William Herzkey Tombow
William Herzkey Tombow
My Family Tree, by Patrick Tombeau, PhD White Feather
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John Tombow

John Tombow

Male Abt 1848 - 1865  (~ 17 years)

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  • Name John Tombow 
    Born Abt 1848  E. lampeter Twp., Lancaster Co., PA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 14 Jun 1865  Camp Douglas, IL Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I04330  Tombeau Family Tree
    Last Modified 24 Feb 2007 

    Father William Herzkey Tombow,   b. 6 Jul 1813, Lampeter, Lancaster Co. PA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Apr 1865, Sterling, Whiteside Co. IL Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 51 years) 
    Mother Elizabeth Rohrer,   b. 13 Jul 1818, Lancaster Co, PA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 29 Mar 1853, E. Lampeter, Lancaster Co, PA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 34 years) 
    Married Abt 1838  Lancaster Co, PA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F1356  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    John Tombow, son of William H. Tombow and Elizabeth Rohrer
    John Tombow, son of William H. Tombow and Elizabeth Rohrer
    John Tombow's Civil War Sabre
    John Tombow's Civil War Sabre

  • Notes 
    • John Tombow

      II-6: John Tombow was the sixth of the nine children of William Tombow, Jr., and Elizabeth Rohrer of Lancaster County, PA. Based on his entry in the 1850 Federal Census for Lancaster County, PA, he was born in 1848. He was probably named after his paternal uncle John Tombow. His paternal grandparents were William Tombos, an immigrant from the Netherlands, and the first Tombow in America, and his wife Mary Herzkey, born in America of German descent.

      There are three lines of evidence that sustain the fact that John was the son of William Tombow, Jr. He is mentioned in the 1852-55 Lancaster County Register of Births, Marriages, and Deaths in his brother William Tombow's birth entry. He also is mentioned as an heir to William Tombow, Jr., in the Letters of Administration filed in the Whiteside County, IL, Circuit Court in 1865. He is also mentioned as an heir in the 1904 Court proceedings brought against the heirs of William Tombow, Jr., by David Kauffman to obtain clear title to William's property in Sterling.

      He is also in his father's Census entry for 1850 in E. Lampeter PA.

      In the Lancaster County 1852-55 vital statistics registers, mentioned above, he is styled as John R. However, there is no other record of this middle initial, probably for Rohrer, his mother's maiden name, being used by John, unlike his older brother Samuel who consistently uses this middle initial through out his life.

      We first catch sight of John Tombow in the 1850 Federal Census of Lancaster County, PA, Lampeter Township. The Census was taken on 28 August 1850, dwelling 115, E. Lampeter Township. The family name has been corrupted to "Dombo" by the German census taker.

      Dombo, William, 36 years old, laborer, born in Pa, real estate: $700 Elizabeth, 32 years, born in PA Catherine, 5 years, born in PA John, 2 years, born in PA Jacob, 1 year, born in PA

      In 1853, when John was only 5 years old, his mother, Elizabeth Rohrer, died. His father, William, married shortly thereafter to Fanny, his stepmother. In the spring of 1853, William put his land up for sale and it is presumed that in that year or the following he left for Whiteside County, IL, and the city of Sterling.

      John's father was not close to his children and it is not clear whether John went with his father at that time or was farmed out to other Mennonite families in Lancaster County, coming at a later time to Sterling.

      He is not mentioned in either the 1860 Federal Census for Lancaster County, PA, or Whiteside County, IL. He may been staying in that year, with another farming family in neighboring Lee County, IL., as he is listed as a resident of Lee County at the time of his enlistment in the Army during the War. John would have been 12 in 1860 and it was his father's custom to have children raised by other families. John's picture indicates that he was sturdily built and well suited to be a farm hand even at that age.

      John is one of the six men bearing the name of Tombow who served in the Civil War. His older brother, Samuel R. Tombow, his younger brother, Jacob Tombow, and three first cousins, his Uncle John's children, Nathaniel, William, and John Tombow, Jr., also enlisted.

      Despite the statements on his enlistment papers that he was 17 years and 11 months old at the time of the enlistment, on 11 December 1863, when he signed up for duty under Capt. Eustace, he could only have been 15 years old.

      It was not unusual for the Army to look the other way at such young recruits, and later in the War attempts were made to stop this practice. The recruits on the other hand volunteered either out of patriotism or were motivated by handsome bounties that could help their families out or give them a good start in life after the War was over. The North always seriously under estimated the strength of the enemy and the time it would take to end the War. None realized at the time that it would be the most costly war in terms of American lives in our history to this point.

      John's bounty appears to have been $300, but it is not clear whether he collected it all before he died as it was paid in installments.

      John's likeness is described in his Civil War papers. He is described as 5 feet 3 inches tall (below average height for the times), fair complected with brown hair and brown eyes. We are even more fortunate than this description to know what John looked like. A tin types has survived the years and is now in the hands of his grand-nephew, Pete Fluck of Rock Falls who will pass on to his son, Peter Fluck. This picture has been enlarged and is included with this history. He has the stocky build associated with many of the older generations of the Tombow Family as a picture exists also of his sister, Lydia Tombow Fluck, and his aunt Lydia Tombow Groff (This latter picture is found in a book on the family by Dorothy Tombow Boulware Tambos Tombo Tombow. Lydia Tombow Fluck's picture is found in the Chapman Brothers' Portrait and Biographical Album of Whiteside County, Illinois.)

      John enlisted on 11 December 1863 in Dixon, Lee County, IL. His signature appears on the enlistment paper. He states he is 17 years and 11 months old. His residence at the time of enlistment is recorded as Palmyra, Lee County, IL. Although two other residences are given in the records as well without explanation: Winslow Stephenson County, and Dixon, IL, (Lee County).

      He enlisted with the Illinois Light Artillery. He enlisted for three years and he was placed in the newly formed Battery B in February 1865.

      On 12 May 1865 John started a 30 day furlough from Nashville, TN. However, John only made it as far as Camp Douglas, Illinois, where he was placed in the U.S.A Government Hospital for acute bronchitis, per a letter dated 7 June 1865 in his military records. Seven days later, on 14 June 1865, John Tombow expired of chronic bronchitis.

      John Tombow was a typical tragedy of the Civil War. Death through illness was as common as death under fire power. His last days in the Army were spent in Nashville where his older brother Samuel had been during the course of the War.

      John's burial place is unknown. He does not appear, after enquiry in both Washington, D.C., and Illinois by this writer, to have been buried in an official cemetery for soldiers. Perhaps with his father's death a few months before in Sterling, John lies in an unmarked grave near his father in the Science Ridge Mennonite Cemetery in Sterling, IL.

      In addition to John's picture, his sword has also survived in the hands of descendants of his sister Lydia Tombow Fluck. Its current owner is Ralph ("Pete") Fluck who will pass it on to his son Peter Fluck of Wooster, Ohio.

      As no record of a pension exists, it is presumed that John, who died at the age of 17, was unmarried and childless and that this line is extinct. The 1904 Court proceedings against the heirs of William Tombow by David Kauffman also mention no heir to John Tombow.

      Compiled and written by

      Patrick L. Tombeau May, 1993