Posted tagged ‘George P. Walters’

One Injured After Car Collides with Civil War Soldier

November 19, 2010

Another view of the accident

This morning, a car crashed through the recently renovated fence of the Pioneer Burying Ground in Pittsford, New York, and collided with the headstone of Joseph Bartlett, a Civil War veteran who served with the 81st New York Infantry.  Joseph Bartlett passed away one hundred twenty nine years ago, so he is probably not too upset by the collision.  According to newspaper reports, the man behind the wheel of the car may have had a medical emergency which contributed to the accident.  He was taken to a local hospital with injuries that are not considered life-threatening.  

Pioneer Burying Ground Crash Site 11/19/10. Joseph Bartlett's base in the foreground, with headstone about 15 feet north of the base.

This event gives me the opportunity to illuminate Joseph Bartlett, a soldier who has kept a low profile even as I have illuminated two of the other Civil War soldiers buried at Pioneer Burying Ground – Thomas Wood and Ezra A. Patterson, both of the 108th NY Infantry.

Little is known of Joseph Bartlett’s early life.  He appears to have been born in Oneida County, New York, about 1840.  According to the New York State Archives, Joseph stood 5′ 11″ tall, with hazel eyes and brown hair.  His complexion was fair.  We do know that Joseph mustered into the 81st NY Infantry on October 6, 1861 as a Private and moved quickly through the ranks.  In February, 1862, he was promoted to Corporal.  A promotion to Sergeant followed in September of that year.

The men of the 81st NY Infantry proved themselves on the battlefields at Fair Oaks and Seven Pines.  They fought at Malvern Hill and were present at the siege of Charleston in 1863.  New Year’s Day, 1864, dawned bright and cold.  On that day, Joseph Bartlett re-enlisted with the 81st NY Infantry.  Six months later, at the battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, Sergeant Joseph Bartlett of Co. I, was wounded in the leg and arm.

Joseph returned to his regiment after recuperating from his wounds.  He was commissioned a 1st Lieutenant with Co. F in June, 1865.  After transferring to Co. A, Joseph was commissioned a Captain before mustering out on August 31, 1865. 

Joseph Bartlett's headstone pre-crash

I have not been able to ascertain how Joseph ended up in Pittsford, New York.  His cause of death at the age of 40 is also unknown.  However he ended up at the Pioneer Burying Ground, Joseph took his place as the third Civil War veteran to permanently reside there.  He was predeceased by George P. Walters and Ezra A. Tillotson.  Thomas Wood joined the trio much later, in 1923.

It will take quite some time to assess the damage to the headstones, although it is clear the damage done to some of these older headstones is irreparable.

Hero Highlight – Nathan Mulford Cook, 6th Co., 1st Battalion Sharpshooters

October 28, 2009
Charles, Hannah, Mary Augusta, Ella, Nathan & William Cook

Charles, Hannah, Mary Augusta, Ella, Nathan & William Cook

As evening fell, the last light of the day illuminated the yellow leaves covering the ground like a shroud.  It was particularly fitting, as I had stopped by Pittsford Cemetery to pay my respects to Nathan Mulford Cook on the 147th anniversary of his death.

Nathan was born in April of 1842.  He was the fourth child, and third boy, in the Cook family.  It seems his parents, Wiliam Henry and Phebe Rose Terbell Cook, came to Pittsford, New York from Suffolk County, New York sometime before 1840.  The 1840 census shows William working as a carpenter in Pittsford, but by 1850 he was a nurseryman. 

 The Cooks had lost four children between the years of 1845 and 1859.  How concerned William and Phebe must have been when two of their three surviving sons, William Jr. and Nathan, came to them with the news that they wished to join the Union forces.  William Jr. decided to enlist in the 4th New York Heavy Artillery.  Nathan would have been happy with that, until the Sharpshooter scouts came to call.  Nathan was one of only a handful of men who qualified for the Sharpshooters.  He had the skill to shoot ten consecutive shots into a ten inch circle from 200 hundred yards away.  Only two Pittsford men had that ability.  The other, George P. Walters, was mustered into the Sharpshooters on the same day as Nathan.  William and Nathan enlisted within days of each other in August, 1862.  Sadly, they would die within weeks of each other in October of the same year.

I always picture Nathan as a good-natured, gangly boy who loved animals and the outdoors.  His military service record states that he stood 5′ 9″ tall, with a light complexion, dark hair and black eyes.  Unfortunately, the record gives little more information than that.  We know that Nathan died in Pittsford.  Did he even leave home before becoming ill?  Did William, who had shipped out with the 4th NY Heavy Artillery, know that Nathan was sick before he himself became ill with and died from typhoid fever on October 3, 1862?

Upon Nathan’s death on October 28, 1862, he was laid to rest in Pittsford Cemetery at his brother William’s side.  Their four young siblings – Mary Augusta (1844-1845), Charles Terbell (1849-1858), Hannah Terbell (1851-1852) and Ella Frances (1859-1859) – lie beside them.  An older sister, named Phebe Elizabeth but known to the family as “Libby”, married Julian Way Geare and bore him two children, William and Minnie.  Phebe died in 1872 at age 35, followed several months later by her infant daughter Minnie.  Her son, William, passed away just four years later.  Mary Star Cook, younger sister to Nathan and William, lived a long life.  She went on to marry Don Quincy Alvord of Perinton, NY.  They moved to Camden, NY where they raised four sons.  Mary passed away at age 85, living well into the 20th century.  She and her husband are buried at Pittsford Cemetery, as are Phebe and her children.

Brother Edward P. Cook is a mystery to me.  Born in 1840, he was two years older than Nathan, and two years younger than William.  The 1860 census lists Edward’s occupation as a teacher.  Subsequent census records do not give me enough information to undeniably confirm Edward’s identity.  I will continue to gather clues in the hopes that someday I will be able to track Edward.

The fates of Nathan and William Cook haunt me.  Two young men, who should have been enjoying the beginnings of their adult lives, were instead lying in the ground.  Illness took them before they could prove themselves on the battlefield.  The Cook family suffered more than their fair share of early deaths.


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