Posted tagged ‘E.A. Slocum Post 211’

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.

A Wicked Affair: Part 3 – A Vile Nest

August 6, 2011

In Missouri, John Jay White’s attention became drawn to another woman.  Seventeen-year old Ella Bowe was a local farmer’s daughter.  Despite the fact that Jay and Lottie Clum were living as man and wife on the 132 acres of land he had purchased, Ella soon began spending time at the White home.  By the time Lottie died in mysterious circumstances in January 1886, Ella had all but moved into the house.  Lottie Clum was just 35 years old at the time of her death.  It would later be suggested that the cause of her death was due to the “medicine” she had been given by Jay and Ella.  Also living in the home were the housekeeper, Mrs. Olive Vassar, and her son, Buddy.

At some point, Ed Clum heard that his wife, Lottie, was ill.  Although his parents begged him not to go to her, Ed headed out west.  He arrived in Missouri several weeks after Lottie’s death.  What was said between Clum and White at that time remains unknown.  However, Ed Clum began living in the house with Jay White and young Ella Bowe.  Ed became known around Cassville as “Mr. White’s brother-in-law”, for it was thought that he was the late Mrs. White’s brother.  The threesome seemed to be getting along well.

On Thursday, July 8, 1886, something finally snapped in Ed Clum.  He had been working the farm all day with Willis DeHoney, the hired man.  At sundown, Willis beckoned to Ed to come help him load onto the wagon the wheat he had mowed.  Ed assisted, and Willis drove off toward the barn with a full load of wheat.  When Willis looked back, he saw Ed Clum firing his gun, discharging both barrels in rapid pace.  Then Willis watched as Ed reloaded and shot twice more.  Ed must have known Willis was watching, because he motioned for Willis to come over.

Upon Willis’ arrival at the scene he saw John Jay White and Ella Bowe lying close together against a tree, dead.  Ed Clum threw some straw over the bodies, and the two men returned in the dark with an empty wagon.  They began their ghoulish task of loading the bodies onto the wagon and depositing them into a ditch near the creek, covering them with straw and rocks.  Ed Clum threatened Willis’ life if he told anyone about the murders.

For one week, Willis lived under the watchful eye of Ed Clum.  Then, after complaining of a need to get medicine, Willis was allowed to leave the farm and head to town.  He went straight to the City Marshal’s office, and told the story of the double murders of John Jay White and Ella Bowe by Ed Clum.  Warrants were issued, and Ed Clum was found to be working on the farm as though nothing had happened.  He was immediately arrested and jailed.

The authorities contacted friends and family back in New York for information about Edward F. Clum.  In a letter to Marshal J. F. Dumont responding to this inquiry, Adjutant John F. Huntington of Fairport’s G.A.R. E. A. Slocum Post #211 wrote of the unpleasantness of the characters of both men, finishing his missive with “…the world can well get rid of such a vile nest
as these people were.”

Coming soon – A Wicked Affair: Part 4 – Lives Destroyed.

Historical Societies – A Researcher’s Paradise

March 30, 2009

Today I visited the Perinton Historical Society and Fairport Museum for the first time.  I was astounded by the amount of research materials available there.  One frequently refers to public libraries for research, but the local historical society is an untapped reservoir of information.

Several months ago, I had come across the online edition of the Perinton Historical Society Historigram.  George B. Wiltsie, one of my Civil War boys, was mentioned in the newsletter.  Apparently, a man named Karl Jost had donated a box full of Wiltsie and Potter documents to the Perinton Historical Society.  Included in these treasures was a transcript of George B. Wiltsie’s Civil War diary!  During my visit today, I had the good fortune to meet Fairport Museum curator William Keeler.  After explaining my Civil War project to Bill, he headed off to parts unknown and returned with the very treasure box mentioned in the Historigram.  Unfortunately, Bill is in the process of transcribing the diary so I was unable to view that yet, but the rest of the items were also of interest.  There were several photos of homes belonging to various members of the Wiltsie and Potter families.  The photo that caught my attention was a black and white 8×10 of the Wiltsie family home in Duanesburg, New York.  Pasted to the back of the photo was a long letter written by Charles H. Wiltsie, nephew of George B. Wiltsie.  The letter described in detail the house where George’s parents and older siblings lived until their move to Perinton in the 1830s.  What a find!

While discussing my project with Bill, I offhandedly asked if he had any information about the local chapter of the G.A.R., which stands for Grand Army of the Republic.  This was a national organization that was formed after the Civil War.  It is comparable to today’s American Legion or VFW.  Bill strode off and returned with more treasures for me.  The folders he handed me contained meeting notes and many other interesting tidbits of information about the E.A. Slocum Post 211.  For me, the most exciting part was seeing the applications completed and signed in the late 1890s by some of my Civil War boys.  The applications listed birth places, service dates, occupations, and even reasons for discharge. 

I would invite anyone with an interest in history to visit their local historical society.  Their holdings are more precious than gold.  Special thanks to Bill Keeler for his assistance with and interest in my Civil War soldiers project.

The life and death of George B. Wiltsie will be discussed in greater depth during my Pittsford Cemetery tour on May 16th.  Please visit the following link for more information about my tour, which is featured on page 17.  http://townofpittsford.org/files/images/publications/2009_spring_rec_brochure.pdf


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