French In Name Only

A Genealogical Blog about the French and Grace Families

Author: dfrench (page 1 of 5)

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Pvt. Edward C. Fowler

On April 25, 1898 the United States declared war on Spain following the sinking of the Battleship Maine in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898. A quest for adventure and patriotism spurred over three thousand, four hundred men Connecticut men to enlist. The First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was mustered into service between May and July 14, 1898 and mustered out, without having set foot on foreign soil, on October 31, 1898 in Hartford, CT.

Edward C. Fowler, my paternal second great-uncle, served as a Private in Company K of the First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. The story might had ended there had I not found a history of Company K written by George B. Thayer.  A history that is rich in stories, quirky biographies and photographs. The history even includes a short story penned by Edward entitled, Among the Recruits (p.121), in which he writes:

One of the red letter days in our military experience was the one in which we began to learn the manual of arms. We soon discovered that it was easy to learn the different movements,but, we had to apply the old adage,” Practice makes perfect,” to the work. We would think we were doing finely until Captain Saunders would come and watch us drill, when we soon found how far from perfect we were.

After boot camp in Portland, Maine the 1st Connecticut was stationed in Northern Virginia and they struck camp in East Falls Church, less than two miles from where I currently reside! Below are a couple of excerpts from Private George B. Thayer:

Friday, August 26, 1898 – Up at 5 am. After breakfast we set fire to the arbor, which for so many days has kept the sun’s heat from us, applied a torch to the kitchen struck camp and at 9.30 left the old cornfield for good we hope. The route to East Falls Church was by Dunn Loring and alongside the tracks part of the way and part of the time along the highway.

Monday, August 29, 1898 – Corporal Gruener and I took the trolley for Washington at 9 o’clock and went by boat to Mount Vernon. Returning at 2 we visited the capitol and congressional library and got back to camp at 6:30 p.m. The heat was intense.

Edward C. Fowler returned back to civilian life, working as a farmer in Bloomfield Connecticut, until his death in 1929.


Jack Brutus, Connecticut War Dog – Who Knew? (Source: ConnecticutHistory.org)

… that although Jack Brutus’s military status was unofficial, he became the official mascot of Company K of the First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish-American War.

Jack Brutus, or “Old Jack” as he became known, was born in Cumberland, Maine, in 1891. He led an exciting life even before his stint in the military as part of Company K of the First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. According to Private Thayer, Jack “had friends in most of the cities in New England through his associations with the traveling public at the West End Hotel in Portland. Frequently he visited them in their own homes, taking passage in some steamer or boarding some train, and returning to Portland in due time.” In his travels, Thayer claims Jack Brutus visited Boston, New Brunswick, and New York, as well as many other cities on the steamer lines.

Old Jack Enters the Military

Company K first met Old Jack while stationed at Fort Preble in Portland, Maine, in May of 1898. Jack quickly became a favorite of the soldiers and, eventually, the company’s official mascot. He went on to travel with the unit as they encamped up and down the Eastern Seaboard providing coastal defense during the Spanish-American War.

Jack was a large breed dog and often had health issues throughout his service with Company K. During a heat spell at Camp Alger near Falls Church, Virginia, Jack had trouble breathing and suffered in the heat. Thayer noted, “Poor Jack—the noble mastiff we brought from Portland is suffering from the heat extremely and it is doubtful if he survives.” Fearing for Jack’s life, the men took to nursing him and he eventually recovered.

Jack also had a snoring problem. The men on night duty, to allow the men asleep in their tents to remain that way, often enticed Jack far away from camp so that his snoring did not disturb the sleeping soldiers. When “loudest snorer” elections took place among the men, Jack came in second.

Wagoner Edward Ahearn mustered out of the army in late 1898, and when he did, he took Jack Brutus home with him. Old Jack died from spinal troubles and constipation while under a physician’s care on November 20, 1898, but will always be remembered as a loyal Connecticut war dog.

Thayer, George B., ed. History of Company K, First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, During the Spanish-American War. Hartford, CT: Press of R.S. Peck & Co., 1899.

