Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Life of Henry Whitney - the War Years

Henry Whitney, the Barrett brother's great-grandfather, was a white officer for "colored" troops during the American Civil War. The following is a chapter from a book being written by Daniel Barrett and his aunt Mary Alice Harvey. Henry Whitney's war experiences are told as much as possible in his own words from his journals, diaries and letters. [For those interested in Whitney genealogy, Henry Whitney was descended from the immigrant Henry Whitney: Henry, John, Joseph, David, Ebenezer, Aaron Wilkes, Bennet, Henry.]

Henry Whitney

My mother was Susan Curtis Whitney, born April 9, 1808. She sometimes spoke of her childhood memories of the British attacks on coastal Connecticut towns in the War of 1812. Her father was a sea Captain who died at sea while she was still a young girl. She remembered how her uncles came to their house and claimed, quite legally, their father’s sea chest and pay from his final voyage, leaving her mother and siblings destitute. Her mother could sew and she started a tailoring business making coats and suits for ship’s officers. Susan helped her mother in this and continued in the tailoring business until she married.

My father, Bennet Whitney was born March 23, 1810, at Wilton, Conn. He learned his trade as a molder and a furnace man at the Gregory’s foundry, on the corner of Fairfield and Clinton Avenues, Bridgeport, Conn. In 1833, with his two brothers, he purchased the Gregory’s foundry and set up the first steam engine used in manufacturing in Bridgeport. They were pioneers in the iron fence business and the iron plow-point business.

Bennet was baptized in April of 1828 in the Baptist Church at Stratfield. A preacher who had a strong influence on Bennet and his choice to be baptized in the Baptist church was Rev. Calvin Philleo of the Second Baptist Church of Suffield (a neighboring town). Bennet was 14 or 15 when he heard Rev. Philleo preach. Bennet’s future bride, Susan Curtis, was a member of the Suffield church, and the two young people first met listening to Rev. Philleo’s sermons. Both of my parents credit Rev. Philleo with influencing their lives as Baptists and especially as abolitionists. Rev. Philleo staid a short time at my mother’s church in Suffield, 1821 – 25. Some years later, in 1834, Rev. Philleo came to the assistance of Prudence Crandall, in Canterbury, Connecticut, and the two soon married. Prudence Crandall is now famous for allowing a Negro girl to attend as a day student at her girls’ boarding school. Many parents withdrew their daughters from the school following public outcry over this “mixing of the races”. As public pressure mounted, William Lloyd Garrison and Rev. Philleo offered their assistance. Prudence reopened her school with negro girls from several states registered as boarding students. Threats were made in the town council meetings where city officials said they would arrest the negro girls as vagrants. One night, with Prudence, Rev. Philleo, and the girls huddled inside, every window in the school was broken while a mob threatened outside. No one in the town stepped forward to offer assistance at the time or in the days that followed. Prudence was forced to close the school and the girls to flee for their safety.

Years later the couple’s son, Calvin Wheeler Philleo, moved to Suffield, where his father had found success as a preacher, and became a noted writer and speaker on Antislavery issues. Several of his articles appeared in the New York Tribune.

On October 14, 1835 Bennet and Susan married at the home of her brother in Suffield. Susan’s pastor at the Second Baptist Church, Nathan Wildman, officiated. The young couple started a home in Bridgeport. A few years later my grandmother Sarah Bennet Whitney, my father, and some others worked to start a Baptist Church in Bridgeport and purchase the large St. John’s Episcopal Church building.

I was born December 10, 1844 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the fifth of eight children. My memories from my childhood were happy ones of a close, supportive, and loving family. Father involved us all in prayer and daily bible study. There was deep soul searching as we tried to understand our duty to God, our fellow man, our family, and ourselves. This was not an oppressive duty imposed on us by our parents, rather an internal need to understand God’s plan and our part in it. Our God was not the “fire and brimstone” God of some Baptists, rather a strict and love father who asked much of each of us but also gave much.

Another memory of my childhood in Connecticut is of playing and discovering many abandoned buildings and cellar holes in the woods and fields. My father explained that much of Connecticut’s population had left the state and moved west. As I grew my play turned to the work of helping in my father’s shop. As I learned more I began working with my father, uncles, and brothers, starting my long career as a machinist.

The 1830s and 40s were a time of growing awareness and activism over slavery among Quakers, Methodists, Baptists, and others. The Whitney family mirrored this growing involvement and we saw our duty as actively dealing with the slavery issue. My mother taught a Sunday school class for Negro children at our Baptist church. As the nation’s crisis deepened, we were concerned that Southern Baptist churches, like nearly all churches in the South, supported and even encouraged the holding of slaves as a “good Christian” practice. My father sister and her husband moved from our supportive Baptist community in Connecticut to the heart of the slave culture in Virginia. My Aunt and Uncle felt that they could bring the strength of their religious convictions to the religious community of the South. This turned out to be a dangerous move as the feelings in the South were already hardened at this point. Southern Baptists felt that their way of life was under attack and the Baptists that my parents had hoped to connect with were beyond reason and gentle persuasion at that point. They soon had to leave.

Our family also felt the urge to become a part of the forces for change and moved to Keokuk, Iowa, “the gateway to the great West of the future.” My mother’s sister and nephew, George Parsons, had moved there previously and wrote glowing letters. From Keokuk, our family moved by covered wagon across the prairie to Pella, Iowa.

My parents chose to live in the west because we had heard that frontier people and society were more open to change, encouraged in hope as they built a new and better world. In Pella we became friends with the Stoddards who had moved to Iowa, we felt, for similar reasons. They had returned from missionary work in India to find the United States in the social and political crisis of the 1850s. Ira always said it was Iowa’s drier weather that drew them west, but perhaps it was the frustrations they had felt in the eastern U. S. where the social and political climate seemed to allow no solution to the slavery issue.

The deep faith and religious commitment of the Stoddards could be seen reflected in the Baptist College and in the Pella Baptist Church’s involvement in the abolitionist cause. My parents worked closely with the Stoddards on church committees and secretly on Underground Railroad matters. I attended Central College and was privileged to work with Mrs. Stoddard. More importantly to my future, however, my 12 year old sister Jeanie became best friends with the Stoddard’s oldest daughter, 10 year old Bertha.

The Whitney family felt encouraged in 1860 when Abraham Lincoln became the nation’s President. Mr. Lincoln brought the western spirit of change to the East. Our family followed the President from the prairie to the Eastern seaboard. First we lived at 107 Neilson Street in Bridgeport, New Jersey, years later, in 1874, my parents moved to 49 Harrison Street, Rahway, New Jersey.

The war and the call for recruits in 1861 and ‘62 brought the Whitney family step by step into the conflict. First my older brother Eben left teaching to work in a hospital treating war wounded. It was not until Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, however, when the war was redefined as the battle to end slavery that we felt personally connected to the great effort. First my father felt called to volunteer as a soldier. My older brother Eben and I persuaded him to stay home and care for the family as we both took officer training and began our service as officers in command of colored troops. We were motivated, in part, by the threats made by the Confederacy against whites who were officers of Negro regiments. The Confederate Congress placed a law in their statute books providing that the death penalty could be invoked for these officers for “inciting servile insurrection.”

I entered the Free Military School at Philadelphia on the 14th day of Jan. 1864. The school was at 1210 Chestnut Street, Cheltenham, Penn. next to Camp William Penn. Camp William Penn was the government’s first recruiting and training center for Negro soldiers. The school had been open for only two weeks when I arrived. Classes were held six days a week, with three classes held each day. The morning class was from 9:00 to 10:30, followed by marching drill. The afternoon class was for the study of tactics and army regulations. We studied from 2:00 to 3:30 and again followed that with drill until 5:00, dress parade and dismissal. In the evening we had a class in mathematics. We also practiced our leadership by drilling Negro troops on land next to the Camp William Penn, using farm fields within easy sight of Lucretia Mott’s home.
Editor’s note: Edward M. Davis, Mrs. Mott’s son-in-law, on May 1, 1862, helped organize The Union League in Cheltenham Township to raise funds for distribution of Union propaganda and to counteract secessionist views. In 1863, following the Emancipation Proclamation, Davis offered some of his Oak Farm land, across the road from the Mott home, as the site for the barracks of Camp William Penn, a Union army military camp, set up exclusively to train federal “colored troops.”

Abraham Barker raised over $30,000 to help in recruit black soldiers. Thirty of the most outstanding black leaders in Philadelphia met in July, 1863 at The Union League to open the recruitment. Those inducted were the first black troops in the United States under federal jurisdiction, as distinguished from those in state regiments; therefore they had the unique distinction of bearing the title of United States Colored Troops.
Camp William Penn became the first recruiting and training center for Black soldiers to be operated by the United States Government. To assure its success the location was carefully chosen. The local citizens provided a great deal of religious influence at Camp William Penn. Rev. Robert J. Parvin of St. Paul's Episcopal Church visited the camp to preach and conduct Bible classes. The most famous preacher at the camp, however, was Lucretia Mott. As a Quaker, she was opposed to fighting of any kind, but as an abolitionist, she was deeply concerned for the welfare of the Negro troops. With her characteristic determination, she frequently stalked through the fields from her nearby home on Old York Road to visit the soldiers, and, using a large bass drum as her pulpit, she offered religious messages.
Extreme care was taken in the selection of the white officers who would lead these new recruits. Most officer candidates were chosen from regiments of white troops in the field. These experienced soldiers went before an examination board to be tested on army tactics, arithmetic, history, geography, & such. Those that passed the examination then were screened for moral character and command potential. The army wanted only the best to assure success of the new colored troops. By September of 1863, however, they were finding that 50% were not passing the examination board. To correct this problem a military officer training school was set up in late December, 1863 next to Camp William Penn. This “Free School,” was financed and operated by the "committee for the supervision of recruiting of colored troops.” This was the school that I attended in January of 1864 when the school had been open only a few weeks. I was successful in my training despite my lack of previous military experience. More than 90% of my fellow classmates had been recruited for training in the “Free School” from the ranks of combat tested troops.

Following six weeks of study, I was ready to appeared before the Board of Examiners at Camp Casey near Washington on Feb. 26th and passed as a 2nd Lieut. of the 1st class. I then went home stopping in Baltimore one night to see Eben and reached Bridgeport on the 29th.

Editor’s Note: In the first three months of operation the Free Military School received 1,691 applications, of which 843 were approved. Of the first 222 to actually attend, 72 had to withdraw, 56 were dropped, and 94 graduated. Of the 94 graduates,90 were approved for commissions by Casey’s board and 4 were rejected, 39 of these 94 graduates were listed as “civilians” with the notation that “Many of these had previously been in the three months’, nine months’ and three years’ service, from which they had been honorably discharged.” These statistics show Henry’s accomplishment as a pure civilian to be rather unique.

I remained at home one week and then returned to Philadelphia where I waited for my appointment. I received it on the 31st of March.

Thus began my service in the army, a career that had three chapters or phases:

  1. I was first assigned to recruit Negro troops in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

  2. My second role was to supervise the movement of Colored Troops from training at
    Camp Casey to places where they were needed. I was most proud of this role as it
    showed that the army recognized by skills to lead men in the often chaotic situations
    faced in travel. They also trusted me to make quick decisions with no superior officer
    to turn to. There is almost no other situation where a 2nd or 1st Lieut. does not have a
    Captain or other higher officer looking over his shoulder. The army trusted me to
    present myself and my men in a professional manner as we came in contact with the
    public in the course of travel.

  3. My third role was that of peace keeper. I supervised troops in Texas where there was
    a need for a military presences to keep the peace.

Recruiting in Clarksburg, West Virginia

My brother Eben was assigned to the 30th United States Colored Infantry (U.S.C.I.) stationed at a camp near Baltimore. I was assigned to the 45th U.S.C.I. and ordered to report to Clarksburg, West Virginia, where a recruiting camp had been set up on the grounds of an Academy. At first I stayed at the Bartlett Hotel, at my own expense, but when Lieut. Wm. Roberts and I where assigned an office in an Academy building to care for the Quartermaster’s property and to open a recruiting office, we moved from the hotel and lived in our office.

The Academy stood on a slight elevation north of town facing to the south. About one hundred yards east of it was the church where we quartered part of our Regiment. The church faced towards the academy and was on the extremity of the elevation which immediately behind and to the north of it descended with a steep bank nearly to the level of the river. The river watered the town flowing to the north and after passed by the church at the distance of about 300 yards to the east of it turned to the west and flowed behind the academy about 200 yards off. The river, west of the town, was joined by one somewhat larger. North of the Academy and beyond the river was the railroad. The depot was most half a mile north east of the town, the largest part of which (the town), was inside the angle formed by the turn in the river.

Passing down the street that runs south from the academy we crossed the two main streets of the town. They ran parallel with each other crossing the river by means of two bridges to which they descend by a long hill. Most of the houses of the town were on these two streets. There were several stores and two or three Hotels in the place.

Clarksville had five meeting houses but meetings were held in but one of them. It seemed as though the town had seen its best days and was now decaying. There was a hill several hundred feet high just north of the depot from the top of which an excellent view of the country can be obtained. It was later fortified and had guns pointing towards the town.

On my first recruiting trip I walked to Bridgeport with two of the 1st Lieuts. We went to see if we could not pick up some recruits there but found that they were very scarce being all carried off in the rebel raid of last spring. It is a little place 4 miles east of here on the railroad. We walked down and back passing through the long tunnels. A train was expected in a few moments so we went through just about as quick as we could. About one third of the way is arched with stone and is narrow so that if the train had come while we were in there we should have been obliged to lay flat in the mud at the side of the track. However we got through all right. When we had looked around Bridgeport we went back in the country and came back by a pike that gave us a long walk and brought us home about tired out.

Other recruiting trips were made to Charleston, Martinsburg, and all other towns in that part of West Virginia.

My Journal
I kept a journal which I mailed home in sections to my parents. A typical entry read:

It is now about 8 o’clock and I am sitting here at the desk which is a clothing box
set upon the side and covered with a rubber blanket. The tallow candle stands on
a little pine board and does very well for a light. On one side of me is a bright
warm fire of soft coal and in the corner beyond two of the boys are sitting on the
boxes of clothing and one is telling the other about some battle that he saw when
he was with Gen. Averill and the old 8th at whose yell the rebs would “git up an
run jes as fast as thar legs could ear-run.” According to his account it must have
been the most brilliant battle of the whole war and every man of them should be
promoted immediately. The one that is telling it has seen some of the war. He
was our first recruit has been a slave in southern West Va. Has worked on the
fortifications before Richmond, has escaped three or four times, and been retaken
but finally got away and is now going to fight for the Union. The other day I let
him tell how slaves were treated in Richmond and where he had lived. It was
like Uncle Tom’s Cabin but not so refined. Of course I can’t tell how much truth
he tells but he seems honest and reliable.

My feelings ran high at that time and I expressed them in my journal:

Today is the beginning of another month, the month of flowers. One month ago
today I was with Eben in Baltimore. Probably before the beginning of another, he
will have seen at least one battle and I hope the next battle will thoroughly avenge
the murder of our troops at Fort Pillow and forever decide the question whether
Union troops of whatever color are to be treated as prisoners of war or butchered
while crying for quarters or rather hope it will prove that the latter cannot be done
without provoking sure and awful retaliation.

At other times I wrote of the fun there was in camp:

The weather was fine on the 4th of July and camp saw a lively time. At 8 o’clock
we formed the Brigade consisting of the 43 & 45th Reg’ts and marched to
Jenkentown about two and a half miles east of here and raised a flag pole and
then listened to speeches till noon when we marched back another way.
Everyone spent the P.M. as they pleased until Dress Parade. After that the
boys amused themselves by climbing a greased pole and playing catch with
eyes blindfolded in doing which they had a rope stretched for the boundary and
then several would be blinded and chase one who had a bell to ring when he
pleased and had five or six bags of hay lying round in the circle. It was amusing
to see him stand behind a bag and ring his bell and then spring away while 3 or
4 would go tumbling over the bag and pile themselves up in heaps on the other
side. Then two blinded would touch each other in passing and simultaneously
make a grab for each other while each would feel for the handkerchief of the
other. Lt. Roberts had stepped into the ring to bind their eyes and was standing
there when he was suddenly seized by the biggest of the blindfolded players.
The crowd set up such a shout that the young man thought he had certainly got
somebody and the more Roberts tried to get away the tighter he was hugged
while the fellow proceeded to feel for the handkerchief. When he didn’t feel a
blindfold on Lt Roberts, he concluded that he had the man with the bell, but at
last woke up to the fact that he had hold of the wrong man and very kindly let
go his hold before he had quite crushed him. Roberts said he was well
squeezed but had furnished more amusement than any other man in camp. In the
eve we had some grand fireworks outside the camp and though I expected that
some of the men would be missing we did not lose any from our Regiment.
Altogether it was a very pleasant 4th.

Another time I wrote of an officer who had a wonderful sense of humor:

After supper he was playing ball with the other officers of the Reg’t here. After
a while he got tired of it and the next thing we saw was him taking a very tall
man about the camp for the boys to laugh at. He had put one man on another’s
shoulders and by putting a blanket over both it looked very much like a very
tall and slender man. Oh what a hubbub there was as he went round and made
immense bows to them. Every fellow seemed to stretch his throat to its utmost
capacity. After that had been around he sent another one which was “the
elephant.” He was made by two men who stood one behind the other and
bending down till their backs were horizontal They threw a blanket over them
and made some kind of a trunk to hang down from the first one’s head and
then the elephant waddled around swinging its body to and fro in a manner
that called out immense applause from the spectators. After that we watched
the boys run races and such till dusk.

Leaving West Virginia

June 3, 1864 I received orders that brought this first part of my service to a close:

2nd Liut Henry Whitney 45th Regiment U.S Colored Troops is hereby relieved
from Recruiting service in West Virginia and will proceed without any
unnecessary delay and report for duty to the commanding Officer at Camp
Wm. Penn near Philadelphia, Pa

We brought 232 new West Virginia soldiers to join those men recruited in Pennsylvania. Then the entire 45th USCT were sent for training at Camp Casey, outside Washington D. C. After a couple of months the 45th was sent to the front to fight at such battles as Arlington Heights, Chaffin’s Farm (September 27 ’64), Fair Oaks (October 27, ’64), the Petersburg Campaign (April ’65), and the Appomattox Campaign.

Lieut. Roberts and I expected to go with our men to the front but were ordered to remain at Camp Casey. I can only guess at the reasoning of our commanders, but it would appear that they felt that the 45th had more than enough good officers. The Pennsylvania officers remained with the troops while the recruiters who had worked in West Virginia were given the responsibility of transporting troops from Camp Casey to their various assignments. I would like to think that we had done our task well taking the men from West Virginia to Camp Wm. Penn and from there to Camp Casey. I can say that our troops showed good discipline and we had very few desertions. It is during troop movements that most desertions occur.

