Elvin A. Estey, after many years of hardships and continuous toil, has been able to gather enough of this world's goods unto himself which has enabled him to retire from the active conflict in the battle of business and spend the remaining years of his life in rest and reflection over the eventful years of his past history, so abundantly marked by tragic experiences which happily, however, at last have been crowned with plenty and peace. He resides at his picturesque and beautiful residence at Riverside in the county of Sheboygan, where he enjoys the universal good-will of all his old-time friends and new acquaintances. Mr. Estey was born in Summit county, Ohio, May 3, 1842, and is the son of Aaron Estey. His father, being a native of New York, removed to the west and settled first in Chicago for a brief time, after which he established his permanent home in Sheboygan county in the year 1848 on a farm in Lyndon township, where he continued to reside until 1885, at which time he sold the property to his son Elvin.
Elvin A. Estey was reared in his father's home and educated in the common schools of the district in which he lived. During his early life he was occupied during the interims of his school period in the usual work that falls to the lot of a farmer's boy. He continued under the parental roof until the age of nineteen, when he enlisted for service in the Civil war at Sheboygan, June 3, 1861, becoming a member of Company C, Fourth Wisconsin Infantry, the regiment being organized at Racine in the latter part of June. On the 16th of July they proceeded by way of Cleveland to Buffalo, New York, where Colonel Paine had some difficulty in securing transportation for the regiment to Elmira. After two hours' sleep in camp there they boarded a train for Baltimore and, arriving at about two o'clock in the morning, marched through the streets, their band playing the Star Spangled Banner, and went into camp about six miles out at a place called Relay House in order to guard the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. After an expedition on the eastern shore of Virginia in December, 1861, the regiment returned to Baltimore and was in winter quarters there until March 6, 1862. They then took a steamer to Fort Monroe, where they landed to wait for transportation.
With the arrival of the ships the Fourth Wisconsin, Sixth Michigan and Twenty-first Indiana boarded the great steamer Constitution to join Butler's army at Ship Island in the Gulf of Mexico. While passing down the bay the rebel batteries opened fire, two cannon balls passing over the Constitution, while the others fell short. A voyage of six days brought them to Ship Island. On the 1st of May they entered New Orleans, the Fourth Wisconsin being the first regiment to march through the streets after the city surrendered. They had to march by platoon and had to charge bayonets to clear the street but they took possession of public buildings and restored order. Mr. Estey was in the first expedition up the Mississippi river to Vicksburg, which was fired upon by a rebel battery near Grand Gulf, one man of the Sixth Michigan being killed. The colonel signaled for a gun to come up and give them a few shells when the Union troops landed but there were no rebels to be found. They then went back down the river to Baton Rouge, Mr. Estey participating in the battle there August 5, 1862. He was also in the battle of Camp Bislin, April 12 and 13, 1863, when one thousand prisoners and thirteen pieces of artillery were captured. On the 21st of May, 1863, he was in a skirmish opposite Port Hudson, where they encountered a regiment of Texas Rangers. Mr. Estey had his gunstock shot to pieces at that time. The troops fell back five miles, crossed the Mississippi and laid siege to Port Hudson, which surrendered July 8, 1864.
Mr. Estey reenlisted January 5, 1864. He was in a skirmish near Baton Rouge in July, one at Clinton, Louisiana, in August and another at that place in September. He was on scout duty with Lieutenant Earl when twelve Union men captured thirty rebel prisoners and brought them to camp. He participated in the Davidson raid in December and, entering a rebel camp about two o'clock in the morning, they made way with fifty bushels of sweet potatoes, which made a much prized addition to the fare of the Union troops. A skirmish at Rosedale, Louisiana, in February, 1865, was followed by the siege of Mobile in March and Mr. Estey was also in the seventy days' raid under General Grierson through Florida, Alabama and into Georgia, then back through Alabama and Mississippi. The troops reached Vicksburg in July, 1865, went across the river, passed through Texas under General Merritt and then went to camp at Brownsville, Texas, where one of their boys was hung by Mexicans while carrying dispatches. Mr. Estey was sent out with three men to investigate outrages committed by Mexicans ten miles from camp and finding their trail, followed it about five miles and surprised their camp. On seeing the Mexicans the little party drew their revolvers and charged at them and Mr. Estey then dismounted and took the revolvers from the Mexicans, whom they then ordered on to their horses. With their seventeen prisoners they marched into camp, turning over the men to the commander at headquarters so they could have their trial. This ended Mr. Estey's service in the United States army. He was discharged at Brownsville, Texas, May 28, 1866, reaching home in June of that year.
Immediately following his discharge from the United States army he returned to the county of Sheboygan and at once engaged in farming, in which he continued to be successfully employed for many immediate years following. On the 16th of September, 1868, Mr, Estey was united in marriage to Miss Nancy Gearlds, a daughter of Edward Gearlds, of whom more extended mention is made on another page of this work in connection with the sketch of his son, John Gearlds. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Estey four children were born. Nettie, the mother of three children, is the wife of Richard Glenzer, a farmer residing near Greenbush. Clarence, who is engaged in the furniture and undertaking business at Wellington, Ohio, is married and has two children. Myrtle gave her hand in marriage to Leslie Bear, an employee in the government mail service. Mr. and Mrs. Bear reside at Waldo, Sheboygan county, and have three children. William resides at home and is engaged in the conduct of the farming interests at the old homestead in this county.
Mr. Estey has a record of service rendered to his country scarcely paralleled in the annals of the average American citizen. At an early age in life, when this country was in arms and in conflict, he threw himself into the most dangerous breach. It has been said that "he who goes forth to war, first dies; if he lives afterward, he lives to suffer and to fight." Such is one of the experiences required of every man who would make of himself a brave defender of his country's flag. The hazardous place to which duty called Mr. Estey during the war period and the splendid account he gave of himself in times of greatest danger and trial is a declaration to the living of today that he is justly entitled to be numbered among the loyal and brave boys who wore the blue. That he did survive his war experiences has never ceased to be a subject of interest and wonderment to his comrades and friends. Happily, however, it fell to his lot to escape all harm and at the close of the conflict he returned to the peaceful pursuits of private life, in which for so many years he has been engaged in the honorable accumulation of the handsome estate upon which he lives in retirement in the enjoyment and confidence of his fellow citizens.
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL