Posted tagged ‘Monroe County Mail’

Illuminating Lucy Lapham Bortle

August 21, 2015

On June 16, 2015, Illuminated History held its fourth annual cemetery tour in which fifteen actors portrayed eternal residents of three historic Perinton, New York, burying grounds: Egypt Cemetery, Schummers Cemetery and Perinton Center Cemetery.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum.

In this Illuminated History series, the scripts are based on in depth historical research, although some creative license may have been taken.

The second person to be highlighted from this tour is Lucy Lapham Bortle (1827-1905) of Egypt Cemetery, who was portrayed by Lucy McCormick:

Death took my mother when I was just three months old and I have no personal recollections of her, so you can imagine my surprise when I heard Lucy Ramsdell Lapham was to be here this evening. You see, I am her daughter, Lucy Lapham Bortle.

I was the youngest of Fayette and Lucy Lapham’s four children, and the only girl. I was a spoiled little motherless child with three older brothers to protect me. Oh, Father married again – three more times, to be exact, but my stepmothers were busy with their own children. So when our neighbor, Spencer Bortle, asked to marry me, I said yes. We were wed on June 13, 1844, three days after my 17th birthday. As you’ll soon see, what had seemed to be an impetuous decision turned out just fine in the end.

Spencer’s family, the Bortles, had a good reputation around town. His father, Philip, was a shoemaker from Montgomery County. He and his wife, Salome Scudder, came to this area in its early days. Philip and William Scudder, kin of Salome, operated a shoe store in Bushnell’s Basin for a time. Then, Philip got it into his head that he wanted to be a farmer, so he bought Lot 26 in town. That land had, at one time, belonged to Mr. Cyrus Packard, whose story was told this evening. Philip ran a successful farm, which was passed down through more than six generations of the Bortle family. After Philip, it went to my husband, Spencer, then to our son, Thurlow, and to Thurlow’s son. I’ve lost track of how many Bortles have walked the land of that farm.

Spencer and I had seven children – six daughters and one son. We were staunch republicans, so we named our son Thurlow Weed, after the famous politician and newspaper publisher. I loved to read, especially classic literature, so four of our daughters were given the unusual names of Luranda, Georgiana, Capitola and Ludora based on book characters of which I had read. And then there were Mary and Martha, the only two girls in our family with common given names.

Though our eldest two children, Mary and Thurlow, were born in New York, Spencer had decided we should move west and the five other children were born in Indiana. In fact, the youngest, Ludora, was born in a covered wagon as we traveled! We stayed in Indiana for 14 years. It was difficult. Our neighbors were few and far between, we missed our family and the Civil War was wreaking havoc on the country. We returned home to Egypt by 1863. Spencer had broken a leg in his younger years that never healed properly. When the draft registration came around, he was passed over. It was a great relief to me. We had lost Spencer’s younger brother, Belden, at Antietam in 1862. We were so proud when the Soldiers’ Monument at Mount Pleasant Cemetery was unveiled in 1866 and it included Belden’s name. It’s too bad the monument is misspelled as “Bortles”. People always wanted to call us Bortles for some reason or other. At least they got his first name correct. Everyone usually called him Belding Bortles, and it just infuriated him!

The family homestead, known as “Bortle Hill”, was a wonderful place to raise a family. As the years went on, our children had children and everyone always came back to Bortle Hill. In 1894, Spencer and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with our family. Beginning with that event, it became a tradition to hold Bortle family reunions on the Hill.

Spencer and Lucy Lapham Bortle on their 60th wedding anniversary, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society..

Spencer and Lucy Lapham Bortle on their 60th wedding anniversary, courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Ten years later, we celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary. There’s a lovely photograph of us on that occasion. [point to photo on screen]. The Monroe County Mail ran a wonderful article about our celebration that day. You see, our children had arranged for the Egypt band to play after the guests arrived. The band played several of the popular airs of the time very beautifully. We had an anniversary cake in the form of a pyramid, with sixty burning candles, that occupied the middle of the table. The dates of 1844 and 1904 were carefully made of pine twigs and fastened upon the wall near one of the tables. Then, my granddaughter, Alberta Arnold, married Mr. Walter Smith to the strains of the wedding march. It was a wonderful day for all, and Spencer and I were so thankful to have shared our wedding anniversary with our granddaughter in such a special way.

I passed on in 1905 at age 78, and Spencer followed two years behind me. I was so happy to see him. It felt like I was a 17-year-old bride all over again!

Script by Vicki Masters Profitt

(c) 2015 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History

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Hero Highlight: Byron Talman, 22nd NY Cavalry by Guest Author Anne van Leeuwen

September 30, 2013

Introduction by Vicki Masters Profitt, Illuminated History:

Last spring, I came into contact with Jon Tallman, a descendant of the Perinton, New York, Talman family.  I asked Jon if he would be interested in writing a Hero Highlight about Byron Talman for Illuminated History.  Jon declined because he felt the story should be told by a direct descendant.  Jon gave me contact information for Anne van Leeuwen, Byron’s great-great-granddaughter.  Anne is descended from Byron through his daughter, Ida Mae Talman.  Anne graciously accepted the offer to write a Hero Highlight about her ancestor.  Here, in Anne’s words, is

BYRON’S STORY

While this article is about Perinton’s Byron Talman (1838-1909) and the capture of Confederate raider Harry Gilmor, it is largely about the 22nd NY Cavalry, sometimes called “the Rochester Cavalry.”

