A headstone for William Bowen 52 Ancestors #40

The Bowen family of Washington County Maine made the ultimate sacrifice in the Civil War. Father William and three of his sons signed up to fight for the Union and none returned home [more here]. Back in 2001 or so, cousin Jeanne O’Shea had given me loads of information about William and family and because I lived near where William died, she had hoped I could find his headstone.

I visited the Edson Cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts and found that the book for 1862 had gone missing so the staff could not pinpoint his burial place. They suggested that perhaps he’d been buried in a small section of the cemetery that was fenced off from the main part as a number of Civil War-era graves were there. I walked that section and checked every headstone, no luck. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that perhaps we’d never find a headstone and there might not even be one to find in the first place.

Fast forward to two weeks ago…

An Ancestry.com user, Jane Mangum, put a comment on William on my tree with a Find-a-Grave ID number and sure enough, it’s the right William! Find-a-Grave user Rick Weaver had taken a picture of the headstone and created the memorial page for William back in 2011.

Photo courtesy of Rick Weaver, used with permission.

Photo courtesy of Rick Weaver, used with permission.

The headstone reads:

Wm. BOWEN 1 Batty 1 Battn. ME L.A.

Translated: William Bowen, 1st Battery, 1st Battalion, Maine Light Artillery.

It’s a good reminder to check those research dead-ends every once in a while, wonderful things are happening in the genealogical world, it’s amazing what’s being made available every day. Volunteers do a lot of the heavy lifting, Rick and Jane are perfect examples, look at their profiles on Find-a-Grave, how many thousands of pages they’ve created, it’s inspiring. Thank you very much to Rick and Jane for walking cemeteries and posting the pictures, it’s a lot of work and it is much appreciated. Also thank you to Jane for bringing the page to my attention!

This post is 40th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

52 Ancestors #39: Sewall Bridges Stanhope

136 years ago today [4 Nov 1878], my 2nd great-grandfather Sewall Bridges Stanhope married Annie Amelia Hayward in Edmunds, Maine. She was the daughter of George Henry Hayward and Rachel Bridges Carter. I have no idea if Annie knew, but she was a Mayflower descendant via her mother’s line, a topic for a future post.

Sewall was born in late August, 1852 in Dennysville, Maine, to Rodolphus and Charlotte (Leighton) Stanhope, one of 10 children.

SewallPedigree

Sewall and Anna/Annie had 12 children, including my great-grandmother Bessie, over the next 28 years. They lived in Edmunds on Shore Road (which might now be S. Edmunds Rd) and his occupation was listed as Farmer or Farm laborer. Sometime between 1910 and 1920, Sewall gave up farming and moved the family to the village of Milltown in Calais, Maine and found work as a “Woodsman” at a lumber company.

He died 28 Feb 1934 at 81 years old and is buried in Dennysville, Maine.

SewallStanhope

Sewall B Stanhope, abt 1920

 

 

This post is 39th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

52 Ancestors #38: Frederic Lowell Bowen

158 years ago today [28 Oct 1856], my 2nd great-grandfather Frederic Lowell Bowen was born in Perry, Maine, the eighth and last son born to William and Mary (Boynton/Boyington) Bowen.

I imagine Fred had a pretty rough childhood. By the time he was 8, four of his older brothers and his father were dead. Leaving his mother with six children under 14 years old and the family farm.

Fred ended up keeping the farm and in 1880 married Adelaide Robinson, the 20-year-old daughter of James and Sarah (Stanhope) Robinson. Over the next 25 years, they had 12 children: William, Sadie, Robert, Justin, Walter, Mattie, George [my great-grandfather], Dora, Amy, Myron, Edna and Augusta. Unfortunately, both Addy and Augusta died in childbirth on 4 Feb 1905. They are both buried in the Ross family cemetery on the farm (see the map for the approximate location). The Ross family lived on the farm after the Bowen family and a number of both families buried there. See “At Rest in Perry, Maine” compiled by cousins Jeanne O’Shea Wagner and Colon Morrison for more information about rural cemeteries in Washington county Maine.

Bowen Headstone

While I have heard some stories of Fred’s cruelty to his children, my grandmother remembered him as a kind man who took her into town (probably Calais or Eastport) on his horse and wagon and bought her a dress.

Fred died in Perry on 19 August, 1922 of angina and is buried with his wife in the Ross Cemetery.

This post is 38th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

52 Ancestors #28: Stephen Fountain, the Loyalist

Last night on Who Do You Think You Are some movie person that I’m not familiar with found out that her 5x great-grandfather was a Loyalist during the American Revolution. It reminded me that I too have a Loyalist ancestor, although I hadn’t done much research on him.

Stephen Fountain, my 6x great-grandfather, was born in Stamford, Connecticut around 1745 to Matthew Fountain and an unknown to me wife. Some online trees have Elizabeth Hoyt as the mother of all of Matthew’s children, but there is some conflicting information and I’m pretty sure that the first four or five children where from a different mother. More investigation is needed there.

In 1775 and 6, Stephen is married to Sarah (Scofield) and is a blacksmith/gunsmith in either Brookhaven, NY or Stamford, possibly both. And apparently, he is assisting the British ships in Long Island Sound with arms and supplies, and recruiting those sympathetic to the crown.

On 13 May 1776, the Joint Committee of Brookhaven hears “evidence being called to discover the secret plots and misconduct of sundry evil-minded persons”, namely Captain Jonathan Baker and blacksmith Stephen Fountain. Stephen’s apprentice Henry Hulse, Jr. testifies of secretive behavior:

a number of New-England people had staid in that neighbourhood, being to him strangers, who were often in private conference, in private places, with said Fountain, and would not let him (the deponent) come near them, nor hear what they said;

In all, 22 witnesses testify against Baker and Fountain and they are convicted “as persons that have acted inimical to the liberties of America in a most glaring manner”. The committee asks Lieutenant William Clarke to take the prisoners to the Provincial Congress in New York for disposition. On 8 June 1776, Congress confirms what the Brookhaven Committee had decided and sentences them to prison.

