|Bob Ballan of Surrey, England holds copies of photos of his great-grandfather, 16th Connecticut |
private Fellow Dixon Tucker. From Wethersfield, Conn., Tucker deserted at Antietam and fled to
England. Ballan had never seen a photo of Tucker until his wife discovered two on my blog.
|Hazel Ballan and her husband knew|
nothing about Antietam until 2009.
Until last week.
Surfing the Internet late one night, Hazel Ballan discovered photos of Tucker on my blog. She excitedly woke her husband in their home in Surrey, near London, to show him the photos of his great-grandfather -- the first time Bob Ballan had seen images of the man who enlisted in the Union army on July 21, 1861, at Old Academy Hall in Wethersfield.
What was her husband's reaction?
"I had to shake Bob awake ... , " she e-mailed me earlier this week. "So I think confusion is the answer!"
Hazel said she envisioned Fellows being much taller, like her father-in-law, John. Wearing his Sunday best in a carte-de-visite photograph taken at Henry Keets' studio in Liverpool sometime after his desertion (see below), the slightly built Tucker appears to be about 5-foot-7, perhaps an inch taller.
At the Battle of Antietam, Tucker's regiment was routed in John Otto's 40-acre cornfield, many of the men fleeing to the rear. Tucker, who died in England in 1893, skedaddled much farther than that -- 3,700 miles farther east.
On Saturday, Hazel Ballan answered these e-mail questions about her long-lost -- and found -- ancestor.
|Fellows Dixon Tucker enlisted in the Union army on July 21, 1862, at Old Academy Hall in|
Wethersfield, Conn. The building now houses the Wethersfield Historical Society.
Hazel Ballan: Amongst other things, I did know about Fellows' desertion. What his family, especially his mother’s family, would have made of it is anyone’s guess, but I don't think they would have been proud of him at all. That, for me, is maybe the reason why he felt he could never return home -- the shame would have been too much.
Fellows’ paternal grandparents were David (1770-1865) and Cynthia Tucker. Their son, Mark Tucker (1795-1875), who was a congregational minister born in Whitestown, was Fellows’ father.
Being a minister, there is an amazing amount of information about Mark available online but sadly no photograph -- unless someone out there knows better. Mark's first wife was Harriett Sophia Lord, and he had four known children by her before her death in 1841.
|Fellows Dixon Tucker, an 18-year-old private in the |
16th Connecticut, deserted at Antietam and fled to England
(Photo courtesy Tad Sattler via Connecticut State Library)
Fellows’ mother was Eliza Palmer Tucker, nee Dixon, (1808-1867), who married widowed Mark on 25 April 1843. Eliza was the daughter of Nathan Fellows and Elizabeth Dixon. Information from the Biographical Directory of the US States Congress 1774-2005 states that Fellow’s maternal grandfather, Nathan Fellows Dixon I (1774-1842), was the first Senator from Rhode Island and had served as a colonel in the state militia. Fellows’ maternal uncle, Nathan Fellows Dixon II (1812–1881), was a member of the State House of Representatives 1841-1849, 1851-1854, 1858-1862 and 1871-1877.
Fellows’ cousin was Nathan Fellows Dixon III (1847-1897), a United States Representative and Senator from Rhode Island.
As far as I have found, Fellows only had two full-blooded siblings:
- Fanny Moss Tucker (1845-?). She married Anthony Adelbert Ethelston Waldburg Barclay and then, after being widowed (as I have found out since reading your research), Italian-born Guiseppe Dominici. I believe that Fanny Moss Tucker was incorrectly recorded as Frank M. Tucker, a male, on the U.S. 1860 census.
- Mark Tucker (1849-?), who married Cora May Goodrich.
Fellows married Scottish-born Agnes Lawson Finley on 1 June 1873, in Liverpool in the county of Lancashire, England. They went to have nine known children, one of whom was their daughter, Annie Sloan Tucker. Fellows worked as a mercantile clerk before his death, aged 49, on 11 October 1893. He was living at 3 Lesseps Road, Liverpool at the time and left effects worth £70. His daughter, Annie, married William Charles Ballan on 7 December 1908. They only had one child, John Avon Ballan. My husband, Bob, is John's son.
|Carte de visite of F. Dixon Tucker taken in Liverpool, England. |
(Photo: Connecticut State Library, George Q. Whitney Collection.)
Do you have an interest in American Civil War history?
Ballan: Since finding out that Fellows was a deserter, I have been trying to sort out in my head what it was all about. A simple outlined story would be appreciated as USA history was only touched on in my school days!
Have you ever been to Antietam?
Ballan: No, neither of us had even heard of the place till 2009 when I found Fellows’ service record and the regimental history.
Have there been any tales about F. Dixon Tucker handed down through the family through the years?
Ballan: None at all. The family knew nothing about him until I started researching the family tree and found Annie Sloan Tucker with her parents and siblings on the UK census. This had her father’s birthplace as the USA, which came as a great surprise.
VIDEO: John Otto farm, where Tucker's regiment fought at Antietam.
If you could ask F. Dixon Tucker one question, what would it be?
Ballan: I suppose most of your blog followers will think it should be: “Why did you run away?” But it's not.
Let me explain: I am a volunteer researcher for the non-profit making UK web site Epsom and Ewell History Explorer and, along with another volunteer, have been tracing the lives and deaths of the men and women whose names appear on all our borough’s WWI memorials. All our findings so far can be found via this page.
Because of my WWI research, perhaps I have more of an insight into the horrors of that war and others, and a small understanding of how shell shock could and did affect some men who found themselves in these frightening situations. None of us, unless we too have been under those awful, unimaginable conditions can sit in judgment.
So my question to Fellows Dixon Tucker, my great grandfather-in-law, would have to be:
“What were you doing between 1862 and 1873?”
As we say in England, “Answers on a postcard please” or via this blog!
(1) "Military and Biographical Data of the 16th Connecticut Volunteers," George Q. Whitney Papers, Connecticut State Library, RG 69.