History of the Town of Schaghticoke

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

Morgan L. Wood

The next of men connected with the town of Schaghticoke who served in the Civil War……the last of the officers and enlisted men of Company K of the 125th.

Morgan L. Wood was the 4th Corporal of Company K of the 125th. He was the son of William W. and Orpha Wood, both from New Hampshire. According to his New York State Muster Card, he was born in 1841 in Stillwater. William moved around the area, showing up in the 1850 US Census in Easton, and the 1860 US Census in Schaghticoke. At that point he was a 47-year-old master painter, with a personal estate of $500. His wife Orpha was 50; son Morgan L, the future soldier, was an apprentice painter. Also in the family were daughter Mary, 17 and two elderly ladies, Lydia Whitney, 83 and Phebe Jaquith, 73. Certainly one must have been Orpha’s mother.

morgan wood

The New York State Muster Card of Morgan Wood.

The Muster Card indicates that Morgan had blue eyes and brown hair, with a “sandy” complexion. He was 5’7”.  He enlisted at age 21 in Troy or Schaghticoke in August of 1862 as a Private, and was promoted to Corporal by April of 1863. In January 1863, George Bryan, writing from camp in Virginia, stated, “my tent is almost full now, Morgan Wood is here. He is well.” Morgan was wounded at the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. He died of those wounds either July 21 or 24 in a hospital in Newark, New Jersey. Unlike some others who died of wounds or disease in the war, Morgan was returned home for burial in Elmwood Cemetery. Perhaps this was because he died a couple of weeks after the battle, when few others would have been dying. Also, Gettysburg is relatively close to Schaghticoke. His mother applied for a pension based on his service and death immediately.

morgan wood

Tombstone of Morgan L. Wood in Elmwood Cemetery

 

It must have been difficult for the family to have promising apprentice painter and only surviving son Morgan first enlist to fight, and then die.  They had suffered the death of six other children. The 1865 NY Census lists William and Orpha with their daughter Mary, 22, and a 15-year-old nephew, Dexter Bedford, living with them. Perhaps he became the new apprentice.  The census also records that Orpha had had eight children The veterans portion of the census records Morgan’s death, but just one dependent parent- I’m not sure why. In any case, father William died in 1870 at age 57.

Orpha and her only surviving child, Mary, moved to Stillwater. In the 1870 US Census they were living next door to another painter, Asa Wood. Perhaps he was Orpha’s brother-in-law. By the 1880 US Census, Mary had married and her mother was living with her in Michigan. Perhaps the distance is why Orpha is not buried with the rest of her family in Schaghticoke. In the plot in Elmwood besides father William and Morgan are William F., who died in 1850 at age 2, Sarah M., who died in 1855 at age 4 years, 9 months, Phebe, who died in 1846 at 14 months, and Elvira, who died in 1853 at age 12 years, 8 months. Elvira’s parents are given as A. and M. Wood, perhaps Asa and his wife. So she may have been a cousin of Morgan and his siblings.

 

 

 

William H. Holden

 

William H. Holden was the 3rd Corporal of Company K of the 125th. He enlisted at age 20.  He was born in Virginia, and had blue eyes and light hair and was 5’4” tall. He gave his occupation as “cradle maker” – referring to grain cradles. He had been living in Schaghticoke since at least 1850, when he was listed in the census, age 6, with his mother Maria, age 30, and sister Annette, age 4. By the 1855 N.Y.S. census, the three of them were living with his mother’s father, Harold W. Johnson. He was a 60- year- old widowed merchant. He had been living alone in the 1850 census, and listed his occupation as grocer.

By the 1860 US Census, our future soldier William was on his own.  He was a 17- year- old apprentice machinist living in the boarding house of George Clark. On the same census page were the families of Isaac Grant and Daniel Viall, proprietors of Grant and Viall, makers of grain cradles in Grant’s Hollow; so it is reasonable to assume that William was their apprentice and lived nearby.  He enlisted along with Isaac’s nephew Job Grant in the summer of 1862. (see previous post)By March 15, 1863, he was promoted to Corporal. He was captured in action on June 22, 1864 near Petersburg, Virginia, but unlike Job, he was paroled. He was evidently either wounded or ill later, as he was mustered out of the service on May 23, 1865 at Jarvis Hospital in Baltimore.

williamholden

N.Y.S. Muster Card for William H. Holden

William returned to Grant and Viall, and is listed in the 1870 US Census as a grain cradle maker, aged 26. His wife was Dorcas A. Eddy. They had a daughter, Ella, age 1. Dorcas died in 1872 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery.  With her are two other children who died as infants: Albert, who died aged 1 month in July 1865 and Cora, who died in July 1868 aged 9 months.  Albert’s birth date gives us evidence that William came home on leave in 1864, and that William and Dorcas had been married at least since then.