Jonathan Baker and Stephen Fountain, charged and convicted by the Joint Committees of Brookhaven, Manor of St.George, and Patenship of Meritches, of being enemies of their country, and, as such, of having taken up arms and held correspondence with our enemies on board of the Ministerial Ships of War, and very much promoted discord amongst the inhabitants, and seduced many to forsake the cause of their country, were sent to this Congress.
Resolved, That the said Jonathan Baker and Stephen Fountain, be committed to close custody.
And Ordered, That Daniel Goldsmith, the Jailer, he, and he is hereby, directed and requested to receive and keep them in safe custody until the further order of this Congress.

Details are sketchy on what happens next and how long he was imprisoned for, but it seems that Stephen escaped and joined the Royal Army.

In late 1780 through early 1781, Stephen was a member of the Queen’s Rangers. Fans of the TV series “Turn” might recognize the Lieutenant Colonel Commandant of his unit, one John Graves Simcoe, Esq. I’m hoping Stephen makes an appearance next season!

SFountainMusterRoll copy

Credit for this document goes to Linda Drake, a cousin that worked with UELAC to establish Stephen Fountain as a documented Loyalist.

In April of 1783, Stephen, wife Sarah and 207 other Loyalists boarded the ship “The Union” and were resettled in Nova Scotia. The Loyalists were granted land there and Stephen established a blacksmith shop and lived in Sandy Cove, Digby, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia until he died in 1818.

This post is 28th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

Special thank you to cousin Linda Drake, who worked with UELAC to document that Stephen Fountain was a Loyalist and to past president of UELAC Vancouver Branch Wendy Cosby who called this to my attention.

Testimonial quotes taken from this source:

AMERICAN ARCHIVES: Fourth Series containing A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY of The English Colonies in North America. By Peter Force; Volume VI.; Published by M. ST. Clair Clarke and Peter Force. Available here:

http://www.archive.org/stream/AmericanArchives-FourthSeriesVolume6peterForce/AaS4Vol6Pp0001-1856_djvu.txt

Independence Day 52 Ancestors #25: Peter Stanhope – Rev War Soldier

I’m fortunate to have a direct ancestor that participated in the American Revolution, my 5th great-grandfather Peter Stanhope. I’ll eventually get around to filling out my Sons of the American Revolution membership application.

He and his older brother Samuel both served, of the two, Samuel’s service is better documented due to his pension records. I’m not sure why Peter doesn’t have a pension file. Samuel served two separate stints with the militia in Massachusetts, the first for 8 months in 1775. According to his pension record “that at the time Bunker Hill Battle was fought he was at home on a furlough”

Both served in Captain Manasseh Sawyer’s Company, Colonel Nicholas Dike’s Regiment for 3 months in the fall of 1776. Samuel’s application for pension provides a description of this service:

…he joined the army at Dorchester hill – at which place he assisted in the building of a fort and where he was stationed the principal part of the time – that towards the last part of this enlistment he was ordered to Castle Island where he worked on the fortress there being built on said island during the day, and returned at night to Dorchester Hill…

7726-Volume14-0826

Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the Revolutionary War pg. 825 entry for Peter Stanhope

Peter was born 29 Nov 1759 in Sudbury, Massachusetts to Samuel and Elisabeth (Angier) Stanhope. Peter married Elizabeth Parmenter 30 Nov 1775 in Bolton, they had 12 children there and at some point between 1802 and 1810 moved to Plantation 4 [later Robbinston] in Washington County Maine. In 1845 he died there at age 86.

This post is 25th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

Sources:

Ancestry.com. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the Revolutionary War (Images Online) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
Original data: Massachusetts. Secretary of the Commonwealth. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary WarVol. 1-17. Boston, MA, USA: Wright & Potter Printing, 1896-1908.

Fold3.com. Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, NARA M804. Record of Samuel Stanhope, page 5 of Pension Application. Accessed 4 Jul 2014. http://www.fold3.com/image/27175135/.

Memorial Day – Remembering the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery

A monument stands in the Petersburg National Battlefield near Colquitt’s Salient Trail. Today there are tall pine trees, a paved path and quiet. It’s hard to imagine that this exact spot was once an open field described as “a burning, seething, crashing, hissing hell”.

picture1sLieutenant Horace H. Shaw used those words to describe the events of 18 June 1864, when the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery regiment, some 900 men, were ordered to charge across 300 yards of open field to attack the Confederate breastworks near the tree line. Of the nine hundred, 632 were killed or wounded in the span of 10 minutes. The largest loss of life in a single action of any regiment in the war.
picture4sIn 1895, Horace Shaw organized funds to purchase the land and commission the monument [details here].
picture7sOne of the survivors was my 1st cousin 4x removed George A Stanhope, older brother of Gilbert. George was 22 when he enlisted in 1862, his first child Emma had been born just a few months before. In November of 1864 he was promoted to Corporal and returned to Robbinston, Maine when he mustered out in June of 1865. He and his wife Susan (Laskey) had nine more children, I’ve only found seven of the ten so far: Emma, Sophronia, George Jr, John, Mary, Alice and Jessie. Susan died in 1912 and two years later George married Sophia Hatt. He died 24 May 1919 in Calais, Maine.
1stMaine1

The more I read about what the men of the 1st Maine went through, the more I respect and appreciate the sacrifice made by the men and women in our military. I will certainly make every effort to observe Memorial Day more formally going forward, they deserve at least that.

