Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Captain Joseph Miles Fitzhenry of Kentucky 1825 -1907

This tale comes with permission from Mr Richard van Pelt who runs the Van Pelt Heritage website. This traces the Van Pelt name worldwide, and the Fitzhenry and Van Pelt names coincide in Arkansas.

Joseph Miles Fitzhenry was born in Kentucky in 1825. His father, Edward Fitzhenry, was born in Ireland and his mother was Julia Ann Jarboe whose family from France were some of the first settlers of the Maryland Colony.

In 1848 he married a cousin Rose Ann Jarboe and they had a total of 10 children. Their daughter Minnie Corinth Fitzhenry was born in April of 1862 when Capt. Fitzhenry was at the Battle of Shiloh near Corinth, Mississippi. A family story says that during the battle his horse was shot out from under him and his saber slashed his leg.

As Kentucky was already occupied by Union troops and his house and property were confiscated, Capt. Fitzhenry resigned his commission and returned to Kentucky to rescue his wife and child. He was captured and taken to Fort Delaware. After a prisoner exchange in April of 1863, he was able to return to Kentucky and later moved his family to Arkansas

In Morrilton, Arkansas, he built the Catholic Convent, some business houses, and many of the finest residences. He was the owner and proprietor of the Fitzhenry House Hotel. His daughter Minnie Corinth was 19 years old when she married James Alexander Van Pelt, a hardware store owner, tin smith, and inventor. A year later (1882), Herbert Newton Van Pelt was born. Sadly, Minnie Corinth died at only 23, leaving 3 year old Herbert to be raised by the Fitzhenrys.
The picture of the Fitzhenry House hotel is reproduced with Mr Van Pelt's permission, and a larger version of the picture is on his website.
The picture of the Fitzhenry House Hotel & Boarding House was taken about 1886. In the center of the porch is young Herbert Newton Van Pelt standing between his grandparents, Capt. Joseph Miles Fitzhenry and Rose Ann (Jarboe) Fitzhenry. The building was torn down sometime after Capt. Fitzhenry died in 1907. Herbert moved to the fine home of his uncle, Dan Fones, in Little Rock, Arkansas.
If you have any further information about the Van Pelts anywhere in the world, please email Mr Richard Van Pelt

If you have any more information about Captain Fitzhenry or the Jarboe family, please contact us!

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  1. This is a fantastic story - very atmospheric...you can imagine a movie being made about it!!US civil war, POW, prisoner exchanges..
    What a shame the Fitzhenry House Hotel was demolished, as it looked like a lovely structure! And here is that enigmatic name 'Miles' again. Surely, there has to be a connection between all these Miles!?? I've never heard it used so often!!
    Another mystery to unravel!

  2. Dana Mattingly Craft26 October 2012 at 06:02

    I was so excited to stumble across this blog post!! Captain Fitzhenry was my great, great, great grandfather! I have a couple of pictures of him, Rose Ann and of Herbert Van Pelt. I know that I have some letters from some Van Pelts as well. I have never seen the photo of the Fitzhenry house and I have often wondered about it! Thanks for the post!

  3. Diane,
    Thanks for leaving your comment It's great when we can provide people with new information about their ancestors. We would love to see your photos of Captain Fitzhenry and his family, if you would be so kind as to share them. And please do get in contact with the Van Pelt study through the link in this post.