Saturday, November 28, 2009

Women in our Family Tree Defy the Odds

We may not have arrived in this country on the Mayflower, but we didn't miss it by too many years. Several of our English forebears arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early 1600s. We are the product of all of their strengths. The image we may have of these pioneering women, marrying early and dying in childbirth, is not always the case. Sara More Greenleaf was an early settler who gave birth to a dozen children, and although she lost some of them early, lived a long, full life. Coming from a family of some means would have led to better health; it also meant that family members, including women, left wills that give us more clues in the public record.

Sara More/Moor
was baptized on 13 December 1588 in All Saints church in Malden, Essex, England. Her parents were Enoch and Catherine, married 23 November 1585. She had younger brothers Samuel (bap. 8 May 1591) and Francis (bap. 6 October 1592) listed in the Baptisms at St. Peter’s church in Malden. Catherine died soon after Francis’ birth, and was buried 11 Oct 1592 (or 3). Sara was not yet four years old.

Her father Enoch must have remarried, because there are records of daughters Mary and Jane in Haverhill by 1599. Parish records in Haverhill are reportedly not available. In 1615 Sara’s brother Samuel’s mentions his brother Enoch and sisters Merry and Judith living (not Jane; did Jane die young, or was she confused with Judith?), according to his will. Francis received the majority of his estate, perhaps indicating that Enoch was a half-brother.

Sara was to receive five pounds “lawful english money” when she became 21, or married, as stated in her grandmother Willamin in her will, written in 1603, proved in 1606. It is speculated that, because she was the only grandchild mentioned in the will, she may have been living with her grandmother. At age 15, she could have been a capable caretaker for her grandmother.

Her marriage to Edmund Greenleaf is recorded in the church records of St. Giles church in Langford (now Malden?), Essex on 2 July 1611. She would have been 22 years old. Published genealogical data had previously named Sara Dole as Edmund’s wife. More recently researched data establishes the connection between Edmund Greenleaf and Sara More.

Sara had her children between the age of 23 and 43:
  • John, born about 1612 was mentioned in his uncle Samuel More’s 1615 will;
  • Enoch, named after Sara’s father, baptized 1 December 1613 in St. Mary’s la Tour, Ipswich, Suffolk, England and buried 12 September 1617 in St. Margaret’s parish in Ipswich, was also mentioned in Samuel’s will;
  • Samuel, baptized on 8 January 1615/6 in St. Margaret’s parish in Ipswich, shortly after his uncle Samuel’s death
  • Enoch, baptized 20 March 1617/8 in St. Margaret’s parish, Ipswich, married Mary;
  • Sarah, baptized 26 March 1620/1 in St. Margaret’s parish, Ipswich, married William Hilton;
  • Elizabeth, baptized 16 January 1621/2 (only 10 months after Sarah?) in St. Margaret’s parish, Ipswich, married Giles Badger, then married Richard Browne; she was mentioned in her father’s will in 1668;
  • Nathaniel, baptized 27 June 1624 in St. Margaret’s parish, Ipswich, buried 24 July 1633 from St. Margaret’s;
  • Judith, born 2 September 1625 in Ipswich, married Henry Somerby, then married Tristram Coffin, jr.; she was mentioned in her father’s will in 1668;
  • Stephen, baptized 10 August 1628 in St. Margaret’s parish, Ipswich, married Elizabeth Coffin, then married Esther Weare; he was named executor of his father’s will;
  • Mary, married John Wells;
  • Daniel, baptized 14 August 1631 in St. Margaret’s parish, Ipswich, died 5 December 1654 in Newbury, MA;
  • John, born about 1632 in Suffolk, England indicating that the first John had died, married Hannah Veazie.
Sara’s brother Samuel left a will in 1615. She was to receive a bedstead, flockbed, one bolster, two pillows. He must have been fairly well off, because her two sons were to receive 10 pounds when they reached 21 years old, and an aunt Anna Hewster received 20 pounds “to buy her a gold ring to be worn for her for my sake.”

The family immigrated to Newbury, Massachusetts in 1634 on board the Mary and John. Their children at that time were between 2 and 22 years of age. Sara would have been 45. “Ould Newberry” was incorporated in 1635. Edmund Greenleaf is included in a list of first settlers to whom was granted “a house lot of at least four acres, with a suitable quantity of salt and fresh meadow.” On 13 March 1638/9 he was a made a freeman in Newbury. He was permitted to keep a house of entertainment by the town of Newbury on 22 May 1639. He lived “by the old town bridge” and his dyehouse was located “by the spring” in 1655. Edmund was a ordered to be ensign for Newbury in June of 1639, called a Captain in the militia, and in 1642 he was a Leiutenant. In 1644 he was called an “ancient and experienced lieutenant under Captain Gerrish.” On 2 May 1649 he requested to be discharged from military service.

About 1650 they moved to Boston, where Edmund continued to work as a dyer. Sara(h) died 18 January 1662/3 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts at the age of 74, and was buried in Boston. There is little in public records to define the milestones in her life, except for births and deaths of children. Certainly her experiences would be worth memorializing.

Much of the information from England was primary research by a researcher "met" on the internet. So many of the British towns gave names to early American ones.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gram's Story - My Maternal Grandmother Sara Meeneghan Coleman

I have many childhood memories of time spent at my grandmother's house just across the river from the village of Cooperstown. The family home on Brooklyn Avenue in Middlefield was built by Horace Colman for his bride Maggie Gilgun, and his children Bill and Bess remained there after their parents were gone. It was my grandmother's home for 45 years, but before she settled down to motherhood, she she had an active life as a working girl. Finding records available in official documents, personal letters, and newspaper reports helps me know who she was when she was not called "Gram."

Sara(h) Meeneghan
was the second child born to Irish immigrants Dominick and Ellen Broderick Meeneghan in Springfield Center, NY. The date of her birth is not recorded in the records of the Town Clerk, however, it was listed on her baptismal record as 22 June 1889. She was baptized in St. Mary’s church (Our Lady of the Lake) in Cooperstown on 21 July 1889 by the Rev. D. O’Connell. Her godparents were Thomas Cross and Mary (Mariah) Broderick, Ellen's sister.

In 1892 the Meeneghan family purchased a home on 1½ acres on the Lake Road, south of Springfield Center, where Sara and her brothers and sisters grew up.

Her siblings included Mary, born 10 October 1887; Ellen, born 22 May 1891; William, born 5 August 1892; twins, Anne and Katherine, born 20 February 1895; Margaret, born 26 March 1897; and John, born 7 October 1898. By the time she was nine, Sara was one of eight children, and at 30 her mother’s child-bearing years were over.

Her name was on the Roll of Honor of the Graded School in Springfield in November 1897 (age 8). In 1903 (age 14) she was newly registered in the “academic department” in Springfield Center.

Sara took care of children in her early adulthood, but her talent was evidently in the kitchen. In May of 1906 (age 17) the newspaper reported that she had “gone to Cooperstown for the summer.” In 1908 she “visited” at home in Springfield Center from Cooperstown. She lived in Sewickley, PA in 1909 with the family of Alleyn Stowell and Rosalie Wardwell, a Springfield girl. The Rev. Stowell, an Episcopal minister who was born in the West Indies, was the rector of St. Mary’s church in Springfield in 1906 later moved to St. Stephens in Sewickley until 1934. Sara was the cook and worked with English maid Florence Stanley, according to the 1910 census. In August of 1915 she visited from Sewickley, so this was a long term employment. She says in an October postcard to Bill Coleman, her future husband, “We were all going out there [Los Angeles] this fall but at the last minute decided not to go. We went down to Virginia where we have a cottage on an island near Old Point Comfret.” She is known to have gone as far from home as Florida, perhaps with this family.

In 1920, the census enumerates Sara and her sisters Anne and Peg working for the family of Italian sculptor Victor Salvatore in Scarsdale, NY. Sara was listed as the cook. The families were intertwined for many years. They had received notice of the 1917 engagement of Ellen Ryerson to Victor Salvatore, an early photo of their daughter Vittoria, and cared for Vicky's children in New York and Washington DC when she became a mother herself. In the 1970s I remember going with my grandmother and Aunt Anne to open the house on Otsego Lake, Swanswick, when they returned in the Spring. My mother had worked in their kitchen there as well, when she was a high school girl.

Sara married Thomas William “Bill” Coleman of Middlefield on Saturday, 27 October 1923. She was 34 years old; he was just shy of his 34th birthday. They had been acquainted for some years. The message above was sent to Bill in California in 1915 and Bill wrote to Sally from France in 1918 where he was serving during World War I.

The marriage was performed by Rev. Francis Gustomski in Blessed Sacrament church in Springfield Center, and attended by Bill's sister, Elizabeth Coleman, and Sara's brother, William Meeneghan. The wedding announcement in the local newspaper was subtitled,
Wedding of Well Known People Takes Place at Springfield Center in Church of Blessed Sacrament
The newspaper account describes the event:

The bride’s gown was blue canton crepe, embroidered in silver, and she wore a taupe hat and a corsage bouquet of white roses. The bridesmaid was attired in black roshanara crepe. Her hat was black and silver and her corsage bouquet was of pink roses. Following the ceremony a wedding breakfast was served at the bride’s home. Both house and church were decorated with yellow and white chrysanthemums.

