Posted tagged ‘Perinton Historical Society’

Looking Back While Facing Forward

January 1, 2011

The end of the year brings reflection as we put to rest one year while looking ahead to a new beginning.  I’ll always remember 2010 as an incredible year for my Civil War soldiers project, as well as for the start of some new research projects. 

Martha Jewett & Evan Marshall visit Mary Jewett Telford's grave

In January, I met a descendant of one of my Civil War veterans.  Martha Jewett is the second great-grandniece of Civil War nurse Mary Jewett Telford.  Martha and her husband, Evan Marshall, drove to Fairport to attend my Illuminated History presentation for the Perinton Historical Society.  After Martha and Evan returned home, we spent a frantic two weeks emailing and calling each other in order to meet the deadline for Mary Jewett Telford’s nomination to the National Women’s Hall of Fame.  We will soon hear whether we were successful in our endeavor.

With February came a slight shift in my research, as I began to study the World War I soldiers of Pittsford.  February was also memorable as it was the first time I have formally interviewed a research subject.  Bill Cooper, a World War II veteran and survivor of the Battle of the Bulge, was my assignment.  Bill is a member of American Legion Rayson-Miller Post 899.  The stories he shared about his military experience and life with his wife, Margaret, were 

Bill Cooper, World War II vet

 inspiring.  I also had the opportunity to meet with Philip G. Maples for the first time.  Phil is the Director Emeritus of the Rochester Medical Museum & Archives.  Since then, I have volunteered research time to the RMMA, as well as spent time with Phil, who is himself a Civil War researcher and enthusiast.  I proudly headed to school in February to hear my daughter make her first presentation by portraying Civil War nurse Mary Jewett Telford.

March rang in another opportunity to interview a Battle of the Bulge veteran.  This time it was Ed Kinnen, also a   member of Rayson-Miller.  Ed and his wife, Ellen, graciously invited me into their home so I could talk with Ed about his World War II service.  We share a common love of genealogy, and I was happy to hear them speak of their children and grandchildren and the importance of sharing the family history with them. 

Lynda Skaddan & Jane Andersen, Telford descendants

The next few months went by in a blur as I once again collaborated with Pittsford Town Historian Audrey Johnson for our annual Pittsford Cemetery tour in May.  Theo X. Rojo, who researches the men of the 13th NY Infantry and the 22nd NY Cavalry, contacted me in May and we have spent much time emailing back and forth regarding those units and others.  June was the pinnacle of excitement.  I gave a tour at Greenvale Cemetery for the Perinton Historical Society members.  I was so pleased to meet Cheri Branca, one of my online friends and fellow Find A Grave contributor, who attended the Greenvale tour with her husband, Matt.  Jane Andersen and Lynda Skaddan, descendants of Robert Telford, made a special trip to Fairport with Lynda’s husband Ray so I could meet them at Mary Jewett Telford’s grave to discuss her life.  Mary was wed to Robert’s younger brother, Jacob Telford.  In June, I also had the opportunity to meet Norman and John Henry Miller, who are the nephews of Henry L. Miller.  Henry was killed at Belleau Wood during World War I.  Norm and John are not only veterans themselves, but they come from a long line of men who served their country, beginning with their great-grandfather, Civil War veteran Henry L. Mueller.

Throughout the rest of 2010, I gave a presentation for the American Legion Rayson-Miller Post 899 and discussed the 

John and Norm Miller at the grave of their uncle, Henry L. Miller

early history of the post and its members.  Audrey Johnson and I hosted another tour of the Pioneer Burying Ground in October, and I started a Facebook page for Illuminated History.  However, I think the biggest thrill has been meeting the veterans’ descendants and other researchers, both in person, by phone and online.  I spoke by phone with John R. Bacon, grandson of WWI & WWII Lieutenant Colonel Howard Bacon and great-grandson of Civil War vet John Buckley Bacon, after emailing back and forth for several years.  I spoke with veteran David Retchless about his military service, as well as those of his brother, father and uncle.  Tyler Emery, the current owner of the Retchless military memorabilia, and I have corresponded via email and he has graciously shared photos of the contents of the trunk he owns.  At the Pioneer Burying Ground tour, I met Gail and Marilyn, the daughters of World War I vet Raymond L. Hulbert.  I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Lloyd F. Allen’s daughters, Betty Anne and Katie, as well as his granddaughter, Elizabeth.  Dr. Allen, like his friend and neighbor Howard Bacon, had also served in both World Wars.

