John Grove Honeywell




Thanks to the efforts of Baxter B. Fite III we located the unmarked grave of Civil War Veteran, John Grove Honeywell at the Layton Township Cemetery at Walnut.  Baxter is attempting to locate the burial sites of all 992 soldiers who served in the 86th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War.  You can see the results of his work at He has found most of the places of burial and has created 102 virtual cemeteries with photos and very much information.  It is an amazing project!


If you would like to see Baxter’s work, you need to create a free account at  Then, when logged in, go to Contributor tools and under Customize and My Find A Grave Friends, click Edit, then click Find members and enter Baxter Fite.  Find A Grave is a wonderful, free website where you can request photos of gravestones or submit photos.


On March 26, 2011, Baxter sent an email to the Walnut Genealogy Society asking if John G. Honeywell and his mother, Athaliah, were buried here.  He said John had served in Co. E of the 86th Illinois Infantry in the Civil War.  Athaliah Honeywell was known to have resided at 401 Highland Street in Walnut, Iowa for at least the last five years of her life.  She died in her home on December 8, 1888.  He also asked if we could find her obituary on microfilm of the newspapers and if other Honeywells were buried here.


This was intriguing to me, as my great-grandparents had lived at 401 Highland St. for many years.  We featured the house in our Antique City Roots Vol. 7, Issue 4.  In our property records, we saw that Honeywells owned lots 15 – 18 in block 17 of Walnut from 1876 until 1894.


We had a nice obit for Athaliah M. Honeywell, aged 70 years, 6 months and 3 days.  She was born in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and in early life moved to Springfield, Ohio, where she grew to womanhood, and where she met and married William S. Honeywell on September 28, 1843.  In 1849 they moved to Michigan and later to Illinois, from where, in 1872, they moved to Walnut, which became their permanent home.  Five children blessed their marriage, four sons and a daughter, the latter dying in childhood.

The immediate cause of her death was taking indelible ink through a mistake on the 2nd day of December.


Checking our cemetery index and the tombstone, we found Athaliah M. GROVE, wife of William S. HONEYWELL, 5 June 1818, born at Lewisburg, Penn, Gone to rest, 8 Dec 1888.  On the same stone is William S. HONEYWELL, Born 10 Nov 1821, at Wilksbarrie, Lauzerne Co., Pa., Died 22 Oct. 1901.  Next to their stone is Francis B., wife of J. G. HONEYWELL, Died 8 Mar 1889, Aged 37Y 2M 21D.  [Note that the correct spelling is Frances.]


The obit of Frances called her only Mrs. John Honeywell and said that she left a husband and four children.  Her funeral was in the M. E. Church.


William’s obituary was also very short, saying Wm. S. Honneywell [Note 2 n’s] remains were brought from Harlan, where he had lived many years and interred in the family lot in the Walnut cemetery.  He was formerly a prominent farmer of this vicinity.


A better obit was found for John Garve [should be Grove, his mother’s maiden name] Honeywell, but strangely, it does not mention any of his three marriages.  It states that he was born in Ohio on Sept. 12, 1844 and passed away Mon., May 18, 1925 at Mercy Hospital in Davenport, Iowa, at the age of 80 years, 8 months and 6 days.  He was a former resident of Walnut and had made his home at Davenport during the past 5 years.  He served during the Civil War in the 89th [should be 86th] Illinois regiment and was a member of the G. A. R. at Oakland, California and a member of the Church of God.  Surviving were a brother, King F. Honeywell of Davenport, Ia., and 4 children, Mrs. A. A. Brooks and Mrs. Fanny Goetchell, of Oakland Cal., William R. and Leroy G. Honeywell of Brewster, Nebr.


Jim witched the Honeywell lot and found four burials.  There was an unmarked grave next to Frances Honeywell, wife of John G.  It just had to be the missing Civil War soldier.


Baxter Fite and I searched for and found many census records of the Honeywell family.  I recalled a visit to our genealogy room by Ken and Vi Butler of Elm Creek, Nebraska and that they were looking for Honeywell information.  I contacted them and they have provided information that we would not have found.  Ken is a grandson of Leroy, son of John G. Honeywell.


The name Honeywell stood out to me when I was reading an article in the Harlan Tribune newspaper.  There were photos of Tom and Pat Honeywell and their Pryor House Bed and Breakfast in Shelby, Iowa.  We had to call to see if he was related!  He brought a book, The Descendants of Roger and Ambrose Hunnewell (Honeywell), by James M. Hunnewell, which was published in 1972 by Samuel Willet Honeywell.  According to the book, Tom is a 3rd cousin twice removed from John Grove Honeywell.  Tom’s grandfather was also a John Honeywell, as is a brother, both from Persia, Iowa.  The book traces John G.’s line back through 7 more generations of American citizens.