What ever the army’s reasons, Lieut. Roberts and I received these orders soon after the 45th departed:

Sept 10, 1864 -- Lieut. Henry Whitney, 45th U.S.C.T and Lieut. W.P. Roberts, 45th
U.S.C.T. will embark with one hundred and seventy men, from the foot of the 6th
Street wharf, Washington D.C. on board the mail boat at 1:00 P.M. the 11th inst.
and proceed to City Point, Va. on the James River

My Trip to Hilton Head, S.C.

I must have proven myself, because soon after we returned I was sent on a much longer mission as the single officer to accompany 132 men to Hilton Head, S.C. and responsible for $2700 and supplies. My orders were written:
Oct 16th 1864 Lieut. Henry Whitney, 45th U.S.C.T. will embark with one hundred
and thirty two men of the 102nd and 32nd U.S.C.T. from Alexandria, Va. On board
the U.S. steamer “Idaho” at 12 o’clock October 17 and proceed to Hilton Head, S.C.

I was sick with a sort of colic when I received word that I was to start to Hilton Head the next day with the men for the 32nd and 102nd Regiments. The sickness, however, passed off at night and I said I could go. This disappointed Brooks, another officer, who wished to go in my place. It was so late that I did not do anything that night except complete my unfinished business and get my things ready as much as I could. A squad of 42 men were added to the 4 companies that day, and, as I was responsible for their things, I had to make out the papers. The squad of men filled the 4 companies to 100 men each and they were all excellent men from Ohio who could read and write and some of whom had graduated at Oberlin. The 8 men put into Co. B could read and write so we were provided for without depending on rascally Sergeants any longer. The two “smartest” of whom were reduced to the ranks about 2 weeks ago. The 42 men form the most intelligent squad of men that I have seen but were as awkward as Shanghai chickens whom they resembled more in length of limb than is size of body.

Found I was to take rolls for 90 men in one squad and 40 in the other but also found that in the three days that passed since the 90 came from Washington where they were drafted or substituted there were 16 deserted so I did not bring quite so many as was expected that I would, having in all 112 men.

As I was to leave Alexandra at 12:00, I had to stir round but it was nothing compared to my other trips to the front for I had the men on my hands before and the rolls were all straight so at 10:30 A.M. we started off with everything snug and right and I myself feeling that I was all right and had control of the Squad. As the 90 squad had not received their bounty, Col. Geoman determined to not pay the men the whole but to send it by me to be paid at the end of the trip so as to keep them from deserting and so they would not be cheated out of it before starting. So I had charge of over 2700 dollars for them. We did not start from Alexandria till 3 P.M.

The propeller ship Idaho carried nothing but our squad and one white Sergeant who belonged to a N.Y. Regiment that was down there. So we had plenty of room. I was the only officer on board and there were no other passengers so I had as good as the boat could afford in the way of accommodations which was a good state room and a good saloon. Besides that the Captain was from New London and his wife and child were on board with him having come on to Balto to visit him and determined on taking a cruise. Mrs. Holmes was a very nice woman so much like mother but not quite so old I think. The child was about 11 years old and was a good deal like Jane only not so bashful. The Captain is a fine man and is like Mr. Kimball. In fact they are New England people that have been outside of New England and made the ship as like home as can be, especially when Mrs. Holmes came on the upper deck with her green sunbonnet on just such as mother used to wear as long ago as I can remember. The Captain wanted to get out to sea by noon but the Pilot would not run on the river at night though every one else did and there was so full a moon.

In the morning we left Fort Monroe behind us and started out to sea. Captain Holmes said we would be to sea by 12 o’clock. He predicted a northeaster and the wind was soon with it. I knew we were getting to sea when I felt the ship roll somewhat. I went once out to look and then went to bed expecting to wake up Oh! so sick.

I awoke the next morning, October 19th, without feeling sick but found that the sea was rough and as soon as I arose to dress I became sick so that I had to lie down again. However I got dressed at length and bolted for the side of the vessel. There I vomited 3 times in an hour and got over it by laying down till towards noon when it was smooth and I could stay up. I was not much sick except while throwing up and that would last only a minute. Capt. said I got off very easy. The Sergeant was sick all day and is not over it yet.. Mrs. Holms and Annie were quite sick but were on deck last eve and are well today. For my part I have been sicker on shore but never quite in that way. They told me that I would wish I had never seen the ocean and think that I never would feel well again but I did not experience any such feelings and felt like laughing with the sailors at the funny appearance I presented to them. So I think I could make a sailor without much trouble, however it was not a storm. It was smoother towards night and this morning when I came out of my room the water was almost as smooth as glass.

A dolphin was taken on hook this morning but I did not see it die for which I was sorry. We saw porpoises in great numbers and some flying fish. At ten o’clock I went to the masthead and while up there a whole school of them came round the bows of the boat plunging and diving furiously. It was indeed interesting to see them so plainly sporting round the vessel. There was a shark seen yesterday and I think I saw one this morning. About 9 o’clock the Capt saw a something white about a mile to the right of us and turned the vessel course in that direction and on getting to it it was found to be a boat belonging to some Man of War. It is in good order and worth a hundred dollars the Captain thought. By 7 o’clock that evening we were off Charleston and expected to be down to Hilton Head the next morning.

On Friday, October 23, we arrived at Hilton Head at ten A.M. and landed immediately. I reported to the Provost Marshal and found the HdQt of the32nd were 2 miles back of town but the adjt being in town took charge of the men and said he would send the receipt for the things in at once to the Provost Marshals. I concluded that I would not wait for them but would go at once to Beauford to the 102nd Reg’t on the boat that went at 3 o’clock P.M. As I was going towards the wharf I met Capt Crissey who was going to Company B on the same boat. It seemed like meeting a brother and the more so as he thought of anything but seeing me. He said he had a good mind to kiss me right there in the street.

We went up and arrived at Company B at 7 o’clock. We found the 102nd half a mile behind the town and turned the men over. The next morning I got the receipts for them. I expected to return to 8 o’clock A.M. but as Crissey stayed there I concluded to remain with him and see the town as I had till next Saturday before I could leave this part of the country I could see the whole as well as the part. There were 5 companies of the 32nd there and five of us officers found a team and started for the Port Royal ferry to exchange papers under a flag of truce with the rebels. The Lt. in command of the picket, however, could not allow it so we were disappointed in that but saw the famous shell road for 10 miles and the country and cotton fields.

One of the Captains knew a woman from Maine who carried on a plantation and we went to call on her. She is all alone near the outer picket with no white person near but a school teacher from the north. She has successfully carried on a cotton plantation and raised 2500 lbs of cotton in spite of the army worm which nearly destroyed it. We returned to town late in the evening hungry as bears and well satisfied with the day’s ride.

The next morning we came back to Hilton Head and I stayed here at the Provost’s barracks where two Cos of the 32nd are with Capt Plumer a military School friend and who has always been very friendly to me. There were a good many in the Reg’t with whom I was acquainted and the rest were all friendly as I am introduced by Crissey. He calls me Henry and could not seem more like a brother if he really was so. I went to the camp the next morning and expected to enjoy myself well that week.

I found that I was to go north on the steamer myself the next Saturday. On the 25th the Head Quarters of the 32nd was moved to Seabrook the west side of the Island and all the 10 Companies sent to that side to act as pickets. Captain Crissey and his company were stationed at HeadQuarters and in a very nice place. I went over there with him (it is about 6 miles from this side) and to do it we marched into town and took the boat instead of going overland for a distance of 4 miles. It is the way they do in this Department. After seeing how things are done in the army of the Patomic where they have about two teams to the regiment it seemed strange to see a Company here provided with 8 or more teams to move their stuff but the reason of it is that the troops are recommended to floor their tents and raise them from the ground. The men had bought or stolen enough boards to floor their tent, the flooring was picked up for them and went to the new camp. Camp was broken up camp at 2 P.M. Wednesday and we lay on the boat all night. The next day the men spent the day fixing up the new camp.

Captain Chrissy had to go on “Officer of the ‘Piequet’” last night and as he had two horses he offered one to me to go the rounds with him at 12 o’clock and I accepted it gladly. It was a beautiful night and we had a good time riding round to the posts through alternate patches of brushland and open fields. At the last post there were some orange trees and we obtained some specimens left by chance, getting a beautiful branch of green oranges which I am taking with great care to one of his particular friends. I saw some fine palmettos with leaves longer than a man. I would have brought some of the leaves home but had my things nearly full.

I was expecting to come to town on a horse that the major promised to lend me but as an ambulance was coming in at 1 o’clock P.M’ I cane by that and getting my things from Captain Plumer’s I came to the “Port Royal House” in time for supper and shall remain here for breakfast in the morning and then take the boat “Fulton” at 10 o’clock for N.Y. Capt R-auld have kept me there but he has the chills and fever and is somewhat crowded already so I could not make up my mind to trouble him any more. It was half past seven and I was in my room thinking over the past week which does not seem much like being in the war myself but nearly a spectator and is a vacation to me in which I have visited my friends and found a most hearty welcome and kindness from all in the Reg’t whose acquaintance I have made. Capt. C has been so like a brother to me that the time has passed pleasantly indeed. But I will close for the present and perhaps write a little more on board. ship.

We did not start from the Head till 2 o’clock yesterday and did not get dinner till 4 which rendered me hungry as I had not ate anything but some apples since supper the night before. Something that I ate at the “Port Royal House” or else the freshly parched peanuts that I ate in the day made me sick all Friday night and left me without appetite on Saturday morning.

