History of the Town of Schaghticoke

the results of research about the history of the town of Schaghticoke

Monthly Archives: April 2020

Lt. Merritt B. Miller

 

merrit miller

This is one of three N.Y.S. Muster Cards for Merritt Miller, this one has his physical description.

Merritt B. Miller was born in Troy in 1843. I include him here because he was an officer in Company K. The 1850 US Census listed his family in Troy: father Hosea, 45, a stove mounter, born in New York, mother Emily, 41, plus Merrit, age 9; Emily, 7; and William, 1. By the 1860 US Census  he had joined his father in the business, listed as a stove mounter at age 17.  He enlisted in Company G of the 125th in August 1862.  He is described as having light hair, blue eyes, and being 5’11” tall.

This young man must have had leadership qualities as he was named 1st Sergeant when he enlisted, and promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in February 1863, then to 1st Lieutenant in Company K in September 1863. This put him in charge of the “Schaghticoke boys.” So far he had survived the initial capture of the whole regiment at Harpers Ferry in September 1862, parole camp in Chicago until December, and then Gettysburg in July of 1863.   Promotion to Adjutant followed on May 14, 1864. The Adjutant had administrative responsibilities in a regiment, so Merritt must have been literate and capable.  Unfortunately, he was wounded in the thigh in action near Petersburg, Virginia on June 22, 1864 and died several days later in the regimental field hospital at City Point. Ezra Simon, Chaplain and author of the Regimental History, quotes a letter Miller wrote home to a brother who was planning to enlist: “never swerve from the path of truth and honesty…Avoid swearing…Avoid all of the vices of camp life….Obey commands.”

According to the Regimental History, he “would go into battle with a smile on his face,” and his last words were “Boys, all is well: put your trust in the Lord.”

merritt miller record card 3

This N.Y.S. Muster card includes the notation of Merritt’s death

merritt miller 4

Illustration from the Regimental History

 

Merritt’s body was returned home for burial. He has a beautiful tombstone in New Mt.  Ida Cemetery on Pinewoods Avenue in Troy, which lists his family on the reverse. I cannot find that his mother applied for a pension, to which she would have been entitled.

merritt miller 1    merritt miller 2                                                                         

These photos of Merritt’s tombstone were taken on June 25, 2014 by members of the 125th Regimental Association, who were cleaning stones of veterans. Coincidentally, this was the 150th anniversary of the death of Merritt. Spooky.

 

 

Lt. Lee Churchill

 

Lee Churchill earns a place in this volume since he served as 2nd Lieutenant of Company K, from February to December of 1863, hence through the time of Gettysburg. Lee was born in Troy in 1836, the son of Joseph and Sarah Churchill. Joseph was a grocer in Troy. He and Sarah also had a daughter, Jane, and another son, DeWitt, a couple of years younger than Lee. The 1860 US Census showed Lee, 23, as a clerk in a shirt factory. The Regimental History of the 125th states that he began as a clerk for his father, then worked for his brother, who had a shirt factory.

Lee enlisted in the 2nd NY Infantry Regiment in Troy in April 1861 as a Lieutenant. I do not know what experience he had to earn him that spot. Nor do I know why he resigned his commission in June. He reenlisted in Company F of the 125th Infantry Regiment in August 1862, beginning as a Sergeant. His muster card described him as a clerk, with grey eyes and light hair, 5’7” tall, aged 26. He was promoted to First Sergeant by early 1863, then followed McGregor Steele as Lieutenant of Company K. His records are voluminous and confusing.

LeeChurchill muster card

One of a number of N.Y.S. muster cards for Lee Churchill

 

LeeChurchill letter

Letter attached to the muster card of Lee Churchill

 

Several sources say that Lee was “wounded in four places at Gettysburg”, but the circumstances are not recorded. Whatever the wounds, he was not hospitalized for long, and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and moved to Company B in December 1863. Just after our local Lieutenant George Bryan was killed before Petersburg, Lee was wounded again, this time in the arm, with an artery severed, on June 21, 1864. He resisted having his arm amputated and did recover, but not enough to go back into action. He was mustered out on October 14, 1864. He was promoted Captain and Brevet Major after he was wounded.

lee churchill ny cartes de visite (2)

Illustration from  NYS Cartes de Visites, on ancestry.com

The 1870 US Census for Troy listed Lee back home. His father, now 72, was working as a letter carrier. Lee, 33, and his brother DeWitt were “paper collar makers.” Lee married in 1874 and applied for an invalid pension in 1878. His arm must have been giving him trouble.

On the 1880 US Census his new family still in Troy. He was a 42-year-old collar manufacturer. He and wife Ellen, 30, had one son, LeGrand, aged 7. A daughter Nellie, was born in 1883.  I did not find him in the 1890 Veterans Schedule for Troy, but the entries seem quite chaotic. He was involved in the writing of the history of the 125th, so definitely participated in Veterans’ activities.

