Wednesday, August 24, 2016

J. S. Hurlburt (attempts to identify him through references)

J.S. Hurlburt, author of the Rebellion in Bradley County, East Tennessee... Who Was He?

J. S. Hurlburt was the author of an 1866 book about the Civil War in East Tennessee, specifically in Cleveland, Tennessee, and surrounding areas. The book is strongly biased toward the Union and details abuses of local Unionists by Confederates. It is part documentary and part tinged with the dramatic style of "yellow journalism" so popular in the 19th century. It also gives specific accounts, some very detailed, of events that happened in and around Cleveland, Tennessee, which are not available elsewhere.

This is a link to his book (digital image, interactive, at
History of the Rebellion in Bradley County, East Tennessee
by J.S. Hurlburt

J.S. Hurlburt, History of the Rebellion in Bradley County, East Tennessee, (J.S. Hurlburt: Indianapolis, 1866).

In a later reprint of the book (or in some other reference), an editor called into question the identity of the author as J.S. Hurlburt. I wondered why the comment was made, and what the evidence was. I began to look for ways to identify Hurlburt, if that was not a pseudonym.

In the preface of Hurlburt's book, the author alludes to another project, A History of the 9th Indiana, which he had hoped to published, but could not raise enough money through subscriptions. He hoped, by publishing the Bradley County book, to raise money for that other project. I did find some documents related to that other project (which never came off, apparently, as there seems to be no History of the 9th Indiana Infantry). Hurlburt wrote to General Robert H. Milroy, detailing his plan for the book; and he published a Prospectus, trying to get subscribers. I am providing links to those documents (at Jasper County Public Library).

Letter to Gen. Milroy: Hurlburt's Earlier Book Proposal: History of the 9th Indiana

J.S. Hurlburt's 1863 book proposal for a History of the 9th Indiana [Infantry] Regiment (with links to the document object (interactive image of the letter) and transcript (text) on Jasper County Public Library site for Jasper County, Indiana.


J. S. Hurlburt had planned to publish a history of the 9th Indiana [Infantry, as commanded by Robert H. Milroy]. He had even written a letter to General R.H. Milroy, regarding costs and publication details, in a letter dated September 24, 1863. Apparently, the men of the 9th Regiment, Indiana, started planning this history of the regiment before the war was even over. At the time of this letter, J.S. Hurlburt, the author of it, is actually on his way back to the regiment, where he will remain for two months. He is asking General Milroy for a photograph (of the general) to put in the book.

To that end, Hurlburt describes the project, mentioning specific costs. He plans to take the writing up to the regiment's current engagements ("perhaps the close of the Winchester affair"), and take up the story again (subsequent actions) in volume two. He mentions also an engraving of Cravens, and discusses the qualities of stone and steel engravings, so he does appear to be getting information from a printer.

Hurlburt states that the regimental officers have donated funds ($81) to purchase the steel engraving of the general's likeness for an engraved illustration to be used as a frontispiece to the book, and that the regiment has put down $600 to publish the first volume. He describes the plan for the size, style, and format of the intended book.

Description: Digital image (document object) of a handwritten letter; 1 sheet, double folded, 4 sides of writing; white stationery with light blue lines. Below is a link to the letter, as presented on the Jasper County Public Library site, which also has a text transcript of it:

Web page: "History of the 9th Indiana Infantry Regiment and J. S. Hurlburt"

History of the 9th Indiana Infantry Regiment and j. s. hurlburt
Rights: This item is owned by the Jasper County Public Library. Permission to publish or reproduce this item is required and must be obtained from the Director of the Jasper County Public Library, Rensselaer, Indiana. Please visit for more information.
Identifier: RHM_1863-162_d.jpg [IMAGE PDF RHM_1863-162_a ]

Flyer: Prospectus for Hurlburt's Book

Jasper County Public Library also has an image and transcription of a flyer, entitled "Prospectus. To a forthcoming History of the Ninth Regiment Indiana Volunteers" and signed "J.S. Hurlburt." He gives his address as Michigan City, Indiana (which is in Laporte County). In this source, Hurlburt says that he travelled with the 9th Indiana (implying that he was not actually an officer or soldier in the regiment).

The flyer describes the Civil War and background, and importance of keeping the history. The article says, "We propose, accordidgly, to write the History of the Ninth Indian Regiment...." It goes on to list plans and features, with eleven numbered articles or sections, of a paragraph or more each, listing his detailed plan for the regimental history (which never was published and may not have been written, unfortunately). Here are a few selected features:

  "1st. The Work is to embrace a complete History of the Ninth during the three months service, beginning with its organization, under Col. Milroy, (now Major General,) at Camp Morton, and giving, in sufficient detail, an account of everything of interest in relation to the Regiment, its marches and skirmishes, all the particulars of the sick, killed and wounded, a brief statement..." (it goes on; in other words, a full, detailed history)

  "2d. The narrative will be taken up and continued..."