The state rooms accommodate two persons and I had No. 13 but I changed with Lt. Whithington who had a friend in my roommate and in changing got in with a man who is act Y State Commissioner sent down to obtain the soldiers vote. There was a great deal of drinking going on yesterday on board and he seemed to be the ringleader of it. A great many had to retire before night but he kept up till late and then came to his room to drink with a friend. This morning he was up early and picking up his bottle of choice spirits he found he had drank it almost all up. He remarked that he believed he took almost all he could carry last night and I told him that I agreed with him. He tried hard to have me drink with him last night and was greatly astonished at my refusal but was so

Oct 30th On board the steamer Fulton

It is now evening and we are about half way on our voyage. So if nothing untoward happens we shall be in New York by Thursday morning. The wind has freshened this eve and the sea will probably be rough in the morning. So I am expecting sea sickness again. I have not described the boat and don’t think I shall attempt it but it is the largest and best that I was ever a passenger on was formerly run between NY and ----- is elegantly furnished and I think has on board the largest number of drunk or drinking army officers that I have ever seen together. I have been talking this eve with a man who is carrying on a plantation on Lady Island near Beaufort. He has 83 hands the largest number employed by overseer on the island. He is a young man not much over twenty one years of age, was down here surveying and in March last bought a plantation paying about 6000 dollars. ¼ down and the rest at the end of 3 years getting this advantage by having been in the army. He planted 100 acres in cotton and the expenses have been between 5 and 6000 dollars. The crop this year averages about ½ being destroyed by the army worms or caterpillar. He will get seventeen thousand dollars for the crop but says his is better than the average. I was asking him what a man could do without capital to commence on and he told me it could be done by beginning small. There are chances to get in it a man only could watch for them. For instance he says there is a man on board who owns a large plantation who offered him a large sum of money if he would get him a man who would carry on the plantation next year. He will pay the expenses and I think he said put in 200 acres and let it on shares if he can the man who is reliable and will carry it on as if it was his own. If I was out of the army and had one or two thousand dollars I am pretty sure Father and I would try a trip south for two years or more.

This man that I was talking with said he could make 10,000 dollars out of that job on shares. I am told that a man can himself take care of 10 acres which at 150 dollars per acre is not to laugh at but seriously considered. The cost of getting down there and back and of living is pretty dear 50 dollars from N.Y. to Hilton Head and 12 dollars more for food and board. If I had a friend who had wished to go down I could have taken him as a servant I think without any trouble and what a grand opportunity it would have been if Father could have been in Washington at the time I started all ready for a short trip to the Dept of the South.

Back at Camp Casey I received orders to assist in the transportation of more troops:

Dec 8th 1864, The detachment of 157 recruits belonging to different regiments in
the army of the Patomac and the Army of the James who are now stationed at
Camp Casey Va, will proceed to the front without delay. The detachment will be
under command of 2nd Lieut. Henry Whitney, 45th U.S.C.T. and will report for
transportation at 6th St. wharf tomorrow, Dec 9th, 1864 at 9 ½ o’clock A.M.
promptly. Having turned over the recruits to the proper authorities, Lt. Whitney
will return and report to the Commanding Officer at Camp Casey Va. without delay.

January 6th 1865 Lieut. Henry Whitney, 45th U.S.C. Troops with a detachment of 95
men now at Camp Casey, Va. Belonging to the 7th, 9th, and 29th U.S.C.T., will
embark on the U.S. transport at 6th Street wharf on this city tomorrow, at 12
o’clock proceed to Marina Landing, Va. on the James River…

There were more assignments. The most rewarding of which was on March 4th. President Lincoln requested the commander of Camp Casey to send a Company of Colored Troops to march in the Inauguration parade and to be the color guard at his second Inauguration ceremony. This was the first time Negroes would have any role in Inauguration ceremonies and the President and the army commanders were especially concerned that these soldiers be good and proud representatives. I was, therefore, extremely proud to be the officer selected for this highly visible and important ceremonial role.

I did not have much time to think about this honor as I was soon sent on another mission. On March 20, I accompanied 36 recruits from Camp Casey to Chattanooga, Tenn..

On August 20, 1865, I was promoted from 2nd Lieutenant to 1st Lieutenant in the 45th U.S.C.T. Following the end of hostilities, I rejoined the men of the 45th as we were assigned to go to Texas, along with many other colored troops, to assure order was maintained along the Mexico boarder.

In Texas I became very good friends with a fellow officer in the 45th, Captain Elon Francis Brown. Elon had served with the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteers prior to attending officer training school and being assigned to the 45th USCT. He joined the 2nd Wisconsin, Company H as a private under the command of Captain Randolph, May 20, 1861. He fought and was injured in the great battles at South Mountain and Antietam where he was promoted “for meritorious conduct.” Although injured, Elon continued to march and fight in the campaigns that followed, including Chancellersville. He never truly regained his health. Elon mustered out and was honorably discharged on the 29th of June, 1864. Seven days later, July 5th, 1864, he enlisted again, this time as Captain in the 45th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops commanded by Col. Doubleday. He was mustered into the service on the 27th of July, 1864 by Captain Clay in Philadelphia.

I greatly respected Elon for the experiences he had prior to becoming an officer of Colored Troops. If asked, Elon would tell stories of these earlier experiences. The following two stories, taken from his journal, show how Elon was concerned about slavers even before joining the 45th:

While marching though Virginia, we came to a large brick mansion near which stood
several huts, the habitations of slaves. In front of one of the huts sat an old colored
woman who saluted us with, “Good evening, Massa’s.” We asked to be directed to the
spring. She insisted on having us sit down and rest while she brought us some water
although she was bent nearly double with the infirmities of age. We, however, went to
the spring ourselves and being refreshed by the purest beverage nature yields, returned
to the hut. There the old lady said that the plantation was owned by Col. John A.
Washington and that he was drowned going “across the sea to fight, for they had sent
for him.”

“Oh,” said I, “this was the home of Col. John A Washington was it? He was killed by
a picket about a year and a half ago.”

“No,” she replied, “he was not killed, he was drowned going away over the sea to
fight; they had sent for him.”

I asked her of the time he was drowned and it agreed with the date of the death of Col.
Washington (a rebel officer and a relative of the immortal George Washington.) He
was shot by a Union picket in the fall of 1862. I think this is the same officer she had
reference to.

She was very old and when I asked her age she replied, “I’m more’n a hundred years
old. I was a slave until I got too old to work and Massa set me free. I’ve been free
fifteen years.”

She said she had seen old Gen. Washington and all the rest of the Washingtons.”


At another time I took my canteen of water and went into one of the houses occupied by
the slaves where I made a cup of coffee and ate my breakfast of hard tack. All the
slaves had left the plantation except a few who are unable to leave on account of age.
They don’t seem to understand the object of the war at all but to say they hoped
“Masser Lincoln” will stick to it until they were all free. They had no idea of the
meaning of the word “government” and I was never more puzzled than in trying to
explain its meaning to them in answer to their questions.

Elon told these two stories as examples of how slave owners denied knowledge to their slaves. These same slave masters, he noted, would then use this ignorance that they themselves had intentionally fostered as “evidence” of Negro inferiority.


Elon’s sense of duty and commitment to the Union cause is illustrated in the following story:

In the army there is a class of men known in army phrase as “stragglers.” These are
men who cowardly sneak to the rear in time of battle not willing to risk their lives even
after taking solemn oath of fidelity to the cause. These men are far too numerous in the
army, and I would rejoice to see the death penalty attached to such an offense. Better
they be a deserter than a straggler; the former is more honorable, more just. In the one
case the man breaks all obligations between himself and the government, does no duty
and expects no pay; in the other case the man continues nominally on duty, draws his
pay and is of no real use to the country. If the straggler would only assist in alleviating
the wants of the wounded who are carried to the rear it might lesson this offense, but
not the coward. He cannot muster courage to look the brave soldier who returns from
the field with honorable wounds, in the face. He goes by himself and tries to hide from
the face of every human being except those of his own class. When the danger is all
past, he sneaks back to his company, is put under guard, perhaps at hard labor for a
few days, perhaps forfeits a months pay and has to hear the jests and sneers of his
comrades; but all this he can stand, and so lost is he to sense of shame, would rather
stand, than risk himself in battle. Gen. Hooker played them a good joke though and
one that I think will go farther, has gone farther, to correct the evil than any other
punishment. He put all stragglers that could be taken into companies and battalions
and marched them to the front. If any man refused to go he was shot down; this
enforced discipline and some of the most desperate fighting of that battle was done by


This final story serves to explain why Elon transferred to work with Colored Troops and surround himself with officers who shared his beliefs.

I have seen much death and horror as a soldier, yet the worst I witnessed was cruelty in
camp toward a negro. The man, who has been employed by a Sergeant, was taken sick
and lay unable to help himself in the least degree, even to turn over. Since his sickness
he had received no care whatsoever from the soldier who employed him and but little
from any one else. He appeared unable to speak. A piece of tent had been drawn over
him for shade but the Negro man spent days upon the ground with nothing under him. I
got a blanket and with assistance lifted him up and drew it under him. I appealed to
Dr. Arnadt, our 1st Asst Surgeon, but he was a cold hearted brutal man and seemed
afraid to touch him because he was black. Dr Babcock, 2nd Asst Surgeon, had done a
little for him but did not do all that was in his power to do. I pointed out that it was
known that we were to march from there in a day or two and it was their duty to send
him away while they could, for when we marched he would otherwise be left to die. We
all knew that they would not encumber the ambulances with a colored man. It might
seem unfair to soldiers to use army ambulances to carry contrabands but humanity
demands that we do it or else prevent their following the army. They are very useful as
servants but every mortal is liable to sickness or accident at any moment and if it is for
our benefit to employ them, it is but just to take care of them.

