Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More on the Civil War

More on the Civil War

It has been some time since I wrote about anything. The research has been heavy and we are getting ready for our annual meeting, which will be about the War of 1812, and we are trying to find out the men from Killingly who served in that war. It is not easy to do as in the official book put out by the State of Ct. on this war they did list the men but not the town they came from. So, two of us have been working on this practically non-stop for weeks now and it has been very time consuming.

Also, as this is the historical societies 40th anniversary, we wanted to do a special project that will be on-going. We are going through some of our cemeteries to look for veterans stones (of all wars) to see if they still have their flag holders and flags. Many of the holders have been stolen to be turned in as scrap metal for cash. When we are finished with the survey we will then order as many flag holders as we need and make sure they are put out at the grave site.

While we are doing this we are noting other stones that may be broken, laying down, tilted or gone. As time goes on we want to fix the broken ones, and set up the ones tilted or laying down. It is quite a project. Every year we will do more.

One of our members and I are going through the New Westfield Cemetery and that is quite a job as it is a large cemetery and only part of it was mapped back in 1928. Many more stones have been put up since then and we have to map the rest of the cemetery.

So, I am going to put out more of the letters from our book “Dear Transcript” letters from the men of Windham County who served in the Civil War. I hope you enjoy them.

2 Oct. 1862
The Eighth Regiment
Sharpsburg, Md., Sept. 17th
Frank W. Spaulding

Dear Transcript: It is a painful task for me to describe the events of this day, and want of time forbids my giving a detailed account of the positions occupied by the contending forces. Early in the morning shot and shell from the enemies batteries came crashing through our ranks, and bursting over our heads. Our loss during the fire was four killed and several wounded. Our own batteries getting into position, soon silenced those of the enemy. About 4 o’clock P.M., we were ordered to the front, and again greeted by a furious fire of shot and shell to which our artillery gallantly responded. In the midst of the murderous fire General Rodman perceiving the enemy’s infantry preparing to advance upon us, ordered his division forward. The first Brigade, consisting of Hawkin’s Zouaves; the 89th and 103d New York Regiments, briskly ascended the hill, and received a terrible fire from three rebel brigades, who stationed behind fences and stone walls were completely sheltered. No troops could withstand such fire as was directed against them. Now came the order for the 2nd Brigade, consisting of the 4th R.I., and 16th, 11th, and 8th Connecticut to advance. The 16th Conn., 4th R.I. were sent to the left through a cornfield, and the gallant old 8th, alone and without support, followed in the wake of the 1st Brigade. As we reached the brow of the hill we looked for those that preceded us, but they had been compelled to retire. Now commenced a work of death and destruction which can neither be fully imagined or described. Grape and canister with thousands of bullets, mowed down our noble fellows, who scorning to retire stood up manfully to their work making every shot tell a tale of woe. The men fell on every side. Never was a more destructive fire directed upon one regiment than we sustained for twenty minutes. General Rodman gave the order to retire, but we had never yet turned our backs to the foe and we refused to do it now. Col. Appelman being wounded, also Gen. Rodman, Col. Harland trying to rally the 16th, the command devolved upon Major Ward. “Then will you follow me?” was his personal appeal, and rallying around the colors, stepping as fast as we could load and fire, we retired from the field. The Regiment lost in killed, wounded, and missing, 200 men out of 360 engaged.

16 Oct. 1862

The Battle Of Antietam

The following short but graphic description of the battle of Antietam, we clip from a letter in an exchange:--

“I don’t believe that there has been anything on this earth to compare with it since Waterloo. From sun to sun, twelve mortal hours, it was like hell broke loose. The darkness of Egypt from the dense choking smoke, relieved by thousands of sheets of red flame bursting out in every direction; the rifles rattling with a second’s cessation, like a bunch of crackers on the 4th; the five hundred cannon on both sides blending their discharges like the waves of the sea in one uninterrupted roar, that literally kept the ground vibrating like an earthquake; the infernal screaming of the shells, as if a thousand demons were hovering in the pitchy air overhead, the peculiar serpent like zing! zing! of the murderous Minnies, as they “toyed with your locks,” as the poets say; the short, sudden screams of the wounded all around you, and the deep prolonged groans of those who fell to rise no more; the hoarse shouting of officers; the yelling, cursing and hurrahing of whole square miles of men, black with powder and sweat, reeking with blood, and frantic with passion, made up a scene to which anything else in the world is flat, tame and expressionless.”

