John Boorem, the namesake of his father and grandfather, was born on the family farm in Paradise Valley on 27 June 1832, and was baptized at the Paradise Evangelical Church on August 23rd of that year. He was only twelve years old when his father died. Although the 1850 census tells us that older brother Jacob was listed as the head of the family farm, John likely had to assume many of the duties associated with the farm at an early age. In the census Elizabeth is listed as the owner of the farm valued at $600.00. The returns also show that oldest son Joseph Boorem and family were living nearby on the old Dornblazer farm. Family tradition says that Jacob, John, Francis and Samuel Boorem ran a successful business on their father's farm, raising and selling produce to the community. This prosperity is reflected in the next census of 1860 when the Boorem farm is assigned a value of $1,500.00. The 1860 census is interesting because the Boorem household features ten family members, including Elizabeth, several of her children, and the grandchildren of her daughter Susan who had died the previous year. The last listed member of the Boorem family is Elizabeth's 86-year-old mother Marie Nauman widow of Michael Nauman, who arrived in Paradise Valley with the first wave of settlers in the early 1820s. There is no doubt that in 1860 Marie Nauman was one of Paradise Valley's few surviving old-time settlers. Since she would not appear in the 1870 census, logic dictates that she likely died between 1860 and 1870.
Like his father, John Boorem received a proper education in district schools and could both read and write. Although John was a farmer, his learned trade was that of a cooper, which he followed for some years. Later in life he also gained a reputation as a competent veterinary doctor. As we've seen, things were going well on the Boorem farm in 1860. The family had recovered well from the death of their patriarch, and were operating a successful farming business, however the events of 1861 were to have a direct impact on the life of our ancestor.
At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 there was a great call to arms issued by President Lincoln to state and local leaders. Rather than waiting for a regiment to be formed in his own county, John Boorem, along with several other men, set out on foot for Philadelphia in the winter of 1861, and enlisted in the army. The trip was a difficult one because the winter of 1861 was particularly harsh in that part of Pennsylvania. Once in Philadelphia, John enlisted in Company H of the 90th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. He was mustered into service on 17 December 1861 for a full three-year term. The 90th PA eventually became attached to the 1st Brigade, 1st Division of the Pennsylvania militia, and the regiment took part in some of the Civil War's most infamous battles.
After the full regiment was assembled under Captain Rush at Camp Oxford Park, about three miles north of Frankfort in Philadelphia County, the men began their basic training. They remained at camp Oxford Park until March 31st of the following year when the regiment was moved to camp McClellan at Nicetown. Soon after the men were marched to camp Patterson Park in Baltimore where they finally received their arms. They were then moved to Washington D.C. and became part of the forces charged with protecting the capital. Finally, the regiment moved to Aquia Creek Landing shortly before seeing their first action in battle.
The 90th took part in many memorable battles, including Cedar Mountain, Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, and Gettysburg. During the Battle of Antietam the 90th was placed under the command of General Joseph "Fightin Joe" Hooker, a flamboyant and popular Civil War general of questionable ability. Under Hooker's command, the 90th PA took part in some of the battle's earliest action in the North Woods against Stonewall Jackson's troops on September 17th 1862. The regiment's casualties were immediate and heavy. The 90th lost 75 men in the initial action and were withdrawn to guard one of the primary roads leading to the battle. John Boorem claimed that he was wounded in the left side of his chest by an exploding shell during the battle, and his Civil War record shows that he was removed to a field hospital in Berlin, Maryland before being moved to Findley Hospital in Washington D.C. to recuperate. He spent almost two months there before being honorably discharged as being "unfit for further military duty," in December of 1862. Years later John received a pension for his Civil War service, although he never was able to convince his medical examiners that he was wounded at Antietam as claimed. Several years ago I discovered the diary of Lt. Samuel Moore a soldier of the 90th Pa., who was wounded at Antietam. His account of the first day of fighting provides a vivid description of what John Boorem faced on that fateful day.
September 17th, 1862 -- Wednesday
Directly after daylight sharp (the sharpest of the war probably) cannonading took place on both sides right in our front; our Division was pushed forward with its Batteries. After reaching the edge of the woods our Battery opened upon the enemy with great severity, but soon ceased firing after which we were pushed forward into the woods with Grape and Canister and Shell of every description flying around like hail, cutting down trees or anything in its way. Three or 4 of our men were wounded here. When again receiving orders to move forward, we moved obliquely to the right until we cleared the woods when we again moved straight to the front. The firing by this time was becoming terrific and the men were beginning to go down very rapidly but stood their ground manfully being led on by the gallant Capt. Williams of Rickets staff. Col. Christian, Commanding Brigade could not be found. The men stood up to the work as long as possible expecting reinforcements but in vain. We had to fall back (but in good order) a short distance and hold them at bay until the reinforcements arrived. At this time the destruction of life was the greatest as the shot and shell literally mowed them down, but by all appearances the enemy lost two to our one, but what was remarkable was that their men were mostly killed and ours mostly shot in the limbs somewhere, our Regt. losing but 8 on the field killed and 90 shot in the arms or legs with few exceptions. I was shot through the right forearm near the elbow about this time by (I suppose) a Minnie Ball. After reinforcements came up the Brigade fell back behind the woods we occupied the previous night, where they were again drawn up in line of Battle. It was found that upon getting the 88th in line that the highest Rank Officer they had was a 1st Lieut. Maj. Guile being shot through the leg -- our officers injured are as follows - Capt. Maguire, shot through the leg - Lt. A. Morin, shot through both cheeks between the jaws injuring the tongue - Lt. J.M. Moore (confused or concussed), shell wound to the left side. Removed to the hospital at Keedysville in a new house containing by night 270 wounded -- passed a restless night but good nursing.
