Tuesday, April 30, 2013

family in the late great unpleasantness ...

... as many referred to the Civil War afterwards. My roots both maternal and paternal mostly go deep into New York and New England and into the eastern Pennsylvania-New Jersey area. One line veers off to northern Virginia but was gone from there into Ohio decades before the war. Aside from one line that went from New York to Kansas and there post-war, joining with the one in Ohio, my direct ancestors were all still in New York and Massachusetts.

Therefore none of them were living in war torn areas. Maternal ancestor Edward Payson Willson and his future brother-in-law Tiffin Sinks served in a short term militia organized when there was a short term threat by elements of the Rebels to Leavenworth, Kansas. Tiffin's family was in southern Ohio but perhaps when that area was threatened went further north to Columbus to stay with sister Ann Sinks Deshler and her husband William Green Deshler.

On the paternal side, closest to the war were the Sears and Anderson families in the Philadelphia area. These probably saw many of the wounded brought to Philadelphia hospitals and at times were probably aware of war not far away. The rest of the family lines were well removed physically from the actual war so certainly their lives were not affected as closely and deeply as southerners were but all had close family and friends serving some where and this was perhaps the most difficult as communication was unreliable and slow.

Imagine Dorothea, widow of Christopher Weller, living in Buffalo, New York ... her older sons were thankfully not serving directly although they were busy supplying the Union forces with wagons and carriages. Her youngest son William was still at home but Jacob had enlisted with the 1st New York Light Artillery in August of 1862, serving in battle-torn areas. At the beginning of July he was at Gettysburg ... did his mother and siblings know he was there when they first heard about the battle? How long was it before they heard he had been wounded, losing his arm to an artillery shell?

Imagine several greats grandmother Mary Cook, wife of Chalkley Sears, waiting in Philadelphia. Being much closer she may have known he was also at Gettysburg .. what did she think when she first heard he was wounded that first day? How long was it before she knew how badly he was hurt? How relieved she must have been when she learned it was a relatively small wound in his hand.

Third great grandmother was in Maine but what she knew or heard about her nephew Alonzo Ulmer is unknown but she would have eventually heard from her sister Zoa, Alonzo's mother, in Illinois, that Alonzo had been at Gettysburg also, wounded in the side and that Zoa was soon going to Philadelphia to see him in the hospital.

These three were the closest relatives fighting in the war but many many first and second cousins were in various units coming from the East as well as Michigan, Wisconsin and other frontiers to fight for the Union. Nowadays we hear often within hours of deaths halfway around the world but then it was days often weeks before one heard, sometimes longer and sometimes never hearing what happened to them.

When I was born, my father was in the Pacific in WW2 and I wonder how it was for my mother and for his parents worrying when the phone rang or dreading getting a telegram ... I at least was too young to know ... to worry.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

down the rabbit hole ...

... or who is Alice?

Alice F. Deshler was born the 22nd of September 1852 in Buffalo, Erie County, New York. In the 1860 census of Buffalo and the 1870 census of Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio, she is listed in what would be an apparent daughter position in the household of John Green Deshler and his wife Louisa Falconer (Faulkner), immediately after John and Louisa and before any others in the household including, in 1870, John’s two younger sisters, Louisa and Flora.

Alice uses the Deshler surname throughout her life including her marriage on the 5th of May 1871 to Joshua M Bennett and she is named as Alice Deshler on her daughter Sarah’s 1942 death certificate which gives her birthplace as Buffalo, New York.

At her own death on 7 January 1925, the informant, her daughter May, gives her mother’s father as John G Deshler with her mother listed as unknown. The FindAGrave site lists her as Alice F Desher [sic] Bennett but I do not know if that is on the stone or the information is from somewhere else.

So far everything is indicating, but NOT specifically stating, that Alice is the daughter of John Green Deshler and Louisa Falconer …

BUT … the book, The Genealogical Record of the Schwenfelder Families published in 1923, lists John Green Deshler on page 1521 and not only states that there was no issue for John but goes on to say “Although Mr. Deshler was very fond of children, he had none of his own.”

Not only that but John Green Deshler died 8 Jan 1878, followed within a few weeks by his wife Louise whom he had married 5 May 1842. There is no mention in their obituaries of any children. Mr. Deshler left no will having destroyed the current one “just a few days” before his sudden and unexpected death. His entire estate goes to his wife by law and there is considerable argument during the next decade or so over her subsequent will but in none of the coverage of the will and the arguments have I found any mention of Alice F Deshler Bennett.