If you are planning to visit this National Park, I’d highly recommend a visit to Civil War Hikes.
Maine-Virginia

Images Courtesy of Clarence Woodcock http://www.cwoodcock.com/firstmaine/index.html

Original source for much information about the 1st Maine and the first 3 images:
Shaw, Horace H, and Charles J House. The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865: a History of Its Part and Place In the War for the Union, with an Outline of Causes of War and Its Results to Our Country. Portland, Me, 1903. Available online via GoogleBooks ( http://books.google.com/books?id=G50dAQAAMAAJ ) Accessed 20-22 May 2014.

This post is 21st in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

1st Maine Heavy Artillery 52 Ancestors: #20 Gilbert Stanhope

In 1862, Peter (my 3rd great-grand uncle) and Caroline (Davis) Stanhope had 5 sons of age to serve in the military. Curtis registered, but I can find no record of military service. Aaron and Lorenzo served in Infantry regiments (9th and 28th, respectively), George and Gilbert served in Company D of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery.

Fortunately they all survived the war, though not without some physical reminders. In 1890 Gilbert was documented suffering as from rheumatism and deafness, he was 44 years old.

Year: 1890; Census Place: Jonesboro, Whitneyville and Marshfield, Washington, Maine; Roll: 7; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 59. Ancestry.com. 1890 Veterans Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

Year: 1890; Census Place: Jonesboro, Whitneyville and Marshfield, Washington, Maine; Roll: 7; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 59. Ancestry.com. 1890 Veterans Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Image modified by author to show the relevant lines.

Over a 30 day span, he would have participated in the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Second Cold Harbor and Petersburg as well as a number of smaller skirmishes. During that short time, over 1100 of his comrades in the 1st Maine were killed or wounded [over 600 in just 10 minutes at Petersburg]. And the war wasn’t over, they fought for almost another year. The accounts [see Ch.9 A Burning, Seething, Crashing, Hissing Hell] of 18 June 1864 at Petersburg alone are horrifying, I can’t imagine how the survivors could ever shake the shadow of war.

Gilbert returned to Washington county after the war and married Charlotte Frost. He worked as a farm laborer and lumberman. They had seven children: Frank, Lillie, Jonas, Betsy Annie, Sadie, Isabel and Gilbert.

In 1885, the survivors of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery gathered in Portland, Maine. I’m not sure if Gilbert was there, I’d love to find a picture of him to compare with this one.

Courtesy of Clarence Woodcock http://www.cwoodcock.com/firstmaine/index.html Image from the book "The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865" by Horace H. Shaw, Charles J. House. Citation details at the bottom of the page.

Courtesy of Clarence Woodcock http://www.cwoodcock.com/firstmaine/index.html
Image from the book “The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865″ by Horace H. Shaw, Charles J. House. Citation details at the bottom of the page.

Gilbert died 17 June 1902 at age 56. According to his death record he broke his neck falling out of a wagon while intoxicated. A sad, unfortunate end to be sure.

Source for much information about the 1st Maine and the reunion image:
Shaw, Horace H, and Charles J House. The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865: a History of Its Part and Place In the War for the Union, with an Outline of Causes of War and Its Results to Our Country. Portland, Me, 1903. Available online via GoogleBooks ( http://books.google.com/books?id=G50dAQAAMAAJ ) Accessed 12-14 May 2014.

This post is 20th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

“We lost some noble men”: The 1st Maine Heavies at Harris Farm

dave:

150 years ago today… great post from Chris Mackowski on the Emerging Civil War blog on the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery.

Originally posted on Emerging Civil War:

Bloomsbury, the home of Harris

Clement Harris’s home, Bloomsbury

May 19, 1864, was “a day long to be remembered by the 1st Maine Heavy,” wrote a member of the regiment, “as it was on this day that we received our baptism of fire and learned the stern duties of a soldier.”

With the Overland Campaign bleeding the Army of the Potomac dry, Ulysses S. Grant called for fresh blood. Among those answering the call were “heavy artillery” units from the defenses around Washington—including the 1st Maine Heavies, shipping south from Fort Sumner, located in what is now Bethesda, Maryland.

No sooner had they joined the army, though, than they found themselves embroiled in a hot fight.

View original 1,738 more words

1st Maine Heavy Artillery Survivor 52 Ancestors: #19 Frederick Stanhope

After the The Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery regiment fought along with the rest of the Army of the Potomac in smaller battles at the North Anna river and Totopotomoy Creek. In early June they fought in the battle known as Second Cold Harbor, near Mechanicsville, VA. In Grant’s memoir he wrote “I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made… no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained.”

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.posix.com/CW

Map by Hal Jespersen, http://www.posix.com/CW

It was there that my 2nd great-grand uncle Frederick Stanhope received a gunshot wound. I’m not sure if the wound prevented him from fighting in any of the battles over the next year or so, but he did survive the war.

Frederick was about 17 when he enlisted 5 Jan 1864. He was mustered out 11 Sept 1865 and returned home to Robbinston, Washington County, Maine.

Cold Harbor Wounded

Shaw, Horace H, and Charles J House. The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865: a History of Its Part and Place In the War for the Union, with an Outline of Causes of War and Its Results to Our Country. Portland, Me, 1903. Available online via GoogleBooks ( http://books.google.com/books?id=G50dAQAAMAAJ ) Accessed 12-14 May 2014.

A little over a year later, he married Hannah McLaughlin and they had four children: Sarah, Laura, Lucy and Frederick Jr.

Frederick was the eldest son of Rodolphus and Charlotte (Leighton), one of 10 children. I’m related to him through his older sister Sarah (my 3rd great-grandmother) AND his younger brother Sewall (my 2nd great-grandfather).

He died in Dennysville, Maine of tuberculosis on 1 May 1898, at age 52.

Stanhope, Frederick CW Pension Index

Stanhope, Frederick Pension Index. Roll T288 – 449. National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.

