Monday, November 6, 2017

Remembering Two Veterans

This Saturday, November 11, is Veterans Day. Veterans Day originated as "Armistice Day" on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and November 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans--living or dead--but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

Practically every family has one or more veterans in its family tree: living and dead. My assorted families are no exception; and, I have written about a few of them. In honor of Veterans Day, I decided to highlight two World War II veterans for whom I have pictures and some details about their service: One survived the war; one did not.

R.W. Harriman
Robert W. Harriman, 1921-1944, was from Wisconsin. He served
Henri-Capelle American Cemetery - Google image
with the U.S. Army Air Force, 836th Bomber Squadron and the 487th Heavy Bomber Group as a pilot. He was killed over Germany on December 24, 1944. He is buried in the Henri-Capelle American Cemetery in Liege, Belgium. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, and a Purple Heart.  The Henri-Capelle Cemetery possesses military historic significance as it only holds fallen Americans of two major offensives: first, the U.S. First Army's drive in September 1944 through northern France, Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg into Germany; and second, the Battle of the Bulge occurring December 1944-January 1945 in Belgium and Luxembourg. Robert is my husband's 3rd cousin 1x removed.

G.S. Oliver
Glenn Stuart Oliver, 1919-2012, was a member of the Minnesota National Guard that was ordered to Federal duty in 1941 as a member of A Company, 194th Tank Battalion. He was stationed in the Philippine Islands when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Ten hours later, he lived through the bombing of Clark Air Base on Luzon Island, Philippines. For fourth months he fought with other soldiers to slow Japan's conquest of the Philippines. On April 9, 1942, he became a POW when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese. He was part of the infamous Bataan Death March. As a POW, he was held at Camp O'Donnell in the Philippines. He, along with other POWs, was selected for transport to Japan in early October 1944. His POW detachment was sent to the Port Area of Manila. [1]

Arisan Maru - Google image
One thousand eight hundred three POWs were boarded onto the Arisan Maru on October 11, 1944. On October 24, 1944, late in the day, the ship was in the Bashi Channel of the South China Sea. The POWs, on deck preparing dinner, watched the Japanese run to the bow of the ship and then to the stern. The ship had been hit by two torpedoes. The POWs were forced back into the holds, and the Japanese covered the hatch openings with their covers: They then abandoned ship. After the Japanese were gone, the POWs climbed onto the deck. Most had survived the attack. For two hours, the ship got lower and lower in the water. Those POWs who could not swim raided the food lockers, as they wanted to die with full stomachs. At some point in time, the ship broke in two. POWs took to the water on anything that floated. Some swam to nearby Japanese ships, but they were pushed away by Japanese sailors with poles. Five men found an abandoned lifeboat with no oars. During the night, they heard the cries for help which faded way until there was silence. Glenn was one of nine men who survived the sinking. Glenn Oliver is the 2nd cousin 2x removed of my children.

As we pause on November 11 to honor all our military veterans, living and dead, it is good to remember the words of Patrick Henry, one of our country's found fathers: "The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave."

[1] The Battle of Bataan and the 194th Tank Battalion. Minnesota National Guard,

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Great Swamp Fight

Google image
"The Great Swamp Fight" was the culmination of King Philip's War between the colonial militia and the Narragansett Indian tribe in December 19, 1675. The battle was near today's South Kingstown, Rhode Island. The militia, including Pequot Indians, inflicted a huge number of casualties, including women and children.  In fact, the battle has been described as "one of the most brutal and lopsided military encounters in all of New England's history."[1]

Google image
It is interesting to note that King Philip (adopted English name) is not a king from England. His actual name is Metacomet; he was a Wampanoag Indian chief. Prior to December 1675, King Phillip, leading his tribe, rose up against encroaching English settlers in Massachusetts.  By December, the battle was spreading. It was feared that the Rhode Island Narragansett tribe would join up with King Philip’s tribe. Eventually, King Philip was killed.

King Philip’s War was not a localized war: It encompassed New England. The figures are inexact, “out of a total New England population of 80,000, counting both Indians and English colonists, some 9,000 were killed—more than 10 percent. Two-thirds of the dead were Indians, many of whom died of starvation. Indians attacked 52 of New England’s 90 towns, pillaging 25 of those and burning 17 to the ground. The English sold thousands of captured Indians into slavery in the West Indies. New England’s tribes would never fully recover.” [2]

As I was reading about this battle, I came across two names that had me searching the family trees: Samuel Perkins (1655-1700) and James Oliver (1619-1679).

Samuel Perkins is my husband’s 9th great-uncle and was a member of the Massachusetts Regiment – Company number unknown. He was from Ipswich and a cordwainer (aka shoemaker) by trade. As a result of service in the “Great Swamp Fight,” he was awarded a portion of land at Voluntown on the border of Connecticut and Rhode Island in today’s New London County.

James Oliver is the 11th great-uncle of my two children He was Captain of the 3rd Company of the Massachusetts Regiment. [3] He was a merchant in the city of Boston. James came with his parents, Thomas and Ann Oliver, from England in 1632.  James is of particular interest because he was one of the few officers who made it through the “Great Swamp Fight” uninjured. However, he did have five men killed and 11 injured. [4]

Below is a letter I found online written by Captain James Oliver about the battle. [5] You will note that the letter is dated the 11th month 1675. At that time, the 11th month was actually December and not today’s November. 
 Letter of Captain Oliver
Narragansett 26th 11th month 1675

After a tedious march in a bitter cold that followed the Dec. 12th , we hoped our pilot would have led us to Ponham by break of day, but so it came to pass we were misled and so missed a good opportunity. Dec. 13th we came to Mr Smith's, and that day took 35 prisoners. Dec 14th , our General went out with a horse and foot, I with my company was kept to garrison. I sent out 30 of my men to scout abroad, who killed two Indians and brought in 4 prisoners, one of which was beheaded. Our amy came home at night, killed 7 and brought in 9 more, young and old. Dec 15th , came in John, a rogue, with pretense of peace, and was dismissed with this errand, that we might speak with Sachems. That evening, he not being gone a quarter of an hour, his company that lay hid behind a hill killed two Salem men within a mile from our quarters, and wounded a third that he is dead. And at a house three miles off where I had 10 men, they killed 2 of them. Instantly, Capt. Mosely, myself and Capt Gardner were sent to fetch in Major Appleton's company that kept 3 miles and a half off, and coming, they lay behind a stone wall and fired on us in sight of the garrison. We killed the captain that killed one of the Salem men, and had his cap on. That night they burned Jerry Bull's house, and killed 17. Dec. 16th came that news. Dec 17th came news that Connecticut forces were at Petasquamscot, and had killed 4 Indians and took 6 prisoners. That day we sold Capt. Davenport 47 Indians, young and old for 80l. in money. Dec 18th we marched to Petaquamscot with all our forces, only a garrison left; that night very stormy; we lay, one thousand, in the open field that long night. In the morning, Dec. 19th , Lord's day, at 5 o'clock we marched. Between 12 and 1 we came up with the enemy, and had a sore fight three hours. We lost, that are now dead, about 68, and had 150 wounded, many of which recovered. That long snowy cold night we had about 18 miles to our quarters, with about 210 dead and wounded. We left 8 dead in the fort. We had but 12 dead when we came to the swamp, besides the 8 we left. Many died by the way, and as soon as they we brought in, so that Dec. 20th we buried in a grave 34, next day 4, next day 2, and none since. Eight died at Rhode Island, 1 at Petaquamscot, 2 lost in the woods and killed Dec. 20, as we heard since; some say two more died. By the best intelligence, we killed 300 fighting men; prisoners we took, say 350, and above 300 women and children. We burnt above 500 houses, left but 9, burnt all their corn, that was in baskets, great store. One signal mercy that night, not to be forgotten, viz. That when we drew off, with so many dead and wounded, they did not pursue us, which the young men would have done, but the sachems would not consent; they had but ten pounds of powder let. Our General, with about 40, lost our way, and wandered till 7 o'clock in the morning, before we came to our quarters. We thought we were within 2 miles of the enemy again, but God kept us; to him be the glory. We have killed now and then 1 since, and burnt 200 wigwams more; we killed 9 last Tuesday. We fetch in their corn daily and that undoes them. This is, as nearly as I can, a true relation. I read the narrative to my officers in my tent, who all assent to the truth of it. Mohegans and Pequods proved very false, fired into the air, and sent word before they came they would so, but got much plunder, guns and kettles. A great part of what is written was attested by Joshua Teffe, who married an Indian woman, a Wampanoag. He shot 20 times at us in the swamp, was taken at Providence Jan'y 14, brought to us the 16th, executed the 18th . A sad wretch, he never heard a sermon but once these 14 years. His father, going to recall him lost his head and lies unburied.

