This morning, a car crashed through the recently renovated fence of the Pioneer Burying Ground in Pittsford, New York, and collided with the headstone of Joseph Bartlett, a Civil War veteran who served with the 81st New York Infantry. Joseph Bartlett passed away one hundred twenty nine years ago, so he is probably not too upset by the collision. According to newspaper reports, the man behind the wheel of the car may have had a medical emergency which contributed to the accident. He was taken to a local hospital with injuries that are not considered life-threatening.
This event gives me the opportunity to illuminate Joseph Bartlett, a soldier who has kept a low profile even as I have illuminated two of the other Civil War soldiers buried at Pioneer Burying Ground – Thomas Wood and Ezra A. Patterson, both of the 108th NY Infantry.
Little is known of Joseph Bartlett’s early life. He appears to have been born in Oneida County, New York, about 1840. According to the New York State Archives, Joseph stood 5′ 11″ tall, with hazel eyes and brown hair. His complexion was fair. We do know that Joseph mustered into the 81st NY Infantry on October 6, 1861 as a Private and moved quickly through the ranks. In February, 1862, he was promoted to Corporal. A promotion to Sergeant followed in September of that year.
The men of the 81st NY Infantry proved themselves on the battlefields at Fair Oaks and Seven Pines. They fought at Malvern Hill and were present at the siege of Charleston in 1863. New Year’s Day, 1864, dawned bright and cold. On that day, Joseph Bartlett re-enlisted with the 81st NY Infantry. Six months later, at the battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, Sergeant Joseph Bartlett of Co. I, was wounded in the leg and arm.
Joseph returned to his regiment after recuperating from his wounds. He was commissioned a 1st Lieutenant with Co. F in June, 1865. After transferring to Co. A, Joseph was commissioned a Captain before mustering out on August 31, 1865.
I have not been able to ascertain how Joseph ended up in Pittsford, New York. His cause of death at the age of 40 is also unknown. However he ended up at the Pioneer Burying Ground, Joseph took his place as the third Civil War veteran to permanently reside there. He was predeceased by George P. Walters and Ezra A. Tillotson. Thomas Wood joined the trio much later, in 1923.
It will take quite some time to assess the damage to the headstones, although it is clear the damage done to some of these older headstones is irreparable.