GAR Medallion. For more information about the GAR click the photo above to visit the site of the GAR Museum and Library in Philadelphia.
Ok, so what do we know about Russell J. Kinney? Could he have been a candidate for membership in the G.A.R? The 1910 Census shows that Russel J. (age 64) and his wife Clara L. (age 54) and their son Jay L. (age 24) living in Butteville. Russell is a laborer in a lumberyard and his son Jay is a general farm laborer. The birth places of the three (Wisconsin, Michigan, South Dakota) give us a potential path to follow their progress across the U.S. Being born in 1846ish, Russell would have been a little young, but potentially the right age to fight in the Civil War, being born in the North with parents born in Vermont and New York would suggest that his sympathies would lie with the Northern cause, making him a possible candidate for GAR membership which celebrated veterans of the Union Army.
A quick conversation with our volunteer and genealogy guru Sue Masse and we are on to the NPS Civil War Soldier and Sailor database. There we find records for Private Russel J. Kinney assigned to Company M of the 6th Regiment West Virginia Infantry Volunteers. The Adjutant General’s Report of the State of West Virginia for the year ending 1864-1865. records Kinney as being mustered into service on August 13, 1862. His age in 1864/65 is listed as 18, suggesting he was just 16 years old when he enlisted, which would match our Russell J. Kinney’s estimated birth date of 1846. It should be noted that there are three other Russell Kinneys listed in the database serving in the 124th Regiment, Ohio; the 1st Regiment, Michigan; and the 7th Regiment, Veteran Reserve Corps. There is also a Private Russel J. Kinne listed as serving in the 38th Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry, which would have been much closer to our Russell J.’s birthplace. Federal Census records and the West Virginia Death Index show a Russell J. Kinney living in West Virginia in the 1870 with his wife Amanda and son Ellsworth and dying in West Union, Doddridge, West Virginia in 1913. With this in mind, it appears that the Wisconsin Infantry Private Kinney is probably our man.
A little more noodling around on Ancestry.com fills out the story of Private Russell J. Kinney.
Our Russell J. Kinney appears to have been the second son born to farmers William and Lucina Kinney in Pierce County, Wisconsin. By 1860, he was living with his sister and four brothers on a farm in Perry, Wisconsin.
The Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers: War of the Rebellion with Research by Harold Slavik indexed by Ancestry.com lists Russell J Kinne enlisting on July 9, 1864 from Cross Plains, Wisconsin. He was attached to Company I, Wisconsin 38th Infantry Regiment on 7 September 1864 and mustered out on 2 of June 1865.