There is a ton of information about Henry Ell Myer in the widow's pension file for Eliza Catherine (McCulley) Taylor Myer. Below are many of the highlights:
Eliza first married Patrick Henry Taylor. He enlisted on 6 Feb 1862 into Company B of the 15th Iowa Infantry and was mustered in as a group on the same day he died (14 Mar 1862). He died of Pleurisy, although some accounts say it was Tyfoid Fever.
Eliza Catherine (McCulley) Taylor applied for a Pension 5 Nov 1862.The application includes a court affidavit attesting to her marriage to Patrick Henry Taylor on 21 Aug 1856 by William Elder, J.P. in Dallas County, Iowa. Her children are listed as Melissa Jane Taylor (b. 25 Nov 1857), Samuel William Taylor (b. 25 Oct 1859), and Eunice Henrietta 'Unia' Taylor (actually listed as Henry Union Taylor in the application, b. 13 May 1862).One statement in the files explicitly states that Unia was born after her father's death and obviously never knew or saw him. Later in the document, when Eliza applies to be re-enrolled, there is a statement from two different individuals who were present at the birth of each child. The files later shows those individuals to be Eliza's sisters. A total of three sisters are mentioned in the file Nancy A McKean (McCulley), Mary Larrance (McCulley) and Maria B McCulley. Before her marriage to Taylor she says that she lived 18 miles north of Adel in Dallas Co., Iowa. She says she was 18 years old and Taylor was 26 years old when they married. I also found her in the 1850 census in Dallas County Iowa living with Catherine McCullough (age 48), Margaret P (age 19), Nancy A (age 15), Eliza C (age 11), Mary C (age 7), Maria (age 4), Hugh (age 50) and Samuel (age 51).
Documents are there showing that Eliza re-married to Henry Ell Myer, 8 April 1866 and there are papers showing that he obtained legal guardianship over the three Taylor children. He also was entitled to collect pension on them until they reached the age of 16. He is listed as being 33 years old when they were married. Depositions from Eliza and others show that Myer whipped and abused the Taylor children as well as his own children. Apparently, his own children and the Taylor children did not like him much. He was a gambler and even though Eliza apparently wouldn't admit to it, they quarrelled often (mostly about the children). Again, either Eliza didn't know or refused to admit to it, others said he was a drinker and was known to have relations with other women. The examiner called him a common thief and further writes; "a very worthless husband as Myer and several sons who are worthy of such a father." Of their son Henry Milton Myer, the examiner writes, "While he bears an indifferent reputation for the truth, he has the appearance and manner of one not addicted to telling the truth when possible to avoid it". The document also confirms the 8 children born to her from Myer.Henry Ell Myer would leave to work (carpenter or whatever work he could find) during the week and come home only on Saturday evenings, often broke. Several times he would leave for up to a month or 6 weeks at a time. He once went out to N. Dakota and worked an entire season. He came home with only $50 to show for his work. Some say he gambled it all away or spent it on other women. Henry Ell Myer then desserted Eliza on 12 Dec 1886 when they were living in Summerset, Warren Co. He was last seen by his oldest son Henry M. Myer who was boarding a train to Washington State with money given to him by his half-sister Melissa Jane Yokum. Henry Ell Myer apparently split town with $1300 (payment from a house that he helped build) and left his wife and children with no provisions and without even a cent in the house. The examiner concluded that Henry Myer probably deserted to somewhere in Stutsman Co., North Dakota as a tin type photo surfaced of him with a man named Wilson who lived there and who was known to be a former associate of Myer sometime after he abandoned his family. Its amazing the efforts the courts went to in attempting to find him, even taking a trip out of state to interview people of interest.Eliza was granted a divorce from him on 22 Nov 1904. This allowed her to reclaim her widow's pension from her first husband. Her pension was indeed reinstated. She was dropped from the rolls 9 Feb 1917 following her death which is stated as 6 Dec 1916. She attests that her birth date is 13 Jan 1839.