Now, in 1880, Alice, her husband Joshua Bennett, whom she married in 1871, and their daughters May and Alice are living in Columbus so a distant move is not the reason for silence about her in the news reports and it appears that the Bennetts remained in the area as they are buried in Green Lawn Cemetery as are the other Deshlers and Alice’s death certificate gives her place of death as Worthington, a suburb just to the north of Columbus.

If she had been an actual adopted child one would expect a mention in the will or at least in the obituaries. She is perhaps a child of some relative of John or Louisa and I suspect perhaps her middle name is Falconer but these are just guesses … So, who was Alice?

Friday, September 14, 2012

a romantic tradition ...

… true or false? Years ago I found a tradition in my New England lines regarding my seven greats grandparents Joseph Adams and Margaret Eames. Margaret was born 8 July 1666 in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and when she was not yet ten years old, in February of 1676, Indians attacked their home when her father was away and killed her mother and two or more of the younger children. Margaret and at least two of her brothers were taken to Canada by their captors.

The tradition I kept running across in other people’s work was that Joseph Adams and Margaret Eames met and fell in love when a group including Joseph went to Canada to redeem captives including Margaret. I finally found a source for this in William Barry’s History of Framingham, published in 1847:
"Tradition throws an air of romance upon the fortunes of Margaret, the daughter. The colonial government having despatched [sic] some agents to obtain the release of captives detained in Canada, one of their company was in his own turn captivated by the attractions of the daughter of Mr. Eames, whose release he obtained, and whom he soon after made his wife.”
Certainly it is so that Joseph Adams and Margaret Eames married 21 February 1688 in Cambridge and Joseph was some ten to twelve years older so was of an age to be part of an expedition to redeem captives at some time after the 1676 capture. So, there is circumstantial evidence that the tradition is possible, but what is the probability?

Over the years, decades actually, I had looked for additional evidence but it was not until I found Cambridge Cameos by Roger Thompson that I found any clues whatsoever. This book is subtitled “Stories of Life in Seventeenth-Century New England” and primarily relates the cases of a number of disputes in Cambridge from 1652 to 1686. I strongly recommend this book to anyone with ancestors in this time period in New England, not only in Cambridge. None of the incidents Thompson discusses directly concern the Adams or Eames families but bits and pieces appear as witnesses et cetera, most particularly Margaret Eames herself and Joseph’s parents, John and Anne Adams.

After the 1676 destruction of his home and family, Margaret’s father Thomas Eames moved back to the Menotomy area of Cambridge later West Cambridge (1807) and then Arlington (1867). John and Anne Adams had remained in that area since at least 1658. John had brought his wife and child, born in England, to Cambridge as a servant to Joseph Cooke by 1650. He later (perhaps after working out an indenture) purchased land at Menotomy.

In 1686, Elisha Bull and John Watson had a dispute about hogs, their ownership and damage done by them. This was not an uncommon difference of opinion. Margaret Eames and John Adams both testify as neighbors of Elisha Bull, placing Margaret as redeemed by 1686, age 19, and that the Adams and Eames families were living in close proximity, both neighbors to the same person. This commonality of community reduces the probability of the romance as does the fact that they were not married for at least two years after her return although I have yet to discover the timing of her redemption.

Looking again at these families and time period, I did find that Joseph’s sister Mary had married Margaret’s half-brother John Eames, brickmaker, perhaps as early as 1670, certainly before the Indians destroyed the father's farm. So these families were also already connected closely. The families continued so as later, Joseph’s niece Anna Patten, daughter of his older sister Rebecca and Nathaniel Patten married Margaret’s slightly younger brother Nathaniel who also escaped or was redeemed from captivity.

Conclusion: although the idea of this romance is intriguing, it is likely of limited or no truth as their marriage was likely anyway due to proximity and prior connections. This is especially so because we have no information yet as to when Margaret was retrieved nor if Joseph was part of any redemption mission.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

little bits ...

… and pieces. For Christmas of 1905, my great grandfather, Charles Stanton Adams, was given a small journal entitled “Mathison’s Life Diary, For Recording the Events in the Life of Men, Women, and Children.” Each page contained three small lined areas for a month in the year so there is limited room for noting events. Charles made a couple of back entries from memory and then for several years made notes most months, finally tapering off.

