Posted tagged ‘Rochester NY’

Mustache Man…Mystery Solved?

September 22, 2012

Mustache Man first made his appearance on November 11, 2011 in an Illuminated History post entitled, “Piercing Eyes, Silent Voices”.  It was then that I posted a photo of a handsome gentleman with a handlebar mustache I had recently acquired from eBay.  Sadly, Mustache Man’s photo lacked identification.  No clues identified him, other than the fact that the photographer had been A.E. Dumble of Rochester, New York, and the back of the photo was pre-stamped 1891.  After asking the Illuminated History Facebook members to name Mustache Man, they decided upon the moniker of Samuel Everheart, due to the kindness of his eyes. 

Recently, as I prepared for a presentation, I reviewed the photos of the men of the 108th New York Infantry shown in George H. Washburn’s book, A Complete Military History and Record of the 108th New York Volunteers.  Imagine my surprise when I looked at the photo of a soldier named William C. Kneale and saw Mustache Man’s face staring back at me.  Could it be?  Did we solve the mystery of Mustache Man?  Take a look, and see what you think.  Comments welcome.

William C. Kneale and Mustache Man – One and the Same?

Whether or not William C. Kneale and Mustache Man are the same man, I’ve begun the process of researching William C. Kneale’s life and will soon share that information with you.  Let’s solve this mystery!

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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.

History Through the Eyes of a Five Year Old

April 4, 2011

“Do you like being a historian?” asked a five-year old at the local elementary school.  “It’s the best job ever!” I replied with a smile. 

After being asked to speak to the Kindergarten class at a local elementary school about my profession, I became nervous.  How does one explain the job of an historian in language that a young child could understand?  I couldn’t tell them about Charles Tillotson being wounded in the head during his first battle, Antietam, or how Charles lingered three days before succumbing to the inevitable conclusion of his life.  I didn’t want to frighten the children by telling them how sharpshooter Nathan Cook and his brother, William, died within weeks of each other, killed by disease.  When I told them I researched soldiers, would they ask difficult questions that I wouldn’t want to answer for fear of overwhelming them?

“Hello, boys and girls.  I’m here to tell you about my job.  I am an historian.  Can you say historian?  When you say historian, do you hear another word in there?  HISTORY-an.”  I told them my job was to research people and places and tell their stories so the history would be kept alive forever, and that I especially loved researching the history where we lived. 

We talked about James Chamberlin, who was a trooper with the 3rd New York Cavalry.  Did they know the cavalry was composed of the soldiers who got to ride horses?  The Chamberlin Rubber Co. was started after the war by James Chamberlin, who saw many soldiers become sick after being in the wet and cold.  What would the Chamberlin Rubber Co. have made to keep the soldiers dry?  Raincoats!

Kingsley Brownell was a trooper with the 21st New York Cavalry.  He rode a horse, too.  Kingsley was so strong he could lift a bucket full of water over his head.  They were quite impressed with Kingsley’s accomplishment.

“Who goes to Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream?  If you look down the street when you are at Ben & Jerry’s, you can see the Wiltsie Building.”  After showing them a postcard of the Wiltsie Building, I produced a photo of George B. Wiltsie and his comrades.

John Buckley Bacon was called Buckley by his family.  He came here after the Civil War and started a family.  His son, Howard, was a soldier in two wars – World War I and World War II!  “Someday I’m going to be a soldier, and I’ll be in World War I,” said a determined little boy.  Another boy, not to be outdone, stated “My Grandpa was in the Civil War!”

“Who puts gasoline in their cars?”  The children were very excited to see the Vacuum Oil Co. truck, and I told them about Matthew Ewing the inventor and how years later his Vacuum Oil Company became Exxon Mobil.  “My mom works at Shell Oil,” volunteered one little person.  “Hey, that truck is a bank!  I have a bank,” another child piped up.  Then I showed them my 1911 Rochester G.A.R. Encampment souvenir medal, and we talked about it being 100 years old.  “My mom was born in 1972 and she’s still alive.”  I couldn’t help but snicker at that, as did the teacher.

