William Alexander Secrest 1829 - 1901

Photo Courtesy of Beth McGowan

  William Alexander Secrest was the fifth of nine children born to Phillip and Mary (Sullivan) Secrest (Sechrist). Records indicate his birth place as Davidson County, North Carolina. He was born 5 June 1829. (He was my great great grandfather)

  Sometime around 1846, the family moved to Ray Township, Morgan County, Indiana. They lived about 1 3/4 miles north of the town of Paragon. On August 26, 1850, William, then 21, and a 23 year old local woman, Frances Laura (Franky) Warthen were joined together in marriage by Jacob Secrest.

  There were three children born in this marriage: a daughter, Mary C., in 1851; a son, William Alexander Secrest II, on 13 Aug 1852 (my great grandfather) ; a daughter, Malinda J. Secrest, circa 1854. William's wife, Franky passed away in March, 1854, possibly as a result of childbirth.

  On 17 Aug 1857 William and Harriet Stiles, age 25, are married by William Stout, a Justice of the Peace, in Martinsville, Morgan County, Indiana. They continue to live in the Paragon area and their first child, a boy named Perry, is born in Oct. 1858. Another son, Douglass A. is born, circa 1860, and a daughter, Telena Kansas [Candace, sp] is born, circa 1861.

  The War Between the States began in 1861 and William, now 33, decides to volunteer. His appearance is described on the muster sheet as being 6 feet 2 inches tall, with dark hair, blue eyes, and dark complexion.

  On 15 Aug 1862, he travels to Martinsville, Indiana, some 10 miles away, and enlists (22 Aug 1862) as a Corporal in Company H, 79th Infantry Regiment, Indiana Volunteers. The company travels to Indianapolis, Indiana and is mustered in on 27 Aug 1862. The regiment is then transported to Louisville, Kentucky in September, 1862 where they are attached to the 11th Brigade, 5th Division, Army of the Ohio.   Meanwhile, back in Paragon, Harriet has given birth to their fourth child, a boy named Warden. He was born 22 Aug 1862, the day of enlistment.

  William's unit was involved in the fierce fighting at Stone's River, near Murfreesboro, Tennessee where, on 2 Jan 1863, "he was wounded in battle in the left shoulder by gunshot, which caused the contraction of tendons, to stiffen of the fingers of his left hand, and the perishing away of the entire arm and hand." He was discharged from service 7 June 1863 (25 Sep 1863). After spending several weeks recovering in a field hospital near Murfreesboro, he arrived home in Morgan County, Indiana, 24 Mar 1864.

  William's wound disabled him and he applied for and received a pension from the Federal Government.

  During the next several years, other children were born to the couple: Lincoln, circa 1864; Mansa, circa 1869; Charles J., circa 1873; Thomas, circa 1878; Dollie, circa 1882; and Joseph W. F., 1888.

  In 1878, the family moved from Morgan County, Indiana to Martinsville, Clark County, Illinois, about 32 miles west of the Wabash River, on the Old National Road. Here they remained until William died on 9 April 1901, just short of his 72nd birthday. Records indicate he and Harriet lived in Laffertys Addition to Martinsville, Ill. Later, after William's death, Harriet lived in South Bend in northern Indiana. She apparently died there sometime around January 1927, at the age of 95.

Two younger brothers of William Alexander Secrest served in his company: Corkus Parker Secrest and Pleasant Secrest. Both men enlisted on 15 Aug 1862.

Corkus enlisted as a musician. He died 25 Aug 1863, in a military hospital in Nashville, TN.

Pleasant was also sent to a military hospital in Nashville, TN. He was then sent to Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis and discharged from the Army, 24 Aug 1863. He died at home a few weeks later from chronic diarrhea.

My thanks goes to Jim and Melinda Emerson and to Melinda's father, Jack Hathaway, for providing much of this information. Records were obtained from various Federal Census and the National Archives. John H. Ross, Feb. 2000. Information also provided by Dani

79th Indiana Volunteers Battle Flag

Note written by William A. Secrest, 1889 Courtesy of Beth McGowan
















Jesse Sepe Sechrist 1816-1899

Jesse Sepe Sechrist

Photo Courtesy of Dani


  Jesse Sepe Sechrist was the first of nine children born to Philip and Mary (Sullivan) Secrest (Sechrist). Records indicate his birth place as Davidson or Rowan County, North Carolina. He was born 5 July 1816. He and his first wife, Mary Owens Sechrist, had 12 children. Jesse and his family remained in North Carolina while his parents, Philip and Mary and their family, moved to Indiana, sometime around 1850.

  Jesse's occupation was carpenter and farmer. He married Mary Owens in 1838. He was taken from his farm to work as a carpenter for the Confederacy, leaving his 12 year old son, William Harrison, to manage the family farm with his mother.

  Jesse Sechrist died in North Carolina, 26 October 1899. He was the brother of my great, great grand father, William Alexander Secrest I.

Data Courtesy of Dani