A number of these notes involved holiday dinner guests and a few other social occasions. For the most part I recognized all the names he listed as himself and his wife Grace, their son Arthur and his wife’s brothers, Arthur and Moody Newhall and sister Mary Ella Whiteman and their spouses.

However, one pair of names listed for most of these events eluded me: Delmont and Ellen Andrews. A quick check of my genealogy database was no help but thanks to the internet, even though these events were taking place in Winchester, Massachusetts, and I am in St. Augustine, Florida, I could quickly and easily start searching for information on them to resolve why they were such frequent guests.

My initial impression was that Delmont and Ellen were husband and wife but the 1900 and 1880 census quickly demolished that theory. They were living together but they were listed as brother and sister. After that, tracking backwards finds them in the household of Hiram and Almira Andrews, Delmont born circa 1831 and Ellen born circa 1840.

Now the probable parents’ names rang a bell so back to my genealogy database and there they are, Hiram Andrews and his wife, Almira Wyman Locke, and there is the connection. They married in 1829 and had six children. Delmont was the eldest followed by Henry, William Hiram, Ellen, Asa, and last, about 1847, Daniel.

And the connection to Charles and Grace (Newhall) Adams? Technically, Charles was actually distantly related by blood to Delmont and Ellen, fifth cousins twice removed through several greats grandfather Richard Cutter (c1622-1693) but the connection was in some ways closer. Charles was the son of William Adams by his second wife, Emma Isadora Stanton. William’s first wife was Lucy Gardner Locke, sister of Delmont and Ellen’s mother Almira.

The only 'extra' thing I found about Delmont was that he and two of his brothers, Henry and William, registered for the Civil War draft in 1863. As far as I can determine, none of them actually served.

So … William’s half-siblings were first cousins of Delmont and Ellen. Now I know of no terminology for that relationship nor any for what William’s son Charles would be to Delmont and Ellen but clearly the two siblings and my great grandparents maintained a close friendship and my little puzzle is solved. Of course, as often happens, my little digression had no descendants... sigh!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

a dearth of cousins ...

… in the current paternal generations. My father was an only child as was his father, Arthur Stanton Adams. Arthur’s father was one of six children (half and whole). His whole brother George never married or had issue. George lived most of his adult life with his brother Charles and after Charles died in 1950, lived in his own small set of rooms. He was one of my favorite relatives and taught me how to play cribbage. He died in 1967.

Charles’ half-sister Lucy died as a child, not yet nine years old, of dysentery and his half-brother Warren at the age of six. His half-brother Frederick lived well in to adulthood but, like George, never married or had issue. Only his half-brother William married. William and his wife, Mary Jane Evans had 2 children, my first cousins twice removed.

I never really pursued tracing William’s children before, mostly I suppose because when I first started on this it was in the early 70’s without the current access online. So poking around I have discovered that William and Mary Jane had two children, William Everett Adams born 22 May 1894 and Margaret Porter Adams, born 19 July 1899.

From my great grandfather’s notes, I originally had William’s name as William Evans Adams but his birth record and draft registrations (both WW1 and WW2) give it as William Everett Adams. About 1920, he married Annie Dickson and they had two children, William and Priscilla, both of whom seem to have married and had children. Those children would be my third cousins, where ever they may be.

On the other hand, William’s sister Margaret seems to disappear after the 1930 census. In 1920, she is listed in Arlington, Massachusetts, with her parents as a 20 year old cashier at Electric Light. In 1930, now age 30, she is still there, living with her parents in Arlington, and is listed as a bookkeeper at Electric Light. Her father dies the following year and so far I have found no trace of her or her mother, Mary Jane.

My father’s maternal side is no better. His mother, Dorothy Anderson, was the youngest of three children. Her older sister Edith died at the age of three and a half of dysentery. Her older brother, Lesley, graduated from the Naval Academy and soon became engaged to a vaudeville actress but the marriage never happened. A few years later he married Beatrice Hawley and died in 1933, without issue.

Dorothy’s mother was also one of three children with an older sister who died of croup at not yet two and a half. Her much younger brother Stuart never married or had issue. Dorothy’s father, Frank Carroll Anderson, was one of four children and here we do a bit better for potential cousins. His sister Elizabeth died at the age of 29, probably of pulmonary tuberculosis, but both his brothers, Charles and Edward, married. Charles had one daughter, Edna, born about 1905, who disappears after the 1920 census. Edward had two daughters, Florence and Hester. Florence died in 1974 in Philadelphia, unmarried, without issue. Hester married and had three sons, Lewis, Edward and John. All three grew to adulthood and married. Their children, if they had any, would be my third cousins.