Guests included at least five other priests, and visitors from Scranton, PA and Washington, DC.

They set up housekeeping in Bill’s childhood home in high style, purchasing silverware the next month for $68.35 including 3 desert spoons, 6 forks, 6 knives, and 6 butter spreaders from C. L. Walrath, Jeweler and Engraver.

Their children were born in Cooperstown hospitals. Mary Elizabeth “Betty” was born on Wednesday, 28 May 1924 in Mary Imogene Basset Hospital. After Betty’s birth, Sara remained in the hospital for 15 days at a cost of $2.75 per day. The delivery room cost was an additional $5, with $25 going to the doctor, Dr. Harry L. Cruttenden. Another daughter followed, Margaret Ellen “Peg” born on 8 August 1925 at the Thanksgiving Hospital.

Sally took care of her children and occasionally worked in the hospital kitchen. She remained close to her family in nearby Springfield. She was active in the Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion, serving as chairman of the Cooperstown unit more than once.

Their children graduated from Cooperstown High School and pursued higher education. Betty studied nursing at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, NY. Peg studied teaching at Leslie College in Cambridge, MA. Their letters exchanged give a window on everyday life at home, full of news about the family. This one went to Peg while she was living with her aunt Ellen in Schenectady.

Postmark November 17, 1943

Wednesday morning

Dear Margaret,
I'm not coming down this week. I only sent in my bill Monday & I want my money when I go down.

I saw Hanna [Potter] yesterday. She said Alice [her daughter] was coming home this weekend & stay til Thanksgiving.

The supper I guess was a success. We planned on feeding 100 & guess we could 200. Mrs. Pratt & I went up at 2.30 after making 2 salads & a cake. I came home at 5 & got Daddy's supper, went back at 5.30 & worked til 10. Then we had a dishwasher or we would be there yet. Madam Heline had charge of the dining room. She is a schream. Mary Peters teased her to sing & right at the table she burst out. It snowed all Sunday night & Monday. Looks right smart winter. The trees were pretty when the sun came out. I have a box & cookies but can't send them. You would have crumbs. They are tole house & if you look at them they crumb.

Fergurson passed the board & they kept Jimmie Gaughan up in Utica in the hospital. Why they call him & let single men walk around. They went Monday and Jimmie wasn't home last night. Have you seen Betty? We went to the train with her, got home at three. She was home by then, the roads were slippery part of the way & right in Fort Plain no snow.

I wish Herbert [Bradley, her brother in law] had come out for the [football] game. He would never forget it. Mary didn't come down Monday or Tuesday nights, guess her darlings are ill, they had a weekend.
Why don't you go and get your coat. You know what you want. I can't help you. I'm going to get one like Anne to save my good winter coat. I hate getting the collar wet. I won't have $50.00 to put in one right away. I will save the [Freeman’s] Journal. I tryed to get a Oneonta [paper] & they were all gone. The Utica had a good account of the game only Mary wanted to send it to Dick. I don't know the date of Bobbies [Meeneghan, star of the football game] birthday. Ellen should, he was born there. It was the day before or after Thanksgiving that year. If Alice come home suppose you will be up. I have 50 tole house cookies. Must get this out in the mail box.

Love Mother

Daughter Betty worked in Albany Medical Center when her training was complete. Peg taught in the Albany area as well. Betty married Joseph Szymanowicz of Northampton, MA on 30 June 1951 in St. Mary's church in Cooperstown. The couple had two daughters, Sara Elizabeth and Ellen Margaret.

Bill Coleman died in Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown on 13 May 1953, just shy of their 30th wedding anniversary. He was superintendent of Iroquois Mills at his death, the sawmill just down the road where his father and grandfather had worked before him. His estate included stocks held by the company that went to Sara.

Peg married John Schnorr of Rochester, NY on 18 August 1960. Their children were Ann Rose and John William.

The Coleman home continued to be a family gathering place for Sara's daughters and their children, especially on holidays. Both lived within a fairly close radius, Betty in Clinton NY and Peg in Albany. Peg and Joe acquired a wooden sail boat that they sailed on Otego Lake. Although the property hadn’t been farmed for years, the buildings included the house, built by Bill’s father, barn, pigeon house, and a playhouse in the woods. The land to the south was leased to the Clark Estate and was part of a fenced enclosure for deer.

Sara died at 79 on 28 April 1969 in Basset Hospital in Cooperstown. She spent her last winters visiting with her daughters and grandchildren. She is buried in the “new” St. Mary’s cemetery in Index, with her husband, and more recently, Peg and her husband. Betty’s husband Joe is also in the plot, with space reserved for Betty.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Wiltse Cousins Made it to the Bigs

Part 2 of our family's baseball history. At the turn of the last century, baseball fever wasn't limited to Cooperstown. Mary Heath/Haith Colman’s younger sister Sarah Jane’s two youngest sons were also baseball players.

The Heath family had come from England and settled in Springfield. According to the census records, Mary was born in England (1825) and Sarah Jane was born in New York State (1834). She married Henry Wiltse and had nine known children. It was reported that the four right-handed sons had no interest in baseball, but three left-handers loved to play. Lewis Dewitt Wiltse, born in 1873, and George Leroy Wiltse, born in 1880, grew up in Bouckville or Hamilton, NY about 45 miles west of Cooperstown.

Newspaper archives give us details of their careers. Lewis reportedly began as a second baseman for Oxford, NY. In 1898 he went to Illion as a left-handed pitcher. In 1899 he became a professional, signing with Toledo in the Inter-State League. He played part of 1900 with the Syracuse Stars of the Eastern League. In 1901 he was drafted by Pittsburgh, but finished that season with the Philadelphia Athletics. In 1902 he also pitched for Baltimore. He was known as “Snake” Wiltse. A 1999 article in The Waterville Times says he played until 1910 in the minor leagues.

George “Hooks” Wiltse had a longer professional career with the NY Giants and was proposed for the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was also a left-handed pitcher. Wiltse's nickname did not come from his curveball but from the way he would reach out with his long right arm to snare line drives and high bounders coming back through the box. One report described him as “slight” in stature. In 1939 he played in the Cooperstown Centennial celebration as a member of the NYS Old Timers.

The following summary was taken from information at the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.

  • 1880: Born in Hamilton, New York
  • 1900: First professional game with the Syracuse Stars [Waterville Times says he was paid $5/game to play with the Utica Actives in 1894 at 14]
  • 1904 -1914: Joined New York Giants, pitching in 367 games, winning 142, losing 90 with 29 shutouts in 2112 innings. Wiltse had one of the most sensational rookie campaigns in history, winning his first 13 games while going 13-3 in 1904 for the New York Giants. Won 12 or more games in eight consecutive years, and twice Hook won 20 games in a season. The New York Giants won five National League pennants in 11 seasons with Hooks on the team. Hooks made only 31 errors in 319 games with a fielding percentage of .956.
  • 1908: Only pitcher in baseball history to strike out seven batters in two successive innings (four batters struck out in one inning).
  • July 4, 1908: The first left-handed pitcher in professional baseball to ever pitch a ten inning no-hit game. Holds the major league record for most wins at the start of a career (12 wins). [missed a perfect game by brushing a players shirt, causing a walk]
  • 1911 & 1913: Pitched and played first base in the World Series
  • 1913: World series; Wiltse, a great fielder who loved to work out at first base, was sent in, and made several sensational plays to save Christy Mathewson's shutout of Philadelphia. [Christy Mathewson’s roommate]
  • 1915: Managed Jersey City of the International League, in June, pitched for Brooklyn in the Federal League.
  • 1916 -1919: Managed at Albany, Reading and Lafayette College.
  • 1919-1924: Managed Buffalo of the International League.
  • 1925: New York Yankees pitching coach
  • 1934 -1944: Deputy Assessor of the City of Syracuse.
  • 1944: President of Syracuse Industrial Baseball League.
  • 1952: Elected to the International League Baseball Hall of Fame.
  • Died in 1959
  • 2000: Inducted into the Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame .
  • 2006: Hamilton, New York dedicated is baseball complex the "Hook Wiltse Field"

Baseball and our Cooperstown Roots

Whether or not Cooperstown was the true birthplace of the game of baseball, where “town ball” was codified into the National Pastime, it is clear that the game was an important part of the social history of the region and of our Col(e)man family at the turn of the last century.

In March of 1924, The Richfield Mercury newspaper reported:

Old Time Ball Team Recalled
One of the early baseball nines of Cooperstown was called the Riverside club, organized in 1878. William H. Michaels was captain, secretary, and treasurer of the club. The games were played on a plot of ground on what was then the Dorr Russel farm now the Iriquois farm of F. A. Clark. The battery was Horace Coleman, catcher; John Coleman, pitcher; William H. Michaels, short stop. Other players were: Charles B. Michaels, Leonard Vunk, Irving Hoose, Hiram Slater, George Way, Fenimore Coleman, and John H. King. At the time it was playing this nine was considered the best in Otsego County and John Coleman was the only pitcher in the county who pitched a curve. As far as can be learned, the only players of this club still living are Hiram Slater of Milford, Leonard Vunk, John H. King and William H. Michaels of Cooperstown.

