Showing posts with label Holden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holden. Show all posts

Monday, February 13, 2017

My Civil War Ancestor- Winslow Brainard Rogers

     If you've read all my blogposts, then you know I have a Civil War ancestor who was one of the seeds of my interest in genealogy.  We had a bundle his actual letters home in the house when I was a child. I read what seemed, at the time, as very sad letters home and I  wondered about this man. Here's what I've been able to discover. Winslow Brainard Rogers, grew up in Holden, Massachusetts, a small town just outside of Worcester. He worked at various jobs, but most of the census material has him working in a boot factory in Holden. One Worcester town directory from a time before his marriage listed him as a "painter" and I assumed "house painter".
     But as I researched for this post I found an intriguing clue. First I found  a paragraph in a history of Worcester County.
This is a listing for W. B.'s son Eugene, Harrington Rogers, who became a sign painter and an artist. Notice the last line of the first paragraph, "instruction from his father, also an artist".Then, I found W. B.'s  profession in his muster papers listed as "painter". Where are those paintings now?
      No photographs survive of Winslow. The best I am able to do is his physical description in those same muster papers.  He had blue eyes, brown hair and dark complected and stood 5 foot 7 inches tall. He was 37 when he signed up.  Winslow reported to Camp Wool, which was located in Worcester. Camp Wool had been formed at the Worcester Agricultural Fairground near where Elm Street Park is now.
Worcester Agricultural Fairground
The camp was just to the west of the actual park, in an area that's now residential. Here's a description of the site from one of the Civil War commemorative sites:
"Initially the camp was know as Camp Lincoln, in honor of a Massachusetts governor. The first regiment to occupy the site was the 21st Massachusetts in July of 1861. It was soon followed by the 25th. After these regiments departed in August and October respectively, the camp was not used until the July 1862 call for additional three-year regiments. Renamed Camp Wool (for General John Wool) the  site was designated as the rendezvous for three-year regiments from western Massachusetts. Units trained here were the 21st, 25th, 34th, 36th, 49th, 51st and 57th regiments of infantry."
W. B. Rogers was mustered into the 36th Massachusetts infantry, Company G in August of 1862. He was a bugler. At first I wondered about this. The war was going badly at this point. He was already 37 years old. He had a wife, a son and a baby on the way. What made him want to put himself in harm's way?  As we work our way through his letters, you'll see that this was a man of some conviction.
I have left much of the spelling, capitalization and punctuation as is, except in instances where it might be required for clarity.

"Camp Wool- Aug 22
Dear wife. I take this oportunity to write a few lines. I am well and enjoy myself as well as I expected. My thoughts are on those Dear ones at home. Oh four features are fixed on my mind and will be as long as I have my sence. I am trying my best to get a furlough but do’nt much expect to get one. Calvin Hubbard came into Camp yesterday. I have got into a very good company. There are a good many Christians and we have prayers
every night and there are a few things to enjoy. Warren and Caleb have just come to our tent. I feel very anxious about you. How does Eugene do. Kiss him for me and give my love to all.
                                                                                    W. B. Rogers"
Warren would be Jonas Warren Rogers, his uncle. Not sure which Caleb this is, but possibly Jonathan Caleb Rogers,  a cousin.

"Camp Wool- Sunday Aug 24 /62
Dear Wife
            I take one more oportunity of writing a few lines as I had flatered myself that I should see you today. but I cannot get out of camp at present. but hope I shall some day this week. It is as quiet as could be expected. We don’t drill today. we have preching this afternoon. We had a prayer meeting in our tent last night. There are a good many fine men in this Regiment. They are very indignent because they cannot get a furlough. Elmira and Caleb were in camp yesterday and brought me a basket of provisions. Oh I long to see you. Write me a line as often as you can. Tell Eugene to come in and see me. Give my love to all friends. William Nichols came into camp yesterday. I took a little cold last night but I feel quite well except that. Give my love to Mother if you see her. Tell her I feel that I am doing my duty to my Country and to you all. God Bless you.
From your loving husband.
                                                                        W. B. Rogers"
OK, this is definitely Jonathan Caleb Rogers, who was married at this time to Winslow's sister Almira. He mentions his mother, Betsy Howe Rogers as well. Winslow's father, George, died when he was only 5. I found guardianship papers appointing  Jonas Warren Rogers. (Warren of the previous letter) He was raised by both Warren and his mother Betsy. 
      This letter gives you some idea of distances at the time. Holden, today is barely beyond the town limits of Worcester by car.  Yet, the going to see W. B. in camp wasn't possible, apparently, for Cassandria and Eugene. 
     This is the beginning of a series of posts for Winslow Brainard Rogers. I'll be sharing copies of the letters along with any other information I can find over the coming months. W.B. was not Sullivan Ballou of Ken Burns fame; his letters are not profound or poetic, but they give you some idea of one man's journey at a time which defined our history.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Homestead- Three Brothers and a Little House