The next day we were ordered to prepare for marching. As I expected would be the
case, the sick man was left to die alone. A short time before we marched the doctors
and field officers assembled around the sick man in consultation as to what to do with
him. The doctors gave it as their opinion that he would not live twenty-four hours.
There were no spare ambulances and he was left by himself. The Colonel tried to get
one of the other colored men to stay with him but the request was an unreasonable one
as it was known that the country was full of gorillas and as soon as we were gone of
course they would be into our camp to see what we left and if any colored man were
found he would be either killed or hurried south into slavery. It was known for several
days that the man was helpless and it was repeated we would march. Ample time was
given to take proper care of him and for that neglect there can be no excuse. Food and
water were left within his reach but he was unable to move and of course would not
help himself to them. He probably died within a day or two but Oh what cruelty to
allow him to be left to die alone and lie for days upon the ground.


During the march from Edinburg to Brownsville, Texas, in October of 1865; much of the way, sometimes for several successive miles he was compelled to wade in water from four inches to three feet deep and frequently deeper, and to sleep in wet clothing; that before the march was completed he was too weak to continue and was left to complete the march by steamer, that then and there a violent cold was taken which on account of continued exposure could not be thrown off, and soon resulted in a confirmed cough; that during the following month, he, with a detachment of four Companies of his Regiment, and several detachments from other commands, made the voyage to New Orleans on a small steamer employed by the government in a crowded and uncomfortable condition having a very stormy passage, occupying sixteen days (instead of three or four as is usual); that there was no medical officer on board, with only the medical officer on duty with the Regiment for some months previous having been drowned at Bragos, Texas, after the regiment was mustered out—and that on his arrival at New Orleans he was unable to perform any military duty in consequence of cough and physical weakness, that near New Orleans he remained in camp with his regiment seven days most of this time without tents (the old ones having been turned in a Brownsville)

The men of the 45th were mustered out of the army on October 7th 1865, in Edenburg and Brownsville, Texas. I strongly considered staying in the army but my asthma was giving me much trouble, especially in the dust of Texas. I found some relief from my asthma symptoms by following a local custom of smoking the leaves of hemp plants. But it was not enough and I resigned November 4th, 1865.

Captain Elon Francis Brown of Company D, 45th Regiment U.S. Colored Troops, also mustered out November 4. At my invitation my friend came home with me and stayed with the Whitney family to recuperate. I believed my sisters would love him as I did and nurse him back to health.

On December 10th Elon and I moved to Bridgeport, in the state of Connecticut, and spent the winter at school. I was concerned that Elon’s cough continued. In April in the year 1866, Elon moved to Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire and engaged in teaching in the New Hampshire Business College. A year later, my sister Sarah married Elon on April 9th, 1867. Our joy was tempered however as Elon’s cough continued and his hearing was impaired in one ear, he partially lost his sense of smell, and he occasionally spit blood. The following year, just as his son Norman was born, Elon entirely lost hearing in one ear and his hearing was so impaired in the other ear that he was forced to give up teaching. Elon died on August19, 1869

I was also concerned for my health as I was in such a sad state of mind following the war and losing my good friend and “brother” Elon Brown. The climate in New Jersey did not sit well with me and I tried finding work in West Virginia. Nothing worked for me and I was soon back living with my family in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Biography of George August Beck

George August Beck was the gggrandfather of the Barrett Brothers. George A. Beck had a son William Beck who had a daughter Alma Beck who had a son Hugh E. Barrett who was the Barrett Brother's father.

The following document was written by George C. Beck, oldest child of Lawrence Beck, the oldest child of George August Beck.

George August Beck was born at Hadstett, near Husum, Schleswig, (now part of Germany) May 8, 1838. The following account, in broken English, is substantially as given to me on several visits to him in Spokane just before his passing:

"The first thing I remember is running away from home and falling asleep beside a roadside gate. Here my folks found me during the night. I remember telling the boys at school that I would be six tomorrow--on the day before we moved to Ostenfeld. I had the St. Vitus Dance when I was eight and it was thought that I would never recover, but I became husky enough to do the hardest sort of work.

"I also recall singing on the way home from school while the others danced in an old empty building. I also played on the 'handharmonica (accordion) for them.

"As I grew up I became accustomed to hard work. I finished school at 16 and brother Fritz and I did all the work on the church lands of my father. We would cut hay along the river and bring it home as far as ten miles. We used to haul as many as 50 loads of manure a day.

"We were accustomed to buy logs at auction on the church lands and cut them into cordwood. We hauled them to Husum and kept for ourselves whatever we could make."

(When I saw Grandpa in Feb. 1929, he told me the following):

"Last night I dreamt that I was back is Ostenfeld as a boy. Fritz and I used to fish in a nearby creek where we had made pools of backwater by throwing up dams across the current. We had caught a big pickerel in the river and thought it would be a good thing to put him in one of our pools. When we couldn't catch any more fish from the pool we told our dad. He laughed and lightly scolded us about putting in the pickerel to eat all our fish. I dreamed that we were going out to look at the pickerel and the pools again--father, Fritz and Christian's brother-in-law.)

"This is how I happened to come to America. I didn't like the hard work on the farm without any prospects. I was sort of wild anyhow. An acquaintance of mine had gotten a job for himself and wife out at Davenport, Iowa. I asked him to see if he couldn't arrange the same thing for me. A lot of Germans had settled at Davenport and were sending back to the old country for their help. Soon I had word that everything was arranged. Fritz was not unwilling to see me leave and have the farm for himself. He bought out my interest in some sheep we had together, and also helped smooth out matters at home. We told dad that I was coming over in a very expensive boat with plate glass all over it, etc., and asked for enough from him to make the passage. He said he didn't know it was so expensive to cross over, but all right, he wanted me to go over like somebody.

"I had just enough money then to pay for (my future wife) Margaret's and my tickets to Davenport. The night before the boat was to sail Fritz and I went over to tell her and her parents that everything was arranged. My folks had no inkling that I was taking her along. Father wouldn't have consented to the marriage.

"In order to avoid being seen we went northward to catch a train, a neighbor driving us and the acquaintance who had gotten us our jobs. Everyone who saw us knew that we were eloping. At Hamburg we almost lost out for Margaret had no passport. Since father made out the passports for our district I would have had to get one from him. The inspector looked her over severely and I lost hope and began to wring my hands and cry. Finally the inspector gave her a shove through the line and said, "Let her go." Margaret's good looks had something to do with that. We came over by way of England and all I remember of our stop there is trying to make them understand that I wanted a cup of coffee and paying one dollar for it when they did get the idea.

"After eighteen days at sea--the very cheapest passage instead of a fancy stateroom and boat--we arrived in America, May, 1862. Our jobs as already arranged for us left us four miles apart. Margaret was milking eight cows and feeding pigs and chickens. I was cutting slough grass with a scythe, often knee deep in water. She was earning eight dollars a month and I twelve. At the end of the season we had twenty-five dollars saved with which to set up in a little shack out in the prairie. This cost us $18.00 per year with two acres garden. We had barely enough cash left to buy a cheap stove. In the meantime we had been married at Davenport.

"This was during the Civil War. Prices were getting higher and work was not plentiful. I was glad to get work at a dollar a day. Before the war was over I could have had $800 for taking a man's place in the draft, but Margaret said no. The fellow never say a battle field, and we needed money badly to get started.

"The children began to come right away, too many, too soon, and we were in a very difficult situation. Finally upon our very earnest appeal and the intercession of my mother, father overlooked our elopement sufficiently to send over my inheritance--$400--with which to buy forty acres that I had my heart set upon. (It always bothered me that father never fully forgave me for the trick I had played upon him in bringing Margaret with me--he considered my marriage much below my level--and before I could return to Schlesswig to obtain his pardon, he was gone.)

"The forty acres was 20 miles northwest of Davenport and several miles south of Dixon, half timber and quite hilly. The money from home helped build a small house. We ran our scrubby cattle in the surrounding timber and I had to work out to keep things going. To make things more difficult Margaret's folks suddenly appeared on the scene.

"When the timber became settled so that we had no more free pasture we traded for the Barnhardt place south of Wheatland. I still had to work out, so I finally decided to quit the farm. We traded for a business house and a dwelling in Wheatland. The store building was rented to a harness maker. I worked on the gravel train on the Great Western Railroad, westward out of town. I got $1.25 a day and sometimes we loafed all day playing cards, when the foreman was off the job.

"Then we went back to the farm north of town. In 1878 a fellow got me onto his place near Wall Like. In the meantime we had had seven children in nine years, none of them twins. In '81 we bought 160 acres of prairie at Remsen for $6 per acre. This was the beginning of better times for the family. We bought a bunch of scrub cattle from William Ever's brother on shares. Later I bough a half section more.

"Now I was able to take a trip back to Ostenfeld to see my people. A neighbor and I set out together and in New York my companion was cheated out of his money by a bunco artist, and I had a hard time raising enough for both our fares. The stranger posed as a German who was being robbed out of his inheritance in the old country, and if given his passage to Germany would more than repay the loan. He would go on the same boat, but of course didn't show up.