[1] Drake, James D. King Philip's War: Civil War in New England, 1675-1976. University of Massachusetts Press, 1999. p. 119.
[2] Brandt, Anthony. "Blood and Betrayal: King's Philip's War." HISTORYNET, war.htm. Retrieved 1 Nov 2017.
[3] Miner, Mike E. "Massachusetts Regiment." Miner Descent, 4 Dec. 2011, Retrieved 31 Oct 2017.
[4] "Narragansett Campaign and the Great Swamp Fight." The Bigelow Society,

Thursday, October 19, 2017

World War I and Two Brothers

Sometimes, when working on a family tree, one comes across an event where you want to know more than just the stated facts. This happened to me with two brothers who both served in France during World War I, were both injured, and one received the Purple Heart. The brothers are Marven Crow (1895-1969) and Clinton Crow (1893-1969). 

On June 5, 1917, Clinton registered for the WWI draft. He was living in Clare, Iowa, and working as a “tiler.” Shortly thereafter, on June 17 1917, Marven also registered for the WWI draft. He, too, was living in Clare, Iowa, and working as a farm hand. [1]

Pvt. Clinton Crowe
By August 1917, Clinton was a Private in Company D, 349th Infantry Regiment – organized at Camp Dodge, Iowa - and was assigned to the 88th Infantry Division. The regiment trained for combat and arrived in France in late 1918. The 349th saw minor combat in Alsace just before the war ended, and the 88th Division as a whole suffered only 78 total casualties. [2] Clinton may or may not have been one of the "counted" casualties: He had , however, been gassed. Patti Knight Sedillo, Clinton's granddaughter, remembers her mother stating that “grandpa had contracted pneumonia after he was gassed and laid in a barn for many days while the weather was very cold and damp.” 

By September 1917, Marvin was a Private in Company M, 90th Division,
Pvt. Marven Clinton
357th Infantry Regiment, 179th Brigade – organized at Camp Travis, Texas. [3] Like Clinton’s regiment, Marven’s also prepared for combat. However, the 375th’s regiment combat experience in France was completely different than that experienced by Clinton’s regiment: Marvin and his fellow soldiers found themselves in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel in northeast France.

The Battle of Saint-Mihiel was a major World War I battle fought from September 12-15, 1918, involving the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) and French troops under the command of General John J. Pershing against German positions. It was the first and only offensive launched solely by the United States Army in World War I, and the attack caught the Germans in the process of retreating. [4]

Marven is the person in the upper right-hand corner.
On September 23, 1918, Marvin received a severe injury during a battle in which the entire rest of his squad perished. This incident happened as a continuation of the Battle of Saint-Mihiel. According to the Stars and Stripes, Marven lost his right arm.  However, they may have meant he had lost the use of his right arm. His discharge papers state the suffered a "shrapnel wound to his right shoulder"; and, at the time of his discharge, he was in "poor" physical condition. The drawing from the Stars and Strips, next to this paragraph, does show his right arm in a sling.

