STRANGE GH: One-armed Lamont horseman died while living life

Dec 26, 2011


Henry was born on Jan. 19, 1843, the son of Hiram and Philena Bateman. He briefly lived briefly in Clinton County, N.Y., before settling in Tallmadge Township in April the following year.

Nov. 6, 1861, Henry enlisted in the Michigan 3rd Infantry, Company B. He was just 18 years old, stood 5-foot-9, and had dark eyes and hair with a dark complexion.

His service with the Union forces ended when Henry was seriously wounded on Aug. 29, 1862, at the second battle of Bull Run at Manassas, Va. He had been shot through the deltoid muscle near his shoulder joint.

Henry was hospitalized in Washington, D.C. — at one point in Armory Square Hospital, under the care of 3rd Michigan regimental surgeon Dr. D.W. Bliss.

Surgeons saved Henry’s left arm — but it was useless, and would forever be.

According to Henry’s sister, Harriet; their father, Hiram — who also enlisted in the Michigan infantry — Henry left his station at Virginia to care of his wounded son.

Due to his injuries, Henry was officially discharged from the infantry on Dec. 15, 1862, for immobility of his left arm and returned to his family’s Lamont farmhouse. The farm was close to the Lamont fairgrounds and a stretch of land that proved ideal for riding a horse. Henry decided to make disability an ability.

Likely for recreation, if not some monetary gain, Henry engaged in horse racing. The sport proved to be challenging, as he had to do it with the grip of one hand.

At age 23, Henry married Carla, his 16-year-old sweetheart. But he did not settle down, as some men would. When not farming, Henry was off to the races.

On Sept. 29, 1866, Henry saddled up and was racing his horse with friends outside the fairgrounds just west of the railroad tracks near Lake Michigan Drive.

Suddenly, at a full pace, Henry’s horse struck a tree, injuring Henry severely. Friends at the scene came to his rescue and brought Henry home, where he died that day.

Historical records incorrectly claim Henry “died from flu.” However, a record of the tragedy, first published locally, was reprinted in the Detroit Free Press.

Henry is buried in Maplewood Cemetery at Lamont, as is his father and mother. Henry’s wife, Carla — who died on Jan. 7, 1905 — is buried beside him.

With his passing, Henry left behind a 145-year-old mystery. Did Henry’s disability contribute to the accident, or was it the fault of the horse? And what compelled Henry to race a horse using only one hand?

But one thing is for sure — Henry died while he was “living life.”


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