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The Families and Descendants of Valentine L. SPAWR

Valentine L. seems to have heard the same siren song as had his predecessors, for he moved south to Kansas in either 1858 or 1859. With his first wife, Irena Margaret (maiden name: Neighbarger) to whom he was married in early 1858 in McLean County, the couple produced four daughters: Elizabeth F. (1858-?), Clara Catherine (1859-1943), Ella M. (1862-?), and an as-yet unidentified daughter who apparently died sometime in 1863 (he writes of her serious illness in his Civil War diary, but there is no other record of this child). Recently discovered is a Furlough Application he filed with his Commanding Officer in 1863 to attend to a serious family illness; there is no currently-identifiable record whether or not the furlough was granted, or if granted, how long it lasted. He wrote in his diary that his wife had written in a letter that the child was not expected to live; more than this however, we just don't know.

It is clear, however that Valentine and Irena were in Kansas in November 1859, as this is where Clara was born. Kansas at this time was on the edge of frontier America, and land was not only plentiful and available, it was also cheap. It was also an incredibly violent and bloody place, known in that time as "Bloody Kansas" because of the political strife over state’s rights and slavery. Valentine's occupation was always listed as "carpenter" so it seems probable that he provided support to growing businesses, farmers, etc., building whatever carpenters could build at that time (e.g., houses, furniture, tools, sheds, barns, wagons, etc.).

The Civil War and the Post-War Years

The young SPAWR family remained in Kansas during the early years of the American Civil War; Valentine didn't enlist until the summer of 1863, and when he did so, he joined an Iowa infantry regiment, enlisting in Clarksville, IA. This regiment was formed from the counties around Clarksville, so it seems logical that he removed his family to Iowa, and left them with other family members while he went off to fight the war. He writes in the summer of 1863 that his wife had moved to Hudson, IL, possibly to be closer to her own parents to help with the children.

Valentine L. SPAWR was assigned to Company "C" of the 14th Regiment of Iowa Volunteer Infantry. Enlisting as a private, he rose in rank due to his popularity and efficiency. By the summer of 1863, he was Company C's flag bearer. Although this may sound like relatively simple duty, it was in fact very dangerous. In the military tactics of the day, the flag bearer was the center for massed attacking forces. In the confusion and smoke of battle, soldiers could always guide on the flag to know where to go; therefore, if enemy gunners could knock down the flag, they could often throw attacking troops into total disarray. Therefore, flag bearers had a very short life expectancy in actual combat (roughly similar to a fat mouse at a hungry cat convention).

Also consistent with military practice at the time, the "C" company of a regiment was often designated to be the "color guard" for the entire regiment; in fact, Valentine L. SPAWR was the color-bearer for the entire 14th Iowa Infantry Regiment. He saw extensive combat action all along the Mississippi River under General US Grant and his successors. As dangerous as his job was, he was apparently never wounded. Of considerable personal interest, Valentine SPAWR wrote in his diary in 1863 of the flag he carried during the war; that very flag is still on display in the rotunda of the Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, Iowa.

First Sergeant Valentine L. SPAWR was discharged from the 14th Iowa Infantry Regiment when the regiment was disbanded in November 1864. It is not clear what he did after his discharge, but it is clear that he was in Kansas in September 1870, as he is identified as one of the original trustees of the village of Neosho Falls, Woodson County, Kansas. Additionally, his parents sold their property in Clarksville, Iowa, in 1866 and moved to Neosho Falls. Peter SPAWR died on December 11, 1876, and is buried in Neosho Falls; Elizabeth died there in 1895, and is buried in the same cemetery.

Return to Illinois

Valentine and Irena, however, did not remain long in Kansas. He was apparently stricken with a serious lung ailment during his military service, probably tuberculosis. In papers filed in support of his Civil War pension, his sister writes that he was continually ill up until the time he moved back to Illinois in 1876. In 1877, Irena died, and was buried in the cemetery in Gilman, Illinois. For the next few years, Valentine lived with his three daughters, the girls apparently caring for him when he was too ill to work as a carpenter.

After 1880, it is not clear what became of Elizabeth SPAWR, although she did marry the brother of Clara's husband. After the early 1920's, there is virtually no record of her; and none of Ella after her father's death in 1882. Clara SPAWR's history is much clearer; for a more detailed look at Clara's life, click here.

This place in SPAWR history represents another departure from the single descent through Valentine L. SPAWR to the present day. The children of Valentine and Irena represent one branch of the SPAWR lineage; the children of Valentine and Lucena SPAWR, his second wife, represent the other branch. For a more detailed history of this line of SPAWRs through and including Valentine L. SPAWR's descendants today, click here.

To return to the SPAWR Family of American homepage, click here.