John G. Honeywell, son of William S. Honeywell and Athaliah M. Grove Honeywell, was the oldest of 5 children:  John G., b. Sep. 12, 1844, Summit County, OH; William R., b. Mar. 27, 1847, Randolph, OH; Wallace B., b. Sep. 8, 1848, Suffield, OH; King S., b. Nov. 2, 1851, Charlotte, MI; and Amanda A., b. Jul. 10, 1856, Lawn Ridge, IL.


The Honeywell family lived in Ohio, in Michigan, and in Illinois, where John enlisted in August, 1861 in the 47th Illinois Infantry and served for two months.  On Aug. 13, 1862, he re-enlisted in the 86th Illinois Infantry.  John was 18, single, 5’ 9 1/4” tall, had blue eyes and a sandy complexion.  He gave his place of residence as Whitefield Township, Marshall County, Illinois. John served until he was mustered out on June 6, 1865 in Washington D.C.


Orlando Fountain, a well-known local farmer raised a company for service in the Union Army.  About 100 volunteers from Marshall County marched approximately 40 miles to Camp Lyon near Peoria, ILL.  This group, including John G., was mustered in on Aug. 27, 1862 as Company E of the 86th Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry.  On September 7, 1862, the men of the 85th & 86th Illinois marched out of the gates of Camp Lyon, with much fanfare, through the streets of Peoria to the railroad depot, where they boarded a train bound for Camp Joe Holt in Jeffersonville, Indiana, across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky. Three weeks later the men of the 85th & 86th Illinois were in the field in Kentucky as part of Colonel Daniel McCook’s Brigade in pursuit of Confederate troops.


On Oct. 8, 1862, the men of McCook’s Brigade were engaged with those Confederate troops in the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, suffering their first casualties. There would be many more in the next few years. After the Battle of Perryville, the Confederate troops withdrew from Kentucky and the men of McCook’s Brigade marched on to Nashville, Tennessee, where they would go into winter camp.


During the next two and a half years, Private John G. Honeywell served faithfully in Co. E as the men of the 86th served in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina. During this time, John was witness to and a participant in numerous battles and skirmishes, some of the bloodiest fighting in the Western Theatre of the war, including the Battles of Chickamauga, Georgia; Resaca, Georgia; Rome, Georgia; Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia; Peach Tree Creek, Georgia; Jonesboro, Georgia; Averasboro, North Carolina; and Bentonville, North Carolina, to name a few and marched with “Sherman to the Sea.”  On June 6, 1865, Private John G. Honeywell was with the surviving members of the 86th Illinois when they were mustered out of service on June 6, 1865 at Washington, D.C. He then, with the surviving members of Co. E, returned to his home in Marshall County.


After the war, John attended the Northern University at Henry, IL for one year and then began farming.  He married Frances B. Parker in La Salle, County, IL, March 29, 1868, according to the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index.  Frances was born in Woodford County, IL, the daughter of James and Achsah Parker.  In Minonk, Woodford in the 1860 Census were James Parker, Jr., Achsa, Frances – 8, Lewis, Elizabeth, Leona, Wm. B. and Oliver.  The next family in the census was James Parker, Sr. and Frances.  Also on that page were Martin Parker, Lydia, Frank, Catherine and Frederick.


Six children were born to John and Frances Honeywell:  Reuben, b. 1868/9 in IL; Athaliah, b. July 23, 1874 in Walnut, Iowa; John G., b. Aug. 30, 1876 in Iowa; Fannie B., b. Feb. 18, 1878 in Walnut, Iowa; Leroy Garfield, b. March 14, 1879 in Hastings, NE; and William R., b. unknown.  Reuben, age 1, was listed with John G., Frances B. and William R., John’s brother, in the 1870 Census in Lawn Ridge, Valley, Stark, Illinois.


Sometime between 1870 and 1874, the family moved to Walnut, Iowa.  In 1880, John’s brother William and his wife, Mary, were in Layton Township, Pottawattamie County, Iowa.  I found that their son, George, was born on August 23, 1880 to William R. and Mary Hilly.  He died on December 23, 1881 and is buried in the Walnut Cemetery.  In the 1900 Census at Harlan, Iowa, Mary and Wm. R. had been married for 22 years.  She was the mother of one child and none living.


