Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hometown Hero: Henry Rhodes, Co. G, 114th USCI

Not all of the former USCT soldiers that are buried in Greenhill Cemetery here in Frankfort were slaves before enlisting in the Union army. Private Henry Rhodes's service records indicate that he was a free man previous to his service. I was unable to locate Rhodes in the 1860 census, but it is possible that he was either missed by the census taker or gained his freedom between 1860 and his enlistment on May 31, 1864. Another possibility is that considered himself free when he went off to the army and thus claimed that status to the enrollment officer.  

Regardless of Rhodes's pre-enlistment status he stated upon signing up that he was born in Boyle County, and was 20 years old. He was listed at five feet four inches tall and was likely among those that first made their way to Camp Nelson. 

A great deal of Rhodes's time in the army was spent in various hospitals. A number of his service cards show that he was absent sick in hospitals at Point of Rocks, Virginia (near Petersburg), Portsmouth, Virginia, and Fort Monroe, Virginia. Rhodes also spend detached duty time at Fort Wood, Bedloe's Island, New York Harbor and as company cook before being mustered out at Brazos Santiago, Texas in April, 1867. 

It appears that Rhodes came back to Kentucky soon after his service was over. There is a Henry Rhodes listed in Lexington's Fourth Ward in the 1870 census and was noted as a 26 year old laborer. He was living with a Jacob Rhodes, a 60 year old laborer, and a Mitty Douglas, a 55 year old housekeeper. Was Jacob Rhodes Henry's father?

In 1880, Henry lived in Frankfort and is indicated as a 35 year old saw mill worker.  He lived with his wife Amanda, a 35 year old laundress, daughter Julia, a 17 year old laundress, son Cary, a seven year old, daughter Margaret, a five year old, and son Samuel, a one year old infant. It is possible that Julia was Amanda's daughter from a previous relationship, since she was 17 and neither her or Amanda appear on the 1870 census with Henry.

Henry Rhodes disappears from the record after the 1880 census, but Amanda continued to show up in later census records. In 1920, Amanda is listed as a 75 year old widow. She was living with a son Archie, a 38 year old widower.  Also in the household was Julia, but now she was married with the last Dotson and apparently her husband, 40 year old Boram Dotson.

Amanda is listed again in 1930 as an 80 year old. Archie is shown as 40, Julia, 50 and divorced. Amanda owned her home, which was valued at $700. Amanda died in 1934. On her death certificate her father and mother, both who were likely slaves, were Jacob and Matilda Tuggles.

Henry Rhodes served his country not to free himself, as he was already free. He fought to free others that were enslaved, and possibly to ensure he was never subjected to the institution. He fulfilled his military obligations despite sickness and travels far far from home. That alone gains my respect and admiration.

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