William continued to work at Grant’s. In the 1880 US Census, he had a new wife, Jennie.  The records of the 125th Veterans Association state that he lived in Melrose. The 1890 Veterans Schedule states that he had scurvy of the mouth.  Scurvy is caused by lack of vitamin C.  Apparently soldiers on both sides of the Civil War suffered from it, though not to a huge extent. One of the results of scurvy is softening of the gums and loss of teeth. Was William saying that he suffered from the loss of teeth? I can’t see the scurvy continuing throughout his life, though the loss of teeth certainly would!

On April 11, 1887, William applied for an invalid pension.  That same August he participated in the reunion of the 125th Regiment in Troy.   By the 1900 US Census, William, now 59, was widowed again and rented a place on 10th Street in Troy with his daughter Ella Overocker, also widowed. Although his occupation was listed as carpenter, he had not worked at all in the previous year. Ella was a dressmaker.

William was a patient at the Soldiers and Sailors Home in Bath, Steuben County, New York from June to September in 1903. He was recorded as age 63, 5’5” tall with dark hair and blue eyes. He was a Protestant, and a laborer, suffering from cardiac issues and hemorrhoids. He gave his closest relative as Mrs. Jennie Wilson of Ballston Spa. I’m not sure who she was.  Very sadly, I find a William H. Holden in the 1910 census as a patient at the Utica State Hospital for the Insane. He was the correct age to be the same person, 69, and listed as born in Virginia, though his father was recorded has having been born in Massachusetts and his mother as in New York. William Holden did live until 1914, and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery with his first wife, Dorcas.

 

william Holden tombstone elmwood

Tombstone of William Holden and Dorcas Eddy at Elmwood Cemetery

 

 

Job A. Grant

 

To me, the story of Job A. Grant is one of the saddest of many sad Civil War stories. Job enlisted as a Private in Company K of the 125th with everyone else in August of 1862. He was born in Schaghticoke, with blue eyes, light hair and a fair complexion, 5’8” tall. He gave his occupation as mechanic, and his age as 21- though I think he was 19. By April of 1863 he had been promoted to Sergeant.

Job A Grant

The N.Y.S. Muster Card of Job A. Grant

Job’s father, John, was the brother of Isaac Grant, inventor, and proprietor of the factory which made grain cradles and fanning mills in what is now Grant’s Hollow. Isaac was about ten years older than John, and always employed him in the business. In the 1850 US Census, John was a mechanic, implying he worked making the machinery, while Isaac was a manufacturer. In the 1855 NY Census, the brothers lived next door, though Isaac owned a large house and John rented a small one. At that point John was 38, his wife Catherine 35, and they had four children. Job, the eldest, was 12. In the 1860 US Census, John was called a machinist. The family consisted of Job, 17, Mary, 15, Warren, 12, Nora, 10, Inez, 5, and Stella, 3. While the family was not wealthy: John owned no real estate and had a personal estate of just $300, brother Isaac certainly employed both John and then Job- as indicated by the occupation he gave when he enlisted.

John Grant and his wife were killed in a railroad accident on the Troy and Boston Railroad near Buskirk’s Bridge (Troy “Daily Times” January 16, 1862). They were on the way to the funeral of a friend in their carriage when a train struck their wagon, “sending its occupants high in the air, demolishing the vehicle into fragments….their sad untimely fate is regretted by all….Mr Grant was employed as superintendent of the large manufacturing establishment of his brother.” Who knows why the Grants didn’t see- or hear- the train coming? It was winter- maybe snowbanks? But they were in a carriage and not a sleigh, which implies pretty clear roads. They were able to travel in a vehicle with wheels, rather than one with runners.

I don’t understand why Job, eldest child in a large family, would go ahead and enlist in the Army in the summer after his parents had died, leaving him in charge of his young sisters.  He had a job, and he must have been a responsible young man, as he was quickly promoted to Sergeant in the Army. Another of Isaac Grant’s employees, William Holden, enlisted at the same time, so perhaps he was caught up in the patriotic fervor. His cousin, Job P. Grant, son of Isaac, registered for the draft as required, but did not enlist. He was a bit older (26 in 1862) and married, so perhaps that dissuaded him.