In 1880, another of John’s brothers, Wallace, was in Walnut with his wife, Lawra, Phil Sherider, 4, Athaliah, 2, and his father, William, 59.  In 1900, Wallace B., 51; Laura, 42; Harry, Clarence, Frank, Olive V., and Vermer were at Logan, Harrison County, Iowa.  Laura was the mother of 10, with 7 living.  I don’t know where the 3 children were buried, but found 2 short obits.  “A little child of Mr. – Honeywell’s was buried Tuesday.  It had recovered from scarlet fever and suffered a relapse, we understand.”  (The Walnut Bureau, Thursday, April 28, 1881)  “Wall Honeywell buried his youngest child Sunday, making the third within the space of three weeks.”  (The Walnut Bureau, May 26, 1881)


John Honeywells were found near Martinsville, Hall County, NE in 1880 as farmers.  Listed were John, 35; Francis, 28; Athaliah, 5; John, 4; Fannie, 2; Roy, 2M; and Athaliah, 62, John’s mother.  Reuben was likely deceased by 1880.


In October 1881, John Honeywell purchased the Hansen Hotel in Hansen, NE and the family moved again.  A local history in Nebraska stated that, “He has a good barn and livery attached to the hotel, and accommodation for thirty guests.”  It also said they were proprietors for a number of years.  Sometime in the 1880’s, it is believed that John and Frances returned to Iowa, where they took up residence in Walnut.  It is most likely in or near Walnut that Frances B. Honeywell died on March 8, 1889.


On Feb. 4, 1899, John, age 55, married Abbie Knight Davis in Harlan, Iowa.  Her father was James Berry and her mother was Elizabeth Halsell (not certain of the spelling.)  Abbie was born in New Orleans, LA; place of residence at the time of the marriage application was Cambridge, Mass.  She was 58 and it was her 2nd marriage.  Her first marriage was likely to Charles H. Davis.  In 1880, he was 50, Abbie K. was 40, Fred H. was 18, Wm. F. was 14, Melville C. was 8 and Charles E. was 7.  They were in South Boston, Suffolk County, Mass.


The 1905, 1910 and 1915 censuses show John and Abbie living in Harlan.  Abbie died Nov. 22, 1915 at the age of 75 years, 2 months and 19 days and is buried in Brewster, Nebraska.  John moved to Davenport, Iowa in about 1920 and lived with his brother King.


When John married for the third time, he was 77 years old.  The newspaper article sent by Vi Butler called him the oldest bridegroom of the year.  He married Mrs. Marie Nesham, 64 years old, at the home of her daughter in Davenport, Iowa on Feb. 4, 1922.  That may have been an easy date for him to remember, as it was the day that he married Abbie Davis.  Nonetheless, John and Marie were divorced in Nov. 1923. The article about the wedding mentioned that John had been a Justice of the Peace in Doniphan, NE for 15 years. That is very near to Hansen, NE, but we have not been able to verify this information.


When I heard about Mrs. Marie Nesham, I immediately checked and was delighted to find a photo of her and of her tombstone.  She was born in July, 1858 in Illinois and died June 5, 1933.  Marie Evaline “Eva” Wilkinson Nesham is buried at Oakdale Memorial Gardens in Davenport.  I contacted Terry Lee, a great-grandson of Marie, who had submitted the info to findagrave, but he didn’t know any more about John Honeywell.  I found that Marie E., mother, 62, widowed, was living with her son Charlie Nesham, Blanch, May, and Charles in Davenport in 1920.


The 1925 Iowa Census showed John Honeywell, 80, owning a house worth $1200 at 2107 Lombard Street, which is now West Lombard in Davenport.  His brother King, 73, was living with him and both were divorced and both were employed, engaged in manufacture and mechanical work.


John died on May 18, 1925 in Davenport, Iowa.  After services there, his brother King accompanied the body to Walnut for services and burial on May 21 next to his first wife, Frances.  Our post records for J. A. Dix Post #408 at Walnut include the name of John Honeywell.


After much time and effort, we have finally received John Grove Honeywell’s Civil War memorial tombstone from the Veteran’s Administration and set a date for its dedication.


Jim Hansen has attended a meeting of the Iowa Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in Atlantic.  Their reenactors will be assisted by the American Legion of Walnut in dedicating John’s stone on May 19, 2012 at 2 p.m. at the gravesite.  It is on the south side of the road at the top of the hill.  We hope for a good day and a great attendance to honor this Civil War veteran.  Family members are planning to attend and Baxter Fite hopes to come.


It is so appropriate that we will be honoring John during the sesquicentennial, 2011 – 2015, of the American Civil War, 1861 – 1865.  The dedication will be held 87 years and 1 day after John Grove Honeywell’s death.


[I especially want to thank Baxter B. Fite III, Vi and Ken Butler and Tom Honeywell for all of the information that they have provided on the Honeywell family.]