By the 1900 US Census Lee was working as a watchman. Both children were at home: LeGrand, 26, was a clerk, and Nellie, 16, still in school. The Troy “Times” reported that Lee was the Vice-President for Ward 6 for the Rensselaer County Veterans Association in 1904. Ellen applied for a widow’s pension in August 1905, pinpointing his death date pretty closely. She survived until 1928.

lee churchill oakwood

Tombstone of Lee Churchill at Oakwood Cemetery, Troy, thanks to find-a-grave

 

 

Captain Edwin A. Hartshorn

 

I need to include Edwin Alonzo Hartshorn in the list of Schaghticoke veterans. He never lived in town, but he worked here, and the local post of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Civil War veterans’ association, was named for him. Edwin was born in Petersburg in 1841, the son of farmer Sanford and his wife Susan Matteson Hartshorn. According to the Regimental History, he was a teacher by age 19, and very involved in the recruitment of Company E. Certainly as a result, he enlisted as a 1st Lieutenant in Company E of the 125th in August 1862, in spite of his young age.  He was promoted to Captain of Company E by November, recommended by Colonel Willard on the basis of his actions during the “very trying” march from Harpers Ferry to Annapolis following the surrender of the Regiment in September 1862. He must have been an outstanding and charismatic young man.

During the spring of 1863, his wife got to visit him at the camp in Centreville. Unfortunately, Edwin was taken very ill at that camp that summer. He returned to duty, but his health was so impaired that he had to be discharged from the Army on November 2, 1863. It is unclear to me from the record if he participated in any of the battles of the 125th. Both Gettysburg and Bristoe Station occurred before he was discharged, but I think he was hospitalized most of that time.

edwin a hartshorn muster card

 

NYS Muster Card for Edward (sic) A. Hartshorn. The date when he was “absent sick at Georgetown, D.C.” is given as June, 1862, which is certainly incorrect, as he didn’t enlist until August. If it is really June 1863, then Edwin probably missed the battle of Gettysburg.

 

Edwin returned to Troy after the war. In the 1870 US Census for Troy he was listed as a twine merchant, age 38 (incorrect- he was 29), living with wife Sarah, 28, and daughter Jessie, 3. When the Cable Flax Mills were incorporated in Schaghticoke in 1871, E.A. Hartshorn was the Secretary, that is one of the major executives.

edwin hartshorn images

 

Photos from the Regimental History of the 125th

 

By the 1880 US Census, still living in Troy, he was listed as a manufacturer of twine. He and Sarah had added a son to their family, Edwin S., now 5. Sarah died that year.  Edwin was named President of the mills in 1881, but he was much more than that.  Edwin was active in Republican politics, becoming friends with future President William McKinley, and serving on the Common Council in Troy. He was a leader in the American Protective Tariff League- which made sense for a textile manufacturer- and gave numerous speeches all around the state and country recruiting new members.  He also wrote books on the subject. He was an active member of the State Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Troy, and a member of the “Troy Praying Band.” He and his family had a summer cabin at the Round Lake Methodist Camp. Edwin was a public speaker on Methodism and Temperance, and on U.S. Imperialism.

edwinalonzonhartshorn

Photo from his obituary

 

As I said above, when the Schaghticoke G.A.R. post formed in 1884, it was named for him.  His local prominence as a politician and civic leader in Troy, added to his position as President of the biggest local employer, must have been enough to prompt naming the post for him. The G.A.R. was very active in Republican politics- as was Edwin. He also was intimately involved in organizing the reunions of the 125th Regiment and in promoting the writing of the regimental history. Historian Dick Lohnes had in his collection a little pamphlet of a speech by Edwin in 1889 at a local convention of the North River Hemp Growers. Hemp was also used to make twine by the Cable Flax Mill.  Edwin was the driving force behind the North River group, signed up local farmers to grow hemp, and invented a new hemp brake and method of processing hemp to make his company more successful. He wore a hemp suit when he spoke to the group.

Edwin remained in Troy until 1890, where his Civil War service was recorded in the Veterans Schedule. He had married Nancy Mann Vedder, a wealthy widow, after the death of Sarah. She died in 1890 on a train in Utah, en route home from spending a couple of months in California with a brother. Around 1895, Edwin moved to New York City, where he was the agent for the Cable Flax Mills, in addition to continuing as the President of the company. He certainly travelled back and forth often. Edwin was elected a trustee of the Round Lake Association in 1897.

In 1898 Edwin remarried, a woman named Annie, born in 1850. She had been Annie Valentine, and had three children by her first marriage. Also in 1898, Edwin was named Assistant Appraiser of Merchandise for the Port of New York by his old friend, now President, William McKinley. He served in that position for nine years. The 1900 US Census lists the family lived in Manhattan. He and new wife Annie had one servant and one boarder, in addition to her three children: Morris, a 24-year-old music teacher; Herbert, 20; and Emma, 16. Edwin’s son, Edwin S., had followed his father into the Army, eventually becoming a General. Edwin, Sr. applied for a pension based on his Civil War service on August 4, 1905.

By the 1910 US Census, now 68, Edwin was back to being a flax manufacturer. Step-son Morris continued to live with the couple. The family lived on 131st Street in New York City. The New York State Census for 1915 showed Edwin still at work as a twine salesman. Annie’s daughter Emma, and her husband, Raymond Knopel, a lawyer, lived with them.