This post is 19th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse 52 Ancestors: #18 George Henry Hayward

George Hayward was a 33-year-old father of six when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. His youngest child, Anna Amelia [my 2nd great-grandmother], had turned two the week before he was mustered into Company K of the 18th Maine Infantry Regiment.

In 1912 the Lewiston Journal published a profile on George in which some stories were shared that I think offer some great perspective on the life of a new soldier in 1862. Thanks to David Colby Young, the family of the late Robert L. Taylor and the Androscoggin Historical Society for transcribing and permission to share from their transcription of the original.

When the companies arrived at Portland they found tents pitched and a good supply of provisions. Most of the officers had little knowledge of what a soldier’s duty was.
When the uniforms came the space between the bottom of the pant’s legs I and the tops of the new army shoes was often an illustration of the relation of 4 the northern and southern states at that time. Nothing could bring them together.

After a while the men began to look natural but it was a good thing that there were no looking glasses. The little army cap, issued and worn at that time, the men regarded as a joke and wore it in all forms except that of a soldier. The arms and equipments, included an unnecessary amount of leather straps and a cartridge box. These were put on in every conceivable manner at, first. But the men soon adjusted themselves to their harness… Aug 24th, Sunday, the regiment took the train for Washington.

Many of the men saw Boston for the first time.

Many of the survivors will remember the reception at the cooper shop in Philadelphia, a refreshing bath and delicious supper. They arrived in Washington about noon of the 27th and were quickly marched into a huge barrack rack, where they were served with a slice of bread, and a piece of boiled beef, with poor coffee to drink and no place to sit down.

That night they encamped with out tents on the side of a hill which had been washed by the, rain, leaving upon the surface stones about the size of a robin’s egg, which, of course made very restless beds.

After a year and nine months of garrison duty in Washington D.C., the 18th Infantry was converted into the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery regiment and assigned to join Grant’s army in Virginia, near Spotsylvania for the Overland Campaign. Again from the Lewiston Journal transcription:

Soon the men of Co. K were in active warfare and in the first battle at Spottsylvania courtyard, Mr. Hayward was wounded. The old soldier’s eyes filled with tears as he told how with the last charge in his gun, he was shot by a rebel.

On the 19th of May, In the same battle where Samuel Collier was killed, George was injured. While prone a bullet struck him between his spine and right shoulder-blade and traveled down his back. The bullet was cut from his hip area. George spent the next year in various hospitals and was eventually discharged in May 1865. According to his pension application he suffered lingering issues due to his injury and collected $12 per month as a result.

George and Rachel (Carter) Hayward. Used with kind permission of David Bennett

George and Rachel (Carter) Hayward. Used with kind permission of David Bennett

George was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia 19 July 1829, the son of Stephen and Anna (Gould) Hayward. In 1850 he married Rachel Bridges Carter (1832-1919), the eldest daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Cox) Carter. One more quote from the Lewiston Journal tells how they met:

One day while going to Pembroke to do some haying, he came to a big mud puddle, and on the other side of it he saw a pretty young lady. He helped her over and they soon became good friends. The young lady was Rachel B. Carter of Pembroke. On Jan. 2, 1850 she became his wife.

They would go on to have 12 children, 44 grandchildren and 66 great-grandchildren [that I know of]. George died 2 Sep 1913 in Dennysville, Maine at 84 years old.

This post is 18th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse 52 Ancestors: #17 Samuel Collier

You may have heard of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment. The unit has the unfortunate distinction of having the most men killed and mortally wounded in battle of any Union regiment during the Civil War. Samuel Collier, the husband of my 2nd great-grand aunt Frances Ellen Bowen, was one of them.

Samuel was born in England around 1830 and married Frances in November of 1861. They lived in Perry, Maine and in August of 1862 when the Army came to enlist men in Washington County, he signed up. His was originally the 18th Maine Infantry unit and the men of Washington County were assigned to Company K.

Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine

Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine 1863
Source Information:
Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Various. Sacramento, California: California State Library.

For the next year and nine months, Company K served in defense of Washington D.C. in Batteries Cameron and Parrott and trained in Infantry and Heavy Artillery tactics. In April 1863, Frances gave birth to their son and named him after his father that he would never meet. Garrison duty in D.C. doesn’t sound like it was very exciting, they did a lot of practicing and drills, but never saw any actual combat. That was about to change.

In early May 1864 Grant’s Overland Campaign began and with it, the order for most of the regiments on guard duty in D.C. to join the battle. The 1st Maine joined Tyler’s Heavy Artillery Division. They met up with the main Army near Spotsylvania on May 18th and the next day had their baptism by fire.

Spotsylvania - May 12 1864. Map from NPS.gov, public domain

Spotsylvania – May 12 1864. Map from NPS.gov, public domain

Although the men of the 1st had been in service for some time, they were still “green”. When they were pressed into service near Harris’ farm to defend the right flank from Ewells’ attack, they fought in a more formal, by-the-book style, rather than the get on the ground/behind cover/in a foxhole – just survive – style that the veterans used. The veterans had learned that there is honor in living to fight another day.

So they stood, literally, in the open and fired at the enemy while being fired upon. As you can imagine, the results were devastating: 82 killed (including 6 officers), 394 wounded, 5 missing. Eventually the Union troops forced the retreat of Ewell’s men and ended the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. This was only the beginning for the 1st Maine, but that’s a story for another time.

For an excellent writeup of this unit, check out Andrew MacIsaac’s thesis “Here the Reaper was the Angel of Death: The First Maine Heavy Artillery During the Overland Campaign” posted here. Also see the National Park Service Regiment Details site.

