John D. Lawyer

Grampa Bill’s great-grandfather on his mother’s side was named John D. Lawyer.  While I have found nothing on his parents, I have found quite a bit about his distinguished military service as a corporal in the 16th NY Cavalry, the regiment tasked with capturing John Wilkes Booth.

  • Born on March 28th, 1835
  • Spouse: Caroline Borst 1841 -1883
  • Parents: Unknown
  • Children:
    • Nancy Lawyer 1861 
    • Mary Lawyer 1862 – 1932
    • Caroline Lawyer 1867 – 1932
    • John W. Lawyer 1873 – 1934
    • Edith Lawyer 1875 – 1960
    • Hattie Lawyer 1876 – 1915
    • Maud Lawyer 1879
  • Military Service:
    • The 16th New York Cavalry Regiment
    • Enlisted on October 16th, 1862 in Cobleskill, NY
    • Mustered in on October 18th, 1862 with Company M
    • Took part in the defense of Washington DC
    • Fought in the Battle of Bristoe Station
    • Took part in the capture of John Wilkes Booth at Garrett’s Farm
  • Died on February 12th, 1902

The first instance where I locate a John Lawyer in the official record is not with his parents- I have not been able to locate any information on John’s parentage- is a census where he lived with a family named the Beekers in Middleburgh, Schoharie, NY. Lawyer 1850 Census.jpg

Note the marking for place of birth; my belief is that this is M.B. for Middleburgh, though I can’t be sure.  I can find no other instance of John Lawyer in that area in that time frame.

We find him again in 1855 listed with the Beckers- who are the Beekers from before- though now, the list of people that he lives with is 22, and none of them are named Lawyer. He’s still listed with the Beckers or Beekers in 1860 as a farm laborer.

On October 16th 1863, John enlists in the Grand Army of the Republic: john-lawyer-civil-war-muster-roll


The 16th NY Cavalry Marker

He musters in with the 16th Cavalry, M. Company in Cobleskill, New York on October 18th and serves with distinction in the defense of Washington DC.  On July 1st, 1864, he is promoted to the rank of Corporal. Other notable engagements for the 16th the Battle of Bristoe Station, Centreville, and the hunt for John Wilkes Booth.   While not one of the 26 soldiers that engaged Booth, John D. was certainly there and in the search for the assassin. John musters out of his service with the Union Army on August 17th, 1865 and returns home to his family.

In 1880, John is listed with his family as a farm laborer and has four children: Carrie, John W., Hattie and Maude. Tragically, John’s wife Caroline Borst dies in 1883.  There is evidence in John’s obituary that he remarries but, at this time I have no information as to what the new bride’s name is.


In 1900, John is listed as having been living with his daughter and son-in-law, Edith and Abram Parslow.  He passes in 1903; below is his obituary and grave site: