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8 In May 1832 Benjamin Montaigne King, accompanied by his pregnant wife, Martha,and toddler son,Henry,completed a six-hundred-mile trek from New York State to Michigan Territory. The young pioneer family had journeyed west to embrace the adventure and opportunity of the frontier. Benjamin was intercepted by soldiers at Jonesville,Michigan,and drafted to serve one month in the Black HawkWar.Martha spent a seeming eternity isolated in a log cabin with her young son, expecting hostile Indians to overrun her little home at any moment. Benjamin returned from his mercifully uneventful conscription unscathed, and the emergency passed. The Kings settled down at the future site of Eschol, and Benjamin rented a room to labor as a cobbler, pursuing the trade he had apprenticed for as a teen in NewYork.In 1834 the Kings relocated to Three Rivers, where they occupied the first house built in that town. In the following year, Benjamin built a new home for his family, and a year later the native NewYorker purchased from the government 120 acres of land southwest of Three Rivers. For years he spent the days clearing farmland while devoting his evenings to shoemaking.1 TheKingsweredescendedfromClementKing,anEnglishmanwhocrossed the ocean and became constable of Marshfield, Massachusetts, in 1668. Also counted among the King ancestors was Johannes de La Montanye, a French doctor born about 1595 and educated in medicine at Leiden University. Montanye later settled in America and was appointed vice director of the colony of New Netherland in 1656.2 C h a p t e r 1 Drum and Fife September–December 1861 R It is because I loved my home so dear that I left it. Drum and Fife · 9 Benjamin and Martha raised their family in the near-wilderness of southwestern Michigan. John was born in September 1832; Eunice in 1840. On August 13, 1842, Martha gave birth to James Wood King. Two years later, the birth of James’s sister Martha Rebecca, as fate would have it, completed the family. Martha, the pretty wife who had followed her husband deep into the frontier,diedin1846,shyof herfortiethbirthday.Twoyearsafterthat,Benjamin remarried, to Eliza Van Buren, a cousin of President Martin Van Buren.3 In 1859 Benjamin had a brick house constructed on his farm,which was now part of the township of Fabius. James King’s friend and former schoolmate, Charles Rice, performed the construction, while James hauled the brick and mortar.4 James had worked summers on the family farm, starting around the age of ten, and attended school during winters through the age of sixteen, at which time he became an assistant teacher at the school in nearby Lockport. “He spent hours onWebster’s Elementary Speller,”noted a biographical album of St. Joseph County,“where his companions spent minutes. It was the same in penmanship, reading, arithmetic and grammar . . . which enabled him to become thoroughly familiar with whatever subject he had at hand.” A determined young man,James was described by one friend as“one of the last to quit in any contest.”5 James grew close to schoolmate Sarah Jane Babcock (“Jenny”to her friends), and the two teens fell in love even as their country began to disintegrate over the issue of slavery. Jenny, born on December 12, 1844, was the daughter of Darius Ambrose and Ruth Butler (Blodgett) Babcock, who immigrated to Michigan by 1840. In addition to four living siblings, Jenny was blessed with about eighty first cousins on the prolific Blodgett side of the family. Three of her great-grandfathers and two of her great-great-grandfathers had fought against the crown in the Revolutionary War, and one of these soldiers from each side of her family held a seat in Connecticut’s House of Representatives in 1781.6 Her grandfather Ezra Blodgett was a descendant of Mayflower Pilgrims John and Priscilla (Mullins) Alden. Through Ezra’s wife, Clarissa, Jenny was descended from England’s King Edward III.7 When the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, a wave of indignation and patriotism swept the North, and Michigan was no exception. Benjamin King by this time was a known antislavery man,and when recruiting rallies sprang up throughout St. Joseph County, his son James enlisted in the St. Joseph County Guard. James surely went off to war mindful of his father’s namesake,their Revolutionary War ancestor Benjamin Montanye.Montanye, whoservedasapostriderforGeorgeWashington,hadriddenintocapturenear the end of the Revolution while carrying correspondence that was purportedly 10 · Conspicuous Gallantry...


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