Shadowbox displaying
Marven's WWI mementos

Marvin was awarded the Saint Mihiel Victory Medal (pictured in the upper left-hand corner) for his participation in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel and the Purple Heart Medal for the injuries he suffered. These medals are visible in the pictured shadowbox.

After the war, both men went on to get married, have children, and live successful lives. It is interesting to note that they both died in 1969.

Note: Patti Knight Sedillo, Clinton's granddaughter and Marven's niece, was very helpful as a source for this blog. She provided all the photographs and personal information regarding the brothers. Clinton and Marven are my biological 3rd cousins once removed, and Patti is my 5th cousin.

[1] U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918., 18 Oct. 2917,
[2] "349th Regiment - Lineage and Honors Information." 349th Regiment, 19 Oct. 2017.
[3]  Von Roeder, S-Sgt. George. Regimental History of the 357th Infantry.
[4]  Hanlon, Michael. "The Story of the American Expeditionary Forces: The St. Mihiel Offensive.", 20 Oct. 2017,

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I Married My Cousin

Last year I was updating information on my husband’s (James Robert Oliver) family tree. I kept coming across familiar names, and I just knew that these names were also in one of the other four trees I on which I work. Not one to let a mystery stare me in the face, I started going through those other trees looking for those familiar names: Brewer, Morse, Perkins, Sargent. Bingo! I found the connection – my adoptive mother’s family. 

Florence - 1943
It turns out that John Perkins (1583-1654) and Judith Gater Perkins (1588-1654) are the primary connection. John and Judith Perkins are my mother’s (Florence Marie Swinburne Newhouse, 1907-1997) 9th great-grandparents, and my husband’s 10th great-grandparents. I told my husband about this discovery that he and my mother are 10th cousins, which made us, husband and wife, 10th cousins 1x removed. He certainly was not sure what to make about this. I thought it not only interesting, but funny – I had married my cousin! 

It turns out this Perkins family is well-documented. I had not really
Jim 2014
bothered to pursue this line, but I needed to find out more. I found I could go backward from John to William Perkins (1380-1451) where my mother and husband shared common “great-grandparents.”

John Perkins, along with his wife and children, left Bristol, England, on December 1, 1630, aboard the ship Lyon. He arrived in Boston on February 6, 1631. John’s children are where the relationship between my mother and my husband becomes less direct. John’s daughter, Elizabeth Perkins (1611-abt 1670) is my mother’s 8th great-grandmother; John’s son Jacob Perkins (1624-1400), is my husband’s 9th great-grandfather. From there forward, the relationship between my mother and husband becomes one of cousins, aunts, and uncles. 

This just goes to show if we go back in time, we are probably all related.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Solder's Wife

