Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The 111th NY Volunteers from Scipio NY Who Died

I have found a lot of information on Scipio residents in the Civil War. Each source seems to have something new and different. IN the three resources below, I found a dozen men listed as killed in action or died during the Civil War due to their wounds or disease.

The official roster of the 111th has the following information on Scipio soldiers who were killed in action or died during the Civil War due to their wounds or disease:

HOXIE, ALLEN E — Age, 21 years. Enlisted, July 20, 1862, at Scipio, to serve three years; mustered in as sergeant, Co. I, August 20, 1862; killed in action, June 16, 1864, at Petersburg, Pa.

KEARNE, JAMES K.—Age, 44 years. Enlisted at Scipio, to serve three years, and mustered in as private, Co. G, August 31, 1864; died, February 22, 1865, in Division Hospital, near Petersburg, Va. ; also borne as Kern and Kerne.

OSBORN, GEORGE L—Age , 20 years. Enlisted, July 23, 1862, at Scipio, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. K , August 20, 1862; died, October 17, 1862, at Chicago, IL.

PHELPS , WEED.—Age, 18 years. Enlisted, July 21, 1862, at Scipio, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. K, August 20, 1862; died, October 18, 1862, at Chicago, IL.

PLATT, EBENEZER—Age , 23 years. Enlisted, July 23, 1862, at Scipio, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. K, August 20, 1862; killed in action, October 14, 1863, at Bristow Station, Va.

WIBERT, WALTE R M.—Age , 18 years. Enlisted at Scipio, to serve three years, and mustered in as private, Co. I , January 4, 1864 ; killed in action, Ma y 10, 1864, at Po River, Va .

WILDER, GEORG E H.—Age, 2 1 years. Enlisted, August 5, 1862, at Scipio, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. I, August 20, 1862 ; wounded, no date; died of his wounds. May 16, 1864, at Washington, D. C.

From the 1865 Census for Scipio the following soldiers of the 111th also died during the war:

DAVID ROSS, age 22, Private, died June 16, 1864 near Petersburg.
HENRY L. WOD, 19, Private, died in December 1864 near Annapolis.
JESTINE JONES, 18, Private, died but no details are given.

Records from that infamous prison, Andersonville, tell us this about these two soldiers from the 111th:

GLENN ANDREWS, Private, died May 26, 1864 of chronic diarrhea.
ALBERT ROBINSON, Private, died September 2, 1864 of diarrhea.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

If you read my post of July 4, 2015, you noticed the mention of a Scipio man in the Civil War nurse book under discussion. Allen Hoxie and his family have deep roots in our community and I was sad to hear of the manner of his death. The roster for the 111th NY Volunteers gave a few details as follows:

HOXIE, ALLEN E — Age, 21 years. Enlisted, July 20, 1862, at Scipio, to serve three years; mustered in as sergeant, Co. I, August 20, 1862; killed in action, June 16, 1864, at Petersburg, Pa.

Additionally I located some information on line that gave a window into some of what Hoxie did and felt. He visited in Scipio in November of 1863, and in January of 1864 was convalescing from wounds at the Carver Hospital in Washington, DC. Among other activities, his diary tells of visiting Emily Howland who was at that time in the Washington DC area caring for "contrabands" or escaped slaves. He returned to battle in February of that year.

Information from Hoxie's diary is contained at the Cornell Rare and Manuscript Collection (, within the Howland papers. Following are a few excerpts:

"Wednesday February 24th 
"Left this morning for the Rendezvous Camp in Alexandria, Virginia. Got there about eleven o'clock. Still very pleasant but looks like rain. Shall have to stay ten days I reckon. Quite a pleasant place. Attended temperance meeting - Signed the temperance pledge and became a member of the Temperance Union."

Wednesday March 2nd 
Left distribution Camp this morning for the 111th. Marched to Alexandria Took the cars (train-sg) for Brandy Station. Went out in a train-load of hay."

"Friday March 4th 
On picket near the Rapidan. Nothing seen on the line. Towards night I heard Kilpatrick had entered Richmond."