2010 was an extraordinary year.  Thank you for your interest in my project, and your appreciation for these veterans.  With your support, Illuminated History will continue to shine the light on these heroes for many years to come.

Family Ties

August 15, 2010

As a historian, my passion revolves around the past.  However, this year I had the most incredible opportunity to tie the past into the present when I met with descendants of the Jewett and Telford families.  Their ancestors, Mary Jewett, a Civil War nurse and Jacob Telford, a veteran of the 15th Indiana Infantry, had married in July of 1864. 

Martha Jewett & Vicki Profitt at Mary Jewett Telford's grave

January 19, 2010 was an exciting day for me.  Not only was I giving a Civil War presentation for the Perinton Historical Society, but I was also meeting Martha Jewett, a descendant of Mary Jewett’s youngest brother, Nathan.  Martha and her husband, Evan Marshall, had traveled from New Jersey to hear my presentation in which her ancestor, Mary Jewett Telford, featured prominently.  We met at my house and spent some time looking at photographs and the Jewett family bible before heading to South Perinton Cemetery to pay our respects to Mary at her grave.  Amazingly, Martha and Evan had come to Pittsford many times to visit their friends, but had never realized that Mary was resting only a few miles away.  Although Martha and Evan returned to New Jersey the following day, we were in touch many times during the following weeks as Martha and I worked feverishly on Mary Jewett Telford’s nomination for the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Telford descendants Lynda Skaddan & Jane Andersen at Mary's grave

In April, a story about my Civil War project ran in the Brighton-Pittsford Post.  Several days later, I received an email from Lynda Skaddan.  A friend had seen the article and contacted Lynda.  As it turns out, Lynda is a descendant of Jacob Telford’s older brother, Robert.  On July 15, 2010 I had the opportunity to meet with Lynda, her sister, Jane Andersen, and Lynda’s husband Ray.  We met at the gate to South Perinton Cemetery and then proceeded to Mary’s grave.  It was such a warm day that we chose to sit in the shade of a large tree just a few yards from Mary.  With us was my friend, Floris Lent, who has been the keeper of the Jewett family memorabilia for many years.  Our time together was spent discussing Mary and Jacob, and Mary’s numerous contributions to society. 

This is a story about family ties.  For the first time in over 140 years, the Jewett and Telford families are once again linked and, I’m proud to say, I am now part of that history.

Exciting Illuminations to Come!

February 23, 2010

Although it has been over a month since I last posted, don’t think I am slacking off.  If anything, I am busier than ever planning more illuminations!

  • On Wednesday, I will interview a World War II veteran about his experiences during and after the war. 
  • Thursday’s agenda includes a meeting with the Pittsford Town Historian to discuss various research avenues.
  • I’ve been contacted by a local author who specializes in archives.  He wants to discuss the possibility of co-authoring an article with me about the Civil War.  My appointment with him is on Saturday. 
  • My tour at Pittsford Cemetery, co-hosted with Audrey Johnson, has been scheduled for Saturday, May 15, at 10:00 a.m.  I’m looking forward to seeing some of my old friends, and meeting new ones as well, as we delve into the lives of our local Civil War soldiers and other Pittsford notables.
  • Another cemetery tour, for the Perinton Historical Society, has just been scheduled for Tuesday, June 8, 7:00 p.m., at Greenvale Cemetery.
  • I am hard at work writing an article about Civil War nurse and Woman’s Relief Corps charter member Mary Jewett Telford for an upcoming issue of the Perinton Historical Society’s newsletter, the Historigram.
  • Genealogy is a daily part of my life.  If I am not researching my Civil War soldiers, then I am working on the genealogy of my friend, Floris A. Lent.  Amazingly, Floris has many Civil War soldiers in her family.  She is also related to Dr. Robert O. Wilson, a Methodist physician who was in Nanjing, China in the 1930s during the Nanjing Massacre. Not only that, Floris is also related to Susan B. Anthony on both sides of her family.   Some people have all the luck!

