20 October 2012

Sepia Saturday 148: Boys and Their Toys

Schoverling, Daly and Gales card, 1903 Diary of Charles W. Stratton II

Other than the bicycles, this card sums up Dr. Charles 'Charlie' W. Stratton II's favorite leisure activities. The card was found in Charlie's 1903 Diary. An avid hunter and fisherman, Charlie wrote of his adventures in his diaries. In 1903, his hunting and fishing trips were few in number as the bulk of his attention was on his studies at Albany Medical School:

Home to night at eleven Sweet with me. Find things in partly good shape at home. Am glad to get here. Hate to go to bed but must if I am going shooting. [Friday, October 30, 1903, Charles W. Stratton II (1876-1945) diary.]

An avid outdoorsman, why wasn't Charlie part of the bicycling craze of the early 1900s? The bicycle photographed below was Charlie's Christmas present in 1885. Before the snow could melt, Charlie's father passed away. He never rode the bike, retiring it to a shed that ever-after was memorialized as the 'bike barn.' Nearly 100 years later, Dr. Charles 'Jim' Stratton III (1918-1996) ensured the bike's pedals turned, giving it to a performing troop in the late 1900s.

Charles W. Stratton III with a Child's Penny-Farthing Bicycle, photograph by Marita Stratton

Bike Barn, ca 1997, being painted by Charlie's (II) great grand-daughter (Emma) and grandson (Jim), photograph by Dick Stratton
Two more generations of Strattons, Emma and Jim, add a fresh coat of paint to the now vacant bike barn. Is it just the mustache? Or is there a familial resemblance between Charlie's grandson and the mystery man below. The photograph was found in family collection with no identification.

Unknown Gentleman with a Bicycle

This photograph prominently displays a more modern bike complete with a chain drive and, it appears, tube tires. Could this bicycle be related to the Schoverling, Daly & Gales card? Perhaps the bicycle was a Christmas gift for a relative purchased from Schoverling? There were bikes of this design in 1903.... Sadly no mention is made of the bicycle or Schoverling in Charlie's diary.

A gun, two bicycles and true mystery men (undercover police?) have prompted this spin back in time. For more, see Sepia Saturday 148. Any help identifying my mystery man or dating the photograph is appreciated!

"Unknown Gentleman with a Bicycle." Cabinet Card. 7 1/4 x 5 1/8. Stratton Family Papers. Privately held by Liz Stratton [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012. Liz Stratton is the wife of Charles' grandson.

Schoverling, Daly and Gales card. MS. New York, New York. Stratton Family Papers. Privately held by Liz Stratton [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012. The card was located the pocket of Charles W. Stratton II's 1903 diary. Liz Stratton is the wife of Charles' grandson.

Stratton, Charles 'Charlie' W., II. "The Standard Diary, 1903." MS. Lee, Massachusetts. Stratton Family Papers. Privately held by Liz Stratton [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012. Liz Stratton is the wife of Charles' grandson.

Stratton, Charles 'Charlie or Jim' W., III (Lee, Massachusetts).  Photograph.  Ca 1995.  Digital image.  Privately held by Liz Stratton, [ADDRESS FOR PERSONAL USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio. 2012.

Stratton, Emma and James 'Jim' W. Stratton (Lee, Massachusetts).  Photograph.  Ca 1995.  Digital image.  Privately held by Liz Stratton, [ADDRESS FOR PERSONAL USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio. 2012.

Stratton Family Traditions. Stratton family traditions regarding the 'big wheel bike' as related by Charles W. Stratton III in 1991. MS notes, ca 1991-2012. Cincinnati, Ohio. Stratton Family Papers. Privately held by Liz Stratton [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012. Liz Stratton is the wife of Charles' grandson.

13 October 2012

Sepia Saturday 147: William H. Velsor, A Pictorial Military Biography

Rising of the People, Library of Congress
Wm H. Velsor, Volunteer Enlistment

150 years ago this past week, William H. Velsor (Feb 1823-11 Oct 1871) was on his way to Washington D.C. to serve with the 133rd New York Infantry, 2nd Metropolitan Guards in the U.S. Civil War. My attic is sadly lacking a photograph of William whether in uniform or not. Is it possible to convey his military service in the absence of his visage?