Allan's last letter home is also in the Cornell collection. Some of it is as follows:

"I enlisted voluntarily. Nobody's influence, nobody's money induced me, just because I felt it was my duty, and could no more help it than I could help getting hungry. It is but little I can do at best, even to give my life would not be much, and would be and is given more than willingly, glad of the opportunity."

In June, Commander Mac Dougall officially notified Allan Hoxie's uncle, George Letchworth, of his demise.
 George Peckham, a fellow soldier and likely someone Hoxie knew from home, wrote to Hoxie's mother to personally inform her as well. He assures her that her son's grave is marked so it can be found again.He also tells her that 2 months ago they left camp with 45 men and only 9 are left; the rest dead, wounded or prisoners of war. 

This is just one soldier's story; during the Civil War, there were thousands like it. I will continue to add information specific to Scipio and the 111th NY Volunteers, so check back soon.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Roswell Towsley and His Plow

Farming was probably the most important occupation of early Scipio residents, as it continues to be today. Farming sustained the family, and brought income with which to continue to improve their lives. This is nowhere as evident as when looking at the patents granted in Cayuga County in her earlier years. Other occupations became necessary to assist with farming, and inventions to make things work better and more efficiently for all this industry were sought after.

The following is extracted from the booklet titled “From The Inventors and Inventions of Cayuga County” as read before the Cayuga County Historical Society at Auburn, NY, on September 21, 1880 by Cyrenus Wheeler:

From 1790-1836, 474 patents were granted in Cayuga County. Many you may not recognize as they are not items in use today: 10 for plows, 8 for threshing machines, 5 for stave sawing and joining, 2 for spinning wheels, 3 for washing machines, and one each for a churn, harrow, millstone, mortising machine, hand rake, potash, pump raising water, saddle, bedstead, fanning mill, fence wire, knife sharpener, furnace, shears, cordage, manufacturing harness, and, last but not least, manufacturing brandy from domestic articles.

The earliest patent was granted on January 11, 1812 to Roswell Towsley of Scipio for a plow. Due to a fire at the Patent Office in 1836, which destroyed their records, no one knows the exact nature of Towsley’s invention but it does precede that of Jethro Wood.

Towsley was a blacksmith by trade, and came to Scipio to live near the present day town of Aurora in 1806. He had previously lived in Manlius, of Onondaga County. An enterprising man, Towsley also ran a tannery, shoe shop and furnace.

In 1817, Towsley built the first steam flouring mill west of the Hudson River at Aurora. 

Unfortunately, the mill was in operation only about one year when Towsley became deranged. He was sent to the “Lunatic Asylum” in New York City, where he died a lonely and broken man in 1820.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Cornelia Hancock, Quaker and Civil War Nurse

I have just finished reading "Letters of a Civil War Nurse" by Cornelia Hancock, 1863-1865. Cornelia was a single Quaker woman born in 1840 near Salem, NJ. She was turned down for nursing by Dorothea Dix who thought she was too young and attractive to nurse effectively. Nothing daunted, Cornelia simply hopped on the train to Gettysburg and served as a nurse until the close of the Civil War.
Her account of battles and particularly the aftermaths as she nursed the sick, wounded, and dying soldiers, often in temporary shelter  and often short of supplies and food is forthright and factual in nature. She mentions many soldiers, nurses and doctors by name throughout, as she writes to her family. A clear picture of camp politics emerges and Hancock's positive outlook is seen to wear down as the war nears its bittersweet end.

Imagine my surprise to find that the book mentions a Scipio soldier on page 139.

I have recently been reviewing the roster of the 111th NY Volunteers, particularly the Scipio men.  Quaker Allen Hoxie enlisted July 20, 1862, at Scipio, to serve three years; he was mustered in to Company I as sergeant August 20, 1862; the official roster shows he was killed in action on June 16, 1864, at Petersburg, PA. Cornelia Hancock was at that time stationed at City Point, VA. City Point, at the juncture of the James and Appomattox Rivers, was headquarters to the Union Army during the siege of Petersburg.
On page 139 of the book, Hancock has a short paragraph which reads:
"I am well. Miss Willetts is better, I hear. Allan Hoxie was shot with 5 bullets - is dead."

