Josephus Israel Test
was born in 1822 to Benjamin Franklin Test and Abigail Cornwell in New Hope,
Brown County, Ohio. Census in 1840 lists
him as living in Tate Township, Clermont County, Ohio. Test married Sarah Landon on November 14,
1858 in Ohio. They had four children: George was born around 1860, Maxie M, Eva E,
and Rebecca J who was born around 1863.
Test joined the
military on May 2, 1864 to the 153rd Regiment Infantry. It was organized at Camp Dennison, Ohio. He was mustered in on May 10, 1864 and they
left state for Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.
There they were on guard duty along the line of the Baltimore and Ohio
Railroad system until June 29. On July 3rd
a brigade encountered a scouting party of the 153rd under the
command of Lieutenant Colonel Leeds at Hammack’s Mills, Oldtown which is also
known as North River Mills. The larger
Confederate forces captured 34 men and killed one officer. All in all 3 were
killed and 7 others wounded. Test was one of the 34 men that was captured that
day and taken to Andersonville Prison where he stayed until they were exchanged
on April 12, 1865 at Vicksburg, Mississippi.
On April 25 he boarded the Sultana Steamboat along with around 2000
other Union Soldiers.
On April 27, 1865 the
Sultana Steamboat boilers exploded. It
is only by the testimony of William Lugenbeal that we know the fate of Josephus
Test. Lugenbeal mentioned Test in his
recount of that horrible night in Chester Berry’s book, Loss of the Sultana and
Reminiscences of Survivors: Hisotry of a Disaster. He said when the explosion happened that he
was on the second deck and a piece of timber had went through his partner’s body
killing him instantly. We can only
imagine if they had met while held captive at Andersonville Prison or maybe it
was while they were at Camp Fisk. They
may have just so happen sit next to each other after boarding the steamboat
itself. Then we can only imagine that their
conversations were about their families they were returning home to. Even
though we don’t know how they met, we do know that Lugenbeal thought enough about
Test to mention him so that he would never be forgotten. Test would never make
it back home to his family as the Mississippi River became his watery grave that
night. We must continue to share his
story as well as all the other passengers who boarded that steamboat 150 years
The town where Test was born started as a post office called New Hope established in 1828, and remained in operation until 1893. An outbreak of cholera in 1849 decimated the town's population. Today the town is currently still there and considered a ghost town. It probably has less than 100 residents who keep it clean & preserve their history. The Old U.S. Route 68 iron bridge, built in 1884, sits abandoned & closed off from traffic crossing White Oak Creek at the end of Main St. Before you even get to that point there's a very old hotel & an abandoned grocery store / meeting hall across the street, both of which are super cool! A small building marked Scott Township Hall is in the lot behind the town marker on Main St. (maybe a reproduction?). Over on New Hope - McKinley Rd. the Methodist church built in 1851 is still open. A little on down the road is the abandoned Scott Township School built in 1935 & closed in 1971. There's also a few old cemeteries on the outskirts of town.
Society Papers/ West Virginia Battles 1864
A compendium of the
War of the Rebellion, Volume 1
Complete Regular Army Register of the United States
for One Hundred Years
Engagement and Battles
https://books.google.com/books?id=_CxFAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA183&lpg=RA1-PA183&dq=Hammack+Mills,+West+Virginia&source=bl&ots=MIDS1w5Z53&sig=c0J-swSsDNHj88YaC9lRryenCvM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=l3IyVfksxMewBdeWgfgK&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Hammack Mills, West Virginia&f=false
Loss of the Sultana and Reminiscences of
Survivors: History of a Disaster ...
By Chester D. Berry