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John F. Newton (1840-1914)

John Frank Newton was born February 12, 1840, to Thomas Newton (1797-1852) and Louisa Finn Newton (1812-1883) in Spitalfield, London, England.  He came to the United States around 1856 and by 1860 was living in Prescott, Wisconsin, with the Joseph W. Beardsley family.  The 1860 federal census for Prescott does not list an occupation for him, but when he enlisted in the Prescott Guards in 1861 his occupation was listed as “printer.”

Shortly before enlisting he filed his naturalization paper to become a U.S. citizen, on April 2, 1861, with the Pierce County (Wis.) Circuit Court.  His final naturalization record was filed in Minnesota after he returned from the War.

John enlisted May 10, 1861, in the Prescott Guards, which became Company B of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry.  The official Regimental Muster and Descriptive Roll for Company B lists his age at “21,” his marital status as “single,” his eye color as “hazel,” his hair color as “brown,” his complexion as light,” and his height at “5′ 6½”.

The 6th Wisconsin Infantry was organized and drilled at Camp Randall in Madison.  The regiment was mustered into service on July 16, 1861, and John Newton became a corporal on that same day.  The regiment left Wisconsin for Washington, D. C., twelve days later on July 28, 1861.  During the War the 6th Wisconsin moved from Washington, D.C., through Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky.  Although the 6th Wisconsin fought at the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28-30, 1862) and at the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), John Newton did not.  He was listed on the muster rolls as being “absent sick” from August 28, 1862, onward, sent to a General Hospital on October 30, 1862, and discharged for a disability on December 18, 1862.

From the November 12, 1862, issue of The Prescott Journal:

— We learn that John Newton, private in Capt. Converse’[s] company, has received his discharge, and will be here in a few days.  He is a brother typo, and one of the right stripe.

A little less than a year after returning from the War, John “Johny” F. Newton married Harriet “Hattie” Avis Lancaster, daughter of Levi and Frances A. Lancaster.  They were married on October 17, 1863, in Hastings, Minnesota, just across the Saint Croix River from Prescott.  Hattie was only 15 years old when she married Johny, having been was born February 19, 1848.

There is a compiled Minnesota marriage index that says they were married in 1866, probably a mistake in transcription since the following notice appeared in the October 24, 1863, issue of The Prescott Journal:


On the 17th inst., by the Rev. T. F. Thickston, of Hastings, Mr. J. F. NEWTON and Miss HATTIE A. LANCASTER; both of that city.

None but the brave desrve [sic] the fair, and Johny after having followed the battle flag in the glorious ranks of the “Iron Brigade,” is entitled to enlist under the banner of HYMEN.  Our best wishes attend you both, and JOHNY, may you never get out of “sorts,” but always have plenty of SMALL CAPS for the heads of the “short articles.”

A similar article appeared in The Polk County Press a week later, on October 31, 1863:

FOLLOWED SUITE.—We find the following going the rounds, by which we see that “JOHNNY” NEWTON, ye Local of the “Northwestern Democrat,” not thinking it good to be alone, has followed our footsteps and ——— got “donoled” [sic¹] :

MARRIED.—On the 17th inst., by the Rev. T. F. THICKSTON, of Hastings, Mr. J. F. NEWTON, and Miss HATTIE A. LANCASTER, both of that city.

Well “JOHNNY” we can sympathize.  We are now enjoying those sweets which are and yet are not.  A wife is very convenient to “have about the house” and we trust that your’s [sic] will prove an “angel of the household.”—Success to you, brother printer.

These articles indicate that he was still working in the printing business immediately after his service in the Civil War, as he had been before.

John married a second time in 1866, but Hattie did not die until May 2, 1881, so they must have either divorced or the marriage was annulled.  She is buried under her maiden name in Lakeside Cemetery in Hastings.

John married Emma Wair (or Ware) in Prescott, Wisconsin, on August 10, 1866.  The State Bureau of Health Statistics’ copy of the Pierce County marriage registration book reads “Frank J. Newton” from Hastings married “Emeline G. Wair” on August 10, 1866.  The same compiled Minnesota marriage index that listed his first marriage occurring in 1866 lists “John F. Newton” marrying “Emma G. Ware” on September 10, 1866, in Prescott.

By the 1870 federal census John F. Newton and his second wife, Emma, were living in Hastings and his occupation was now “constable.”  In the 1880 federal census, John and Emma were still in Hastings, along with son John E. and daughter Margaret L.  His occupation was now “sheriff of county.”

Emma died around 1890, and John then married Katherine Hinton Howes (1857-1899).  They had five children: Avis Katherine (b. 1891), Jennette F. (b. 1894), Thomas Frederick (b. 1895), Emma Barton (b. 1897), and Rollin Finn (b. 1898).  Katherine died in 1899 in Hastings.  It is interesting to note that one daughter was given his first wife’s middle name (Avis), another daughter was given his second wife’s first name (Emma), and one of his sons was given the first name of Company B’s lieutenant/later captain (Rollin) and as a middle name the maiden name of his mother (Finn).

John F Newton in Men of MinnesotaBy the 1900 census John had moved his family to Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he was the General Claims Agent for the Northern Pacific Railroad.  All seven of his children were living with him.  The photograph of John F. Newton is from this time period, and comes from Men of Minnesota: A Collection of the Portraits of Men Prominent in Business and Professional Life in Minnesota, St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Co., 1902.

By the 1910 census John had moved to Puyallup, Washington, where he was listed as a farmer.  Five of his children were with him.  John F. Newton died September 7, 1914, in Puyallup, at the age of 74.  He is buried in the Lakeside Cemetery in Hastings, Minnesota.

1.  The closest possibility for what Editor Sam Fifield meant is “donote,” which is the future adverbial passive participle of doni—Latin for “to give.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dianne Alborn permalink
    April 1, 2018 5:05 pm

    Thank you for creating this page. This is my great grandfather, whom my father was named after. I’ve been doing research on my father’s side of the family and it gave me a lot of clarification on John’s wives and children. If you have any further information, I would love to receive it.

    • April 2, 2018 10:23 am

      Hi Dianne. I remember doing the research on John Newton and this is everything that I found.

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