Hoxie's family received the sorrowful news from George Peckham, a fellow soldier in the 111th. George survived the war, and was buried with his wife  in Indian Mound Cemetery in Moravia, NY. His cousins Job, William and Fred Peckham, all Quakers, also served in the Civil War. Job and William are buried in the Friends Cemetery in Ledyard, NY while Fred and his family are buried in the King Ferry Cemetery.
All felt strongly that the Civil War was just in nature, believing so strongly in abolitionism that it overrode their belief in non-violence.

Friday, July 3, 2015

152 years ago today, the third bloody day of the battle of Gettysburg was being fought. Please take time today to think about all those who died and those who suffered in battle and at home.  This defining battle raged on for 3 days, often of hand-to-hand combat by our ancestors. The Civil War Trust estimates over 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, missing in action or captured during this horrific battle.

The 111th NY Volunteers, recruited primarily from Cayuga and Wayne Counties, showed great valor in their post at Gettysburg while taking heavy losses. Two officers and 59 enlisted men were confirmed dead; of the men who were wounded 24 died while 145 enlistees recovered, along with 8 officers. Another 10 enlisted men were listed as missing after the battle.

The 44th NY Volunteers, or Ellsworth’s Avengers, saw fierce fighting during Gettysburg and the Civil War in general. Colonel Elmer Ellsworth was reputed to be the first casualty of the Civil War, and the 44th was raised in Albany as a memorial unit composed of men from each town. Each unmarried and temperate man who applied for consideration also had to provide $20 (about $500 in today's dollars) for the privilege of joining the unit. 
The 44th participated in and acquitted themselves well at many battles during the course of the Civil War, although they often saw heavy losses. Their monument at Little Round Top in Gettsyburg is a final testament to their bravery on the field. 
One local soldier of the 44th was James Benton Hitchcock, who became a member of the Selah Cornwell GAR Post out of Scipio NY after the war, and served as a Town Justice in Scipio for over 20 years. His name appears as Quartermaster Sergeant on the monument at Gettysburg, on Little Round Top. 

At the battle of Malvern Hill, 99 of the 225 soldiers of the 44th engaged in battle were killed or wounded. James Hitchcock was seriously wounded at the Malvern Hill battle, taking one minie ball in his left thigh while another broke his leg just below the knee. Despite these injuries, James managed to carry the unit flag to his commanding officer, after 4 other color bearers had already been killed in action. James earned a commendation and promotion for his valiant efforts. The colors were an important rallying point and guide star for the unit, as well as serving the field commanders by allowing them to see at any given time where their troops stood on the field of battle.

I can only imagine the fortitude and bravery of this man, who had immigrated to America as a teenager with his family and just eleven years later became a soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War. 

Here is a photo of the monument at Little Round Top, Gettysburg, battlefield for the 44th NY as well as a photo of James taken at the time of the Civil War.

Friday, June 19, 2015

1847 Births in Scipio

I hope you took a moment to read the previous post about the births in Scipio during calendar year 1847. Not all towns are fortunate enough to have these records.
There were some comments and clarifications, so take a look at those as well. Here is a scan of the 2 pages from the town books; one page is about the infant, the other page gives the names of the parents.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Civil War Nurses Van Wie and Willet

Many brave and selfless women served in the Civil War; some followed a troop and cooked or did laundry, making the lives of the soldiers more bearable. Some served alongside the soldiers, suffering the same types of  marching conditions and exposure to harm for their country as the men. Others became nurses and provided care and comfort during the midst of battlefields and makeshift hospitals. I recently learned of two more nurses from central New York and will share these interesting newspaper articles.

Van Wie - The Auburn Citizen of Friday, May 26, 1922 -
Mrs. Catherine L. Van Wie, 86, who has been a Civil War Nurse and was personally decorated by President Lincoln and who was assisted by Auburn NY organizations for two days, after wandering from her home in Port Byron, was taken to her home yesterday afternoon. Supervisor Willis L. Miller of Port Byron stated that the balance of her life will be spent in comfort and that her tales of being driven from home were pure imagination.

