Archive for the ‘Civil War’ category

Fostering a Love of History with Children

March 12, 2019

One of my favorite jobs as an historian is sharing local history with children. Throughout the months of April and May, Perinton Town Historian Bill Poray and I welcome over 550 fourth graders to the Fairport Museum. The children arrive from all the Fairport

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

Brooks Hill Fourth Graders

elementary schools and from Thornell Road Elementary in Pittsford. Two classes visit the museum at a time. While one class is wonderfully engaged by Bill with a PowerPoint about local history, the other class is upstairs with me taking a tour of the museum and then doing a scavenger hunt. Halfway through the morning, I ring a vintage school bell, signaling “the old switcheroo”. The classes then switch places and we do it all over again.

The best compliment we receive is when those fourth graders return to the Fairport Museum a week or a month or six months later. Then they give their own version of a tour to their families. The kids that have that spark, a burgeoning love of history, are always visible during the tours. They are the ones asking questions and staring at the artifacts like most kids ogle an ice cream sundae. They want to learn more about the Fairport Museum and its operator, the Perinton Historical Society.

1982 Vicki & Lou Gehrig's locker049

Vicki Masters Profitt at Lou Gehrig’s locker in Cooperstown, NY

I recognize that look because I was one of those children. Fortunately, I had parents who fostered my love of history and supported my interests. After watching Pride of the Yankees starring Gary Cooper, an incredible movie about baseball legend Lou Gehrig, my family traveled to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown so I could see his locker. Another family vacation brought us to Concord, Massachusetts, allowing me to visit author Louisa May Alcott’s family home, Orchard House.

In fact, my job as an historian is due to the fact that, in fifth grade, I checked out a book about the Civil War from the school library. The

McCook, Robert L photo

Brigadier General Robert Latimer McCook

photographs of these soldiers who had lived so long ago fascinated me. One photo in particular caught my attention.  It showed Brigadier General Robert Latimer McCook of the 9th Ohio Infantry. I don’t know what spurred my interest in Robert specifically, but that was the beginning of my interest in the Civil War, which led to me researching Monroe County, New York, Civil War soldiers, which led to me being named Director of the Fairport Museum.

If you are a parent of a history-loving child, foster that love. Support that child. Encourage them to take historical books and biographies out of the library. Bring them to visit your local museum. Wonderful treasures fill the many museums in the Rochester vicinity. Visit the Fairport Museum, the Greece Historical Society and Museum, the Webster Museum, Historic Palmyra’s five museums and the Colby-Pulver House Museum on the west side. These are just a few of the many phenomenal museums in this area.

The Fairport Museum is open for the 2019 season Sundays and Tuesdays from 2-4pm and Saturdays 9am-1pm. Free admission and free parking. We hope to see you and your kids!

Illuminating Joseph S. Kelsey, Civil War Soldier

July 1, 2014

On June 17, 2014, Illuminated History held its third annual cemetery tour in which twelve actors portrayed residents of the burying ground.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum due to inclement weather.  Greenvale Rural Cemetery in the village of Fairport, New York, was the focus of the tour.

In this Illuminated History series, each of the scripts of Greenvale’s featured eternal residents will be posted until all twelve have been illuminated.  Although the scripts are based on in depth historical research, some creative license may have been taken.

We begin with the life of Civil War soldier Joseph S. Kelsey, who was portrayed by Craig Caplan:

My name is Joseph S. Kelsey, and I’d like to share my story with you. My father, Asa Kelsey, was an early pioneer of my hometown in West Camden, New York. I was the third of Asa and Amanda Higbee Kelsey’s seven children, and the only son. Oddly enough, my first wife, Mary, and I had seven children – six sons and one daughter. I came of age just as the Civil War began.

Craig Caplan as Joseph S. Kelsey.  Photo courtesy of Kara Lee.

Craig Caplan as Joseph S. Kelsey. Photo courtesy of Kara Lee.

In 1862, I felt it my duty to enlist in the war effort, and so I mustered into the 146th New York Infantry. Nearly 3 years of my life was spent fighting the rebels before mustering out at the end of the war. We fought ferociously at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, at the battle of the Wilderness…and then there was Gettysburg. I witnessed that fool Confederate general George Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg. You see, I was an ambulance driver then, and stationed at the rear of our Rochester boys in the 108th New York Infantry. I could see the whole line from Little Round Top to Peach Orchard. The cannonading preceding the charge was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. It still gives me night terrors sometimes. I was one of the lucky ones and was only injured once during my service – when a horse kicked me and I broke a leg. Still, I was more fortunate than my brother-in-law, Oliver Clarke.

Oliver was with the 94th New York Infantry. He was captured in June 1864 and spent nearly a year at Andersonville Prison. He survived, though, and married my youngest sister, Josephine. Have you ever heard of Mount McGregor? It’s the cottage in Saratoga County where General Ulysses S. Grant wrote his memoirs. That great patriot died at Mount McGregor in 1885. After the General’s death, my sister and brother-in-law spent 53 years as caretakers at the cottage. Sometimes, I’d travel there and assist them with their duties. It was awe-inspiring to be in the same rooms where General Grant spent his last days on this earth. Word is Mount McGregor has been turned into a museum to honor that remarkable man.