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© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Anything, Anytime, Anywhere, Bar Nothing (AAA-O)

Draft Registration - Joseph Grace

The following is a brief story about my maternal great-uncle, Sargent Joseph Aloysius Grace (1892-1918), who died on October 11, 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne Operation  in World War 1.  Joseph enlisted in August 1917 and was serving in the III Corps – 4th Infantry Division – 7th Infantry Brigade – 39th Infantry Regiment (AAA-O) – HQ Company at the time of his death.

While Joseph’s cause of death is not noted, American Expeditionary Force (AEF) order of battle reports from that day note that “early on the morning of the 11th, the entire regimental staff of the 39th was gassed.”  If Joseph was assigned to headquarters, it can be assumed that he was among those who died that morning. The use of chemical weapons was deployed heavily by both sides during the campaign.  (The Use of Gas in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign)

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was the largest operation of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during World War and remains the deadliest American troops ever fought.  The AEF launched its massive offensive on September 26, 1918 along a twenty-four-mile front from the Argonne Forest to the Meuse River—a long strip of rolling hills and wild woodland about 150 miles east of Paris.  One month to the day after Joseph’s death, an Armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany on 11th November 1918, bringing an end to the  First World War.

Meuse-Argonne Offensive – September 26 and November 11, 1918

AEF – 26,277 killed and 95,786 wounded

German – 28,000 killed and 92,250 wounded

The History of the 39th U. S. Infantry during the World War (p.81-83)

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© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Death-Capture-Ransom

Margaret Stilson, the granddaughter of John Brown (Samoset and John Brown – Maine), was born in 1679 in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Margaret, my 7th paternal great-grandmother, married William Hilton on June 2, 1699. They had one child, Benjamin, during their marriage. She died in November 1763 in Manchester, Massachusetts, having lived a long life of 84 years. (See previous post on Hilton Line: New Hampshire’s Founding Father)

In 1689, on Muscongus (now called Louds) Island in Maine, Indians attacked Margaret and her family. As a result, her father James Sr. was killed and she was taken prisoner along with her mother and brother to the Quebec region of Canada where they were sold to the French. Records indicate that an infant sibling (unnamed) either died immediately following the capture or on the way to Canada.

Margaret remained in French custody for 10 years before being ransomed, during that time she was reported to be a servant in the house of Monsieur Jean Bochart de Champigny, the Intendant of New France. The intendant served as an agent of the King of France and responsible for the colony’s entire civil administration. A fellow captive and servant of the intendant, Hannah Swarton, had a famous narrative of her captivity published, providing a possible window into Margaret’s experience.

A Narrative of Hannah Swarton’s Captivity

A Little Side Story About the Republic of Muscongus Muscongus Islanders, capturing a spirit of independence that matched their independence from Maine that they declared in1860. The island was left off the state map and islanders were not allowed to vote. Muscongus Island rejoined the state in 1934.

Comments/Reviews  Appreciated!

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Samoset and John Brown (Maine)

On July 15, 1625, my 10th great paternal grandfather, John Brown of New Harbor, Maine, was the beneficiary of what was likely the first land sale transaction between the Native Americans and the colonists. John Brown was deeded 12,000 acres land on what is known as Pemaquid Point by Samoset, an Eastern Abenaki (Wabenaki) tribal leader. Questions remain unanswered as to the true authenticity and propriety of the deed.

Remarkably, Samoset is believed to be the first Native American to make contact with the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony.  According to numerous accounts, on March 16, 1621, Samoset walked into the encampment of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony, saluted them, and announced, “Welcome! Welcome, Englishmen” in English! Samoset had acquired a rudimentary understanding of English from English fishermen and traders along the Maine coast.

Days later Samoset returned with Squanto (Tisquantum), who along with Massasoit, are credited with providing the Pilgrim’s knowledge of agricultural and other skills that allowed for their survival.

