Corp. Thomas Noonan

Co. E – 4th Regiment New York Heavy Artillery

It is with great pride and appreciation that I write the autobiography of my great-great grandfather, Thomas Noonan, a great American hero.   It is with joy that I want to share his courageous life with the world. He was countryman, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a great grandfather to many, many grandchildren and a true friend to many. He is the first generation of Noonan born in the United States. His father, Thomas Noonan and mother, first name possibly Ellen, were both Irish immigrants. Their county of origin is unknown and it is not known for sure when they immigrated to the United States. In a sworn affidavit dated May 14, 1913, Thomas stated that his mother died in 1857 when he was 14 years old and his father died in 1861.   He was orphaned at a very young age. He was born out in the country in Schoharie, Chatsville County, State of New York on 12 July 1843.

Thomas and Margaret Noonan (nee Golden) were both born in the United States, in or around Cohoes, New York. Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma Noonan were neighbors and I understand that Grandma Noonan's parents and two brothers died very young of tuberculosis. Great-Great Grandpa's parents looked after Margaret until their death. Thomas, age 27 and Margaret, age 19 were married on the 18th of April 1870 in Cohoes, State of New York by Reverend Father Thomas Keavney, a Catholic priest. One document to the Bureau of Pensions dated August 17, 1915 states their marriage was performed by Rev. John Walsh. It also lists his birth year as 1844. This document has many entries differing from other documents and is probably an error, as Great-Grandpa Noonan was getting up in years and probably forgetful when he applied for his Pension.

The following 8 children were born to Thomas and Margaret Noonan:

Mary, b. December 1874 in New York, d. 5 February 1968 - married 1) Henry Heier, 2) William Sinclair Tousey in St. Louis, Mo.

James, b. 8 September 1875, d. 20 February 1903 at the age of 28 in Vicksburg, Mississippi – unmarried

Elizabeth May (aka Lizzie), b. 19 May 1878 in St. Louis, Missouri, d. 3 July 1932 – married Otto Joachim Neubauer 16 September 1895 at St. Patrick's Church in St. Louis, Mo. and they had 13 children.

Matthew Leo, b. 13 August 1879 in St. Louis, Missouri, d. 20 January 1960 – married Anna Witthoft Fischer 7 November 1902 in St. Louis, Mo. In the same year, 1879 Thomas Edison invented the electric light.

Julia, b. 8 November 1884 in St. Louis, Missouri, d. 30 January 1956 – married Charles W. Bohn and they had 8 children.

Florence, b. 8 December 1886 in St. Louis, d. 16 June 1925 – married Louis F. Long Jr. in St. Louis, Mo. and they had 12 children. (In 1886 is when the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor was unveiled.)

Nell, b. 4 February 1888 in St. Louis, d. 1 October 1958 – married Thomas W. Placke.

Loretta, b. 12 March 1891 in St. Louis, Missouri, d. 2 October 1960 – married Eugene Dillinger and they had 2 children.

In 1861, The War of the Rebellion (Civil War) began. Thomas enlisted in the Union Army at the age of 19 on January 11, 1864 in Cohoes, New York. He served in the Fourth Regiment, Company E, New York Heavy Artillery Unit. This regiment was assigned to the Army of the Potomac in defense of Washington D.C. under General George B. McClellan, now replaced by General U. S. Grant who was given full command March 3, 1864. Grant had moved from successful campaigns in the Western (Tennessee) theater to take over the Army in the Potomac.

Thomas' regiment took part in the following battles. There are just a few mentioned here and the rest can be found in " A Compendium of the War of The Rebellion" by Dyer.

The Rapidan campaign May and June 1864

Actions during the Rapidan Campaign

The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5 to 7, 1864

The Battle of the Wilderness has meaning unique in Military History. The encounter ended with their Armies facing one another across the wreckage wrought by the first trial of strength between Robert E. Lee, dreaded opponent of the Army of the Potomac, and Ulysses S. Grant, hero of the War in the West. Both armies paid a staggering price in fighting to a tactical impasse. Grant counted 17,666 casualties representing 14 percent of his effective strength. Unknown, Lee's losses are thought to be in the same ratio to his total force.

This estimate given approximately 8,700 were killed, wounded or missing.


Spottsylvania   May 8 to 12                                   Piney Branch Church May 8

Laurel Hill May 10                                               Spottsylvania Court House May 12-21  

Landron's Farm May 18                                          North Ana River May 23-31

On the line of the Totopotomoy May 28-31         Cold Harbor June 1-12

Battle at Petersburg June 16-23                               Siege of Petersburg June16-April 12,1865

Weldon railroad, Virginia August 25, 1864

The wastage of life proceeded at an appalling rate at Spottsylvania Court House (Northern Casualties 18,399), Cold Harbor (Northern Casualties 12,738) and during the first general assault on the lines at St. Petersburg, must be taken into consideration that the actual hours of fighting during the frightful march from the Rapidan to the lines of Petersburg far exceeded those of any similar period of time during the American Civil War.          

