Wallace Spencer’s Civil War Letters

I have been watching Ken Burns’ film series on The Civil War. Parts of it were very hard to watch. The prevalence of death and destruction is beyond belief.  And then, of course, I started thinking about my ancestors and their experiences.  Just among my direct ancestors and their siblings I found 9 men that participated in that War.

Most of them were connected to one family; Titus and Phoebe Perry, my 3Gr-Grandparents.  They had five children: three sons, John [my 2Gr-Grandfather], George, and Clark, and two daughters, Jane and Mary.  Titus himself was too old for the War but for a time in 1865, all three of his sons and both of his daughter’s husbands were soldiers in The Grand Army of the Republic.  That’s a heavy investment.

Fortunately, they all came home alive.  But Jane’s husband, Wallace Spencer did sustain an injury to his leg.  We know that because he spoke of it in some letters that he wrote home to his wife. We have these letters because they were in his Pension Files as evidence of his injury.  But they also tell a much more interesting story about a man, his family, and a war.   I will speak of the other veterans at another time, but for now, here are Wallace Spencer’s letters home from the front.

transcription notes: Spelling is all as Wallace wrote but I have added some punctuation and line breaks.  Explanatory notes and links [in brackets] are mine.  hint: in old handwritten documents, “ss” frequently looked like “fs”.  

December 16th, 1864
This is the first chance that I hav had to write for the last day or two sow will try & improve the time I hav.    lots that I would like to write but dont now [know] as I can think of what I wanto but will try & do the best I can.
I guefs [guess] that I will commnese back a little for I want to tell what a good General we hav.  the night that I got hurt he was about a mile from me & as soon as he hurd the news he putt spur to his horse & came to see me & when he had lurnt [learned] the particulars he sent his orderly to camp after an ambulance.  but he is good & kind to all of the men that are under him his name is General Forse (Manning Force) a brigadeer.  he was wounded before Atlanty he was shot in the wright cheak just below the ey & came out on the left cheak.  he came from the hospital the time that we wer on the other rade north.
Well, we are in our old camp yet & guefs we will stay here untill we get our supplies.  here all that we hav had to eat for some time is rice & a little meal that we hav had to grind and cook for our selvs but I am glad to get that.  but I guefs we will get our hard tack by tomorrow & then we can live on the top shelf.
I am fat as a pig & more so & as lowsy as a hog.  that is in a polite way of speaking.  I hant had my close washed since I left Atlanty nor cant get them washed till we get some soap.
but Fort Macalister is in our hands & communication are now open with the land of living & my opinion is old bily Shurman will soon hav possesion of Savana & the rest of the river & then I guefs Charleston had better look out.
this rade [Sherman’s March to the Sea] is one of the greatest undertakings of the war.  We have destroyed the raleroad from merietta to within twenty miles of Savana & my opinion is the south will feal & now [feel and know] of this raid as long as they live for we hav not only destroyed the raleroad but hav lived of from the country & burnt houses whare thay wer in arms against us & every cotten mill & all the cotten has been destroyed by fire.
I guefs that I shal havto stop this poor writing for I want to write a few lines to my Father & Mother but there is one thing I like to hav forgotten & that is the socks that you sent & the butter that Mother Perry sent & the buries that mother Spencer sent & alsow the tea.  The butter & buries are ate up but the tea & socks I hav got. I am thankful for these favors & hope I can do as much for you someday.
I bought me a watch the other day & paid $12 dollars for it.
We hav warm weather sow far with the exception of 2 or 3 days.  The Pickets are firing Pretty Saucy at the rebs expect the old canon will soon open on them.  The land is swampy & leavel & pine timber no [next line illegible]
this must answer for all of you till I can get time to write, love to all. W.A. Spencer

 

Camp near Beaufort South Carolina
Jan 12th 1865

Dear Wife & Children
We hav got marching orders & expect to start tomorrow morning but guefs we wont go far for I can hear the cannon boom about 7 miles off.  I am on duty today sow shant hav long to write.  this is the first time that I hav been on duty since I was hurt. my leg dont get much better.  It is hard work for me to march I hav to take my own time for it.  my health is good with the exception of a sour stomach this morning (bad sine I guefs) but hope nothing searious.

I was going to write a letter to Clark [Jane’s brother?] today but don’t believe that I will get a chance I wish that those that are at home would write once & a while & not wate for me to answer every on of there letters.  I begin to think that you are the only friend that I hav. Well I am sory that I hav don any thing that should cas [cause] them to feel in that maner towards me. I havent had a letter in over three weeks but will keep a stiff upper lip & hope for better days. I now [know] that you do the best you can so wont blame you

I hant seen any snow this winter nor much cold wether the trees are green & every thing looks like sumr

I can heer the reports of the big guns firing as I sit here in my shelter tent writing & think perhaps tomorrow by this time I may bee in the contest & if I fall you may now [know] that I am thinking of you & those little ones of ours but don’t think the rebs will stand to fight us long unlefs [unless] they hav got brave all at once.

I sold my watch yesterday got the same as I paid for it.

My love to you & all enquiring friends from your worser half.
W. A. Spencer

 

In camp near Ft Pocotligo Jan 18th 1865

Dear Wife and Children

I guefs I will write you a few lines to let you now how I am.  I am well and my leg is getting some better & if nothing happens I think it will bee entirely well in a few weaks hope it will for it is hard marching.  We left Beaufort the 13th & drove the rebs back to their place the second day on the march.  we lost a few men & we expected to have a fight on sundy but we got up in the morning and found the rebs had fled & left their stronghold for the yanks.  we are on the Charleston & Savannah rale road we are within 35 miles of Charleston. we expect to start for that place as soon as we get our supplies & hav the 15 core com up then we will have communications open to Savannah & Beaufort.  I think if the rebs dont leave Charleston before we get thare they never will we may have some hard fighting there but they now [know] as well as can bee that their cake is done.  I hope General Shurman will be as good as his word he says that the war will bee ended in 3 months.

I got a Paper last night that David [could be Wallace’s brother] had sent me & I expect to get a letter from him soon. I was glad to get it

I hant got any of answer from the letters that I hav riten sinse we first came in front of Savannah but I shal stop writing till I get [illegible] from you to do so I presume that I will get a pile of them when I do get them.

I presume that you hav got my Diry before this time there is some things that I will explain some time dont now but I had better this time.

Give my respect to all of the neighbors that enquire after me. I will try to write another letter to you before we leave here.

Tel the boys to write.

The regiment hav gone out foraging.

Oh how I wish that you new my thoughts of you & those little ones of ours but tongs [tongues] cannot tell nor neither can I write it. excuse this Poor letter & believe me as ever your husband.

W. A. Spencer

Ps I will send a few leaves of what has happened up to this time in this letter if I can get them into the envelope.

Perry 007

Wallace Albert & Jane Marie Perry Spencer

Miranda Perry’s Diary

In 1871 my Gr-Gr-Grandparents, John & Miranda (Warner) Perry, and their two children Albert, 9, and Luena, 4, migrated from Nepeuskun, WI to Sibley, IA.  The 400 mile wagon trek took just over a month.  During the journey and continuing for the first few months of their new life in Iowa, Miranda recorded her daily experiences in a diary.

Thirty some years later, she apparently took the volume with her when she, by then a widow, went to live with her son-in-law and daughter, Alva & Luena Harding, in Garden City, SD.

Many more years later, after Miranda, and then Alva, had both died, Luena and her daughter, Lulu, moved from Garden City to Watertown, SD.  But before leaving, they had to clean out the old farm house.  As the story goes, it was who Lulu found the diary in the attic and asked “What should we do with this?”  Fortunately, it occurred to someone that they should KEEP IT!  And so they did; and it has subsequently passed through many hands before falling into mine.

 

I treasure this old book and in order to share it with as many as possible, I have scanned it in its entirety and transcribed the important journal entries.  I offer it to you here for viewing and download via a link at the end of this post.

The link will take you to a folder containing four items:

  1. A transcription of the daily journal entries in searchable text.  I encourage you to view and enjoy the images of the book itself, but the hand written pages are not always easy to read.  If Gr-Gr-Grandma Perry had know that I would be trying to read her diary 150 years later she might have sharpened her pencil a little more often.  Or, she might have burned it.
  2. Vol. I – The first 30 pages of the book consist of an 1871 Almanack which is interesting reading in itself.  Then next 30 pages were dated and intended for journal entries but were used mostly for scratch paper.
  3. Vol. II – This is the real heart of the diary and contains the daily journal entries made between April 9th and September 1st of 1871.
  4.  Vol III – 80 more pages of ciphering, accounting, scribbling and penmanship practice.

 

All four files are available for viewing and download here.

 

 

Memories of WWII by Glen Harding

Today is my dad’s birthday; Centennial, actually.  He was born 100 years ago today in a farmhouse outside of Garden City, SD.  In honor of that occasion, I offer you his Memories of WWII.  I have edited it slightly for spelling and typos but for the most part, what follows are his own words written around 2000.

World War II Memories
of
Glen Harding  #39592527

The 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II has come and gone. 

There have been a lot of events taken place honoring the Veterans that have sparked a lot of interest.  Among those interested are my two sons, Keith and Kevin.  I will try to relate as much as I can remember.  It must be remembered that after 50 years my memory leaves a lot to be desired.  Many dates can be found accurately given.  Others are approximate.

My Discharge says I was inducted into the Army July 7, 1944 at Fort McArthur California.  Discharged April 6, 1946 at Camp Beale, California.  I had reached the Rank of Sergeant and earned the World War II Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Ardennes, and Central Europe Medal and  Combat Infantry Badge (the one I am the proudest of) and served as an Infantryman in the Ardennes and Central Europe Rhineland.  (note: Dad never knew it but he also had a Bronze Star Medal.  I, learned about it when I read it on his grave marker.  Apparently, according to a 1947 regulation, a Combat Infantry Badge from WWII automatically qualified one for the Bronze Star Medal.)

Induction was at a building in downtown Los Angeles.  From there it was a train To Fort McArthur .  Here were shots, haircuts, clothing issue, etc.  Everyone was promised a pass for the week end.  This was the first lesson of the Army.  Come Friday night we were all put on KP for the week end. (no passes).  Before the next week was over we were on a train going to Cap Hood, Texas (now Fort Hood).     Bernice came to Camp Hood and spent a week there.  I spent most of the week in the field.  We had 2 weekends together

After 18 weeks of Basic Training I left there on a delay in route pass via Los Angeles.  When the 10 days were over it was to the train station.  That is when the fuel pump on our 1935 Ford decided to give up the ghost.  We called a cab for transportation.  Les Travers helped her out of that situation.  As I was to board the train Keith decided he was going with me.  A bit of a problem.

harding 009

Arriving in Maryland with a lot of snow cold.  I felt sorry for the 18 year olds that had never been in such a climate and had never been away from Mama.  After a few days there it was on to Camp Miles Standish near Boston.  Here we boarded the Aquitania, a British four stacker, nearly as large as the Queens.

The 9 day trip across the Atlantic was uneventful.  My bunk was a Pallet on the floor in front of the toilet (Head).  Everyone going in and out had to step over me (they all made it).  Going over with 117,000 troops and Crew takes some getting used to.  Like myself most had never been on the Ocean before.  Seasickness was a major problem.  (not myself).  Our Ship had 4 dining rooms.  They could feed everyone 2 times a day.  It was a slow process with standing in line in narrow corridors.  With only salt water showers not many were taken.  The corridors got pretty smelly.  People got a little woozy standing in line.  By the time they got through the serving line and got their meal and took it to the standing tables where we ate many set it down and headed for the rail.  I got through the first time without getting sick but observed what was happening and changed tactics.  I entered the dining room through the exit door and watched for someone to get his meal and head for the rail.  I would walk up and eat his meal and left.  Sure cut down on time and sickness.

Our Ship anchored in the Harbor at Glasgow, Scotland.  We left the ship by ferry, which took us to a train on the Pier.  Then an overnight ride to South Hampton, England.  We got our taste of London fog.  We were warned to keep close to the person in front of us to keep from getting lost (about 3 feet).  We went into a large warehouse where the Red Cross was set up with about anything we needed.  Here we Boarded a ship and crossed the Channel, I think on New Years Day.  The landing was at Le Havre, France.

From here we rode in Train Box Cars.  The famous 40 and 8s (forty men or 8 horses).  We went to Verviers, Belgium.  Here I was assigned to the 99th Infantry Division.  Then we went forward in trucks.  I remember spending one night in a Brick Building with the windows all bombed out and no heat.  It was a cold night.  A buddy of mine, Hoopes, put three of our blankets on a cot and both got on the same cot and put one blanket on and huddled together to keep somewhat warm.

I want to dwell some on the next stop.  I don’t know where it is located.  I have been over there in 1999 and found no one that could tell me where it is.  The town was at the base of a hill.  The ground was covered with ice.  Vehicles could not get up the hill so we had to walk and carry our packs.  It was a matter of 3 steps up and slide back 2.   At the top we came to a huge Cave.  There was a fireplace large enough to take small trees.  The first time I was warm since leaving the ship at Glasgow.  A Cadre member took some of us around into some of the tunnels leading off from the main.  From one we came out into a tower.  I seemed like it was a mile to the bottom of the canyon.  (It couldn’t have been).  I think this was some medieval fortress.  Another tunnel was a Bakery with large iron oven doors.  Where the smoke went I have no idea.  Another was the Latrine.  There were holes in the floor with foot prints so you could plant your feet and squat down over the holes.  You could drop a stone in the hole and never hear it hit bottom.  We were taken out into a clearing where there was a pile of M1 Rifles.  I think they had been picked up in the field by a dump truck and dumped there like a pile of rocks.  We picked out a Rifle and took it back to the cave where we cleaned it and then went out in a clearing to test firing.

Next stop Eupen, Belgium.  We were given a block of t-n-t to start our fox hole and dig our living quarters.  Weather was so bad nothing was moving.  In about 3 weeks we shoved off.  We went through the Maginot line.  This was a line of pill boxes with an excellent field of fire.  The French had originally built them and the Germans had improved them.  By this time the line was defended by the People’s Army.  They were mostly older men who didn’t want to fight.

Sometimes we ran into Troops that would make a fight of it.  One of these times was a town named Hal Fortuna, Germany.  There were trees along both sides leading into the town.  A Hedge Row on the right and on the left a Catholic Institution.   On the northwest corner a large barn.  On the southwest corner probably the Priest house.  On the east was a large 3 story building.  There was a Chapel on the ground floor.  There were several Nuns and Priest living there.  The Germans were firing down on us from the 3rd floor.  When we finally secured the mission we had 4 left of our 11 man squad.  Myself one of the lucky ones.

Now come the foggy memories.  I remember incidents and places but can’t put them in order or name the places. In April a truck load of us were taken back somewhere for showers and clean clothes.  The first time I had my clothes off since Late November.  On the trip back we spent most of the time helping build roads.  A matter of laying tree trunks down in the mud for the trucks to drive on. In a small town a long tent was set up with 100 shower heads.  We were told we get 5 minutes of water.  Many came out with their hair still soapy.  Sometimes when on the move in daylight we would toss our sleeping bags on a truck.  If the trucks happened to show up that night we would get one back.  Sometimes our kitchen did not show for a day or two.

I remember a 3 day pass to Verviers.  This was before the Hal Fortuna incident because Stern was killed there and Rezeck was badly wounded.  In 1999 I got an address for Rezeck.  I wrote to him and got a letter from his sister.  He had died in 1998 after spending his life in a wheel chair.  In Verviers we saw a sign American Steaks, so in we went.  We went down stairs to the rest rooms.  There was a woman attendant in the hall way.  She took Sterner into the men’s room and got him seated down on the stool and came back and took me to the ladies room.  About time I started looking for toilet paper the door opened and there she was pealing off paper for me.  I often wonder what she would have done head I of raised up off of the seat.

To clear a town of enemies we went down a street, house by house.  Usually 2 to a house.  2 others would take the next house.  I came to a door in a house that only opened about an inch.  It was hitting something.  The Germans were great on putting the stove close to the chimney and running the stove pipe all around the walls to get all the heat they could.  I had to get into the room so backed off a little and made a run for the door.  There was quite a racket.  The stove had tipped over and all the pipe had come tumbling down.  Quite a mess.  I didn’t stop to clean it up.  Another surprise was going into a bedroom where an old man was bedridden.  He sat up yelling something about Kaiser Wilhelm.

We came into this one town on a nice spring day.  It was rather eerie as there was not a soul in sight.  We looked things over and decided to make the most of the peace and quiet and sunshine.  Bobbie got out his clippers and started cutting hair.  We started looking for food.  Most houses had hams hanging in the chimney smoking.  There should be a rabbit hutch around, a vegetable garden and potatoes in the cellars.  First sign of life was a big Rooster came down the street.  Sawyers raised his m1 and shot the head off and we had chicken in the pot.  Often we had to move out before the chicken was done.  In this case someone carried the pot until we got another chance build a fire.  Soon a boy came peeking out of the trees.  He got brave enough to come down where we were.  We fixed him up with candy bars and soon another came.  Before long the town people were all back in the Village.  I suppose they had been told stories about what we would do to them.

Once while cleaning a Rabbit the owner came out boiling mad.  I thought he was mad because I was taking his Rabbit but it turned out it was because I had cut the head off.  They leave the head on as the skin is worthless without the head.

At one stop along the Railway we made a stop at a field kitchen set up to feed troop trains.  There was a pile of plywood along the track.  We loaded some of into our box car.  A warning came over the loud speaker that the train would not move until that ply wood was back on the pile.  We had been in Army too long to swallow that line.  When it came time for the train to go it took off and we build some bunks in our 40 & 8.

Another story is about a Carbide Lantern.  All the German Yard Masters carried Carbide Lanterns.  Having no light in the Box Car we needed one of those lanterns.  First attempt we lured the Yard Master up to our car and when the train started moving someone grabbed his lantern.  That didn’t work as he had it tied to him.  I guess others had tried that before.  Next stop we lured him with a pack of cigarettes.  We told him we had more but needed a light to find them.  He handed us his lantern which we took and closed the door.  He went off screaming for the Captain.  An officer came down the train saying this train will not move until this Kruat has his lantern back.  He had forgotten what car it was.  Again we had been in the Army long enough and covered the lantern with a blanket and the train moved out.  It was easy to get Carbide for a Pack of Cigarettes. 

One time we got to go to see a Bob Hope show.  He put on a great show.  The Radio City Rockettes came to Nuremberg while I was there.  This was another great show.

There were times that we got a little break and got to spend a day or so in a real house.  One of these times was after the Hal Fortuna incident where we down to 5 people.  We stopped in a town and replacements were brought in to bring up to make our squad of 14 men and an Officer.  The procedure was to pick a house and send the occupants on their way and move in for the time being.  Our Replacements begin to arrive and we were glad to be inside for some rest.  One Replacement apparently had not been very well schooled by his Mother.  He had a can of C Rations he wanted to heat.  He sat the can on the stove and waited.  You guessed it the can blew up and there were rations all over the kitchen.  The easy way out was taken.  We just moved next door and let the owners come back and clean it up

Later a pass for Brussels came down and I won the card cut and went to Brussels.  I found a Quartermasters store.  We had been issued winter snowpack boots when the snow was deep.  In the spring they issued Combat Boots to replace the Snowpacks.  My Combat boots did not fit and I had blisters on my feet.  The man there said he could give all new clothes but could not issue Combat Boots to front line troops.  I had two German razors in my shirt pocket.  He asked what I was going to do with those razors.  I told him I intended to trade one of them for a pair of Boots.  I went out of there with Boots that fit.

On March 7, 1945 the 90th Armored captured the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen.  We started out on what turned out to be walk and stop, walk and stop.  Eighteen hours later we crossed the bridge.  It was one way crossing, nothing coming back.  I crossed on the 11th  we were the first complete Division across.  By this time the engineers had one pontoon bridge across and were working on another.  We had to climb a real steep hill at the end of the march.  (On my trip back in 1999 I took a lift to the top)  Our unit was scattered by that time because of the steep climb.  From the top of the hill we saw quite an air show.  The German Planes would come in and try to blow the Bridge and our p38s would come and chase them out.  Anti Aircraft was so heavy it looked like you could walk on the flak.  A buddy named Sutton from Terra Haute, Indiana and I got up the hill at the same time.  We heard a shell coming in and dove into a small building for what protection it might afford.  When we looked up we were in sort of corn crib on a pile of sugar beets.  We could look out of the slat openings. The shell landed in the street and blew a hole some 20 feet deep. (some protection)  Across the road was a long low building with windows on our side.  Sutton spotted a fruit jar on the sill of a window.  We decided to try and make that building.  We ran around the shell hole and made a bee line for the building.  Sutton came in right behind me with the fruit jar full of cherries.  We pulled our spoon out of our boots and ate the cherries. (first food that day).  I have seen a documentary on TV and that jar was sitting on that windowsill./

Somewhere down the line I started getting yellow and couldn’t keep food down.  I would go on sick call when there was a Doctor available.  They would say it looked like yellow  jaundice but I had no fever so they could not evacuate me.  This went on until we up to the Danube River and ready to cross.  As we were to push off the Lt. Told me there was a Medical tent down the road and I should  go there.  I went into the tent and there was only the Doctor there.  He looked up at me and said Yellow Jaundice.  The last Ambulance is out in front get on it.  This was another stroke of luck as many were lost at that crossing.  I found myself at a field Hospital.  At the entrance was a Medic sitting looking at everyone’s tag.  He told me I could have some chicken broth.  Somehow a drum stick  got into my Broth.  In a few days they put me on a c47 which took me to England.  There was a ward full of us.  I went in at less than 100 pounds and 3 weeks later left at 145.  Next was a Convalescent  Center.  One requirement to leave there was to make a 10 mile hike.  Now I had walked from Elsenborn, Belgium to the Danube River and was not going to make that hike just to show them I could.

They finally sent me to a RePo Depot and on back to my unit.  I found them at Konigshofen, Germany.  This Sutton from back at the Bridge Crossing was running the Theater and I got hooked up with him.  Occupation duty here consisted of Fire Guard at night and Outpost duty at nearby towns.  One town was Rodhousen.  Down the road about ½ mile the Russians had a Post.  They would get on their Bicycle and come to visit us.  When we got enough of them a candy bar or cigarette and they would leave.

 

harding 124 cropped for blog

The 99th was sent home with those of high points.  I had only 50 points so had to stay.   We were trucked out to a field where the 79th Division was set up.  I was transferred to them and went back into the same town.  I sort of had it made as I was the one person the people knew.  I worked my way into running the theater.  The only film we got was through Regiment. (one a week).  I knew of some other sources of film and was able to show a new film every night.

.Next I was transferred to the 1st Division at Schienfeld, Germany.  I guess this had a purpose behind it as we were sent to Nuremburg and put on duty at the trials.  Here we were billeted in an SS Kasserne.  We had beds with springs but no mattresses.  One day and Inspecting General came through.  He said I notice Sleeping Bags on all these beds.   Don’t these men have mattresses?  He said order them.  We had them the next day.

Nuremberg was an interesting place to be.  There was an Opera House where we able to go see shows like The Rockettes and plays.  We were basically on an eight hour day at the prison.  When I first went there I was stood guard on cells, recreation yard, etc.  Then they started the escort guard Duty which I was assigned to.  We were all at least Sgt.   There was a room where we waited for a call.  This was before the Trials started and we might have to take one of the Prisoners or a witness for interrogation.  Room 55 in another wing of the Prison was where Prisoners could meet with their Lawyer.  When you took one of them you sat at the table with them until they finished and took them back to their cell.  Once when taking Hess to room 55.  He had requested to read a document that was introduced against him.  He read the first page and handed it to me saying I might be interested.  It was written in English which he was able to read.  It was the report from the time his plane was sighted over England until he was taken back to Nuremberg.  I remember taking Goring for his bath and he had several 1 inch scars on him.  Later I was told this was where they had taken poison vials off from him.  I was home when he committed suicide but by reading medical books the one they missed was in his navel.  I guess the others were for them to find.

I escorted General Warlimont around sever times.  He was a witness at that time.  He said “never lose a war it is too much trouble.”

Some of the Prisoners—

Herman Goering—I found he was no dummy.  He understood English well he might hunt for words when talking but spoke well.  He asked what state I lived in.  He thought most Californians were not natives.  So I told him South Dakota.  His answer was he always wanted to hunt Pheasants there.  He had pictures of his dogs on his desk in his cell.  I think he thought more of them than anything else.

Rudolf Hess—His English was pretty good.  I didn’t think he was a nutty as he tried to portray.  It seemed when alone with him he could carry on a conversation but there was little to talk about.

Von Ribbentrop—I don’t think he spoke any english and had no desire to speak with a lowly Sgt.

Robert Ley—He is the one that hung himself on the flush knob of the toilet just before I got there.

Ernst Kaltenbrunner—I don’t think he spoke english.  He was the first one I took out of his cell for a trip somewhere.  He had to stoop over and turn sideways to get out of his cell.  When he started to straighten up I didn’t think he would ever quit going up.  Me at 130 pounds and him 280.

Alfred Rosenburg—I don’t think I ever had anything to do with him.

Hans Frank—I remember him saying we Americans are funny people.  You are trying me for my life and will probably take it and my daughter works for American Military Government.

William Frick—I can’t come up with anything except he was there.

Julius Streicher—All I remember is it would take a Mother to like him.

Wilhelm Funk—He was very mopey, I suppose I in his place may have been the same.  He had prostrate trouble and had to be taken to the Doctor twice a day to have the water drained out of him.    

Hjalmar Schacht—I don’t remember any trouble with him and he was acquitted.

Admiral Karl Donitz—I remember him as ornery as the day is long.

Erich Raeder—No comment

Baldor von Schirach—I probably spent more time with him than any other.  He spoke fluent English.  His Mother was an American and he had an English Governess as a child.  He was often used as an interperter when I had him in room 55.

Fritz Sauckel—No comment on him.

Alfred Jodl—He was another that didn’t care for orders from a lowly Sgt.  But was soldier enough to obey any command.

Franz Von Papen—He would not put his autograph in a book with the others.  Only on a separate paper.  He was acquitted.  He was defended by his son.

Arthur Seyss-Inquart—I don/t have any comment about him.

Albert Speer—I don’t remember having a lot to do with him.  Since reading his book,  he acknowledges their wrong doing, I give him some credit.

Konstantin Von Neurath—Again I can’t remember much about him.

Hans Fritzsche—He created no waves and was acquitted.

Wilhelm Keitel—Here was an old time Prussian General.  He held his head high and obeyed orders.

Leaving Nuremberg I was sent to Selb, Germany where I joined the 102 Div.  This unit was built up with enough points to come home.  It was a waiting game but finally got to Le Havre, France where we boarded the General Anderson.  It was 5 days home to New York where a Brass Band greeted us home.  I have a news letter put out on the General Anderson.  It required 20 navy cooks. 11 bakers, and 2 commissary storekeepers full time.  Plus the GI’S doing KP.  They consumed 52 cases of eggs, 800 pounds of sugar, 34 pounds of coffee, 300 pounds of butter, 500 pounds of Jam.  Cost of feeding per week in 1946 was $20,000.

We debarked and went to Camp Kilmer where the 102nd was deactivated.

Another waiting game for our name to come up on the shipping board.  When my name came up it was by C54 to the west coast.  Coming into Dallas we had engine leaking oil and were there for a week waiting for repair.  Then to Long Beach, California for fuel.  It was a 20 minute stop and I had time to call home.  At Camp Beale in Northern California we started the discharge process.  Things moved rapid and looked like the Army was going to do something right.  Within 2 hours of discharge my name came up and I was sent to the Hospital for Diabetes tests.  This was on Thursday and I found they would do nothing until Monday.  I asked for a pass and was told passes only started Saturday and for a 50 mile radius.  I asked the nurse if she would write a pass to Los Angeles for Friday and Sunday.  She wrote it and said I don’t think the Col. will sign it.  I took it to the Col. (a woman).  She talked a bit and asked how I would go to Los Angeles.  I said I would fly.  Flying was not too popular yet in those days.  She asked how long since I had been home.  I said 2 years.  She changed the pass to immediately to Monday morning.  I made the trip home and back by Monday morning and went through the tests and found I did not have Diabetes.  So I was out of the Army.

dsc01400 cropped for blog

 

Thomas Buckingham & Son; Puritans

One the benefits of genealogy, for me at least, comes from those moments when I start to see a connection  between my ancestors and all that stuff they tried to teach me in school.  At those moments, I am challenged to crack open some history books, or digital equivalents thereof, in order to gain a better sense of who my people were and how they lived.

For example, my interest in the American Revolution was piqued, first, when I read that Thomas Harding had fought at Saratoga and witnessed the surrender of Burgoyne, and again, when Eneas Gary wrote in his pension files that he helped build a fort on Dorchester Heights overlooking Boston.

Most recently, it happened when I learned that my 8-Great Grandfather, Thomas Buckingham, was a Puritan and a founding member of the New Haven Colony.  In addition to general resources regarding the Puritan migration to New England, I found several sources that refer to Thomas Buckingham specifically.  Way too much information for one blog post!  But here is his story, in a nutshell.

Thomas Buckingham was born about 1607 in England, perhaps Buckinghamshire.  I found nothing about his earlier life there but he must have been a “non-conformist” or “Puritan”; one who was dissatisfied with the rites and rituals of the Church of England and refused to conform to its practices.  As Protestants, they thought the official state Church of England still resembled the Roman Catholic church too much and sought to “purify” it. 

The King, and Parliament, strongly opposed and harassed the non-conformists to the extent that between 1620-1640 some 80,000 people fled England to build new lives for themselves elsewhere.  One of the families that settled in New England was: Thomas Buckingham, 30; his wife Hannah, 26; and their two children, Hannah, 5; and Daniel, 1.

The Buckinghams were part of a group that was, according to one source,  “made up of middle to upperclass merchants and was one of the richest and most influential groups to emigrate to the New World.”  Also on board were two Pastors, John Davidson and Peter Prudden.  If Prudden and Buckingham were not acquainted before this they certainly were for the rest of their lives.

The voyage to America was made on The Hector and another unidentified vessel, each carrying about 100 passengers.  They were probably at sea for 6 to 8 weeks, and arrived at Boston on June 26, 1637.

The group was anxious to start an independent colony free of all religious and political constraints but most of them spent the first winter in Boston while a few were scouting out a location and making preparations.  The following spring, some 250 settlers, including the Buckingham’s, set sail for the area near the mouth of the Quinnipack River (current site of New Haven, CT) and arrived there in April of 1638.

Thomas Buckingham is listed under “Names of Planters” and “Division of Land according to Estate”, so we know that he was a member in good standing of the church and that he was one of the first settlers.  In the first division, he received thirteen acres of upland, two and one-half on the neck, and five of meadow.  In the second division he received twenty acres.

Within a year, plans were forming for yet another settlement about 10 miles farther west. On February 12, 1639, they purchased from the Indians a tract of land, for the consideration of “6 coats, 10 blankets, 1 kettle, besides hoes, knives, hatchets, and glasses (mirrors)”.

The new town was to be called Milford.  The new church was organized at New Haven on Aug. 22,1639 with Peter Prudden as Pastor and Thomas Buckingham as one of the Seven Pillars.

On “moving day” the settlers marched 10 miles through the wilderness, driving their livestock ahead of them.  Some household goods and farm equipment were transported by sea.

On Nov. 29, 1639, Thomas Buckingham’s name was included on the list of Free Planters. His house lot, #36 on the map below, contained three acres.

 

Being a new settlement in the wilderness, EVERYTHING had to be built.  Church, houses, palisades.  Even their government had to be invented.  Each planter was required to build a house within three years or they would lose their land. 

Thomas Buckingham remained a prominent member of the community in Milford until his deathHis name appears often on the town records usually having to do with land transactions.  One entry, which I found interesting, appears in the town record of May 26, 1657:

A question was brought before the court concerning some fence, in difference, betwixt Thomas Buckingham and Widow Plumb of Milford, which Thomas Buckingham and Richard  Baldwin, brother of Widow Plumb, adjusted, by agreeing to maintain each a certain portion of the fence. The court was satisfied with that agreement and desired them to live in peace and love as neighbors ought to do.

Thomas and Hannah Buckingham had three more children while living in Milford.  The youngest, also named Thomas, was born in 1646, the same year that Hannah Buckingham died.  We do not know for sure when Thomas Jr. was born, but Hannah died on June 25, and Thomas Jr. was baptized on November 8th.

The elder Thomas Buckingham remarried and survived his wife by 11 years, dying at Boston, in the fall of 1657, “where he had gone, on business for the church to seek for them a pastor.” That seems probable because Mr. Prudden had died the year previous, and the church was without a pastor at that time.

As for Thomas Buckingham Jr., (my 7th G-GF) he is also quite noteworthy.

When he was only 19 years old, he began preaching on an interim basis in Saybrook which by then had merged into the Connecticut Colony.   According to the Town Acts of Saybrook, Mr. Buckingham was ordained and installed pastor of the church in 1670, a little over five years from the time he commenced the regular supply of the pulpit.  He remained in that position for over 40 years. 

He evidently held a high rank among the clergymen of the time and was a leader in efforts for the prosperity and extension of the church.  He was a moderator at a synod which convened at Saybrook and formed the platform for the government of the churches in 1708.

He was one of the founders and a Fellow of Yale College.  In fact, the first commencement of Yale College was held at his home in Saybrook.

Town Records also report that frequent grants of land were made to him as his family and expenses increased.  By the time he died, he was quite a landholder.

Finally, the Last Will & Testament of Rev. Thomas Buckingham revealed one more thing about him.  In the abstract of his Will it says “To Mary, his wife, he gives one third of all his real estate, and one-third of all his movables, except only his two negro boys.”   Later on he states who should receive each of the boys, Peter & Phillip, “to be his slave servant”.

What a blow that was.  I knew that my family had been in America since way before the 13th Amendment was enacted; but this is the first evidence I have found that any of my direct ancestors were slave holders.

sources:

Chapman, F.W., Buckingham, William A.; The Buckingham Family; or The Descendants of Thomas Buckingham, one of the first settlers of Milford, Conn. (1872); Case, Lockwood & Brainard, Hartford, Conn.

Buckingham, George Tracy; Buckingham Colonial Ancestors’ (1920) Chicago : G.T. Buckingham

Marvin Lee (Buster) Gary

Today I am introducing a new category for this blog. “Military Veterans”.  Some previous posts already fit the description.   Stephen Harding fought in both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War.   Eneas Gary was also a soldier in the Revolutionary War.  I can probably find someone to write about in virtually every war since.  And they all deserve to be recognized and honored.

To the best of my knowledge, Marvin Lee Gary, or “Buster” as he was known, is the only one of my relatives (1st cousin once removed) that made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country.

I first heard of Buster’s fate when I was about 11 years old.  We had just moved to Oregon and we were visiting John and Elma Gary.  They were Buster’s parents and my Great Aunt & Uncle.   I must have been wandering around their house doing a little exploring when I noticed a picture of a man in a sailor suit. I was told that his name was Buster and he had been killed during World War II.  Even now, I find myself thinking “really?”  Can that actually happen to some one I’m related to?  But, of course, the tragic reality is that, yes, it can.

When preparing to tell a story, one should always begins by reviewing what you think you already know.  To that end, I dug out my notes on Buster Gary which plainly stated that he died on 16 May 1945 when he was “shot down over Germany” .  Quite a story.  But as I sought more details, I realized that there was a problem with that narrative.  Adolph Hitler committed suicide on 30 April, 1945.  Germany signed a Total and Unconditional Surender on May 7th which took effect the next day, the 8th.  And Buster was shot down on the 16th.  Eight days later?  Did somebody not get the memo about the war being over.

I apologize for attempting humor in the face of Buster’s tragic death.  But I use this to illustrate how false and unfounded stories can perpetuate and grow; and how important it is for genealogists, and others, to seek out the actual truth.

So after doing my research, here is what I now believe to be true about Marvin Lee Gary.

  • Born 15 Oct 1923 in Laurel, MT
  • Died 16 May 1945 off the coast of San Diego, CA
  • Branch of Service – United States Naval Reserve.
  • Rank – Aviation Machinist Mate 3rd Class.  As such, his duties were to assemble, service and repair airplanes and airplane engines. Splice aircraft wiring. Know principles and theory of flying.
  • Squadron number – VT-14 (“V” indicates fixed wing aircraft and “T” indicates Torpedo)
  • His plane – TBM-3E “Avenger” Torpedo Bomber Warplane

The most detailed information I found regarding his death was in this, now declassified, daily operational journal which states in part:

UNTIED STATES PACIFIC FLEET
AIR FORCE
TORPEDO SQUADRON FOURTEEN

War Diary – Month of May 1945

1. VT-14 continued in training at NASS, Ream Field, San Ysidro, Calif.

2. On May 16, Ensign Paul Rodger WARBURTON (A1) USNR, and Marvin Lee GARY, AMM3c, USNR, were listed as missing when their TBM was seen to crash at sea during gunnery practice.

4.   OUT     BU NO. 86054     16 May     TBM-3E     Lost At sea

His remains were never recovered.

His is name is included on The World War II West Coast Memorial in San Fransisco, CA.  (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/55904501/marvin-l-gary)

More About Those Lueders Portraits

Previously, I posted about the pictures that hung in my Grandma & Grandpa Lueders’ living room and how I was able to identify who they were.  According to Grandma, they were Keith’s (and my) Gr-Gr-Gr Grandparents and they were buried in Germany.  But that was all they knew.  I learned, among other things, that their names were Heinrich and Caroline Lüders and they lived in Mecklenburg near the Schwerin Sea in northern Germany.

This time, I would like to talk about the portraits themselves.

I began this adventure by trying to determine a date for the pictures based on the style of clothing the subjects were wearing.  I contacted Liza Shade at Washington County Museum.  I knew she had curated an exhibit in Hillsboro on the history of lady’s fashion and had some knowledge on the subject.  She, in turn, forwarded my email to two expert seamstresses that had helped her in the past. They all agreed that the clothing worn in the portraits was: 

“definitely mid to late 1820’s because the waist on the black dress is not as high up as in earlier periods. However, the neckline and sleeves, along with her hairstyle are very much 1820s.”

That was exactly what I was hoping to hear!  I knew from church records that Heinrich and Caroline were married on Oct. 13, 1826.  The portraits could well have been made at the time of their wedding.  They may be the only portraits ever made of them.  Remember, this was before Smart Phones; before Instamatics; before Brownies; before Daguerreotypes even.  If you wanted a picture, you hired an artist.

So how did these pictures get from Mecklenburg to Oregon?  Here’s my theory.  Heinrich and Caroline both died before 1854, when their son, P.A. Lueders, emigrated to America.  It makes sense to me that he, as the eldest son, would have brought the pictures of his parents with him.  I assume that he, in turn, left them to his eldest son, August Lueders, who left them to his only son John Lueders (Grandpa had 5 sisters, no brothers).  My grandparents were from Milwaukee, WI but later moved to California which is where I grew up seeing the portraits hanging in their living room.

Now for the physical condition of the artwork.  First of all, they are not oil paintings as I previously assumed.  They are pastel on paper.  Very thin, very fragile paper.  As soon I opened one of the frames I realized that I was going to need the services of an expert paper conservator.  After a brief search I made an appointment for a consultation with Elizabeth Chambers.  She works out of an upstairs studio in SE Portland and is a delightful person with a wealth of experience dealing with anything made of paper. 

Once out of the frames, we found that Heinrich’s portrait had the beginning of another face sketched on the back.  Perhaps the artist did not like the way it was going so he turned the page over and started anew.  The paper is so thin that the finished pastel image on the front can be seen in reverse from the back.

The edges of the paper are glued to what we assume is the original matte which had a rectangular opening.  That is a problem because the paper is not free to move with changes in temperature and humidity.  Furthermore, the matte and backing are not acid free or archival material.  Unfortunately, being so fragile, Chambers thought it unwise to attempt to separate them.  The oval matte that was used when Grandma & Grandpa had them re-framed in the 1950’s is not much better as it has also left its mark.

At some time, probably also in the 1950’s, someone attempted to fix a small tear by gluing it down to the cardboard backing.  The technique looked OK for 60+ years but it resulted in an even larger tear when disassembled.  That is the big gaping hole you see above.  Fortunately, the entire fragment survived intact.

In spite of all this, the color and brightness of the pastel images is very good.

The two images appear to have been drawn by different artists and they were, in fact, done on different materials.  The paper for Caroline’s portrait is noticeably thicker and stronger than Heinrich’s.  Some people, including me, have described the portrait of Caroline as “amateurish” because the proportions are not right.  Others, who know more about art that I do, say that it is the more interesting of the two because, they say, some artist today are trying to emulate the look and feel of these older portraits.  If that’s the  case, we have the real deal; an authentic, old, portrait of someone who also happens to be a relative..

The artwork stayed with Chambers for a few weeks while she removed as much of the harmful materials as possible, de-acidified everything, and replaced the backing with archival materials.  She also put the fragment back in place and did some very minor re-touching.

While she was doing that, I brought the frames home, built them up to make room for thicker matte and backing material, and refinished them.

The next step, when I got the portraits back from Chambers, was to have some good quality photographs taken while they were still out in the open.

Finally, I took everything to Framing Resources for reassembly.  The existing mattes with the oval holes were discolored but could not be removed so we opted to place a new matte over them with a slightly larger hole.  This provides a clean surface and also adds another step and more space between artwork and glass.

I also chose to use “Museum Glass” which offers UV protection and is so clear and non-reflective that you want to poke it to see if it is even there.

 

So here is Heinrich and Caroline hanging on the wall again.  For now, they are on my wall.  The treatment plan I have implemented would not be adequate for, say, the Declaration of Independence.  But hopefully, it will keep our treasured family heirlooms safe and secure for another 190 years.   

Titus Ellis Perry & Phoebe Maria Jadwin

When Titus Perry was born, there were only 19 States in The Union.  None of them were west of the Mississippi River.  Within his lifetime, Our Nation grew to 44 States and ranged from sea to sea.   My 3rd Gr-Grandfather was a farmer and apparently attracted to newly available and sometimes free land.  As the frontier moved west, so did he.   

Titus Ellis Perry was born April 15, 1817 in North Adams, Massachusetts.  He was the last of 10 children born to Isaac and Betsy Galloway Perry.   Good information is scant but I believe he spent all his early years in and about Berkshire County which is the western most county in Massachusetts and forms the boundary with the state of New York.

Perry 002

Titus Ellis Perry and Phoebe Maria Jadwin 

 

On July 4, 1836 he married Phoebe Maria Jadwin.   She was born August 25, 1815 in Troy, NY but at the time of the marriage she resided in New Lebanon, NY.

New Lebanon is just across the border from Massachusetts and was noteworthy at the time for two things: the largest and most influential Shaker community in the country and Lebanon Springs which was a popular spa and well known for its healing properties.

I suspect New Lebanon may have also been a “Gretna Green” which a place where people go to get married secretly, quickly, or with fewer restrictions.  Kind of like we think of Las Vegas.  Many of the couples that were married by Justice of the Peace Ira Hand were from Massachusetts which with its Puritan background may have been more restrictive than New York.

Titus & Phoebe MR

In addition to when and where they were married, I learn from this record that they were married by a JP so no need tolook for a church record; Phoebe was from New Lebanon; and Titus was from Windsor, about 20 miles east and not surprisingly, in Berkshire Co.

But the most intriguing thing I see in this record is the mention of John Jadwin of New Lebanon as witness.

Nobody knows for sure who Phoebe Jadwin’s parents were.  Some say that her father was Jesse Jadwin from New York County (that’s Manhattan) and that he also had a son named John.  If that is the case, then Phoebe had a brother that was 34 years older than she, and her father was 53 years older.  Not impossible, but I am not ready to buy into that theory especially since I have yet to find any legitimate documentation linking Phoebe to Jesse.  John Jadwin, however, is well established in New Lebanon, the town where she was married.  He is listed in census records there from 1820-1860.  Not only that, he was at the wedding.   He also happens to be the right age to be her father rather than her brother.

Either way, soon after getting hitched, they hit the trail and a year later, their first child (my 2nd Gr-Grandfather) was born 750 miles away in Niles, Michigan.  That was on June 6, 1837.  And they named the boy John Isaac Perry.  Now remember, Titus’ dad’s name was Isaac and Phoebe’s dad’s name was….Jesse?…I think not.  How about John?

I may never be able to prove it, but my current working theory is that John Jadwin of New Lebanon was Phoebe’s father.

Titus and Phoebe had four more children, not far from Niles, in La Porte, Indiana.
Jane Marie – Dec 2, 1840,
Mary Ann – April 26,1843,
George Ellis – June 2, 1845,
Clark Albert – March 17, 1847.

After a decade in the northeast corner of Indiana, not far from the shores of Lake Michigan, Titus must have once again felt the call of the frontier.  This time, the urge drew him and his family 240 miles north and west to Winnebago Co. in the newest State in the Union, Wisconsin.

DSC00281 copy
In 1850, Titus Perry purchased this 120 acre parcel of land from The United States of America.

I was there in 2003 and it is a lovely place.  At least it was in May.

Right behind me, as I took this photo, is Nepeuskun Cemetery.  More about that at another time.

 

General Land Office Recortd

The Perry’s remained in Wisconsin for more than 20 years.  Long enough for all of their children to grow up, marry, and start their own families.  Then the whole clan started moving to Iowa.

John and his wife, Miranda Warner, may have been first to go.  They began their 400 miles trek by covered wagon on April 14, 1871.  Miranda kept a diary of her experiences on the road and during the first weeks in Iowa.  I have her diary.  It is a true family treasure and it is in my safe. 

Jane Marie and her husband, Wallace A. Spencer, may have gone at the same time. In her diary, Miranda speaks of the two families helping each other with the typical rigors of pioneer life such as claiming land, planting crops, baking bread, and building sod houses.

Titus Perry is reported to have arrived in Iowa in the fall of 1871.  But the first Land Record I have for him there is a Grant dated Oct 7, 1878.  By that time he was 61 years old but apparently still farming.  Two more Land Grants came in Oct, 1881 and May, 1882.

Titus Perry lived in Iowa for perhaps 19 years before he died on July 14, 1890 at the age of 73.

Jadwin 001

 

 

 

 

After his death, Phoebe Perry moved to Sioux City, Iowa and lived with Jane Marie and Wallace Spencer.

She survived her husband by 13 years and died May 5, 1903 at the age of 87.

 

 

 

They are buried together in Holman Cemetery in Sibley, Iowa.

 

Scan 7

Scan 6