Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Second Son

In the absence of a photograph, a signature on an old document can make an historical profile just a little more personal. I hope to find images of the Moores and look into their eyes someday.

Edward Moore was born on 25 October 1844 as recorded in the Town of Erving, MA birth records.  His father, James, had come as a teen from Connecticut with his family to farm the land near the Millers River, to mill timber and find other ways to harness water power.   James had found more than farmland; he married Experience Root Holton 27 October 1841. She and her extended family lived nearby in the southern part of Northfield, known as Northfield Farms. Edward had brothers James, two years older, and Clarence, two years younger.  Before his fourth birthday, his mother gave birth to another boy.  Edward's life changed drastically when, two weeks later, his mother died of 'fainting fits' on 23 September 1848.  Although the infant survived, little Clarence died from dysentery ten days after his mother.  It had been a difficult period in the area.  James had written to his father on August 14,  "As to health, it is quite sickly in the neighborhood, disentary (sic) prevailing generally. Father Holton is on the verge of the grave and we now think he cannot live one week longer."  In fact, Edward's grandfather Hezekiah Holton died August 24. There were nine deaths from dysentery listed in the Erving records that summer.

Edward's father, James, was a young man with crops to bring in and had little time to grieve. The new baby was also given the name Clarence. Clarence would have needed constant care. Experience's family likely stepped in.  The four-year-old Edward lived for a time with his grandfather, Oliver, who had returned to Connecticut.  He had a 10 year old daughter, Emily, with his second wife to entertain Edward. A letter that James wrote tn May of 1849 to his father expresses that he hopes to see Edward soon, and asked that he be fitted out with some new clothes.  He reminded him not to forget his brother Jimmy.   It appears that young Jimmy and the infant Clarence remained in Erving.

By the time the 1850 census was taken, the children were reunited in Erving with James' second wife, Eliza Jane Austin. Between 1851 and 1856 Edward became the big brother to two more brothers and two sisters. Eliza Jane's parents and sister lived with the family in 1855, according to the Massachusetts census.  The household was stricken again when Edward was 14. He lost his step-mother when she succumbed to consumption in 1858.  James was left with young children again, and his teen boys. Two of Eliza's children went to  live with Experience's brother and his wife. Merritt and Caroline (ages 3 and 5 at the time of their mother's death) were later adopted by their uncle and aunt, Samuel and Samantha Holton.  The older boys would have been in school, as well as Lucinda, at seven.  Two year old Oliver needed supervision. Did neighbors or family take over his care?  In 1859 James remarried to Priscilla Chapin, and in the 1860 census Oliver was with the family.  In 1861 the last of the siblings, Mary was born to Priscilla and James.

By 1861, Edward's aunt Emily had married Jacob Bauer.  Edward maintained his strong connection to the family in Connecticut.  He and Jacob enlisted in the Union Army in Berlin and received a $100 bounty, as recorded in Oliver's diary. Edward was not quite 18 when the 16th Connecticut Volunteers sailed out of Hartford to New York and then on to Washington by rail.  A history of the regiment was penned by Lieutenant B. F. Blakeslee in 1875. He described the farewell: "It was almost entirely made up of men in the county, and of excellent material, some of the oldest and best families were represented in its ranks, and comprised many of the finest young men whom the commonwealth ever sent to uphold its honor in the field."

They immediately began marching with Army of the Potomac. Edward was injured at the battle of Antietam a month later. The regiment saw heavy action during the succeeding months.  By the time Fort William at Plymouth, NC fell on April 20, 1864 the formerly privileged recruits were seasoned soldiers. With their brothers in arms, Edward and Jacob were taken prisoner.  After being held at Andersonville until September 1, they were transferred to Charleston and Florence, SC before they returned home.  It has been said that Florence, which opened in September of 1864, subjected the prisoners to even worse conditions than Andersonville.  By the end of the war, over half of the 16th were dead. They were welcomed back to Hartford on 29 June 1865.  Although he must have suffered greatly, Edward was lucky to survive.

Edward married Laura Sawyer in 1866 in Phillipston, twenty miles to the east. She was a 28-year-old school teacher, living with her parents. It was the first marriage for both, and he listed his occupation as a mechanic.  Were they acquainted before the war? Or could her brothers have been their connection? The 1865 census lists two of Laura's brothers as soldiers and one as a machinist.  In the 1900 census, Laura states that she had two children, but none living.  I have found no evidence of their children.

Tragedy struck the family again in June of 1869.  Edward's father James was thrown from a wagon by runaway horses, while on business in Northfield. Newspaper reports state he was dragged and died almost instantly.  James' land acquisitions, and his efforts to develop a canal and industrial sites on the river left his heirs with significant holdings. 

1871 Beers Map

In 1870 Edward was listed in the Montague census.  He lived across the river from the family homestead in the village of Millers Falls. The 1871 Beers Atlas map shows his residence at the corner of Main Street.  He listed his occupation as carpenter. 

In 1879 he applied for a Civil War disability pension due to the gunshot wound in his left soldier he received at Antietem, which was corroborated by the War Department in 1881.  Edward died at 40  of consumption in Phillipston on 5 May 1885. Laura received a $12 monthly pension after his death. His wife is buried beside him in the Center Cemetery in Phillipston. 

Find a Grave photo-Memorial #36136947