  "3d. Perhaps the most novel...a biographical sketch of the life of every private in the Regiment, who becomes a subscriber to the book. The full name, age, birth and birth-place, parentage, enlistment in the army..."

The flyer continues. He has eleven articles. It is a full page of small-font text, like an encyclopedia or newsletter page. At the bottom, in the text, it has:
   "At the present advanced rates of publication, the subscription price cannot be fixed at less than $4 per volume.
   "Address at Michigan City, Indiana.
   "J. S. Hurlburt." (name in big, bold capitals).

There is then a small space for "Names" (prob. subscribers).

Title: To Ind 9th Regt From JS Hurlburt Date Unknown
Description: A flier advertising a work that Hurlburt proposes to write on the history of the 9th Indiana, a history of Indiana troops in the war, and a history of the war itself.
Creator: Hurlburt, J. S.
Military Units: Indiana Infantry Regiment, 9th (1861-1865)
Owner: Jasper County Public Library:
Long URL:

Not found on published roster.
Hurlburt does not claim to have been a soldier in the 9th Infantry. He just says that he travelled with the regiment. However, I decided to do a search of the roster of that regiment, anyway. Not surprisingly, it turned up negative. There is a James Humbert, Jr., is present (Co. E, Allen County), but that is not the same surname at all, just similar.

Possible Relevance: References to J. S. Hurlburt, which may or may not relate to our subject.

J.S. Hulburt, of Laporte, Indiana, in FamilySearch.
Different surname spelling (and we don't actually know our subject's age or birth place): J.S. Hulburt of right era in Laporte, Indiana (which is the same place as the address given on the flyer was printed--Michigan City is in Laporte). However, haven't found him in other census records yet.

FamilySearch (but free account and login are required).
To view the individual's ID page requires a FamilySearch log-in:

J.S. Hulburt in U.S. Census, 1860, Laporte, Indiana (FS acct. and login required)

Here is mention that may or may not refer to the same J.S. Hurlburt:

Reference to J.S. Hurlburt, a former journeyman, in Biennial Report (1888)
Not known if this is the same J.S. Hurlburt, but it is only 22 years after the date that his book was published, so it could be him. 

"Paperhanger, Milwaukee--Dissolve all unions. I was a journeyman for thirty years; never struck for higher wages; always got the best work by working for the interest of my employers. I do not believe in organizations, because they compel a man to pay more than his business will allow.--(J.S. Hurlburt."

Frank A. Flower, Commissioner, et al. Third Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics: Wisconsin, 1887-1888 ("Biennial Report"). (Madison: Democrat Printing Co., State Printers, 1888), 58. 

Similar name found in:
History of Ionia County, Michigan: Her People, Industries and Institutions

There is nothing to say the following reference is to Hurlburt, or to any relation of his. However, the reference is to an early pioneer of Michigan, and some Michigan regiments were stationed in and around Cleveland, Tennessee, for some months in the spring of 1864. In this source, one "James Hurlbut" is mentioned as one of the officials chosen at the first township meeting in Cass Township (April 2, 1838). He was among the men chosen as constables (70). It think it might be relevant, or at least, is worth keeping, just in case:

E. E. Branch, "Berlin Township" (Chapter 3), History of Ionia County, Michigan: Her People, Industries and Institutions,  70.

E. E. Branch, ed., History of Ionia County, Michigan: Her People, Industries and Institutions, With Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens and Genealogical Records of Many of the Old Families. Volume 1 (full text, digitized by Google; auto-generated, with errors), (Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc., 1916). (text file at


Not known if related or relevant:

There is a Dr. Rev. J. S. Hurlburt of the Methodist Conference. At least one mention appears in an Indiana newspaper, so it could be relevant. If he is a reverend, it could explain why/how he came to travel with an army unit.

Rev. J. S. Hurlburt (of Methodist Conference, 1896)
"For secretary of the Sunday school and Tract society but one ballot was required. Those nominated were Dr. J. S. Hurlburt, formerly secretary; J. C. W. Cox.... On the first ballot Dr. Hurlburt received 276 out of 418 votes cast, thus re-electing him." (Cleveland, Ohio, May 22 [1896]): "Dr. Hurlburt Re-Elected: Methodist Conference Indorses Secretary of Tract Society," |Fort Wayne Daily News, The| (Fort Wayne, Indiana), 23 May 1896, page 2. (accessed 8 March 2018).

Illinois, City Directories, Chicago, 1849, page 261
(Directory Listing)
Lady's Western Magazine, 107 Lake, Monthly, B. F. Taylor and Rev. J. S. Hurlburt, Editors. (accessed 8 March 2018).

1 comment:

  1. I also recently became curious as to who he was. While his journalism was a bit biased, he tended to nail down more correct information than most others reported on specific people. I saw he was pulling bodies out of harms way at Stones River in 1862, perhaps as hospital corps? (if this was indeed him as reported by Col Lake)