I previously wrote about Michael Awalt, my fifth great-grandfather, a Revolutionary War soldier. 
Five years after her husband’s death in 1835, his wife, my fifth great-grandmother Eva Speck Awalt, started her bureaucratic journey to collect her widow’s pension. In the record below, FC stands for Franklin County, Eva is sometimes referred to as Evy and Eve. The misspellings and other obvious errors have been left intact.    
  • 20 Dec. 1840, Franklin Co. Mrs. Evy AWALT aged 78 states that her husband Michael AWALT died 6 April 1835, that they were married in Mecklenburg County, N.C., 17 April 1778 but she has no record of their marriage or the births of their children, having lost or mislaid it.
  • Nathaniel BORUM testifies to the identity of Evy AWALT.
  • William RIAL aged 73 states he was married to Molly SPECK, a sister of Evy AWALT. Molly RIAL aged 79 also appeared before the justice. Each deponent originally came from Mecklenburg (Rockingham crossed out) Co., N.C. They state that Michael and Evy AWALT from the time of their marriage until his death in FC lived together in utmost peace and harmony.
  • 17 May 1841, FC. Sophia HISE, widow of Coonrad HISE deceased, originally a resident of Mecklenburg Co., N.C., and now of FC, aged 86, states that her husband went in company with Michael AWALT and her sister Evy SPECK and saw them married by Parson WIRTMAN (STARK crossed out) in Mecklenburg Co., N.C., in April 1778. She recalls the month and year because she herself gave birth to a son the following February 1779.
  • William RIAL states he was not at the wedding but lived with the couple for six months after their marriage. He also lived with Coonrod HISE and his wife Sophia SPECK in N.C. and frequently heard HISE say he was present at the marriage.
  • 15 Dec. 1845, FC. Evy AWALT states that Michael AWALT received a discharge from his commander but sold it to another gentleman. States she was married April, 1781, in Rowan Co., N.C. She is unable to appear in court and gives her deposition before John ROLMAN, J.P.
  • Solomon LIMBAUGH aged 45 states he was present on 6 Apr. 1835 and saw Michael AWALT die, and that Evy AWALT has not remarried.
  • 16 Dec. 1845, FC. Sophia HISE aged 89 states that her husband Coonrod HISE, Sr., has been dead more than 25 years.
  • William RYAL aged 75 states he was present more than three years ago to hear Magdalane RYAL state she helped to prepare the wedding dinner when Eve and Michael AWALT were married. Said Magdalane RYAL has been dead more than two years
  • 22 Dec. 1845, Murfreesboro, Tenn. Cover letter sent by John BRUCE to accompany deposition of Evy AWALT and supporting documents. To the Commissioner of Pensions. “Sir, It cannot be expected that the widow can recollect all the facts and circumstances which were related to her by her husband in his lifetime, after a lapse of fifteen or twenty years. Statements are frequently made by the husband to his wife by the fireside and go in at one year and out at the other. Or if the wife actualee by motives of curiosity or otherwise sets down those statements well in her own mind, yet in the course of ten or fifteen years the recollection of those statements will fade and die upon the memory. Dear sir, at this time I bring before you the case of an old lady eighty-two years old, late in the afternoon of life, who in her husband’s lifetime was entirely independant and had plenty of the good things of life, but since his death has been reduced to a state of indigence, and thrown upon a cold hearted and uncharited world for a support. Dear friend, I rely upon the good judgement of the Department and hope for a decision in her favor. “I am, my dear sir, with sentiments of great respect, your friend and obedient servant, John BRUCE.”
  • 15 March 1846, FC. Hon. Stephen ADAMS of Mississippi states he was acquainted with Michael AWALT for many years and AWALT’S oldest son is between 55 and 60, and his grandchildren near 40 years of age
Eva dies on August 2, 1848.  Apparently, in order to settle her estate, efforts to collect the pension were continued by her son Jacob Awalt as can be seen below.
  • 25 Apr. 1851, Cabarrus Co., N.C. Clerk states he can find no record of the marriage of Evy SPECK and Michael AWALT.
  • 24 May 1851, FC. William RIAL aged past 80 years states that he knew Michael and Evy AWALT from his boyhood to their deaths.
  • Jacob AWALT of FC, son of Michael AWALT, states his mother and father were married in Cabarrus Co., N.C., about 1786. His mother Eva AWALT died 2 Aug. 1848, leaving the following named children and heirs at law: Catherine WEBER (or WEVER?), John AWALT, Barbary TIPS, Sophia WEBB, Nancy (or Naomi) LIMBO.
  • John TRAVIS, J.P of FC, testifies that Jacob AWALT is about 62 years old, having been considered an old man for some years past. John ROLMAN, J.P., testifies he has known Jacob AWALT for 30 years and that he himself is 49 years old and supposes AWALT is 62. He was acquainted with Michael and Eva AWALT. He is also acquainted with Mrs. Catherine WEVER, sister of Jacob AWALT, whom he has always understood was older than Jacob AWAL
  • 2 Dec. 1851, Knoxville, Tenn. Taze W. NEWMAN, attorney, is unable to provide physician’s or undertaker’s certificate that Eva AWALT is dead, because one is dead and the other has moved to Texas. This is in the case of Jacob AWALT who lives on Hurricane Creek in FC.
  • 25 June 1852, Marshall, IL. W. MANLY inquires as to the status of Eva AWALT’S claim for pensions.
I could find no record as to whether or not the Awalt family was ever successful in collecting the pension due Eva.