    The following article (one of 17) was written by James F. Wilkinson, after he returned home from being a prisoner for a year. If you remember he was the editor of the Putnam part of the Windham County Transcript and had enlisted in April 1861 with the Buckingham Rifles of Norwich right away, was wounded at the first battle of Bull Run in July 1861 and taken prisoner. He was finally released in July of 1862.

30 Oct. 1862

Life Among The Rebels No. 16

At Salisbury, J. F. Wilkinson -

The unchanging rations of sour bread and fat pork began to show their effects during the last weeks of our stay at Salisbury. There were numerous severe cases of scurvy among the prisoners, and there were but few among the entire number who had not the first symptoms of the complaint. Remedies were not to be had, and all looked forward to the time when the hot months would, in the language of the surgeon of the post, “make us die like rotten sheep.”

6 Nov. 1862
Editor writes:

We would urge upon the knitters of Windham County the necessity of taking immediate measures to supply the soldiers with mittens. Those made with a thumb and forefinger will be most useful, as with them, a musket can be handled as readily as with a glove.

27 Nov. 1862
written on 21
Nov. 1862
R. K. = Edwin Ruthven Keyes, Pomfret
Buckingham, Centreville Race Course, East N. Y., L. I.

Editor Transcript:-- Our Colonel said to the regiment, that the food dealt out to human beings, was not such as government designed we should have, and paid for. Let me give you a little of the arrangement. Some one had contracted to supply us our rations cooked. They are cooked in large kettles. Potatoes are put in without washing; meat, ditto; cabbage, lice or no lice; beans without picking over, accompanied by rats or no rat-tails, and so on to the end of the chapter. But like loyal sons, as we are, we put it down, shutting our eyes and asking no questions for conscience’s sake, remembering it is all for our dear country.

                                            8 Jan. 1863
The Eighteenth
de Grace, Dec. 31st, 1862
Detachment = Moses Hallock, Danielsonville

Dear Transcript:-- An incident, of a rather startling character, took place on the evening of the 29th, though we were not fully aware of it till the next morning. Mr. Taylor, of Sterling, came out on a visit to his two sons in this company, accompanied by Miss Philena Ladd, a young lady of their acquaintance. It so happened that the old gentleman, William A. Taylor, one of his boys, the young lady and our chaplain were all in a room together, and the consequence was that before the party broke up it was acknowledged that

                                        Whoever says our chaplain’s bad
                                                  Is nothing but a railer:
                                        Into that room she went—a Ladd,
                                            He brought her out—a Taylor.

On the next evening the bridegroom—who is our room-mate—“came down” with a pail full of good elder and a large pan of apples, flanked with a bunch of cigars, and these, mixed with singing, extempore speeches, toasts, &c., caused the evening to pass pleasantly and quickly. For the newly wedded pair we wish a long life and a happy one, and may their children be like the blessings of God—neither few nor small.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Genealogy Pitfalls and Frustrations

Genealogy pitfalls and frustrations.

I have been working on genealogy for a client once again, and even though I have written about mistakes in published records before, I thought it was not a bad thing to bring it up again.

I do use the internet for some of my research but always verify it through primary sources. I had gotten this Button family all done and it seemed to be alright. But when I checked a marriage record in the vital records it made me do some serious thinking about what I had found on the internet. The marriage record in 1755 said that Anne Button was of Voluntown, CT when she married in Stonington, CT in 1755 to Simeon Park, and the actual record is in the Canterbury, CT Vital Records.

So went looking to see if an Anne Button was born in Voluntown and sure enough there was one born in 1733. Now the information I had was that Anne Button was born in Windham, CT in 1727 a daughter of Daniel. That would have made her 3 years older than her husband and 49 years of age at the birth of her last child. I went to see if there was a Button genealogy on-line and I found one. Well, that just added to the puzzle because in that they had that Anne was the daughter of Daniel and born in Windham in 1727 and supposedly married Simeon Park. But later on in the same book they linked Anne born in 1733 to Simeon Park with all their children. And the Anne born in 1727 was not linked to anyone.

At the moment I am giving it a rest and sleeping on it. The Anne born in 1733 makes a lot more sense as it would make her 43 at the birth of her last child. And seeing as Simeon was born in 1730 she is a better fit for him.

I will definitely do some more checking on this before I am comfortable with it. In fact, I am going to see if there are some probate records for these Button men. If that fails, then it is time to look at land records.