Dewitt and Mary (Heath/Haith) Colman’s sons John, Horace and Fenimore played together on this field near their home on what was later called Brooklyn Avenue in Middlefield. In 1878 John was 26 and the father of a two year old daughter Edith. Horace and Fenimore, aged 22 and 20, respectively, were still living with their parents. All worked at the nearby sawmill on the river. The twins, Lucius and Lucien, who are not listed in this article were 24. The youngest, Charles, was only 14 at the time. He also grew to be a local ball player whose picture is on file in the archives at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The 1880 census reveals that Leonard Vunk, 23, lived with his father in Middlefield. Irving Hoose was also a Middlefield resident, living in the household of Helen Eggleston. Hiram Slater, 22, lived with elderly Nancy Hoose in Middlefield. The Hoose and Way families also appear to be related. John King, 25, was an Irish immigrant living in Otsego

In the 1880’s (undated) The Philadelphia Athletics professional baseball team invited John and Horace to come and try out for the team. Family lore says their wives (Horace married in 1881) vetoed that trip.

In the next generation, John Colman’s sons Dewitt and Pierce played together in 1913 in the local Sunset League, made up of the Baptists, Universalists, Methodists, Christ Church and Presbyterians, as reported in the Glimmerglass newspaper. Dewitt pitched and Pierce played first base. They were far from their sunset years, being 25 and 33, respectively. Perhaps the sun set in the outfield. The name was used for an adult league in other towns as well. In another report from June of 1913, W. Coleman was listed at shortstop/second base in the box score, likely Horace's son Bill who would have been 23. Dewitt pitched for the Universalists one year and the Baptists the next, when the Universalists were replaced by the Internationals, so the names don’t seem to represent their religious allegiances.

Can you imagine picnics on the lawn and the sound of the crack of the bat on the lazy summer afternoons?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Anson Colman - farm boy to world traveler

Anyone who does genealogical research knows that we are often nudged from the "great beyond." It doesn't seem too far fetched to believe that our ancestors want us to know them better. One day while I was roaming the stacks in the DuBois Library at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, I reached for a book published by the Rochester Historical Society. There was no reason to expect I had family in Rochester, but in that book were transcriptions of several letters from my 3 x great uncle, Anson Colman, son of Samuel who is profiled below. Personal letters are so...personal! What a great way to feel closer to people who lived so long ago.

Anson Colman
was born in Springfield, NY on 17 March on 1795. He was the first child of Samuel Colman and Nabby Dole who had come west from Shelburne, MA to Stewart’s Patent shortly after their marriage in 1794. His brothers were born in the following years: Franklin in 1797, Horace in 1800, Homer in 1802, Hamilton in 1804. Then came his only sister Caroline in 1806, followed by Nelson in 1807, Charles Darwin after 1810 and Parker Dole Colman in 1813.

Although his father was a progressive farmer and active in local organizations, Anson did not follow this path. He received his initial medical training under Dr. Palmer at Richfield Springs, NY, beginning his apprenticeship when he was about 17. He settled in Rochesterville in 1817 and attended lectures at the Fairfield medical school. He established himself in medical practice, and reportedly also ran a pharmacy to supplement his income.

He married Catherine Kimball Rochester on a Wednesday evening, 8 December 1819. She was 20 and he was 24. Catherine's father, Nathaniel Rochester, was one of the original proprietors of the village, which became the City of Rochester, NY. The marriage was officiated by the Rev. Mr. Welton, according to the Rochester Telegraph newspaper.

He was 25 when he first became a father. Their five children were:

  1. Sophia E. Colman, born 19 January 1821, who would marry John VanEverie when she was 23, and die 26 November 1845, just two years after the birth of her only child Catherine in Ohio;
  2. Katherine Rochester Colman, born 27 December 1823, who would later marry at 22 to Charles Shepard with whom she had five children, and died 20 May 1902 in Seattle, WA;
  3. William Colman, born 30 May 1826, died as an infant 15 January 1828;
  4. Edward Colman, born 28 July 1828, married Susan Phillips when he was 22 and had three children, and died 4 September 1898 in Sheboygan, MI;
  5. Cornelia Colman, born 9 June 1830, married at 23 to Edward Stuyvesant Bragg with whom she had six children, and died 11 April 1914.

Anson was not satisfied to be a country doctor. He studied medicine in Boston, Philadelphia, London, and Paris, seeking to improve himself with the latest technology of the time. He also participated in the formation of the Monroe County Medical Society. A collection of letters between Anson and his wife during these medical sojourns are contained in the Special Collections of the University of Rochester. In the winter of 1825 he wrote to his wife from Boston, where he was attending lectures at the Harvard medical school and studying at the new Massachusetts General Hospital. At that time there were few hospitals, excepting facilities set up during epidemics, and studying in this setting was invaluable to gain experience in disease and surgical techniques. Their separation was believed to be necessary to the advancement of his career, but difficult on a personal level. At that time they had two young daughters. When he said his infrequent letters were a result of little on his mind except medicine, Catherine pointedly replied, referring to herself in the third person:

  • "At all events she will try the experiment if you will write for her improvement, and fill your letters with something let the subjects be what they will (those connected with your profession if you choose, Anatomy, Surgery, medical Jurisprudence or Chemistry (you will now laugh). While writing on this subject let me remind you of an opinion you once gave in favor of females, which was that you believed they possessed capacities for intellectual improvement fully equal to the other sex."

His January 1825 letter said, "remember what I have said to you about diet exercise etc." He said that his "eyes much stronger than they have been in three years no rheumatism nor quinsy thus far." He was expecting to be home by 22 February.

Anson’s first son, William lived only 19 months from 1826–8. Six months after William’s death, another son, Edward, was born.

Tragedy again struck on 2 July 1830 when Anson’s brother Parker drowned in the Genesee River at the age of 17. In an undated letter to his father Samuel, Parker speaks of his studies of Greek and Latin and it is unclear if he was in Rochester or elsewhere to attend school.

Late in 1831 Anson was in Philadelphia studying at the University of Pennsylvania medical school. There, he earned his degree, after being engaged in medicine for 15 years. He lived in Philadelphia with a French family to learn the language in preparation for further study. In 1832 he went to Montreal to learn the proper treatment for cholera. In 1833 he was in France, the then world center for hospital-based teaching. His stethoscope may have been the first one in Rochester, a French innovation.

He lectured for two years at the Geneva Medical College between 1834-1836. According to a history of Psychiatry at the Upstate Medical University, which took over the Geneva College, “the treatment of psychiatric patients was first included as an aspect of the ‘Medical Jurisprudence’ course taught by Anson Colman, MD, a botanist.” Catherine died 7 April 1835 when she was only 36. He was reportedly ill himself during his tenure at the Medical College and died 17 July 1837 of a ruptured aortic aneurysm.

According to an article in “Rochester History” July 1945 by Alice T. Sutton entitled “Private Libraries in Rochester,” the inventory of his library at his death contained 278 books and an additional 148 medical texts. They included books of history, literature and languages: Greek, French, Latin, German and Italian. His medical collection later went to the library at Geneva College of Medicine, which is now Upstate Medical at Syracuse.

Anson and Catherine are buried in Mount Hope cemetery in Rochester with their son William. What became of the other children? Did they reside in Geneva with their father after their mother’s death? Anson wrote his will in April of 1837, naming his brother-in-laws Thomas H. Rochester the guardian of his children Sophia (16) and Edward (9), and Henry E. Rochester guardian of Catherine (14) and Cornelia (7). The will refers to real estate and investments, which assumed the education of the children would be well taken care of.

Anson’s parents survived for 20 years after his death, but it is not known if his children had contact with them. The 1840 census does not include names of individuals, only their sex and age. In the 1850 census none of Anson’s children are listed with their guardians, but Cornelia, the youngest, would have been 20 by then. Sophia’s daughter Catherine VanEvery was, however, residing in the household of Thomas Rochester in 1850 after the death of her mother.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

WWI Chronicles of Pvt. Will Coleman

I am so grateful for the things my family DIDN'T throw away! My grandfather wrote a wonderful series of letters home during World War I. Most were to his older sister, Bessie, and a couple were to his future bride. They didn't marry until 1923. The letters that follow provide a personal look at the life of a soldier from the viewpoint of this young man from Cooperstown, NY. He was 28 when his "number came up" in the draft. The letters were all written in pencil, and most on stationery provided by the YMCA or Knights of Columbus.

May 30, 1918
Dear Bess,
We landed here at half past three this morning and they brought us out to the camp in big motor trucks, then they signed us up, gave us our mess kits, and bedding, and a suit of blue overalls. Then we had breakfast of pork and beans, bread and coffee. We are to sleep in tents, nine in each tent. Harry Rathburn has charge of our tent and Charlie King and three other fellows I know are in with us. We are quarantined in for two weeks. That means that we must not go off from our own street. This is sure some place. They say there is room here for seventy five thousand men. We had a pretty good trip down and lots of fun. I made three dollars playing penny ante. I have felt fine ever since I left home and think that I will like it here. That was some bunch at the train that morning to see us off and we were the most orderly bunch on the whole eight cars. Every other bunch had at least three or four drunks in the crowd and there was not one of our bunch that showed a sign of drink. Well I guess that is all for now and I want to sleep for a little while as we have nothing to do till after dinner.
Love to you and Ma,
Private W. Coleman
52 Pioneer Infantry
Co. D
Camp Wodsworth
Spartansburg, S.C.

52nd Pioneer Infantry: Formerly 12th New York Infantry. Composed of 20 officers and 287 enlisted men after reorganization. Commanded by Colonel R. L. Foster and filled to wartime strength with draftees. The regiment left Camp Wadsworth on July 27th with 3548 officers and men.

June 8, 1918
Dear Bess,
Received your letter and was glad to hear from you and that everything is alright at home. I am getting along alright and have felt good so far since I have been here. We are drilling eight hours a day now and it is pretty hot— some of the company has to fall out every day. The food is gotten better and is pretty good now. We have not gotten our uniforms yet, but have been measured and expect them any day. It has rained here three or four times since we were here, and talk about thunder an lightening. You had ought to see it.
I have not seen Larry yet, as we have been in quarantine and could not get out only when we were marching. After tomorrow that will be off and then we can go anywhere in the camp. Arvis Johnson is in the next Company below us Co. E. Paul Clark got the paper so there is no use of you sending it to me.
I took out the insurance for $10,000 made to mother and they said if I sent $15.00 to her they would send $10.00 more, which would make $25.00. If they do you can send the extra ten back to me. I think I will go to military Mass Sunday. They have it here every Sunday.
What kind of soap was that for washing clothes? It works alright so when that is gone I want to get some more. We have lots of fun here and I like the life fine so far. There is a band concert every night and it is some band too, believe me not much like pimpie Allie’s. Well I guess that is all for this time so I will quit with love to Ma and you.

June 22, 1918
Dear Bess,
Received your letter and was glad to hear from you and to know that everything is alright at home. I am feeling fine and getting along alright. I have had had four inoculations and one vaccination so I suppose I am proof against everything now. I have seen Larry three or four times. He is getting a little thinner.
Did you get the insurance papers yet? They are to be sent from Washington, I think. I am going over to see Raymond Harvey this afternoon. We don’t have to drill Saturday afternoons and they are leaving here for Hoboken Monday, expecting to go across in about a week. I have part of my equipment: a pair of shoes, two shirts, three pair of socks, a hat, two towels, brush and comb, rifle, haversack; everything but pants, legging and a coat.
I had a letter from Pierce (Coleman) and he said that the Carpenters Union had sent me a box of tobacco, card and cigarettes, but I have not received it yet. I don’t know anything that I need and I will send my suitcase and things home. It has rained quite a little here this week, so it has not been quite so hot. I have not been on guard duty yet but probably will be about next week. It is only about one day out of each month that we get it. The meals have not been as good this week, but I can stand it if the rest can. Well, I guess that is all for this time so I will quit with love to Ma and you.

June 30, 1918
Dear Bess,
Received your letter and was glad to hear from you and that you were better after your cold. I am alright although I have been in the hospital for two days. I was trying to get up here for two weeks and finally made it work. We had a six mile hike Friday and when we got back my stomach was a little off so I got them to send me up here. But they won’t keep me over four or five days because that is what everybody wants here to get into the hospital, for there is no drilling and the food is much better than the other so I am going to work them just as long as I can, which won’t be very long. Thanks of the two dollar bill it will come in handy but I was not short yet as I had two dollars out of what I brought with me.
They say now that we will go over about the first of August but you can’t believe anything that you hear around this place. That may be a great box that the union sent, but I have not got it yet. I expect it this week as they say it takes about three weeks to come. It is so slow now. My address will be just the same so write and let me know how everything is. I guess that is all. With love to mother and you from Will.

July 10, 1918
Dear Bess,
            Received your letter yesterday and was glad to hear that everything is alright at home.  I am still in the hospital but I feel better than I have for a year.  I probably will be here for a couple of weeks more, then I will go over to the casualty regiment for a month or so.  The captain from our company was over and paid me Sunday so I am rich again and he said they probably won’t go for a month yet, but I won’t go with them anyway now.  Mother had ought to get her money pretty quick now.  Don’t send me any more unless I write for it.  I saw Larry the night before he left here and a lot of our fellow that were transferred have gone over now.  They must have had quite a time the 4th.  I had a letter from Joe Levant and he said they were going to have.  Well, Father Carey is alright after all I guess.  I had not seen Paul Hollister or Briggs since I have been in the hospital but before I came here I used to see them every day.  Charlie King and another fellow from Richfield were over to see me and they said that Paul did not pass the overseas physical examination so he probably won’t go over at all.  I wish I was home to get some of that stuff out of the garden but the food is very good here.  For dinner the fourth we had boiled ham, mashed potatoes, peas, bread and butter, ice cream, chocolate cake and coffee.  That was pretty good I think.  I finally got the box from the Union.  There was a pound of Bull Durham, six books of papers, six double boxes of cigarettes like you used to send me, matches, a big piece of maple sugar and a pound box of candy.  I think that will be smoking enough to last me a month.
            Well I guess that will be all for this time.  Don’t worry and write pretty soon.
With love to Ma and you, Will

July 17, 1918
Dear Bess,
Received your letter this morning and am answering right back. I don’t see how you have written two letters to my one as I have answered every one I got from you.
I did not have any operation. They gave me pills and they sure hit the spot. I am feeling fine and expect to get out of the hospital next week. I will go to the causily regiment for a week or two and then be transferred to some new regiment.
I wonder how Weasel will get along with the girls. I don’t think there is much chance of his making a hit with any of them.
The weather has been fine here lately, no rain and not so hot. I did not get the (Otsego) Farmer yet, but it will probably be along after a while. I wrote to Doc Pitcher about a week ago and told him that I was a little short just to see what he would do. He answered right back and sent a five dollar bill and said any time I was short again to let him know, so old Doc is not so bad after all. Did Bundy ever do anything with that land over by the hill? Is Miss Luly still rooming there? The regiment that I was with expect to go from here next week so there is no chance of going with them. Who is sending me another box? I have not got half of the other one smoked up yet. They say that you won’t get any more from the government until about the first of August. My number is 3,186,536. You may have to know that to get it. I guess that is all for this time, so I will close with love to you and mother.
P.S. Address the same, Base H. Ward 1A and if I have left they will forward it to me.

July 27, 1918
Dear Bess,
Received your letter this morning and was glad to hear from you and that everything is alright at home. I got the other letter too. That must be some colt. It probably will be quite good sized by the time I see it.
I got out of the hospital this morning and am feeling fine. They say that they don’t do much drilling in this company and there is talk of sending a bunch from here north for guard duty. I don’t think I will ever go across anyway and I don’t care much whether I do or not. I wish I was there to talk to Tibbits. I bet I would tell him where he got off at. I did not get the box yet and probably never will if I move around much more.
I saw Withy two or three times while I was in the hospital. He looked pretty bad and he may get discharged from the army. I asked him what was the matter with him and he said everything so I don’t know what it is. I got the Farmer alright last week. If I knew Wes Knolton’s address I would send him a card. If you see his mother you might get it for me. The company that I was with are going for sure this week so maybe it is just as well I am not with them now. Well I guess that is all for this time. With love to you and mother.

August 2, 1918
Dear Bess,
Received your letter yesterday and also the Farmer.  That must be some horse.  It is about half as big as Dot now.  I probably will never get the letter that Dan wrote as it will follow the 52nd and they left here nearly two weeks ago.  I am glad that the garden is good.  How did you and Tibbits make out about the lawn?  I have had some time since I wrote you before. I was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday, took the overseas examination on Thursday, and was transferred to the 53rd Pioneers Saturday, worked all day and all night and all day Sunday getting packed up, then Sunday night the Sergeant called me in and said that my service record could not be found so then I was transferred over here.  I was some mad after doing all of that work and expecting to go north and then across.  They left here Tuesday morning and must be in New York by this time.  My record has not shown up yet so I will get no pay for last month, but I have about fifteen dollars, am alright and will have that much more coming next month.  Did you ever hear anything from the insurance or get the allotment for the month of June?  You should by this time.  As soon as they find my record I will be transferred to some other regiment, probably with someone that is about ready to leave.  Well guess that's all, with love to you and Mother.
Address 1st Prov. Co. Casual Det. Camp Wadsworth

August 6, 1918
Dear Bess,
I am writing you again as I will probably not get your letter for some time as I have been transferred again to the 3rd Anti-Aircraft Machine Gun Co., and they expect to leave here tomorrow or the next day for the north to some embarcation port, where we will probably be for a week or ten days before going over. It may be like it was before though and I may not get even started from here. I will write again as soon as I find out or from wherever we go to.
With love to mother and you,

Newport News
August 9, 1918
Dear Bess,
Received your letter the night before we left Spartanburg and was glad to get it before leaving. I sent you a card while we were on the way here. I also sent my suitcase home. I don’t know whether you will ever get it or not, but I will send the key in this letter anyway. We left Spartanburg at about twelve o’clock Thursday and got here this morning, Friday, at about eleven. We don’t know where we are going or anything. We all expected to go to some camp near New York City and I thought then maybe I could get home for a day or two, but I guess that is all off now.
I will tell you how I came to get with this bunch. Last Sunday one of the Captains of this outfit came over to the casual and asked for twenty-four volunteers to go with this bunch. Of course I stepped out with forty-seven more and I was the first one he picked out. We don’t carry any rifles only a revolver and when we get to France, if we go there, we have guns on motor trucks and chase airplanes. I received the two dollars alright and thanks for the same, but I am alright anyway for I am going to get my last month’s pay and had about fifteen dollars anyway, but I might touch up Doc again.
Well I guess that will be all for this time. With love to mother and you,
Address: A Co 3rd Anti Aircraft
Machine Gun BT.
Camp Stuart
Newport News VA

3rd Anti-Aircraft Machine Gun Battalion: Organized January of 1918. Commanded by Major Gilbert V. Schenck. Left Camp Wadsworth on July 8th with a strength of 764 officers and men.