In the coming weeks and months, many changes will occur on Illuminated History.  Although my heart remains with my Pittsford Civil War boys, I will begin to illuminate other local history as well.  My research into the Perinton Civil War soldiers will be shared, as will my interviews with local World War II veterans.  I’m very excited to illuminate local history for you, and I welcome your comments and suggestions.  Please feel free to post a message on Illuminated History, or email me directly at vprofitt@rochester.rr.com.

Illuminations

January 20, 2010

Thank you to everyone who attended my Illuminated History:  The Civil War Soldiers of Perinton presentation last night at the Fairport Library.  I was overwhelmed by the positive response, and the genuine interest in my Civil War boys and our Civil War nurse, Mary Jewett Telford.

Mary Jewett Telford, courtesy Floris A. Lent

Mary Jewett Telford, courtesy Floris A. Lent

It was a pleasure speaking with so many of you before and after the presentation:  Brian Burkhart, who is diligently tracking the men of the 108th New York Volunteer Infantry;  Herb Swingle, who created quite a stir with his connection of John Wilkes Booth to the Rochester area;  Gary Maybee, who shared with me the story of his own Civil War treasures; and Melissa Talma, who took the time to write me an eloquent email expressing her enthusiasm for my project and for learning more about our Civil War heroes.

The heroes illuminated last night included:

George B. Wiltsie, courtesy Jason Puckett

George B. Wiltsie (1837-1865), 4th New York Heavy Artillery.  Died of typhoid fever contracted as a result of starvation at Salisbury Prison.  Buried at Pittsford Cemetery.

Kingsley Brownell (1845-1924), 21st New York Cavalry.  Seriously wounded outside Martinsburg, WV and forced to ride 9 miles as a POW before being paroled 8 months later.  Buried at Pittsford Cemetery.

Major Harvey E. Light (1834-1921), 10th Michigan Cavalry.  Major Harvey survived the war and became a prominent citizen in the Pittsford community.  Buried at Pittsford Cemetery.

Mary Jewett Telford (1839-1906), Civil War nurse.  Served at Hospital No. 8 in Nashville, TN.  Nurse, author, suffragette, editor and charter member of the Woman’s Relief Corps.  Buried at South Perinton Cemetery.

Other Civil War soldiers mentioned during the presentation were:

William B. Lyke (1839-1904), 4th New York Heavy Artillery.  Captured, along with George B. Wiltsie, at Reams Station.  Died in 1904, age 65.

Kingsley Brownell, courtesy Mark A. Lannan

Kingsley Brownell, courtesy Mark A. Lannan

Albert E. Lyke (1841-1933), 4th New York Heavy Artillery.  Shot through the jaw at Spotsylvania.  Took his first plane ride in 1928, at age 87.  Died at age 92.

Edward H. Lyke (c 1843-1864), 4th New York Heavy Artillery.  Brother of William B. and Albert E. Lyke.  Mortally wounded at Petersburg.

Henry Root (c 1845-1899), 4th New York Heavy Artillery.  Drummer boy.  Drowned in 1899 after suffering a seizure and falling into the water while fishing.

Jerome Brownell (1843-1921), 108th New York Volunteer Infantry.  Brother of Kingsley Brownell.  Wounded at Gettysburg.

Jacob Telford (1833-1905), 15th Indiana Infantry.  Husband of Mary Jewett Telford.  Wounded at Murfreesboro, TN.

John H. Thurmon (1843-1919), 2nd Missouri Cavalry.  The only Confederate soldier buried at Pittsford Cemetery.

Harvey E. Light, courtesy Doug Light

Harvey E. Light, courtesy Doug Light

Special thanks to descendants Martha Jewett, Evan Marshall, Clay Feeter, Floris A. Lent, Jason Puckett, Mark A. Lannan and Doug Light for supplying me with photos and information about their heroic ancestors.  I very much appreciate the services of Laurie T. Hall who taped the presentation, Charles Profitt as tech guy, Margaret Pilaroscia of the Fairport Library and Alan Keukelaar of the Perinton Historical Society.

There are many more illuminations to come!  Please check my “Cemetery Tours and Presentations” page for information about upcoming events.

