Civil War letters

Good Morning! Cloudy here and cold. We had nicer weather in Jan. & Feb. But good old March is just like itself. Cloudy, damp and cold! The snowdrops are blossoming and there are daffodils up with buds but don’t know if they will get blasted or if they will open. Time will tell.
Thought you might like to hear some more from the boys in the Civil War.

6 Feb. 1862
From the Eleventh Regiment
Hatteras Inlet, Jan. 18, 1862
W. R. P. = William Rhodes Potter, Woodstock

“Editor of Transcript:– We left the campground on the 7th, at 12 o’clock, M., and had to stay in Annapolis till 8 P.M., for a boat to take us on board the ship that brought us here. While we were waiting for the boat, some two or three of us took the liberty to go on a voyage of discovery through the city. After having completed our circuit, we returned to the Regiment, and were conveyed to our ship, and marched down into the hold—or the Valley of Humiliation, rather—for I can think of nothing else to compare it with. Sea sickness. For the benefit of your readers that ever may chance to take a voyage, I will give a description of the disease. It is not laid down in Scott’s or Hardee’s tactics but should be, I think, if the Government means to send soldiers by sea. It is performed in one time and three motions; 1st motion, Start for the side of the ship on double-quick. 2nd, Lean over the side of the vessel, and, 3d, Fire. After the first discharge, fire at will till nature gives the command, Cease firing.”
I don’t know about you, but being seasick must be AWFUL! Luckily I am not and actually like being on a large vessel. Not a cruise ship size but others when we have gone from Portland, Me. to Nova Scotia. And smaller ferries.

13 Feb. 1862

From The Eleventh Reg’t.
The following letter is from a member of Capt. Clapp’s company,
H. Cady, on the vessel, (the Voltigeur):

Hatteras Inlet, Jan. 20th, 1862

“Dear Parents:–I wish to give you a description of our journey here from Fortress Monroe. There was a few in our regiment that were sick from the measles and other causes, and on Wednesday night one of the poor fellows died, having taken cold after having the measles. Thursday morning it was very rough, so that there was no prospect of getting into the harbor though we were near to it, and they prepared to bury our dead comrade at sea. He was enclosed in a piece of sail cloth with pieces of iron at his feet, then brought on deck and enshrouded with the flag to defend which he had left home and friends. The ship sailed from the land into the deep water, as it is not customary to bury where they can take soundings. All who could, came on deck, but many could hardly stir from sea-sickness. The Colonel read the burial service, and the body was launched into the deep. Three volleys were fired by a part of his company and the solemn ceremony of a burial at sea was over. It would have been more solemn and impressive had it been pleasant, the ship still.”

3 Apr. 1862
From the Eleventh Regiment
An Account of the Newbern Battle by Windham County Soldiers

“The whole fleet lay at anchor off Cape Hatteras. Soon three brigades were on the way. Landed and without delay marched towards Newbern. It rained through most of the day and by spells at night. If you would like to know how we passed the night, just imagine ten thousand troops–part of them lying down from exhaustion on the soaked earth, drenched with rain, after a hurried march of ten miles, each burdened with a heavy overcoat, haversack, arms and accoutrements, with a hard cracker and piece of salt junk for their stomachs, and for a cover the dark clouds, which poured upon us their contents during the night. The next morning we were ordered forward to engage the enemy. Our regiment drew up a few howitzers, 12-pounders, and planted them in the face of the heavy fire. By this time, volleys of musketry, and the roar of artillery, shook the very earth with their thunder. Our Regiment filed in to the left of the main road and took our
position a few hundred yards from the enemy’s entrenchments, and relieved the 27th Mass., which had spent their ammunition. We were ordered to lie down, and no sooner was it executed, than the enemy, discovering our position, poured forth a perfect shower of bullets, grape and canister, riddling the trees, and passing mostly just over our heads, which, you may infer, hugged old mother earth in a most affectionate manner. After lying a few minutes, Lieut. Col. Mathewson, who is in command of the Regiment, ordered us to return compliments. Suddenly the firing ceased on both sides; a few minutes intervened, and the Star Spangled Banner was proudly floating to the breeze, planted on the ramparts where a few minutes before the black flag of disunion was struggling for existence.”
Near the end of 2010, beginning of 2011, we got an email from a man in New Bern, NC, who is writing a book about the Battle of New Bern and wanted to know if we had anything from the 8th, 10th or 11th regiments from Connecticut who participated in that battle. Well, of course we did! All because of the wonderful Editor of our newspaper at that time, John Q. A. Stone, who asked the men to send letters to the paper and he would publish them. That is how we were able to publish our Civil War book “Dear Transcript.” So, I copied things for him and emailed them to him. That started a correspondence between us and last October when we went to visit friends in Virginia, we went to visit him and his wife in New Bern. Lovely, lovely people. I am looking forward to getting a copy of his book when he has finished it. I still here from him every once in awhile and the last time was when he was wondering about a flag that was captured by the 10th Regiment on the night following the battle. Greenwich Historical Society has it in their collections and I hope they know more about it. They have an on-line exhibit on this and it is called Voices from The Civil War online.. or you can go to the Greenwich Historical Society home page and under exhibitions you will see the link.
Hope you enjoy this tidbit and please leave a comment.