28 Boyden Road, Holden, MA
This is the Rogers family homestead in Holden. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places and dates to 1733. The account of the house provided by the Holden Historical Society lists many, many owners over the years and only a few of them were Rogers family members. Some the the town's prominent names are on the list of owners including Chaffin, Damon and Ware. However, members of the Rogers family were owners of the house for over 100 years. Thus, the name.

The description of the house calls it a Cape-type cottage of 11/2 stories dated from the early Georgian period.  It has a granite foundation, clapboard siding and rear lean-to which extends back to the barn. The grape arbor over the front door was part of the original design. The central chimney would have been the source of heating and cooking well into the nineteenth century. The double-hung eight-over-twelve paned windows are a really nice original feature. The basic structure of the house has been preserved over the years and apparently the inside was restored.

Originally the lot was 7.5 acres of upland and swampland and one of the original residents ran a blacksmith shop.  The building in the back with the red batten board is the location, which records show as original.  There were a number of businesses run out of the little shop; one of my Rogers ancestors was a cooper. That would be Benjamin Rogers, who lived here briefly between 1783 and 1810. Benjamin sold the house to his brother George Rogers (father of Winslow Brainard) in 1810. George soon moved on, but the Rogers family was not done with this house.

Aaron How Rogers, son of George, lived in the house with his family until 1841. It passed through yet another owner until Catherine Moore Rogers, widow of Moses, (sister-in law of Benjamin and George) bought the house. Her son Israel farmed here and her son Dexter is listed as a carpenter. Over the years more and more of the original land was sold off. Perhaps the little shop in back was put to new use. Catherine lived here until her death in 1877.

Catherine's daughter Maria Stockwell Rogers never married. The census records show her keeping house for her brother Israel and also for her mother. She was the next occupant of the little house. She died in 1907. The house passed at that time to her nephew, Samuel Walter Rogers, who was Israel's son. The census and directory records don't ever show S. Walter living with his family in the house. He was the associate managing editor of the Gardner News and seems to have lived in Gardner. Perhaps the house was rented to family members at this time. I can't find any Rogers family members in Holden on any official records, but by this time they had married into many of the Holden families.

This is the end of the line for the Rogers family in the little house. I have visited the property several times and never caught the owner at home, but over the years it seems more well-kept. Maybe some day I'll get a peek at the inside as well.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Independence



Aaron Rogers was my fourth great-grandfather. When I discovered The Fold as a resource for military records, I discovered his complete pension file which was a wealth of information and also unraveled a small mystery in my family tree. First, Aaron's story. He was born in Harwich, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. In recalling his service for the pension board, here is what he had to say:

"In June 1775 he resided at Harwich in the County of Barnstable in the said Commonwealth and within four days after the Battle of Bunker Hill a company was raised in Harwich for the purpose of guarding the coast the enlistment of the members being for six months. The company was commanded by Captain Clark of Harwich and  I enlisted into the company when it was first raised. ….I did duty in this company for six months and I was discharged. Immediately after my discharge I enlisted into a company  of the Continental establishment under the command of Captain Peter Harwood of Brookfield, Massachusetts who came into the neighborhood of my then residency and enlisted a company for …. We marched in the winter in the early days of January 1776 to Roxbury, Massachusetts and were stationed there until the British troops evacuated Boston. I marched on to Dorchester Heights at the time the entrenchments were thrown up there by the American troops. After the evacuation of Boston,  our company marched to New York by the way of Providence, Rhode Island. I marched with them and we were quartered at New York City. Our duty consisted of guarding the shipping by boats as most of our company had come from Cape Cod and were considered as acquainted with that duty… At the end of the end of our enlistment which was one year I was discharged from service at New York. I received a written discharge have not the same now in my possession and I think it must be in the War Department in Washington. I have been placed on the Pension Roll of  the Massachusetts Line of Revolutionary troops under the Law of 1818 but have since been struck from that Roll. After my discharge aforesaid I returned to Harwich  and continued there until about March 1777 when I again enlisted into the company of continental troops raised in that neighborhood under the command of Captain ? (probably Captain Bangs)"