In 1881, I became a charter member of the Grand Army of the Republic Fairport Post #211, along with my friend and comrade Chester

Joseph S. Kelsey

Joseph S. Kelsey

Hutchinson, from whom you’ll also hear this evening. The Grand Army was first formed after the Civil War to allow veterans to meet with each other and reminisce about their war efforts. Later, the organization became a powerful political group and advocate for veterans’ rights. Seven United States presidents were Civil War veterans, and many of them came to power due to the strength of the Grand Army. I’m proud to have been a part of that organization, and I served as Commander of the Fairport post for a number of years.

After the war, I spent time farming and working as a carpenter to support my large family. We had moved to Fairport in 1873, when I bought the house at 177 South Main Street in the village. Soon after, I decided I liked the newer house next door at 173 South Main Street, at the corner of Summit Street. Mary and I raised our children in that house and we lived there happily for many decades to come.

I’m very proud of my family. My six sons have made names for themselves. We lost my eldest, George, in 1898. He had enlisted for service in the Rochester Naval Reserve in July, 1898. After enlistment, George had passed examination as a bayman, a non-commissioned ship’s officer who is employed in the sick room. My wife and I received a letter from George telling us about his experiences and that he had been transferred to a naval hospital in Portsmouth. Soon after that, George was taken seriously ill with typhoid fever and news of his death quickly followed.

Marion, my third son, was master of the steam freight packet William B. Kirk and also ran excursion boats up and down the canal. The “William B. Kirk” was the last canal boat piloted on the Rochester section of the Erie Canal, and my son was at the helm. Marion was a canal boatman for over 50 years. In 1927, he rode the first Rochester & Eastern interurban railway through Rochester’s subway. My fifth son, Roy, was also a canaller.

My youngest son was born in 1884, just a year before General U.S. Grant passed on. We named our boy Grant in honor of the great general. Our Grant worked for the American Can Company here in Fairport and was President of the Fairport Automobile Club in 1922. Grant’s brother, Harlow, was also an automobile enthusiast and opened his own garage at 150 North Main Street in Fairport.

Mary, my beloved wife, died in 1913 at our home at 173 South Main Street. We’d been married nearly 49 years. The following year I married a widow, Esther Hare, who had seven children of her own. In 1926, I lost Esther after 13 years of marriage. Though I felt their losses keenly, I continued my work with the Grand Army of the Republic and dedicated my remaining days to keeping the history of our war efforts alive until going to my reward in 1929, just shy of my 93rd birthday.

Script by Vicki Masters Profitt

(c) 2014 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History

Resources:

Perinton Historical Society & Fairport Museum:  http://www.PerintonHistoricalSociety.org

Grant Cottage: http://www.GrantCottage.org

 

Hero Highlight: Byron Talman, 22nd NY Cavalry by Guest Author Anne van Leeuwen

September 30, 2013

Introduction by Vicki Masters Profitt, Illuminated History:

Last spring, I came into contact with Jon Tallman, a descendant of the Perinton, New York, Talman family.  I asked Jon if he would be interested in writing a Hero Highlight about Byron Talman for Illuminated History.  Jon declined because he felt the story should be told by a direct descendant.  Jon gave me contact information for Anne van Leeuwen, Byron’s great-great-granddaughter.  Anne is descended from Byron through his daughter, Ida Mae Talman.  Anne graciously accepted the offer to write a Hero Highlight about her ancestor.  Here, in Anne’s words, is

BYRON’S STORY

While this article is about Perinton’s Byron Talman (1838-1909) and the capture of Confederate raider Harry Gilmor, it is largely about the 22nd NY Cavalry, sometimes called “the Rochester Cavalry.”

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

The 22nd NY Cavalry existed during the last eighteen months of the Civil War, when fighting closed on the Confederate capital in Virginia.  Much of this time, the 22nd NY Cavalry regiment was assigned to the 3rd Division of the Cavalry Corps.  The 3rd was commanded by Brig. Gen. George A. Custer, who had established his reputation at Gettysburg.  The Cavalry Corps was under the overall command of Maj. Gen. Alfred T. N. Torbet who reported to Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan.  Sheridan’s battle experiences included Stones River, Chattanooga, and Chickamauga.

The 22nd participated in two great campaigns — the Overland Campaign and the (Shenandoah) Valley Campaign. During the Overland Campaign, Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps was attached to Grant’s Army of the Potomac as it progressed southward toward the Confederate capital, fighting battles at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor.  When battle lines became entrenched at Richmond and Petersburg, Grant made Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps into the autonomous Army of the Shenandoah.  Their mission was to halt Confederate military operations in western Virginia and to eliminate the threat of attack on Washington.  The Valley Campaign fought battles at Opequon (Winchester), Cedar Creek, and Waynesboro.  All of these battles, from the Wilderness to Waynesboro, are considered major battles, critical to the war’s outcome.  The 22nd fought them all within a six month period and suffered high casualties.

