Baptists and the American Civil War: August 19, 1861

Illinois FlagToday, a father and son – both Baptists – enlist in Company B, Thirty-third Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

Marching off to war together, Edward T. Durant (born 1819) and son William E. (born 1843) serve the United States in its time of greatest need. Like many other soldiers, they are common folk: Edward is a farmer-turned-carpenter, while William is a young farmer. While brothers often serve together, father-and-son combinations are less common. Yet Edward and William take part in the same battles and skirmishes and face the same dangers, including fighting in the siege of Vicksburg in 1863.

Unlike many family members serving together, both survive the war. Edward is honorably discharged and mustered out on December 7, 1865. The following spring, he and wife Sallie Ann Whallon (born 1822) move to Kansas, where Edward plies his carpentry trade. Living out the remainder of his years in Kansas, Edward dies in Waterville in Marshall County in 1915 (Sallie Ann having died in 1896), his home since 1869. “He supported the principles of the republican party, belonged to the Masonic fraternity and was a faithful member of the Baptist Church.”

Meanwhile, immediately after the war son William attended school in Chicago prior to moving to Kansas to be with his parents. Marrying Lucretia Rhodes in 1869, for the remainder of his working life, William is employed primarily in flour mills. In addition, he becomes a public servant, holding the positions of city marshal of Clay Center and clerk of the District Court.

Source: William Elsey Connelley, A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, Vol. 3 (Chicago: Lewis Publishing, 1918), p. 1520.