Wood County man obtains ancestor’s Civil War medal
PARKERSBURG — A Wood County man went through the long process of obtaining the actual medal an ancestor was awarded for service in the Civil War.
Barron R. “Barry” Calebaugh of Valley Mills Road was encouraged to tell his story to the newspaper by Brian Kesterson of Parkersburg, a nationally known historian and writer about the Civil War.
Calebaugh is the great-great nephew on his mother’s side of John Barron, who enlisted in the Army on Sept. 16, 1861, in Parkersburg. He was made a corporal upon his enlistment in Co. G 6th W.Va. Infantry, which was unusual as most were enlisted as privates, Calebaugh said.
John Barron, while Company G 6th W.Va. Infantry was primarily responsible for guarding the railroad line through West Virginia and Maryland, fought at Fairmont, Big Bend, Weston, Bridgeport, Clarksburg, and Sutton, Cumberland, Md., and Bulltown.
He was taken prisoner at Webb’s Mill in the Macfarlan area on Hughes River in Ritchie County on May 7, 1863, at Cairo Station in Ritchie County by the Confederate Army, which pardoned him on the same day as his capture on the condition he not return to hostilities within 30 days, or he would be shot on the spot if captured again, Calebaugh said.
John Barron died Oct. 8, 1864, at the Union hospital on Avery Street in Parkersburg, which stands today, of typhoid pneumonia.
For his service he received the Medal for Liberty, awarded to soldiers who eventually died of their wounds or disease as a result of the war, Calebaugh said.
The search for the medal started with meeting Kesterson about five years ago, Calebaugh said. Kesterson recommended how to proceed with obtaining any medals through the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
The descendant had to prove beyond doubt of the familial connection, Calebaugh said. Geneaology reports were not valid, but death, birth and census records were, he said.
Calebaugh and his wife, Trisha, scoured death and birth certificates for the evidence. The link came with the death certificate of Joseph Barron, his great great grandfather and brother of John Barron, and filed by Joseph’s son, John E. Barron, who apparently was named after his late uncle.
“That was the lynch pin,” Calebaugh said.
The Calebaughs enjoy researching Civil War and family history and often browse antique stores. Trisha pushed Barry to complete the research for the medal.
“We enjoy it,” she said.
From the death certificate, they found the census records that linked Calebaugh to John Barron through Joseph’s son, John E., who was born in 1866 and was found in the 1870 census.
“It was a process to go through. It really was,” Calebaugh said.
Joseph Barron died in 1908.
Joseph Barron in 1862 fought at Petersburg, Strasburg, Mount Jackson and New Market, engaged the Stonewall Jackson Brigade several times in the Shenandoah Valley, at Cross Keys, Port Republic and Cedar Mountain in 1862, Bull Run in 1863, Chancellorsville, Va., in 1863 and Gettysburg where the battery was positioned on Cemetery Hill.
Three classes of medals are available, Class 1, 2 and 3, Kesterson said. Class 1 is for honorably discharged soldiers and Class 2 was for soldiers who died as a result of their wounds or disease, he said.
John Barron received a Class 2 medal.
Class 3 was for soldiers killed in action, Kesterson said.
Calebaugh’s great great grandfather on his father’s side, Norval Jackson Calebaugh, also served in the Civil War. He enlisted in the Army when he was 15 years old on Nov. 18, 1861, in Wheeling. He served in Co. G and Co. D in the 7th W.Va. Infantry under separate enlistments.
Norval was discharged on Jan. 3, 1864, and re-enlisted on Jan. 4, Calebaugh said.
He was eventually mustered out of the Army on July 1, 1865, at Munson’s Hill, Va.
Norval fought at Fredericksburg, the Shenandoah Valley and at Gettysburg where he saw President Abraham Lincoln at a railroad station there, Calebaugh said. At Devils Den at Gettysburg, Joseph saw how a troop of Confederate soldiers were trapped and cut down by rifle fire, according to a story he told to his granddaughter, Francis, Calebaugh said.
“It bothered him greatly,” Calebaugh said.
John and Joseph Barron were the sons of William Barron who settled in Wood County in the early 1850s, Calebaugh said.
The Barron property in the 19th century was hundreds of acres in the area of present-day Valley Mills Road and W.Va. 31 and was known as Barronsville.
Located in Barronsville was a cooper, a mill, a general store and an undertaker, generally operated by the Barron family, besides the farms, Calebaugh said.
Calebaugh and his brother, Kenneth Calebaugh of Williamstown, are the sixth generation on the home property. Calebaugh’s son, Barron A. Calebaugh, and grandson, Barron Ryan Calebaugh, who live on Old St. Marys Pike a short distance from the farm, are generations seven and eight.
Kesterson a week ago was reacquainted with Calebaugh a week ago when the two spent around four hours discussing and reviewing the history of his family and the significance of Barronsville during the war.
Because it was a place where people voted, Union troops would have camped and mustered there, Kesterson said. Calebaugh has a history of Barronsville written in the 1930s.
“I encourage him to re-print the history,” Kesterson said.