August 12, 1918
Dear Bess,
I have not heard from you yet, but they say we are leaving tomorrow so I am writing again. We have all of our overseas equipment and you ought to see the hat. If I ever get a chance I will have a picture taken. If you have already written I will get it anyway. Our mail will follow us wherever we go. I am feeling fine so don’t worry and tell ma not to. I am glad to get out of this place. It is hotter than South Carolina and it was a hundred and twenty in the shade there the day before we left. They gave us a band concert and entertainment the night before we left, and I am sending you the programme in this letter. I think I got all of the mail that you sent me down there but never received the second box. We might not go tomorrow, but it sure looks like it as all of our boxed went to the ship this afternoon. I got my pay alirght so have got twenty four dollars now. I wrote to Doc and told him I was short again. I don’t know whether he will come across again or not, but I have enough whether he does or not. It is funny you don’t hear anything from that allotment for it is taken out of my pay each time.
Well that is all I can think of now so I will stop with love to you and Mother,

The letters that follow do not have stamps on the envelopes, because they were sent from France during the war. The envelopes are marked with a stamp that says they were checked by the censors.

Somewhere in France
Dear Bess,
This is just a few lines to let you know that I arrived safely and am feeling fine. We had a very good trip across and I was not a bit seasick. The country here what I have seen of it looks pretty good, but everything is old and about fifty years behind the times. My address is the same as in the corner of this envelope.
There are lots of things I will tell you wen I get home, which I hope will be soon. If you wrote to me at Camp Stuart it will follow me here. I hope everything is all right at home. You might send me the paper now as I don’t see any of the bunch from home anymore. The Anti Aircraft is one of the best branches in the service and I like it much better than the other regiments I have been in. Answer this right away as it seems a long time since I heard from home. I guess that will be all for this time, so I will close with love to you and mother
P.S. Enclosed you will find that programme that I forgot to put in the other letter.

Bill’s tone is slightly different when he writes to Sally Meeneghan, one of his dance partners, who is taking care of the children of a wealthy family in Long Island. He would marry her in 1923.

September 7, 1918
Dear Sally,
I wrote you about a month ago, but of course have not had an answer yet. I wish you would write once in a while whether you hear from me or not and let me know how you are and how every thing is. I am sick again, with the same old stomach trouble, have not felt very good since we have been in France and keep getting worse. I guess I will have to have an operation in the end after all.
Did you get the letter I mailed you from Camp Stuart? I sent Anna a card from there and she wrote me a nice long letter. She said they expected you home the last of August. Did you go? I wish I had of been there if you did. Anna said in her letter that she wished her and Dan and you and I could have another time like we did the time we were both home. We sure had a good time and sometimes when we get our old corn willie for mess here, I think of the regular meals we used to have at your home and at your cousins’. Do you remember the night it rained and Dan and I could not get home?
I have not heard from him for a long time, but suppose he is the same as usual. You know he never changes much.
It is beginning to get cold here nights now and there is lots of rain. I bet it is good and cold in the winter time. We will find out alright before long. The paper last night said that Germany wants peace and I would not be a bit mad if they got it. Of course they must accept the terms of the U.S. I will have lots of things to tell you the next time I see you if I ever do and you know what you used to tell me, so I guess I will get back alright.
Tim O’Connor, Ray Derrick, Paul Clark and a lot of the other fellows you know are here in France somewhere, but I don’t know where. I did not know any of the fellows that I am with until a week before we left Camp Wadsworth, but they are a good bunch mostly from New York City and Philly.
Well I have to go to the Doctor again at four o’clock and I will close for the time hoping to hear from you soon and often.
With love as ever, Bill

Letter No. 3
September 15, 1918
Dear Bess,
I have marked this letter No. 3 as it is the third I have written since we landed in France.  In that way you can tell whether you receive them all or not.  I am alright and feeling fine.  The weather here has been bad. It rained every day since I wrote before except one.  We are drilling again every day now.  I expect to get some mail from you before long as it is about three weeks since I sent the first letter from this side.  Did mother ever get that allotment money?  If she did not, let me know when you write and I will see if I can do anything about it.  Yesterday was Saturday and we had the afternoon off and took a long walk in the country.  It is very pretty around here.  I hope everything is alright at home and would like to be there today for Sunday dinner, although I think the food we are getting now is better than what we had in camp in the States. The price of everything is very high here and there are very few things that we want to buy anyway.  Write soon and often and let me know how things are.
With love to you and mother,
Pri T.W. Coleman
Co A 3rd Anti Aircraft M.G. B.
American E. F.

September 18. 1918
Dear Bess,
I have not heard from you yet but I am writing again to let you know that I am well and getting along alright. Did you write to me when we were at Camp Stuart? If you did I have never received it yet.
I have seen quite a bit of France now and it is a very beautiful country. The people dress very funny. Most of them wear wooden shoes and are very poor. The women do most all of the work as all the able-bodied men are in the army. They are only allowed a certain amount of bread each day. We can get wine over here but it is very poor stuff, the most of it. I saw in the casual list where Steve Johnson was killed in action.
There will be no use to send me anything for I will not get it except mail and paper. I hope everything is all right at home and will be very glad when I hear from you. I guess that is all for this time so I will close with love to you and mother.

Letter No. 4
September 29, 1918
Dear Bess,
Received the letter that you sent to Camp Stuart with the money in and the one that you mailed Aug. 29. Was very glad to hear from you and to know that everything is alright at home. I have not received any paper yet. I got a letter from Joe Lurant and one from Doc Pitcher with five dollars more in it. I guess he will get me paid up after a while.
I wish I was home to help eat some of that corn and tomatoes although we are getting very good food here now. We drill pretty near every day but have Saturday afternoon and Sunday off. Hollister was made Sergeant before they left the other side, I think. I don’t know much about any of the fellows as I have not seen any of them since before we left the States
Pierce must of had some time. When you see him tell him to have then all out (teeth?) and then they won’t take him in the army. Find out Joe’s address and send it to me, and maybe I can see him over here, for this is not such a big country, you know.
There is not much I can write but I will have lots to tell when I get home. Write often and let me know how everything is. With love to mother and you,
The address is the same and thanks for the five.

Letter No 5
October 14, 1918
Dear Bess,
Received the letter that you wrote September 1 and was glad to hear from you and to know that everything is alright at home. In the letter before that you said that mother got the allotment alright, but did not say how much it was when you write again let me know.
The news here now is that the war is about over and I hope it is and that we will get back to the States again some day. Have you sent me the paper? I have not gotten it since we were over here. The weather is bad here now, rain most every day and cold nights with some heavy frosts.
How is the price of things over there? Everything is high here: eggs eighty cents a dozen, cheese sixty cents a pound and everything else according.
There can’t be many fellows left in the old town anymore. I was sick for a couple of days last week but am alright again now.
Well I can’t think of much of anything to write this time, so I will stop for this time hoping to hear from you soon.
With love, Will

Letter No. 6
October 16, 1918
Dear Bess,
Received your letter No. five and was glad to hear that everything is alright at home. I have not seen McGinly or Clark or any of the other fellows since we arrived in France, but they are in the infantry and I don’t even know where they are. What are Pierce (Coleman) and Fanny gong to do in the Arms plant? Isn’t there any work around home?
I have not seen any cooties yet, but may before I get through. I don’t think Dan will be taken the draft, his eyes are so bad. If I had Joe’s address I could write to him here and maybe see him. You need not worry about H.B. enlisting, although I think he could get a commission if he would.
I had a letter from Sarah last night and she had been home on her vacation. She says there is nobody left around there anymore at all. Her mother fell and hurt herself quite badly so she expects to stay home for some time.
I am alright and feeling pretty good although the weather is very disagreeable. I like the Anti Aircraft much better than I did the infantry. The work is more interesting. Unless things change it looks as if the war is about over and I won’t be mad if it is so we can get back to the States by sometime next Spring in time for me to beat the rugs for mother anyway.
Well I guess that is all for this time so I will close for this time with love to you and mother.