Edwin died in 1916, and Annie applied for a pension immediately. All of the New York papers printed his obituary as “Captain Hartshorn.”  The “New York Times” called him a “textile expert.” All of the papers recalled his friendship with William McKinley and his service as Assistant Appraiser of the Port. The report of his Civil War service took an interesting turn. One paper said that he became a Captain because “Many of the officers were killed or taken prisoner,” another that he “won his Captaincy because of his bravery.” Neither of those is true, as he was promoted while the 125th was in internment camp in Chicago.

Two papers reported that he served until the battle of Chancellorsville, when he was captured, and one added that his health had been compromised by his time in Southern prison camps. All of that is false, as the 125th did not participate in Chancellorsville. Edwin’s record card reports no imprisonment. And he didn’t apply for a pension until the time when they were awarded solely based on old age. Who inflated his war experiences? Edwin? His son? His widow- who hadn’t known him while he was in the war? This makes me think that he didn’t participate in either the battle of Gettysburg or Bristoe Station, as either of those experiences would have been worthy of note.

Edwin Hartshorn must have been a very impressive guy- he rose from being a farmer’s son in very rural Rensselaer County to an industrialist, politician, prominent speaker, friend of a President, and Manhattanite. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in the family plot of his first wife’s family. His grave is in poor shape, but a G.A.R. marker was recently added by the Sons of Union Veterans.  His widow Annie continued to live in the Bronx with her son-in-law and daughter, at least until 1920. I could not find her after that.

Hartshorn lot elmwood

Plot of the Hovey family at Oakwood Cemetery, Troy.  Sarah Hovey was Edwin Hartshorn’s first wife. His inscription is on the left side of this monument.

This is in section N, just as one enters the part of the cemetery parallel with Oakwood Avenue, on the right.

Hartshorn, elmwood

 

Inscription of Edwin Hartshorn on side of Hovey monument- misnamed as Edward

Hartshorn individual headstones elmwood

Individual stones for Sarah, right, and Edwin Hartshorn. As you can see, his is virtually illegible.

 

 

 

 

Levin Crandell, 2nd Colonel of the 125th

 

I am including Levin Crandell in this chronicle of men connected to Schaghticoke in the Civil War because he became the Colonel of the 125th Regiment after the death of George Lamb Willard at Gettysburg- and he was almost from Schaghticoke. Levin was born in 1826 in Easton. His parents were Otis and Eliza Crandell, of Rhode Island. The little hamlet still called Crandell’s Corners on Route 40 in Easton is named for them. The family moved to Milton in 1836, where his father bought a farm. His father made sure Levin got a good education.  He was elected Captain of the local militia regiment when he reached 18. He never served, however, as he moved to Troy in 1845, first working as a clerk in dry goods stores, then becoming the bookkeeper at the Central Bank of Troy in 1854. The 1860 US Census showed him as a bookkeeper in Troy, aged 34, with wife Caroline, 30. He joined the Troy Citizens’ Corps in 1856, and the 24th Regiment, N.Y.S. Militia. He was elected Colonel of the 24th when Joseph Bradford Carr became Colonel of the 2nd NY Infantry Regiment at the start of the war in 1861.

When the 125th Regiment began recruiting in August, 1862, the War Committee asked Levin to act as Colonel. They expected George Willard to become Colonel in the end, – and Levin knew that- but were awaiting his dismissal from the Regular Army. So Levin was the Colonel who began to train the new recruits, as Willard didn’t arrive until just before the Regiment left for the field. At that point, the committee approached Levin again, first asking if he was consumptive- he was so thin- and having learned that he wasn’t, asked if he would become Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment. He did, and served in that position, stepping in to substitute for Willard as needed, until Willard died and Levin finally became Colonel in his own right.           levin crandell muster card

N.Y.S. Muster Card of Levin Crandell

Levin went on to lead the Regiment through many battles. He was slightly wounded on several occasions, and hit in the face by a shell fragment on June 16, 1864, at the start of the Petersburg Campaign. He stayed in service until that December, when he resigned. The Regimental History states that he was a “manly man,” “calm in battle,” and that he resigned “due to home conditions.”

levin crandall ny cartes de visite

Photo from Find-a-Grave, Mike Serpa

By the 1870 US Census, Levin lived in Brooklyn, where he was a dry goods merchant with real estate worth $18,000, and a personal estate of $10,000. He and wife Caroline had two Irish servants. She died in 1876 and is buried in Old Mount Ida Cemetery in Troy. In 1878 Levin married another woman named Carrie, who was twenty years younger than he.  The 1880 US Census listed them in Brooklyn. He was 53, Carrie 33, and they had two children, Carrie, 8, and Albert, 6-months-old. They had a second son later.

Colonel Crandell was very active in the G.A.R., a member of the post in Manhattan. He applied for a pension in 1891. Levin was very involved in the writing of the “Regimental History of the 125th,” and was present at the local reunions of the regiment. He and Carrie moved to Jamaica, Queens around 1900, when he retired from the dry goods business. He had a stroke and died in 1907 at age 80, and is buried in Cyprus Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn.

levin crandell

Illustration of Levin Crandell from the “Regimental History of the 125th