This post is 17th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

Preserve the Pensions! 52 Ancestors: #13 Rodolphus Stanhope

My 2nd great-grandfather James Lucey had a wife and child before he married my 2nd great-grandmother. She died in childbirth along with their son James in 1868. Her name was Mary Jane Crotty and according to the 1865 Massachusetts census, was literally the girl next door. There was no civil record of the marriage or of the birth, just her death record which listed her maiden name. So how do I know about it?

His Civil War pension application.

Having that information put me in contact with Flavia Adams, a descendant of the Crotty’s,  fellow genealogist and a wonderful woman. It also helped to explain the strong connection between the families. If it weren’t for the pension records, that connection might have been lost to history.

The Federation of Genealogical Societies, in partnership with the National Archives, Ancestry.com and Fold3, launched a fund raising campaign to digitize 7.2 million War of 1812 pension documents held in the Archives. Once digitized the files are available for free via Fold3. There are thousands of stories in those very fragile documents, they need to be protected and made available. Please join me in supporting this extremely important effort by donating at Preserve the Pensions.

One War of 1812 Pension records that I’m particularly interested in is that of my 4th great grandfather Rodolphus Stanhope. He was born around 1796 in Massachusetts, possibly in the Sudbury area where his family lived before moving to Plantation 4 [which became Robbinston in 1811] in present day Maine. He was a young man of 15 or 16 when he volunteered for Captain Thomas Vose’s company in July of 1812, just weeks after Congress authorized the war.

RodolphusStanhope1812Service

Massachusetts Volunteer Militia in the War of 1812, pg. 159 Records of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Various. Sacramento, California: California State Library.

Rodolphus married Susannah Hickey in 1815 and they had 13 children over the next 30 years. They lived in Robbinston, Perry and finally Whiting, Maine. Rodolphus died 17 August 1870 and a short time later Susannah applied for his War of 1812 pension. I can’t wait to see what stories might be in his pension records. Help make sure that none of the records are lost, make a tax-deductible donation at Preserve the Pensions.

Pension Application

Ancestry.com. War of 1812 Pension Application Files Index, 1812-1815 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.

This post is 13th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

Battle of Staunton River Bridge 52 Ancestors: #11 Benjamin Bowen

On January 13th, 1864, just four days after he turned 18, Benjamin Franklin Bowen was mustered into Company H, First Regiment District of Columbia Cavalry. He traveled nearly 200 miles from his home in Perry to the capital, Augusta, Maine, perhaps with fellow recruits and Perry-ites Columbus Frost, William McPhail and James Garnett1.

The war had already had a terrible impact to Benjamin’s family. His older brother George Washington Bowen died in Sep 1863 far away from home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Patriarch William died in 1862  at Camp Chase in Lowell, Massachusetts, a mere 4 months after enlisting. The family couldn’t afford to bring either of them home for burial.

His brother John Quincy Adams Bowen enlisted in December of 1863 and his brother-in-law Samuel Collier was fighting with the 18th Maine Infantry. Neither would make it back from the war.

Benjamin’s regiment was initially formed in mid-1863 specifically to defend Washington D.C., but in January 1864 was pressed into service with Kautz’s Cavalry Division. In late June, General Grant sent Brigadier Generals Kautz and Wilson to destroy rail lines that were feeding supplies to the Confederate troops defending Petersburg. They had destroyed about 60 miles of rail lines when they came to Roanoke Station and the covered rail bridge over the Staunton River.

IMG_0332

Staunton River Battlefield State Park map. Photo by Dave Lucey

Confederate troops defending the bridge were outnumbered, but they had a heads up and rounded up every able-bodied man and child to defend the bridge. They dug in and on the afternoon of the 25th the Union forces advanced on the bridge. Benjamin’s unit attacked from the east and were repulsed. Fighting continued for hours, with the Confederates holding ground, keeping the bridge safe. Eventually, the unit that was chasing the Union troops caught up and attacked from the rear, forcing Wilson-Kautz to move on.

Benjamin was injured during the fight and died two days later, on June 27th. He is supposedly buried in Coyner Springs Cemetery, but I’ve been unable to confirm that. What I can confirm is that he, like his father and brothers, did not make it home.

The Staunton River Bridge. At the time of the battle this was a covered railroad bridge.

The Staunton River Bridge. At the time of the battle this was the covered railroad bridge. Photo by Dave Lucey 2012

This post is 11th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

Further reading:
The Battle Story
Regiment Details
Battle of Staunton River Bridge

[1] Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Appendix D. Pg. 935-944. Record of Recruits for First Regiment District of Columbia Cavalry. Original data: California State Library; Sacramento; Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine.

Happy Birthday Nana 52 Ancestors #8: Doris Bowen

I was fortunate to have been able to spend a lot of time with my paternal grandmother. When I was very young, she would babysit me and I remember spending a lot of time playing with toys like Weebles and Fisher-Price Little People that she had in a special corner of her three season porch. She and my grandfather Vinny used to visit us on Sundays and bring ice cream (bubble gum flavor sometimes) from Darby’s in Wakefield, MA.

Doris May Bowen

Later in life I was able to talk to her about the family and ask lots of questions. She told me about how her grandfather Fred Bowen made her feel special by taking her into town on his horse and carriage to buy her a dress. About how she worked in a sardine packing plant in Lubec Maine when she was just 9 or 10. And about how she and Vinny loved to drive to places around New England and eastern Canada, collecting swizzle sticks as memento’s from restaurants. They had hoped to do more after he retired, but cancer caught up with him on his 65th birthday.

3870fa6b-4486-42c8-ac32-9c252e6976a4She was a great cook and baker. She cooked for the Gibbs (oil company) family for years and her pie and cookie recipes have been handed down for several generations (although she possibly “forgot” to write down an ingredient now and then, since they are never quite the same).  I think of her every time I see a Lemon Chiffon pie. I say see because I can’t ever eat another one,  it can’t compare to hers.