"Mother was now staying in the widow's house provided at Ostendfeld by the church and government. Her servant told me that she was worried about us in America with such a large family. They arranged a big dinner at Thiesen's for us when I arrived. Mother, seeing me for the first time in 27 years, said, "Now I can die happy." We were at Thiesens and I was helping with the harvest. Mother had been chatting happily at the table. I noticed that she had stopped and said "Thiesen, what is the matter with mother, she doesn't say anything?" He reached over and found her inert. They ran to the minister's for help and he suggested a little wine. This partly restored her but she passed away the next noon, 1888. I don't recall anything of her girlhood other than that her father was a glass repairer and painter, who carried a box from place to place.

"My brother showed me the fine picture of father, the minister, as hung up in the Ostenfeld church and we were all very proud of him. It is a fine granite building put up in Luther's time excepting the tower which was added in 1802.

"I helped Christian build a fine new house while over there. Since Christian had no children I talked him out of father's watch and his ring. Christian said I might just as well have the watch as it was only fit for the jewelers--it was always there for repair. It never would run so when back at Remsen I traded it in for $40 on a new watch.

"Fritz was also gone--he had survived his marriage by but a few months. This was the saddest part of my visit, for he and I had been the two pals of the family. Christian's farm was just out of the town, it having come as his wife's dowry. Fritz's mill came in the same way. Father had wanted me to marry the sister of Christian's wife, who likewise had a $1000 dowry to go with her. (But she wasn't anything to look at and Margaret was a beauty.) The sisters were from the wealthy farmer class.

"About 1890 we moved to Alvord. Will had settled there and ran a dance hall, which he rented. He talked me into putting up a building and we rented half of it as a store. When the store went out of business I decided to reopen it, and Emma was to help me."

Added later by GFB:
In 1901 George August Beck moved to Spokane to live in retirement. He became a pathetic figure after the death of his wife Margaret in 1925. Almost blind, but with very acute hearing, he preferred to stay at the Pedicard Hotel. He died in 1930 from complications following a fall occasioned by his failing sight. He lies buried in the Riverside cemetery in Spokane beside Margaret and with their children Charles, Anna, Fred and Lawrence.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park
Originally uploaded by dvdbarrett
Bertha Barrett sitting on the East Rim, in Big Bend National Park, Texas, Feb 1985

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Biographical Sketch of Bennet Whitney 1810-1896

Bennet Whitney was the great-great-grandfather to the Barrett brothers - his son, Henry Whitney (great grandfather), his daughter Edith (Whitney) Whitson (grandmother) - her daugher Bertha (Whitson) Barrett (mother).

[For those interested in Whitney genealogy Bennet was descended from the immigrant Henry Whitney: Henry-John -Joseph-David-Ebenezer-Aaron-Bennet]

Bennet Whitney was born in Wilton, Connecticut, March 23, 1810. In April, 1828, he was baptized by Rev. Asa Branson, and joined the Baptist church at Stratfield.

He was learning his trade of molder and furnace-man at Gregory's foundry, corner of Fairfield and Clinton Avenues, in Bridgeport.

In 1832, he was a delegate to the Baptist State Convention at Middletown, when Rev. Jonathan Going was soliciting aid for the new Home Mission Society. "Some of the more conservative brethren opposed the new venture, but Mr. Whitney spoke in its favor and gave $10." He entered his desire to go into the Ministry, in his diary, about that time.

In 1833, with his two older brothers, he bought out the Gregory foundry, and set up the first steam engine used for manufacturing, in Bridgeport. They were pioneers in
the iron-fence business, an in making iron plow-points. He was one of the the very small group who had the courage and foresight to buy the old St. John's Episcopal Church, and start the First Baptist Church.

On October 14, 1836, he married, at Suffield, Susan Curtis, the daughter of
Nathaniel and Elizabeth Smith Curtis, at her brother's home. Rev. Nathan
Wildman officiating. They had eight children, all born in Bridgeport.

B.W. was the first Deacon of the church and served as treasurer several times.
A certain petition always appeared in his Family Worship each morning. One grandchild remembers that sentence, as distinctly as the aching little knees, in the long prayer. He was too humble to instruct the Almighty which side to favor, in any public question, but he prayed fervently, every day, "May the Right prevail!" And his feeble old voice put more vigor into it. He truly lived by the Bible, even to following literally the instruction to the Disciples: "If any man take away thy coat let him have thy cloak also," without realizing the injustice to his children. No wonder early pictures of his wife look "dragged out!"

About 1855, they moved to Keokuk, Iowa, where he saw that town as the "gateway to the great West of the future". His wife's sister, and her son George Parsons, had preceded them, and written glowing letters. Later, they moved on to Pella, Iowa. Perhaps the railroad had not been built, for somewhere the children travelled in a canvas-top wagon over prairie.

They returned East near the end of the Civil War, and lived near New Brunswick, N.M. where the father and his two younger sons could work in Machine shops. In
the spring of 1874, they removed to Rahway, N.J. where he bought a house with
large spread of garden, at 49 Harrison Street. For twenty years he remained in Rahway, where he was greatly beloved, his tall patriarchal appearance attracting attention wherever he went. He served as Deacon in the Baptist churches at Keokuk, Pella, New Brunswick and Rahway, and every pastor had good reason to thank God for his loyal support and wise counsel.

While living here, in Rahway, a well-to-do distant cousin finished the gigantic task of compiling the genealogy of the Connecticut Whitneys, and as Bennet took great pains to gather the data for this branch, he received a set, of three volumes. Later on, his sister Caroline and his brother Zenas each got a set, but the writer is under the impression that they paid over thirty dollars apiece for them. Bennet's set, with the
great Family Bibile, and the stamp, "B.W." with which castings were marked, in
the foundry, are all at the home of his eldest grandson, Ernest Whitney.

The Golden Wedding and the sixtieth anniversary of the marriage of Bennet and
Susan (Curtis) Whitney also came while they lived in Rahway, N.M. His son, Henry, came with his family, for the West,, and lived in the old home. Later, the senior family moved to 39 Myrtle Avenue in Roseville, Newark, where B.W. died August 26, 1898, he was buried in the Whitney plot in Van Liew Cemetery, (formerly Oak Hill) near New Brunswick, N.J.

"He was always very active in church work and especially in Bible study. He mind
remained clear and active up to the last, and in the discoveries (and his interest in all the questions of the day) and inventions of our age continued unabated to the end of his life. But his greatest interest always was in questions of duty, and in contemplating the love, wisdom, goodness and greatness of God, as manifested in his works and in the salvation of men."

"He was never prominent in political matters and held office but seldom, though his
principles caused him always to affiliate with the party opposed to slavery, and
to maintain his views decidedly though courteously."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Farm Life in Pre-World War Days

The following was written by the Barrett brother's grandfather, Newton Barrett. It was written about 1975, when he was 85 years old, remembering life on the farm during World War I when he had had just graduated from college and gotten married. Newton was a city boy who found the isolation and tedium of life on the farm very difficult, according to his son, but in the following account he is focused on discussing how farming with done in those days:
Farm Life in Pre-World War Days
by Rev. Newton Barrett

For some time, I have felt an urge to recreate from youthful memories, something of, with my passing, an age which will be lost except for documentary relics--an age which to quote someone who made the startling statement, made even before the contemporary transformation of nuclear and computer miracles, is more different from that of the early 1900's than that was from Abraham's, 4000 years ago.

It seems advisable to relate briefly the circumstances which brought me to the farm, so far removed from ministerial environment. William Beck, an unschooled but extraordinarily resourceful German-American Minnesota citizen, had acquired 480 acres of nearly virgin land. From frame building construction work, the emergency created by our entry into World War I, and leaving of the tenants of his two farms, forced him to take over the operation of them himself. Needless to say, labor was exceedingly difficult to secure.

I had completed my collegiate studies, married a fellow-musical student Alma, his second daughter, and faced induction into the armed forces. It was agreed that I should join forces with him; and make my contribution to the war effort by raising food for those who were in service.

On our honeymoon, we arrived by train the day before registration for the draft. Practically a greenhorn, I was to perform the strong-arm and -back tasks supplementary to Father-in-Law's skilled supervision and cooperation. For the first ten months we lived with the Beck family in their four-room house; then as the second tenant vacated the other one.

Father had preceded us by three months; he bought at the frequent auctions the basic equipment, and had plowed some land for the crops of oats and corn, and stocked the buildings with horses, cows, pigs and chickens. My first assignment was to plow a small pasture for flax. Ordinarily in this new country, it was common to break wild land, and sow this cash crop, late maturing, but producing before weeds had caught up with it. He hoped that this piece had been allowed to go untroubled and would still provide a sizable harvest--many pioneers had thus produced enough to pay in a single year the entire cost of the inexpensive land. To anticipate, we got a small yield, and had to store it because the elevators in town were commandeered for small grain.

The plow, borrowed from a neighbor, was somewhat different from the basic shape, turning a shallow furrow, about 16 inches wide. As I remember it, it required only two horses. Of course it was a primitive walking plow. I had a sorrel pair, not perfectly mated; one being a resourceful animal, as we proceeded, he kept pushing his partner out away from the furrow, thus turning less than the proper width of turf. This I later tried to remedy by rigging a short peg on Barney's side, so Dick would be jabbed in the ribs unless he kept his distance.