Official records being what they were at the time and having apparently lost his discharge orders, he has to appeal to his brother-in-law, Jonathan Rogers, to vouch for him. Here's where the little brick starts to be chipped away from the brick wall. In 1779, Aaron married "Miss Hannah Rogers also of Harwich". I could never find parents or a birth record for Hannah no matter where I looked. I had done quite a bit of looking for Aaron's family so I knew that none of his sisters married a Jonathan Rogers. So, this brother-in-law was Hannah's brother. Still haven't found their parents, but it's a start.

Aaron did finally get his pension for the grand sum of $8 a month but lost it again when his net worth
exceeded the allowed limits. When it dropped again he reapplied.  By this time he was living in Holden
on land he received, I believe as a "bounty" for his service. (sort of the VA benefits of that time) Aaron's benefits, after more paperwork and wrangling, went to Hannah after his death. A fascinating look at the proceedings of those times.

I also returned to the Holden town records. Aaron wasn't in Holden in July, 1776, but I was curious about what the minutes of the town meeting would show:

Sure enough, there it is. The Declaration of Independence handwritten in full into the town minutes for posterity. If you look about four lines down on the image you will spot it: "When in the course of human events..."

I got goosebumps.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Small Town Deals with Smallpox

Drawing accompanying text in Book XII of the 16th-century Florentine Codex (compiled 1540–1585), showing Nahuas of conquest-era central Mexico suffering from smallpox.

I love using the FamilySearch records as a resource. I mentioned before that I found that many of the records I thought were original turn out to be 19th Century copies. The originals, I discovered, were still unindexed on FamilySearch.
I've been combing through the Holden, Massachusetts town records for the traces of my Rogers ancestors.  These original records are fascinating because they combine birth records, death records, marriage records and minutes from the town meetings. And it was at one town meeting that I discovered this:

Clearly the people of Holden knew that people with smallpox needed to be isolated and went to the extreme measure of creating a hospital to contain the disease. In the following entry, dated December 13, 1792 I found this:

The phrase that surprised me was "for all those persons that are now Inoculated in this Town and no more". They were inoculating against smallpox in 1792? This was news to me. But a little searching on the internet told me that no less a person than Cotton Mather was advocating inoculation in 1721. You can read about that here.

I also found out that there were a series of epidemics right up until Jenner's discovery of vaccination in 1796. The colonists had a crude form of vaccination and this website provided this information:
"There was, however, a catch: individuals under inoculation did come down with smallpox, and they were therefore fully capable of infecting others with the disease. Unless practised under strict quarantine, the operation was as likely to start an epidemic as to stop one. For this reason, inoculation was highly controversial in the English colonies, where smallpox outbreaks were comparatively rare."
So this explains why a hospital was necessary for the vaccinated. Smallpox runs through a series of stages over a few months, so it would have been imperative to house these people for a while. It was a far more benign solution than the one I found here. North Brookfield is only a few miles west of Holden and this would have been in 1788, a few years before the outbreak in Holden.

The History Today website tells us that there were a series of outbreaks during the American Revolution that affected fighting in both New England and the South and into Canada. From there the disease moved west. Of course we know that the disease devastated the Native American population. I was heartened to find that the town of Holden embraced the idea of inoculation(controversial at the time), did not banish the sick, and did not consider the disease "God's judgment"(another popular idea in Puritan America). Just another window into the lives of my ancestors.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day- Remembering Winslow Brainard Rogers

Grove Cemetery, Holden, Massachusetts
Reading up a little this morning, I discovered that Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day and was established especially to remember those lost in the American Civil War. This Memorial Day I would like to remember the man who piqued my curiousity  about my family. Winslow Brainard Rogers enlisted in the Union Army in 1862. He was a bugler in Company G of the 36th Massachusetts regiment. He died of smallpox after the siege of Vicksburg on July 25, 1863. He was only 38 years old when he died. There is a marker in his name at the town cemetery in Holden, Massachusetts and his name is engraved on a plaque in the town hall. As a child we had a packet of letters written from WB to his wife Cassandria. I no longer have the letters available to me, but I remember how sad they were and how terribly he missed his family and his small hometown. For those who made the ultimate sacrifice, on this day we remember.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Now and Then in Holden, Massachusetts