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Feb. 26th, 2012

Old Newspaper tidbits

Well, it has been too long since I wrote something.  Mainly because the research has been heavy and other things have gotten my attention.
Was not sure what to put out here next, but here goes.    Currently proofing the deaths in 1897 that were typed by a member of the society.   There are other items on the pages I copied for her so I scan through them to see what else might be interesting.   Found a couple of things that might make you chuckle.  In the 3 Feb. 1897 paper there are the usual liquor stories.   One man was before the Justice for keeping liquor with intent to sell.  His bartender also appeared, claiming the liquor and paid the fine.   Hmmmm..  so the man keeping it got off free.
Another man was sentenced to jail for 30 days, for intoxication.  He requested officers to take him there, where he would feel at home during the winter!!!!     Well, the state (tax-payers) took care of him for the winter.   Good deal for him.
Is this beginning to sound familiar?
In the 27 Jan. 1897 paper..   In Putnam a single lady died aged 38 years at the home of her father.  Two young children were ordered to watch the body during the night, and the parents lighted the candles around the corpse before going to bed.  About morning the children fell asleep, but were awakened by smoke and heat.  In some way the candles had been upset and the corpse was on fire.     Oh my, bad enough that two young children had to sit with the corpse but then to find the corpse on fire!    I really didn’t know that children sat with the deceased.  I knew adults did.   Well, something else I learned today.
In the 13 Jan. 1897 was an interesting tidbit.  It was the Prison Statistics for the year ending 31 Dec. 1896.  The Prison being the Brooklyn Jail.  There were 390 commitments, only 4 of which were female.  The shortest term was 10 days and the longest 1 year.  The youngest prisoner was 16, the oldest 78.  Sixteen claimed to be “strictly temperate,” 7 owned to being “habitually intemperate,” and the rest “moderate drinkers.”  Married 105, and 145 have been in prison before; 50 cannot read or write, and 2 can read only; 35 were “bound over” parties; 119 were committed from Putnam, 118 from Windham (including Willimantic), 83 from Killingly, 20 each from Plainfield and Thompson, 8 from Brooklyn, 3 each from Woodstock and Pomfret, 2 each from Ashford and Eastford, and 1 from Scotland.  The nativities are given as 85 from Connecticut, 109 from other states, 39 from Ireland, 19 from England, 18 from Canada, 7 from Scotland, 5 each from Germany and Sweden, 1 each from Russia, Arabia, Australia, Italy, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, 2 from Poland, 1 unknown. 

The crimes for which they were incarcerated are as follows:

  • Drunk, 175;
  • theft, 40;
  • vagrancy, 34;
  • assault, 23;
  • breach of the peace, 23;
  • breaking and entering, 15;
  • breach of liquor laws, 9;
  • escapes, 6;
  • cruelty to animals, 3;
  • fraud, 4;
  • desertion of wife, 3;
  • trespass, 5;
  • resisting officer,
  • defrauding hotel,
  • fornication and
  • riding on railroad, each 2;
  • disturbance,
  • circulating obscene literature,
  • false pretences,
  • statutory burglary,
  • threatening incendiary,
  • abuse of wife,
  • abuse of child,
  • and contempt of Court, 1 each. 

The prison now holds 68 inmates.
The word “inmates” is also used in describing children who lived in the Children’s Temporary Home, and it could also be used for people working in mills who are boarding in the boarding house.  Somehow before I got into all this old history stuff I figured the word “inmates” was used to describe prisoners or people in insane asylums.  Hmmmm… just goes to show what I didn’t know.
One of the first things I learned from the old papers is that the word “saloon” did not mean then what we have all known it to be since I was a kid in the ’40’s and ’50’s.    There was the Hair Saloon, Daguerrian or Daguerreotype (Photograph) Saloon, Eating Saloon, Shaving, Hair Cutting Saloon, Bowling Saloon, Ambrotype Saloon (photograph).
Here’s an ad from 4 Nov. 1869 paper:  Keech’s New Saloon is already attracting customers.  It is neatly fitted up, and our young friend has for sale fruits, confectionery, stationery, toys, etc.  He intends to have a place for persons to visit free from the taint of liquor, and ladies and others can purchase articles there without being annoyed with the disgusting fumes of rum and tobacco.
And another thing I learned was that in 1856 there was a Young Men’s Library Association.    No young women.   Glad that has all changed!
That’s it for this time.   Hope you get some enjoyment and knowledge out of my ramblings tonight.

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Feb. 19th, 2012

Temperance Times, Children’s Home, and more!

It is a beautiful Sunday in our neck of the woods and we see a couple of
crocus and a snowdrop blooming outside. We have indoor iris (Twelve
Apostle plants) that are blooming profusely. And the blossom is so
sweet. The Amaryllis are not doing as well this year for whatever
reason but we do have some in bloom. I am thinking that they will bloom
in the garden this summer and then we won’t have any next winter.
Well, as in all things, there are good times and there are bad.

The old mid to late 1800’s newspapers have lots of articles about
Temperance as it was a time when there was a big push on to do away with
intoxicating liquors. They would make some headway and then it would go
back to the way it was. I think that because most of the medicines in
that day were some form of alcohol or had addicting drugs in them, that
it was not going to be possible to stop some people from wanting or
liking liquor. And lets face it, times were hard, people worked hard,
and there wasn’t much in the way of relaxation and enjoyment to be
had. People could get a prescription for alcohol from a doctor and go
to the druggist and they would give them the bottle of rum or whiskey or
whatever. Liquor was also sold in secret (until they got caught). ( I
will write more about that at a later time). And like today there were
always people who would get drunk and beat their wives, children, or
lacking that they just spent most of the money they did earn and their
families would go without food, etc. They would get picked up for being
drunk and usually ended up going to Brooklyn jail as they did not have
the money to pay the fine and costs. Many accidents occurred and in
many of them liquor was involved and so rum became known as “demon
rum.” Murders were committed in some cases because of liquor.
Families suffered terribly from this and their are some sad cases
reported where the children were walking around in the streets without
warm clothes, unkempt and dirty. Many were taken away and put in the
Windham County Temporary Home for Children in Putnam. Of course, that
was not the only reason children were put in the home. If they lost
both parents, or even one, and there was no one to care for them, it was
better to be sent to the home than to end up on the street. Many were
adopted or family situations improved and they went back home. Others
were not so lucky and stayed in the home till they were of age and able
to care for themselves. What the conditions were like I cannot say as
the records don’t tell us. I do know that authorities were sent to
check on conditions and they were reported in the paper. And there were
many generous people who contributed to their support in one way or
another and who remembered them at Christmas. But the main objective
was to get those children into good homes. It was not an ideal
situation, but what is? When the home burned down the children were
put into people’s homes temporarily and in some cases towns took them
back until another home could be built.

