Cowell, Solon Benson, Cpt. – Co. A [Vernon Greys], 9th IN Home Guard

Company A [Vernon Greys], Indiana Legion, 9th Regiment [aka] Indiana ‘Home Guard’

Lt-CaptSolonBCowell-CWPortraitSolon Benson Cowell was born on 2 Aug 1830, in Vernon, Jennings County, Indiana. He was a son of Joseph Cowell (b. 17 Apr 1793 NY; d. 25 Jun 1873, buried Vernon IN) and wife Susan (b. ca 1794 NY; d. 29 May 1856, buried Vernon, IN). Solon was the oldest child of four in the 1850 household; but his 1913 obituary states he was the “last” [surviving] of twelve children.

According to his obituary [of which, parts will be included in italics in this mini-biography]: “. . . He grew up [in Vernon] and learned the harness and saddlery trade and established a business there. In 18[57] he, with a party of seventeen persons from Indiana, started for Kansas, and at St. Louis, Mo., met our old citizen, J. B. Hobson. They came up the river by boat and landed at Leavenworth. Coming to Miami-co., the company purchased 320 acres of land and located the town site of Stanton. There were seven or eight houses on the town site.”

“Owing to the turbulent times on the eastern Kansas border, the town did not advance, and Mr. Cowell returned to Indiana. He was married at New Marlborough, Berkshire-co., Massachusetts, in 185[9] to Miss Mary Sisson. They went to housekeeping at Vernon and he continued in the harness business there until 1869, when disposing of his business he returned with his family to this county, living on a farm in Stanton-twp. In 1880 he purchased a harness business in Paola and afterwards with his son purchased the J. A. DeBerry harness establishment and continuously engaged in that business until three years ago.”

” During the civil war he was captain and drill master of a company of home guards at Vernon, Indiana, but was never mustered into the regular service.

Between 17 and 25 July 1862, the 9th Regiment of the Indiana Legion was organized in Indianapolis IN; this unit included Captain Solon B. Cowell. The Legion is an interesting part of Indiana’s Civil War participation. Here is a partial description, taken from “The Union army; a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 — records of the regiments in the Union army — cyclopedia of battles — memoirs of commanders and soldiers ” by Federal Publishing Company, 1908Volume 3, Page 207:
    The Indiana Legion.

“—Under the special act of May 11, 1861, an organization to be known as the “Indiana Legion” was authorized. The purposes of this organization were to protect the state from invasion and to aid in recruiting and enforcing the laws … Companies were raised in almost every county in the state, and these were organized into regiments and brigades, though the organization was never fully perfected according to the original intentions of the act, which divided the state into brigade districts—the 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th and 9th [9th from Jennings Co] brigades to constitute the 1st division [of 2]…Twelve regiments or legions were formed bearing the numbers from 1—12, chiefly in the southern part of the state where the danger from invasion was greatest, though partial regimental formations were effected in nearly every Congressional district. The companies forming this organization were generally known as ‘Home Guards.’ Their chief service was during the Morgan raid in the summer of 1863, and in guarding prisoners of war at Indianapolis and … other points in the state.”     <>CW-Swords-etc_SolonBCowell

In a History of the 9th REGIMENT (JENNINGS), 3rd BRIGADE – 1st DIVISION INDIANA LEGION [aka:] THE HOME GUARD of JENNINGS COUNTY” 1861-1865 <> , one finds this tidbit of history specific to the Vernon Greys and its leader: Captain Solon B Cowell:
“From July 17 through August 26, 1862, our Regiment guarded Confederate Prisoners of War at Camp Morton. According to the Adjutant General Report Volume No. 8, 650 men promptly responded. The Regiment consisted of ten companies at this time: [including] Captain Solon B. Cowell’s Vernon Greys (Vernon) . . .”
This History of the 9th also has a Roster of Company A “Vernon Greys” in July 1862, headed by:
“Captain — Solon B Cowell”
Interesting, too, is that the 2nd ranking officer/1st Lieutenant on this Roster is another “Solon B” from Vernon: Solon B Campbell. One might think they were the same man, with a misspelled surname; but not so. Solon Campbell was 10 years younger than the Captain in the 1850 census, when each is found with his respective – and different – [probable] parents!

Continuing from the obituary, “Mr. Cowell was a man of high character. He was reliable and truthful and everyone had the utmost confidence in him. Last week, on talking with his daughter, he remarked that he was fast nearing the end, but was always prepared to go, that he never told a lie or took the name of God in vain. For — years he was continually a member of the Baptist church, and since his residence here he was a deacon of the church and one of the most active members. He was a member of the Odd Fellows for sixty-one and a half years, and with the exception of J. G. Yester was the oldest member in the Paola lodge.”

S. B. Cowell, known to all the old settlers of Miami-co. for a generation and to those who have come here in recent years, died Thursday afternoon, March 6, 1913, at the home of his son, Joseph B Cowell, 303 south Pearl street. His health had gradually declined for five years, and three years ago he gave up work entirely, but frequently was able to be at the harness shop with his son until the first of [this] year. His death was the result of a general decline and uraemic poisoning.”

He is survived by three daughters and one son, Mrs. Lottie Neilson, wife of Charles Neilson, and Mrs. Susan Jaerger [sic] of Los Angeles, California, Miss Flora Cowell of Chicago, and Joseph B. Cowell of Paola, also a grand-daughter and three grand-sons.” Joseph is the child from whom the line descends to the member of Laura Belle Stoddard Tent 22, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865.

Solon “was the last of his generation of twelve children.  . . . In the absence of Rev. R. J. Church, pastor of the Baptist church, the funeral services were conducted by Rev. Charles T. Wheeler, and were held from the residence Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock. The services were in charge of the Odd Fellows and were very largely attended. The remains were buried in the Paola cemetery.

[Sources: all accessed in May 2015

  • Family information.
    • databases, esp Census: 1830-1910; Find-a-Grave Index; and Civil War databases.
  • databases, exp Indiana, Kansas, and Massachusetts







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