In 1862, the Civil War was losing its appeal. The reality of war was sinking in and recruiting had become difficult. Was William inspired to serve by the verses in "Rising of the People: Drum Tap Rattle through the Land"? Perhaps patriotic duty called. As a butcher, William could scarcely have wanted more work. "By the summer of 1862, Illinois alone was forwarding two thousand head [of cattle] a week [to New York City]."(Gotham, 874)

William volunteered for service at the age of 39 with a wife and young family at home. Were bounties an incentive for his enlistment? Soldiers received $100 bounties on completion of their service and in 1862, $25 of the bounty was advanced on enlistment.(McPherson, 492) Did William fear a militia draft as called for by Congress in July 1862.Whatever his reasons, William Velsor enlisted for a 3 year term of service on 26 August 1862 listing his occupation as Stage Driver.

William's unit, the 133rd New York, was attached to Abercrombie's Division and charged with the defense of Washington D.C. I can't help but wonder what scenes were witnessed as the Capitol city was sharply divided between North and South. Waud's sketch captures the grizzly scene as soldiers discover bodies on the nearby Potomac River.

Discovering the Bodies of the Slain in the Potomac River, Library of Congress
In November of 1862, the 133rd sailed to New Orleans becoming part of Banks' New Orleans Expedition. During this time, William Velsor was detailed to Provost Guard in Baton Rouge on 6 February 1863. A Provost Guard serves under the Provost Marshall, the officer in charge of the military police. The Metropolitan Guard units were recruited by the New York Metropolitan police. Perhaps the police had identified recruits that mirrored their own commitment to law and order.

On 12-13 April 1863, the 133rd fought at Fort Bisland sustaining their first casualties. Later that Spring, the 133rd participated in the Siege and Assault of Port Hudson.

A Fierce Assault on Port Hudson, Wikipedia citing National Archives
The following is taken from a sketch by Mr. J.R. Hamilton of the triumphant Union Soldiers entering the breastworks at Port Hudson.

Port Hudson ... Union forces ...take possession, July 9, 1863, Library of Congress
The 133rd New York moved on to New Orleans, participated in the Sabine Pass Expedition, then on to Brashear City and Berwick City. It was in Berwick City that William was detailed as a guard of the Commissary Stores. He may not have been with his unit during the Western Louisiana 'Teche' Campaign. The 133rd New York continued in their defense of New Orleans until the Red River Campaign, 26 Apr-22 May 1864. The unit then participated in the construction of the dam at Alexandria.

Porter’s fleet passing the dam at Alexandria
The 133rd NY Infantry continued operations in Louisiana until it moved to Fortress Monroe and Deep Bottom, Virginia in July 1864. They then moved on to Washington D.C. where the unit joined Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign 7 Aug - 28 Nov 1864. During much of this time (14 Aug-27 Oct 1864), the 133rd NY Infantry served as train guard for Sheridan's Army.

Sheridan's Army following Early up the Valley of the Shenandoah, Library of Congress
Sheridan’s Wagon Trains in the Valley, Early Morning Mist and Smoke, Library of Congress
The Shenandoah Valley had been a strategic food supply line for the Confederacy. Grant commanded Sheridan to turn 'the Shenandoah Valley [into] a barren waste.' By October 7, Sheridan reported they had 'driven in front of the army over 4,000 head of stock and ... killed and issued to the troops not less than 3,000 sheep.' Clearly the services of a butcher were in need. William Velsor's prior experience as a butcher was put to use. He was detailed as a butcher for the 3rd Brigade Commissary on January 14 and marked as absent on the March-April 1865 muster rolls, "detailed to Post Comm. at Winchester, Virginia." The location of the Commissary Tent in the stereo-card below was not identified but may be indicative of William's experience.

Commissary Tent, Library of Congress

The 133rd NY Infantry remained in the Shenandoah Valley until April of 1865 when the unit moved to Washington D.C. They performed guard duty there and participated in the Grand Review on 23-24 May 1865.

Grand Review of the Army, Library of Congress
The 133rd New York Infantry, including William H. Velsor, mustered out 6 June 1865.

William H. Velsor, Muster Out of Service, 6 Jun 1865
The troops returned to parade and fanfare. The following transcription of a newspaper clipping is one of several relating to the 133rd Regiment Infantry on the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center website.
The 133d New-York Regiment (Second Metropolitan) arrived in this city at 3 p. m. yesterday afternoon, via the New-Jersey Railroad. The regiment numbers 486 muskets and 29 officers.
The regiment, preceded by their escort, marched up Courtlandt-st. to Broadway, down Broadway to the Battery barracks, where the soldiers were furnished with an excellent dinner.... Subsequently, the regiment embarked on board a transport and proceeded to Hart's Island, where they will remain until paid off.
Military on Broadway, Library of Congress

William H. Velsor is my 3rd-great-grandfather. Information about the battles and campaigns can be found by following the links. In the interest of brevity, not all the activities the 133rd New York Infantry participated in have been included. The sources listed below contain additional information about other engagements. 