October 16, 1918
Dear Sally,
Received the letter you wrote to Camp Stuart last night and was very glad to hear from you, but sorry to hear about your mother. Hope she is better by this time. You must have had a fine time at home. I wish that I had of been there, but maybe I will be the next time you have your vacation. I hope so anyway.
It looks as if the war is about over unless things change. I hope it is for it has lasted long enough.
This is the third letter I have written you since we have been over here. Why don’t you write oftener? It is pretty lonesome and it makes it worse when you don’t get any letters, especially from someone that you like to hear from.
Sam and Mary have quite a family now. He will have to cut out sporting and use his money at home. Joe Coleman is over here some where, but I have not seen him or any of the other fellows from around home. How is it that Ken Branch is not in the army? Did you see anything of Polly High while you were home? It is pretty hard to write a letter over here for there are so many things that would be interesting that we can’t write about. But I will tell you all about it when I get home.
Well, I guess that I will stop for this time hoping to hear from you soon and often.
With love, Bill

Letter No. 6
October 21, 1019
Dear Bess,
I have not heard from you since I wrote before but I will write a short letter to let you know that I am still alive and kicking. I have not been feeling very good for the last few days. My stomach has been on the bum again, but I am better now and will be alright again in a couple of days.
I sent you my Christmas coupon in the last letter but did not say what I wanted. The only things I can think of is a jack knife and a cheap watch. My wrist watch is broke. One of those small Ingersall is alright. There is no use paying much for it because they don’t last long. I don’t mean a wrist watch.
The only thing I can send you and mother is some little souvenirs of some kind. I hope I will be home for Christmas next year and then we won’t have any trouble about the size of the package we can get.
We are still bittaled at the same place but do not know how long we will be here. It looks as though the peace terms are not going to come off after all. Well I guess that will be all for this time so I will close hoping to hear from you soon. With love to you and mother,

Letter No. 7
October 24,1918
Dear Bess,
Received two more letters, one mailed on the seventh and the other on the twenty eighth and that telegram came this morning. I don’t see what you sent that for, it scared me most to death. I though somebody was dead or that something had happened. I guess I have received all of your letters up to date.
I would not mind if I was back at the dryer again, a little of that jelly would go good. I suppose the old town is closed up for the winter, now here can’t be many fellows left there any more. It is funny I don’t get the papers but I will after a while, maybe all to once. That was the second time old Tabor was hit by the street car you know, it nearly killed him once before. Steve must be a great kid now. He will be quite a boy by the time I get home.
I suppose Marshall at Springfield will do some business for the next year. I wonder when this war is going to be over. I am getting very tired of it. I think by the looks of things it will be over by Christmas and if it is we will be home in the spring or summer. How is everything coming in the Iroquois Farm? I wonder if Mike will give me a job when I get back.
Well I guess that is all for this time so I will close with love to you and mother,

Letter No. 7
November 4, 1918
Dear Bess
I did not hear from you this week, but I will write just the same, although there is not much to write about. I am alright, the same as usual, and hope that you and mother are the same. I received one paper so far. The weather is very bad over here now. It rains nearly every day. We are still at the same place but expect to move soon. I have been transferred from A to B Co, but do not change the address of my mail as I expect to go back to A Co. again soon.
It begins to look as though the war would not last much longer. Turkey has quit and Austria is ready to and I expect Germany will be next. I don’t suppose we will get home for three or four months even after peace is declared, but I will be glad to get there whenever it is. I had a letter from Dan last week. It was some letter, seven pages. He says if it lasts much longer, he will have to go.
How is business? (her hat shop) The season must be about over by now. Well this is not much of a letter, but there is not much that I can write, so I will close with love to you and mother.

November 19, 1918
Dear Bess,
Received the letter that you wrote October 27 today and was very glad to hear that everything was alright at home. I am alright, the same as usual and I guess the war is sure all over this time, so I will be home someday, although it will probably be two or three months yet before I get there.
They must be having an awful run of influenza in the states. We have moved but not very far from where we were before. I am going to write Joe a letter and see how he is getting along.
I read a couple of the papers, but they come through the mail much slower than the letters. The weather has been pretty cold here and it snowed a little for the first time today. I guess that is all I have to say this time except that I hope to get home soon and find things the same as when I left. So I will stop with love to you and mother.

Number 9
November 24, 1918
Dear Bess,
I have not heard from you since I wrote before but I will write again anyway to let you know that I am alright. The war is over this time alright and I expect to be home sometime right after the first of the new year. We hear all kinds of rumors of when we are going. Some say that we will be home for Christmas. I wish that we could, but I don’t hardly think that we can make it that soon.
Enclosed you will find a couple of souvenirs of France. I think that they are rather pretty.
I suppose if we start for the states we will have one more ride in the cars marked forty cheveaux or eight homes. They are great, just like a Pullman in the states.
The weather has been fine here for the past two weeks, clear and cold. It snowed a little one day.
Well, I guess that is all for this time so I swill close hoping to hear from you soon again with love to you and mother.

December 1, 1918
Dear Bess,
I am still here and don’t know how much longer I will be. Some say we are leaving before the fifteenth for home, which I hope is true, and then again I heard that we were liable to be here for six months.
I had a letter from Pierce the other day. He said that he is making big pay and expects to stay in Ilion for some time. I have gotten all of your letters except maybe two that were mailed in October, and I will get them in time. I wrote to Joe but have not heard from him yet. I am back with A Co. again so don’t change the address. We thought at one time that we would be home for Christmas, but I guess that is all off now.
My friend Sarah is taking care of Clark’s baby at Westbury, if she stays there I won't have to go far to see her next summer.
I am feeling pretty good and hope you and mother are the same. I guess that is all for this time so I will close, with love,

December 6, 1918
Dear Bess,
Received your letter of October 7 with the money and the pin. I think I have received all of the letters that you have written now. We are still hearing rumors of when we are going home, but I don’t think that we will get there now before about the first of February. I have seen several K of C hats over here. We have no chapter in this battalion. I have never seen anyone from home over here yet. The eats are pretty good now, but when I get home I will be able to eat anything. I received the money that you sent to Camp Stuart alright and have gotten some of the papers that you sent.
That must be some dead town with everything closed up. I had a letter from Joe Levanti last night and he says it is. I wrote to Dr. Pitcher again but have not heard anything from him yet. He still owes me seventy dollars. He sent me five dollars at Camp Stuart. We left there on the 12th of August and sailed on the Martha Washington from Norfolk the 14th; we landed at Breast France the 25th of August, stayed there a week, then traveled for four days in box cars to a place called Langers, which was about fifty miles behind the line. We trained in a small village about four miles from there. Our company was at the front for a month and now we are at a place called Perrogney waiting to go home. I guess that is all for this time, so I will close with love to you and mother.
From W.

December 13, 1918
Dear Bess,
Received your letters of the 4th and 16th of November and was surprised and sorry to hear of all that have died with the influenza.
I wish that I had been home for that chicken dinner. We will have to have one when I get home. We had a good dinner Thanksgiving day, Roast lamb, mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, creamed carrots, vegetable salad, pumpkin pie, cake, biscuits, bread, butter, jam, coffee, cigars and cigarettes. That was pretty good for the army. They must have had some time celebrating over there. I did not celebrate yet. I am going to wait until I get back to the States before I do.
I will be looking for my Christmas box. I sent you and mother a couple of souvenirs from here. We are still at the same place but expect to leave most any time. We have a new song here it goes like this:
Good old U.S.A.
I long for you both night and day.
France may be sunny and Paris is gay,
But none can compare with good old Broadway.
England and Italy,
Places of great renown they say,
But put them all in a race
And none can take the place
Of the dear old U.S.A.
Well I guess that is all for this time so I will quit with love to you and mother
From Will
Address same as before
P.S. Today is payday. I suppose there will be a big time tonight.

December 30, 1918
Dear Bess,
I have moved again and am at a place called Hyeres. It is away down in southern France. My stomach got bad again and I went to the hospital in Langers and was there for about ten days. I got some better and was sent down here. We are staying at a big hotel and the weather is just like summer. We are only a little way from Monte Carlo. Don’t write to me anymore for I will not get the mail. I may be sent home from here. I did not get the Christmas box and probably never will now, so I hope that you did not spend much money on it. I got socks, candy, nuts and cigarettes from the Red Cross and we had a turkey dinner at the hospital. It sure is fine here. It reminds me so of Los Angeles, it is only about a half mile from the Mediterranean Sea. We left Langers on Friday, stayed that night at Dijon, the next at Lyon, and last night at Marseilles, so I have seen all of the large cities in France except Paris. I will write again soon and let you know how I am getting along. With love to you and Mother,
P.S. Don’t write unless I send you an address.

January 10, 1918
Dear Bess,
I am still here at Hyers but expect to leave here Saturday. Our names were called out today to leave here for Bordeaux, which is a seaport, and they say we are to go home from there. I am feeling a little better and have enjoyed my stay here very much, although it has rained quite a lot since we have been here. I am going to church in the morning. I have not heard from you for quite a while now, but hope everything is all right at home.
I am not going to write much this time so I will stop for this time with love to you and mother.