As in all times, there were couples who did not get along. I think
many of them put up with some form of abuse, but in many cases they
didn’t. There were divorces (even back in the 1700’s) and it got to be
more and more common in the 1860’s and on. Reasons: Intemperance,
cruelty, desertion, & more. One of the things that show up in the
papers are Wife Notices. Such as these two in the 16th Sept. 1880
paper. Wife Notice: 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.
Wife Notice: I hereby forbid all persons from 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., 1st Sept. 1880.

In some cases, there were rebuttals published in the paper by the
missing wives. I looked for them in my databases but they didn’t come
up. Must be a computer thing!

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Feb. 14th, 2012

Mistakes we find

Good Morning!  Thought I would write a little bit about published records and the mistakes in them.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a genealogy, vital records, church records, gravestone records or a history.   They were all written or typed up by human beings.   And we all make mistakes.  The day we think we are perfect is the day we find that mistake in something we wrote!   It does humble us and I think we need to be reminded often of just how imperfect we are.

I found a mistake in Hale’s Headstone Inscriptions of Thompson, CT.   I had looked at the family who seem to be all together and probably listed on one stone.  Without going to look at the stone I can’t say that for a fact, but in this record it lists the mother, father, and then all the children with the notation that they were children of Frederic and Cesarie Bellerose.   But the last one listed is Nazaire Auclair Bellerose born 1854, died 1892.    I knew that he could not possibly be a son of this couple as they were born in the late 1840’s.   The Auclair name is what tipped me off as to who he was.   Cesarie Bellerose was an Auclair and I think that Nazaire is probably her brother.   I looked in the Burials of St. Joseph’s Church, No. Grosvenordale and indeed it listed him as Nazaire Auclair with the correct dates.  He was the son of Baptiste Auclair.

Probably the person, who read that stone back in the early 1930’s, when this was done, didn’t realize that Nazaire Auclair listed on the stone with all the children, really wasn’t a Bellerose.   Could be the name Bellerose is at the top of the stone with the others listed underneath.   In any case, easy to fix in the record we have.

I like to use original sources, if possible, when researching.   In some cases, they do not exist anymore, but where they do that is the way to go.   I can’t remember now what family name I was searching but it was an old vital record and in the published book the name just didn’t make sense, so went to look at the original.   Being old, the edge of the page was worn away so that only a partial first name was there, but I was so familiar with those families by that time that I knew exactly what the name was.   And corrected the book

Older genealogies published long ago, when many sources we use now were not available, or the person could not easily get to the places, can have big mistakes in them.   Not because the person writing them was incompetent, but because they did not have access to all we do today.   The old Richard Church genealogy, published in the very early 1900’s, is an example.  I was asked to prove a line of descent from Richard Warren to this person.   And I found that it did not go back to Richard Warren of the Mayflower but to an Arthur Warren.   The reason I knew this was because of a number of articles published in later years in The American Genealogist, Mayflower periodicals, etc.    It upset the person greatly to find that they did not descend from the Mayflower Warren and last I knew they were going to have words with the Mayflower Society.

Now I am working on another supposed Mayflower line and even though the Mayflower Society does not accept this line the person is adamant that the Mayflower Society is wrong.   So, I will do what I can in proving or disproving.

It is fun to be a sleuth!

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Feb. 13th, 2012

The Quinebaug Bridge between Killingly & Brooklyn

The other day we were talking about how there is nothing new under the sun, and a good example of that is the problem with the Quinebaug Bridge over the Quinebaug river between Danielsonville and Brooklyn back in1852.
The paper put in a small article: 22 July 1852:  “The Bridge across the Quinebaug is a dangerous nuisance. This threeyears it has been shaking under us every time we have crossed it, and now it shakes worse than ever before. We should really fear to cross it with a heavily laden four-horse team, so loose is it in the joints. A few new plank stuck down here and there, much as they are needed, will not remedy the fault; the only cure is, in the dialect of the physician,the radical one, its removal.”

Then on the 11 Nov. 1852: “Of all the shamefully penurious affairs which convince us that our residence is in Connecticut, none in our our immediate vicinity is more disgraceful than the condition to which the Quinebaug Bridge has been suffered to attain by the penny wise policy of patching and piecing where a new and substantial structure is imperatively required. Lying on the boundary line of two towns and
jointly owned by both, neither will take responsibility of the first move for its removal, and the shakey old frame stands there, a terror to every stranger passenger who adventures its crossing, and not a little feared by its more accustomed traveler. At our last crossing, we noticed that the floor boards had been split into ruts by the passing teams, so that the wheels now travel on the under flooring while the old
frame daily shakes more dangerously in response to the weight of the passing load. We have learned that the town of Brooklyn, one of the joint owners, proposes performing a new job of tinkering upon it in a few days. Will not the selectmen of that town attempt some arrangement between themselves and the town officers of Killingly, by which a replacement of the rattle-trap with something of a more substantial nature?”

Seems that the same things go on today by someone passing the buck or putting off doing something till it gets so bad that it costs 100 times more than if it had been fixed right away. I guess it is just the way government works, but seems to be a waste to me.

On the 14 Apr. 1853 there is a small article about the unsafe bridge, nothing has been done and rut holes, nearly large enough to let a wheel through to the hub..
But then the editor decides to put a story in the paper 28 Apr. 1853 about the sad accident to a teamster crossing the bridge with a heavy wagon drawn by four horses, and the wheels break through letting the wagon fall completely breaking the bridge and the team and wagon plunging into the river. “All efforts to save the driver and his team was use-less and they have perished.”

But the next week 5 May 1853 they “fessed” up and said they made it up, and in conclusion said “we don’t expect this article to do a bit of good. In fact, we don’t expect any thing to do any good in this matter short of “a visitation from God.”

They were frustrated but did have a good sense of humor. Then there was a real accident on the bridge in June 1853 when a team drawing stone broke through. They got them out with no great damage done. Then someone in one of the towns just covered the hole with a loose plank and left it. The next day someone who uses the bridge brought spikes and secured the old patch-work once again.

The next week 23 June 1853 there had been three new accidents.  (These were real and not made up.) A man from Pomfret crossing on his horse, one of the horses’ hind feet went into a trap hole, and he lost his shoe. The hole is now plugged with a stone! The next accident was when the off wheels of the stage with 9 passengers, fell into a rut. They got it out and someone threw a loose plank over that hole. Then another wagon was seriously damaged. The town finally called a town meeting to see what the inhabitants will do with regard to the bridge.

So the meeting was held and they put together a building committee to confer with any similar committee in Brooklyn. The people in town were in favor of building a wooden bridge, having two carriage tracks, and two side walks.

Brooklyn held their meeting on the 4th of July and they voted not to rebuild the Bridge but to repair it. The editor says in the 7th July 1853 paper: “We understand that the committees have met and have agreed to recommend to their respective towns a repair much after the fashion of the Indian’s gun which had a new lock, stock and barrel, but kept the old trigger.”

They finally agreed to repair it and Harris Kies would run a Ferry Boat across the Quinebaug River at Danielsonville during the time the bridge is repairing. The boat will run night and day to accommodate the public.

In the 15 Sept. 1853 paper: “We availed ourselves of the drawing off of the water a few days since to make an examination of the supports of this famous bridge, which is now being repaired. The signs seen more than warranted all the mean things that we have said about it. Posts originally 8 inches square, have rotted down, and washed by the action of the water, so that a 3 inch square post could scarcely be worked out
of their present rotten heart. From other posts pin holes have rotted away, and the pins have washed out. In still others the weight of travel has “shot down” the post into itself after the fashion of a wedge into a cleft. A whole tier of supports is held in place only by the casing which covers them. Taking it all in all, we only regret that we
did not “give Jesse” to the rotten old concern a long time ago.”

So, you can see that not much has changed over the 150+ years since then. Towns still put off fixing things and when it finally gets so bad that something has to be done, they sometimes patch it, and sometimes build a new one at a much higher cost than it would have been had they done it at the time. I guess that it is the way government
works but it just seems like things could be a lot better. Although we have to remember, that just like now, voters did not want to pay more taxes. So they kept voting things down. And we have not changed one bit.
Anyone have the answer to this age old problem?

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Feb. 9th, 2012

The way we think..

I was talking with a friend today and in the course of conversation I said I was asked a question about a minister in the So. Killingly church ordained in 1785 wanting to know what college he went to, etc.   He was not listed in The Colonial Clergy book we have and the only reference I found was in Ellen Larneds’ History of Windham County where she mentioned that he was ordained at the South Killingly church in 1785 and that Rev. Ebenezer Bradford of Rowley, Mass., with whom he had studied theology, preached the sermon.   So looks like he did not attend college.
He had to have had a good education.   Where did this occur?  Most likely at home and then in a one room school house.  Perhaps he went to an Academy.  Aaron Brown, an early minister in Killingly, “fitted” boys up for college in his house.  A couple of them entered Yale when but fourteen years old.    Does this tell us something?  Yes, they had an excellent early education locally.  From what I have found in the early papers, students who graduated from  eighth grade were way ahead of 12th grade today.  But if these didn’t get to college they studied under another minister, doctors studied under other doctors, lawyers did the same.   Was it always a good thing?  Of course not.   But back then there were people who were “naturals” when it came to being a great doctor or lawyer or teacher, etc.   Consider Dr. Sweet, the bone-setter.  He was locally famous for setting bones.  I have no idea if he attended any college or not, or if he was a “natural.”  Or consider the young women and men who became teachers right out of school and did wonderful work with children.  Today you must go to college in order to be a doctor, teacher or lawyer, etc. but it wasn’t always that way.
Another thing came to mind when I was thinking about the 1700 & 1800’s..   Indentured servants who worked for someone a number of years and were then free to make their own way in the world.   There were a number of reasons why people were indentured, money was involved in one way or another.  A couple of my ancestors wanted to come to the New World but didn’t have the money to do so, and became indentured servants in order to get  here.   After they served their time they were free and, if I remember correctly, were given a new suit of clothes.
Then there were children who were “bound out” to others.  Mostly for the boys it was to learn a trade so they would be able to support themselves and that was for a specific time frame also.  Usually when they reached a certain age.   Some were bound out because the family had too many children or the mother had died, etc.
Some girls also were bound out to learn house-wifery.   But that was not as common.
Was it a form of slavery?   I guess if you think about it in today’s terms it was, but the difference between that and slavery was that you were free in a certain number of years or at a certain age, but a slave was a slave forever.   If you and I were living back in the 1700 & 1800’s it was a perfectly natural and acceptable thing to do.  You wanted your children to learn a trade so they could support themselves. Was it always a wonderful experience?  Certainly not!  Some were mistreated.  But others came through the experience and went on to lead productive lives.
We have to remember when we compare these kinds of things that happened long ago with the standards of today, and say how awful it was to do this and that, we need to put ourselves in that time and realize that it was the acceptable way to do things.  And if we were honest, and you and I were living at that time, we would be doing the same things.   So we can compare things from long ago to now and see how far we have come, but we cannot put black marks against them for doing what was acceptable at the time.
These are only two examples and there are many others.  Just remember, we cannot re-write history.   History has to stay the way it happened.  And we should never be ashamed of it because it has taught us to try for something better.  Life is a first-hand learning experience.  We don’t get to do it over.