Not long after Job A. was promoted to Sergeant in the spring of 1863 he was absent ill for a while in the hospital in Washington, DC. He returned to duty and was out on picket duty near Mine Run, Virginia on December 1, 1863, when he was captured by the Confederates along with forty other men. He was the only Sergeant in the captive group.

According to the Regimental History, General Meade and the Union army were arrayed facing General Lee and the Confederates across the stream Mine Run, ready for battle. The night of December 1, Meade decided to withdraw his Army rather than attack the enemy under very adverse conditions. Due to an error of command, the 41 men on picket duty from the 125th were not withdrawn with the rest of the regiment and the rest of the army and were captured. This constituted 1/7th of the Regiment at the time. The men were prisoners at Belle Island, near Richmond, for two months, then at Richmond for two weeks, then were transferred to Andersonville, Georgia when it opened in February 1864. Only nine survived.   Job died of dysentery on July 23, 1864. Hopefully he and the other men of Company K of the 125th who were there: W.O. Carr, Douglas Fisher, C.E. Stratton, John Conlin, Fred Scharp, Alexander Whyland, James K. Simon, Arteus Loomis, and Andrew Jackson Doty stuck together and supported each other. Stratton and Fisher died in June, Carr in August, and Conlon in September. Simon, plus Loomis and Doty, who arrived at Andersonville after the others, were transferred to Florence, South Carolina when Andersonville closed in September, as the Union army closed in, and survived the war.

jobgrant tombstone

Tombstone of Job A. Grant at Andersonville National Cemetery, Georgia

andersonville graves

Vista of graves at Andersonville National Cemetery. Prisoners were buried in trenches, shoulder to shoulder. At the time Job Grant died, at least 100 men were dying each day.

andersonville new york monument

Obverse of the N.Y.S. monument at Andersonville National Cemetery. More N.Y.                                              soldiers died there than from any other state.

The 1865 NY Census reported Job’s death, listing him as the guardian of four dependent sisters. Brother Warren, only 17 by this point, must have been out on his own. I found Warren as a 22-year-old farm laborer in Canaan, Columbia County in 1870. He married and stayed there- even had a daughter named Inez like his sister- and died in 1914. In the 1865 NY Census, baby Stella was living with her uncle and aunt, Henry and Eliza Rose in Schaghticoke.  In 1880, she married a man named Charles Washington Williams, a dry goods merchant in Manhattan, and lived the rest of her life there, dying in 1898. Two of her sisters were also in Manhattan. Mary married a lawyer, John Vincent, who became a District Attorney. Nora married William Connel, also a merchant. Inez married Charles Jackson, who worked for Singer Sewing Machine Company, in 1882, and died just a year later.  The children did not apply for military benefits based on their brother’s service, but perhaps they didn’t need them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sgt. William VanSchaack

Continuing to write about the men of Schaghticoke who served in the Civil War…the officers of Company K. …..

William VanSchaack was the 2nd Sergeant of Company K of the 125th. According to Anderson’s “History of Rensselaer County,” he was born in Stillwater on January 31, 1822.   The 1855 NY Census for Schaghticoke lists William H. VanSchaack, age 34, born in Saratoga County as a mechanic, with a wife, Alice, age 29, born in Vermont, and two children, Theodore, age 8 and Chancy, age 6.  Anderson goes on to state that he was educated in the public schools, and married Alice A. Thayer of Bennington on December 2, 1846. They had three children, Theodore, Chauncy T., and Nettie O. This is confirmed by the 1860 US Census for the village of Schaghticoke, which lists the boys and adds that William had a personal estate of $300 and his wife Alice of $350. William was a master painter. This indicates he had served an apprenticeship.

According to New York State’s records, William enlisted as a Private at age 41, and was promoted to Sergeant on April 4, 1863. The muster card states he was born in Schaghticoke, and had gray eyes, black hair and was 5’7 ¾” tall.  One wonders why a family man with a set career would enlist at age 41 in the Army- he would never have been drafted. Perhaps this measured his patriotism.

william van schaack muster card

The N.Y.S. Muster Card for William W. VanSchaack

 

During the winter of 1861-1862,  spent in Chicago after the 125th surrendered at Harper’s Ferry, William went home on leave, according to George Bryan. In April, Bryan stated that “Jacob Force has been promoted to orderly sergeant, ….but it belongs to William VanSchaack.”  In fact, William also was promoted to Sergeant on April 16. He was wounded in the right side during the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, and ended up in the Patterson Park Hospital in Baltimore.  Bryan mentions that Lt. VanSchaack was wounded at Gettysburg- perhaps the designation as Lieutenant was just his error.  Byran also stated, “I do not think he will ever join the company again. I hope he will get his discharge and go home where he belongs. I think it is his place at home, and all men that got families depending on them for support. I do not think $13.00 go a great ways towards keeping a family for a month.” The standard military pay was $13 per month.