The legacy of the 22nd and the Cavalry Corps is significant.  When the war began, the Union Army had no effective cavalry.  In contrast, the Confederacy had the illustrious cavalryman J.E.B. Stuart.  By the end of the campaigns, Stuart had been removed and the reputations of Generals Sheridan, and Custer were established. In his farewell address to the division, Custer said, “In the past six months, although confronted by superior numbers,… you have never lost a gun, never lost a color, and have never been defeated.”

At Perinton in October 1863, Talman was among the first to enlist in Company A of the 22nd NY Cavalry.  As more men volunteered, Companies B through M were formed. Talman was 25, had a wife, and had already sailed the Atlantic and Mediterranean.  His father was an abolitionist who had campaigned for Lincoln in Perinton and Rochester.  Talman was a First Sergeant during the Overland Campaign.  For the Shenandoah Campaign, he was commissioned as an officer in Company H.  Later, he would command Company M and would frequently be in command of the battalion or regiment.

Talman received a gunshot wound to his left arm at Opequon (Winchester).  There are several accounts.  General Custer reported, “The enemy upon our approach delivered a well-directed volley of musketry, but before a second discharge could be given my command was in their midst, sabering right and left.” Talman’s brother, a journalist and historian, wrote, “he was shot in the left arm while leading a charge, but fought on until, faint from loss of blood, his colonel forced him to the rear.”  In his promotion to Captain and to the command of Company M, the Army record cited his “gallant and meritorious services at the Battle of Winchester, Va.”  One press release stated, “the [22nd NY Cavalry] regiment captured four of the nine battle flags,” and credits Talman among others.  These flags were presented by Custer and Sheridan to Secretary of War Stanton.

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

Major Harry Gilmor was a Confederate raider who destroyed railroad bridges near Washington in Maryland and West Virginia.  As the Confederacy grew desperate, Gilmor terrorized civilians and burned towns, such as Chambersburg, PA, entirely to the ground.

According to another regimental history[1] of that time, Sheridan had scouts, Union soldiers who had been selected with for their courage and fitness for this dangerous work.  They tracked Gilmor, and on 4 Feb 1865, they found him in bed, sound asleep, his revolver on a chair nearby.  Gilmor was imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

Byron Talman’s role in Gilmor’s capture is unclear.  The story was not told during Talman’s life, but it is consistent with the known facts.

  • Was Talman ever a scout for Sheridan?  In the Monroe County Mail for 13 Feb 1919, Talman’s brother says, “In the Battle of the Wilderness, Byron led a squad of troopers detailed to carry dispatches between Gen. Grant and his corps commanders [who included Sheridan] and half the time was inside the Confederate lines.”  This is consistent with deployment of the regiment at the Wilderness.
  • Was Talman serving as Sheridan’s scout in February 1865?  The Army record indicates that he was present but unattached to a unit from January through March 1865.
  • Was Talman involved with Gilmor’s capture?  In the Monroe County Mail for 19 Feb 1929, Talman’s brother writes, “It was he, single-handed, who captured Major Harry Gilmor, the Confederate officer, after pursuing him three days and three nights without sleep.  It was a bit singular that the two men, both large and powerful, were almost doubles.”

This account of “single-handed” capture mocks Gilmor, who was an exceptional braggart, boasting in the newspapers and defying his pursuers.  If Talman was indeed alone when he captured Gilmor, he was certainly one of many involved in the pursuit.

After the war, Talman lived a quiet life as a farmer in the Midwest and was buried in 1909 near his grandchildren in Williams, Iowa.  Tragically, an 1896 tuberculosis epidemic had taken the lives of his grandchildren — except my grandfather Frank.


[1] The 22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry, by SC Farrar, 1911.  This unit also served in the Army of the Shenandoah, and many of its soldiers were from Chambersburg, which was burned by Gilmor.

Hero Highlight – George H. Washburn, Co. D, 108th New York Infantry by guest author Brian Burkhart

October 12, 2012

George H. Washburn courtesy of Brian Burkhart

Introduction by Vicki Masters Profitt, Illuminated History

I first met Brian Burkhart nearly three years ago, when he approached me at a presentation I gave about Perinton’s Civil War soldiers.  After speaking with Brian for just a few minutes, his enthusiasm for researching the soldiers of Rochester’s 108th New York Infantry was evident.  Since then, Brian has been a wonderful source of information about the boys of the 108th.  I’m pleased to publish this Hero Highlight of George H. Washburn by Brian Burkhart.

