William Bishop Gravestone at Rosehill Cemetery, ChicagoROSEHILL CEMETERY, CHICAGO, CIVIL WAR PLOT
Gravestone of William Bishop
Company H

Gravestone of William Bishop in the early Civil War plot at Rosehill. The middle initial is wrong; it should be "H". Bishop was the first member of Company H to die after formation of the regiment and the first of the Port Byron, Illinois enlistees of the regiment to die. He was 20 years old when he died of measles at Camp Douglas on January 30, 1862, two weeks before the regiment left Chicago for "the war".


Gravestone of James Lindsay
Company B

Gravestone of James Lindsay in the early Civil War plot at Rosehill. Lindsay also died during the formation and training of the regiment at Camp Douglas. He was a 32-year-old farmer from Champaign at the time he enlisted on January 20, 1862. His tenure with the regiment therefore was of a deathly brevity.

James Lindsay Gravestone at Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago
James Lindsay Gravestone at Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago

Gravestone of Phillip Meyer (Muyer, Mayne)
Company G

There was no "Phillip Mayne" among Illinois' Civil War troops. In fact, there was no Phillip Mayne among the Federal troops altogether. The Chicago Tribune lists Phillip as "Phillip Meyer". The regimental records of the Fifty-First Illinois give his name as "Phillip Muyer". The 1860 census records find none of these names.

The stone in the picture is a replacement stone for the original. The spelling went awry somewhere—in the handwriting of the original record or from stone to stone.

Phillip was a 33-year-old carpenter at the time of his enrolling—unmarried and living in Chicago. Phillip's service record says he "died of fits January 18, 1862 at Camp Douglas ILL".

Grave of Rufus Lyon
Company C

Rufus Lyon died of disease at Camp Douglas, Illinois. His feverish struggle with death began early on, before he was mustered in, and he was barely considered a member of the regiment. When his 1862 grave was adorned with a new stone, the stone mistakenly put him in the Fifty-Eighth Illinois (not only did the Fifty-Eighth not have a Rufus Lyon, the whole Federal army did not have another Rufus Lyon except for the nearly forgotten man of the Fifty-First Illinois, whose service record ended with "the evidence is not sufficient to justify his recognition as having been in the U. S. service.").

Rufus Lyon Grave at Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago Rufus Lyon Grave at Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago
Though the Federal bureaucracy could barely find Rufus Lyon in its regulations and red tape, we have found out something about him besides where he is buried. His parents were Jacob and Elizabeth (Ely) Lyon. They were born in Virginia and married there in Smith County in 1832. Rufus' older brother Henderson was born in Virginia on October 1, 1835. Rufus was born on November 14, 1840; the Lyon family had migrated to the Midwest by then. Besides his older brother, Rufus had three younger sisters and one younger brother, the youngest born in 1852. Jacob, the father of the family, died on August 22, 1854, in Milford, Iroquois County, Illinois. Henderson was gone from home and support of the family fell largely to Rufus though his mother took in washing and did "any other work she could get". Rufus worked for neighboring farmers and contributed his ten to fifteen dollars a month to the Lyon family economy. In September 1861, ill fates gained the ascendency, and Rufus enlisted in the military company that Nathaniel Petts was recruiting out of Middleport, the Iroquois County county seat. In October Rufus left mother and siblings behind and went off to Camp Douglas south of Chicago, for training. Petts' company was formally mustered in to the Fifty-First Illinois on December 24, 1861. But Rufus himself was not mustered in—he had already started his long losing battle with typhoid fever, which ended in his death on March 11, 1862.

Photography by Cindi Lynn Geeze, Chicago