Jacob P. Kyger, Shenandoah Valley Unionist… and Brethren

While it was clearly against the accepted practice among the Brethren (German Baptist Brethren), Jacob P. Kyger of Rockingham County, Virginia joined the 35th Iowa Infantry in 1862, fought at Vicksburg and the Red River Campaign… and returned to his farm in the Shenandoah Valley (on the Cross Keys battlefield) after the war. Take a look at the following marker for a photo of Kyger (in the upper right on the marker).

For more information about the otherwise passive resistance of the Brethren in the Shenandoah Valley, see this marker (not too far away from the above mentioned marker) as well…

2 Responses to “Jacob P. Kyger, Shenandoah Valley Unionist… and Brethren”

  1. My gg grandfather Jacob Wenger was as active a Unionist as he could be within the limits of his scruples as a Mennonite. He lived in Rockingham County, Virginia and in 1872 put in a claim with Southern Claims Commission for two horses taken by Union forces during the war. His claim was initially rejected because he was enrolled in the Virginia militia for a brief period in 1861. However the Commission reversed its decision, giving the following reasons in its summary:

    “[Jacob] testifies that he was one of 11 (in his district) who voted against the Ordinance of Secession. He was arrested and put in the militia, and refused to perform duty and was put in the Guardhouse and could only get out by hiring a substitute. He was afterwards exempted by the laws in relation to Quakers and Dunkards on the payment of a fine. His witnesses testify that he was notoriously loyal and that the rebels said that he ought to be hung; and that his house was a home for refugees.”

    One family story relates that when Jacob went to vote in the referendum on secession he was subjected to threats to dissuade him from his publicly declared purpose in voting against it. He not only ignored the threats, but was so far as to secure an affidavit from the returning officer certifying that he had voted for loyalty to the Union. This piece of paper came in handy when Sheridan’s army came through the Valley in 1864 on its mission of destruction. Each time a detachment of soldiers approached to burn Jacob’s farm he met them with the affidavit in hand and persuaded them to turn away.

    An interesting observation: in looking at the list of SCC claimants from Jacob’s district I notice that most of them have typically Mennonite or Dunkard surnames.

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