Camp Meritt
February 12,1919
Dear Bess,
Well I am back in the States again and it sure seems good to be here. Twenty-three of us came across on a freighter and it took us eighteen days but the weather was fairly good so we did not mind it so much. I think we are to be transferred to some other camp from here and I probably will be home in a month or six weeks. I hope everything is alright at home. I have not received any mail since December 8th. If I get to some place where you can write me I will send my address. It would do no good to write here because we are not assigned to any regular outfit we came across as casuals. Well this will let you know that I am alright so I will close with love to you and mother.

Private Thomas William Coleman was honorably discharged from Camp Upton, NY on 25 February 1919.

Cousin Joe Coleman died November 25, 1918 of influenza in a military hospital in France.

Samuel Colman comes from Massachusetts to New York State in 1794

Samuel Colman
was the first family name, written on a cemetery monument, that started me wondering about my family history. My mother, Betty Coleman Simmons, grew up in Cooperstown, NY and I had many visits there with my grandmother and her sisters. When she photographed Sam's grave marker while passing through Richfield Springs, NY in 1990, I started wondering about the other names I had never heard before. That's when I started to dig into the records. Luckily, Massachusetts vital records are well documented. The following "story" is constructed from these bare facts and supplemented with deeds, newspaper items, letters and published histories.

Samuel Colman
was born in colonial Ashburnham, Massachusetts on September 28, 1768. His baptism was recorded on December 22, 1769. He was the second child and first son of Job Colman and Elizabeth Martin. His sister Mary was two years older. His family moved west to Shelburne, MA about 1772. By that time there were two more siblings: Elizabeth born on 11 August 1770, and John born 21 June 1772. Job Colman bought land from Daniel Beldon in Shelburne in 1773. They lived near the Deerfield River, at the end of Barnard Road, near the family of Parker Dole, where another sister, Rachel, was born in 1774.

When the “shot heard round the world” was fired in Concord it was heard in Shelburne. Samuel was a boy of 5. His father Job marched with Captain Hugh McClellen’s Minute Men of Colrain on April 20, 1775. Records show he served 15 ½ days. Again under Captain John Wells Company in the Northern Department, he served from 22 September to 28 October 1777.

Samuel had five more brothers and another sister: Benjamin in 1776 (died in 1777 as many local children succumbed to an illness that year); Rhoda in 1778; Benjamin in 1780; Joseph Emerson in 1783; Zenus in 1785; Zur in 1789.

On 30 June 1794 in Shelburne, 24 year-old Samuel married Nabby Dole, four years his junior. Soon after they moved west into New York State. They settled in Stewart’s Patent, now part of Springfield, Otsego County, NY. According to The History of Springfield, “In his young manhood he journeyed into what was then ‘the unknown west’ seeking a desirable location for a home. Lured by the beauty of the hills and woods he purchased from the town a tract of timber land near Allen’s Lake and erected a log cabin.”

Children born to Samuel and Nabby included:

  • Anson 17 March 1795
  • Franklin about 1797
  • Horace about 1800
  • Homer about 1802
  • Hamilton 7 October 1804
  • Caroline
  • Nelson about 1807
  • Charles Darwin after 1810
  • Parker 1813

Of these children, only Parker was given a family name, after Nabby's father Parker Dole.

In 1798 Samuel was appointed Lieutenant of the militia in a new company in the Town of Otsego, under Captain Asa Fisk (Otsego Herald 14 June 1798).

The 1800 and 1810 census’ of Springfield also include a John Col(e)man. The age bracket indicates that it could be Samuel’s brother John. In 1810 this John had six children. In 1820 he is no longer listed in Springfield. A Heath MA town history, which includes a discussion of the division of their father Job’s land, indicates that John had died by 1812 when the land was probated. No further information has been found about this family. Names of other than the head are not included on the census before 1850.

At the annual town meeting in Otsego in 1803, Samuel was named Commissioner of Highways, with Abner Pier and Israel Loomis (Otsego Herald 10 March 1803).

The Otsego County Registry of Deeds documents the purchase in 1804 of 52½ acres of land by Samuel Colman for $800 from Perry Allen, being a portion of lot 55 of McNeil’s patent. In 1818 he purchased the easterly side of lot 56 from Richard Elwood for $605.

In the summer of 1805 his parents’ family was stricken by typhus, along with several neighbors in Heath, MA where they had relocated. Rhoda, aged 26, died as well as Zenus, aged 19, Joseph, aged 21, then both parents. Their graves in the old Shelburne Hill cemetery are not marked. The youngest, Zur, survived. He was 16. His guardianship is registered in the Hampshire County records. Samuel inherited a portion of the property which was later sold to a neighbor.

In 1814 he was named a justice of Otsego County, along with a long list of others (Otsego Herald 23 April 1814).

On January 1, 1817 “a respectable number of citizens from several towns in the county of Otsego convened at the house of Col. Henry…to consider the expediency of organizing a society for the promotion of Agriculture and the Useful Arts” (Otsego Herald 9 January 1817). Samuel Colman was named Secretary. James (Fenimore) Cooper was also an officer. The Colmans were progressive farmers, taking a strong interest in improved farming methods. Otsego County was reputed for improved agricultural methods, pioneering the introduction and breeding of superior grades of livestock. Samuel Colman subscribed to the Genesee Farmer, which promulgated new methods of agriculture.

At the annual town meeting in Otsego in 1817, Samuel was named School Commissioner with Oliver Cory and Abraham Van Horne (Otsego Herald 6 March 1817.)

Parts of Otsego were annexed to the Town of Springfield in 1825. The description of wards 30 and 31 reference the “School House by Samuel Coleman’s.”

Education was important to the Colmans. Son Anson received medical training under a Dr. Palmer in Richfield Springs. He settled in Rochester, NY, marrying a daughter of founder Nathaniel Rochester. He studied in Boston, Philadelphia, London, and Paris; was instructed in the treatment of cholera in Montreal; lectured at the Geneva NY Medical College for two years (Rochester Historical Society, Publications, 1943).

On July 2, 1830 his youngest child, Parker Dole Colman was drowned in Rochester, NY at the age of 17. He may have been studying there and living with Anson.

Son Hamilton taught school as a young man. He worked a dairy farm near his father’s farm. In 1838 he was Commissioner of Deeds for Otsego County, and he served as town supervisor for Richfield Springs in 1858. His son Norman became the first Secretary of Agriculture under U.S. President Grover Cleveland in 1889, having been commissioner since 1884. He was a teacher, a lawyer, and lieutenant governor of Missouri.

Charles was a lawyer. In 1845 he was "admitted as attorneys and counselors of the Supreme Court" with a list of others. He lived in St. Louis, MO in 1860 and Ann Arbor, MI in 1870.

Between 1841 and 1846 Samuel transferred land to his son Homer. The 1850 census lists Samuel living with Homer. A letter from son Franklin to Horace in 1853 expresses outrage that Homer and his wife “have succeeded in their knavery, they have stealthily and deceitfully taken from Father every vestige of his title Deeds, they have stolen a sacred contract entered into for the support of Father & Mother. They have abused & maltreated our Father & Mother & finally to cap the climax of iniquity they have turned my dear enfeebled Parents out of their own house & taken possession themselves.” The 1855 NY state census lists Samuel and Nabby living with Horace and his wife Nancy.

Of his children, Horace, Homer and Hamilton remained nearby. Franklin, Nelson and Charles went west. A record of Caroline's marriage or death has not yet been found. She will require more research.

Samuel Colman died in Springfield on 22 December 1857 and was buried in Richfield Springs with Masonic Honors. His obituary in the Freeman’s Journal states: “He has held various offices of trust and responsibility, which he discharged with strict fidelity, and now in his 90th year, is ‘gathered to his fathers’ in perfect charity with all mankind, and in the confident hope of a glorious immortality.”

Nabby Colman died less than two years later, on 6 May 1859. She was 85.

Notable Women Ancestors: Mary Meeneghan

I was fascinated by an area I found on years ago called "Notable Women Ancestors." In genealogy, the men are often easier to profile because they were more likely to hold offices and buy and sell land. Women can be "lost" to research when they change their names through marriage or re-marriage and the trail runs cold. There are many strong women in my family tree. My grandmother's sister, whom I knew as a child, is one of them.

Mary Meeneghan
was born 10 October 1887 in Springfield, NY. She was the first child born to Irish immigrants Dominick and Ellen Broderick Meeneghan who had married in Wheeling, WV on January 4th of that year. Ellen was 19 and Dominick was 30 when their first child was born. Ellen and Dominick both came from western County Mayo on the Mullet peninsula. Ellen may have immigrated to the Wheeling area to follow her older sister, Margaret. It is not yet known how or why they moved north, just that Mary’s birth is registered in Springfield. Another Meeneghan family lived in Cherry Valley and later settled in East Springfield. This William Meeneghan may be Dominick’s brother.

Mary was baptized at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Cooperstown on 23 October 1887. Her godparents were James Reilly and Mary Donoghue. No familial relationship with these individuals has been discerned. If Dominick and Ellen came to Springfield because of relatives in town, they might have been expected to select them as godparents.

Mary was a popular name, with obvious religious significance. Statistically, it was the most popular U.S. girl’s name for the first half of the 20th century, based on Social Security records, and remained in the top ten through 1970. It is believed that both Dominick and Ellen’s mothers were named Mary, as well as their sisters.