Willet - newspaper name and date unknown but circa 1915 -
Known in both Cayuga and Onondaga counties. Older residents of Cayuga and Onondaga Counties will be pained to learn of the death of Georgiana Willet which occurred recently at her home in Beverly, NY. The deceased was born of Quaker parentage, in the town of Skaneateles 73 years ago. Her father, George Willets, was one of the most prominent men in Onondaga county and was well known for his public spirit and was an ardent abolitionist. He was a close friend of such noted men as Horace Greeley, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass and many others.

1847 Births in Scipio

Scipio is fortunate. Their Clerks recorded and preserved birth records earlier than mandated, and often an elusive ancestor appears that has been otherwise difficult to find. Now if only the maiden names of the mothers had also been recorded! Nevertheless, this is a welcome resource for family researchers.

Here are all the births recorded for Scipio during the year ending December 31, 1847, in the order they were placed in the book. Most are legible, but as always errors may be made.
A child was not always named at the time of birth, but it is also possible the "not named" below were deceased at or soon after birth.

April 20: Eugene M. Gale born to Aaron and Mary Gale.
March 6: Frank Tallman born to Gideon and Deborah Tallman
April 23: Caroline A. Bishop born to Volney and Sarah Bishop
March 8: Caroline M. Akin born to Ira and Elinoar (sic) Akin
July 20: Elijah A. Lawrence born to William and Matild (sic) Lawrence
February 1: Louis Wheat born to Hiram and Martha Wheat
June 30: Mark Trim born to Benjamin and Nancy Trim
August 1: Abraham Sawyer born to Henry and Edira Sawyer
September 12: Charles E. Hudson born to William and (blank) Hudson
October 23: "not named" born to Edward and Harriett M. Akin
June 29: Leora Parker born to Franklin and Ordelia Parker
August 26: Mortimer Vanarsdale born to Peter and Mary Ann Vanarsdale
November 22: Ellen Sherwood born to Ormond O. and Laura Sherwood
March 18: Herman E. Ames born to Chester and Elmira Ames
July 30: Elijah A. Lawrence born to Wm and Matilda Lawrence
August 25: "not named" born to John and Ruth Pickins
November 25: John Denton born to Samuel and Mary Ann Denton
May 26: Mary Allwood born to Nathaniel and Margaretta A. Allwood
December 24: Bridgett Grimes born to John and Mary Grimes
February 27: Charles B. Tracy born to Uriah and Amy Tracy
March 31: John T. Backus born to John C. and Sarah J. Backus
October 12: "not named" born to Harvey and Emily Reynolds
July 21: Georgiannia Luther born to Alvin and Rosannah Luther

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Civil War Nurse Lydia Weager Stewart

I did some exploring at and found obituaries for some Civil War nurses from our area. One such nurse was Mrs. Lydia Stewart. GAR Post #37 was named for her husband Charles H. Stewart, a Colonel in Company G of the 19th NY Volunteers. In 2005, I was able to obtain scanned copies of the charter for this Auburn NY Post from the NY Archives in Albany, which listed 61 members by name. This and other GAR Post information can be found at

MRS. LYDIA A. W. STEWART, CIVIL WAR NURSE, DIES - Aged Auburn Woman Passes Away After a Lingering Illness—Funeral to Be H e l d Tomorrow. SPECIAL t o THE POST-STANDARD. — AUBURN. May 21. —Mrs. Lydia Anne Weager Stewart, 84, widow of Colonel Charles H. Stewart, died at her home, No. 4 John Street, today after a lingering illness. Mrs. Stewart served during the Civil War as a nurse, while her husband, for whom the Charles H. Stewart G. A. R. Post was named, was gaining renown on the battle line. She is survived by one son, Charles C. Stewart of New Haven, Conn., and a sister, Miss Jane Conger of San Gabriel, Cal. The funeral will be held at the house Sunday at 3 o'clock. Rev. Charles Gorman Richards, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church officiating. The Women’s Relief Corps, of which Mrs. Stewart was a member, and other G. A. R. organizations will attend in a body and take part in the burial services at Fort Hill Cemetery. Syracuse Post Standard Saturday, May 22, 1915.