George H. Washburn was born October 29, 1843, the only son of Charles and Ruth A. Washburn.  He was raised in what was then called Corn Hill, Third Ward, in the City of Rochester, New York.  Young Washburn entered old Public School Number Three, situated on what was then called Clay Street, now Tremont Street, where his first teacher was Miss Sarah Frost.  In 1852, during the great cholera epidemic, his father died after a short illness, leaving a widow and two children; his younger sister, Dora (later to be Mrs. Franklin E. Purdy), and George.  Shortly afterwards, he attempted to reduce the burdens of his widowed mother and support of the family.  His grandmother, Mrs. Hannah Tozer, was living with the family.  He applied for a situation as check boy in the old dry goods establishment of Timothy Chapman, at 12 State Street.  George went to work at seventy-five cents per week, and remained there until August 1862.

He was 19 years old when he enlisted in the 108th Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry at Rochester, Monroe County, New York, to serve three years.  Actually, Washburn’s first experience in military service was not with the 108th, but with the “Zouave Cadets”, composed of young lads from Public School No. 3.  On August 11, 1862 he mustered in as a Private in Company ‘D’.  He was with the regiment when it left Rochester for the seat of war on August 19, 1862.  He was wounded in action on May 3, 1863 during the Battle of Chancellorsville and was transferred to Company ‘B’, 20th Regiment of the Veteran Reserve Corps (no date).  He was discharged June 19, 1865 at Washington, D.C.

From Washburn’s Regimental History: “At the battle of Antietam on September 17th, the first battle the regiment was engaged in and suffered so terribly, one of his tent mates and Sunday school teacher previous to enlistment, Joseph S. Delevau, was badly wounded in the groin, and with the assistance of Sergeant John H. Jennings, another tent mate, they carried their wounded companion off the field and laid him in a place of safety, returned to the regiment and remained during the battle.  He was with the regiment on the march to Bolivar Heights, near Harper’s Ferry, and while there was assigned to duty as one of the guard on the Balloon Corps.  When the regiment moved on to Fredericksburg, the guard followed in the rear and joined the regiment at or near Snicker’s Gap, and when the regiment went into winter quarters at Falmouth, Virginia, did picket and guard duty; was in the battle of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.  He was wounded during the Battle of Chancellorsville and was sent to Findley Hospital in Washington, D.C. where he remained for a long time, sick with the typhoid fever (at the time of enlistment was five feet three inches, and weighed 112 pounds).  After his recovery he was detailed at headquarters by Dr. TV. A. Bradley, surgeon in charge, and shortly afterwards ordered to report to Brigadier-General J.H. Martindale’s headquarters, corner 19th and I Streets, who at that time was Military Governor of the District of Columbia.  When General Martindale rejoined his brigade, Washburn was assigned to Major Breck’s Bureau in the War Department, Adjutant-General’s Office, and later on transferred to headquarters 22d Army Corps Department at Washington, commanded by Major-General C.C. Augur, at the corner of 15£ Street and Pennsylvania Ave., and remained there till mustered out June 19th, 18G5.  After receiving his discharge, he made application for a situation in the Treasury Department, and being backed up by strong testimonials from General Augur, Colonel J.H. Taylor, chief of staff, and many of the staff officers at headquarters, received an appointment as first class clerk by Hon. Hugh McCullough, Secretary, and assigned to duty in the Internal Revenue Bureau, remaining there till 1868, when he returned to Rochester, New York, and entered the dry goods business again, remained a short time and then entered the clothing business; continued till the fall of 1889, when he received an appointment as clerk in the Blue Line and Canada Southern Line office, Powers Block, where he is at the present time in charge of the mileage desk.

He was married November 24th, 1869, in the City of Rochester to Miss Lillian De Ette Inman, only daughter of Isaac L. Inman (formerly of his company), and has one son, Percy L. Washburn, twenty-two years of age, and 2d Lieutenant of C.A. Glidden Camp No. 6, Sons of Veterans.”

“Comrade Washburn is a member of Genesee Falls Lodge, No. 507, F. A. M.; Flower City Lodge, No, 555, I.O.O.F.; Lallah Rook Grotta, No. 3, Order of Veiled Prophets; Golden Rale Chapter, No. 59, Order Eastern Star; Grace Rebecca Lodge, No. 54, I.O.O.F.  Assistant Adjutant-General, National Staff, Union Veterans’ Union; Assistant Adjutant-General, Department New York, Union Veterans’ Union (for the past four years); Past Inspector-General, National Staff, Union Veterans’ Union.  Past Aide on Department Staff, G.A.R.; Past Adjutant, E. G. Marshall Post 397, G.A.R.; Past Adjutant, G. B. Force Command, No, 13, Union Veterans’ Union; Adjutant, W.T. Sherman Command, No. 2, Union Veterans’ Union; Secretary, 108th Regiment, New York Veteran Association, for the past twelve years.”

