Posted tagged ‘15th Indiana Infantry’

Family Ties

August 15, 2010

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. 

Martha Jewett & Vicki Profitt at Mary Jewett Telford's grave

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.

Telford descendants Lynda Skaddan & Jane Andersen at Mary's grave

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.

Hero Highlight – Mary Jewett Telford, Humanitarian, Part 1

March 18, 2010

Mary Jewett Telford, courtesy Floris A. Lent

Here is the story of an incredible woman – daughter, teacher, nurse, wife, adoptive mother, author, editor, suffragette, humanitarian.  Her name was Mary Jewett Telford, and today would be her 171st birthday.

Mary’s story begins in Seneca, New York on March 18, 1839.  Mary’s parents, Dr. Lester Jewett and Hannah Southwick Jewett, were already parents to five children.  After Mary’s birth, another four children would join the Jewett clan.  Sadly, the Jewetts lost infants Ruth and Oakley within days of each in 1846, probably of diptheria or scarlet fever.  After their burial at Old No. 9 Cemetery in Seneca, the family made the decision to move to Lima, Michigan, to be closer to Lester’s brothers who had migrated there in the 1820s.

Mary was an exceptional child.  By the age of 14, she was teaching in the district school.  Later, she spent one year teaching at Morganfield, Kentucky, before returning home to Michigan.  It was there that her younger brother, William T. Jewett, enlisted in the 4th Michigan Cavalry.  Four months later, William was dead from typhoid fever.  Then Mary’s elder brother, Edward Jewett, joined the 124th Ohio Infantry.  Mary longed to assist the soldiers convalescing from their wounds.  Although she was denied a nursing position by the U.S. Sanitary Commission because she was too young, Mary persisted.  Michigan Governor Austin Blair, a friend of her father’s, gave her a special permit and Mary was off to war.

Working at Hospital No. 8 in Nashville, Tennessee, must have been exhausting for the young nurse who, for eight months, was the sole woman in the hospital occupied by six hundred soldiers.  Mary did her best to keep up with the requests for water and the calls for assistance of all kinds.  One of Mary’s duties was likely to have been the writing of letters for young men incapable of doing so themselves due to illness or injury.  How many letters did Mary write?  The answer is lost to history.  We do know that, on more than one occasion, soldiers sought her out many years after the war to thank her for being their angel during those dark days of war.  Mary was a strong woman, but even she could not withstand the constant lack of sleep and the strain of the stair climbing from ward to ward.  After a year, Mary left the nursing job she loved, shattered in health and spirits.

Her loved ones in Michigan awaited her return.  In addition to her family, there was a soldier who waited for Mary – her sweetheart, Jacob Telford, of the 15th Indiana Infantry.  Mary and Jacob married on July 8, 1864, at her home in Lima, Michigan.  We do not know when Mary and Jacob met.  Jacob, nearly six years older than Mary, was also native to Seneca, New York.  My romantic soul would like to think they had been childhood friends, separated when the Jewett family moved to Michigan.  Then, one day on her daily rounds at Hospital No. 8, she came across him again and recognized his clear blue eyes and shy grin.  Jacob had been severely wounded at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  It is not a stretch to believe he may have been brought back to Hospital No. 8 in Nashville for treatment.  However it came about, they did marry and were not parted again until death.

There is much more of Mary’s story to come!  Check back soon for Part 2 of Mary Jewett Telford, Humanitarian.

Happy Birthday, Mary!


January 20, 2010

Thank you to everyone who attended my Illuminated History:  The Civil War Soldiers of Perinton presentation last night at the Fairport Library.  I was overwhelmed by the positive response, and the genuine interest in my Civil War boys and our Civil War nurse, Mary Jewett Telford.

Mary Jewett Telford, courtesy Floris A. Lent

Mary Jewett Telford, courtesy Floris A. Lent

It was a pleasure speaking with so many of you before and after the presentation:  Brian Burkhart, who is diligently tracking the men of the 108th New York Volunteer Infantry;  Herb Swingle, who created quite a stir with his connection of John Wilkes Booth to the Rochester area;  Gary Maybee, who shared with me the story of his own Civil War treasures; and Melissa Talma, who took the time to write me an eloquent email expressing her enthusiasm for my project and for learning more about our Civil War heroes.

The heroes illuminated last night included:

George B. Wiltsie, courtesy Jason Puckett

George B. Wiltsie (1837-1865), 4th New York Heavy Artillery.  Died of typhoid fever contracted as a result of starvation at Salisbury Prison.  Buried at Pittsford Cemetery.

Kingsley Brownell (1845-1924), 21st New York Cavalry.  Seriously wounded outside Martinsburg, WV and forced to ride 9 miles as a POW before being paroled 8 months later.  Buried at Pittsford Cemetery.

Major Harvey E. Light (1834-1921), 10th Michigan Cavalry.  Major Harvey survived the war and became a prominent citizen in the Pittsford community.  Buried at Pittsford Cemetery.

Mary Jewett Telford (1839-1906), Civil War nurse.  Served at Hospital No. 8 in Nashville, TN.  Nurse, author, suffragette, editor and charter member of the Woman’s Relief Corps.  Buried at South Perinton Cemetery.

Other Civil War soldiers mentioned during the presentation were:

William B. Lyke (1839-1904), 4th New York Heavy Artillery.  Captured, along with George B. Wiltsie, at Reams Station.  Died in 1904, age 65.

Kingsley Brownell, courtesy Mark A. Lannan

Kingsley Brownell, courtesy Mark A. Lannan

Albert E. Lyke (1841-1933), 4th New York Heavy Artillery.  Shot through the jaw at Spotsylvania.  Took his first plane ride in 1928, at age 87.  Died at age 92.

Edward H. Lyke (c 1843-1864), 4th New York Heavy Artillery.  Brother of William B. and Albert E. Lyke.  Mortally wounded at Petersburg.

Henry Root (c 1845-1899), 4th New York Heavy Artillery.  Drummer boy.  Drowned in 1899 after suffering a seizure and falling into the water while fishing.

Jerome Brownell (1843-1921), 108th New York Volunteer Infantry.  Brother of Kingsley Brownell.  Wounded at Gettysburg.

Jacob Telford (1833-1905), 15th Indiana Infantry.  Husband of Mary Jewett Telford.  Wounded at Murfreesboro, TN.

John H. Thurmon (1843-1919), 2nd Missouri Cavalry.  The only Confederate soldier buried at Pittsford Cemetery.

Harvey E. Light, courtesy Doug Light

Harvey E. Light, courtesy Doug Light

Special thanks to descendants Martha Jewett, Evan Marshall, Clay Feeter, Floris A. Lent, Jason Puckett, Mark A. Lannan and Doug Light for supplying me with photos and information about their heroic ancestors.  I very much appreciate the services of Laurie T. Hall who taped the presentation, Charles Profitt as tech guy, Margaret Pilaroscia of the Fairport Library and Alan Keukelaar of the Perinton Historical Society.

There are many more illuminations to come!  Please check my “Cemetery Tours and Presentations” page for information about upcoming events.

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