What all this rambling amounts to is, on my father’s side, the closest I’ve got is some unknown third cousins which explains why growing up all I ever knew on my dad's side were my grandparents and my "uncle" George.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

who were they ...

… what price did they pay? What tickles the brain and sneaks into my heart is wondering how different these lives might have been without the war and Gettysburg … better or perhaps worse?

In the fall of 1861, Alonzo Ulmer was a 20 year old man with few ties in life. His father, brother and sister had all died when he was just a child and then when he was just 13, his mother married her sister’s widower and he was taken from the coasts and sea of Maine to the flat grasslands of western Illinois. He did not get along with his stepfather and most of the rest of the family, probably as much his fault as theirs, so when war broke out he returned to his home town of Thomaston, Maine, and enlisted with others and went off to join his friends, relatives and neighbors in Company B of the 4th Maine.

Not quite a year later, Chalkley Sears enlisted in Philadelphia in Company F of the 150th Pennsylvania Infantry. He was a 30 year old married man, a hatter in nearby Phoenixville in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He and his wife Mary had had two daughters but the older, Julia, had died the past April, not long after the birth of the second daughter, Mary. Whatever his motives for enlisting, he is credited with raising an entire company there at Phoenixville which accounts for his being Lieutenant of the company.

Later that same month, Jacob Weller mustered in to the 1st New York Light Artillery right after his eighteenth birthday. Jacob was the next to youngest child of immigrants from Wuerttemberg, Germany, who had arrived in 1832 and made a life for themselves in Buffalo, New York. Three of their children had been born in Germany, one was born at sea on the voyage to America and they had eight more children after settling here.

Chalkley was probably the least seasoned of the three when July and Gettysburg came. The 150th had been assigned to guard duty in Washington, D.C. and although sent to Chancellorsville in May they had been held back and not participated in that battle. Jacob on the other hand was at Chancellorsville that May of 1863 his unit having 4 men killed and 10 wounded, being compelled to leave two of the guns on that field, all the horses of one gun being shot, and nearly all the men on the other wounded. Alonzo was becoming a seasoned veteran with nearly two years of marching, fighting, and making camp in all sorts of weather including at Chancellorsville.

In June of 1863, these three men joined thousands more headed for Gettysburg. On July 1st, Chalkley in the 150th Pennsylvania was at McPherson’s Farm on the Ridge of the same name, Jacob was with the guns of the 1st New York Light Artillery, taking a position on East Cemetery Ridge and Alonzo and the 4th Maine were headed for Devils Den at Little Round Top, sometimes referred to as the Valley of Death.

On that first day, Chalkley and his men fought, trying to hold the line at McPherson’s through the day. By afternoon they were in the farmyard, at the barn and the farmhouse. Chalkley was shot in the left hand, not quite a crippling shot but enough to leave the field if he wished. He stayed with his men during the retreat through the streets of Gettysburg in which many more were killed, wounded or captured. During the retreat they helped hold off the enemy long enough for an artillery unit to fix their guns for retreat. The unit is believed to be one of the 1st New York’s batteries although not Jacob’s which was further east.

On the 2nd of July, the 1st New York batteries were still holding Cemetery Hill. That evening there was an artillery assault from the Confederates and Jacob, the youngest of our three, was hit by a piece of a shell, smashing his right elbow causing his arm to be removed a few inches below his shoulder on July 3rd.

On the 3rd, the final day of battle, Alonzo and Company F of the 4th Maine were far out on the left flank of Little Round Top in the boulder strewn area known as Devils Den in Plum Run Valley. It was here Alonzo was shot in the side, with the ball piercing through, leaving entrance and exit wounds. He was among 40 or more of his fellows captured by the Confederates but probably fortunately he was abandoned in a Rebel field hospital when they retreated.

All three of these men recovered from their wounds but it is unlikely their lives were unaffected. Chalkley returned to duty in late August but in October was hospitalized with “intermittent fever” and discharged due to disability in December. He returned to his family, settling in Philadelphia with them and returned to his occupation as a hatter. He and his wife had no more children until 1881 when they had a son, Stuart, who never married. Only their daughter Mary had children, including my grandmother Dorothy.