At the end, I held up a painting of the Erie Canal done by my friend, talented artist Rusty Likly.  The kids immediately recognized the landscape, and a discussion ensued about the other buildings they knew along the canal.  The questions came fast and furious.  “Do you use your computer a lot to learn about history?”  “Do you work with someone else?” 

Not once did a child ask if anyone got killed, or ask any other difficult questions.  They were simply excited to hear about our local history and hometown heroes.  My favorite question, however, was asked by a young boy who had been relatively quiet during the entire session.  “Do you like being a historian?”  “It’s the best job ever!” I replied with a smile.

In the Works

June 23, 2010

E.J. Tyler Post 288 banner, Pittsford, New York

Now that my Pittsford and Greenvale Cemetery tours are over, I’m working on some exciting projects for the summer and fall. 

First is the booklet I’m writing about the charter members of American Legion Rayson-Miller Post 899.  The Post was organized in 1920, taking over where G.A.R. – E. J. Tyler Post 288 left off.  One of the charter members, Howard R. Bacon, was a son of Civil War soldier John Buckley Bacon.  The booklet will also commemorate the two men after whom the Post was named – Homer Rayson and Henry L. Miller.  In conjunction with the booklet is my October 30th presentation for the Rayson-Miller Post, which is open to the public.

In October, I will once again pair with Pittsford Town Historian Audrey Johnson to give a tour of Pioneer Burying Ground.  Despite the inevitable rain, discussing the pioneers of the town is always interesting.  Soldiers of nearly every conflict from the Revolutionary War through World War II are interred at the Pioneer Burying Ground.

Also in the works is a research project for the Rochester Medical Museum & Archives.  I am in the process of culling the Rochester City Directories and census records in order to produce a comprehensive list of nurses in the Rochester, New York area from the Civil War through World War II.  Using newspaper reports and genealogical sources, an article I’m writing will feature the love story between a Civil War doctor and a nurse.  A second article is about a Rochester nurse who was accused of insanity…all because she chose to give away her personal belongings to friends instead of the family members she despised.

There are plans for the continued illumination of Civil War nurse Mary Jewett Telford.  She was an amazing woman with an incredible story to tell. 

It  looks as if it will be a busy summer.  Just the way I like it!

Mount Hope Cemetery Civil War Tour

August 1, 2009
Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY

Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY

It was an unusually beautiful day today in Rochester, New York.  Warm weather prevailed as puffy white clouds filled the skies – a perfect day for a cemetery tour.  How fortunate that Mount Hope was holding their annual Civil War tour this afternoon!

Local historian and columnist Bob Marcotte led the tour, assisted by Friends of Mount Hope president Marilyn Nolte.  We began the tour with Major George B. Force of the 108th, who fell at Antietam.  You’ll recall that two of the Ambrose boys, Robert and Edward, were with the 108th.  Next was Frank A. Badger of the 140th.  Frank was missing and presumed dead after the battle of the Wilderness.  His body was never recovered, but there is a stone in his memory.  One of my Pittsford boys, Matthias L. Lord, was Assistant Surgeon of the 140th.  I wonder if Matthias knew Frank Badger?  We eventually visited seven Civil War soldiers, some of whom died in action.  Others, like Albert Hotchkiss of the 8th NY Cavalry, died at Andersonville Prison.  Several of my Pittsford soldiers were with the 8th Cav.  They will be discussed in upcoming posts.

After the tour the group, about 40 strong, headed back to the cool confines of the gatehouse for some refreshments.  Bob graciously signed his book, Where They Fell, for the interested tour-goers.  As always, it was a pleasure hearing Bob speak.  He is so knowledgeable about Rochester’s Civil War soldiers.

