Thursday, April 9, 2015

Bovina and the End of the Civil War

April 9, 2015 will be the 150th anniversary of the end of the United States Civil War. It was a war that permanently changed the country. 620,000 men died in the conflict. It is estimated that over ten percent of Northern men between twenty and forty-five died in the war.

Bovina’s population at the start of the war (based on the 1860 census) was 1242. By 1865, it had dropped by about 100. Bovina had about forty men serve in the war – twelve of them did not come back. Eleven died in the war and one, David Elliott, was never accounted for after going missing in action (he may have died at Andersonville prison). Bovina’s population drop can’t be directly blamed on the war – it was the continuation of a trend that had been going on since about 1850.

While the war was not a constant presence on the lives of people in Bovina it was an on-going issue. Several times during the war, Bovina voters had to decide on how much of a bounty to pay to meet the town’s quota. In December 1864, President Lincoln issued a call for 300,000 more troops. Bovina went ahead, without being sure of the exact quota to be assigned to it, and paid a bounty of $660 each to twenty men whose enlistment would be credited to the town. The quota ultimately was set at eleven. On April 3, six days before the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox, those who subscribed to the bounty agreed to pay, provided that the “excess of men…stand for the benefit of the said town in future calls if any should be made…”

The same day the subscribers agreed to pay what would be the last bounty, the session of the Bovina United Presbyterian Church met to hear a report “on the state of religion” in the congregation.

And just as it was when the war started four years earlier, Bovina citizens continued on with their lives and said farewell to citizens who had passed away. On April 1, the Delaware Republican and Visitor reported on a former resident, Dr. W. S. McCune, “late of Fish Lake Water Cure…” at Lake Delaware. Dr. McCune was “sick with small pox at the home of his brother in law John L. Frisbee [in Delhi]...The authorities have taken steps to prevent the spread of the disease….” Dr. McCune would struggle for a month and die on April 24.

On April 4, an auction was held at the farm of John Hastings. Cows sold at prices from $54 to $71, averaging $61 head. Six were half-blood Alderney cows, two and three years old and one yearling sold for $22. Also sold that day were oats, at $1.31 per bushel, rye for $2 per bushel, hay from $18 to $20 per ton, and bees from $9 to $9.25 per hive. Thomas E. Hastings was auctioneer.

Four days after the auction, and one day before the war’s end, Milton B. Elliott, the six year old son of James Elliott and Isabella Kinmouth, died. Milton was a first cousin once removed of James and Thomas Elliott, the brothers who both died in the war the previous November.

On the day of Lincoln’s assassination, April 14, 1865, there were two Bovina related deaths. Eliza Yeomans McPherson died in Bovina at the age of 70, survived by her husband, Alexander McPherson and by eight of her ten children. That same day, in Brighton, Iowa, Elijah Hilton Nichols, the son of Elijah Canfield Nichols and Amanda Melvina Hilton of Bovina, died at the age of only 23 years old. While buried in Iowa, he also is memorialized on his parents’ stone in the Bovina Cemetery.

So life and death went on in Bovina, just as it was doing at the start of the war, yet the loss of 11 young men and the uprooting of many more changed Bovina, as it did many communities, forever.

During the last four years, I have written over thirty entries about Bovina and the Civil War on this blog.  Here’s a list of some of the more important ones:

In 2011, the Sesquicentennial of the start of the Civil War, I wrote monthly entries about Bovina and the war on the 12th of each month in a series “Bovina in the Civil War.” The twelve entries in this series were:

·       January - The  Sesquicentennial – A brief entry that introduced the series. []
·       February - Bovina and Abraham Lincoln – A review of how Bovina voted in the 1860 and 1864 elections. []
·       March - Who Served in Bovina – A review of the database I still work on of Bovina’s Civil War soldiers []
·       April - What Was Bovina Doing When the War Started – A look at what was happening in Bovina the month the war actually started. []
·       May - The Supreme Sacrifice – Bovina lost 11 men in the war, starting with John Sinclair Burns in April 1863 and ending with the death of Roman Palmer in December 1864. []
·       June - Recruiting – Bovina, like most communities in New York, had to provide bounty payments to encourage enlistment as the war dragged on. []
·       July - Exemption from Service – Not all eligible men in Bovina served. A number of them submitted claims for exemption, mainly due to health issues. []
·       August - Honoring the Dead – Some of Bovina’s fatalities in the war, along with a number of Civil War veterans are buried in Bovina cemeteries. A sample of some of the stones is presented in this entry. []
·       September - Slavery in Bovina – Bovina had one or two slaves in the 1820s but none after that. Bovina was strongly anti-slavery and the church, in at least one instant, took a member to task for voicing another viewpoint. []
·       October - The First Enlistments – A discussion of some of the early enlistments from Bovina, mainly covering 1861 []
·       November - Bovina's Old Soldiers – A review of those Bovina Civil War soldiers who survived the war. Some stayed while others headed west. []
·       December - To Care for Him Who Shall Have Borne the Battle – In 1888, the Grand Army of the Republic, the union Civil War veterans organization, set up a program to provide assistance to veterans needing assistance. At least one veteran received such assistance that year. []

In 2012, I started a monthly series that went on until March 2013 with small biographies of every Bovina Civil War soldier, including those veterans who came to Bovina after the war. The series appears on the 12th of each month.

In my stories from Bovina’s Cemeteries, I’ve written several times about Civil War veterans buried in Bovina cemeteries:

·       Stories from Bovina's Cemeteries - the Elliott Brothers – April 20, 2012 []
·       Stories from Bovina's Cemeteries - John Sinclair Burns – April 4, 2013 []
·       Stories from Bovina Cemeteries - Jimmie McClure – November 2, 2013 []

And though the war ended 150 years ago, there still may be new discoveries to be made concerning Bovina during that time period, so stay tuned.

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