I'm always on the lookout for interesting photos that relate to the family. Today I was noodling around
and ended up on the website of the Holden Historical Society in Holden, Massachusetts. It was
interesting because the photo was taken at the intersection of Main Street and Boyden Road. The Rogers family homestead, where members of the Rogers family lived for over 100 years, is just down the street about half a block.
Courtesy of the Holden Historical Society
You are looking down Main and you can see Boyden just to the right. The small cape style building on
the right was a school building known as Center School. It was built in 1820 to replace an earlier building, but this photo dates from 1880-1900.  I imagine members of the family went to school in that building. Amazing to see how rural Holden was even then!


So of course I had to go to Google street view and see what it looked like today. That little white building in the center of the picture is that same one-room schoolhouse which is now a hair salon. And you can see Boyden Road on the right. Main Street is a busy road these days, but Holden is still a pretty, green little suburb.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

When the Lines Converge

The Smiths of Litchfield, Maine and the Rogers of Harwich, Massachusetts

It wasn't surprising to me to find that the lines of my tree crossed in a few places. I found lots
of overlap in the line that ran back to Cape Cod; the marriage options would have been limited
in the early days of the colonies and the families were large. No surprise there. What was a surprise was finding a crossing of the lines of my two great grandparents.

George F Smith came from a family from Litchfield, Maine. His line runs back directly to a James
Smith who settled early on Cape Cod. His great grandfather, Thomas Smith, was a farmer in Litchfield. Thomas married Mehitable Baker. Mehitable Baker's mother was born Mehitable Smith.
Her parents were Elizabeth Smith and Moses Rogers. That line of Smiths runs back to a Ralph Smith, also of Cape Cod. I've never seen a connection between James and Ralph, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Mehitable Smith, her brothers Deacon Thomas Smith and Benjamin Smith all ended up in Litchfield, Maine along with their nephew John Rogers. Elizabeth Smith married Moses Rogers and her son Aaron Rogers settled in Holden, Massachusetts. Several generations later the two lines converged when Cora E Smith married Edward W Rogers.

 I have two completely different lines of Smiths in Litchfield alone. Four of them have the same name. It was convenient when the records said "Thomas Smith husband of Hannah" or "son of...", but records were usually hand-written and seldom that precise. This is where writing out a timeline for the people in your tree might be helpful. Sometimes by dates alone you can tease out the threads of the truth. Sometimes you have to look for deeds, bills of sale, wills and other primary sources. Not all of this is online yet. I have some footwork ahead of me.

Now for a confession. I have never chosen a numbering system for my tree. The genealogy software I use numbers my offline tree using the Ahnentafel system, but my online tree would benefit by choosing a numbering system and using it. In fact, I find the whole numbering question fairly intimidating. There are some good resources online starting at Cyndi's List. If you are new to genealogy, do yourself a favor and number from the start. It may not keep the old records any straighter, but you'll know which Thomas Smith you're studying at a glance. Crossed lines are ok, a granny knot is NOT.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Eugene Harrington Rogers


Eugene Harrington Rogers
No download or reproduction without express permission
This is Eugene Harrington Rogers, son of Cassandria and brother of my great grandfather. I'm not really sure where this was taken, but perhaps this was his studio. I love the large artist's palette and his generous muttonchops. His life is not a great mystery; he was born in Holden, Massachusetts and lived most of his adult life in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. We're not sure when or if he had much formal training, but he married Mary Clark, opened a sign painting and advertising business at 304 1/2 Main Street in Fitchburg and lived on Arlington Street. They never had children and he died of a heart ailment at only 45 years old.