“Comrade Washburn, through his endeavors, was the means of gathering together the survivors of the old regiment for a social reunion, and in 1879 they held their first reunion at Newport House, Irondequoit Bay, and at that time he commenced to gather together items relative to the regiment, and through the assistance of many of the members of the organization he has been able to place before the survivors and their many friends this souvenir, trusting that what errors have been made, that they will be cheerfully overlooked by the many admirers and friends of the Old 108th Regiment, New York Volunteers.”

George Washburn died January 27, 1905 at age 61 and was buried in the Buffalo Cemetery Lot at Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester.  There is more on George Washburn in the green Scrapbook by William Farley Peck located in Rundel Library in the Oversize Book section of the Local History Department]; George is the author of A Complete Military History & Record of the 108th Regiment N.Y. Vols. from l862 to l894.

A note from Vicki Masters Profitt:

George H. Washburn is one of my heroes.  He was a man who took the initiative to gather information from his former comrades of the 108th New York Infantry because he saw the historical value in their war-time memories.  Thanks to George’s efforts, we have an entire volume of memoirs pertaining to the 108th.  This was no small feat.  The scope of the project is mindboggling, and even more so when one keeps in mind that George Washburn did not live in the time of the internet and social media.  The entire book was painstakingly created  through his meticulous efforts to contact the men with whom he had served through the use of letters and advertisements.  George asked the former soldiers to send autobiographies and photos of themselves.  Over 200 sketches, 48 obituaries and the addresses of over 360 men grace this book.  Yes, George H. Washburn is definitely my hero.

Mustache Man…Mystery Solved?

September 22, 2012

Mustache Man first made his appearance on November 11, 2011 in an Illuminated History post entitled, “Piercing Eyes, Silent Voices”.  It was then that I posted a photo of a handsome gentleman with a handlebar mustache I had recently acquired from eBay.  Sadly, Mustache Man’s photo lacked identification.  No clues identified him, other than the fact that the photographer had been A.E. Dumble of Rochester, New York, and the back of the photo was pre-stamped 1891.  After asking the Illuminated History Facebook members to name Mustache Man, they decided upon the moniker of Samuel Everheart, due to the kindness of his eyes. 

Recently, as I prepared for a presentation, I reviewed the photos of the men of the 108th New York Infantry shown in George H. Washburn’s book, A Complete Military History and Record of the 108th New York Volunteers.  Imagine my surprise when I looked at the photo of a soldier named William C. Kneale and saw Mustache Man’s face staring back at me.  Could it be?  Did we solve the mystery of Mustache Man?  Take a look, and see what you think.  Comments welcome.

William C. Kneale and Mustache Man – One and the Same?

Whether or not William C. Kneale and Mustache Man are the same man, I’ve begun the process of researching William C. Kneale’s life and will soon share that information with you.  Let’s solve this mystery!

Illuminated History Tour of South Perinton Cemetery and Mary Jewett Telford Dedication Ceremony

June 19, 2012
 
Our Illuminated History South Perinton Cemetery Tour and Mary Jewett Telford Dedication Ceremony is this evening, June 19, 2012.  Please join us at 7:00 p.m. at South Perinton Cemetery, 291 Wilkinson Road, Fairport, New York, as actors bring the lives of eleven cemetery residents to life.  The tour ends at the grave of Civil War nurse Mary Jewett Telford, where a ceremony will be held to dedicate her Woman’s Relief Corps flag holder.  We hope to see you there!
 
This tour is sponsored by Illuminated History and the Perinton Historical Society.

Celebrating Chester Hutchinson’s 85th Birthday – A Poem by Franc Fassett Pugsley

June 2, 2012

The second poem dedicated to the life of Chester Hutchinson is by Franc Fassett Pugsley. Franc was the daughter of John J. Fassett, a comrade of Chester’s from his days in the 108th New York Infantry. It is worth noting that Franc Fassett Pugsley knew Chester personally. It is incredible how much detailed information about his life is included in this tribute.

On Your Birthday

To Comrade Chester Hutchinson

July 12, 1841-July 12, 1926

Congratulations today, dear friend of old times,

Sincere are our wishes, indeed;

We hope for your joy and your happiness, too,

In each added year as it comes unto you,

Choice blessings may God shed on your way.

For God has ever directed your course

To Him you have always gone

When troubles assailed, and you knew not which turn

To take in the path just before you.

Through all the joys and sorrows

Of eight-five years, God has guided,

And wrought His will as He walked with you,

Adown the Path, to Life’s perfect day

Which awaits at the end of the journey.

And now, please take a glimpse with me,

While Memory turns the wheel,

At the Past as it flashes before us,

Vivid pictures from Life’s short reel.

First we see a tiny baby

In the Town of Penfield born,

Toothless, hairless, generally helpless,

July twelfth, in forty-one.

Later Perinton became the home

Of parents and young son,

A little time after, the mother died,

Leaving father and child alone.

A move was made later to Pittsford,

Where the lad to young manhood grew,

A fun-loving youth who stopped short of nothing,

Which his fertile brain told him to do.