William went home on leave, but reported back to the hospital in Baltimore. In February 1864, Bryan stated, “I stopped in Baltimore and saw WM VanSchaack. He was looking quite well, and has a good place.” In March, he was transferred to the Veteran Reserves Corps, which defended the capitol area and was made up of men recovered from wounds, but not enough to go back to the front lines. He was soon discharged from the service. In the NY Register of Officers and Enlisted Men, compiled during the war, William reported himself has having his health permanently impaired by his service.

Evidently, William was able to pursue his painting career while in the Army, as in the 1865 NY Census he is listed in Schaghticoke as a painter, but with the note that he was usually in Baltimore. He and Alice lived in a brick house in the village of Schaghticoke, and had added a daughter, Nettie, to the family. In the 1870 US Census, he lived in a house on Main Street, on the west side, just north of Pleasant Avenue. I believe it is now gone. It was worth the considerable sum of $4800, and had a paint shop in the back. Anderson’s history states that he was a “house, carriage, sign, and ornamental painter.” Son Chauncey learned the trade as well.

william van schaack home 1877

from Beer’s Atlas of 1877. Main St. intersects with Pleasant Ave. at the right, School                                                                    Street at the left.

William applied for an invalid pension in December, 1872. He received the relatively small amount of $4.00 per month.  Unfortunately, William’s son Theodore had died in 1867. Chauncey also predeceased his father in 1878. William himself died in 1882, and daughter Nettie in 1885, but Alice lived until 1908.  In the 1900 US Census, she was living in the village of Schaghticoke in a house she owned. Her son-in-law George Beecroft, a butcher and widower of daughter Nettie, and her grandchildren lived with her. All are buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

 

William VanSchaack

Tombstone of William and Alice VanSchaack at Elmwood Cemetery, GAR marker at right

 

 

Lt. Col. Aaron B. Myer

 

 

 

I have included Lieutenant Colonel Myer here because George Bryan of Schaghticoke  mentions him frequently in his letters home to his friend Jennie Ackart.  Aaron was born in Westchester County in 1824, (or in Hudson, according to the History of the 125th) and moved to Troy in 1827. His middle name was either Beekman or Bennett. The 1850 US Census for Troy listed him as a 27- year- old saddle and harness maker, with wife Julia, 22, born in Connecticut, and a son Albert L., age 4. Living with the little family were Julia’s parents, T.P. and Nancy Perkins. According to the History of the 125th, he was an original member of the Franklin Hose Company, and was seriously injured by a wall falling on him in the Galusha fire of March 1845. He recovered to marry Julia that September.

By the 1860 US Census Aaron was a grocer with a personal estate of $1000. Son Albert, 14, was a clerk for his father, and the family had a second son, Francis, 4. Mr. Perkins had died, but grandma Nancy still lived with the family.

Meanwhile, Aaron had gotten involved with the Troy City Artillery, one of the local private militia companies. He was a Sergeant until 1861, then Captain until he enlisted in the 125th. When the 125th began to recruit, he raised Company B and became its Captain. He was promoted to Major in March 1863 and had a 30-day furlough about the same time. Aaron was slightly wounded at Gettysburg. According to the Division of Military and Naval Affairs website, the N.Y.S. Library owns some letters Aaron wrote home to Julia that summer in which he speaks of the extreme pain of his wound.

Aaron had three brothers in the war: 2nd Lt. Robert Emmet Myer, also of the 125th, and Captain Charles F. Myer and Thomas T.B. Myer, both of the 93rd NY. Only Robert survived the war of the four brothers.

AaronBMyer

First N.Y.S. Muster card of Aaron B. Myer

 

 

Following the battle of Gettysburg, Aaron was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He was wounded at the battle of the Wilderness on May 5, 1864 and died three days later. The Regimental History reports that he was leading part of the 125th plus three other regiments, pushing the enemy a mile through underbrush until they were back in their earthworks. At that point he was shot, falling into the arms of Adjutant Merritt Miller and other comrades who carried him to the rear.  He survived for several days, but had been shot so high in the leg that it could not be amputated. His body was interred first at Chancellorsville, then moved to Troy’s Oakwood Cemetery.  His wife applied for a widow’s pension immediately.  An article in the Troy “Daily Times” reported his death and extolled his virtues as a prominent citizen of Troy. The Troy City Artillery met and did the same, voting to wear black armbands for a month in his honor and memory.

aaron b myer 3

2nd Muster Card of Aaron B. Myer

 

aaron b myer

Illustration from the History of the 125th.

