For Memorial Day: Rufus Cogswell

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Rufus Cogswell’s grave at the Old Soldier’s Home, in Washington DC

Memorial Day was originally a day to remember soldiers who died in the Civil War, so it’s appropriate to remember Rufus Cogswell, Mom’s great grand-uncle, who was the only person on the Dunn side of the family tree to die while serving in the military. Rufus was born in Rutland in 1829. When his parents, Stephen and Lucy (Seaver) Cogswell moved to Dublin, New Hampshire in the 1850’s, Rufus followed them, along with his sister (Mom’s great grandmother) Lydia, and Lydia’s husband Leonard Smith.

In 1859 Rufus married Elmira (Knowlton) Moore, a Dublin widow with three children. Rufus and Elmira then had a further two children of their own. On September 10th 1862, just five months after the birth of their son Milton, Rufus joined the Tenth New Hampshire Volunteers and headed off to war.

Rufus died two weeks later, on September 24, 1862, shortly after his regiment arrived in Washington. It was Rufus and Elmira’s third wedding anniversary. Continue reading “For Memorial Day: Rufus Cogswell”

Aunt Winnie’s Dog?

winniesdogAnother of the photos Kerry scanned is a slightly blurry image of a dog, with “‘Teddy’ Aunt Winnie’s dog” written across the bottom. And who, you might ask, is Aunt Winnie?

She turns out to have been Winifred (Coleman) Shields. Winifred was born in Ireland in 1890 and emigrated to this country in 1905. Five years later she married Philip Shields, who was the brother of Aunt Belle. Philip’s mother, Bridget (Creegan) Shields was the sister of Catherine (Creegan) Farrar, Nana Dunn’s mother. So “Winnie” wasn’t really an aunt- she was the wife of Nana’s cousin, Philip. Which is why it was just easier to call her “Aunt Winnie”, I guess!

Philip and Winifred had two sons- John, born in 1912, who was a Commander in the US Navy, and worked as a legal officer at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station. David, born in 1915, was my godfather, and, appropriately enough, a post office clerk.

shields1They are all gone now- John died in 1967, and David ten years later. It doesn’t appear that John or David had any children. The last of the Shields to pass away was David’s wife Dorothy, who died in 2003.

All ten members of the Shields family are buried in the family plot at St Francis Cemetery in Pawtucket.

Rusty and George

Mom came up with our cousin Rusty’s married name- Brunt. Rusty was born Eleanor Sheehan, daughter of our Uncle William and Aunt Helen in 1928. She married George A. Brunt in about 1946. They moved to Florida, eventually settling in Sunrise, a planned town that started out as Sunrise Golf Village. They had two children, a son named Patrick, born in 1959, and a daughter, Janet, born in 1946. Janet married Jerry Matthew Frederick in 1988.

George Brunt died in 1992, at the age of 70. He was buried in the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. A Memorial Day story on the cemetery in the Orlando Sentinel in 1998 was accompanied by a photograph, which I haven’t found a copy of yet, whose caption reads: “Eleanor Brunt (right) of Ocala contemplates red flowers she put on her husband’s burial site.”

Rusty passed away on September 30, 2004. She is buried next to George, in Section 112 Site 2294 in the Florida National Cemetery.

Memorial Day in Dublin and Rindge

On Memorial Day we took a trip north to Dublin and Rindge to check out some of the items I learned since my last visit there last fall, and, of course, to visit the cemeteries. After bypassing parades and other observances in Brookfield, North Brookfield, Barre, and Jaffrey, we finally arrived in Dublin, only to get stuck in the traffic backed up behind their parade. It worked out well, though, because we ended up stopped in front of the Historical Society.

I knew from my correspondence with Dublin Town Archivist Nancy Campbell that Rufus Cogswell’s name was inscribed on the monument, which is located in front of the Society’s building, so we stopped to take a look. The monument lists the dates and locations of the soldiers’ deaths along with their names, and sure enough, Rufus was there:

By now the traffic had started flowing again, and we continued through the center of town to the cemetery, just to the west, overlooking Dublin Pond, with Mount Monadnock in the background. When I visited the cemetery last October, I was mainly looking for the graves of Stephen and Lucy Cogswell; and Leonard and Lydia (Cogswell) Smith. I didn’t know anything about Rufus Cogswell at the time. Scanning the gravestones for Smiths and Cogswells, I had come upon the stone for Elmira Cogswell- another Cogswell I’d never heard of before. I took a picture of the stone just in case, and a bit later, found the Cogswell and Smith graves I’d been looking for. It wasn’t until later that I pieced together the facts about Elmira- that she had been married to a man named James Moore, that they had two sons and a daughter before Moore died in 1855 at the age of 37. Then, by 1860, Elmira married again- this time to Rufus Cogswell, son of Stephen and Lucy, and brother of my third great grandmother, Lydia (Cogswell) Smith. In 1862, after fathering two sons, Rufus joined the Union Army, and died two weeks later.