Jacob, the worst wounded of the three, spent some months in the hospital and then was transferred to the Invalid Corps to finish out his term of service. After his discharge and return to Buffalo, he filed for and received a pension finding some work for a while as a letter carrier and a laborer. By 1880, he is living with his brother, my great great grandfather, Alexander Weller and in 1883 he dies, leaving no wife or children.

Alonzo recovered and was transferred to the 19th Maine to complete his term of service. Perhaps because he had no other life to turn to, he then enlists in the 9th US Volunteers for a year. After that he returns to Maine where he marries but in November of 1869 he tries returning to the Army but deserts from Fort Gratiot in Michigan in May of the following year. He seems to have wandered for the next couple of decades, visiting his mother, sister to my 3rd great grandmother, sometimes, perhaps spending time in the gold fields of Idaho Territory. Eventually, in 1898, he marries in Illinois and has a daughter, Virginia, named after his long deceased little sister. Beginning in 1903 he bounces in and out of the nearest soldiers home, eventually dying there in 1912. His daughter marries at least twice and leaves “no known family survivors” when she dies in 1989.

Much of the information above comes from the three pension files and may not precisely line up with battle accounts. Jacob may have been injured on the 3rd and Alonzo may have been wounded and captured on the 2nd but those differences are unimportant.

Friday, August 3, 2012

brother against brother ...

… cousin against cousin, father against son, Kentucky started out trying to be a neutral in the Civil War but finally officially fell in the Union camp, not that this changed the feelings of the people in the mountain counties, including Harlan. Composed mostly of mountains, Harlan had a long border with the Confederacy, marching a long way with Virginia and reaching along Tennessee to include the Cumberland Gap.

One hears little or nothing about Harlan County and its trials and tribulations during the Civil War except for the various battles at Cumberland Gap. After the war even that small fame was lost when the western part of Harlan that included the Gap was combined with a portion of eastern Knox County to form Bell County.

Throughout the war Harlan County and its surroundings were a battleground of sorts with Union and Confederate troops, partisans, bushwhackers and outright outlaws passing to and from foraging as they went, constantly skirmishing with whoever they found. Death, robbery, rape, starvation were rampant and fear must have been everyone’s companion.

The county supplied troops to both sides, Unionists principally from Martins Fork, Catrons Creek, and Wallins Creek areas and Confederates from Clover Fork and Poor Fork and the ground was ripe for personal feuds and grudges but presumably many thought that with the end of the war would come the end of this violence but this was not so.

In the May of 1865, Leonard Farmer wrote the Inspector General of Kentucky regarding the situation in Harlan County:

"We have not had a Circuit Court here in this county for three years, the court house has been burnt by Gurillas the Jail destroyed and bad men has controlled the county or near so. The Gurillas has nearly laid waste to the county by pilaging Plundering & Robbing who are now in small squads say from ten to twenty together who when times are suitable raids through the County and takes what suits their wicked purposes. these Gurillas are all well armed and men of the worst character and the Civil Authorities cannot apprehend them. The Sheriff are unable to serve process or arrest the Gurillas and cannot in a greater portion of the county collect the State Revenue. Harlan County is mountainous bordering some ninety miles on to the Virginia line and can be raided by bands of men from Lee County, Va. at any time they choose. When these robbers make raids they take arms, clothing, bacon & and where they find a man that bitterly opposes them they burn their house furniture and leaves the women and children without clothing or beds to sleep upon. The hardship that we have endured has been great, old men thats gray headed takes their blankets and lays in the mountain to avoid assassinated by these bands of robbers."

Attached to the letter was a list of 45 men willing to serve as a local militia. Many of the listed men were related to Farmer and most if not all were Unionists but then it is unlikely the Governor would have approved any Confederates for a militia at that point in time.

This makes interesting reading perhaps but take a minute now and imagine living with the constant fear that anyone coming down the lane to your home could be death or capture for you or yours. That men would come and simply take your food, your fuel, your husband and sons and perhaps assault or rape you and your daughters ...  this is I think especially important for those of us like myself who come from northern roots who may have had loved ones in battle but did not live it so directly themselves. Even those of the farther south did not live in so much danger for so long as those of the border counties and the mountainous counties suffered the most simply because geography made it possible.