She would have been 101 today.

Doris May Bowen was born in Edmunds, Maine in 1913 to George and Bessie (Stanhope) Bowen1. As is mentioned in a prior post, her family moved to Rochester, NH in the early 1930’s from Perry, Maine. She met my grandfather Vinny while he was working at Winkley’s Grocery Store at 81 Portland St, near where they both lived. They married on 28 November 1936 and lived in Rochester for several years before moving to Saugus, MA.

She died 30 Jan 2004 in Wilmington, MA2 but she’s thought of often.

This post is 8th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

[1] Maine Department of Health and Welfare, Certified Abstract of a Record of Live Birth. Doris May Bowen, Date of Birth: 23 Feb 1913. Date Filed: 1913. Copy in possession of the author.

[2] Ancestry.com. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2011. Number: 217-03-3658; Issue State: Maryland; Issue Date: Before 1951. Original data: Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index, Master File. Social Security Administration.

Two Days before Christmas, 52 Ancestors: #3 Herbert Bowen

December 23rd 1934 was a cold but clear Sunday in Rochester, New Hampshire. My grandmothers younger brother Herbert Bowen was riding around town that afternoon with his friends Arthur and Eleanor when the unthinkable happened.

Arthur is behind the wheel when he spots a car backing out of a driveway. He hits the brakes but they are coming down a hill and the road is icy, he loses control and skids into a telephone pole. Herbert is dead on arrival, he was just 20 years old. The two friends are injured but survive.

What a horrible Christmas that must have been for all the families involved. My grandmother spoke fondly of her brother but I don’t recall any specific stories, just what a tragedy his death was. If any family members reading this know of any, please post a comment or send me an email.

Herbert Sewall and Doris Mae Bowen circa 1918

Herbert Sewall and Doris Mae Bowen circa 1918, in the background is their grandfather Sewall Stanhope

Herbert Sewall Bowen was born 30 Aug 1914 in Edmunds, Maine to George and Bessie (Stanhope) Bowen. The family moved to Rochester shortly before the accident because work was scarce in Down East Maine at the time and George’s brother Myron had found a job a the W.H. Champlin box company. They lived in the same multi-family house on Knight street with Myron and his family until 1935 or 36 when they moved to Portland Street. My grandfather Vinny’s family lived on Portland Street, he and Doris married on 28 Nov 1936. George, Bessie and their other son Alton later moved to Meaderboro Road, not far from Walnut Street where Herbert was killed.

Transcription of the Rochester Courier article:

One Killed, Two Injured, As Car Skids Into Pole
Hubert Bowen, 20, Dies in Local Crash

Herbert Bowen of 21C Knight street was instantly killed and Arthur Fairweather, Jr., 18, same address, and Eleanor Hanson, 17, of Bow Lake were badly injured when an automobile, driven by Fairweather, skidded into a telephone pole on Walnut street, Sunday afternoon.
According to police, the car was coming down the hill on Walnut street. A car, driven by Albert C. Elgar of Hillsborough and Mrs. Ethel Fitch of East Rochester, was about to back out of a driveway, which was on the left of the approaching car. A collision did not occur as the Elgar car did not back into the street, but evidently Fairweather applied his brakes and his car skidded at full speed on the icy street into the telephone pole.

HerbertBowenRochesterCourier

Rochester Courier 30 Dec 1934 pg. 1

Bowen was taken to the Frisbie Memorial hospital and was pronounced dead on his arrival. Dr. Norman Chesley rendered aid to the other occupants of the wrecked machine.
Dr. Forrest L. Keay, medical referee of Strafford county, viewed the remains and pronounced that Bowen was instantly killed.
Fairweather had a bad cut on the forehead and another cut on the back of his head. Miss Hanson was cut and bruised.
State Officer Frank D. Manning and Traffic Officer Clyde Cotton were on the scene early, being closely followed by State Inspector Harold Foss of Dover.
An investigation was held at the City hall, County Solicitor Thomas J. McGreal of Somersworth in charge. All parties involved were questioned and the accident was declared unavoidable.
Bowen is the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Bowen and was employed at the W. H. Champlin lumber mill.

Herbert Bowen Is Buried Wednesday

Funeral services were held Wednesday afternoon at the Edgerly chapel on South Main street for the late Herbert Bowen, who was killed instantly in an automobile accident on Walnut street.

HerbertBowenRochesterCourierHerbertBowenRochCourier2

Rochester Courier 4 Jan 1935 pg. 5

Mr. Bowen was born in Edmunds, Me., the son of George and Bessie (Stackpole) [actually Stanhope] Bowen and was 20 years of age. He was employed at the W. H. Champlin lumber mill in this city and a wide circle of friends were deeply shocked because of the tragedy.
Rev. Daniel H. Miller, pastor of the True Memorial church, officiated. There was a large and beautiful floral tribute. Undertaker J. H. Edgerly was in charge of the funeral arrangements.

This post is 3rd in the in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

Mystery Monday – Native American Day

Today is Native American Day, in South Dakota at least, which reminded me of an old family rumor that my grandmother was part Native American.

Doris Mae Bowen

My Grandmother Doris Mae Bowen 1913-2004

She didn’t think she was, but  didn’t know.

Bessie Stanhope Tree

Her mother, Bessie Stanhope, was the great-granddaughter of James Carter and Deborah Newell.  James was born in 1765 in England and by 1788 had settled in Moose Island, Maine, which is part of Eastport and right in the heart of Passamaquoddy Tribe territory. According to many online family history pages and forum messages (example), his wife Deborah was from the Passamaquoddy Tribe. I haven’t found any evidence of this specifically, but I certainly haven’t exhausted all sources yet. The websites I’ve seen haven’t pointed to any actual source documentation either.

