GREATHOUSE, JOHN CLARKE (1835-1916) ~ John Clarke Greathouse, Confederate Veteran, was born in Illinois in March of 1835, to John Stull Greathouse and Lucy Mills Clarke. His father, a lawyer who served as States Attorney of Illinois, was from Kentucky and moved the family from Illinois back to his home state during John?s childhood. Between the ages of twelve to fifteen, John was living with his father and step-mother, Catherine Roberta Waring Greathouse in Union County, Kentucky in 1850. He also had several brothers and sisters that were living there as well, including his younger brother, Lucien. (1) It appears that the Greathouse family lived between the two states of Kentucky and Illinois. However, they finally settled in Illinois and within the next ten years, John had married Parmelia A., and had a daughter named Virginia, who was born in 1858. Two years later in 1860, John and his new family moved to Scyene, Dallas County, Texas. Three years later, in 1863, Parmelia had another child, Patterson L. Greathouse.
It was during this time the Civil War was taking place. John was a late joiner, who served, according to his pension record, three years. He mustered into what was known in the beginning as Company C of the 15th Texas Cavalry. This unit was dismounted in July of 1862, and most of the regiment had been captured at Arkansas Post in January of 1863. The regiment was exchanged and served as dismounted cavalry. In May of 1863, the unit was temporarily consolidated with the 6th and 10th Regiments of Texas Infantry. Eventually, this regiment would form by the consolidation of Granbury?s Texas Brigade. The remnant of the regiment that remained west of the Mississippi River is the unit John served with. This unit was re-organized into five companies, A to E in 1863, and was known as the Detachment of the 15th Regiment Texas Cavalry; however, what they referred to themselves as seems to be more in line with an infantry.
John entered the service as a private but was soon commissioned to 1st Lieutenant Colonel on April 1, 1864. Things went downhill fast for the newly commissioned officer when in July of 1864, Col. George Sweet wrote a full page of charges against the young and inexperienced lieutenant. In Col. Sweet?s full page of specifications, he calls for the resignation of 1st Lieutenant Greathouse based on three separate charges.
The first charge listed was that of depredation to private property; a violation of the 54th Article of War. That article stated that all officers and soldiers are to behave themselves orderly in quarters and on their march. They are not to commit any waste or spoil of trees, parks, warrens, fish-ponds, houses, gardens, corn-fields, or enclosures of meadows. They shall not maliciously destroy any property belonging to the inhabitants of the Confederate States unless by order of the then commander-in-chief of the armies. According to Col. Sweet, 1st Lieutenant Greathouse disobeyed this article when he allowed men under his charge to ?depredate upon the private property of Dr. J. H. Marshall of Upshur County, Texas.?
In his next charge, Col. Sweet states that 1st Lieutenant Greathouse disobeyed orders. Col. Sweet charges that, ?Lieut. John C. Greathouse of Company C., 1st Regt. Texas Cavalry, refused on the order from Capt. F.J. Barnett, commanding Regt. to place in arrest parties under his immediate command and in his presence whose men detached [and depredated] upon private property, telling Capt. Barnett at the same time that if he desired them arrested to do it himself or make his officer of the Guard perform the duty.?
Col. Sweet?s third and final charge was that 1st Lieutenant Greathouse was incompetent, stating that, ?Lieut. John C. Greathouse of Company C., 15th Regiment Texas Cavalry can scarcely read or write [and] that...since the 1st of April 1864, [he] knows little or nothing about the drill or his duties as an officer.?
Col. Sweet signed his specifications on July 30, 1864, and on August 1, 1864, 1st Lieutenant Greathouse tendered his resignation. Having someone else with a firm and steady hand write his resignation letter for him, which states, ?Sir: Allow me to tender my immediate and unconditional resignation. Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant,? John C. Greathouse signed his name with a shakey hand. He had been an officer for four months.
Returning to the status of an enlisted man, Private John C. Greathouse did daily or extra work as a Wagon Master and was stationed at Camp Ford Texas. He served until the close of the war and returned to his wife and two children in Scyene, Texas.
It is probable that shortly after his return, his wife Parmelia, passed away. There are no furlough records to indicate leave for John to return home for a time during the war to bury his wife and find a place for his children so he could return to the regiment. Therefore, it is assumed she passed after the war ended. In 1870, John moved to Dallas, Dallas County, Texas and remarried to 19 year old Sarah A. of Texas. They had one child together, John J., and Sarah took on the charge of raising 11 year old Virginia and 7 year old Patterson. John found work as a ferryman in Dallas. Three years later his father John Stull Greathouse died. (2)
By 1880, the couple had several more children. Virginia no longer was living with the family and Elizabeth, Danniel, Zeda and Charles joined the family. John either moved the family to Bee, Beeville County, Texas or the county lines changed, but he worked as a farmer. His son, Patterson worked alongside him.
It is unknown how long the family remained in Beeville County. It is also unknown when Sarah passed away but she was not living by the time John applied for his pension in 1899. In 1899, when he filled out his pension application he stated that he was living in Seagoville, Dallas County, Texas and had been for the last seven years. By 1900, John?s wife was gone and all his children were grown and at the age of 65, his health was failing. John went to live with his nephew, Marion Badgley in 1900. It is unknown how long John stayed with his nephew.
In 1911, John wrote a letter to the controller about his pension application. In the letter he states that he was living with his youngest son, Fred T. Greathouse. John was asking for monetary help. His son failed to make a crop and John was not able to work at all. He told the controller that his son was unable to keep him and asked if his pension amount could be increased. His physician sent in affidavits of John?s health. His condition was not good.
It is not known if the pension amount was increased but what is known is that John was able to stay, bedridden, in his son?s home three more years until John relinquished the fact that he would have to move into the Confederate Men?s Home in Austin, Travis County, Texas. He knew of the home but told the controller that he, ?did not want to come if he could help it.? John entered the home on September 30, 1914, at the age of 79, with bronchitis, a broken leg, missing a hand from the war, and completely incapacitated. His son Fred, brought him in, only to return two years later on October 29, 1916, when his father, John Clarke Greathouse passed away at the Confederate Men?s Home. He was interred the next day at the Texas State Cemetery.
(1) Lucien Greathouse, brother of John C. Greathouse, was a Confederate Veteran as well. Lucien was commissioned as Colonel. He died on July 22, 1864, at the young age of 22, in Atlanta, Georgia holding his regiments flag as he went down. He was buried in the Old City Cemetery, the same cemetery as his father and grandfather, in Vandalia, Fayette County, Illinois.
(2) John Stull Greathouse died on September 7, 1873, and is buried in the Old City Cemetery in Vandalia, Fayette County, Illinois.
Sources: 1850 Federal Census Union County, Kentucky; 1860 Federal Census Dallas County, Texas; 1870 Federal Census Dallas County, Texas; 1880 Federal Census Bee, Texas via www.familysearch.org; 1900 Federal Census Dallas County, Texas; Compiled Military Service Record; Pension Application #5768; Death Certificate; Confederate Home Roster; Regulations for the Army of the Confederate States, 1863 http://members.aol.com/cog10thtx2/art1.htm; www.findagrave.com; and unnamed descendant of John C. Greathouse.