Below: the battlefield at Antietam
After being discharged from the army, John returned home, but soon afterwards went to work in the lumberyards on the Lehigh River until he had saved enough money to return home and purchase his own farm. He was likely away for about two years, returning to Paradise Valley circa 1865, where he purchased a farm in nearby Mountainhome in Barrett Township. In 1866 he married Sarah Jane, daughter of Mary Van Horn. Sarah Jane, or Jane, was originally from Jackson Township but had moved with her grandmother to Paradise Valley by 1860. John and Jane had five children, although only four would reach maturity. Susan (1862-1926), who may or may not have been John's daughter, married William Surplus, a railroad worker. They settled in Gouldsboro, Pa. where they raised a total of six children. Addie as born in 1866 and died shortly after 1870 of scarlet fever. Agnes (1867-1950) married David John who for years worked for the DL&W railroad in Scranton. They had no children of their own, but helped raise sister Laura's children following her untimely death. Joseph Hooker (1872-1948), who his father named after the Civil War general he had served under at Antietam, married Celeste Catherine Christman and raised a family of four five daughters. Hooker and Celeste lived in Mountainhome after their marriage, but later moved to Kushequa in McKean county and then Scranton. Laura (1874-1912). Married first William Doebele and secondly Ulreh Vogt. It was Laura's birth that would suddenly change the course of the family.
Below: John Boorem and the children of his first wife Jane:
Hooker, Agnes, John Boorem, Laura, Susie
Jane Boorem died shortly after Laura was born and there exists certain family tradition surrounding these events. The story goes that Laura was the surviving daughter of twins born to her mother in 1874 and it was Laura's stillborn twin that caused her mother's death. Apparently those attending the birth were unaware of the second child. Jane and her stillborn infant were buried at the nearby Methodist church cemetery in Mountainhome. Unfortunately there is no stone to mark Jane Boorem's final resting place. Family tradition says that oldest daughter Susie assumed many of the duties of raising her younger siblings.
In 1879 John Boorem married Emma Bond, a near neighbor in Mountainhome. Emma was the daughter of Lewis and Elizabeth Bond. At the time of their marriage, Emma was 18 while John Boorem was 47 years old. This second marriage produced five more children. Mabel (1881-1962) married Allen D. Price and had four sons. The Price family owned and operated a large dairy farm in Canadensis that was valued at $25,000 in the 1930 census. Alex Boorem (b. 1882) married Altie Hauchett, and lived with father on the farm in Mountainhome shortly before John Boorem's death. By 1920 Alex had left his first wife, changed his name to John Anderson and remarried leaving a large family. Sedgwick Boorem (1883-1960) who married several times, had five children by his wife Fern Putman. Sedgwick spent time in Pennsylvania, California, and Michigan, before settling in Arkansas. Robert Ord (1885-1973) married Frances McEvory and settled in Chicago where he raised two children and was s fireman for many years. Maud (1891-1966) married Harry Pace and had four children. John Boorem sold the farm to his daughter Maud shortly before his death and today the property is still owned by his children.
In 1892 John purchased what was known as the "old Cross farm" in Mountainhome, and it was here John would remain until his death. He made many improvements to the property, including erecting a new house, barn and shop. The John Boorem farm had a fine apple orchard as well as cherry, chestnut and walnut trees. Apple cider was a treat looked forward to at Fall harvest time. The Boorem family also raised vegetables and livestock.
Below: at home on the John Boorem farm, circa 1910. John Boorem is at far right.
Alex Boorem and his wife Altie are in the front. The two other women are unknown.
Not forgetting his Civil War days, John Boorem was an active member of the local G.A.R. post in Stroudsburg, and a GAR flag still marks his grave today. He was also a member of the Odd Fellows hall in Mountainhome where he served as Secretary-Treasurer for many years. Politically John was a republican, although he never held any state or local office. He received recognition when a biography of his life was included in "Commemorative Biographical Record of NE Pennsylvania," J.H Beers & Co., published in 1900. The biography demonstrates that even though he was approaching his 70th year, his memory was still sharp about the family's early days in Monroe County.
John Boorem died on 24 March 1916, three months short of his 84th birthday. The official cause of death was "chronic kidney disease." His obituary that appeared three days following his death in the Stroudsburg newspaper, "The Morning Press," reads as follows:
"John Boorem, age 83, of Mountainhome, one of the landmarks of Monroe County, veterinary surgeon, survived by his wife, 2 daughters, 3 sons, Mrs. Mabel Price, Maud, Alexander, Ord, Sedgwick. Deceased was a Civil War veteran. Member of Odd Fellows."
John Boorem was buried at the Oakland cemetery across the street from the Mountainhome Methodist church, not far from his farm. His wife Emma and daughter Mabel would later join him. With his passing, three generations of John Boorems were finally a rest.
John Boorem III: Documents and Photographs
Essay on John Boorem's 1st wife Sarah Jane
Photographs of the John Boorem Farm, Mountainhome
The Civil War Pension File of John Boorem
John Boorem's Civil War pension certificate. The certificate is part of John Boorem's Civil War pension file found at the National Archives in Washington D.C. The file contains many documents and affidavits that provide a wealth of information about John and his family.
John Boorem's Death Certificate
Photographs of Boorem Cemetery Plot, Oakland Cemetery
Continue with essays on the children of John Boorem
Return to the John Boorem II page
Return to the main page at the Boorem Family Web Site
Text and photographs copyright © 2014 by Jeffrey L. Thomas, with all rights reserved