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Feb. 8th, 2012

Mary Dixon Kies

For a number of years we have had a lot of inquiries about Mary Dixon Kies, the first woman in the U. S. to receive a patent in her own right on 5 May 1809, which was for a method where straw was woven with silk to produce material for bonnets.   Even President Madison’s wife Dolly expressed her appreciation of the fact by sending a note.  Unfortunately, fashions changed and this wasn’t needed anymore.
But the main reason I am writing something about her is that there is so much misinformation on the internet about her.   And it just keeps being perpetuated as no one bothers to discover the real story.
There is a “picture” of her in a fancy bonnet on the internet, and many people think that it is really her or they call us to ask us for a picture.  Well, I tell them, photography was not invented in 1810 and the family did not have the money to have a portrait painted.   As for the bonnet, I tell them that what she was weaving was not fancy, it was for a country woman who worked on the farm.
She was born Mary Dixon in South Killingly on the 21 Mar. 1752 daughter of John & Janet (Kennedy) Dixon.  She married first on 21 Mar. 1770 to Isaac Pike and they had one child, Issac, born 27 Dec. 1770.  The father Isaac died ca 1772 and Mary married second John Kies but there is no marriage date that we have found.
In the Windham County Transcript dated 18 Aug. 1897 they copied a letter that was published in the Norwich Bulletin about Mary Kies and it was so absolutely wrong that in the next paper, dated 25 Aug. 1897, is a letter from “One of the grandchildren” in South Killingly to correct it:  “If the writer of the article you quoted last week from the Norwich Bulletin had consulted Miss Larned’s History of Windham County he would have seen that the person who obtained the patent was Mrs. Mary Kies of South Killingly.
Mrs. Kies’ maiden name was Mary Dixon.  She was the daughter of John Dixon, who lived in South Killingly in the house now owned by Cyrus Battey, or perhaps an earlier house standing on the same site.  The patent was obtained in 1809.  Her husband, John Kies, died in 1813.  But she lived to be over 80 years of age, dying in 1837.  She had a large family, and her descendants are numerous, and while the sixth generation has its representative, there are at least three of her grandchildren living and two reside in Killingly, one of whom has keepsakes that her grandmother gave her which show her skill in the manufacture of straw.
Mrs. Kies lived for several years in the house that formerly stood near where the Leonard Day barn now stands.  She afterward built a house on the Green Hollow Road, a short distance south of Lysander Warren’s, in which she was living at the time of her death.  The house stood on the east side of the road and was burned several years since.”

The Lysander Warren house is still standing.  A big old colonial and I believe it was one of the Hutchins houses earlier.  Everything we have seen in print says that Mary Kies died in Brooklyn, CT but this article by a grandchild says she died in her house in Killingly.   In any case, there is no death record for her.   Nor was there a gravestone, but there was one for her husband John Kies, in the Old South Killingly cemetery.
In 1965 the Killingly Grange #112 under the Grange Master Mervin Whipple erected a commemorative headstone to this remarkable woman next to her husband in the Old South Killingly cemetery.