I have also been finding that people put dates and places out there on the “net” but they do not list any sources and when I look for those records in the towns, they just don't exist. In the case of deaths they could be from a gravestone record or even a family record. As I am working mostly with Massachusetts and Connecticut records it is a bit easier to prove as when Massachusetts started publishing their town vital records to 1850 they included family records and gravestone records in the compilation. In Connecticut we have the Hale Collection of Gravestone records and the Barbour Collection of vital records. If I don't find them in any of those then I have no idea where the person found their information.

Of course, many good articles have been written over the years, and even though I have access to a lot of those, there are still some that I can't find. And perhaps the information is from some of those articles.

The Bennett family is also giving me fits. Because there were just about no births recorded from the time of the Revolutionary War to about 1850 it leaves a huge gap when trying to find parents for people. This is what is happening with the Bennett family. Usually you can find a land record or two where a father is giving land to children or there is some connection between siblings. But in this case, I have not found any. In the land records I found for Charles Bennett there is no relationship mentioned when another Bennett sold him land. He is the administrator of one Ezra Bennett, and coincidentally that same man was the one who sold him one half of a shingling mill. The other half of the same mill was sold to him by a Sanford Bennett. Were Sanford & Ezra brothers? The only sibling that I can find for Charles was a Hiram who married and died in a year or two. Charles was the administrator on his estate also.

These are the pitfalls of doing genealogy only on the internet, but it also shows that published records can have mistakes in them also. I have always believed that there is an answer to be found for these difficult research problems. Maybe not right away, in fact, it may be years before it all gets solved. But isn't that the fun of genealogy? The hunting for the answers is what makes it all so much fun. Sitting at home and printing everything off the internet and saying you have done your genealogy is just so boring. Where is the fun in that? Where is the pride in a job well done? It's exciting to visit libraries and town halls digging up information and when you find that tidbit you have been looking for, for so long, you just want to holler YIPEE and share it with everyone around you.

How many times people come to our research library and at the end of the day they find out that the person that has been sitting across from them all day is actually related to them! That happens more often than you would think. It is indeed a small world.

So, if at all possible, do your research at the source. You will be very glad you did.

Friday, April 6, 2012


A beautiful Good Friday but the wind is very cold. Been typing data into a genealogy database that I am working on for a client. And as I work at the computer a big window is right in front of me so I can look out at the woods and see the wildlife that run around out there. This morning the fox came through again. He has been hanging around for a few months and a few days ago we saw him running down the middle of the road. Now, he is not a red fox, nor a tan fox. He is a golden color and his tail has a lot of dark in it. All four legs are black. So, perhaps he is the result of parents being of both colors, red and tan.
If someone knows of a fox like this please let us know.
We have had too many squirrels over the years who chew holes in the house and raid the bird feeders, and no matter how many you trap and move we know that there will never be a shortage of them. We've also seen more red squirrels the past winter and I think some of the gray and red have mixed it up as some grays have a very distinctive red fur on their backs.
Had a meeting the other night and afterwards we had a discussion about the chipmunks, squirrels and mice that have invaded just about everyone's property in large quantities. It would be alright if they were not destructive but they do a lot of damage. The mice love to get into vehicles, leave nuts and seeds there, chew the insulation and the wires which is very annoying to have to replace all the time. When you are driving down the road and a mouse suddenly pops up in front of you on the dashboard, that can be a bit disconcerting and could cause an accident. Anyway, there were many suggestions on how to control the pests and we had some good laughs.
We have coyotes around and the rabbit population is just about wiped out here. We have not seen a one this spring. For some reason during last fall and winter (what winter?) there were a lot of skunks out and about and we had one walk by my library window every night and leave his scent behind. Gave us a good reason not to walk outside at night if we didn't have to cause you do not want to get mixed up with a skunk! Our oldest son and his dog surprised one in the barn one morning! It was not a pretty sight or smell. The poor dog didn't know what to do and she was definitely relegated to outside until the smell went away which was not quick. No matter what you wash them with the smell lingers, and lingers, and lingers.
Because of our mild winter we did not have many birds come to the feeders but now they are making up for lost time. I wonder if the rose-breasted grosbeak will come early this year? They are so beautiful. The male goldfinches are turning yellow now and they are so pretty. Saw the Carolina Wren one day but have not heard her sing. The hawks are working on their nest up in the high tree behind us. This will be the third year we have had them nesting there. I am surprised we have any birds at all. They are voracious eaters when they are raising their young. In fact, they catch frogs all the time and our frog population is not what it once was and all those good old bullfrogs are not around to do their “Juggerrum” at night. And the hawks are very noisy!!!!
What has this all got to do with history? Absolutely nothing. Just felt like writing about nature around us today. Maybe reminiscing with my sister this morning did the trick. How different it was growing up in the '40's and '50's. Actually we have decided that we had the best growing up time of anyone.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Old Newspaper Items

Old Newspaper Items

The old newspapers, as I have mentioned before, are really goldmines of information if you want to know what it was like in the mid to late 1800's. So will put a few things here that I thought you might like.

