Winfield Scott Douglas – Civil War Veteran and My Great-Grandfather
Winfield Scott Douglas was born in 1847 in Obion, Tennessee to John and Fariba (Dume). He was one of 7 children. 1850 U.S. Census records reflect that the family lived in Weakly, Tennessee and that Scott was 6 years old. This is the first discrepancy in records regarding his age. He was actually 3 years old in 1850.
1860 U.S. Census records reflect that the family lived in Duck Creek, Missouri and that Scott was 14 years old. The records indicate that the household included both parents, Scott, and his older sister, Francis. The youngest child of this family, George, was born in February 1850. He George is not listed in the 1860 Census, and because family historians have not found death records for George, it is believed that he remained behind in Tennessee with older siblings. Family oral history fills in the detail of the life of Winfield Scott Douglas between the 1860 Federal Census and the time that he enlisted in the Civil War.
In 1861, Fariba Douglas moved with two of her youngest children, Scott and Francis, from Missouri to Illinois in order to avoid being in a Confederate State during the Civil War. Fariba crossed the Mississippi River near Rockwood, Illinois on a flatboat, which was large enough to hold a dozen hogs. The family owned a few slaves, and she bravely smuggled the slaves with her, hiding them among the hogs. When the group reached Illinois, Fariba Douglas freed her slaves. She and her husband disagreed on the status of slavery and she left him behind in Missouri. She was 53 years old at this time. Fariba Douglas lived the remainder of her life near Chester, Illinois. (Fariba Douglas’ first name was actually Phoebe. It is spelled Feby in the 1860 Census. Winfield Scott Douglas named his youngest daughter Phoebe, after his mother.)
Winfield Scott Douglas ventured from Randolph County to Jackson County where he remained until he enlisted in the Illinois 81st Infantry on December 1, 1863. He was transferred to the Illinois 58th Infantry on January 1, 1864 and mustered out in Montgomery, Alabama on April 1, 1866. Winfield Scott Douglas had just turned 16 at the time of his enlistment, but he lied about his age in order to enlist. It is possible that at this time during the War, recruiters overlooked his age and allowed him to enlist. Family oral history reveals that originally, Winfield Scott Douglas served as a drummer, until he reached an appropriate age to serve as a soldier.
Winfield Scott Douglas returned to Jackson County, Illinois. In 1867, he married Mary Amine Ellis. They had four children before her death in 1875. In 1879, he married Margaret Ellen (Lindsey) Wolf, a widow of Philip Wolf who had died in 1869 from complications that had continued from a Civil War bullet wound that entered his back just under his lung and went through his body into his elbow. Winfield Scott Douglas and Margaret Ellen (Lindsey-Wolf) Douglas had one daughter, Phoebe.
Phoebe married Albert Raines and had 9 children; two died in childhood. Their 7th child, James L. Raines married Doris L. Schuster in 1940 and had a family of five including James, Kay, Gary, David and Debbie (me).
Winfield Scott Douglas remained in Jackson County and raised his family and worked his farm, which was located on the north side of Murphysboro. At the end of his life, he and Margaret lived in Murphysboro in the house ... shown in the above picture ... that still stands on what is now 4th Street. Scott and Margaret are show here with grandchildren in approximately 1910.
He died on July 2, 1913 and is buried in the Boucher Chapel Cemetery on Harrison Road in Murphysboro, Illinois.
Winfield Scott Douglas lived his life as a simple man, dedicated to his family. He was not distinguished in his military service, but was anxious to serve at his young age, because he shared his mother’s beliefs regarding the abolishment of slavery. He was a member of the Grant Army of the Republic. He was a dedicated follower of Civil War General John A. Logan (the creator of Memorial Day) and named his first child John Logan Douglas.