And now a picture flashes upon the canvas white

Of two youths fast escaping

From a younger lad, left in a plight,

And a sorry one, too, it would seem,

For like Joseph, he had been cast in a dry well

 By his brother and young “Chet”

Who did not care to be bothered

On their walk through meadow and wood,

And left him there all safe and sound

To get out as best he could.

The older companion passed on years ago,

Rosseau Crump of Bay City,

A man loved and honored through many a year.

The young boy now is a gray-haired man

Of eighty years just past,

Mr. Shelly Crump of Pittsford,

Who will be Chester’s friend to the last,

In spite of this little episode,

Which ended alright you perceive,

For he soon climbed out, none the worse,

From the well,

Taking a sort of French leave.

Then serious days, how fast they followed,

Soon the boy became a man,

And the man became a soldier

In a uniform of blue.

For the storm clouds now had gathered

O’er our land so fair and bright,

And Lincoln called for her young men

To aid in their Country’s fight.

Ah, then sad good-byes were spoken,

And the sound of marching feet

Was heard through the length and breadth of the land,

And our hero went out with the rest,

Leaving all that his heart held dear

To follow the Red, White and Blue.

Then into the turmoil of battle

Right soon they were called to go,

A severe wound in the breast here he suffered,

At Antietam, as all of you know.

Many painful days followed, on hospital cot,

In old barn, or hovel so crude,

With wounded comrades for nurses,

Doing for him as best they could.

Who could do justice to those cruel days

In telling their history o’er,

But out of their shadow he finally came,

Taking up in peaceful pursuits

The burdens of life once more.

Then came his marriage, and family life

Brought joy to his heart once again,

Four children were born, and the mother then died,

Leaving the babes in his charge.

To this trust also he proved true,

Striving to be to them both father and mother,

No better test of fine manhood

Surely, could ever be given.

Later, a dear companion he chose to walk with him,

And she blesses his life with her loving care,

Through peaceful days in a cozy home

Which they have made together.

We wish for you, friend, “Many Happy Returns”

Of this, your Natal day,

May the sun turn the evening skies to gold

And love brighten all the way.

Chester Hutchinson and the Mystery of Ira Ingerson

April 30, 2012

After my April 3rd post on Chester Hutchinson, several readers were interested in learning more about the poems written in celebration of his 80th and 85th birthdays.  Let me just say that I am not an expert on poetry.  However, I find the poems to be quite different in feeling and sentiment.

The first poem, by Ira Ingerson of Dewittville, New York in Chautauqua County, was written in honor of Chester’s 80th birthday.  It was published in the Monroe County (NY) Mail on July 28, 1921.   Here’s the mystery:  Who was Ira Ingerson, and why did he write a birthday poem for Chester Hutchinson? 

Research on Ira Ingerson began by searching newspaper archives.  Not much was found about him there.  Next, I tried Ancestry.com.  I was able to track Ira in census records from 1850 through 1930.  It appears Ira was born circa 1849 to Harry and Harriet Ingerson, and he lived the majority of his life in Chautauqua County, New York.  Ira and his wife, Elizabeth, had at least five sons together – George, Marion, Eugene, Leon and Llewellyn – who were born between 1869 and 1879. 

The mystery deepened as I found a 1910 census record showing Ira was married to a woman named Julia, and had been for three years.  It was listed as Ira’s second marriage.  However, a Find A Grave memorial for Ira’s first wife, Elizabeth, states that she died in 1926.  An Ancestry.com family tree gives Elizabeth’s death date as 1932.  Are those sources both inaccurate and Elizabeth died prior to 1907, were there two different Ira Ingersons who were the same age living in the same town, or were Ira and Elizabeth divorced?

It occurred to me that Ira may have served in the Civil War with Chester Hutchinson, but I found no documentation to verify that idea. So, however it happened and whatever Ira’s relationship was to Chester, Ira Ingerson wrote the following poem in celebration of Chester Hutchinson’s 80th birthday.  We’ll follow up with the second poem, by Franc Fassett Pugsley, in our next post.

Eighty years of life I’ve lived,

Its pleasures, peace and strife:

Its end cannot be far away,

I’ll not complain, I’ve had my day.

 

I recollect long years ago,

My cheeks were red with youthful glow:

They now are pale, my hair is gray,

I’ll not complain, I’ve had my day.

 

In youthful days around me stood

So many friends, both true and good:

They now are gone, alone I stay,

I’ll not complain, I’ve had my day.

 

Yet not alone, ‘round me arrayed

Are later friends that I have made,

Both kind and true and good are they;

I’ll not complain, I’ve had my day.

 

What others feel of joys or woes,

For my own part, I do not know.

Have I had my share?  I cannot say.

I’ll not complain, I’ve had my day.

 

But there’s another, better clime,

Where years eternal ever shine.

Hope, only hope, sends a glorious ray,

I’ll not complain, I’ve had my day.

 

I’ve had my day, I’ll not complain:

In that blest land, no sorrow, no pain:

For the Master, Himself, will gently say,

I am the life, I am the way.

