As a historian, my passion revolves around the past. However, this year I had the most incredible opportunity to tie the past into the present when I met with descendants of the Jewett and Telford families. Their ancestors, Mary Jewett, a Civil War nurse and Jacob Telford, a veteran of the 15th Indiana Infantry, had married in July of 1864.
January 19, 2010 was an exciting day for me. Not only was I giving a Civil War presentation for the Perinton Historical Society, but I was also meeting Martha Jewett, a descendant of Mary Jewett’s youngest brother, Nathan. Martha and her husband, Evan Marshall, had traveled from New Jersey to hear my presentation in which her ancestor, Mary Jewett Telford, featured prominently. We met at my house and spent some time looking at photographs and the Jewett family bible before heading to South Perinton Cemetery to pay our respects to Mary at her grave. Amazingly, Martha and Evan had come to Pittsford many times to visit their friends, but had never realized that Mary was resting only a few miles away. Although Martha and Evan returned to New Jersey the following day, we were in touch many times during the following weeks as Martha and I worked feverishly on Mary Jewett Telford’s nomination for the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
In April, a story about my Civil War project ran in the Brighton-Pittsford Post. Several days later, I received an email from Lynda Skaddan. A friend had seen the article and contacted Lynda. As it turns out, Lynda is a descendant of Jacob Telford’s older brother, Robert. On July 15, 2010 I had the opportunity to meet with Lynda, her sister, Jane Andersen, and Lynda’s husband Ray. We met at the gate to South Perinton Cemetery and then proceeded to Mary’s grave. It was such a warm day that we chose to sit in the shade of a large tree just a few yards from Mary. With us was my friend, Floris Lent, who has been the keeper of the Jewett family memorabilia for many years. Our time together was spent discussing Mary and Jacob, and Mary’s numerous contributions to society.
This is a story about family ties. For the first time in over 140 years, the Jewett and Telford families are once again linked and, I’m proud to say, I am now part of that history.