It was soon time to cut the early crop of hay. In the prevalent crop rotation, there was a large field "seeded down" in this case with timothy, and ready for horse-feed, one of the largest necessary crops for our power. (Some estimated a third of a farm's crop must be horse feed.) Father rode a mower, which cut perhaps six feet of feed, leaving the grass lying in windrows. I followed somewhat later to rake the partially-dried hay into piles. When it was ready to preserve, we readied the rack--an ordinary wagon with a box or body, perhaps 14 feet long and three wide. The permanent body was 16 inches deep. For the bulky hay a rack was mounted over the box, wide boards as long as the box, and probably three feet beyond it on either side. A tall member at front and back completed a receptacle sufficient for practically a ton. As I've indicated, I had the laborious job of pitching with a fork a sizable bunch, and Father stood on the wagon and loaded it--arranged it expertly so it would ride without slipping off. We went to the low-roofed barn; and I pitched the stuff through the mow door; while Father pushed it back, so as to fill the whole space.

The rest we stacked nearby. I unloaded the rack, and Father did the expert task of building a ten-or-twelve foot high pile, the top layer being laid to shed the season's rain.

By now it was time for cutting oats--a major task, processing the large acreage. (There was a little barley on some farms, but no wheat this far south in the state.) The implement was a versatile "binder", which mowed a 6ft. swath, when a canvas elevator on rollers carried the grain to the top of the machine, where it was ingeniously separated into uniform bundles; and tied together with twine from a large roll; and knotted; then dropped to the ground. I remember Father bought this old affair for only $15! Unhappily, it wasn't such a bargain, as the knotter didn't function most of the time. I learned the gentle art of hand-binding--taking a wisp in each hand, I twisted the ends together, threw the whole around, and twisting the butt ends together in a simple knot. Fortunately Father's ingenuity was equal to the situation; and soon all operated flawlessly. The bull-wheel which bore the entire weight, had a rough tread, and never slipped. The force required for this operation demanded three horses' strength. My job was shocking--laboriously, not morally. After a few rounds, there were the shocks in rows. I was to take two by the ties, slap them down on the ground, push the head-ends together; then repeat four times till there was a complete shock, except for the final pair of bundles, laid lengthwise along the whole, to shed rain.

As long as time permitted now, we started fall plowing. This takes us to the matter of crop rotation. Briefly it was a four-year process: two for corn, the principal care in the industry. The third year, oats or hap was sown, seeded down with hayseed. After haying the new crop started; and after that, the field left undisturbed for pasture. In the fall this was "plowed for corn." After the first corn crop, the ground was disced--an implement consisting of a dozen foot-wide discs, like a shallow dish, separated by a few inches apart, six and six, slightly angled from a straight line, so when drawn by four stalwart horses, it would throw up and around the still soft earth.

In the fall, neighbors were gathered into crews, and traded word during the month or more of threshing grain. A commercial separator outfit went from farm to farm until all were served. It had a steam engine, powered by soft coal in a wagon set near the boiler. A great pulley midway along one side carried a belt 40 to 50 feet to the main element--into which the bundles of grain, brought by several rigs, were forked, thence carried through the torturous separator, whirring reels full of six-inch spikes placed so as to tear to shreds all that came through the affair. As all continued to pass along, the grain went to a elevator chute, and thence out and down into waiting wagons. Finally, and anticlimactically, the cast-off half ground straw, with clouds of chaff, were carried or blown out the rear and, one-manually I, with an oversized fork, threw all together into as nearly a stack as the material permitted. Odds and ends of necessary farm processes followed until the corn was ripe, kernels flint-hard, perhaps in later generations tested to delay or reject anything more than 20% moisture content.

Corn was planted in hills 42 inches apart. A picker went along between rows with a box-wagon, above the permanent bed, a supplement of 12 inch boards--a total of 26" dead-reckoning ear cor measured a bushel for every two inches of depth; small grain or shelled corn, 2 bushel per inch with a simple tool, a dull spike or hook attached by leather glove material to the right hand, would tear open the dry husk, a quick snap would break the cob from the stalk, and a toss land it into the wagon. Another 12 inch board was held above the rest by cleats, and this "throw-board" would prevent the tossed ear from landing across the nearby rows. Ordinarily a good picker could fill his box in half a day, at noon driving it to the crib in the farmyard, throw it off, feed the horses, and go in for dinner. Afternoon was a repetition. Sometimes, if fenced properly, the hogs were turned into the field, to feast on loose kernels or missed ears.

Harvesting the corn ended the field work. Winter months gave opportunity for some leisure; but there were daily chores throughout the year. In this general farming economy, the principal continuous cash yield came from milk, or cream, and incidentally, eggs. In our neighborhood, there wasn't a thoroughbred animal. In general the cows were mongrel critters, preferably leaning to beef brands, as the male calves, sold for veal or raised for same, weighed a dozen pounds more than dairy stock. Drawn by hand morning and night, the very modest milk product was separated by an ingenious device which by centrifugal force as the flow was whirled at terrific speed, separated the tiny percentage of the lighter cream from the watery bulk of skim milk. This job, enriching the patient yeoman's muscular constitution, consisted in turning a crank, starting painfully slowly, gradually gathering momentum, and finally attaining sufficient speed to perform its task. The cream was kept cool in the basement until a bucketfull had accumulated, when it was taken the five miles to Ruthton, and delivered to a station, which shipped it to creameries or city milk purveyors.

A daily operation was cleaning the milking barn--the layer of straw for bedding and admixture with manure. This was forked into a spreader--a large wagon equipped with a reel at the rear end, which geared to the wheels, whirled around and threw the fertilizer far and wide, usually on land destined for the corn crop. It may be added here that the hay sowing included red clover, which was too short to be mowed with the timothy, but made splendid pasturage, and rich rich in nitrogen, (a legume plant) kept the land in production vegetation. There were no silos there then; but corn silage somehow, I forget precisely how, was the dairy cow's principal fodder. The horses were fed a generous mangerful of hay, with a modicum of oats, graded to correspond with the light or heavy labor the season demanded, and poured into a box at one end of the stall manger.

The hogs gathered squealling and nipping, about long troughs, twice daily filled with slop, a mixture of corn and milk-this before agronomics informed us that the milk reduced their capacity for the far more weight-producing dry feed. I still regret our ignorance of the animal's need for a balanced ration--wiseacres insisted on "corn and more corn". My most frustrating task was to try to keep the herd from burrowing or forcing their way out of the wire fence. Nobody realized that they were starving for mineral supplement. Our ton of soft coal was dumped onto the ground nearby; and when, as too often happened, they got to it, they devoured it like so much rock candy. Equally surprising was my discovery when, after finishing the odorous chore in the cow-barn, I went, squatting through the waist-high door to clean out the hog-house, rummaging through the trampled straw, I couldn't find an ounce of feces! The "filthy beasts" went outdoors, however cold the weather, to leave their waste away from their sleeping quarters. The poultry subsisted mainly on what they could scratch up in the neighborhood, to speak fairly, supplemented by a grudging scattering of oats and/or corn. The universal need for salt was provided by a cubical block some ten inches on a side, thrown out in the lot, where all who desired might lick it.

The universal demand for quantities of water was supplied by a wooden tank some eight or ten feet across, deep enough to hold barrels of water, deep or high enough so horses and cows could reach it. The hogs and chickens were supplied by daily fillings of troughs. The most conspicuous structure on the premises was the windmill, which for no cost save occasional oiling and repair, drew from the well enough to keep enough on hand (or mouth). The family pump was set on a platform a step high, under the mill. Naturally a lever was installed which would stop or release the mill's action. For winter's use, the tank contained a heater--an iron receptacle shaped to rest on the bottom, high enough to surmount the water level, and to admit a supply of coal.

Our introduction to the farm year began with June. It remains to describe the beginning in March. The area in question was inhabited by some owners; and a number of renters, who, having no stake in the property, made no long-term plans, or future-looking administration. Hence, as hinted above, many moved in a given year, often holding an auction sale--the popular crier being dated months ahead on a full schedule. One principal cause was the prevalence of quack grass, a bright green hardy plant-some said introduced in the earliest days, to provide q quick pasturage; but with a terrific case of entangled roots, defied extermination, and of course reduced as all weeds do, the yield of legitimate crops. To the subsistence man, the most promising course was to move to not green fields and pastures new; but hopefully, less prolific quack. March was moving time, and hauling of grain etc. Usually before the end of the month the ground was thawed enough to permit spring plowing of cornland which remained to be put into arable shape.

My first experience was with three horses hitched to a single-bladed 16 inch ploughshare; and beyond this inefficient use of manpower, gang-plowed (both spellings in use), 4 inch bottoms, two of them, with four lusty horses hitched abreast. The practice was to mark out "lands" or sections some 2 rods (30 ft.) wide, measured the long way-our half a mile. Beginning at the fence (usually the section line) the outfit would turn the furrows from end to end; gross over the land, and plough back to the home end. Next the team would draw the machine on ground next inside the land, turn ditto, until the area was ready for the harrow, to break up clods and smooth the fresh earth, for planting.

My job was usually to follow this first process with a spike-tooth harrow, some 16 to 24 feet wide. Remembering a western scene, where the operator rode a horse behind the implement, I tried this with a pony provided for wife and me for buggy trips. But the dumb creature refused to budge; so I had the dubious pleasure of walking all day, earning the derogatory epithet of clod-hopper.

Land which as mentioned before, had borne a corn crop, was conditioned by a disc, which covered six or eight feet of half-ready soil. Fields assigned to small grain service were sown by a wide seeder, a wedge-shaped box with a mechanism which allowed a small trickle of seed-oats to drop onto the earth, the amount regulated by levers, for light or heavy seeding.

