steamers U.S.S. Romeo, commanded by Acting Master Thomas Baldwin, and U.S.S. Prairie Bird, commanded by Acting Master Thomas Burns, and transport steamer Empress engaged battery at Gaines Landing, Arkansas, on the Mississippi River which the Confederates had secretly wheeled into place. On 10 August, Empress had been attacked by the batteries, enduring a withering fire which disabled her and killed Captain John Molloy. Romeo closed, fired upon the Confederate guns, and towed Empress to safety. Next day, however, the Southerner's artillery again opened heavily on Prairie Bird which was passing the same point near Gaines Landing. Hearing the firing from upstream, Romeo came down and joined in the brisk engagement; the Confederates ultimately broke off the action and withdrew. All three ships were severely damaged in the two-day exchange, Empress alone taking some sixty-three hits."
In December of 1864, these were the officers on board the U.S.S. ROMEO:
"U.S.S. ROMEO - Acting Master Thomas Baldwin
Acting Ensign R. P. Shaw
Acting Ensign J. E. Ernst
Acting Master's Mate John Winram
Acting Master's Mate W. J. Franks
Acting Assistant Paymaster E. R. Moffatt
Acting 1st Assistant Engineer J. N. McCurdy
Acting 2nd Assistant Engineer W. E. Taylor
Acting 3rd Assistant Engineer William Teal"
In 1913, Edwin C. Silliam, another member of Co. C of the 86th who served beside Thomas' son, William J. Baldwin, wrote the following about Thomas Baldwin for the short book entitled EARLY DAYS IN HALLOCK AND ADJOINING TOWNSHIPS.
"A sturdy and eccentric character was found in Captain Thomas Baldwin, who owned a farm North of Northampton. He came from Pennsylvania to Illinois in 1844. He was a River man from early life. He was a '49er, and was chosen by Commodore Vanderbilt to superintend a line of boats to Greytown, Central America, with a salary of $10,000 a year in gold. The California excitement made that trade very valuable. Baldwin's vessel was once tied up at Greytown. The inhabitants of that country were ''niggers,'' and Baldwin did not appreciate them or their Government, and when a native insulted one of his crew, he immediately "caressed him with a club" or a stick of cordwood, sending him into "the drink," and close to "Kingdom come."
He was seized by the officials and thrown into prison, where he would have suffered severely, if an old Pennsylvania neighbor named Holland had not heard of it. Holland was commander of a U. S. man of war, and going to the officials, told them to "release Baldwin or he would blow their old town into smithereens in thirty minutes." Baldwin was released and boarded his vessel, losing no time in getting under way for New York, where he reported that his health was not very good in the Latitude of Central America, and resigned. He had only served ten mouths, but Vanderbilt paid him his full year's salary. Captain Holland, the friend, who saved him, was afterwards commander of a Confederate vessel during the Civil War.
William J. Baldwin, who married Jennie Scholes and was a member of Co. C., 86th Illinois, was his son. The Captain during the war commanded the gunboat Romeo, of the Mississippi fleet. He died in Peoria in 1879."
Then on the Baldwins...
Thomas Baldwin, died August 25, 1879 at 75 yrs
Letitia S. [Jackson] Baldwin, died December 30, 1898 at 83 yrs 7 mos 0 days
There is also a Jennie Baldwin who died March 31, 1889, but she is listed as 6 yrs 4 mos.
If I had had more time, I think I would have looked up some of these obituaries in the Peoria newspapers. I think Thomas Baldwin's could be a very intriguing one. Also, Dr. Henry T. Coffey's burial was also listed in Springdale, but no Fannie or Francis, the sister of Wm. Coffey died March 23, 1897 in Chicago at 69 yrs 29 days.
Letitia S. Jackson Baldwin (1815 - 1898)
Annis Perry Baldwin (1835 - 1851)*
Frances Baldwin Coffey (1837 - 1908)*
William J. Baldwin (1844 - 1920)*
Springdale Cemetery and Mausoleum
Plot: South Center Division
Created by: Baxter B. Fite III
Record added: May 21, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 70173706