Another Cogswell mystery?

Rufus Cogswell’s story is a particularly sad one, and it may be even sadder than I thought, and also more mysterious.

Rufus was the son of Stephen and Lucy Cogswell. His sister was Lydia, who married Leonard Smith, and was my great great great grandmother. He apparently moved to Dublin at the same time as his parents, in 1854. By 1860, Rufus, then 31, had married Elmira (Knowlton) Moore, a widow with three children by her first husband, James Moore.

Rufus and Elmira had two children of their own, Nathan and Milton. Milton died at the age of sixteen, but Nathan became a farmer, first in Dublin, and later West Swanzey, and was still alive at the time of the 1930 census, when he was 69 years of age.

In September of 1862, Rufus enlisted to fight for the Union Army in the Civil War. Two weeks after he enlisted, he was dead. Not from combat, but from disease. He had only made it as far as Washington DC, and that is where he was buried, in the Old Soldier’s Home cemetery, the first national veteran’s cemetery in the US. Elmira was widowed for the second time.

What I didn’t know about Rufus was that Elmira may not have been his first wife. While reviewing the 1850 census for information about Rufus’s parents, Stephen and Lucy Cogswell, who at the time were living in Worcester, I notice some additional Cogswells on the same form- a Rufus Cogswell, and his wife and daughter, both named Lucy. The daughter was three months old, the wife 21, and Rufus 23.

Searching marriage records, I found a record of a marriage on July 5, 1846, in Thompson, Connecticut, between Lucy A. Blackmore of Thompson, and Rufus Cogswell of Glocester, Rhode Island. There isn’t definitive proof that this Rufus and Lucy are the same couple listed on the census in Worcester four years later, but it seems likely, especially given another marriage listed on the same page, from 1842- between Mason Cogswell of Worcester and Abigail Swan of Thompson. Rufus had a brother Mason, who farmed in Worcester, and whose wife was named Abby.

If this is the same Rufus Cogswell, it might mean that the family lived in Glocester, which is just east of Killingly, where the Smiths lived. That might explain the subsequent marriage between Leonard Smith and Lydia Cogswell, Rufus’s sister, that has always puzzled me.

But if it is the same Rufus, it creates another mystery- what happened to his wife and daughter?

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