You may have noticed the large painting and recognized the "White Rock fairy". This is actually a very
good copy of a painting called "Psyche" by Paul Thumann.  Thumann's original was exhibited to some great attention at the Chicago World Exhibition and I would assume White Rock bought the rights after that. Being an artist myself, I always wanted to know about Eugene. A small oil still life hung in our house all my childhood and larger pastel of a Newfoundland dog hung in my grandmother's house. These were the only existing works the family knew of. My cousin, an illustrator and art restorer in Manhatten, looked around on the internet from time to time and discovered that some of his work was registered. Tracing backwards she found that it was in the collection of the Fitchburg Historical Society. Sure enough, when I visited I found an enormous charcoal drawing called "Overlook Reservoir and Mt. Wachusett". It was a lovely landscape with which our family was quite familiar as it's a popular hiking spot in Fitchburg. A little more research by my cousin, my aunt and myself found a mural at the local Baptist church and another large charcoal landscape at the Westminster Historical Society. My cousin says they are all quite good. Now all three of us were intrigued....

One of the best sources of small town information for genealogists is digitized newspapers. Luckily the
Fitchburg Sentinel has digitized much of its collection and Eugene showed up regularly between 1870 and 1900. The accounts of his sales are complementary and lively as is the story of his rivalry with another sign painter.  At this time he was doing landscapes, small still-lifes and animal portraits of hunting dogs in oil, pastel and charcoal. The Sentinel described his success this way "The sale increased so rapidly that the demand was far ahead of the supply within 10 days....Mr. Rogers' work went to the shores of the Pacific and throughout the West and South." Queries in the historical society newsletters have turned up no further clues. The signature on the work would be E.H. Rogers.
If you live in the West or South or even in New England and have a work with this signature, the family would love to hear from you.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cassandria

Cassandria Hooper Harrington Rogers
No download or reproduction without express permission
Through this blog, I'm hoping to connect to family members and widen the research I started almost four years ago on family genealogy. At the heart of the mystery is this lady, Cassandria Hooper Harrington Rogers Kauffman. Here's what I know: She always maintained on census records that she was born in Massachusetts-Worcester to be exact. Now whether that was the City of Worcester or Worcester County I have no idea. She first shows up boarding in a house in Holden on the 1850 census. She and a group of young, teen-aged girls were all boarding with this family and from what I know of Holden she would have been a mill girl. One of my lines of research may be to find the mill closest to the boarding house and see if anything in the way of records exists-doubtful. Stranger things have happened. Being a newbie genealogist I didn't think at once of exploring this couple to see if there was a family connection, but once it occurred to me I did and couldn't find a family link. The next record is a marriage record which records her birth date as 1833 and her parents as Joseph Harrington and Nancy. No last name. This is where the brick wall occurs. Worcester County was full of Harringtons. There was a very old and established Harrington family and several were named Joseph. But in no document or family history can I find one named Joseph married to Nancy (or Anna, Hannah or Agnes-which Nancy was sometimes a nickname for) and sadly, before 1850 the census only listed the male head of household. Cassandria married Winslow Brainard Rogers of Holden in 1851 and had two sons, Eugene and Edward. Edward was my great grandfather. Born during the Civil War, Edward never met or knew his father. Winslow Brainard died of smallpox in Vicksburg just after the siege and capture of the city. When I was a girl, we had letters from him to Cassandria. They were incredibly sad. Cassandria stayed in Holden and lived with various members of the Rogers family until her sons were almost grown. At that point she married William Kauffman. She died in 1904 in Orange, Massachusetts. There are two registries for her death-one in Fitchburg, where she is buried. The other was a card filled out by William Kauffman. On it he lists the birthplace of her parents as Connecticut. This disagrees with the 1880 census but agrees with the 1900 census. I've looked for siblings both male and female in the Worcester County area who have matching data, but with little success. I did find a Joseph Harrington Junior who died in Shrewsbury, and his death card reads Joseph and ? Green. So I pursued Joseph Harrington and Nancy Green which led me to Windham County, Connecticut in the Barbour Collection. There's a marriage record, but no way to know if these are the right people. Oh, and Hooper? A red herring I think. A nice lady at the New England Historic Genealogical Society spent part of one afternoon trying to help me and was as stumped as I am, but for one thing. She found a Cassandra Hooper Bliss who was a popular evangelist in New York and Connecticut and Massachusetts around that time. She suspects this great great grandmother was named in honor of her. The photo is a gem. I love the expression and the large cat on her lap. Recently people have commented that I look like her. I don't see it, but maybe so. She was a strong lady, that's for sure. And sure of herself as well. When I got the pension application from the National Archives her name is signed in a strong hand Cassandria H. H. Rogers. Something in her name was important to her. Maybe someday soon I'll know what that was.