 

aaron myer 1                               aaron myer 2

Tombstone of Aaron B. Myer at Oakwood Cemetery in Troy, thanks to Find-a-Grave

Aaron’s son Albert enlisted in the 11th U.S. Infantry in the fall of 1865. He made a career of the Army, reaching the rank of Major by the Spanish American War, serving many years in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and ending his career as a Brigadier General at a post in Texas. He and his wife Wilhelmina, born of a Scottish father and Spanish mother, married in 1871 and had three children. Albert died in 1915 and she survived him.

Aaron’s widow Julia remained in Troy for the rest of her long life. Her mother lived with her until at least 1880, when Julia, 51, and her mother Nancy Perkins, 89, lived on Hoosick Street. Julia reported Aaron’s service to the 1890 Veterans Schedule of the census.  By 1900, Julia had moved in with her son Francis and his wife Margaret, who had no children. “Frank” was the foreman in a shirt factory. She lived until at least 1910.

 

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

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First Captain of Company K, and the Colonel of the 125th Regiment

I will begin a series of bios of men with a connection to Schaghticoke who served in the Civil War with the first Captain of the company primarily raised in Schaghticoke, Company K, and continue with the heroic Colonel of the 125th NY Volunteer Infantry Regiment, George Lamb Willard.

John VanWort Vandenburgh

John V.W. Vandenburgh was the original Captain of Company K of the 125th. According to the “Regimental History of the 125th”, he was born in Schuylerville in 1833 and received a good education. After working as a carpenter and a master builder he went into the hardware business.  And there is a John V.W. Vandenburgh in the U.S. Census for the village of Schaghticoke in 1860- a 26- year- old hardware merchant with a wife, Lizzie.

While working in the hardware business, John set off on a military career as well. In 1856 he formed a N.Y.S. Militia unit called “the Black Plumed Rifles” and moved on to the “Ellsworth Zouaves” in 1858. The Regimental History calls him “the best drilled officer in the N.Y.S. Militia.” He was a friend of George Willard, Colonel of the 125th. The records of the N.Y.S. National Guard reflect this experience. John V.W. Vandenburgh was a Captain in the 29th Regiment in 1858, 1862, and 1863- and then a Major in the 106th and 107th Regiment in 1865 and 1867, after the war. Company K certainly started the war with an experienced leader, albeit not in combat.

 

john vandenburgh's muster card                                 John V. W. Vandenburgh’s NYS Muster card

 

George Bryan of Schaghticoke and Company K refers to Captain Vandenburgh in several of his letters home to Jennie Ackart. On September 25, 1862, he wrote, “At one time the shot and shell flew all around our company, yet not one moved from his place until ordered to by our captain. I sat next to the Captain smoking a cigar; none need doubt the courage of Captain Vandenburg.” He also refers to him as having accompanied the body of Ezra Burch home- Ezra died of typhoid fever while the company was paroled in Chicago in the winter of 1862, after having been captured at Harper’s Ferry. But Bryan was upset that Vandenburg only brought the body as far as Troy.

In January of 1863, Bryan stated that “he would make a good Field Officer.” But by March his opinion had changed. Bryan had been reassigned to Company D, and he stated “I have a good captain. He is far ahead of Captain Vandenburgh as concerning his morals.” By May, he stated that Vandenburgh had “been dismissed from the service of the US for altering a pass, but a slight offence to be dismissed from the service. He thinks he will be reinstated again. Time will tell.” In one part of Vandenburgh’s service records, it states he was dismissed on April 22, 1863 for disability, in another that it was for being absent without leave and altering a pass.

The Regimental History adds that John had received a 30-day sick leave in December 1862, extended by 40 days by a furlough. Some paper work was apparently lost, ending in John first being accused of being AWOL, then of falsifying a pass. After an appeal to President Lincoln, he was recommissioned on May 31, 1864, though he didn’t get reassigned to a regiment.

john vandenburgh letter

This letter was attached to Captain Vandenburgh’s record card.

 

An article in the “Troy Times” on June 13, 1865, reported that Captain Vandenburgh of the 125th had been promoted to Major.

