Bio: Ladd, Peter Albert & Affa Polmotell
A biography by great granddaughter, Donna
written August 2005
Surnames: Bradford, Kelsey, Ladd, Lloyd, Moran, Polmoteer, Polmotell, Shoop
PETER ALBERT LADD
I am pleased to present Peter A. Ladd, my mom's maternal grandfather. My
great-grandfather. Referring to him as my mom's grandfather makes you think of a
small girl laughing and playing with her grandfather, sitting on his knee
listening to stories about his youth, while her mother fixes dinner, doesn't it?
Not so. She never knew him. She never knew her. He died when she was three. She
died giving birth to this small girl, my mom. Mental picture goes blank. Which
is why I am so pleased to be able to tell you anything about Peter A Ladd.
Unfortunately, all this information was found after my mom's death.
Finding him was a challenge. I didn't even know his name. Actually, my search
began with his daughter, my grandmother. Gladness. An unusual name, I think. I
was able to obtain her birth certificate, which gave her parents' names...sort
of. Her father was named as P.A. Ladd, and her mother named as Affa Polmotell,
with penmanship poor enough to cast doubt. This birth record showed Affa as the
mother of four children. I only had information about Gladness and her older
brother, Archie; although my mom had been told Gladness had older sisters who
died young. Probably as infants, I thought. P.A. Ladd was born in NY, and Affa
in Wisconsin. Obtaining Gladness' marriage certificate gave me her father's name
as Peter A., rather than just initials. The only other thing I knew about Peter
was that he had died in "an old soldier's home". Postcards that my mom handed
down revealed one written by Peter to his daughter, Gladness, in Neenah WI,
postmarked July of 1910. It was a picture postcard of Camp Cleghorn, Wisconsin
Veterans Home, King WI (signed P.A. Ladd). I located the WI Veterans Home and
obtained Peter's admission record, which gave his place of birth as Theresa,
Jefferson County, NY. I now knew that he had enlisted from Neenah WI in August
of 1864. It also gave information about his military service. He had been in the
Civil War Navy, on the ship Juliet 4, serving as an ordinary seaman.
Armed with this information, I first looked to census data. The Theresa,
Jefferson County NY 1850 census revealed Ann Ladd as head of household with
Peter, 3, two older girls and one older brother. Vital Records of Jefferson
County, available on the Internet, gave record of the death of Peter Ladd, 29,
Mason, married, on May 1, 1847 of typhus fever. Peter Albert was less than one
month old when he became fatherless. It is not known what brought Peterís mother
and stepfather to Wisconsin. Beginning with the 1850 Federal Census, the head of
household and all family members were named. However, the 1855 Wisconsin State
Census names only William Kelsey, with three males and 5 females in the home.
The 1860 census for Neenah, Winnebago County, WI revealed Peter, 13, with
William Kelsey as head of household, and wife Ann. Older brother, Rufus, was no
longer listed. The two older girls, Sarah and Mary, were still there, plus three
younger daughters; Almeda, Susan and Clara, with the Kelsey last name.
Peter's Civil War records contained the most amazing personal insights. It was
later that I found Peterís birth record on Vital Records of Jefferson County,
Town of Theresa, as April 7, 1847. The census data in 1850 and 1860 would seem
to corroborate the birth year of 1847. Yet all records, from the point of his
enlistment, give the date of birth as April 02, 1846. (Did he lie about his age
when he enlisted?) He was discharged from Mound City Ill., 14 June 1865, with
less than a year of service. His later request for disability pension states
"that while a member of the organization aforesaid, in the service and in the
line of his duty, near Old River Landing, in the State of...on Mississippi
River, about...April & May, 1865, he contracted rheumatism and ague, which
resulted in Chronic Rheumatism from which he has suffered continuously".
Several of the recurring disability requests gave details about when he married,
whom he married, names of children, where and when he lived, B he was described
as 5' 9", 150 lbs, brown hair, blue eyes, complexion, dark. A real person was
emerging in my mind's eye. A Later application indicated gray hair, and a
paralysis of the left side of his face, allowing me to >see' him age.