I have taken DNA tests with 23andMe, Ancestry DNA and Family Tree DNA and none have shown any Native American ancestry, however Deborah would be my 5th great-grandmother, so it’s possible that none made its way to me in an identifiable segment.

While it won’t prove that Deborah was Native American, I’d love to hear from any other descendants of James Carter and Deborah Newell that have taken DNA tests.

Tech Tuesday – DNA Test Results, Update 2

Back in April 2012 I received my AncestryDNA results and wrote about my surprise at seeing Scandinavian and Persian/Turkish/Caucasus in my Genetic Ethnicity results. I’ve had some recent results that possibly shed some light on both question marks in my, and hopefully others, genetic ethnicity as AncestryDNA sees it.

My Ethnicity Summary

My Ethnicity Summary

Scandinavian

At the time of my DNA test, the most popular theory was that the Vikings were lovers as well as fighters and that most of my Irish/English heritage is shown as Scandinavian. Back in August I connected with a cousin from my Stanhope line (Hi Susan!) and she pointed me to the website of Michael Stanhope, which seems to support that theory.

Michael, with the disclaimer that the information is“…what might have been rather than what definitely was”, documents the Stanhope line back to “…Halfdan Olafsson, Jarl of Vestfold, Ringerike, Hadeland, and the Opplands.” around the year 700 in Norway. The line supposedly goes from Norway to Normandy to England to America. That could certainly account for some of my Scandinavian ethnicity but it’s all but unprovable from a genealogical perspective. I was hopeful for something more concrete.

My Irish/English and Stanhope ancestry is on my paternal side, so every time I saw someone with Scandinavian listed as our “Shared Ethnicity” on Ancestry DNA, I automatically looked for surnames and locations from that side of my tree. Turns out I was being shortsighted.

My maternal grandfather’s parents are German and Lithuanian and although my grandfather is no longer here, his wonderful sister Jane is. My great-aunt Jane took the DNA test in December and yet another surprise when her results came in: 64% Eastern European, 36% Scandinavian.

Jane's Ethnicity Summary

Jane’s Ethnicity Summary

When I look at the matches we have in common, it turns out that on many of them the Shared Ethnicity is Scandinavian and the Shared Birth Location is Germany.SharedBirthLocations

Most of the matches have no obvious Scandinavian heritage (surnames or birth locations). Some matches have Central European ethnicity as well, which is where you’d expect German heritage to show.

So, it seems that some German ancestry shows as Scandinavian in the Ancestry DNA system. Perhaps these people originally were from Scandinavia and the test is picking up that deep ancestry or perhaps it’s just an error in the way the system works.  Any readers with Scandinavian in your DNA results where you expected German?

Persian/Turkish/Caucasus

My maternal grandmothers parents are both from Quindici, Avellino, Italy, which is a small town near Naples. You’d expect them to show as Southern European in my ethnicity, but I don’t have any.  I recently found a DNA match where the persons grandmother was a Manzi and our only shared ethnicity is Persian/Turkish/Caucasus.

Legend has it that my Fusco’s from Malden, Massachusetts are cousins of the Manzi’s from Lawrence, Massachusetts but I have not been able to find documentation of the connection yet. I’ve sent a message to the match to see if we can find a connection, I’m hopeful we will.

Are you seeing a similar or contrary pattern in your AncestryDNA results? I’d love to hear about it, please leave a comment.

Can I get your number?

I’m a numbers guy. I like to know how I’m doing against my goals and track statistics to see trends. I have an app on my iPhone that tells me how many cigarettes I haven’t smoked since I quit 6 months ago (3500-ish) and how much money I can redirect into my genealogy habit as a result (about $1000!!). I have apps to track my weight, my money, etc… It’s probably one of those things that has bled over into my personal life from work where “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. There’s something Pavlovian about it for me.

The one area that was for the most part safe from statistics was genealogy, until I read Crista Cowen’s “What’s Your Number?” post. I mean, I know about how many people are in my tree (5070 as of today), but that doesn’t really say anything about how I’m “doing”. What does that even mean in this context? I’m not doing any of this just to collect a bunch of names and dates. I want to know who I come from and where they came from, so I can go there and walk where they walked and hopefully eat some delicious desserts (to immerse myself in the experience, of course). But, I like this statistic, lets check it out.

As Crista outlines, in 10 generations each of us has 1,022 direct-line ancestors. Count up how many you have documented in each generation, add ‘em up and divide by 1022 to get your percentage. So how am I doing?

Not too bad, 10.6% overall. On my maternal grandmothers’ line I can’t get past my great-great grandparents (yet) so that takes quite a few possibles out very quickly. Fortunately, my paternal grandmothers’ family have been in America for around 300 years and left a nice document trail. The great thing is I now have a renewed focus and motivation to work on the lines that are sparse. Sometimes I get caught up in peripheral lines (making the tree wider, rather than deeper), which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but this is a number I’ll keep looking to improve.

Out of curiosity, I ran the numbers for my wife’s line and it came out slightly better at 12%. Her paternal French-Canadian lines are fairly well documented (Berube and Michaud). Her maternal lines are more recent (mid-to-late 1800’s) Irish immigrants, thus a little harder to track down.

I’d also highly recommend reading The Legal Genealogist’s entertaining blog post “More lost than found” on this same topic. So, what’s your number?

Source: Crista Cowan, “Family History All Done? What’s Your Number?,” Ancestry.com Blog, posted 16 Aug 2012 (http://blogs.ancestry.com : accessed 29 Aug 2012).

Military Monday – War of 1812

In the Boston area, going to visit the U.S.S. Constitution in Charlestown is a right of passage for every kid. Two hundred years ago today, America declared war on Britain and the Constitution would earn its nickname “Old Ironsides” in the ensuing naval battles. The War of 1812 is sometimes called the “forgotten war”, overshadowed by the American Revolution and the Civil War. But, it was an important step for America, to prove to Britain and the world that it could stand up on its own.