Corn planting was something else. As I said, everyone there used the checking method--a wire chain constructed from 42-inch sections, joined by interlocked loops, to reach from end to end of the field. This was fastened to the end fences along the first row. A planter, a small steel cart constructed with two-or four--cans set 42 inches apart, was filled with seed corn. A trip mechanism was slipped over the wire; and driven along it, as the rig passed each joint in the wire, an opening was popped open just long enough to drop four-no more, no less, kernels into about four inches of ground, and I think, never being entrusted with this critical procedure, pulling enough soil over the hill to conceal it from hungry wildlife. The wire would be moved just 42, or 84, inches by someone at either end; and so on until all was completed.

But this wasn't all. As soon as tiny blades peeked up far enough not to be buried by moving earth, a corn-plow was driven down each row half a dozen small hoes between each two rows. This performed two services: it uprooted all weeds, and kept the seedbed soft and cooperative. As soon as this was done, the same job was performed, going the other way. And so on until the corn was high enough and strong enough to ripen, but not when more disturbance would damage the expanding roots--perhaps four operations.

The second year Father somehow secured from Minneapolis a hand for each of us. We four labored from about 5 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m., an hour out for dinner while the horses munching their fodder. Only Sunday was free--but chores demanded some four hours even then.

This regimen continued about ten years, when many farmers were bankrupt.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Biographical Sketch of Ira Joy Stoddard 1820 - 1916

Ira Joy Stoddard was the Barrett Brother's gggrandfather. His daughter was Bertha Stoddard Whitney. Her daughter was Edith Whitney Whitson. Her daughter was Bertha Whitson Barrett - the Barrett Brother's mother.

Ira Joy was the second son of Ira Child Stoddard and Charlotte Electa Joy Stoddard, and the first born after their move to New York state. His father had gone to western New York state several years previously to scout out the possibilities. He wrote a pamphlet to encourage migration. He spoke and sold land for the Holland Land company throughout northern New England. He married during this time back in Vermont, but returned at least once to New York before he went back to Vermont to bring his family. “The year without summer” encouraged (or forced) many northern New England farmers to leave. He brought them to a new town named Eden. He became the pastor of the Baptist church there, and also served as singing master. Ira Child’s mother, Molly Salisbury had had a beautiful voice and had a repertoire of many hundreds of songs, primarily hymns. Ira Joy was raised in a family where there was much music and singing, as well as a very enthusiastic Christian faith. The Stoddards had been an early American Baptist family. The other early influence was his grandfather Jacob Stoddard, who told stories of his Revolutionary War experiences. He was at the Battle of Bunker Hill as a 16 year old and was very sure that every one of his 10 bullets had brought down a “John Bull”; as a tall, well-built, good looking young man he had attracted the attention of George Washington and had served in his honor guard. He revered Washington’s memory.

Ira Joy Stoddard graduated from the theology Department of Madison University (later called Colgate Univ. in Hamilton New York) in 1847. He planned to immediately go over seas to join in foreign mission work. He married Drusilla Allen who was also intent on becoming a missionary. For their honeymoon, they sailed around the Cape of Good Hope to Calcutta. They then traveled on to Nowgong, where Drusilla and Ira took over the running of an orphan school for boys and girls. Ira had a passionate desire to save heathen souls, to teach the gospel message and baptize converts.

According to his daughter Bertha Ira was a gentle and loving nurse. He was the one who stayed home to care for sick children, because Drusilla felt that her work as a teacher had to adhere to a more regular schedule than his preaching. So he was the one who nursed the children through smallpox (Bertha had pockmarks on her face) and cholera. In fact, he wished to attend medical school when he went on furlong, but the mission board said he had to spend all of that time, traveling and preaching to raise money for missions.

Sometimes his missionary work included protecting the people from predatory tigers. Villages where tigers were attacking livestock and people would send for him to shoot the tiger. Having grown up on the frontier and having hunted to provide meat for the family table, equipped him well for this role.

His interest in languages led him not only to translate scripture into Assamese but to produce a written language for his beloved Garo tribesmen so they could read the Bible in their own language. Adult literacy as well as schools for children became part of their work. After nine years in the field they returned on furlong, to recover their health. They found they were needed at Central College, a Baptist school being started by Dutch Baptists in Pella, Iowa. Ira preached in the local church, worked on his translations. Drusilla was the head of the college’s Women’s Department.

The Stoddards and one of their church elders (Bennet Whitney) collaborated on caring for and passing on Underground Railroad passengers who came their way. One of the strategies was to use to other’s horse and buggy: if the Stoddard’s horse was at home, Ira Joy would be gone with the horse and buggy of Bennet Whitney. To the searching slave catcher that would give the appearance of Ira being out making calls on foot. In 1860, Ira and another teacher from the college attended the Republican Convention in Chicago.

In the early difficult days of the college in Pella, the Stoddards used some of their own savings to keep the college afloat financially. In 1866 they returned to Assam, to carry on the work among the Garo tribesmen. The girls stayed in the United States to continue their education, Ira Joy, Jr. returned to India with his parents. When the illness that lost Drusilla her hearing, made it difficult to stay in Assam, she returned to Pella and Central College leaving her husband and son behind. Ira Joy continued preaching, teaching, baptizing converts, and working on translations. In the 1870s, Ira returned to Pella. He attempted to return one last time to Assam but was turned down for medical reasons. Ira Joy Stoddard settled into life in Pella again, serving as minister to the Baptist congregation there and working on translations. His translation of the Bible was so well done, that in the 1980s it was still in use.

In 1904, the Stoddards finally closed down their household in Pella and went to live with their daughter Bertha’s family in Plainfield, New Jersey. He continued for the next twelve years of his life to write and to translate religious works. Many visitors came to see them: people they had known in the mission field; students from Pella; even some students Drusilla had had when she taught on the Indian reservation before she was married; relatives; and American Baptists who honored them and their work.

According to his granddaughters, Ira was a very neat man, who could automatically straighten a room as he walked through it. One quotation I have heard is that he would come downstairs and when asked where his wife was, would say, “She’s upstairs reading and knitting. And the faster she reads, the faster she knits, and the faster she knits, the faster she reads.”

After the death of his wife in 1913, he missed her terribly. When he went to church with the family, he found the Baptist minister they had then a little too formal for his liking; The minister did not like any unprogrammed input—prayers or testimony-- from the the congregation. The family was told that if they couldn’t keep the old man perfectly quiet during the service – no saying “amen”, he should be kept home. Ira Joy choose to go for walks during the church hour, and so discovered a Baptist church more to his liking, -- a Negro church. Three years after the death of his wife, Ira came home one day from his walk and told his daughter that he was going to bed, and he wasn’t going to get up again. He choose to take no solid food during the next two weeks. It was the members of the Negro Baptist church that he welcomed to his bedside to sit beside him, read the gospel and pray.

Upon Ira’s death, the minister at the First Baptist Church was glad to have the honor of having the funeral there, with all the visiting Baptist dignitaries, but wanted to refuse the family’s request that the minister from the Negro Church take part in the service. Ira’s son-in-law Henry Whitney had a rather forceful argument with him about this. It ended with the membership of the Negro church being allowed in and the minister sitting on the stage with the other ministers involved in the ceremony, and being the one to offer the closing prayer. Ira’s body was taken to Pella to be buried beside Drusilla and his granddaughter Alice.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Philip Barrett

Philip Barrett
Originally uploaded by dvdbarrett
Philip Barrett (16 Oct 1892 - 1969) Taken abt 1894. Place and occasion unknown.

Richard Leigh Barrett

Richard Leigh Barrett
Originally uploaded by dvdbarrett
Richard Leigh Barrett (31 Jan 1895 - 3 Aug 1900) Taken about age 3 1/2, probably in Milwaukee, WI.

This picture was taken from the photo album of Richard's brother Newton. Newton had this to say about the photo:

Little Richard after Father’s death, was taken by “Uncle” Ned Millard and Aunt Minnie, childless couple in Milwaukee. They lived in an apartment near us; then moved in with his father Uncle Samuel and Aunt Mattie, and rich Aunt Lucinda Holton in their fine mansion on Grand Ave. near Pilgrim Church. This picture was probably taken in front of the 21st St. dwelling, soon after he came to them.

Richard Leigh Barrett

Richard Leigh Barrett
Originally uploaded by dvdbarrett
Richard Leigh Barrett (31 Jan 1895-3 Aug 1900) Picture taken abt 1899, probably in Milwaukee, WI.

This picture is from the photo album of Richard's brother Newton. He had this to say about it:

Richard’s last picture. Ten days after my 10th birthday he died of “diphtheritic croup”. I remember riding in a funeral procession in a swell coach, across 16th St. Viaduct, to Forest Home cemetery. I’ll never forget the hysterical sobs which came from them both as they knelt at the grave. He was a cherub, altogether more fit for heaven than his brothers—to good to live in this evil world. While Uncle Ned was something of a maverick, being no good in a job, he had a near-genius for electricity, sunk Uncle Samuel’s savings in an invention which, he said, would revolutionize telegraphy. I remember the wet batteries and elaborate apparatus in their parlor. He never got a patent for it. They moved to Minot, ND and I kept in touch until he was perhaps 85, when my Christmas letter wasn’t answered. They tried to get me to stay with them, since I reminded them of little Richard, “Dickie”. I preferred to be with cousins Millard and Edith at Grandma’s. I’ve often repined at fate, which dealt me a rotten deal—nobody would have wept over me—if there were any tears, they came because I didn’t die, but survived to be a nuisance to my sadistic Uncle Will Millard, and his wife, who not unnaturally hated me.