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Feb. 6th, 2012

Thought I would put a few more things from the Dear Transcript book.
In the 8 Aug. 1861 paper a letter from Camp Keyes, Washington, DC 31 July 1861 written by John T. Phillips of Woodstock:
“To the Editor of the Transcript:– With regard to the engagement at Bull Run on the 21st – There can be no questioning the fact that we fought against a force greatly superior to ours in number from 6 A. M. until 5 P. M. driving them from some of their strongest batteries, that the arrival of reinforcements to the rebel forces compelled us to retreat, that many of our regiments retreated in disorder and that though obliged to retreat we left more than twice the number we lost from our ranks of the enemy dead and wounded on the field; also that our soldiers were suffering extremely for food and water having left Centreville at 2 o’clock A. M. with only a scanty supply of dry bread and many of them were without water even before they reached the field.
To show how much our men suffered for water that day, I will only say that we drank from a muddy pool of water deeply tinged with the blood of the dead and wounded who had crawled to its banks in hopes of quenching a thirst more painful than were the wounds from which the life blood was flowing.
As we were passing this point Maj. Warner of the 3d Regiment ordered one of his men to hand him a cup of water.– “It is muddy, and there is blood in it,” says the man. “Will it run out of the cup?” “Yes.” “Then give me a cup and be quick.”
In the 21 Nov. 1861 paper:  Part of a letter from Capt. Thomas Briggs of Danielsonville who was with the great expedition:
The Storm:  “On Friday the 1st Nov. there arose a tremendous gale and scattered the fleet.  I don’t know what vessels or exactly how many men were lost, but I tell you it was an awful night; may I never see another such a one; I was so seasick that I could hardly sit up at all, and about midnight the ship got in the trough of the sea, and everything that was not lashed fast to something, was sent flying about the decks and cabin.  We shipped a great sea as the sailors call it, and in the cabin were officers, servants, trunks, and lamps and glass ware, chairs, and it seemed to me hogsheads of water, rolling and tumbling about in one promiscuous heap; it woke me out of a sort of a stupor that the sea sickness had put me.  I jumped or fell out of my berth, I don’t know which, and found myself holding on to the side of the cabin, but I was more amused than frightened, and the ship righting itself very soon I went back to my berth, being too sick to sit up; a good many of the officers and men were rather scared.  The next day the wind went down, and by Sunday, it was as pleasant and warm as any Sept. day, but I tell you I am no sailor, and I shall not be myself until I get ashore.  We have been on ship board just a fortnight to-day (Wednesday), and if any poor fellow is sick and tired of salt water, it is your humble captain.  Fresh water is so scarce, that I have had nothing but salt water to wash in since coming on board.”
From the 2 Jan. 1862 paper:   An Hour Among the Knitters.–On Friday evening last, we spent a pleasant hour in company with those who are preparing articles for the wants of the men who are periling their lives for their country; but it was sorrowful to be reminded of the necessity of such articles;–little pillows for amputated limbs, lint and bandages for torn and ghastly wounds, and some shirts for the dead–such as might be sent to their friends.  The woman of our County are doing nobly in this work–now let the men generously supply them with the means which they need.
9 Jan. 1862 newspaper:  Mr. John T. Sessions, of Abington, aged 20 years, who was in Co. K 7th Reg’t. died at Hilton Head, Dec. 23.  His disease was measles, contracted by sleeping in blankets left by the rebels.
Another tidbit from an old newspaper:  the Springfield Republican dated 25 Apr. 1853
“A Mr. Chandler was to have been married on Thursday evening at Danielsonville, Ct. to a Miss Helen Cady, and after the bridegroom had arrived, and the guests assembled, it was ascertained that the “intended” bride, had packed up her duds, and eloped to parts unknown, with a Mr. Collar.
Had to leave you with a funny.
Would love to have comments.
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Feb. 5th, 2012

Good Morning!   A beautiful day here in CT.
This year is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.   In the official book put out by the State of Connecticut it has names of men from the militia, BUT, they didn’t put in from what towns they came from.   Just where they saw service.   In the Regular Army list then you see the towns they came from.  But there are none from Killingly.    Really want to do something on these men from here that served and so far the only ones I know about are the ones who died in the town and have gravestones!    That is really not good.   How about the ones who moved away from Killingly?   Or the ones who do not have gravestones?   This leaves a big hole in our knowledge of who served from Killingly.     I have a friend who has Ancestry and she is trying to fill in some gaps and after that I will have to see if there is anything in the town meeting records.

In the meantime, I have more research to do, and that will keep me pretty busy.

I have access to the old newspapers that are on-line and I occasionally do a search for Killingly to see if new papers have been added.  And I have been rewarded for this effort many times.   In the New London Democrat dated 22 July 1848:  Elopement.–A few days since, a worthless fellow, by the name of Seagrave, living in Killingly, Ct., slid off very suddenly from that place, with a young girl, an operative in one of the mills, leaving a wife and an army of creditors to mourn his loss.  The latter, however, feeling a desire to see his face once more, sent a deputation in pursuit, but with what success we have not learned.  The name of the girl was Harriet Newell, and she had hitherto sustained a good character.

In the same paper the very next week, 29 July 1848:  Seagrave and Miss Harriet Newell, who recently eloped from Killingly, Ct., were overtaken near Syracuse, N. Y., and the young woman taken back to her parents.  Another couple disappeared from South Killingly, during the session of the Sunday school, on the 16th inst. (July)  The hero was a teacher in the school, and the young lady was one of his pupils.

From the Telescope, dated 7 Apr. 1849:  Editor’s Troubles.–The editor of the Arena, published in Killingly, Ct., complains that it is hard work to edit a country newspaper, on account of the lack of local news and incidents.  He says he expected to have an original marriage and death for his last paper; but the sudden thaw kicked the wedding into the middle of next week, and the doctor was sick himself and could not visit his patient, so the patient got well–and thus both announcements were lost.

From the National Aegis, dated 8 July 1846:  Fatal Accident.  A young lady, named Sarah Day, living in Killingly, Ct., was killed by being thrown from a wagon on Sunday evening last.  She was about starting to attend an evening meeting, and had just taken her seat in the wagon, when the horse became frightened, and, running, upset the wagon, throwing her out and killing her instantly.

From the Springfield Republican, dated 30 May 1848:  D. S. Ruddock, formerly of this town, (Springfield, MA) has commenced a Locofoco campaign paper at West Killingly, Ct. It is called the Democratic Argus, and states its object to be to “diffuse the quintessence of democracy,” which means, we suppose, to support any and all things that the party may dictate.  The editor says that he shall die with the democratic armor on,–an early evidence, of resignation, quite creditable to his spirit.  His “Salutatory” article is quite a rich production; he talks about “federal papers evulgating Whig misrepresentations and invectives.”  If we can be assured of something similar in every number, we will exchange, merely for the fun of the thing.

Just a few tidbits to show what I find in the old papers.

Again, I would love to hear from someone, telling me if they like this, hate this, or don’t care!!