Source: Sherrill, Charles. “Revolutionary War Pension Applications from Franklin County, Tennessee.” Franklin County TNGenWeb, http://www.tngenweb./org.franklin.revolutionary-war-pensions-from-franklin-county. Accessed 21 Sept. 2017.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Soldier's Tale

Michael and Eva Speck Awalt are my 5th great-grandparents on my birth father’s side of the family. I
Image from Find a Grave
ran across their story this week as I was updating some files: Their story involves Michael’s participation in the Revolutionary War and Eva’s attempts at trying to collect her widow’s pension after Michael’s death. This blog will be about Michael, and next week’s blog will be about Eva. 

Michael was born in 1755 in Germantown, Philadelphia County, Province of Pennsylvania, (a proprietary colony). He died April 6, 1835, in Awalt, Franklin County, Tennessee. In an affidavit to procure his pension, Michael stated “that he was born in Pennsylvania, but does not know in what year. He has no record of his age. He calculates his age from the date of his freedom as an apprentice.”[1] 

Google Images
Prior to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Michael moved to Rowan County,
Google Images
North Carolina, where he was an apprentice. (I have not been able to find what his apprenticeship was for.) During his apprenticeship, he was a soldier in the Rowan County Militia commanded by Captain George Barringer and Lieutenant Wendell Miller. As he states in his pension affidavit, “. . . while an apprentice, he was sent by the man to whom he was bound – two trips in pursuit of the Tories.”[2] 

The first trip in 1775, under the command of Lieut. Miller, was to Ninety Six, South Carolina, which is located south of Greenville, South Carolina. Here, the first land battle in South Carolina took place. Major Andrew Williamson tried to recapture ammunition and gunpowder which had been seized by the Loyalists. However, he was outnumbered and reached a truce with the Loyalists.[3] The second trip in February 1776 was to Cross Creek (now Fayetteville), North Carolina, where there “was a hotbed of wartime activity and home of divided loyalties.”[4] 

Google Images
After Michael completed his apprenticeship in 1776, he
General Lincoln - Google Images
volunteered to duty in the Rowan County Militia. Again, from his pension affidavit, he states: “He marched under Captain Cowan to Moore’s Creek in North Carolina. . . camped there for two months when he was ordered to return home. He was ordered to march out again about the first of September to South Carolina and when below Camden [South Carolina], he was put under the command of Major Armstrong. . .and General Benjamin Lincoln.”[5] 

In 1779, Michael was part of two battles: 

(1) The Battle of Brier Creek, fought on March 3, 1779: Brier Creek is in eastern Georgia. The American troops were surprised by the British, and they suffered significant casualties. At this battle, Michael states, “he fired in concert with the American Army about one hour and a half, while the enemy was entrenched. They were then ordered to desist; all was silent until the enemy came into view – when the firing again commenced with considerable effect, but the enemy being reinforced he was commanded by General Lincoln to retreat.”[6] 

(2) The Battle of Stono Ferry, fought on June 20, 1779: Stono Ferry is near Charleston, South
Google Images
Carolina. The British had retreated from their attempt to take Charleston and were able to hold off an assault commanded by General Lincoln. 