Actions during siege of Petersburg:


                         Jerusalem Plank Road, Weldon Railroad June 22-23, 1864

                         Deep Bottom July 27-28, 1864

                         Mine Explosion Petersburg July 30, 1864

                         Strawberry Plains, Deep bottom August 14-18, 1864

                         Reams Station August 25, 1864

                         Poplar Springs Church, Peebles Farm September 29 – October 2, 1864

                         Boydon Plank Road, Hatcher's Run December 9-10,1864

                         Reconnaissance to Hatcher's Run December 9-19,1864

                         Danny's Mills, Hatcher's Run February 5-7, 1865

                         Watkin's House March 25,1865

                         Appomattox Court House March 28 – April 9, 1865


Actions during Appomattox Campaign:

                         Hatcher's Run or Boydton Road and White Oak Road March 31,1865

                         Sutherland Station and Fall of Petersburg April 2,1865

                         Pursuit of Lee April 8-9,1865

                         Amelia Springs April 1-5,1865

                         Sailors Creek April 6,1865

                         Farmville April 7,1865

                         Appomattox Court House April 9,1865

                         Accepting Surrender of Lee and his Army by General Ulysses S. Grant

                         March to Washington D.C. May 2 –12, 1865

Regiment (including Thomas Noonan) mustered out on September 26,1865

Thus, Thomas Noonan experienced some of the fiercest fighting in the Civil War. In his personal recollections, he mentioned several bouts with dysentery due to drinking "strange" water. He recalled that there were numerous disputes between the officers and the men of the ground troops and the artillery units over blocking the narrow mud roads when pulling their cannons (by horses) to new positions.

The regiment lost 8 officers either killed or mortally wounded, 4 officers died of disease or accident, 108 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded and 334 men died of disease or by accident.

Thomas Noonan was promoted to Corporal May 1, 1865 (Copy of the certificate in the files of Carol McKay). He was honorably discharged from the Service on 26th day of September, 1865 by reason of the close of the war or Special Order #220 Headquarters Dept. of Washington D.C. September 26, 1865.

After the war, GG Grandpa Noonan worked in a steel mill in New York that manufactured boilerplates for boilers and rails for railroads. With the great demand for steamboat boilers on the Mississippi River and the future extending of the railroads to the west of the Mississippi River, Vulcan Ironworks decided to open a plant in Carondelet, Missouri (now southern part of St. Louis). Grandpa Noonan was sent as a foreman to help get the plant going. He brought his bride with him so the Noonans became "St. Louisans".   Thomas and Margaret moved to St. Louis about 1874.

Thomas and Margaret were members of the St. Columbkill Catholic Church, which was a parish, started in the Carondelet area for the boilermakers at Vulcan Ironworks. Thomas son, Matthew was baptized at this parish on 13 August, 1879. In 1939 the name of this church was changed to St. Boniface Catholic Church. Great Grandpa Thomas also did maintenance work and worked as a stationary engineer for the Quincy Homes Steam Heating Plant. He was also in charge of any plumbing or electrical work to be done and performed and often did minor repairs himself. He was a very courageous knowledgeable man. Matthew Noonan, son of Thomas also worked as a boilermaker at the plant in Carondelet with his father.

He continued to do this until age 80, when he was no longer permitted to work by law. The age of 80 was considered full disability and eligible for maximum pension. After his retirement, being familiar with the buildings, the maintenance personnel often consulted Great Grandpa.

"It has been said that Thomas saved his money and during hard times, such as the depression, was known to have come to the aid of many a family, details which he humbly kept to himself." This was quoted from the notes of Edmund Noonan, grandson.

Census records for June 14, 1900 show Thomas and Margaret Noonan had eleven children, 8 living. Due to their lack of formal education, Thomas and Margaret always signed their names with an "X" and would have "their mark" witnessed on numerous documents.

On June 27, 1902, Thomas and Margaret Noonan retired to the Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors Home in Danville, Illinois. On September 12, 1910, the Noonans moved to the Illinois Soldiers' and Sailors Home, now know as Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, Illinois, Register #9048. They lived there for approximately twenty years. During those years they made periodic visits to St. Louis, especially at holidays, and usually stayed a week, at Aunt Nell's (Placke) or Aunt Mary's aka Mame ( Tousey) homes.

Thomas filed for his pension on June 11,1912. His pension Certificate file # is 504.499. On November 8, 1866 a Proof of Disability statement was submitted and the Pension was approved. Part of the excerpt from this document read as follows: "That the said Thomas Noonan while in line of duty at or near Petersburg in the State of Virginia did, on or about the 29th day of July 1864, became disabled in the following manner: While serving in the field at the siege of Petersburg and the battle of Weldon Railroad, Virginia, said Thomas Noonan contracted and suffered from dyspepsia and general disability". It also stated " Said Noonan was particularly cared for by the medical officers during the months of July and August 1864 near Petersburg, Virginia." Thomas received a pension of $12.00 per month. On May 7, 1927 his military pension was increased to $72.00 per month and subsequently increased to $100.00 per month.

