Eau Claire (WQOW) - General Lee surrendered the Confederate Army, ending the Civil War 150 years ago this Thursday, re-uniting brothers of an Eau Claire family.
Sara Thielen wasn't sure what she would find when she started searching into her family's past.
“That was your great-great-great grandfather who fought in the civil war,” Sara said to her two-year-old daughter as they visit the grave of John Dickerson. “So many people think you are who your ancestor's are, and that's really difficult when your ancestor is a black sheep.”
Buried side-by-side as brothers, Thielen's great-great grandfather, John, and uncle's, William Dickerson, graves tell the two sides of the Civil War.
“William fought for the North, and John Dickerson fought for the South. He was the only known confederate veteran to live in Eau Claire.”
Sarah learned about her ancestors' history after finding John's name in an article from 1888 in a local library. She continued her search through the Genealogical Research Society of Eau Claire.
John Dickerson was born in January of 1837 in Cambridgeshire, England. He immigrated to the U.S. with his family to New York in 1848.
John was in the South for three years before the Civil War started, working first as a broom maker in Virginia, until the broom factory burned down. He then went into horse breeding before enlisting in the 19th Virginia Infantry in 1861.
“He quite possibly could have taken care of General Lee and General Pickett's horse,” Thielen said. “He joined the south because he was there, and that was the environment he was living in at that time.”
John's family moved to Iowa where his two brothers, William and Charles, enlisted in the 31st Iowa Infantry.
“It was Union brothers versus a Confederate brother,” Thielen said.
John was entitled discharged from the infantry after 15 months of service, and took a break from being a Confederate soldier.
“He actually got out of the 19th Infantry right before Gettysburg, and that is really lucky because the entire 19th Infantry was pretty much demolished during Pickett's charge,” Thielen added.
After losing his old infantry, John was reunited with General Longstreet in 1863 when he joined the 12th Tennessee Calvary as an orderly sergeant.
John reunited with General Longstreet in 1863 when he joined the 12th Tennessee Calvary as an orderly sergeant.
“They were actually going into Virginia to reinforce Lee's army when they got word that Lee surrendered, which was April 9 1965,” Thielen said.
After the war, William moved to Eau Clair to work for a logging company, and John joined him in the 1880's, opening another broom factory on Water Street with his two sons.
“William and John stayed very close. Both lived on Water Street, and they lived the rest of their lives together,” Thielen said.
The Dickerson's proved to be a family even war couldn't divide.
“The end of the Civil War was a time for the Dickerson family to reunite and come back together, and move on and move forward,” Thielen said.
William died in 1895, and John passed away in 1915. To Thielen's knowledge, none of the Dickerson brothers faced each other in battle.