General Gates
Google Images
In 1780, Michael served a tour of duty as a substitute for Kilian Keply and saw action at the Battle of Camden, also known as “Gates Defeat.” The Battle of Camden was fought on August 16, 1780. Camden is in South Carolina about 30 miles north of Sumter. In his pension affidavit, Michael states “He overheard Generals Gates and Smallwood arguing about the battle plans,” the formation for the line of battle, and the order of attack. He goes on to state that “he fired the first gun . . .at the line where he was stationed; he fired three times and looked around and the Company he was in had fled, many having thrown away their guns; he made his escape and went home, hungry, fatigued and chagrined.”[7] The American forces, commanded by Major General Horatio Gates, suffered a “humiliating rout, one of the worse defeats in American military history.”[8] 

Google Images
In 1781, he served again, this time as a substitute for George Master, in the Battle of Guilford Court  House. The location today is known as Greensboro, North Carolina. Michael was assigned to drive a wagon, “and his wagon was taken from him by the Tories on the fourth day after the battle.”[9] Again, the Americans lost the fight to the British. However, the British lost almost 27 percent of their men; and because of the high British casualties, the outcome was a “strategic victory for the Americans.”[10] Michael was later discharged by a Major Armstrong.

Michael’s pension petition for his service during the Revolutionary War was granted on March 6, 1833: He received $50 per year.[11] In today’s dollars, that $50 is equivalent to $1,378.56.[12]

[1] The National Archives W326, Revolutionary War Pension Files, Vol. I, A-E.
[2] ibid.
[3] Toulmin, Llewellyn M. "Backcountry Warrior: Brig. Gen. Andrew Williamson," Journal of Backcountry Studies, vol. 7, No. 1, 2012.
[4] North Carolina History Project, Accessed 13 Sept. 2017.
[5] The National Archives W326.
[6] ibid.
[7] ibid.
[8] Maas, Dr. John R.. "The Battle of Camden, August 16, 1780." U.S. Army Center of Military History, Accessed 14 Sept. 2017.
[9] The National Archives W326.
[10] Babits, Lawrence E. and Joshua B. Howard. Long, Obstinate, and Bloody: The Battle of Guildford Courthouse. The University of North Carolina Press, 2009, p. 122.
[11] Sherrill, Charles. Revolutionary war Pension Applications from Franklin County, Tennessee.
[12] "1833 Dollars in 2017." Inflation Calculator, Accessed 14 Sept. 2017.

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Grandmother Remembered

Sunday, September 10, 2017, is National Grandparents Day. We all have two sets of grandparents and memories of those grandparents. I saw my mother’s parents, Richard and Draxa Numbers Swinburne, yearly when we traveled to Bagley, Minnesota, for summer vacation. My parents would stay with Richard and Daraxra while my brother and I stayed with an aunt and uncle (Neal and Opal Swinburne Stave) and cousins on the Stave farm. So, I really saw very little of my maternal grandparents and have few memories. 

However, it is quite a different story with my paternal grandmother. Camilla Elizabeth “Libbie” Swarthout Newhouse was born 12 May 1883 in Pine Island, Minnesota, a small town about 17 miles northwest of Rochester, Minnesota (home to the Mayo Clinic). She married her husband, 
about 1905
Fritz Valentine Newhouse, a dentist, on June 15, 1905. He was also born in Pine Island on February 14, 1880. He died on February 13, 1923, in Rochester.

I grew up in Rochester and saw Elizabeth (her preferred name) on a weekly basis, if not more. We always had Sunday dinner at her house. We would be seated around her walnut dining room table that had matching chairs. I remember her furniture in the living, the bedrooms, and the front porch. I remember her peddle Singer sewing machine. I remember sitting at her dressing table and trying on her jewelry. (See previous blog about the Glove Box.) 

When my parents would take a trip during the school year, she would come to stay with my brother and me. Apparently, we were not too much work for her as she always came back. Our friends thought our grandmother was rich - she would give the two of us 50¢ each to spend at the corner grocery store about two blocks away. As it was the time of penny candy, we could buy enough candy for ourselves and our friends. 

When I reached the 7th grade, I started attending what was then junior high school. My grandmother lived within walking distance from the school, and it became a common practice for me to stay with her for a week at a time. She was an avid bridge player, and she was teaching me the game (but I never really learned). We also played lots of other card games with much laughter involved. When it was nice outside, we would sit in the backyard in lawn chairs and later compare our arms to see who had a better tan. 

