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Jeremiah Noon Sr. and Jr.
Company F

The story and photos of The Jeremiah Noon family was generously shared by Roy Smith of Chesterfield, UK.

One morning, during the spring of 1844 Jeremiah Noon awoke not knowing that a decision he took that day would change his life and that of his family forever. Within 20 years, both he and his second son, also called Jeremiah would fall victims to the American Civil War.

Jeremiah, born in August 1814 was the eldest son of George and Sarah Noon of Marston upon Dove, a quiet rural village situated 9 miles southwest of Derby. So why would Jeremiah take the decision he did?

The Roots of Emigration

In 1798 Thomas Malthus published an essay called "The Principles of Population" in which he claimed the population of Britain was growing faster than food production. He predicted that unless something was done about this, many thousands of people in the country would die of starvation. In reaction to this the government decided to count the number of people living in Britain and in 1801 their census revealed a population of over 10 million. It was thought that this had doubled in the previous 50 years.

One response to this growth was a move towards large-scale scientific farming to greatly increase food production. However, this resulted in many agricultural workers becoming redundant and whilst some successfully moved into fast-growing industrial jobs, many others decided to emigrate to "the new world."

The illustrated London News reported in April 1844 that "by a vote of the House of Commons a large sum has been appropriated to enable families, and single men and women, to emigrate, free of expense - the men to consist of agricultural labourers, shepherds, bricklayers, and masons, wheelwrights, smiths, carpenters, etc.; and the single women and single men not to be less than eighteen years of age, and under thirty."

Jeremiah probably learned of this opportunity from an emigration poster placed in a local church, alehouse or shop and one can only imagine the reaction of his wife Amy when he told her the opportunities that they and their three children, James, Jeremiah and Joseph - aged four, two and one - would have in North America. Jeremiah's cousin Manuel aged 27 also decided to travel with them.

The principal ports of emigration were London and Liverpool and by 1842, more than 200,000 people, half of all emigrants leaving Europe for North American had left from Liverpool. After 1842 the tide of emigrants increased dramatically, such that by 1930 over 9 million people had passed through the port.

The Journey

It was Liverpool from where Jeremiah and his family departed to begin their new life in August 1844. The journey was not easy, emigrants often spent up to 10 days waiting for their ship and lodgings were uncomfortable, dirty and unsafe. Emigrants were frequently subjected to harassment by local confidence tricksters, known as 'runners', who would steal luggage and return it only upon payment of a fee. Jeremiah and his family sailed on the ship Rockall which, having been built in 1842 at 630 tonnes accommodated some 270 steerage passengers. The voyage to the United States could take up to 35 days for a sailing ship, and with most emigrants travelling in steerage the journey was very unpleasant. Sea sickness was common, as were diseases such as typhus and cholera, which would spread rapidly throughout the decks in the confined spaces.

Arrival in the New World

Jeremiah, Amy and their three children arrived in New York on the 18th of September 1844. On their arrival they would have stated where they intended to settle, in their case this was Wisconsin. The US census of 1850 records Jeremiah and his family living in the town of Merton Wisconsin where he was a farmer, with real estate valued at $700. His family had also grown by this time to include William and Miriam, twins born in 1846, and Robert born in 1848. By the next census taken in 1860 Jeremiah had increased the value of his real estate to $5,000 with personal assets recorded at $1,000. Another son had been born, George in 1851.

The American Civil War

The background to the American Civil War was hugely complex, with a combination of politics, slavery, economics and modernisation underpinning the problems facing the United States in mid-19th century. These problems led to the Northern and Southern States developing their own perceived regional identities, with many Northerners considering slavery to be the great national evil and the powerful Southern plantation and slave owners having no desire to change their power bases. This much simplified summary merely represents a small part of the reasons why eventually eleven Southern states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America, with Jefferson Davis as its President.

The Civil War itself began with the bombardment Fort Sumter at Charleston in South Carolina on the 12th of April 1861. The outcome of this conflict, one of over 2,400 battles over the next four years was the declaration of war by President Lincoln on the Confederate States of America.

Call to Arms

Jeremiah Noon responded to the call for volunteers and enlisted into the 28th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment on 20th of August 1862, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant 1st Class on 22 September 1862 to Company F, nicknamed "The Badger Guards". His son Jeremiah Jr. enlisted as a private into the same regiment on the 8th November 1862, also to Co. F. The regiment left Milwaukee on 14th of October 1862 and headed to Columbus, Kentucky in late December, then onto Helena, Arkansas, in January 1863.

Fighting for Their New Country

Father and son served together in a number of operations during the next 12 months. The first of these was the Yazoo Pass Expedition and an attack on Ford Pemberton which took place in Mississippi during spring 1863 as part of an effort by General Grant to capture Vicksburg. The 28th Wisconsin regiment provided support to the 46th Indiana volunteers, whilst the iron-clad ship 'Chillicothe' pounded Fort Pemberton with 11 inch shells. Little damage was inflicted and the infantry were unable to find firm ground on which to push their attack, General Ross withdrew his forces on the 5th April.

In July 1863 the Confederate army under the command of Lt. General Theophilus H. Holmes attacked the Mississippi River town of Helena, which had become a major Union logistical base. The 28th Wisconsin regiment was part of the 4,100 strong army defending the town against the attack of the 7,600 strong Confederate force. The union army won this battle, which took place on the same day that Vicksburg and 37,000 men surrendered to General Grant.

There is no record of exactly what took place during the summer of 1863, some officers were granted furlough and it is recorded that 1st Lt. Jeremiah Noon was promoted to full Captain on the 30th of June 1863. However, sadly, Jeremiah was never to be mustered into his new command as he died, probably from typhus or cholera, on the 10th of August 1863 in his hometown of Lisbon, Wisconsin where he is buried in the Lisbon-Merton Union Cemetery.

Jeremiah Jr. continued to serve with the 28th Wisconsin and took part in many more Union army expeditions, until he also succumbed to disease and died on the 12th of March 1864 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Jeremiah is buried along with members of the "Badger guards" at Little Rock, Arkansas.

Their Name Lives On

After the end of the Civil War, Jeremiah's widow Amy was granted a pension in his name. She continued to raise her family, initially in Wisconsin, but also living with her sons James and later Robert, in their homes in Illinois.

James Noon and his wife Hannah who was also born in England named their first son Jeremiah when he was born in 1868. Robert and his wife Susan also named one of their sons Jeremiah, who was born in 1895 and lived all his life in Montana, until he died in 1969.

Last update: 19 June 2019