Posted tagged ‘Fairport NY’

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

 

Advertisements

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.

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.

Hero Highlight – Harvey E. Light, Co. E, 10th Michigan Cavalry

January 7, 2012

A visit to Major Harvey E. Light’s grave always draws a captive audience when Audrey Johnson and I give our annual Pittsford Cemetery tour in May.  However, this year we managed to elicit gasps from the crowd when it was announced that a descendant of Major Light was in our midst.  Doug Light, Harvey’s great-great grandson, had traveled from his home in Texas to attend the tour.  This was Doug’s first trip to Pittsford, where he had come to pay tribute to the man so many admired.

Harvey E. Light’s story began in 1834, when he was born at Fishkill-on-the-Hudson, the first child of blacksmith James Light and his wife, Maria Devine.  The family moved to Fairport when Harvey was an infant.  At a young age, Harvey left school to help support the family by working on the farm of Jesse Whitney, currently the location of the Fairport Baptist Home.  He also worked on the Webster farm in Pittsford.    Harvey may have met his future wife, Mary Helen Shepard, during this time.  Mary Helen’s father, Sylvester Shepard, was an early settler to Pittsford with his brother, William Shepard.

In 1852, James sold his land in Fairport to Daniel B. DeLand and moved the family, now consisting of nine children, to Greenville, Michigan.  Harvey followed the family to Michigan in the mid-1850s where he worked as a nurseryman.  Eventually, he bought his own farm and expanded his nursery business to include 300 acres of pine trees.  Harvey returned to New York in 1861 to wed Mary Helen Shepard at the First Presbyterian Church in Pittsford.  Together, they traveled to Michigan where Harvey was elected Sheriff of Montcalm County.

Soon after the birth of his first child in July 1863, Harvey was given permission to raise a company to join in the war effort.  He hired a bugler, a snare drummer and a bass drummer to help “drum up” interest in the war enlistment meetings which were held throughout the area.  Company E, 10th Michigan Cavalry went off to war with the newly commissioned Captain Harvey E. Light at its helm.

Major Harvey E. Light, 10th Michigan Cavalry

Much of Harvey’s time with the 10th Michigan Cavalry was spent in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area.  After a time, Harvey was sent back to Michigan to recruit more men.  He must have been quite persuasive, for he managed to enlist his brother Dewitt to join Co. E.  Younger brothers Edward and George served in the 8th Michigan Infantry.  Amazingly, all four Light boys survived the war.  Harvey E. Light was promoted to Major before mustering out on November 11, 1865.

Four more sons and a daughter were born to the Lights in the years following the Civil War.  The family moved to Massachusetts in 1873, where Harvey had purchased a foundry, but returned to Pittsford several years later.  They lived on the Shepard family homestead on East Avenue, which has since been razed.  Harvey was very active in the community, serving throughout the years as an active member of the First Presbyterian church, a census taker, Grange member and Commander of the G.A.R. EJ Tyler Post #288, an organization composed of Civil War veterans.

Harvey continued to live on his farm after the death of his wife in 1902.  It was there that Major Harvey E. Light died on September 17, 1921.  He was buried at Pittsford Cemetery on his 87th birthday.  A newspaper article announcing Major Harvey E. Light’s death stated that “…in his character were to be found, in a large degree, the attributes of the gentlemen of the old school – courtesy, politeness, thoughtfulness for the welfare and successfulness of others, combined with sterling integrity…the example to be found in his life is one that might well be emulated by the young men of this generation.”

This article was originally published in the Fall 2011 issue of the Historic Pittsford newsletter.

A Wicked Affair: Part 4 – Lives Destroyed

August 31, 2011

Ed Clum partook of a delicious Thanksgiving dinner “consisting of a nice baked chicken with all the fixtures, such as dressings, choice jellies and pickles, beautiful bread and butter and choice coffee for desserts, different kinds of pies that suit the taste to a T, and the choicest varieties of cakes.”  The meal was quite a feast for a man who found himself on death row for the murder of one-time friend, John Jay White, and White’s paramour, 17-year old Ella Bowe.  Even more astonishing is the fact that this tasty meal was delivered by no less than ex-Senator S. R. Bridges and his wife of Cassville, Missouri.  No matter.  It would prove to be Ed Clum’s last Thanksgiving dinner.  Despite the stay of execution he had received the previous week, Ed Clum could not put off the hangman’s noose forever.

On April 15, 1887, Ed Clum was hanged in front of an audience estimated to be between 5,000 and 7,000 people.  Newspaper accounts note that nearly one-third of the spectators were women and children.  An article in The (Fairport) Herald dated April 22, 1887, discussed the event that had everyone in Cassville, Missouri and Fairport, New York riveted to the newspapers:

“Clum confessed that he did the deed, and said he was ready to pay the penalty; while he was in hopes that God had forgiven him.  This makes the end of a series of causes and effects, which have resulted in the suicide of Mrs. White, the death of Mrs. Clum, probably by murder, the murder of White and Ella Bowe, and the hanging of Clum.”

Edward F. Clum was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Missouri.  My question was whether I could allow this story to languish beside him, untold, where it had already lain for over a century unnoticed.  This was the first instance I had found where two Civil War soldiers I was researching proved to be of less than stellar character.  Illuminated History‘s goal is to shine a light on the Civil War soldiers of Monroe County, New York.  I felt the story needed to be told, if only to remind myself that these Civil War soldiers were real people with real faults.

A Wicked Affair was written as a serial, because the subject matter lent itself to the telling of a story in the most dramatic of fashions.  This story of lust and deceit and passion was a tale that could easily have come from the reels of an old Hollywood film – except it didn’t.  It came from my own community.  As I dug further into the circumstances surrounding the murders, I was saddened by the number of lives destroyed by these two men.  Not only their lives and those of their wives, but the heinous crimes committed also weighed heavily on the parents, siblings and children in the Clum and White families.  John Jay White had three children who were left orphaned.  The devastation and confusion they must have felt at the loss of their parents is unthinkable.  Those children grew to adulthood, married and had children of their own.  To their credit, they remained in the same area in which they had always lived.  It should be said that, with the exception of Ed and Jay, the Clum and White families were well-respected in this community.  I would hope that same respect continued to be shown to them even after the events of July, 1886 unfolded.

This concludes A Wicked Affair:  The Story of Clum & White.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery Tour – Tuesday, June 14th at 7:00 p.m.

June 13, 2011

Civil War Monument in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Fairport, New York

Join me for a Twilight Tour of Mount Pleasant Cemetery in the village of Fairport, New York on Tuesday, June 14th at 7:00 p.m.

We will meet at the Civil War monument within Mount Pleasant, which is located on Summit Street.  You’ll learn about some of the 30 Fairport and Perinton men who lost their lives fighting for their country during the Civil War.  Then we’ll visit others within the cemetery who returned home when the fighting was done.  Each of them has a unique story to share.

Please wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared for cool weather and rain.  I look forward to sharing the stories of these hometown heroes with you!


%d bloggers like this: