Thank you to the Pioneers' Cemetery Association, Inc. for a fun evening "Dining Among the Dead," yesterday evening. Music by Arizona's Official Balladeer Dolan Ellis, the dancing of Ballet Folklorico de Tolleson, a nice assortment of items for the fundraising auction, and reenactors who portrayed early residents of Phoenix interred there made for an enjoyable event. We met a man eaten by a bear, the last man shot in a northern AZ range war, a Territorial Governor, a Phoenix mayor, a sheriff, the "Lost" Dutchman (note: the MINE was lost; HE was NOT lost), a madam, and one of her employees - but no one representing any of the Civil War veterans interred there. Technically the Territorial Governor was a veteran, with a CSA (Confederate States of America) plaque on his grave, but there are several Union veterans buried there as well. Hopefully someone will rectify that situation next year. In the meantime, though, the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War contingent in attendance, Margaret Warner Wood Detached Tent #1, had a fun time.
Wreaths Across America ships evergreen wreaths from Maine each December to be laid on the graves at veterans cemeteries across America. Many transportation companies volunteer their 18-wheelers and community volunteers go out on the specified date (this year, Dec. 17th) and set the wreaths on the graves. Costs are covered by purchasers who pay $15 per wreath, typically to be laid on the grave of a total stranger who served his or her country, though some cemeteries do accept personalized requests. Local groups can participate in selling the wreaths and in return get $5 per wreath for their own worthy cause. Margaret Warner Wood Detached Tent #1, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War in AZ (full disclosure: I am currently Tent President) will put the funds it raises toward the Grand Army of the Republic Living Memorial Scholarship Fund. If you would like to volunteer or purchase a wreath (Margaret Warner Wood's Group ID# is AZ0057P, if you'd care to send part of your $15 our way) you can contact WAA at www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/. The deadline for purchasing a 2016 wreath is Monday, Nov. 28th. You can also attend their Arlington Cemetery event, visit their museum in Maine, sign up to be a location coordinator, or add a cemetery to the list. And please join me and others in setting out these wreaths to honor our departed military and veterans on Dec. 17. I will look for you at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix.
When soldiers went home they often joined a local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), which was a fraternal organization that was a powerful lobbying force and the forerunner of the VFW and similar veterans' groups today. If your 3rd MA ancestor lived in or near Lynn, in northeastern MA, he would have gone to the local GAR meeting. That building and others of the period are historic treasures and the city of Lynn has made a "virtual tour" that anyone can take online. Built in 1885, it has been on the National Historic Register since 1979. Here is a link to take you inside this gem: www.ci.lynn.ma.us/aboutlynn_tour_garbuilding.shtml.
Cemeteries change over time, as does ownership of the cemetery. Residents of Reno, NV learned this recently when they saw a public notice posted on the small Hillside Cemetery near the University of Nevada, Reno advising them of plans to disinter and move the remains in over a thousand graves. Civil War soldiers are among those, as are Reno residents of all walks of life who died in the early 1900s. Where is your soldier buried? Is he targeted for disinterment? How would you even know? What would you - could you - do if you found out? Is it necessarily a bad thing? You can read more about this specific case online. I found one local TV station's (NBC News4) article (text plus video) dated August 29, 2016 on their site. I found out about it in the Arizona Republic, which ran an Associated Press piece in the Sunday paper on September 25. (I'm not providing a link because it does not turn up in a search of their online news site.) The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) has a committee charged with finding soldiers' graves and creating and maintaining a database. The National Graves Registration Database is always looking for new information about burial locations and ordinary folk may sign on as contributors. You need not be an SUVCW member. Perhaps you live near an old cemetery and can look for soldiers' graves there and enter their information. Maybe you have a Civil War ancestor and would like his final resting place to be known. I've entered my 3rd MA Heavy Artillery ancestors into the database; it wasn't difficult. You can do this for your soldier, too!
In the "Soldiers of the Regiment" section above, you will see under Co. F the name John G. Gammons, and the notation that he was a 27-year-old clergyman from Westport (near New Bedford.) He left the artillery business behind in January 1865 as a sergeant, when he was promoted to lieutenant. The source for this section, Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, Vol. 5 (Norwood: Adjutant General, 1932), gives two other units where he served but no dates. Rev. Gammons went on to earn a Ph.D., teach at a military school, and serve as a pastor, president of corporations, and also authored some local histories. He also wrote a book about one of his units, the 3rd MA Volunteer Militia, and included a photo of himself and some more personal information. He was not in the pictures on this web site, though, which is unfortunate because it would have been a nice challenge to look for him and to see what sort of uniform he wore, assuming he served in some kind of clergy role. His book was digitized by the New York Public Libraries and can be downloaded from the Internet Archive and has lots of details about the men in this regiment and 17 photos. A dozen or so men from the 3rd MA Heavy Artillery also served in the 3rd MA Vols, like Rev. Gammons, but unfortunately their images are not among the photographs. However, you might find some personal information about your ancestor, including occupation, which is always useful for genealogy. The book is The Third Massachusetts Regiment Volunteer Militia in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1863 (Providence: Snow & Farnham, 1906.)
Some of the soldiers in Co. F did not live long after the war, generally due to disease. If I found a death record on the NEHGS web site I have changed the color of his name in the "Soldiers of the Regiment" section to black, and indicated whether there is a findagrave listing for him. If he is listed as "single" I assume he left no heirs.
One of the images downloadable from the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs section online is an early picture of a ring of gravestones, labeled "Soldiers Cemetery, near Fort Stevens, Brightwood, D.C., August 1865." Brightwood is the neighborhood within Washington, D. C. and the cemetery is today called "Battleground National Cemetery." There are about 35 gravestones visible in the photo but reportedly 40 or 41 soldiers who died at the Battle of Ft. Stevens were buried there, as were some members of the caretaker's family, later. It is one of the nation's smallest national cemeteries and was personally dedicated by President Lincoln, who was at the battle. If you want to read the inscriptions or see any of the details in these photos up close, be sure to download the highest-density TIFF version. The names visible in this picture are: A. Ashbough, Co. H, 61st PA; J. Dolan, Co. D., 2d MA; Lt. W. B. McLaughlin, Co. B, 61st PA; A. Manning, Co. H., 77th NY; --- Owen, ---- NY; A. Mosier, Co. C, 22nd NY; and A. Matott--, Co. G, 77th NY. The call number for this photo is LC-B817-7682. Incidentally, if you would like to honor these soldiers (or others) at the National Remembrance Ceremony each December, you can purchase a wreath for a grave through the Wreaths Across America website.
Earlier I posted a picture of what appears to be the Company F canine companion. There are other "nonmilitary types" in various 3rd MA images but the one I find most intriguing is that of a boy, roughly 8-14 years of age, sitting at the edge of the "patio" where a group of Co. F & K officers posed after the war's end, awaiting the return to their Massachusetts homes. Presumably he was a Washington, DC local, employed by the officers to tend to their barracks, which the building appears to be. I'm sure he had quite a story to tell.
In case you hadn't noticed, it's an election year and a big one at that. Consequently, your local government is no doubt looking for polling place workers. The job hours and pay vary depending on your state and county but overall it is FUN, interesting, and you get to literally make history while you serve your community for a whole day. (Notice this is not a lifetime commitment.) You become part of the process prescribed in the U.S. and state constitutions for picking national leaders, deciding local issues, selecting judges, and determining who will be your voice at the city, county, and state level. (If that doesn't make you feel important and needed, I don't know what will.) If you have vote-by-mail where you live, my experience has been that the grouchy people just "mail it in" while the friendly voters who appreciate your service come out to vote AND thank you. Polling places are staffed by a cadre of volunteers with a mix of experience levels, so if you are a raw recruit, not to worry, someone there is smarter than you. In my county we have classes, in person and online, with hands-on training using the computers that make voter check-in overall very smooth. We also pay you for your time. You might check your county recorder's web site or just search online using terms like "election worker 2016" and the name of your county. In the Phoenix, AZ metro area, go to http://recorder.maricopa.gov/elections/electionboardworker.aspx. Thank you for supporting our democratic process!
I saw an ad today in the Arizona Republic, the largest newspaper in the state where I live, advertising a search feature for their archives, which the ad said dated back to 1862. That sounded like a decent source and the right time period to find images of Civil War veterans and GAR members. I checked it out, thinking I could find a new image source and pass it on to all of you. As it turns out, this is not really a new function of their online edition, azcentral.com, but enhanced capability due to an alliance with ProQuest and thus not free or particularly cheap. This is especially true if you live close to a major library or the state archive, which have the Republic and other newspapers archived on microfilm, already accessible to the public for free. If you are interested, check it out at pqasb.pqarchiver.com/azcentral/offers.html for details on pricing ($1.20 - $3.95 per item), then click on "About the Archive" for usage terms (personal use only, not to be republished - which means no using on your internet site) and time period covered (1890 forward, not 1862 as advertised.) Someone's attorney must have written this page because it includes the warning that "the information in any particular article may be outdated or superseded by additional information. The Arizona Republic does not make any warranties or representations regarding the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or reliability of the information in the articles that you retrieve."