Oh, the thought how it thrills me,

When life’s trials will all be o’er,

I can wait, for at the longest,

It will be only a few years more.

Hero Highlight – Chester Hutchinson, Co. B, 108th NY Infantry

April 3, 2012

“Our marching and countermarching brought us on the 17th of September in front of Lee’s army.  We halted, piled up our haversacks, loaded our guns, and were ready for action…Our position was a hot one, and the air was alive with bullets, shells, shot and canister.”  Civil War veteran Chester Hutchinson’s recollection of being severely wounded at the battle of Antietam nearly thirty two years earlier.

Chester Hutchinson, the fifth of seven children born to Lewis and Betsey Palmer Hutchinson, was born in Penfield, New York, on July 12, 1841.  The Hutchinson family soon moved to Perinton, where Chester’s maternal grandparents, Ira & Sarah Beilby Palmer, were among the earliest settlers of the town.  Lewis Hutchinson supported his large family as a farm laborer and it was expected that Chester would also work the farm.  After the death of his mother in 1849, Chester moved to Pittsford, where he continued his schooling and raised vegetables to be sold in the markets in Rochester.  Ten years later, Chester moved to Fairport and apprenticed in the sash and blind trade run by his uncles, Seymour and John G. Palmer.

After three years at the sash and blind factory, the Civil War beckoned and Chester enlisted in Co. B, 108th NY Infantry on August 4, 1862.  He arrived in Washington, D.C. on a cattle car with other members of his regiment.  Rules were lax at the beginning of the war, and soldiers could sleep where they wished as long as they were present at roll call.  Years after the war, Chester recalled spending his first night in Washington, D.C. sleeping on the east stone steps of the White House.  Soon, Chester would have more to concern him than finding a good spot in which to catch some shuteye. 

One month after enlistment, the men of the 108th NY Infantry received a trial by fire.  On September 17, 1862, the regiment was led into battle at Sharpsburg, Maryland, on what would become the bloodiest single day of fighting of the entire war.  Over 23,000 Union and Confederate casualties occurred at this battle, which the Northerners called Antietam.  Chester Hutchinson was one such casualty.  The gunshot hit his right breast, “the ball glancing along the bone, coming out about four inches from where it entered and stopping” against his right arm.  It took Chester over one year to recover from this wound.  He was successful in his effort to return to his regiment in early 1864; however, Chester was once again quickly engaged in a fight for his life.  This time, it was at the battle of the Wilderness.

Struck in the left breast by a minie ball which passed through his lung, the doctor who dressed Chester’s wound after the battle of the Wilderness pronounced it fatal.  Death would come to Chester Hutchinson, but not in May, 1864.  After lying in pain for three weeks, Chester was transferred to Fredericksburg, Maryland, where he was located by Sergeant Chilson of Company B, 108th NY Infantry.  By the fall of 1864, Chester was sent to City Hospital in Rochester to recuperate, and he remained there until his regiment arrived home and he received his discharge. 

After the war, Chester Hutchinson wed Mary Grover.  For several years, the Hutchinsons made their home in West Bay City, Michigan, where Chester was employed at the Crump Manufacturing Company planing mill and box factory.  After Mary’s death in 1886, Chester and his four children returned home to New York, where they lived for many years at 6 Prospect Street in the village of Fairport.

Hattie Down Wiley became Chester’s second wife on January 1, 1891.  As the widow of another Fairport Civil War soldier, James B. Wiley of the 111th NY Infantry, Hattie brought six children to the marriage.  Chester and Hattie had one son together, Lynn, who died in 1896 at age two.  Hattie and Chester brought up their combined eleven children together and were married for over forty years.

In his later years, Chester was very active in the community.  As a charter member of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) E.A. Slocum Post #211, an organization dedicated to aiding veterans of the Civil War, Chester served in various leadership positions throughout the years.  E.A. Slocum Post #211 was disbanded in 1937 due to the death of its last member, Horace Waddell.  Chester traveled each year to attend reunions of the 108th NY Infantry and, in 1899, he won first place in the reunion shooting contest.  He was also employed as a watchman at a bank, worked at the Dobbin & Moore Lumber Company, was very active in the Baptist Church, and was appointed as a tax collector.

In the 1920s, as the ranks of the Civil War soldiers were diminished by death, Chester Hutchinson became a prominent face in the news.  No fewer than two poems were written about him, which celebrated the milestones of Chester’s 80th and 85th birthdays.   The 85th birthday poem was written by Pittsford resident and elocutionist Franc Fassett Pugsley, a daughter of Chester’s comrade from the 108th NY Infantry, Jonathan J. Fassett.   Mrs. Pugsley managed to fit into her lengthy poem information about Chester’s birth, early life, war experiences and wounds, marriages and children before bestowing this wish upon Chester, “May the sun turn the evening skies to gold and love brighten all the way.” 

