John D. Hiner

Pvt., 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry

On March 22, 1865, at Roanoke Island, young John D. Hiner enrolled with the 101st Pennsylvania Infantry, serving to fill the depleted ranks of the 101st after the majority were captured at Plymouth, North Carolina. Little is known about the early life and Civil War service of John D. Hiner, but the 103rd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, Company H, is where he volunteered to fight for his country. He was mustered out with the Company, June 25, 1865. Later, he drew a small pension until his death in 1914.

His later life can be highlighted during his travels to Oklahoma to participate in the great Land Lottery of 1901. It was on July 29th of that year when 30,000 hopefuls gathered on the high school grounds of El Reno, Oklahoma, for a chance to win a quarter of a mile of choice grassland in former Comanche territory. The Native Americans had already been given individual allotments (only a fraction of their former landholdings), so that thousands of acres could be parceled out by the U.S. Federal government. At that time, Hiner was a widower, having lost his wife, Emma Berry, and their first born daughter, Juliett, a few years prior. He had two surviving daughters, Eva Lena and Isabelle who resided with their families in Streator, Illinois.

Drawing the low lottery number of 2079, he gained an early position in the land selection process. Combing prime acreage, he chose SW Section 20 – 1 south – 10 west, a choice piece of property with grassland, a creek and many trees. Here he set up residence and became involved in the masonry industry, a trade he was already familiar with. His Civil War record shows he was also a farmer, so it is likely he worked his land, too.

Sometime between 1900 and 1910, his daughter Eva Lena and son-in-law Edward Kelly came to Oklahoma with their two daughters Ruth and Mabel, to stay with their Grandfather John for one year. Oral history tells of the girls riding horseback to school, and sharing home-baked apple pies with their Native American neighbors, who often visited on horseback. The young girls remembered enjoying meeting the famous Apache Chief, Geronimo. At that time he was very old and frail, but by then well-liked and admired by the locals.

John D. Hiner died of heart failure in 1914 at the age of 67. He is buried beside his wife at the Defenbaugh Cemetery in Streator, Illinois. He has an extra headstone that commemorates his service during the American Civil War.

Scroll to Top