By David Fleet
Ortonville-Thomas Tucker was one of an estimated 2 million Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War. He was a local farmer and family man who endured the riggers of mid-19th century life in a rural southeastern Michigan.
However, through his daily writings etched in a small diary—Tucker left a unique mark that has not only endured more than 150 years but today continues to provide a glimpse of the not so glamorous day-by-day turmoil of the Civil War.
At 7 p.m., Nov. 14 the Brandon Township Library, 304 South St., will host Beverily Williams the grandniece of Thomas Tucker who will discuss her great uncle’s civil war diary along with his life.
“Personally I think it is perseverance, his honesty, his commitment, his determination, his loyalty, his hard work and his compassion,” said Williams. “And most of all he left a foot print of his life on others that has lasted for generations and the future generations to come through his writings.”
Tucker’s Civil War reflections, written more than 150 years ago are part of the day-to-day three year account recorded by the 17-year old Brandon Township youth. The original document was written in a record book with 400 numbered pages written on 8 inch by 13 inch sheets. In 1993 the diary was interpreted, edited (keeping original spelling and grammar) and published by the Tucker family.
Currently, the document is in the possession of Thomas’s grandson, John W. Tucker of Stockton Calif., along with additional memorabilia such as Tucker’s rifle, bayonet and accoutrement belt and the ‘Bullet Hole Letter.’ Tucker’s account of life after the war is continued in a diary of his occupation as a Brandon Township farmer, also in the book.
The son of farmers from Wedmore England, John and his wife Elizabeth Tucker. The Tucker Family of eight came to America and precisely Ortonville in 1854. Thomas was a mere boy of nine years old, his sister Mary was about 16, his sister Anna was about 15, his brother John was about 14, brother Robert was 12, sister Elizabeth was 5.
Williams will discuss the genealogy of the Tucker family and the farm life in Brandon Township before, during and after the Civil War. She will also share some of the items Tom brought back from his years in the Civil War.
“Exploring the life and times of Tom and the family is an American History story that’s very close to home,” added Williams.
June 16, 1864—Pvt. Tom Tucker on guard duty near Chattanooga reprinted from his diary.
“This evening, a little while ago, I walked out to where the prisoners are and a large percentage of them are young boys, 15 and 16 years old. Some of them are fine looking young fellows, black eyes and long curly hair. I talked with some of them and they did wish the war would end. Really, I felt sorry for the poor fellows, for they were ragged and some of them had no shoes.”