Edmond Noonan, grandson of Thomas, said " I have a $10.00 gold piece dated 1847 that Grandpa Noonan was given as mustering out pay, which he kept and gave to my father, Matthew Noonan." In 1933 Thomas was living at 2906 St. Vincent St., St. Louis, Missouri. According to his death certificate this is where he died on January 20th. Grandpa Noonan was 5'10 ½ " tall and of a large frame, while Grandma Noonan was of a more delicate build and a very gracious person. The lapel pin that Grandpa wore is a GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) pin which I still have."

In 1920 Thomas and Margaret celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary with seven of their living children and their children's spouses. Also attending were their grandchildren, great-grandchildren and many of their lifelong friends. They cherished their family and were devoted grandparents.

In 1930 Thomas discusses with his grandson, Edmund, a bridge in Washington, D.C. that Thomas built while serving in the Volunteer Army from 1864 - 1865. According to Edmund, Thomas took much pride in his accomplishments.

Thomas was born in 1843 during the term of President John Tyler, the tenth President of the United States. He died in 1933 while President Herbert Hoover the thirty-first President of the United States was in office. During his lifetime there were 21 presidents in office and he witnessed very many changes in the world. In 1917, he witnessed the beginning of WWI and the ending in November 1918. He witnessed the beginning of the telephone as we have it today, the beginning of the Gold Rush days in 1897, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, just to name a few landmarks.

Thomas was buried with full military honors. He died while on furlough from the Quincy, Illinois home at the age of 88 years, 6 months and 8 days. He died in his sleep even though he had demonstrated the evening before that he could still exercise and do knee bends. The wake was held at his daughter Loretta's home in St. Louis, Missouri. The cause of death was carcinoma of the stomach stated on the death certificate. The undertaker was Bensick-Niehaus Funeral Directors, 1138 North 6th St., St. Louis, Missouri. Funeral Mass was at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and he was buried alongside his wife, Margaret, and son, James. Six soldiers from Jefferson Barracks served as pallbearers. Six honor guards fired a three-volley salute as a lone bugler sounded Taps.

What an honor it was for such a heroic American. He was a hero in the eyes of his family and a hero in the eyes of the world. I am proud and honored to be the Great-great granddaughter of such a noble man.

The following is an obituary for Thomas Noonan published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch Newspaper on 23 January 1933, page 4C.

NOONAN, THOMAS – On Friday January 20, 1933, 10:45 p.m. beloved husband of the late Margaret Noonan (Golden), dear father of Mrs. S. Tousey, Matthew Noonan, Mrs. C. Bohn, Mrs. T. Placke, Mrs. E. Dillinger and the late Mrs. O. Noonan, our dear brother, father-in-law, grandfather and great-grandfather.

(Note, the late Mrs. O. Noonan should have read the late Mrs. O. Neubauer. This was daughter Elizabeth Noonan who married Otto Neubauer. The name was listed correctly in Margaret Noonan obit)

Funeral Tuesday, January 24, 9:30am from residence 2906 St. Vincent St. to Immaculate Conception Church. Interment Calvary Cemetery. Bensick-Niehaus Services.

Margaret died at the age of 71 years on 13 February, 1923. The following is the obituary published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch Newspaper on 14 February 1923 on page 32.


Noonan – Entered into eternal rest on Tuesday, February 13, 1923 at 10:00am, Margaret Noonan (nee Golden) beloved wife of Thomas Noonan, beloved mother of Mrs. Sinclair Tousey, Mrs. Otto Neubauer, Matthew Noonan, Mrs. Charles Bohn, Mrs. Louis Long, Mrs. Thomas Placke, Jr., Mrs. Eugene Dillinger and the late James Noonan, our dear mother-in-law, grandmother, aged 72 years 7 months.


Funeral from residence of her daughter, Mrs. Thomas Placke, Jr. at 3920A Castleman Avenue on Friday, February 16 at 8:30am to St. Margaret's Church. Interment at Calvary Cemetery.

Quincy, Illinois, Troy (N.Y) papers posted copy.

Obituary also posted in the Troy, N.Y. Newspaper on 14 February 1923, copy in records of Carol McKay. It was also posted in Quincy, Illinois Newspaper.

The Noonan Monument is located in Calvary Cemetery, St. Louis, MO. Section 21, Lot 1205. It is inscribed "Noonan" (no data on the headstone) Thomas, wife, Margaret and son, James are buried in this Noonan Plot. In the adjoining lot is the Neubauer Monument where daughter, Elizabeth May (nee Noonan) and husband Otto Neubauer are buried.

Compiled by Carol McKay, great-great-granddaughter, Glennon & Wayne Neubauer, great-grandsons with the research assistance of Edmund Noonan, grandson of Thomas Noonan.

Submitted by:   Mrs. Carol Ann Schneider Maxey McKay - Great-great-granddaughter