Veteran of the Civil War (1861-1865) – Wayne Cemetery, Lewis, Edwards County, Kansas
On June 6, 1861, Pvt. Andrew J. Wilkerson enlisted in Co. A 21st GA Infantry Confederate Army. He served under Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. He was taken prisoner along with others in his company and sent to Washington, D.C. The soldiers were required to take an oath of allegiance to the United States Government and were sent as far away from their homes as possible. Pvt. Wilkerson ended up in Illinois.
Andrew Jackson Wilkerson was born on May 5, 1842, in Georgia. His parents died when he was a young boy and he was raised by an uncle. After the war, Andrew moved north to Illinois where he married Emma Jane Behymer on November 12, 1872. They were the parents of two children, unfortunately, Emma died after the birth of their second child.
Andrew was left to mourn her death and care for his surviving two-year-old son. Mary Jane “Mollie” Klinefelter became his second wife in 1876 and they were blessed with an additional seven children.
The family came to Kansas in 1885 and settled in Marion County. Each family was given an emigrant car to house their belongings on the train. Andrew brought mules, horses, a wagon, plow, and some furniture. The family remained there for three years. Mary Jane had relatives living in Edwards County and encouraged the family to move farther west. Andrew and Mary Jane loaded six of their children into two covered wagons and set out.
Andrew was able to purchase a relinquishment six miles southeast of Lewis in 1888. Through the years, he was able to purchase quite a bit of land and made many improvements.
Mary Jane passed away in 1901 at the age of 45. In the spring of 1902, Oscar, their 20-year-old son died. He had been sick for a few weeks and went to Colorado hoping his respiratory issues might be relieved. He was brought home on the train and perished soon thereafter. The following December, Jacob, their third son, contracted typhoid fever and died at the age of 23.
Andrew passed away on September 29, 1908. He is buried in Wayne Cemetery with his wife, and seven of their nine children.
The rest of the story: The Wilkerson family has been traced back to Thomas Wilkinson who was born in England in 1634. He came to the 13 colonies before 1660. He died in colonial Virginia in 1701. The United States of America declared its independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776.
Andrew’s older brother, William, also fought for the Confederacy with the 2nd GA Cavalry.
Note: Of the 3 million soldiers who served in the Civil War, over 400,000 were taken prisoner. Some were paroled during prisoner exchanges. The soldier took an oath not to fight anymore, but many rejoined their regiments. Approximately 56,000 prisoners died during the civil war. The reasons varied from wounds, infectious diseases, but most stemmed from unsanitary conditions such as contaminated food and water, lack of proper clothing and shelter.