After her marriage to Henry Ell Myer in Perry, Dallas Co. Iowa, they moved to Dallas Center and lived there for about 2 years. Then they moved to Des Moines for less than a year. They then took a wagon to Topeka, Kansas and lived like gypsies in the wagon for 3 months. They then moved to Hillsboro, Highland Co. OH and lived with relatives (specifically Eliza's Aunt Rachael Pryor). Neighbors (and other possible relatives) were John Lewis, John Huston and Lou Pike. They stayed in Hillsboro for 18 months. Next, they moved to near Monroe, Marion Co. Iowa and lived there for 4 years. They then moved to Jasper Co. Iowa before finally settling in Summerset, Warren Co. Iowa in the fall of 1876 where they stayed.Myer then abandoned his family on 12 Dec 1886.
Most likely Henry Ell Myer was born near Knoxville (according to his wife Eliza), although possible spent time in Chattanooga and/or Memphis too. His father's name was John Myer (according to Eliza) or Henry Myer (accoring to his eldest son Henry M. Myer) (maybe it was John Henry Myer). The father was a blacksmith and worked as a river pilot smuggling slaves from the south to Canada. His father was absent most of the time. His mother's name was Hannah (maiden name unknown). She died when he was 10 days old and his father never remarried. When his father was around, they both lived with his Aunt Mary Myer near Knoxville. He also lived with his Uncle Wm Myer (a cotton mill man) in Chattanooga. He also had an uncle John Myer in Chattanooga. He had two cousins that were known about named John Myer in Memphis and cousin William Myer in Chattanooga. He had no brothers or sisters that were known. He left Tenn just as the civil war broke out and apparently lived a nomadic life out west in the mountains of western Nebraska and/or Denver as a hunter and then settled in Perry, Iowa after the war about a year before marrying Eliza. She knew him about 6 months before they married. It was said that he was previously married and that his wife died shortly after, but that was only here-say according to this document. Henry Ell Myer was about 6 feet tall, heavy build, light complexion, hazel eyes, sandy hair, and wore a heavy beard that came clear down onto his chest. Eliza had only one tin type photo of him.
Eliza had 3 acres purchased with money given to her by her daughter and son-in-law, Unia and Thomas Benton Overton. Thomas Benton's father David Overton and second wife Martha lived about 2-3 miles from her. Myer evidently had built a house there. She raised chickens and planted vegetables to survive and by 1904, she was mostly dependent on her children for support. She couldn't read or write (gives her mark instead of a signature).Eliza had no income, was blind in one eye, and had a daughter who "lost her mind" (probably Idelia Myer, who I think is labeled as Dode Myer in the photo I have; who never married and who lived with her mother). There are various statements by neighbors and relatives about her plight.Everyone felt sorry for her. Interestingly, in the photo I have of her, you can see that her left eye is completely glazed over.
Here are a couple interesting write ups about Patrick Henry Taylor and their sources:
Company B, 15th Iowa Infantry Regiment
Henry P. Taylor
SAYS Captain Struder, " died suddenly and unexpectedly." A most excellent man; a real Christain and a gentleman; one of the best men in the company; a true patriot; quiet and firm; anxious to perform all his duties; kind and courteous to all around him, very respectful of his officers; highly esteemed and respected by all. in the night of March 14, 1862, he fell suddenly ill, in the company's quarters at Camp Halleck, Keokuk, and died within about 1 1/2 hours from the time he first complained. The surgeon could not render a correct certificate as to name of disease, but thought it to be congestive chill, he having been summoned too late to see much of his case, or to save him. Taylor had a wife and several small children when he enlisted, depending wholly on him for support. His sudden and untimely end created a deep feeling of sadness among all around him. He was a good citizen, and the country lost a splendid soldier. He lived in Des Moines; was a laboring man; age, thirty-three; a native of Ohio; a private; enlisted Feb. 6, 1862.
American patriotism Memoirs of "Common Men" By Leonard Brown Published by Redhead and Wellslager - 41 Ct. Ave., Des Moines - 1869. p. 214-15.
Taylor, Henry P.Age 33. Residence Des Moines, nativity Ohio. Enlisted Feb. 6, 1862. Mustered March 14, 1862. Died March 14, 1862, Keokuk, Iowa. Buried in Oakland Cemetery, Keokuk, Iowa.
Roster and Records of Iowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion Vol. II 9th-16th Regiments - Infantry, Published by authority of the General Assembly, under the direction of Brig. Gen. Wm. H. Thrift, Adjutant General - Des Moines - 1908. - p. 1029