Sunday, September 30, 2012


It's time to start thinking about the Fourth Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge!
In past years I've issued the Challenge in mid-October but I decided to do it a
bit earlier this year to give folks an extra two weeks to find a poem to use in
their blogposts.

These are the rules:

1. Find a poem by a local poet, famous or obscure, from the region
one of your ancestors lived in. It can be about an historical event, a
legend, a person, or even about some place (like a river)or a local
animal. It can even be a poem you or one of your ancestors have written!
Or if you prefer, post the lyrics of a song or a link to a video
of someone performing the song.

2. Post the poem or song to your blog (remembering to cite the source
where you found it.)

3.Tell us how the subject of the poem or song relates to your ancestor's
home or life.

4.Submit your post's link here to me by midnight Sunday November 18th 
and I'll publish all links to the entries on Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd!

If  you submit a humorous poem or song that will be entered under the
"Willy Puckerbrush" division. Willy was the late geneablogger Terry
Thornton's alias for some humorous posts and comments.

There have been some great blogposts in previous years and I'm hoping the
extra two weeks will make it easier for more folks to participate.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with this year!

Saturday, September 29, 2012


This year here in Abington, Massachusetts we've been celebrating the town's 300th
anniversary. This happens to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the War
Memorial Bridge at Island Grove Park which commemorates Abington's Civil War
veterans. So the town marked the occasion this past weekend with a rededication
of the bridge and a Civil War encampment by re-enactors.

I missed the rededication ceremonies on Saturday because of a prior commitment
but walked down to on Sunday afternoon but by that time they were beginning the
process of breaking camp and brought in cars to load up their tents and gear. I was
struck by the incongruity of watching a lady in a 19th century dress loading up a
SUV and a merchant with goods packed in plastic tubs:

There was a fashion show going on at the other side of the Grove so there
weren't many people around at the time near the tents. I wandered around
and took some pictures.

The Boston Sanitation Commission Tent

I think this might have been an officer's tent.

My ancestor Asa Ellingwood may have slept in one like this.

The fashion show ended and people began drifting back to the camp:

The tailor.

So while I didn't see any of the re-enactor soldiers what I saw gave me plenty
to think about as I headed home.

(For some great photos of the activities on Saturday, check out the gallery
here at the Quincy Patriot Ledger website.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Welcome to the Second American Civil War Blog Challenge! The rules
for the challenge were these:

"Did you have ancestors in America during the Civil War? If so, where were
they and what were their circumstances? How did the Civil War affect them
and their family? Did the men enlist and did they perish in battle or die of
illness? On which side did they fight, or did you have relatives fighting on
BOTH sides? How did the women left at home cope, or did any of them find
ways to help the war effort? Were your ancestors living as slaves on Southern
plantations and if so when were they freed, or were they freemen who
enlisted to fight? Did any ancestor take part in a battle that took place in

Write a blogpost on these questions, or, if you think of another topic to do
with your family history and the Civil War, write about that. Send me the link
after you publish it on your blog by midnight  September 15th and I'll publish
 all the links here ..."

Twelve bloggers(counting myself) submitted fourteen blogposts with stories
that explored their families and the Civil War from various angles. All are well
worth your attention, so let's get started!

Denise Spurlock's ancestor fought on both sides of the Civil War. She tells us
how in  "Ambrose B. Martindale, Confederate Conscript, Union Volunteer" at
Denise's Life in the Past Lane blog.

There was a third approach a man could take to the Civil War and Jacob Snider of
Waynesboro, Pennsylvania took it. Ed Hamilton discusses the consequences in
"A Third Side in the American Civil War" at My Old Ohio Home.

In September of 1861 author Robert Burns Clark's 2x great grandfather  and
great grandfather posed for a picture before they left to fight for the
Confederacy. Robert tells us what became of them, and what he sees when
he looks at that picture in "Marching Off To War".

Fellow Massachusetts  genealogist Sara Campbell contributes two posts inspired
by her research from her Remembering Those Who Came Before Us blog.
The first, "See the World" is the story of a man who served in the Union
Navy across the ocean in Europe.

The second," Civil War Research - Holyoke's Richard Wall" concerns  the history
of a family from Holyoke, Ma, that Sara has "adopted"

Thousands of Irish immigrants to America fought in the Civil War, some for the
Confederacy but most for the Union. Richard Billies' ancestor was one and Richard
writes about him in "Michael Patrick Murphy" at North Against South.

For some time now, TransylvanianDutch blogger John Newmark has been
transcribing records pertaining to the part his and his wife's ancestors played
during the War. He describes them and provides links to the transcriptions
with his "Second American Civil War Blog Challenge" post.

80,000 men from Maine served in the Civil War, including Pam Seavey Schaffner's
3x great grandfather and other members of his family. Pam writers about three
of them in "Oh Brave Brackley Boys of Freeman" at Digging Down East.

Like John Newmark, Dear Myrtle has written a number of posts over the years about
four Civil War ancestors. She gives a brief summary of those posts along with the
links at "2nd American Civil War Blog Challenge". (I found the first one about the
widow claiming a pension especially interesting!)

Holly Timm also contributed two posts. The first, "brother against brother ... "
describes the havoc the war brought to Harlan County, Kentucky.The other tells
about the roles three of Holly's relatives played at Gettysburg and asks the
question, "who were they ... ". You can find both posts at her genealogy musings 

At Bits And Pieces Les Larrabee recounts the sad tale of one his wifes's relatives
in "Gideon Barnes Came Home to Die"  and tells us how a fellow geneablogger
helped with his research!

Over at Genea-Musings, Randy Seaver uses information from a Civil War Pension
File and online sources to fill in the blanks in "Isaac Seaver - My Only Civil War Soldier"

Russ Worthington takes a different tack on the challenge at his Family Tree Maker 
User blog and shows us how he used the FTM Timeline Feature to help research
his ancestor's Union Army service. Even if you don't use Family Tree Maker, check
out his "The 2nd Americal Civil War Blog Challenge - and FTM2012 Timelines ." 
It might give you some ideas.

Finally, my own 2x great grandfather Asa Freeman Ellingwood returned to the
Union Army after having already served and been discharged for medical reasons.
on West in New England.

That concludes this year's edition of the Civil War Challenge. My thanks to all
the bloggers who took part!

I'll be holding three more of these to coincide with the observance of the 150th
Anniversary of the War, so you all have advanced notice and hopefully find something
in your own family's experiences that you can write a post about for next year,
I look forward to reading it!

Monday, September 17, 2012


In the last entry in this series about Elisha Houghton's Revolutionary War
Pension file, I posted the transcription of Elisha's request to be transferred
from the Massachusetts Veterans Roll to that of Vermont where he had
relocated.He made the request in January of 1823 and it was granted by
September of the same year. The final image from his file in a combination
of printed and handwritten information from both 1818, the year of the
original pension filing, and 1823 when the transfer was made:  

"4.189 From

to Vermont
Elisha Houghton
Capt Brown
Massachusetts line 1778 3 years

in the army of the United States during the Revolutionary War
Subscribed on the Roll of Massachusetts
at the rate of -8- Dollars per month to commence on
6th of May, 1818.
Certificate of Pension issued the 17th of Nov. 1818,
and sent to Jo. Woodbridge, Esq
Stockbridge, Ma.

Arrears to the 4th of Sept. 1818                 31.76
Semi-anl. all'ce ending 4th Mar 1819       48.00
          Continued                                            $79.76
                         {Revolutionary claim)
                            Act 18th March, 1818

He died Nov 1826
Berkshire Co

On the right hand side of the sheet  are three oval shapes that probably were
left by wax seals. There are also two handwritten items. One is written along
the left hand side of the fold the length of the paper from top to bottom and

"Notification sent September 6th 1823
Parker L. Hall, Lenox, Massachusetts "

To the right of that is another notation:

"Date of death on
other side
from AB."

The added notes are a little confusing. The "He died Nov 1826"  was added
later but because of where it was placed it makes it appear Elisha died in
Adams, Berkshire County, Ma. when he actually died in Vermont. Also there
are some figures just to the left of sum of 31.76 that I couldn't decipher.  

So my 5x great grandfather collected $96 dollars a year for eight years from
1818 until his death at age eighty in Vermont in 1826. Why he had moved to
Vermont, and who he was lving with. is something I need to investigate further.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Last year I posted transcriptions of the Civil War Pension File of my 2x
great grandfather Asa F Ellingwood. Asa had enlisted in the 5th Maine
Volunteer Regiment in June, 1861 and had been present at the First
Battle of Bull Run. He was injured in the Union retreat with a hernia
when he was knocked over by the horse of a Union officer and then
developed nephritis after falling ill from the alternating heat and rain.
He was discharged  with a Certificate of Disability on Dec 23 1861.

But not quite three years later he reenlisted by joining the Veterans
Reserve Corps as described in his Pension File:

"Asa Ellingwood. Reenlisted Sept 3" 1864
at West Lebanon N.H. in V.R.C. for 3 years
Muster Roll of Unassigned Det V.R.C.
(to which assigned) from Oct 31" 1864 to Apl
30" 1865 Present. Muster Roll of 243 Co 1" Batt
 V.R.C. (to  which transferred) June 26" 1865,
for May & June, 1865 Present same to Augt,
31" 1865. Muster Roll of Co A 9" V.R.C. (to which
transferred Sept 22" 1865) for Sept & Oct, 1865
Present. He was  mustered out on Det M.O.R.
Nov. 16 " 1865 as Private at Washington, D.C.
by reason of G.O. No 155 A.G.O. Oct .26" 1865.
Disability at date of enlistment "Right
Inguinal Hernia"

The Veterans Reserve Corps was organized in April 1863 to have injured
or wounded soldiers perform duties that would free up able bodied soldiers
for the front lines, The Reserves were divided into two battalions: the First
Battalion, made up of men who were able to bear arms and serve as pickets,
sentries, and prison guards, and the Second, made up of more seriously
injured men who were able to perform as cooks and other light duty.
Asa seems to be the exception to the rule, because even though he was in
the First Battalion, he worked as a cook.

I can think of two reasons why this might have happened: first, the nature of
his disability. I won't go into the details of what a Inguinal Hernia is because it's
not for the squeamish, and, frankly, I'm squeamish. But obviously it was
serious enough to keep him from the usual assignments for members of the
First Battalion V.R.C.. The second reason might be that he'd might have had
experience in civilian life cooking at a lumber camp in Maine or over in
New Hampshire.

As a cook, Asa would have been assigned to some permanent
installation since troops in the field cooked their own meals from their
field rations. I haven't as yet discovered where he might have been
stationed when he was marked as "Present" in the Muster Rolls listed in
the above image. Perhaps the location of where he was mustered out is
a clue, Washington, D.C. There were a large number of V.R.C. troops on
duty in the capital and they would after all have to be fed.  If that was the
case, Asa would have been there at the time of Lincoln's assassination and
the period after. He might have witnessed the execution of John Wilkes
Booth's co-conspirators in July of 1865 when members of the V.R.C. helped
with the hangings.

While I was learning all this I was brought back to the matter of the inquiry
into Asa's pension. He was given a medical discharge from his first period
in the Union Army with the 5th Maine. The procedure to enlist in the V.R.C.
required a medical examination to determine fitness for duty. So why the 
hearing and questioning when he applied for an adjustment to the amount
of his pension? All I can think of is that there were a greater number of men
applying for pension money and some might have been "working the system".
The War Department would have become a bit more thorough in making
sure the disability claims were real.

But Asa Ellingwood did his duty twice, and returned home to his wife Florilla
and to the daughter Clara Ellingwood, my great grandmother, who had been
born while he was away.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Sometime between 1820 and 1823 my ancestor Elisha Houghton moved to
Vermont from Western Massachusetts. So far I haven't been able to find out
why he went there instead of to Oxford County Maine where his children
now lived. Perhaps there were relatives or old friends living in Vermont.
In any case when he left Massachusetts he had to apply to have his pension
payments transferred to his new place of residence. The remaining images
in Elisha's file deal with that transfer.

The first image is a folded sheet of paper. On the left hand side is a hand-
written note:

"Elisha Houghton must make a new affidavit agreeably to the within form
and transmit it to the War Department before his name can be transferred.
                                                                               10 Jan 1823"

  On the right is the following (I'm not sure that the date is the 10th or 15th):

"Transferred from Massachusetts to Vermont on the 10th(? ) Feby 1823
from 4th Sept. 1823.
Elisha Houghton
Mar 19"

Next is the actual transfer application. It's another preprinted form with
information filled "in the blanks" which I've designated with italicized print:

                                                  APPLICATION FOR A TRANSFER  

"State of Vermont
County of Bennington ss.
On this 21st day of January 1823, before me, the subscriber, a Justice of the
Peace for the said county of
Bennington, personally appeared Elisha Houghton
who, on his oath, declares that he is the same person who formerly belonged
to the company commanded by Captain
Joshua Brown in the regiment
commanded by Colonel
Timothy Bigelow in the service of the United States;
that his name was placed on the pensions roll of the state of
from whence he has lately removed; that he now resides in the state
(district, or territory) of
Vermont where he intends to remain, and wishes his
pension to be there payable, in the future. That at present receives
dollars per month
                                                                                           Elisha   X  Houghton

Sworn and subscribed to, before
me. the day and year aforesaid    
}                  O.C. Merrill,  Justice of Peace.
NOTE. The oath to be taken before a duly qualified magistrate, whose
official character and signature must be properly authenticated."

Then on the back is a handwritten note:

"State of Vermont
I, Joel Pratt Clerk of Bennington County Court do hereby certify  that Orsamus
C Merrill Esquire is a Justice of the peace acting  under the Authority of this
State & that the within signature is his.
In testimony whereof I hereto set my hand & affix the seal of said county
court this 28th day of January AD1823-
Joel Pratt Clerk"

Next we'll see if Elisha's transfer  was allowed and the amount of his pension.                                 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


((The majority of this post was first published on 11Sep 2008. I've
changed the ending to reflect that bin Laden was found.))

Sept 11th 2001
I was on my way to work at the Borders bookstore which opened
at 9:00. As usual I was listening to WBZ AM, the Boston news radio
station, and I was somewhere on Rte 37 in Braintree when the news
bulletin came about the first plane hitting the South Tower of the
World Trade Center in New York. At first I thought it was some
terrible accident as I listened to the report. I remember at one traffic
stop the light turned green and the first car in line didn't move right
away. Nobody honked their horn at the driver. They were all listening
to the news.

I was running a few minutes late already and so I was just pulling into
a parking space when news came at 9:02 of the second crash. Now I
and the rest of America knew the first crash had not been a mistake.
We were under attack. I went into the store and punched in, then
knocked on the Cash Office door. Linda, the office manager
at the time, was listening to the radio. Given that there had been a
previous attack on the Twin Towers by terrorists we realized this must
be another by the same group or another like it. We talked about it for
a few minutes but the store was about to open and I needed to be out
on the sales floor.

It was a surreal day. Linda would relay the news to the staff about the
collapse of the Towers and the other two planes crashing into the
Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania. We heard that the planes had
come from our own Logan Airport and had many New Englanders
aboard them, which made it even harder to hear. One of the passengers
lived in my town of Abington. Work went on as it did for so many
other Americans that day even though our minds and hearts weren't
into doing our jobs.

That night when I got home the networks kept showing the same
images over and over of the planes crashing, the Towers falling and
of the people running ahead of the looming cloud. I was angry at
whoever had done this to so many innocent people, and I wanted
them caught and punished for it.

Today, it's a different world. September 11th changed it forever.

We no longer wait now for Osama bin Laden to be caught and punished.
Justice has been done.

But we still mourn, and we will never forget.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I was searching Google's News Archive for old newspaper articles on my
Ellingwood family when I found this from The Lewiston (Me.) Evening Journal
for 12Sep 1898. It's an article with bits of news and gossips from the small towns
surrounding Lewiston:

   John Mason has moved from Ridlion-
ville into the Babb House on the Harlow
Hill road, Mexico.

   Horace Ellingwood of the 1st Maine
regiment is in town. He was one of the
number detailed for hospital service sev-
eral months ago. He was in fairly good
health until early in August when he
was laid up by measles and is now forty
pounds lighter than when he enlisted

   Asa West from Andover, Hiram West
from Upton and several others, eighteen
in all, passed through here recently on
their return from the eastern part of the
State where they have been to visit the
mother of Asa and Hiram West, who is
nearly 100 years old. During their visit
they corraled horses at night, set up
tents, cooked their own food and took
time leisurely...."

Now this is what I'd call a 2 for 1 deal! . Going by the 1898 date, Horace was a
soldier during the Spanish-American War, It's ironic that he had been assigned
to hospital service and then fallen ill himself, since the same thing happened
to my grandfather during WW1. Now I need to figure out how he's related to me.
I'd thought he was my first cousin twice removed Horatio Ellingwood  but  I
realized that Horatio was only a year old in 1898.

The third section is a real find though. Asa and Hiram West are my 2x great
granduncles, brothers to my 2x great grandfather Jonathan Phelps West. Asa would
have been 68 years old on this horseback trip, and Hiram 60.   Now their mother
Arvilla (Ames) West died in Hermon Maine  in 1907 where she was living with one
of her daughters. But in 1898 she wasn't as close to 100 as the article claims. She
was actually 88years old.

I checked and depending on which route you'd use on modern highways distance
between Upton and Hermon Maine is between 135 to 155 miles through terrain
that is wooded and mountainous. Given their ages, I'm in awe of Asa and Hiram's
energy and durability traveling that distance not by train or stagecoach but by
riding it horseback and camping out instead of staying at hotels or inns.  Perhaps
when they made this trip 114 years ago this week the brothers were making their
last hurrah, knowing it might well be the last time they'd be able to do such a
thing. (Asa would die in 1907, Hiram seve years later in 1914).

I wonder what Arvilla thought about two "boys" when they rode up to the house in
Hermon? Did she scold them over risking getting a chill coming all that way, or did
she enjoy a good long visit with them for perhaps the last time?

I'd like to think she did both things.