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

The 22nd NY Cavalry existed during the last eighteen months of the Civil War, when fighting closed on the Confederate capital in Virginia.  Much of this time, the 22nd NY Cavalry regiment was assigned to the 3rd Division of the Cavalry Corps.  The 3rd was commanded by Brig. Gen. George A. Custer, who had established his reputation at Gettysburg.  The Cavalry Corps was under the overall command of Maj. Gen. Alfred T. N. Torbet who reported to Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan.  Sheridan’s battle experiences included Stones River, Chattanooga, and Chickamauga.

The 22nd participated in two great campaigns — the Overland Campaign and the (Shenandoah) Valley Campaign. During the Overland Campaign, Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps was attached to Grant’s Army of the Potomac as it progressed southward toward the Confederate capital, fighting battles at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor.  When battle lines became entrenched at Richmond and Petersburg, Grant made Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps into the autonomous Army of the Shenandoah.  Their mission was to halt Confederate military operations in western Virginia and to eliminate the threat of attack on Washington.  The Valley Campaign fought battles at Opequon (Winchester), Cedar Creek, and Waynesboro.  All of these battles, from the Wilderness to Waynesboro, are considered major battles, critical to the war’s outcome.  The 22nd fought them all within a six month period and suffered high casualties.

The legacy of the 22nd and the Cavalry Corps is significant.  When the war began, the Union Army had no effective cavalry.  In contrast, the Confederacy had the illustrious cavalryman J.E.B. Stuart.  By the end of the campaigns, Stuart had been removed and the reputations of Generals Sheridan, and Custer were established. In his farewell address to the division, Custer said, “In the past six months, although confronted by superior numbers,… you have never lost a gun, never lost a color, and have never been defeated.”

At Perinton in October 1863, Talman was among the first to enlist in Company A of the 22nd NY Cavalry.  As more men volunteered, Companies B through M were formed. Talman was 25, had a wife, and had already sailed the Atlantic and Mediterranean.  His father was an abolitionist who had campaigned for Lincoln in Perinton and Rochester.  Talman was a First Sergeant during the Overland Campaign.  For the Shenandoah Campaign, he was commissioned as an officer in Company H.  Later, he would command Company M and would frequently be in command of the battalion or regiment.

Talman received a gunshot wound to his left arm at Opequon (Winchester).  There are several accounts.  General Custer reported, “The enemy upon our approach delivered a well-directed volley of musketry, but before a second discharge could be given my command was in their midst, sabering right and left.” Talman’s brother, a journalist and historian, wrote, “he was shot in the left arm while leading a charge, but fought on until, faint from loss of blood, his colonel forced him to the rear.”  In his promotion to Captain and to the command of Company M, the Army record cited his “gallant and meritorious services at the Battle of Winchester, Va.”  One press release stated, “the [22nd NY Cavalry] regiment captured four of the nine battle flags,” and credits Talman among others.  These flags were presented by Custer and Sheridan to Secretary of War Stanton.

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

Major Harry Gilmor was a Confederate raider who destroyed railroad bridges near Washington in Maryland and West Virginia.  As the Confederacy grew desperate, Gilmor terrorized civilians and burned towns, such as Chambersburg, PA, entirely to the ground.

According to another regimental history[1] of that time, Sheridan had scouts, Union soldiers who had been selected with for their courage and fitness for this dangerous work.  They tracked Gilmor, and on 4 Feb 1865, they found him in bed, sound asleep, his revolver on a chair nearby.  Gilmor was imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

Byron Talman’s role in Gilmor’s capture is unclear.  The story was not told during Talman’s life, but it is consistent with the known facts.

  • Was Talman ever a scout for Sheridan?  In the Monroe County Mail for 13 Feb 1919, Talman’s brother says, “In the Battle of the Wilderness, Byron led a squad of troopers detailed to carry dispatches between Gen. Grant and his corps commanders [who included Sheridan] and half the time was inside the Confederate lines.”  This is consistent with deployment of the regiment at the Wilderness.
  • Was Talman serving as Sheridan’s scout in February 1865?  The Army record indicates that he was present but unattached to a unit from January through March 1865.
  • Was Talman involved with Gilmor’s capture?  In the Monroe County Mail for 19 Feb 1929, Talman’s brother writes, “It was he, single-handed, who captured Major Harry Gilmor, the Confederate officer, after pursuing him three days and three nights without sleep.  It was a bit singular that the two men, both large and powerful, were almost doubles.”

This account of “single-handed” capture mocks Gilmor, who was an exceptional braggart, boasting in the newspapers and defying his pursuers.  If Talman was indeed alone when he captured Gilmor, he was certainly one of many involved in the pursuit.

After the war, Talman lived a quiet life as a farmer in the Midwest and was buried in 1909 near his grandchildren in Williams, Iowa.  Tragically, an 1896 tuberculosis epidemic had taken the lives of his grandchildren — except my grandfather Frank.


[1] The 22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry, by SC Farrar, 1911.  This unit also served in the Army of the Shenandoah, and many of its soldiers were from Chambersburg, which was burned by Gilmor.


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