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Feb. 2nd, 2012

Tonight I am going to write a little about the Civil War – actually I will take some things from our book “Dear Transcript”.   Let me know if you like them.

James Wilkinson, the associate editor at Putnam, of the Windham County Transcript, enlisted in April 1861 in the Buckingham Rifles of Norwich, which left on Monday for New Haven.   From a letter written by J. T. P. 23rd Apr. 1861 New Haven, he says “there are twelve Windham County boys in the company comprising the Buckingham Rifles.  We will remain in New Haven until we join the 2nd regiment.”

It is amazing to me how fast the towns recruited men and companies and regiments were formed.
The Union Guards of Windham County Co. A, 7th Regiment were formed in Killingly.    From one to two hundred ladies of Danielsonville have been engaged through the days and late into the evenings making the uniforms, in Mr. Hyde’s large hall over his store,  for the Union Guard.  They made 350 shirts, 80 pairs of pants and 80 coats in less than six days!  And the young misses from 12 to 14 years of age, have prepared for each soldier a very neat and convenient arrangement to carry pins, needles, thread, scissors &c.  Their uniform is a grey sack tunic, trimmed with red; a fatigue cap the same, and blue pants–a very neat and handsome suit.  Each soldier is provided with four shirts and a new pair of boots in addition.

Flag raisings were very common during this early time.  They had speakers and the women made banners also.

There was a Killingly Home Guard, a company of “Silver Guards” made up of older men.

A company bearing the name of Dayville National Guards were drilling with the intention of offering their services to the government as soon as they make suitable proficiency in military tactics.

We have to remember that these “soldiers” were all country boys, not military men.  Yes, most of them had probably been in the militia at one time or another, but they were not soldiers in the true sense.   They had to be trained and it must have been so difficult for them to go from farms, factories &c to a part of the country most of them would have never seen in ordinary circumstances.

In the 6 June 1861 newspaper… Capt. Chester of the Buckingham Rifles, wrote a letter to his parents, giving an account of the alarm which called the 2nd Regiment to arms, expecting to march to meet the enemy.  He says:  You can’t imagine how the alarm yesterday, thrilled our soldiers’ nerves.  We got word that within sight of Washington the troops were fighting, and in an instant the drum snarled out the alarm.  For a moment all was excitement; then as men saw the necessity of preparing quickly, the noise ceased, and knapsacks were packed, and ammunition given out in the quickest time imaginable.  What do you think I said to my men?  I quoted my old motto–‘Take it cool.”  I told them that the men who spoke loud would have to stay to help guard the camp, and you may be sure not a word was spoken.  We had to detail two men from each company for a guard to remain behind.  My two cried like babies.  They said they wanted to ‘see some fun if there was to be any.'”

Another letter written by someone from Camp Douglass, Washington, D. C. 26 May 1861 tells of the 3rd regiments passage from Connecticut.  “We embarked on board Steamship “Cahawba” and cast off our moorings at about dark, amid enthusiastic cheering both from those on board ship and ashore.   Our route was through the Race, between Fisher’s Island and Long Island, around the east end of Long Island.  We soon began to feel the power of Old Ocean.  The swell was heavy and our ship though staunch and well appointed had to yield to the power of these mighty billows.  By 12 o’clock many of our men began to experience the terror of most sea voyagers–sea sickness.   As near as I could judge one half of the whole number were vomiting before morning, while some did not leave their berths for 36 to 48 hours.”

There were 900 men on board that ship.

The Pay of Soldiers–The legislature have passed the Military Bounty Bill.  It gives the volunteers $30 per year in addition to the $11 per month received from the General government.  It also gives $6 per month to the wife and $2 for each child under 14 years of age, providing, however, that no family shall receive more than $10 per months.  In addition to this pay the soldier, when discharged, receives from the federal government one hundred dollars in addition to the regular pay and allowances.  If he dies in service his legal heirs receive the amount.  If wounded or disabled provision is to be made for him.

One of the local boys “Albert” writes from Chambersburg, Pa on 16 June 1861, where the 4th Regiment is located.  “We arrived at Chambersburg Wednesday evening, at 10 o’clock.  We marched to our camping ground, one mile from the depot, where we found a Wisconsin regiment.  We were weary enough, and Nature’s sweet restorer–“balmy sleep” was hugely enjoyed, having only the “blue canopy” for our covering. The next morning an incident occurred, which gave us to understand that we were now in close proximity to the rebels.  Two shots were fired into our encampment from the “Blue Ridge,” which lies about two miles to the West.  One of the bullets came near the head of Mr. Aaron Day, passing through two tents.  We found the ball, and I should like to send it to you to show the visitors to the Transcript office, but I have decided to keep it, and if I ever return, shall show it to the people of Danielsonville as a trophy of war.
Frank Brainard, of Chestnut Hill, has just come into camp, from the picket guard, four miles out, having been on duty 48 hours.  He arrested a man, supposed to be a spy, and we now have a live secessionist in our camp.   We don’t intend to eat him!  But he may do to “whet up” our appetites.  Aaron Day takes his position as the next guard, and remains 48 hours, and your correspondent is detailed to follow next.”

Will continue this later

The Fourth regiment left their camp at Chambersburg on Monday, the 17th June, and marched to Hagerstown, Md., a distance of 22 miles, which they marched in one day–from 9 a. m. to 7 p. m.    Another correspondent writes from Hagerstown:
“Our Boys are ‘tough as a knot,’ but if they have as hard a march as they had yesterday, they will soon ‘gin eout.’  We had but two hard crackers, and such water as we could get from puddles beside the road, to sustain us on the march.”