In the following years Mary’s siblings followed in sequence, barely 2 years apart: Sara, born about 22 June 1889; Ellen, born 22 May 1891; William, born 5 August 1892; twins Anne and Katherine, born 20 February 1895; Margaret, born 26 March 1897; and John, born 7 October 1898. By the time she was 11 Mary was the eldest of eight children. Her mother was only 30 years old and her child-bearing years were over. Several of the children also had family names; Dominick had a sister named Sarah, Ellen is believed to have had a sister Margaret, and William is believed to be Dominick’s father’s name. William and John were also among the most popular boys names in the early 20th century.

In 1892 the family purchased a home on 1½ acres on the Lake Road (Route 80 at Route 53), south of Springfield Center. Mary and her brothers and sisters grew up here, and Mary always called it home.

In 1906 Mary was her aunt’s attendant at her wedding, as Ellen Broderick’s sister Mariah married John McDonough. The newlyweds lived with the Meeneghans for a time, according to a newspaper account.

Mary attended local schools. The “Roll of Honor” of the Springfield Union school for November 1903 included Mary Meeneghan (16), as well as Ellen (12) in the Academic Department, William (11) in the Intermediate Department, and Katie (8) in the Primary Department. In February 1906 it was reported that she passed regents exams in Elementary U.S. History, Commercial Geography, Advanced English Composition and Algebra. She spoke on “The Victory Spirit” in the medal competition in the Guild Hall (date uncertain). In June of 1907 Mary received her diploma with four others in Springfield. She received the Brigham Essay Medal, according to the newspaper. We have a gold cross inlaid with Connemara marble inscribed MLM ’07. It must have been a proud day when the first Meeneghan child graduated from high school.

In early 1909 Mary entered the nurses’ training program at the Thanksgiving Hospital in Cooperstown along with another Springfield girl, Blanche Willsey. They also attended the “alumni ball” together in Springfield in June of 1909. In January of 1910, she suffered an appendicitis, then returned to her training after a rest at home in Springfield. In June of 1910 she attended a course in the treatment of children’s diseases at the Hospital of the Good Shepherd in Syracuse. Her diploma was issued on 25 October 1910 and signed by M. Imogene Bassett, among others.

The social notes of the Richfield Mercury newspaper provide many of these everyday details. In January of 1912 Mary accompanied Mrs. Charles VanHorne and her newborn son home from the Thanksgiving hospital. During 1912 she spent several months nursing at the “ward” connected with the County Farm before returning home. In February of 1913 she cared for Mrs. Ingalls in East Springfield. Then in March she cared for Mrs. Dell Mallory who had pneumonia. In July it was noted that she cared for Mrs. Frank Smith and son at the Thanksgiving Hospital.

In November of 1913 Mary spent the month on vacation in Canada. No other details are known and companions were not listed in the newspaper item. Upon her return she cared for Mrs. Kate Cary. In August of 1914 she was working again at the County Farm. In May of 1918 it was noted that Mary came from New York to visit her family. But in September she was filling in for the superintendent at the Thanksgiving hospital during a two week vacation.

The nurses from the Thanksgiving Hospital formed an alumnae association, electing Mary Vice President in December of 1916 and President in September of 1917.

As the Great War came close to home, Mary and her friends were busy making supplies for the soldiers through the Red Cross. She enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps and took her oath of office on 16 September 1918. The newspaper reported that she was “called” with two nurses from Thanksgiving Hospital. She left for Camp McPherson, Atlanta, GA on 24 September 1918. She was 31 and had been nursing for 10 years by that time. In January of 1920 she was reassigned to Fox Hills, Staten Island, NY and then to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC until 29 April 1921. She received a Victory Button and gained the rank of Second Lieutenant Reserve Nurse. The history of Mary’s service has been recorded in the database at the Women’s Memorial in Washington, DC. Along with the 32 men listed on Springfield’s “Roll of Honor” was one other nurse: Rosina White who was a graduate of Presbyterian Hospital in New York.

Mary was employed as resident nurse at the Knox School for Girls in Cooperstown for 33 years, beginning soon after her return from military service. In 1949 her name was included in the Otsego Farmer’s list of 39 well qualified faculty to teach the 180 girls in residence. She was often known as “Meenie” and was later described as “confidante, comforter and friend” to student and staff alike. The yearbook was dedicated to her in 1949. It read:

In remembrance of your infinite patience with us, your serenity in the midst of chaos, and your sound advice to the perplexed, we shall remember your white-starched efficiency, always accompanied by a smile and a blithe greeting for all but we shall chiefly prize the memory of your warm friendship. We are happy to have this opportunity to thank you, Meenie, and thus we dedicate the 1949 Rose Leaves to you with gratitude and affection.

There were family marriages to celebrate: Ellen in 1919; Sara in 1923, and John.
Ever a bridesmaid, never a bride, when brother Bill married Mary Eaton in West Winfield in June of 1924, Mary was the attendant. The newspaper says: The bridesmaid wore orchid crepe de chine with silver trimming, with hat to match. Throughout her life Mary acquired a “dowry” including monogrammed silverware and linens, but she never married.

In September 1927 Mary crossed the Atlantic to France on the TSS Caledonia with nurses of the American Legion. She wrote to her sisters at a Cooperstown address:

Dear girls,
This is my last letter on board. We anchor tonight at ten and leave Cherbourg at 9 tomorrow—Paris at 3 p.m. It has been a fast and furious trip. 4 a.m. I dragged to bed this morning and I slept until12. I have a few minutes, must go down and pack so I won’t be as rushed as I was last time leaving N.Y. It has been the shortest ten days I’ve ever known. Saw the coast of Ireland this a.m. I can’t imagine what land will seem like again, a week from today I’ll be steaming back again. I am being taken to Jennie Walkers dinner in Paris on Tuesday. This gang wants to do so much and I want to do so much; wonder if there will be time. Of course Phelan will dash from place to place sight seeing, but I’ll try and plan for a few evening parties in Paris. Tonight they have their final party on board. Guess they have brought up all the champagne and scotch on board. They stand in with every one from the Captain down. I didn’t get the radio off, but you’ll know everything is ok. I am picturing Ellen and Mamma real busy. I’ll call you up when I get in New York. I often think, Gee, I’d like to telephone home and find out what’s what, how you made out about Peg, etc. I wanted a few words with the Judge but didn’t have the chance. I hope Caroline won’t be in New York because it interferes too much with other things I want to do. I’d like to see Peg again before I go upstate. I had planned to make a list and whatnot on the boat and here I haven’t done a darn thing. Will mail this in France and see you in a couple of weeks. Love to everyone, Mary
Saturday p.m.

In 1930 Mary’s younger sister Margaret Meeneghan died at 33 at home in Springfield. She had been ill with tuberculosis for some time. Niece Betty Simmons remembers playing on Aunt Peg’s bed and had positive TB antibody tests throughout her life.

Mary’s next loss was her father on 20 March 1935 at 77. He had suffered from dementia for some time, as described in a newspaper report in the winter of 1929 when he “eluded the vigilance of his family and was out in the storm about two hours. He was clad only for the house, having no outer wraps and wearing bedroom slippers.”

In June of 1932, Mary was one of a long list of petitioners published in the “Otsego Farmer” who believed that the Eighteenth Amendment (Prohibition) should be repealed. Reasons listed were:
1. It is unenforceable.
2. It has increased lawlessness and corruption.
3. It has diverted millions of dollars each year from the hands of legalized business into the hands of racketeers.
4. The situation has so reduced federal revenue that, in order to balance the National Budget, increased taxation is necessary.
5. It retards the cause of true temperance.

Mary’s papers include certificates that are option warrants for 3½ shares of common stock of Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corporation dated 1940. RKO was a prominent movie production company. The options were not exercised. We could speculate that they were a gift from a California girl at Knox. Mary was tall and pretty, but as far as we know she never appeared in a film. That would be a good story!

Her mother, Ellen Broderick Meeneghan, died 7 October 1949. Her obituary states that she was well cared for by her daughters, and it was Mary who sent a telegram to her sister Sara with the news of their mother’s passing.

When the Knox school was moved to Long Island about 1954 Mary would have been in her mid-60s. She returned to the family home and lived with her twin sisters Anne and Kate. The Meeneghan home in Springfield continued to be a family gathering place. Mary was an active member of the Clark F. Simmons Post 579 of the American Legion in Cooperstown.

Mary was 79 when she died on 12 July 1967 at home. She had lived with her younger sisters Anne and Kate in the family home since her retirement. As the older sister, she was the “queen bee” of the family. They continued to host family dinners, memorably Christmas dinner for the extended family. Her nearly 80 years were filled with family and friends, including two nieces and four nephews, and 16 great-nieces and nephews. She is buried in the Springfield Center cemetery on Route 20.

The longevity in the Meeneghan family is somewhat remarkable. Mary’s parents, born in Ireland, lived to be 77 and 81, respectively. Sara and Ellen both died at 80; Bill was 79 and John was 74; and the twins Anne and Kate lived to be 87 and 93! The U.S. Dept. of Commerce average life expectancy of Americans born in 1890 was in the 40s. Only Peg threw off the average with her early death.