Additional Resources:

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Samoset Biography

(John Brown) The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Volume 51

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© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Dear John from Oliver Cromwell

John Cotton, my 9th paternal great-grandfather, was born in 1585 in Derby, England and died in 1652 in Boston, Massachusetts.  He was,  according to many accounts, the preeminent clergyman and theologian of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Cotton studied five years at Trinity College, Cambridge and nine at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, England. Cotton emigrated to Massachusetts in 1633 and helped establish the First Church in Boston. Cotton remained teaching elder (educational and doctrinal) at the church until his death in 1652.

“Mr. Cotton had a reputation for profound learning.  He was accustomed to study 12 hours  day, published over 50 books, was a critic in Greek, wrote  Latin with elegance, and could discourse in Hebrew.”   (The Mather Project)

Letter from Oliver Cromwell to John Cotton written after the Battle of Worcester, October 2, 1651.  The battle destroyed the last major Scottish Royalist army.  In the letter, Cromwell alludes to his difficulties with the Scots. Correspondence from Oliver Cromwell to John Cotton

“WORTHY SIR, AND MY CHRISTIAN FRIEND, “I received yours a few days since.  It was welcome to me because signed by you, whom love and honour in the Lord: but more ‘so’ to see some of the same grounds or our Actings stirring in you that are in us, to quiet us to our work, and support us therein.  Which hath had the greatest difficulty in our engagement in Scotland; by reason we have had to do with some who were, I verily think, Godly, but, through, weakness and the subtlety of Satan, ‘were’ involved in Interests against the Lord and His People.

“With what tenderness we have proceeded with such, and that in sincerity, our Papers (which I suppose you have seen) will in part manifest; and I give you some comfortable assurance of ‘the same.’  The Lord hath marvellously appeared even against them.  And now again when all the power was devolved into the Scottish King and the Malignant Party,— they invading England, the Lord rained upon them such snares as the Enclosed will show.  Only the Narrative in short is this, That of their whole Army, when the Narrative was framed, not five men were returned.

“Surely, Sir, the Lord is greatly to be feared and to be praised!  We need your prayers in this as much as ever.  How shall we behave ourselves after such mercies?  What is the Lord a-doing?  What Prophecies are now fulfilling?  Who is a God like ours?  To know His will, to do His will, are both of Him.

“I took this liberty from business, to salute you thus in a word.  Truly I am ready to serve you and the rest of our Brethren and the Churches with you.  I am a poor weak creature, and not worthy the name of a worm; yet accepted to serve the Lord and His People.  Indeed, my dear Friend, between you and me, you know not me,—my weaknesses, my inordinate passions, my unskillfulness, and everyway unfitness to my work.  Yet, yet the Lord, who will have mercy on whom He will, does as you see!  Pray for me.  Salute all Christian friends though unknown.  I rest, your affectionate friend to serve you,

(Signed) OLIVER CROMWELL

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© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Halloween in Stone

Above is the gravestone of my paternal 9th great-grandfather Robert Harrington who was born in 1616 in Somerset, England and died in 1707 in Watertown, Massachusetts at the impressive age of 90!  His estate lists a house, mill and over 647 acres of land.

Below are links to prior posts that explore gravestones and tales of witches.

In Celebration of All Hallows’ Eve

Which, Witch?

Captain Jonathan, Gentleman: Part III – Thomas Danforth – Judge not lest ye be judged

Comments/Reviews  Appreciated!

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bodurtha – Ye streete fence to Ye great river

Reice Bodurtha, my 8th paternal great-grandfather, was born in 1621 in Wales and married Blanche Lewis in 1646 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Together, they had four children (John (died at birth), John, Joseph, Samuel) during their marriage. In 1645, he was granted a house lot, wet meadow and woodland by the Plantation of Agawam (Springfield Colony). The house lot extended from “Ye streete fence to Ye great river.”  The map (at left) illustrates the location of the Bodurtha house lot.

Sadly, Ye great river – the Connecticut River, was the place where Reice and his family suffered a tragedy. The event is described is in Stories Carved in Stone: Agawam, Massachusetts (Rusty Clark, 2005).


Which, Witch?

In 1652, Hugh Parsons, of Springfield, Massachusetts, was convicted before William Pynchon on formal charges of witchcraft. One of his formal accusers (along with his wife and most of the town) was Blanche Bodurtha, my 8th great-grandmother.