James Wilkinson, the associate editor mentioned in the beginning, was in the first battle of Bull Run (Manassas).   In the 1 Aug. 1861 paper, the editor has this:  “During the past week we have been poised between hope and fear about the fate of our young friend and associate, Mr. Wilkinson.  The latest intelligence which we have been enabled to gain give us strong hope that he is not dead, but a prisoner.  A letter from Mr. Phillips and others state that he was wounded in the ancle (sic) and left on the field in charge of Corporal Jennings, who was reported killed, and there is great probability that both are still living.”

About Dr. John McGregor from Thompson:  “From the latest reports from the Surgeon of the Third Regiment it appears that Dr. McGregor was not killed, but is a prisoner to the rebels.”

Dr. McGregor was indeed a prisoner and for a part of the time he was at Libby prison.  He was kept longer than many of the doctors because he would not sign the parole paper agreeing not to help the Union.   His time of imprisonment nearly destroyed his health and afterwards he was forced to give up his practice in Thompson.

In this day of instant news can you imagine how the families back home eagerly awaited word of their men and it took a week or more before they might hear some word.  Not knowing I think had to be the worst agony.

Word from Mr. Wilkinson finally came from himself in a letter to the editor written from Richmond, Va. 3rd Aug. 1861.  Here is a part of his letter:  “My wound was not dangerous to life.  I was struck by a “Minnie” ball in the front of my leg, about three inches above the ancle (sic).  The ball struck the bone but did not break it, though the ball was flattened by the concussion.  The night after the battle I slept under a tree with two Northern soldiers, both of whom had their legs broken by “Minnie” balls.  They both died.
When I was wounded, Corporal Jennings, of Norwich, was left behind with me.   He remained with me until we were taken.  He, not being wounded, was taken to Manassas immediately, while I remained in hospital on the field of battle nearly a week.   I have not seen Jennings since, though I suppose he is now in the city with the other unwounded prisoners.  I mention this as it will be the source of some relief to Mr. Jennings’ parents.”

Dr. McGregor managed to get a letter home to his wife since his capture at Bull Run, written from Richmond Prison Hospital, 11 Aug. 1861.  “My Dear Wife: As there is a probably chance to pass a communication with our lines by Dr. Morrell, who is allowed to return on parole, I embrace the opportunity, hoping in this way, to communicate with you.  I have been in Richmond one week.  As soon as the wounded at Oakland hospital (at which place I was stationed, during and after the battle) were in a condition to be moved, they were with myself moved to this city.”

He was assigned a post as Surgeon of one of the large hospitals in Richmond.  Their letters to loved ones seem so formal to us, but the end of Dr. McGregors’ letter to his wife: “Give my kindest regards to our friends and believe me to be your affectionate husband, John McGregor.”

Another thing that was happening in the towns of Windham county were the Ladies and girls making things for the soldiers.  They were called the Soldiers Aid Societies and they furnished most of the things of comfort that soldiers would need.  I Nov. 1861 the Ladies Aid Society of the Westfield Congregational Church, Danielsonville, sent the following articles to Washington, which are in addition to the articles sent by the Soldiers Air Society:   23 quilts, 19 pr. socks, 13 pillows, 13 pr. pillow slips, 10 sheets, 12 towels, 3 pr. drawers, 1 shirt, 6 blankets, 1 bundle of lint, 30 rolls of bandages, 6 rolls compressors, 1 pair slippers, 1 woolen dressing gown, tape, pins, twine, castile soap, corn starch, &c.

The lint was used to stop bleeding.

On the 9th of Jan. 1862 the paper lists what the Norwich Aid Society had received from towns in Windham County.
From Pomfret – From Mrs. Charles Osgood, 6 pairs cotton flannel drawers, 7 cushions, 2 arm cushions, 2 linen sheets, 2 pillow cases, 3 napkins, 2 quilts.   Mrs. Ruth Holbrook, aged 87 years, 1 patchwork comfortable.
From Westminster Society (in Canterbury) among the usual they also sent 1 bottle currant wine, 1 bag dried cranberries, 3 bags dried apples, package cranberries.
Central Village, Collamer, Moosup and Windham sent mittens, wrappers, flannel night shirts, socks, bandages, towels, bed sack, &c.

In the 20th Feb. 1862 paper is an extract of a letter written by Geo. H. Burlingham who is with a R. I. Battery, located near Ball’s Cross Roads, Va.:   “Eat and sleep is all we have done for the last four weeks, for the mud has been in the road certainly a foot deep, and the worst mud to get off your boots that you ever saw.  Just up above us at Ball’s Cross Roads the mud has been so it would run into a Wagon body in the road.   What do you think of that?  Deliver me from ever again being on the “Sacred Soil of Virginia” if this is a sample.
We practice occasionally at Target shooting, our Target being a mile off.  We have put more than one hole through it.  I am gunner of one of the brass 12 lb. Howitzers, and those pieces being used for close action I have not had so much practice as the gunners of the Parrott guns.  The Parrott guns are sighted so as to hit at a distance of 6200 yards or nearly 4 miles.  We use a ball about ten inches long in the Parrott guns.  They are awful things when they strike, turning the ground up &c.  The solid shot that we shoot in them can, by unscrewing a lead fuse in the end be made into a shell which will explode when it strikes, so the two are combined.”

In the 6 March 1862 paper:  A Call from the Soldiers in the Eleventh.   Mr. Stone: we have just received a letter from our neighbor, Col. Mathewson, saying that many of the soldiers at Hatteras Inlet are sick, and in the opinion of the officers and others, they need flannel under-clothing, which is not furnished by the government.

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