If you haven’t been on a tour at Mount Hope, I’d highly recommend the experience.  There is a lot of walking and many hills, but there are so many beautiful and unique monuments to see.  If you are interested in historical figures, you can find those residing at Mount Hope as well.  Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Western Union founder Hiram Sibley and architect Fletcher Steele are among the many notables whose earthly remains were laid to rest at Mount Hope.

Mike Battle Illuminates Rochester History with the Flour City Post

June 7, 2009

Many people know that Rochester, New York is nicknamed the “Flower City,” due in large part to the Ellwanger & Barry Nursery Co.  Fewer people know that Rochester’s original nickname was the “Flour City” because of the numerous flour mills that were located all along the Genesee River.  Mike Battle knew about Flour City, and chose to name his new business the Flour City Post.

State Street in Rochester, NY

State Street in Rochester, NY

Mike Battle is dedicated to reviving Rochester’s past by the digital restoration of vintage Rochester postcards.  His Flour City Post sells black & white, sepia tone and color prints in three sizes based on these amazing images of Rochester history and architecture. 

Check out the Flour City Post website at www.flourcitypost.com.

Hero Highlight – Richard Ambrose, Co. E, 13th NY Volunteer Infantry

April 11, 2009
Richard Ambrose

Richard Ambrose

Full of patriotic fervor, Richard Ambrose became one of the first men in Rochester, New York to join the Union army when he enlisted on April 23, 1861, less than two weeks after Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter.  After enlisting in the 13th New York Volunteer Infantry, Richard no doubt felt his military career would be short and sweet, as the Union army intended to whip some Rebel backsides in a matter of months.  It didn’t quite work out that way.

Richard was born in New York state circa 1838 to Robert and Caroline Ambrose.  He was the third child and second son in a family that would grow to include eight children.  Four out of the five Ambrose brothers would go to war for the Union.  All four would return home to Rochester, but one brother made his return in a coffin.

After his three month stint was up, Richard and 80 of his comrades in the 13th New York wanted to go home.  Army life wasn’t as glorious as it had been portrayed in the newspapers.  General William Tecumseh Sherman decided that wasn’t going to happen.  Yes, General Sherman said.  The men had signed up for 90 days.  What they seemed to forget was that they also signed up to serve New York state for two years, and New York state had turned them back over to the Feds to continue their service to their country.  He gave them a choice…step back in line and do your duty or head off to the Gulf of Mexico to do hard labor at Fort Jefferson.  Many of the men decided it wouldn’t be so bad to stay with the 13th New York after all.  Richard was one of 31 men who decided to take his chances in the tropics of the Dry Tortugas. 

No record has been found which describes Richard’s six months at Fort Jefferson.  We can only assume that it was not the happiest time in his life, unless he enjoyed hard labor, extreme heat and bugs.  The Dry Tortugas had been discovered in 1513 by Ponce de Leon.  The island was named after the multitudes of turtles (“tortugas”) found there, and it was called dry due to the lack of fresh water available.  After the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865, Dr. Samuel Mudd was convicted of conspiring with John Wilkes Booth and sentenced to life imprisonment.  Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas was the prison to which he was condemned to spend his remaining days.  Lucky for Dr. Mudd, President Andrew Johnson pardoned him in 1869 and Mudd promptly returned to the more temperate climate of Maryland.  Lucky for Richard Ambrose, he spent only six months at Fort Jefferson before returning to the 13th New York in March, 1862.  Unluckily, the 13th New York Volunteer Infantry was about to participate in some of the biggest battles of the War.

Richard’s story is not yet over.   Tune in next time to hear more about Richard and his brothers. 

The Ambrose boys will be highlighted on my May 16th tour at Pittsford Cemetery.  For more information about the tour, please check out the Town of Pittsford website at http://www.townofpittsford.org/files/images/publications/2009_spring_rec_brochure.pdf.  The tour is mentioned on page 17 of the Spring program.


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