Witch-Hunting in Seventeenth-Century New England: A Documentary History 1638

Before Salem: Witch Hunting in the Connecticut River Valley, 1647–1663

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Rough on Rats

It all started, quite innocently while researching a friend’s family history.  I came across the tragic death, by suicide, of Lucey Martelina (Toluca, Ilinois).  I learned that the means, ingesting rat poison, was a popular and common way to end one’s life.  The product, Rough on Rats, was a poison composed of arsenic and barium, with a little coal or sand added for coloring, designed to kill a variety of vermin.

According to the Annual Report of Illinois State Board of Health, in 1887, there were 259 suicides by poisoning and the “poisons most used were morphine and rough on rats.”

Upon further research, it became clear that he use of Rough on Rats was not limited to suicide.  In 1898, Frank Belew admitted that he had poisoned his sister Susie and brother Louis. “I poured the drug into the teakettle…I do not know what promoted me to do the deed” (Belew on Trail for His Life – SF Call 6 April 1898)

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hello Minnie

This week, I had the chance to see my great-grandmother Mary “Minnie” MacEachern French for the first-time! Thanks to the genealogical community and an exchange of emails, I was able to learn a little more about her life and see a photograph.  (Thank you Rick!)

Notes left by the daughter of Susan Jane Wilkie indicated that at the age of 18 her mother left Cape Breton, Nova Scotia for Boston and lived with her cousin George French (my grandfather) and her Aunt Minnie. According to the notes, Susan learned dressmaking from Mary. The best news of all was that there was a photograph of Susan Jane “Jennie” Wilkie Small, Charles S. Small, Charles Jr. and Aunt Min taken in about 1916. That is Minnie on the left

Mary MacEachern (MacEachron) was born on 25 April 1877 in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada to Duncan and Mary Maloney MacEachern. On the 13th of April 1897 she married Walter Abraham French, a carriage driver, in Boston, Massachusetts. Walter was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Horace E. and Laura Foster French. My grandfather George Bradley French was born in 1898.  Walter and Mary’s marriage did not last. The 1910 Census, recorded on April 22, 1910, identifies Mary was living with George on Huntington Avenue in Boston. The census lists Mary as a widow, however, that might not be entirely accurate (better a widow than a divorcee?). In George’s personal belongings at the time of his death is a letter from his father, Walter, to Ralph H. Hallett, Esquire:

Walter A. French

New York, March 8, 1910

Dear Sir: 

I have been advised that my wife, Mrs. Minnie French, of your city, has started a divorce proceeding against me in the court of your city, on the grounds of desertion, intoxication, cruelty, non-support, etc., and I understand the summons was returnable last month. I desire to have you enter an appearance for me and look after my interests in the proceedings. I have no desire to take a contest over the divorce, or the custody of the child, George, but I wish to be informed of the progress of the proceedings, and to be advised promptly if a decree is granted. I would also like to have you see that no decree for alimony is entered against me. Very Truly Yours,

The 1940 Census has Mary living in Lowell, Massachusetts with Archie and Margaret McLean. She is listed as being Archie’s aunt and listed as a widow. As for Walter, he appears in a March 1942 Social Security Application and Claim, I have no details as to the date or location of his death. A September Selective Service WWI Registration 1918 World War I draft registration card identifies Walter Abram French, living in New York City, with a date of birth of 26 January 1875 (2 years earlier than his true date of birth).

 

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Happy New Year – 1908

Happy New Year!

This delightful post card was mailed on December 31, 1908 to my 2nd great-grandmother Ellen Jane Fowler (1845-1924) of Bloomfield Connecticut.

Your very substantial Christmas letter reached us on that day – Thanks for same – A happy New Year to you all. This is indeed a charming winter so far – No need to go south for warmth or good traveling. Charles is not at all well, but around nearly all the time – Wish the best of wishes for you all.  Mrs. S. Blake

Additional post cards from the Fowler family can be viewed in the following post: The Fowler’s Postcards

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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