In the Windham County Transcript of 5 Jan. 1881 is a little story about irrascible Colonel Malbone of Brooklyn, Ct. who had no patience with fools even if they were aristocratic fools. Miss Ellen Larned in her History of Windham County wrote this about him: “An aristocratic kinswoman expressed her desire that there might be “a place fenced off in Heaven for servants and common people, it would be so disagreeable to be mixed up with everybody!” “And I,” roared the disgusted Colonel, “hope there'll be a place fenced off in Hell for d_____d fools!” A listener who not long since heard a would-be-high-toned young lady find fault with a dealer in this village (Danielsonville), because a special assortment of fancy goods was not kept for “ladies,” and “something cheaper and less elegant for working girls,” mentally borrowed the explosive utterance of Col. Malbone with slight variations. That young woman will be likely to find something cheaper and less elegant portioned off for herself in the other world if she doesn't get rid of some of her selfish shallowness and abominable vanity before she gets there.

In the 16 Sept. 1880 paper there are two wife notices:

Whereas my wife, Addie E. Tucker, has left my bed and board, I forbid all persons harboring or trusting her on my account after this 15th day of Sept. 1880. W. A. Tucker,
E. Killingly

I hereby forbid all persons harboring or trusting my wife, Mary E. Burdick, on my account, after this date, as she has left my bed and board without suitable provocation.
Alexander S. Burdick, Plainfield, Ct. 1 Sept. 1880.

Then in the 2 Feb. 1881 I find this:

When a woman leaves a man who has not earned his salt for years, he immediately advertises that he will pay no debts of her contracting.--Phil. News.

        Have noticed in some of our old papers that they publish the Court Record and in some of them are divorces. Was not going to pay much attention to them as we have the published books on Divorces in Windham County and other counties in Conn. But when I started to really look at them in the paper found that in some cases the woman took back her maiden name and it says so and what it is. But the published books do not have that information. So will put together these little divorce tidbits so we all have access to them. And in some papers in the 1880's I have been going through I see divorces but nothing in the published books about them.

    As I have said before we are not perfect people so the way I look at it we can fix published records that are wrong or add to what we find by typing up the new information and putting it on the shelf at the historical society. It helps everyone.

    Oh, that reminds me, I was looking for a gravestone for Charles Bennett in the Bennett Cemetery in Canterbury. There was one but he died in 1830! I needed one much later. Well, when I went to the Town Hall in Canterbury and found Charles death record in 1890 I knew exactly what happened. The person reading the gravestones back in the early 1930's read 3 for a 9. And with early carving it is very easy to do. Anyway, problem solved.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Civil War

Civil War

It's been awhile since I put out anything on the Civil War so thought it was time. These excerpts are taken from our book “Dear Transcript.”

From the Windham County Transcript of 22 May 1862 -

        1. From a member of Co. A, from Putnam.

The Sixth Regiment

Camp Veilie, Dawfuskie Island, May 1,62

Editor Transcript:-- Undoubtedly you have heard all about our trip toWarsaw.The composer of these verses is not a poet by profession, and perhaps your readers may not fully appreciate their meaning; but those that went to Warsaw can if they happen to see them. There is more truth than poetry in them. But without further ceremony, I will write them. They are entitled


At morn, when reveille is beat,

And we are dressed, and on our feet;

What is it that our eyes do meet?

Crackers and Pork.

With what do we our stomachs fill

At noondirectly after drill

And some take hold with right good will?

Crackers and Pork.

And when on guard, with heavy head,

We walk our beat, with noiseless tread,

What is it, with, we all are fed:

Crackers and Pork.

When on fatigue, with weary tread,

We march to camp with dizzy head,

What is it that we mostly dread?

Crackers and Pork.

Why are the hospitals running oer

With lame and lazy, sick and sore;

And why are they making room for more?