A second obituary provides a bit more detail:


Shock Fatal to Widow of Army Officer living here nearly 70 years.
Following an apopleptic stroke suffered Saturday from which she never regained consciousness, Mrs. Lydia A. Stewart, 84, widow of the late Colonel Charles H. Stewart, died early this morning at her home, No. 4 John Street. For nearly 70 years Mrs. Stewart had resided in Auburn.
The deceased, although a remarkably active woman all her life, had been in failing health for the past eight months. Hers was a life of action such as few women have experienced.
For some time during the Civil War she braved the dangers and hardships of the battlefield as a nurse, fighting against the yellow fever which at times broke out in the army of the North. She worked side by side with her husband, the late Colonel Stewart, who passed away in May 1874 when all Auburn went into mourning.
Both the Charles H. Stewart Post, No. 37, G. A. R., and the C. H. Stewart Relief Corps, No. 11. were named after Mrs. Stewart's illustrious husband.
The deceased was a member of the Eastern Star Lodge here. She was born in Amsterdam, N. Y., January 22, 1831, and removed to this city when a girl. She was active in church work as well as taking part in the activities of the Relief Corps.
Her maiden name was Lydia A. Weager.
Mrs. Stewart is survived by one son, Charles C. Stewart of New Haven, Conn., and one sister, Mrs. Jane Conger of San Gabriel, Calif.
Funeral services will be held from the family home, No. 4 John Street, Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock, the -Rev. Charles Gorman Richards, D. D., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church officiating. Burial will be made in Fort Hill Cemetery.

A Civil War Nurse from Scipio

The men of the Union Army suffered deprivations we can only imagine. The women and children left behind, some forever, struggled as well with meeting their basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. Our ancestors were a determined people, or we would not be here today.
Some women heard the call to duty on the battlefields themselves. From Scipio and surrounding areas, some women became nurses and gave the men comfort and care during the midst of sometimes horrible circumstances.
Many of us know of the work done by local legend Harriett Tubman, a woman of valor and courage rarely surpassed. You may be surprised to learn of some other local women who followed our troops into battle and helped many survive the cruel wounds and unsanitary conditions of battlefield hospitals and emergency surgeries.
One such woman was "Mother" Mary Brown Newcomb. Born in Scipio, she was totally untrained but chose to serve as a nurse for about 4 years. When her husband Hiram signed up with the 11th Illinois Volunteers, Mary accompanied him. Hiram died of his wounds early in the war, and after seeing to his burial, Mary returned to the battlefields and continued as a nurse.
She did receive a nurse's pension, and she wrote a book about her experiences that provides much detail to the conditions she and our patriots endured titled "Four Years Experience in the War." There is a copy of this book at the Scipio Town Offices.
A book has also been written about her, titled "Mother Mary Ann Brown Newcomb: Effingham Civil War Nurse" by Linda Hatke Ruhall RN PhD. Linda had contacted me when I was doing some research on "Mother Mary" and shared that Effingham IL was the final resting place for this brave woman.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Grand Army of the Republic

After the Civil War, Union soldiers formed Grand Army of the Republic or GAR Posts. Much has been written about these posts; today in honor of Memorial Day, here is a transcript of the application for a GAR Post charter for #632 Selah Cornwell in the town of Scipio:

Scipio Cayuga Co NY             July 10 1888
Assistant Adjutant General of the Department of New York
Grand Army of the Republic
We, the undersigned honorably discharged Soldiers and Sailors of the Army and Navy of the United States, now residents of Scipio, County of Cayuga, State of New York, do respectfully apply for a CHARTER for a POST of the Grand Army of the Republic, to be located at Scipio County of Cayuga under the jurisdiction of the Department of New York, G. A. R., subject to the regulations of the Grand Army of the Republic, an the Department of New York thereof.