Most amazing, these Civil War records contained copies of pages from the family
Bible. I cannot imagine why, as his son, Archie. was still living, but there
they were. There were copies of torn out pages containing deaths, births and
marriages - information I felt I hadn't a prayer of uncovering. I found that he
first married Lodyme Alice Polmoteer, of the town of Rockland, WI, June 19,
1869, who died Oct 10, 1872. On 15 Jan 1874, he married younger sister, Affa
Polmoteer (this surname has turned out to have seven different documented
spellings). There was no indication of children of the first marriage, but four
children of the second marriage. I now had confirmation that mom's mother did
have two sisters who had died young. I now had names, dates of birth and dates
of death. One died at 15 and the other had married, and died at 28. Not what I
had imagined, but young, nonetheless. These disability applications gave details
about where Peter had lived; revealing a move to Iowa after the birth of their
first child in December of 1876, then back to WI in 1899. I have yet to
determine what took them to Iowa or what families they may have traveled with.
Since Peter had left me a clue about living in Clark County, WI, I began
scouting about on the Internet. With help from a gracious volunteer for Clark
County inquiries, I have found that Peter first contracted to buy land in
Sherwood on 25 October, 1899. He borrowed $364 at 6% interest per year from
George L Lloyd. His payments were to be $50 each of the first, second, third and
fourth years, with the fifth year a payment of $164 plus interest. Peter was
buying the E Ĺ of SW ľ, Section 6, Town of Sherwood. A warranty deed between
Peter A Ladd and the Clark County Land Company, is dated 29th October 1900. On
January 4, 1909 a warranty deed showed sale of these 80 acres to C.M. Bradford,
a widower, of Neillsville.
December 24, 1908, Peter applied for residency in the Wisconsin Veteran's Home.
Peter and Affa moved into the Home on 19 January 1909.
Evidently the Home only allowed the applicant and spouse as residents. Peterís
admission records show that after Archie married Hazel Shoop, a neighbor from
Sherwood Twp, and they had moved to Washington State. Gladness' address is given
as Merrillan WI, where Affa's brother Henry was living. Affa died January 12,
1910, barely a year after taking up residence in the Home and is buried in the
Veterans Memorial Cemetery. A postcard from Peter to Gladness, July 1910, is
addressed simply to Neenah WI. The 1910 census shows Gladness working as a
domestic for the local postmaster. Soon afterward, she became employed by Josiah
and Isabella Blakely B who became my mom's paternal grandparents. I had always
wondered about whether Josiah and Peter had some previous connection - even
before Josiah's son, Albert, married Peter's daughter, Gladness. It was answered
for me when I found the 1860 Neenah WI census. There they were. Both families in
Neenah! And the two boys undoubtedly in the same one room schoolhouse. Perhaps
they became friends and never lost touch with one another. I picture Peter as a
practical, but not studious one (judging by his poor spelling and penmanship)
and Josiah as the studious one. Peter went into the service at an early age,
while Josiah went on to college, then seminary and became a missionary in China.
But thatís another story.
Peter married Ellen Kingsbury Moran after Affa's death. Ellen's address is given
as the Veteran's Home, and Peter's Civil War records contained details about
Ellen's deceased husband's record. She must have been widowed while a resident
there, and Peter became a widower about the same time. Peter died 5 January
1919. He is buried in the Veterans Memorial Cemetery, between his two wives.
My personal impressions after this research are that Peter never fully realized
his potential or the kind of life he may have dreamed of. I will assume he was
well treated by his step-father and enlisted because it was a time of crisis. I
know little about his actual service, but to think that he was discharged with a
disability within a year is pretty sad. Evidently, the rheumatism plagued him
constantly and eventually kept him from being able to provide for his family. A
footnote about 'contracting rheumatism'...my dictionary gives the definition of
rheumatism to be exactly as expected. However, the entry right above it, for
Rheumatic Fever, says at the very end "also known as rheumatism". I suspect this
is what Peter really suffered from. I know very little about his time in Iowa,
or what determined the move back to Wisconsin. I am grateful for the WI
Veteran's Home and the care he received there. I am grateful that he married
after Affa's death. I am grateful to know where he is buried and that the
Veteran's Home cares for their Memorial Cemetery. We were welcomed and treated
with great respect when we were able to visit the Home and the cemetery in June,
There are other avenues of research, which I must still pursue, but I feel I
have gathered enough to have some idea of who Peter A Ladd was, as a youth and
as an adult. And there are others, standing in the shadows, waiting for me to
find them and cast light on who they are to my heritage.