All for--Crackers and Pork.

Why those slabs, and little mounds?

Why that drums dull and muffled sound?

Why do friends lie here beneath the ground?

All forCrackers and Pork.

When the long roll routs us from our bed,

And bullets whistle round our heads,

What is it, more than these we dread?

Crackers and Pork.

When victory shall our efforts crown,

The Union Safe, and free from harm,

Well remember how we swallowed down

Crackers and Pork.

Perhaps some may say—“Well, that wasnt very bad, Im sure; plenty of nice crackers and good sweet pork.Those that talk like that dont know anything about it. The pork I cant describe. The crackersI call them crackers, but it is altogether too good a name for themresemble maple bark or black birch, dried nearly as hard as the wood itself, more than anything else, though there was not near so much flavor in them. And yet, bad as they were, we could not get more than half what we wanted to keep soul and body together.

I wish we knew the name of the man who wrote the above poem. It is a great one and he should have gotten the credit. Love the humor that was evident even though it was certainly not a humorous time. And we had some hard tack at the program we did when the book came out. It is awful!!!!

The following three letters may interest you and hope that you get some insight into what it was like during the battles. I paraphrased them so they were not so long. The second one gives names of some of the deserters from Windham County. Why include them? Because that is also an important part of war, like it or not. Whether they came back in or if they were picked up, I don't know. Don't have the CT official Civil War book here.

3 July 1862

After the disastrous battle near Charleston

Henry Glines writes to his parents, in this village, an interesting account of the battle, from which we make the following extract:

We were obliged to go over fields planted with cotton and corn atdouble quick, to get into the field where the battery was. I was so much exhausted I could hardly walk. When we came in sight of the rebel pickets they run towards the battery yelling like crazy men. The 79th New York were in advance, and we were the second regiment. When within forty rods of the battery they opened on us with grape, canister and shot, and many of our men fell. Some of the boys went on to the parapet but never returned.I had a shot at the rebels and they said I dropped one of them. Both of our color sergeants were shot down, and our flag was riddled with shot. Capt. Hitchcock was killed, a Lieutenant in Co. D was shot in the leg and bled to death. A soldier at my side had his rifle struck with a grape shot and smashed to pieces. The shot fell about me like rain, and I thought I had seen my last day. Our troops could not stand such a fire and retreated in good order. I never left the field until all the troops were off, save a few, that were in the swamp. I met one of our company and he said Andrew Hibbard was left on the field wounded. Thomas Elliot and myself returned and found him. There was not a person in sight on the field. He was struck below the knee by a shot which completely shattered it. We started for the hospital with our wounded companion and made a good mark for the rebels. They let rifle shot and grape fly at us, and the bullets whistled by our heads, but we heeded them not. We carried Hibbard two miles to the Brigade hospital, but he died a few hours after we got there. He was a brave soldier.

10 July 1862

  1. From The Fifth Regiment

Front Royal, Va., June 17th, 1862

M. F. B. = Marcus F. Bennett

Friend Stone:--I am sorry to say we have lost from our company, 9 men by desertion (I blush to admit) from Windham County. The names of the deserters from Windham County are John Miller, Frank F. Falkner, Minor Spicer, Killingly; H. A. Stafford, Albert Stafford, Central Village; Benj. R. Case, Woodstock; William Holt, Moosup; Martin Ethridge, Woodstock; B. S. Rouse, Central Village.

24 July 1862

Battle of Richmond

The following extract is from a letter received in this village from G. P. Nettleton, who is also in the 1st Conn. Artillery:

We have fought several hard battles as severe as ever fought with artillery. The first one lasted all one day. We silenced their batteries twice. The rebels were in the woods so we could not have a very good chance at them. Henry Copeland was wounded in the back by a piece of shell, and he is the only one injured in our company (D). Most of their balls passed over or fell short of us. At night we moved our guns back about a mile for safety. About 8 oclock they opened upon us with artillery and musketry, and the balls whistled a little nearer than was desirable. Our batteries replied till infantry could reach them. Regiment after regiment passed us ondouble quick.Our Major had command of our company and Co. B, and we soon followed into an open field where we laid flat while the balls were passing harmlessly over us. We were in this position till 12 oclock, being on the ground several hours, after which we returned to our guns. I had a narrow escape. While lying down I fell asleep, and a musket ball struck within an inch of my head, so near that it covered my head with dirtbut a miss is as good as a mile. The place where we just had the battle is called Cold Harbor.