Posted tagged ‘3rd NY Cavalry’

History Through the Eyes of a Five Year Old

April 4, 2011

“Do you like being a historian?” asked a five-year old at the local elementary school.  “It’s the best job ever!” I replied with a smile. 

After being asked to speak to the Kindergarten class at a local elementary school about my profession, I became nervous.  How does one explain the job of an historian in language that a young child could understand?  I couldn’t tell them about Charles Tillotson being wounded in the head during his first battle, Antietam, or how Charles lingered three days before succumbing to the inevitable conclusion of his life.  I didn’t want to frighten the children by telling them how sharpshooter Nathan Cook and his brother, William, died within weeks of each other, killed by disease.  When I told them I researched soldiers, would they ask difficult questions that I wouldn’t want to answer for fear of overwhelming them?

“Hello, boys and girls.  I’m here to tell you about my job.  I am an historian.  Can you say historian?  When you say historian, do you hear another word in there?  HISTORY-an.”  I told them my job was to research people and places and tell their stories so the history would be kept alive forever, and that I especially loved researching the history where we lived. 

We talked about James Chamberlin, who was a trooper with the 3rd New York Cavalry.  Did they know the cavalry was composed of the soldiers who got to ride horses?  The Chamberlin Rubber Co. was started after the war by James Chamberlin, who saw many soldiers become sick after being in the wet and cold.  What would the Chamberlin Rubber Co. have made to keep the soldiers dry?  Raincoats!

Kingsley Brownell was a trooper with the 21st New York Cavalry.  He rode a horse, too.  Kingsley was so strong he could lift a bucket full of water over his head.  They were quite impressed with Kingsley’s accomplishment.

“Who goes to Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream?  If you look down the street when you are at Ben & Jerry’s, you can see the Wiltsie Building.”  After showing them a postcard of the Wiltsie Building, I produced a photo of George B. Wiltsie and his comrades.

John Buckley Bacon was called Buckley by his family.  He came here after the Civil War and started a family.  His son, Howard, was a soldier in two wars – World War I and World War II!  “Someday I’m going to be a soldier, and I’ll be in World War I,” said a determined little boy.  Another boy, not to be outdone, stated “My Grandpa was in the Civil War!”

“Who puts gasoline in their cars?”  The children were very excited to see the Vacuum Oil Co. truck, and I told them about Matthew Ewing the inventor and how years later his Vacuum Oil Company became Exxon Mobil.  “My mom works at Shell Oil,” volunteered one little person.  “Hey, that truck is a bank!  I have a bank,” another child piped up.  Then I showed them my 1911 Rochester G.A.R. Encampment souvenir medal, and we talked about it being 100 years old.  “My mom was born in 1972 and she’s still alive.”  I couldn’t help but snicker at that, as did the teacher.

At the end, I held up a painting of the Erie Canal done by my friend, talented artist Rusty Likly.  The kids immediately recognized the landscape, and a discussion ensued about the other buildings they knew along the canal.  The questions came fast and furious.  “Do you use your computer a lot to learn about history?”  “Do you work with someone else?” 

Not once did a child ask if anyone got killed, or ask any other difficult questions.  They were simply excited to hear about our local history and hometown heroes.  My favorite question, however, was asked by a young boy who had been relatively quiet during the entire session.  “Do you like being a historian?”  “It’s the best job ever!” I replied with a smile.

Greenvale Cemetery Tour – June 8, 2010

June 8, 2010

Nathan C. Jeffrey, 54th Massachusetts Infantry

What a beautiful evening for a walking tour of Greenvale Cemetery in Fairport, New York!  Thank you to everyone who came out to enjoy the perfect weather while hearing the incredible stories of the Civil War soldiers who permanently reside there.

We began our tour with Samuel Larwood of the 33rd New York Infantry before moving over to meet Nathan C. Jeffrey, the young soldier who served under Colonel Robert Gould Shaw in the famed 54th Massachusetts Infantry.  Chester Hutchinson of the 108th New York Infantry amazed everyone with his own description of the wound he received at the Battle of the Wilderness.  The sad story of Charles E. Moore, musician in the 108th New York, followed.  He was just 17 years old when he died of disease.  Charles will not be forgotten.

The “white bronze” Hitchcock monument was next.  It has truly stood the test of time.  The 6th Michigan Cavalry was represented at Greenvale by Doctor Daniel G. Weare, who “looked like a preacher though he could swear like a pirate.”  John D. Kohler of the 140th New York Infantry preceded Joseph S. Kelsey.  Joseph assisted his sister and brother-in-law, Josephine Martha Clarke and Oliver P. Clarke, as caretakers for Mount McGregor, the cottage where President Ulysses S. Grant spent his last months and ultimately died.

Frederick Prouse and the strong military influence in his family were discussed next.  Two of Frederick’s grandsons, Lyle Prouse and Dean Shaw, both served during WWI.  A great-grandson, another Lyle Prouse, was a radio operator on a B-29 bomber during WWII and died when his plane crashed on Iwo Jima.  We then discussed Andrew Abrams, who lost his leg at the Battle of Petersburg, and his brother-in-law George C. Taylor who established the Fairport Herald in 1872.

Everyone was so patient as we overran our time to discuss George S. Filkins, Alanson W. Pepper, William H. Jerrells and Simeon Pepper Howard before ending with Shadrick Benson of the 3rd New York Cavalry.  Special thanks to Alan Keukelaar, Vice-President of the Perinton Historical Society, for setting up the tour, and to Laurie T. Hall and Katie Profitt for their assistance.

Chamberlin Rubber Company – Still Going Strong After 144 Years!

May 7, 2009
Captain James R. Chamberlin

Captain James R. Chamberlin, courtesy of Bill Lanigan, owner of Chamberlin Rubber Company

Last week, I was stunned to discover that the Chamberlin Rubber Company, which was founded by one of my Civil War boys – James R. Chamberlin – was still in existence 144 years later!

Today, I had the opportunity to tour Chamberlin Rubber with the current owner, Bill Lanigan.  Mr. Lanigan graciously allowed me access to photographs, stock certificates, newspaper articles and other bits of fascinating memorabilia about Chamberlin Rubber.  There was a receipt dated April 1, 1867.  Stock certificates signed by James R. Chamberlin himself.  But the ultimate item for me was seeing a photo of James Chamberlin in his Civil War uniform.

James R. Chamberlin enlisted in Co. A of the 3rd New York Cavalry on August 31, 1861.  He was wounded several times throughout his service, and finally mustered out in August of 1864 as a Captain.  James is the second highest ranking officer buried at Pittsford Cemetery, after Major Harvey E. Light.  After the war, James started the Chamberlin Rubber Company.  It was in his family until the 1970s when his great-grandson, James B. Little, sold it to the Lanigan family who continues to run it to this day. 

James R. Chamberlin is featured on my upcoming Civil War Soldiers of Pittsford walking tour of Pittsford Cemetery on May 16th. 

I would like to express my gratitude to Bill Lanigan, owner of Chamberlin Rubber Company, for taking the time to discuss his company’s history with me.  His generosity is very much appreciated.  Check out Chamberlin Rubber Company’s official website listed on my Blogroll.


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