Every time I think about my grandmother, I smile.

Friday, September 1, 2017

A Shared Birthday

Our birthdays are September 1. She was born in 1909; I was born in 1946. She was my mother-in-law, Alvina Bertha Forster Oliver. 

Alvina, 18 months old, 1910
Alvina was born in Greenbush Township, Mille Lacs County, Minnesota – the oldest of five children, and a granddaughter of German and Norwegian immigrants. 

Her education, and that of her siblings, stopped after the 8th grade. Her father, a farmer, felt that education was not necessary, especially for girls, after 8th grade. Perhaps that was because he only completed the 6th grade and had done well with his grade-school education. My husband, Alvina’s only child, thinks it was because he was a such a strict German. 

Alvina married Robert George Oliver (1906-1975), a local farmer,  on October 16, 1935, in Princeton, Minnesota. 

Alvina liked to cook and bake, and she loved to share her talents with others. When friends and
Alvina in 1943
neighbors would drop in for a visit, she always had goodies on hand: bars, cookies, cake, pie. When we visited and it was time to go home, she would send with us a load of sweet treats for the kids – which they absolutely loved.

She loved making things. She made rugs, intricate quilts, colorful afghans, beaded Christmas ornaments, cross-stitched tablecloths, and anything else that piqued her interest. 

When I married her son, James Robert Oliver, I remember her saying, “I can now die in peace as I know that he’ll be taken care of after I die.” She was a gentle soul who died on October 5, 1989.

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Civil War POW

Originally known as Camp Sumter, Andersonville was a Civil War POW camp located in southwest Georgia from February 1864 to the end of the war in April 1865. Of the nearly 45,000 captives - soldiers and civilians, 30,000 died of starvation, scurvy, diarrhea, dysentery, and exposure to the elements – more than 30 a day during the time Andersonville was operational.1 William Chatfield was one of those unfortunate beings.
William was born 1842 in Quebec, Canada. In 1851, the Canadian census has him living in Dunham, Missisquoi County, Quebec, which is just north of the Vermont-Quebec border. In 1861, William ventured south to Vermont and volunteered for the Vermont Infantry. He was a corporal in Company F, Regiment 10. Whether it was for a sense of adventure, political ideology, having relatives in the “North,” or something else, it was not uncommon for young Canadian men to venture to the United States and volunteer to fight in the Civil War. 

William was captured in Virginia on October 11, 1863, by the Confederate Army. The Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by Generals Meade and Lee respectively, were involved in the “Bristoe Campaign” - a series of battles in Virginia. William was probably captured at Brandy Station, Virginia, as that is the location of Meade’s troops on October 11, 1963. Since Andersonville did not begin operation until February 1864, William obviously was kept elsewhere before ending up at Andersonville. 

Upon his arrival at Andersonville, he would have observed the scene as described by Robert H.
Kellogg, sergeant major, with the Connecticut Infantry:

"As we entered the place, a spectacle met our eyes that almost froze our blood with horror, and made our hearts fail within us. Before us were forms that had once been active and erect . . . now nothing but mere walking skeletons, covered with filth and vermin. . . . In the center of the whole was a swamp. . . and a part of this marsh. . .had been used by the prisoners as a sink and excrement covered the ground, the scent arising from which was suffocating."2

As soldiers and civilians died, they were buried in trenches without formality. On September 14, 2015, a funeral was held for 13,000 soldiers. Today, Andersonville is a National Cemetery. Andersonville has also become home to the National Prisoner of War Museum.

Corporal William Chatfield died on May 20, 1864. The official cause of death was diarrhea. He is buried in grave 1228. William Chatfield is my adoptive father's (Frank Newhouse) 4th cousin two times removed.

1 - Gast, P. (2015, September 18). Funeral for 13,000; Andersonville prison dead brings closure. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from
2 - Kellogg, Robert H. Life and Death in Rebel Prisons. Hartford, CT: L. Stebbins, 1865.