Dublin NH Cemetery
Dublin NH Cemetery
Knowing all that, I was a bit more observant on this trip, and found that Elmira, although not buried with the Cogswells and Smiths, was buried next to her first husband, James Moore. In the same plot were Elmira and Rufus’s son Milton, who died at the age of 16 in 1878, and Abigail Moore, James Moore’s mother. Interestingly, Abigail and Elmira had the same maiden name, Knowlton. It turns out that James Moore and his wife Elmira both had a grandfather named John Knowlton from Holliston Massachusetts, who had moved to Dublin in the late 1700’s. But they were two different John Knowltons! James Moore’s maternal grandfather was Deacon John Knowlton, born in Holliston in 1745. Elmira’s paternal grandfather was just plain John Knowlton, born in Holliston (or possibly Medway) in 1763. And just to make things even more involved, both John Knowltons married women from Holliston named Jennings- Martha for the Deacon, Susannah for just plain John. You have to figure there was a fair amount of relatedness there!

After visiting the cemetery, we headed south from Dublin on Upper Jaffrey Road, which skirts the eastern slope of Monadnock. About halfway to Jaffrey we turned right on Burpee Road to look for the Harrington’s farm. (Click here for background on the Harringtons.) George Smith Harrington and Margaret (Smith) Harrington moved here in the 1860’s, shortly after the Cogswells and Smiths. We followed the unpaved road to its end, which, on the GPS, matched the location of the Harrington farm on the old maps. There is a modern house there now, but there’s a great view to the east of Pack Monadnock, and of course Grand Monadnock itself looms over the property to the west. This was where George’s son Leonard continued to farm after his parents’ deaths, and Leonard’s son Clarence was apparently still farming into the 1940’s. It’s not difficult to get to now, but driving up the steep unpaved road made me wonder what it must have been like living there in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Our last stop was the Hillside Cemetery in Rindge, last resting place for our great grand parents, Daniel and Mary Alice Dunn and several of their children. Mom remembers going there often on Memorial Days, and it would have been her and Uncle Bud’s only real connection with their grandparents, all of whom had passed away before they (Mom and Bud) were born.

For Memorial Day- some interesting gravestones

Where it all began- a year ago, we took Mom to Rindge in search of her grandparent’s house and grave sites. We found both- here’s Mom at the Dunn family plot at Hillside Cemetery in Rindge. Curiously, the names and dates of Daniel and Mary Alice Dunn don’t appear on the stone- the front says simply “Dunn”, and the reverse is blank.

There are, however, small individual stones for Carl and Reinald Dunn, Mom’s uncles who died young. There is also a marker for Mom’s Aunt Mildred, who died in 1981.

Carl was Grandfather Dunn’s twin brother. The twins were given matching names- Earl Lernard and Carl Bernard. Carl died at the age of 13, according to family tradition, when he jumped off the roof of the barn holding an umbrella as a parachute. Like the story of his father’s origins, that story turned out to be fiction. According to the death certificate I found later, Carl actually died of “paralysis” (possibly cereberal palsy), from which he had suffered since birth.

Nearby is the distinctive heart shaped stone marking the grave of Mom’s cousin Rita Valentine. Born Rita McCray, she was the daughter of Charles McCray, grandfather Dunn’s older brother. (Charles was born Guy Dunn, but for reasons that are still unclear, changed his name to McCray in about 1914). When I visited the cemetery last October, the flowers at Rita’s grave had been joined by two miniature pumpkins.

The Smith Adams cemetery in the Ballouville section of Killingly, Connecticut, is small and inconspicuous. The day I found it, I was actively looking for cemeteries in the area, and almost missed it. The cemetery is located less than a thousand feet from the farm that the Smith family, including my great great grandfather, Leonard O. Smith, worked in the mid 1800’s. There are two gravestones here that I found especially interesting. One marks the grave of Orrilla N. Smith. I didn’t have an Orrilla Smith in my tree, but the inscription on the stone made me think that perhaps I should. It reads ” Smith Orrilla N., daughter of John 2nd & Ruth, died June 30, 1844, age 16 yrs”.

