Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bovina in the Civil War - Bovina’s Old Soldiers

Seems appropriate on the day after Veteran's Day, a holiday which did not exist until over 50 years after the Civil War ended, to remember those Bovina soldiers who survived the Civil War.  Many of them returned to the life they were living before the war, though not without challenges.  A number of them suffered from life long after-effects of the war.  In a special census of Civil War veterans, conducted in 1890, John P. Dennis reported suffering  from rupture and a disabled left hip.  Henry Hogaboom suffered a ‘general disability’ that ‘is not overcome.’  Albert McPherson stated that he became deaf from his war service.  Berry Shaw Miller reported that he had ‘neurology and rheumatism’ and that he was deaf in one ear.  His brother Gilbert 'Gib' Miller suffered from chronic diarrhea.

A number of Bovina soldiers left New York State after the war.  John Coulter left sometime in the 1860s and by 1870 was living in Cross Creek, Colorado, working as a lawyer.  He married a widow, Anne Gaffney, and adopted her two children.  When Coulter died on January 1, 1919, in Boulder, he was a judge. 

In 1866, John's first cousin, Thomas, headed west, along with Thomas J. Liddle, another Bovina Civil War vet. They traveled by train as far as Omaha and then took a boat on the Missouri river for Fort Benton, Montana.  Coulter settled in Lewis and Clark County in Montana and in 1870 was a gulch miner.  What ultimately happened to him is not known, but he was named in his aunt Mary McGibbon’s will in 1889 and shows up on the 1890 Military census, still in Montana.

Thomas Liddle, after two years of ranching, mining and carrying mail in Montana, set out for Puget Sound, but ended up settling in Walla Walla, Washington. Hiring out to a pack train, he went back to Montana and then returned to Walla Walla, the round trip occupying one month.  In 1872, he settled in Colfax in Whitman County, Washington, where he remained for at least 50 years.

Some veterans stayed in Delaware County, though not necessarily in Bovina.  John D. Ferguson learned the carpenter trade until moving to Delhi in 1881, where he was in the mercantile business.  His firm changed names several times as partners came and left: Ferguson and Groat, Ferguson and Churchill, and Ferguson and Thomson.  He retired in 1916 from the business.  His obituary reported that Mr. Ferguson “was eminently successful, his foundation principles being integrity, courtesy and square dealing with all.”  Ferguson was active in the England Post, GAR and was at the time of his death serving as Commander. 

James S. Adee was promoted several times during his war service, first to the rank of Sergeant, then to Orderly, or First Sergeant, and finally to First Lieutenant, the rank he held at the time of his discharge.   He returned to Bovina after the war.  The year after the end of the war, he bought his fathers farm.  He moved to Kortright in 1880, taking over the farm of his father-in-law and later purchased a farm about four and one-half miles from Delhi.  Adee was noted in the Biographical Review as “a strong Republican and is a member of England Post, No.142, Grand Army of the Republic.”  He died in 1899, having been widowed for 8 years.

The aforementioned Miller Brothers answered the call for soldiers in 1864 and both enlisted in the 144th.  The brothers were honorably discharged on the 18th of July, 1865.  Berry never fully recovered from the ill effects of the exposures and privations of the Civil War, though he did survive the war by over 40 years, dying in1906.  Berry’s brother, Gib, was Bovina’s last surviving old soldier, dying 70 years after the war started.  He was 87 when he died in Oneonta in 1931 from the effects of a fall a few days earlier.  Delaware County's last Civil War soldier died in 1941 and the nation's last surviving soldier from the conflict died in 1956

This picture came from the Cecil Russell family collection.  It dates from May 1910 and is a veterans gathering in Andes.  The names that have been identified:  Left to right: 1. James Elliott, 2. Unknown, 3. Matthew Lambert, 4. Unknown, 5. Unknown, 6. James G. Seath, 7. Thomas Gordon (father of Margaret Gordon, who taught Social Studies in Delhi for many years), 8. Alex White, 9. William Richardson (grandfather of Isabell Irvine Russell), 10. Andrew Anderson, 11. William Reside, 12. Simeon Goodman, 13. Gilbert D. Miller, 14. Joseph Hughes. Thank you to Tim Duerden and Rachel Thrasher for helping to identify more of the names.

The stories of these and other Civil War soldiers with Bovina connections will be a monthly feature of this blog starting in 2012.

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