Benj. S. Cain
T. C. Tallman
Leonard Williams
Frederick R. Hart
Wilbur M. Clark
Erastus Jordan
Samuel Winters
Chester Sincerbox
Philip Strong
Francis Flynn
A.W. Jaquett
P. T. Shorkley
James H. Hartnett
Morto Palmer
J. D. Adams

Crossed out:
D. P. Lapuer (?)
Benj. T. Gould
A. A. Austin

We recommend that Post Commander Frederick Cossum of Seward Post muster Cornwell Post
Please return Charter to Rev. D. P. Lapuer (?) Scipio Center NY

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Clark and Fordyce Families of Ensenore and Scipio

Summer in central New York means many things, but one of the most popular is the yard sale. On a sunny Saturday morning you are bound to find one in your travels.
Every few years I pick my way along the annual “Route 90 Sale” looking for things I don’t need. I am always browsing for old books, and this year I found one that lends itself to a Scipio story - Little Loo by W. Clark Russell.

A prolific writer, Russell authored a total of 57 novels; collections of short stories and newspaper articles; a volume of historical essays; popular biographies and a collection of verses.

When I opened the front cover of Little Loo, I found that it had been a Christmas gift in 1900. The flyleaf is inscribed “Presented by Grandma Clark to Alpha Clark December 25, 1900.”
I thought those names were familiar, so I checked into the historical family records I have for Scipio and there it was. Grandma Clark was actually Joanna Malvina Johnson, wife of George Clark who built and ran Ensenore House. Her son Frank and his wife Emma had two girls – Alpha and Louisa.
In June of 1863, George Clark registered for military service in the 24th Congressional District. The register shows he was a 22-year-old unmarried carpenter. He was mustered in to the 1st Engineers (or Serrell’s Engineers) on February 16, 1863. As a Private, his pay would have been $13 a month. By September of 1863, he married Malvina.
In the spring of 1865, Mr. and Mrs. Clark bought the Hiram Close farm and took up their residence in the town of Scipio about one mile west of Ensenore where they resided for over 40 years.  
In the 1900 census, I found that George and Malvina were still living in Scipio, right next door to his son Frank, his wife Emma and their children Alpha and Louisa. In fact, after George Clark died in 1906, Malvina moved in with Frank’s family until her own death in 1916.

You may already know that George Clark built a four-story hotel and named it the Ensenore Glen House, which opened in June of 1875. It had 40 rooms, a huge hotel for our area. Each room had access to porches that encircled the hotel, with a large observatory at the top. In 1875, it cost two dollars a day to stay (about $40 in 2015 dollars) and another fifty cents for meals. The Ensenore House had a black walnut staircase and a large barroom with an L-shaped bar.
Captain Clark had 10 boats, supplies for croquet and other games, and of course you could get a ride on his steamer The Owasco, which was later renamed The Ensenore. The featured attraction that drew people from far and wide was a walk up through the Glen to the falls. Clark had constructed stairs for the trail, some of wood and some carved right out of the native stone, which ended with a downward view of 437 feet – almost one and a half times the length of a football field!

The recipient of Little Loo, Alpha Clark, married to Dr. Benjamin Fordyce, a well-known and respected man of Scipio who spent over two years accumulating the cobblestones from Lake Ontario to build their home in 1843; it still stands just west of Scipio Center.

I can't wait to see what treasures I find in this year's yard sales!

Looking For A Few Good Stories

If you look at the post just below this one, you'll understand my title. I would love to apply for the Pomeroy Foundation Grant and commemorate one or more of the good old legends of Scipio. If I knew the approximate location of the "Tracy and the Bear" escapade (see a previous blog entry), I would apply right now - maybe you can help. Or perhaps, you know another story? Let me know!

Know Any Good Stories About Scipio?

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Scipio Coverlet Story

Cup on the Bus: A day and a half trip: I went back to Coalmont, Pennsylvania (population 105) early in March; my so help me last trip up the long hill that is town, from the D...