Leonard Smith’s parents were named John and Ruth Smith- the fact that their farm is a thousand feet from the grave certainly lends credence to the idea that this is their daughter. The census records from 1830 and 1840 suggest that John and Ruth had a third daughter after Hannah and Margaret, and the age ranges match up with Orrilla’s dates as given on the gravestone. On the other hand, none of the other immediate family members appear to be buried here. So it’s likely, but not definite that this is another member of our family tree.

There is another interesting Smith grave in this cemetery, and I have no evidence that he’s related, but his story was too interesting to ignore. Elisha Smith’s stone says he was a member of the Eighteenth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers. Military records show that Elisha enlisted on December 3, 1863. The following May, the 18th participated in the Battle of New Market, Virginia. It was a defeat for the Union Army, and Elisha was one of about fifty Union soldiers taken prisoner. He was held at the infamous Andersonville prison, but managed to survive until he was released at the end of the war. No mean feat in a prison camp where one third of the inmates died from the horrendous conditions. Even more impressive when you consider that Elisha was not a young man- he was already 52 years old when he enlisted.

Whether or not Elisha is related to us is still uncertain. The proximity of his grave to the John Smith farm makes it very possible, as does one other interesting fact. In 1856, Elisha’s second wife Sarah (whom he married when he was 41 and she was 17), had a daughter they named Lydia Ann. It’s possible she was named after Lydia Ann Cogswell, the wife of Leonard Smith. This would have been about 8 years after Leonard and Lydia’s marriage, and at about the time they and the Cogswells moved to Dublin, New Hampshire.

Last but certainly not least are these two oversized monuments in St. Francis Cemetery in Pawtucket. They mark the graves of the families of Philip Cregan, Mom’s maternal grandfather, and Peter Creegan, who I believe was Philip’s nephew- I haven’t completely figured out the Creegans. And it doesn’t help that the surname appears variously as Creegan, Cregan, Cragin, Cragen, and even Creighton. Philip Cregan’s daughter Catherine married Daniel Farrar, an iron moulder originally from Leeds in Yorkshire, England. Their daughter Katherine was Mom’s mother, better known to me as Nana Dunn.

Ironically, I was looking for Daniel and Catherine Farrar’s graves when I found the Creegan monuments. The Farrar’s are apparently buried nearby, but I was unable to locate their graves- it’s possible they are unmarked.

A visit to Rindge

We visited Rindge with Mom yesterday, and located the house where her Dunn grandparents lived, as well as the family plot in the Hillside Cemetery. Unfortunately the people in the front yard of the house told us they didn’t want me to take a picture of it, so all I have is a capture from the video I was taking prior to stopping. It’s pretty convincing- all of the details visible in the old photo match the new one. (Excluding the missing shutters, of course, and the obvious modifications- the rightmost window on the second floor of the left wing of the house is covered over, presumably because of the exterior chimney that now runs up the front of the house.)

The folks at the library were much more friendly, and gave us directions to the cemetery. There is a large cemetery at the meeting house in the town center, but Mom was sure that wasn’t it. Hillside, just south of the center, was the one. It has a large stone engraved simply ‘Dunn’, and smaller markers for Mildred, Carl, and Reinald, Mary and Daniel’s first child, whose existence Tim had discovered last week on his trip to Rindge. Also buried there is Rita Valentine, daughter of Charles McCray, who changed his name from Guy Dunn. We also visited the cemetery in Peterborough in search of Smiths or Cogswells, but had no luck.

 Click here for all the photos.

No leads, but an interesting story…

On my way to the bike trail at Rutland State Park Saturday, I stopped in at the cemetaries in Paxton and Rutland looking for Cogswells and Seavers. Stephen and Lucy Cogswell are probably buried in Peterborough (or possibly Jaffrey or Dublin), but they were married, and had several children, in Rutland, and Stephen’s father is said to have come from Paxton.

I didn’t find any Cogswell or Seaver headstones in either graveyard, but I did come across an interesting stone in Rutland. The inscription says it is the grave of Daniel Campbell, who emigrated from Scotland in 1716, and “was murdered on his own farm in Rutland by Ed. Fitzpatrick an Irishman on March ye 8 Anno 1744 in ye 48 year of his age. Man knoweth not his time.”

According to the ‘History of Worcester County’ published in 1879, this was in fact the first murder recorded in the County. And while the “Irishman” was tried for murder and sentenced to death, the same history notes that no record exists of the actual execution.