Monday, April 30, 2012

Stories from Bovina's Cemeteries - the Elliott Brothers

This substantial monument in the Bovina Cemetery was erected by the grieving parents of Thomas and James Elliott.  William and Eleanor (Wight) Elliott of New Kingston lost two of their three sons in the Civil War - and in the same month.  The farm on which they lived and grew up is still in the Elliott family today.  Though mainly in the Town of Middletown it does overlap a bit into the town of Bovina.

William and Elliott had three sons.  James, born in 1841, enlisted first, signing up in the town of Middletown on August 26, 1862.  His war record says he was 6 feet 1 1/2 inches tall, with dark hair and grey eyes.  He was quickly promoted to Corporal and served in the 144th, Company G.  His older brother Thomas
James Elliott - 1841-1864
photo courtesy of
Joan Archibald Towsend
Thomas Elliott - 1840-1864
photo courtesy of
Joan Archibald Towsend
did not enlist until 1864.  This may be partly due to his health.  As recorded in Munsell's History of Delaware County, Thomas was a bright student and had been taking classical courses at Delaware Academy.  In the midst of his studies, his health failed so he took a tour to Scotland to recover.  Thomas enlisted in September 1864 in Company B of the 90th New York Regiment.  At the time of his enlistment, he was recorded as having blue eyes, brown hair and was 5 feet 11 inches tall.  He was paid a bounty of $800 by the Town of Bovina. On October 19th, barely six weeks after enlisting, he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek.  Munsell's history reports that Thomas was robbed of his personal effects, including his boots, by the rebels.  He was rescued from the battle field but never recovered and died from his injuries on November 6.  Did James hear of his brother's injuries and subsequent death?  He might have, but on November 30, 1864, James joined his brother Thomas as a fatality of the Civil War when he was killed in action at Honey Hill, SC.

James's remains were buried on the field, but his brother's body was brought back for burial in the Bovina cemetery. Though from New Kingston, the Elliott family had been involved with the church in Bovina and appear to already have had a plot there.  The photographs below were taken by Ed and Dick Davidson.

This substantial monument commemorates both brothers and sits next to the graves of their parents.  Thomas's inscription is on the east side of the monument, James's on the west.  Information is provided for each brother concerning his regiment, how he died and his age. Verses from the Bible are included and each epitaph concludes with a stanza from a poem by William Cullen Bryant, "The Death of Abraham Lincoln."  Bryant wrote the poem the month of Lincoln's death in April 1865.  Pieces of this poem were used frequently on the tombstones of the dead from the Civil War.

Thomas's inscription includes:

"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.  John 11:25"

"Pure was thy life; its bloody close
Hath placed thee with the sons of light,
Among the noble host of those
Who perished in the cause of Right." 

The inscription on James's stone notes that his body was not brought back for burial at home.

"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.  Matt. 10:32-33
Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.  Matt. 25:40"

"Thy task is done the bond are free
We never saw thy honored grave
Whose proudest moment shall be
The broken fetters of the slave."

The second line is edited from the poem by Bryant, replacing “We bear thee to an honored grave” with “We never saw thy honored grave.”

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