After the war, John remained in Washington, D.C., where he worked for the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands until 1868. Better known simply as “the Freedmen’s Bureau,” this organization attempted to ease the transition of southern slaves to freedom by helping them find work and by providing education. Its mission was weakened by lack of funding by the time John left in 1868.  He then became a contractor in Washington, D.C., and acted as an aide to Henry D. Cook while he was Governor of the District of Columbia.

A tantalizing article in the “Saratoga Sentinel” on May 5, 1881 in the Stillwater column reports on Major John V.W. Vandenburgh, “a native of this town,” who “arrived here a few days ago from the wilds of Colorado.” It states that before the war, he was the captain of a “suave” (Zouave) company, and that he led his company to the front when the war began. “He survived the war”- quite an obvious statement, I should have thought- but perhaps the most that could be said about his service, given his problems, and “has been successful in many of his speculations, including some heavy jobs in Washington.” He was visiting George H. Lansing in Stillwater. What does “heavy  jobs” mean? His obituary states he was “engaged in mining and contracting in the West,” returning home when his health failed. (The Evening Star, August 27, 1892)

I have been unable to find John in any census after the war except the 1890 Veterans Schedule, when he merely stated that he had served in 1862.  He did stay in touch with the 125th Veterans Association, which gave his address as Brooklyn. He died in at Carroll Springs Sanitarium in Forest Glen, Maryland on August 12, 1892. 1892, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  John’s widow, Elizabeth M. applied for a widow’s pension on April 27, 1899 in Washington, D.C..

john vandenburgh tombstone

Tombstone of John VW Vandenburgh at Arlington National Cemetery

 

George Lamb Willard

George Willard was the first Colonel of the 125th Regiment. According to the Willard Genealogy, he was born in New York City in 1827, the son of John Moses and Susan Lamb Willard. John Willard was born in Saratoga in 1794. He began a career as a merchant there, then moved to New York. He died in 1834, leaving many young children. George enlisted in the U.S. Army and fought in the Mexican War. He was cited for gallantry at Chapultepec and promoted to Lieutenant. An 1847 enlistment book of the U.S. Army records he was 19- years- old, with hazel eyes, brown hair, a clerk who was 5’7” tall. The 1850 US Census listed Willard as a Lieutenant, aged 22, in a garrison in Milam, Texas.

george willard

George Lamb Willard

In 1854 George married Mary Gould Plum, the daughter of banker and businessman Elias Plum from Troy, NY.  I don’t know how he met her, perhaps through General John Wool, prominent citizen of Troy and another hero of the Mexican War.  The 1861 Troy City Directory shows George as a boarder in the Plum home, 57 2nd Street, now Historic Rensselaer County.  By the time the Civil War began, George was a Major in the 19th U.S. Infantry. When what became the 2nd NY Infantry Regiment began recruiting at the start of the war, the organizers tried to get Willard as its Colonel. At that point, the Regular Army refused to release him.

By the time the 125th began recruiting in July of 1862, the Army had realized that these volunteer regiments needed qualified Colonels, and they did release Willard. The Troy “Times” was full of stories about Willard’s imminent arrival to become Colonel all during July and August. He got there just in time to take charge as the regiment left on September 1 for Virginia.

george willard muster card

New York State Muster Card for George Willard

 

Of course George was in charge of the 125th when the whole garrison at Harpers Ferry was surrendered to Stonewall Jackson a couple of weeks later. He testified at a government investigation shortly afterwards that his men hadn’t even gotten to fire their weapons. A few sources say that the 125th ran from the Confederates. That was not the case, though the men later felt they had to overcome the shame of having to surrender without firing a shot.

At the battle of Gettysburg, George was put in charge of a brigade. He was shot and killed on the evening of July 2, 1863. A marker put up years later by his men marks the spot.  A small fort built during the war in Fairfax County, Virginia was named for him.

 

george willard gettysburgh

Marker to Colonel Willard on the battlefield at Gettysburg

 

George’s body was returned home to Troy for burial. His body lay in state at his wife’s home,  and a funeral procession accompanied his body to Oakwood Cemetery, where he was interred on July 9.

Mary Willard remained in her father’s house the rest of her life. She applied for a widow’s pension in 1864, but certainly didn’t need it. The 1870 US Census recorded her father as a leather dealer with real estate worth $90,000, and a personal estate of $400,000. She never remarried and died in 1888, aged 50.

 

george willard tombstone

Tombstone of George and Mary Willard at Oakwood Cemetery, Troy