The death of Chester Hutchinson occurred on April 19, 1932 at age 90.  Not bad for a man who, 68 years earlier, had been told he wouldn’t survive his wounds.  Chester was buried at Greenvale Cemetery in Fairport beside his son, Lynn, and stepsons Mark & Frank Wiley.  Hattie, his wife of 41 years, joined him in 1940.  A newspaper article written one month after his death stated that, “Chester Hutchinson joined his comrades on the march into eternity, carrying with him the reverence and respect of the people in the community, a patriot and a loyal citizen.” 

This article was originally published in the Perinton Historical Society “Historigram”, Vol. XLIV, No. 7, April 2012.  Learn more about the Perinton Historical Society by visiting their website, www.PerintonHistoricalSociety.org.

Dr. Andrew F. Sheldon, Originator of the Field Tent Hospital

March 7, 2012

If someone had told Ralph and Minerva Flint Sheldon that their son, Andrew, would grow up to become a renowned physician and a personal friend of President Abraham Lincoln, they probably would have scoffed. 

In 1830, Andrew was born in the small town of Huron in Wayne County, New York.  As one of Ralph and Minerva Flint Sheldon’s five children, Andrew was expected to help them with the farm.  However, at some point, Andrew developed an interest in medicine.  At the age of 22, he graduated from the University of New York’s Medical Department.  He married Miss Lucetta Salsbury in 1857, and they began their married life together in Williamson, New York.  They then moved to Junius, New York, where Andrew practiced medicine until he was called upon to put his skills to the test for the Union army during the Civil War.

Seven months into the War, Dr. Sheldon was commissioned as Assistant Surgeon with the 7th New York Cavalry.  In April 1862, he was appointed as Assistant Surgeon with the 78th New York Infantry.  By October of 1862, Andrew had been commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Volunteers.  President Lincoln himself promoted Dr. Sheldon to Surgeon of the United States Volunteers in charge of Campbell Hospital in Washington, D.C. in April, 1863.  It was sometime during these early years of the war that Dr. Andrew Sheldon is credited in the War Department with creating the first field tent hospital.  According to the office of the Wayne County Historian, Andrew F. Sheldon financed the first tent hospitals with his own money after having been unable to obtain the funds elsewhere.  Tent hospitals are still in existence today throughout the world, and serve as an invaluable tool to obtaining immediate medical treatment before the sick and wounded are transported to conventional hospitals.

On April 14, 1865, just hours before his assassination by John Wilkes Booth, President Lincoln presented Dr. Andrew F. Sheldon with a case of surgical instruments at Campbell Hospital.  The case, created by G. Tiemann & Company of New York, was made of mahogany with brass corner straps and lock, and the compartments are lined with blue velvet.  Many of the handles on the surgical instruments are of ivory.  That case was, for many years after Andrew’s death, in the collection of his son, Ralph Sheldon, M.D.  In 1948, it was displayed in the Lyons, New York, drugstore window of Bill Dobbins in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of Wayne County.  Dr. Sheldon’s surgical case is now in the possession of the Wayne County Historical Society.  President Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Steward personally contributed toward the gift.  On the same date, Dr. Sheldon was presented with an ebony cane mounted with a gold cap and engraved, “Presented to A. F. Sheldon, surgeon U.S.V., by his friends at Campbell Hospital, Washington, D.C. April 14, 1865”.

After the war ended, Andrew resumed his practice.  He and Lucetta had six children together, three of whom died in infancy.  Daughter Nora Belle married Charles F. Powers and they had two sons, Whitney and Albert.  Despite his medical background, Andrew was unable to save the life of his daughter and she died at his home in Lyons at age 35 of gastric catarrh.  Son Ralph followed in his father’s footsteps and became a physician.  Both father and son practiced medicine for over 50 years.  Although Ralph was twice married, he had no children.  Younger son, Albert, became a manager of the International Silver Company based out of Lyons, New York.  He also served as Lyons Village Trustee.  Albert and his wife, Caroline Hersey Sheldon, had one daughter named Mary Elizabeth.

After spending the last 31 years of his life in Lyons, New York, Andrew F. Sheldon died in 1914 at the age of 83.  He and his family are buried in Wayne County, New York. 

Andrew F. Sheldon spent much of his life as a servant of the people.  Besides being a physician, he also spent many years as the Wayne County Treasurer, President of the Soldiers and Sailors Association of Wayne County, and was very active in the G.A.R., a patriotic organization dedicated to aiding veterans of the Civil War.  His greatest legacy, however, is as originator of the field tent hospital during the Civil War.

This article was originally published in the ‘Baker-Cederberg Notebook’, Vol. 22, No. 2, Fall-Winter 2010, a semi-annual newsletter published by the Rochester Medical Museum & Archives.  To learn more about the Rochester Medical Museum & Archives, please visit their website at http://www.rochestergeneral.org/rochester-general-hospital/about-us/rochester-medical-museum-and-archives/.


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