Image Source: Library of Congress website http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005691642/

My 4th Great-grandfather Rodolphus Stanhope enlisted at Robbinstown, Maine as a Private in Capt. Thomas Vose Jr.’s Militia, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Shead’s Regiment.1 He was 15 years old at the time. I can’t find any record of engagements for this unit, so I don’t believe he saw any fighting. He does show up in the War of 1812 Pension Application Index on Ancestry.com. The actual Pension files are being digitized (you can support the cause here) and will be available on Fold3 as they are completed. I will probably order the records from the National Archives this summer.

Rodolphus (1796-1870) was the son of Peter and Elizabeth (Parmenter) Stanhope. He married Susannah Hickey in 1815 and they had 13 children including my 3rd great-grandfather, Rodolphus in 1817.

1. Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Various. Sacramento, California: California State Library.

Tombstone Tuesday – Addie Bowen

This tombstone marks the burial location of my 2nd great grandmother Adelaide Augusta (Robinson) Bowen and her daughter Augusta, both died during childbirth on 4 Feb, 1905. Augusta was Addie’s 12th child, she was about 44 years old.

The marker is in the Ross Cemetery in Perry, Maine. This is a small cemetery located in the woods behind what was the Bowen family farm.

View Ross Cemetery, Perry Maine in a larger map
Addie’s husband Frederic Lowell Bowen is also buried here.

Military Monday – Bowen Family Civil War Sacrifice

At the start of the Civil War, William and Mary (Boynton) Bowen lived on their small farm in Perry, Maine with 10 children, including my 2nd great grandfather, Frederic Lowell Bowen (age 4). By the end of 1864, she has lost her husband, 3 sons and a son-in-law to the war effort. Her eldest son William Alonso had also died, but not in the war as far as is known.

In November 1861, William and son George Washington Bowen enlist with the Maine 1st Light Artillery Battery. They are initially stationed at Camp Chase, in Lowell, Massachusetts. In February 1862, George leaves with the unit for New Orleans but William, too sick to travel, remains in Lowell and dies on March 17th.

Lowell Daily Courier – Wed. Mar. 19, 1862

Death of the Last Occupant of Camp Chase.

When the soldiers evacuated Camp Chase, they left behind a man named William Bowen, who was confined to the hospital in consequence of an abscess.  He died on Monday last.  He was about forty-five years of age; it is understood he enlisted at Eastport, ME., and he leaves a family, and also parents probably in that vicinity.  His body was buried by Mr. A.P. Lesure, undertaker, of this city, with whom his friends can communicate, should they wish to take any action in relation to the removal of his remains.  Maine papers will confer a favor upon his relatives by publishing a notice of his death.

Baton Rouge National Cemetery
Photo courtesy of Jeanne O’Shea

A cousin, Jeanne O’Shea, and I have tried to find where William was buried in Lowell, but the 1862 book is missing from the cemetery where they likely buried him. He is probably in the unmarked section as it’s doubtful that Mary had the money to bring his body home.

Son George dies in Baton Rouge, LA just 18 months later, on 14 Sep 1863 and is buried in Baton Rouge National Cemetery.

Son Benjamin Franklin Bowen enlists with the District of Columbia Cavalry on 13 Jan 1864 and dies 6 months later, on 27 Jun 1864, killed in a skirmish at Roanoke Station Virginia.

Photo courtesy of Jeanne O’Shea

Son John Quincy Adams Bowen enlists with Company D, Maine 2nd Cavalry Regiment on 8 Dec 1863. John dies of tuberculosis 21 Oct 1864 in Barrancas, FL (near Pensacola).

Mary writes this letter to find out the details of John’s death:

Perry November 18th 1864

To the Adgedent generel

Dear Sir  I have been informed by Copral James Gallegar of the Second Maine Cavalry Company D John M. Lincoln Captain that my son John Q.A. Bowen, a private in that Company Died on the 19th of October 1864 but of what Decise I have not been informed  has his Death been reported to you or the Deceuse he died off  please let me know   it is the third Son I have lost in the army and I have lost a Husband and Son in law and I have one Son in Company E 17th Maine Reg Fort Preble Portland Maine, if you have the report of his Death please forward a Copy to me and you will oblige me I  have never received any of their bountys as yet and my Husband has been Dead three years next March  
yours with respect

Mary Bowen

Mary Bowen letter

I’m not sure who the other son is that she mentions is in Company E, 17th Maine. She does have 2 other sons that could have been there, but they are not listed in the roster of the 17th. The son-in-law she mentions is Samuel Collier, husband of eldest daughter Frances Ellen. Samuel enlisted with Company K, 18th Maine Infantry on 21 Aug 1862. The 18th is an interesting story, they spent most of the war stationed around Washington DC, guarding the capitol. In January 1863 the regiment designation was changed to the First Maine Heavy Artillery. In the spring of 1864, they were called to the front lines for Grant’s push into Richmond and saw some of the worst casualties of the war over the next year.

Samuel died at Spottsylvania, VA 19 May 1864, the first day that his unit saw fighting. For an excellent writeup of this unit, check out Andrew MacIsaac’s history thesis “Here the Reaper was the Angel of Death: The First Maine Heavy Artillery During the Overland Campaign” posted here.

In 1866, Maine passed the “Pension Act” into law, which would pay the family of a veteran up to $8 per month. Mary immediately applies. “I have lost a husband and three sons in the War of 1861″she wrote. She had still not received the US widows pension she had applied for 22 Jun 1863. Her letter must have had some effect, as of 25 Jul 1866 she was receiving $8 per month plus $2 per month additional for each child listed  (Silas M., Mary E., Frederick L., Lucy E., and Linnie W.)