Illuminated History: The Civil War Soldiers of Perinton Presentation

January 8, 2010

The past few weeks have been busy ones as I prepare for my upcoming presentation,  Illuminated History:  The Civil War Soldiers of Perinton.  This presentation, for the Perinton Historical Society, will take place on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. in the Elma Gaffney Meeting Room of the Fairport Library.  The Fairport Library is asking interested patrons to register for the presentation.  Online registration can be found at www.fairportlibrary.org.  Click on the “Events and Classes” tab and locate Illuminated History on the calendar to register.

As I complete the preparations for this program, I am continually reminded of my good fortune to be able to do something I love.  Researching these soldiers and their families, and illuminating their lives to others, brings me great joy every day.  I have also been fortunate to correspond with so many descendants of these men and women who shaped the histories of small towns and villages all over the country.  To them I give my thanks for opening the gates and allowing me to share the stories of their ancestors.

Happy Holidays from Illuminated History!

December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and best wishes for the upcoming new year from Illuminated History!

2010 promises to be a busy year for me.  My Illuminated History:  The Civil War Soldiers of Perinton presentation for the Perinton Historical Society is scheduled for January 19th.  In the month of May, you will once again find me at Pittsford Cemetery discussing Pittsford’s Civil War soldiers and other local notables, with the date and time to be announced.  And I am working on a cemetery tour for the Perinton Historical Society to be given some time in late spring or early summer.  More information about these events can be found on my “Cemetery Tours and Presentations” page.

At this festive time of year, please remember our current troops who are serving in the Armed Forces.  I think of them often, wondering how much has changed since our local boys marched off to join the War Between the States so many years ago.  The heroes of today are still away from their families at the holidays.  They still suffer hardships.  They still need to feel appreciated for the jobs they are doing.  If you see a member of the Armed Forces, thank them for their service.  It will make their day and will let them know that they are not forgotten.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy holiday!

I Feel Dead People

December 7, 2009

“I see dead people,” I exclaimed to my husband.  I could immediately see the concern on his face as his eyebrows drew up and his eyes crinkled in slight disbelief.  After assuring him I was speaking metaphorically and that I probably wasn’t crazy at this particular time, he relaxed a little.  What I probably should have said was that I feel and appreciate the history of the cemetery and its inhabitants.  To me, a cemetery is an outdoor museum and not just a park containing headstones.

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been fascinated with cemeteries.  When I was young, my Gram and I would go to Riverside Cemetery and to Holy Sepulchre to visit her mother and her sister, Nellie, who had died as a child.  As a pre-teen I’d ride my bike to the little cemetery near my home, buy a Coke from the pop machine at the fire hall across the street and spend time reading the headstones.  And every summer during my teen years, I’d head to the St. Lawrence River where my friend Laurie and I would walk through the Morristown cemetery looking for unusual monuments and monikers.  Now that I am an adult, my interest in these outdoor museums has grown and sharpened.

The conversation occurred as we discussed my upcoming Civil War soldiers presentation for the Perinton Historical Society.  What was my theme?  What did I hope to accomplish?  Why did I choose these specific soldiers to discuss?  My husband hit upon the theme first.  My goal, not only for the presentation but for my entire Civil War project, is to illuminate the lives of the Civil War soldiers who lived in our neighborhoods.  Everyone has heard the stories about General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee.  Multiple books and movies tell their stories.  But who tells the stories of the regular citizens who helped in the war effort?  The men who left their families behind.  The women who tended the children, balanced the books and ran the farm while their husbands fought many miles from home.

The cemeteries hold the keys to many mysteries.  I find comfort in the fact that so many soldiers are buried beside their loved ones.  It serves as a reminder that they were loved and remembered in death, as in life.  I feel sorrow for the soldiers who are buried in single graves.  Where were their families?  Did they marry?  Were they fathers?  The first time I walked through Pittsford Cemetery photographing the graves of these men, those thoughts occurred to me.  I felt a force drawing me to them.  “Our stories must be told.  We were important, too.  Bring us to light.”

I suppose I should have said, “I feel dead people”.  That would have been the truth.  So, while the soldiers I decided to discuss at my presentation were chosen because they were Perinton residents who had interesting stories to tell, they aren’t the only ones.  I will continue on the path that was chosen for me by the soldiers of yesterday.  I will tell all their stories, one by one.


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