For more men in uniform, see Sepia Saturday 147.


"133rd Regiment Infantry New York Volunteers, Civil War Newspaper Clippings." New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center. http://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/133rdInf/133rdInfCWN.htm : accessed 3 October 2012.

Civil War Photograph Collection. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/civwar/ : accessed 2012. A detailed source list including specific photographs is available at Sources: Sepia Saturday 147, William H. Velsor.

Burrows, Edwin G. and Mike Wallace. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 874.

Hawks, Steve. "133st New York Infantry Regiment '2nd Regiment Metropolitan Guard'."  Civil War in the East. www.civilwarintheeast.com : 3 October 2012. [Unit operations were taken from this source. Additional information about the 133rd New York Infantry's service is available on this and other websites.]

McPherson, James. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York, Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 492.

Military, Compiled Service Records. Civil War. Carded Records. Volunteer Organizations. Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780s-1917, Record Group 94. Compiled service record, William H. Velsor, Pvt., Co. G, 133 New York Inf. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

New York. "New York, Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, 1861-1900." Digital images. Ancestry.com. William H. Velsor, separation date 6 Jun 1865. http://www.ancestry.com : 2011. [Ancestry cites New York State Archives, Cultural Education Center, Albany, New York; New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, 1861-1900; Archive Collection #: 13775-83; Box #: 538; Roll #: 194.]

New York. Kings County. 1860 U.S. census, population schedule. Digital images. Brooklyn, Ward 18, District 1, p. 417 (stamped), dwelling 144, family 213, William H. Velsor household. Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com : 2009.

Wikipedia. "A Fierce Assault on Port Hudson," Digital image. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Port_Hudson_Assault.jpg : 24 March 2011. [Citing "A Fierce Assault on Port Hudson" image, Archival Research Catalog, digital images, National Archives, ARC identifier 4529740, Local Identifier 64-M-191. The image is in the public domain.]

03 October 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Mahoney-Knowles

I had long known of the marriage of John Mahoney to Catharine Knowles from previous work by Auntie. While I had the information, I had never seen the original marriage record. There is something about seeing the original that still gives me goose-bumps! Thanks to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for making this wonderful collection of Irish church records available online (http://www.irishgenealogy.ie/).

The marriage record contains scant information: the marriage date (24 [27?] November 1841), groom’s name (John Mahoney), bride’s name (Catherine Knowles) and the names of witnesses (Michl Brien, Patt Magrath).

There is an abundance of information in that one line! The bride’s maiden name is included! From the marriage date, the date of birth of the first child and the birth dates of the bride and groom can be estimated. Knowing the Parish will make subsequent research more efficient and less likely to mistakenly identify the wrong Mahoney family.

The faith of the bride and groom are not included. Can we assume that both are Catholic since the record is from a Catholic Parish? Probably not. At the time of the marriage, it was a federal offense for a Priest to solemnize a Catholic-Protestant marriage. If you were a Catholic Priest at the time, would you have included a notation that a bride or groom were Protestant?

Family lore tells us that Catherine Knowles was an English Protestant who converted to Catholicism. She likely converted before her marriage but the marriage record alone is not conclusive. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find her conversion record? A record of her departure from the Protestant Church? It will take a bit of luck to find those records!

I’ve long wanted to know the names of John Mahoney’s parents. His death record did not name his parents but did give his age. John was born about 1818. The date will help in identifying his baptismal record.

The Church of Ireland was the official registrar of Ireland at the time of the marriage. In order to protect inheritance and legal rights, there may be another record of the marriage in the Church of Ireland. Maybe it will have more information.

Correlating the witnesses' names on the marriage with those on baptismal records of John and Catherine’s children may identify likely siblings of John. Searching on a cluster of names is more likely to identify the correct family than searching simply on ‘John Mahoney’ - not quite as bad as ‘John Smith’ but ….

I am just beginning my research in Irish records. I am currently taking the NIGS Course, “Irish Conformist and Non-Conformist Church Records.” This post was inspired by one of the assignments.


Ballymartle Parochial Area (Ballymartle, Cork, Ireland). Clountead, Ballingarry and Ballymartle Parish Records, Cork and Ross Diocese, 1836-1880. Database and digital images. Irish Genealogy: Explore your Family History. http://churchrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/ : 2012.

Filios, Norma. Mahoney History and Genealogy. N.p.: The Author, n.d.

Hutchinson, Brian. Irish Conformist and Non-Conformist Church Records. Revised Edition. [Toronto:] National Institute of Genealogical Studies, 2008.