Today I will tell you about Rebecca Jane Evilsizer Bissett Zirkle. That's a mouthful, isn't it? Rebecca was my great-great-grandmother. Here's a visual so you know how she relates to you:
She was born 9 September 1840 in Johnson Township, Champaign County, Ohio, one of 11 children born to Esquire ("Squire") and Christina (Comer) Evilsizer. (A transcription of Ohio county birth records made by the Champaign County Genealogical Society indicates her birth year as 1840; however, her tombstone indicates 1842. Either year is possible, in those days birth records weren't kept and most people didn't really know how old they were.)
The Evilsizers were well known pioneers that came from Virginia to Mad River Township in Champaign County, OH, in 1815; and Squire and Christina were married 24 May, 1835 in Mad River Township.
They were farmers. In the 1850 census, the family was living in Johnson township, and Rebecca (age 10) is listed as living with her parents and her sister, Mary A Evilsizer, age 13; her brother, Solomon Evilsizer, age 12; another brother, Lewis Evilsizer, age 8; sister, Eliza Evilsizer, age 6; and twin brothers John and Isaac Evilsizer, aged 2. (She had a brother Jasper that was born 1837 and died shortly thereafter, he does not appear in the 1840 census.)
In 1860, Rebecca and her brother Solomon are listed as living in two places - first in June 1860 with Mary and James Dye in Concord Township, Miami County, OH; and second in July 1860 with her parents and siblings in Mad River Twp, Champaign, OH. Mary Dye is Mary Evilsizor, Rebecca's oldest sister. Her husband James Dye was also a farmer, and Rebecca is listed as a domestic servant and her brother Solomon as farm laborer. Perhaps Mary and James needed help on their farm, they had 3 small children at the time, and Squire and Christina had all their other children to help out.
Sometime while Rebecca was living with her sister's family, she meets a Railroad Engineer named Joseph Jeremiah Bissett. He was from Pennsylvania, and I imagine that he was dashing and exciting to a young Rebecca. They fall in love - or at least in lust! - because their son Joseph Calvin was born 13 May 1861 (or 1862 -- records indicate 1861, tombstone says 1862). Either way, Rebecca and Jeremiah were not married until 16 January 1862. Joseph Calvin Bissett was hardly 4 months premature! :)
"State of Ohio, Miami County: I certify that I have this day solemnized the marriage of Jeremiah Bissett with Rebecca Evilsizer, witness my hand this sixteenth day of January 1862. JJ Thompsen, Esq."
(I highly recommend reading this book for an in-depth look at what this regiment was going through during the war. It's a free ebook in Google books)
Jeremiah is buried at Hampton National Cemetery, Cemetery Road at Marshall Avenue, Hampton, VA 23669, Section E-H Site 1319. See here for photo of his headstone and of the cemetery.
Jeremiah left behind a widow and 2 young children, who at this point leave Pennsylvania to return to Rebecca's hometown and family in Mad River Township, Champaign, OH. It’s hard to say what happened to them, but likely Rebecca and her children lived with someone in her family, perhaps she went home and lived again with Squire and Christina.
On 4 October 1869, Rebecca marries Joshua Benton Zirkle. The Zirkles are another pioneering family in Mad River Township. I like to think that their similar backgrounds brought them together. Both families came from Virginia to Ohio. Maybe Squire knew Joshua's parents Noah and Lydia, maybe even Josh and Rebecca knew each other prior to her marriage to Jeremiah. Their family farms were not far from each other. Maybe Josh promised to take care of Rebecca and her children, and that is what she needed to hear at this time.
Either way, Josh, Rebecca, and her two children Joseph and Ida Belle are next found in 1870 living in Mad River Township, Champaign, OH and they also have with them Lydia Zirkle (Josh's mother), and Harvey and and Hannah Zirkle, Josh's two youngest siblings. The 1870 census is dated July 17, and on July 25 Rebecca gave birth to their first child, Rosa Minter Zirkle. I like to think that Josh's mom was living with them to help out with the family, because by 1880 she is living on her own with her son Harvey and her granddaughter Antoinette. Also by 1880, Rebecca and Josh have moved to German township, Clark County, OH, and their family has grown to include Sarah Viola, Mary Almeda (“Allie”) and Charles Bertram. They have also lost a son, Henry F., who only lived a year (1871-1872).
On 28 January, 1909, Rebecca Jane Evilsizor Zirkle passed away in this house. Cause of death was listed as “apoplexy” – probably a stroke. She was buried in Terre Haute cemetery, Champaign County, Ohio. You can see her grave here. There was a newspaper article:
|from Springfield Daily Times 30 January 1909|