Mystery Monday: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: His Roots

1903 (possibly) McClellan Genealogy by Imogene McClellan-002.jpg

Imogene (Everson) McClellan was an avid genealogist. About 1903, several years after her husband George Roderic McClellan disappeared, Imogene began compiling her own genealogy. While doing so, she wrote on a small slip of paper all that she could remember about George McClellan’s immediate family, and gave it to her daughter Lillian McClellan. Lillian’s grandniece Maria McClellan discovered it years later, when she inherited Lillian’s papers. It was the first clue to discovering the origins of George Roderic McClellan.

It reads: McClellan Family

Dougal McClellan, son of Dougal McClellan and Mary Scott, born in Edinburg, Scotland married Christina Cameron, b. I[n]verness, Scotland Oct. 12 1817.Married 1834. Came to Nova Scotia soon after their marriage. Their children: Ellen Cameron McClellan, Mary Catherine McClellan, Annie McClellan (Sherman) born March 23 1840, John Duncan McClellan, William Murdock McClellan, George Roderic McClellan, James McClellan, Alexander Cameron McClellan.

 

1903 (possibly) McClellan Genealogy by Imogene McClellan-001.jpg

McClellan Family Genealogy, written by Imogene (Everson) McClellan for her daughter Lillian McClellan, circa 1903. Image courtesy of the author.

 

George Roderic McClellan was born 8 May 1848 in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, the youngest of eight children born to Dougal McClellan and his wife Christina Anne Cameron, who was also called Christiana Cameron. Dougal died when George was young and the widowed Christina, unable to support all of her children, had to place them in local homes, working as domestic servants or learning trades. While the specifics of George’s childhood are still elusive, he was likely placed in a home where he apprenticed as a mason. By the age of 12 his mother had left Nova Scotia entirely and was working as a domestic servant in the household of Dr. Charles W. Fabyan of Providence, Rhode Island, a wealthy Methodist physician originally from Maine. George’s eldest sister Mary Catherine followed their mother, where she soon found work as a governess in Providence. George’s second eldest sister, Christina Anne “Annie” McClellan, found work in Portland, Maine, where she met merchant John Doane Wells Sherman. They identified themselves as husband and wife in the 1860 Census in Portland, but their wedding was performed 14 January 1863 in Providence, Rhode Island. When George turned 21 he decided to move from Nova Scotia to seek work in New England, arriving in Portland, Maine in September 1869 and then making his way to Boston, Massachusetts. He may have gone to meet up with his sister Annie (McClellan) Sherman, whose husband John worked in Boston. John D. W. and Annie Sherman boarded at Adams House when they stayed in Boston. Together John and brother Thomas B. Sherman operated the trading company Sherman Bros. & Co. at 234 State Street from at least 1867-1870. As of the 1870 census, ‘Geo R. McClellan’ was working as a mason and boarding in Boston, Massachusetts with grocer Martin Godrin (29, b. Ireland).

1870McClellanGeorgeCensus - Copy.jpg

George Roderic McClellan in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census,  a 25 [sic, 22] year old bricklayer residing as a boarder in Boston, Massachusetts on 14 July 1870

In the spring of 1872 Barnabas Everson hired George McClellan to help with construction at his South Hanson saw-mill, including a tall brick chimney stack to help reduce the threat of fire from the wood-scrap-drive fires which help fueled the saws. George likely took the Old Colony train from South Station in Boston to the South Hanson train station, located right next to Everson’s mill on Main Street. The train station is still in use today. By 1888 Barnabas Everson had become the fifth-richest man in Hanson, MA, through income derived from his sawmill and from his agricultural produce on his 300+ acres of farmland.  [See my article about Barnabas Everson’s safe, which is held by the Hanson Historical Society]. Everson invited the 24 year old George McClellan home for dinner, where he met Barnabas’s 20 year old daughter Imogene.

 

 

 

Possibly tintype of George R. McClellan? Tintypes common ca 1860s-70s.

Undated tintype of George Roderic McClellan. Probably late 1860s or early 1870s. Courtesy of the author.

Imogene Everson say 1870s?

Undated image of Imogene Lillian Everson.  Photographer A[mos] H. Locke, 16 Main St., Plymouth, Mass. Possibly near the time of her marriage, Locke was a photographer in Plymouth in 1872. Courtesy of the author.

They courted and were quickly married in Barnabas Everson’s home on Indian Head Street in Hanson, 3 June 1872, by East Bridgewater Methodist minister Rev. William Freeman Farrington. The choice of a Methodist minister probably reflected George McClellan’s faith with his Scottish-Canadian roots rather than the Everson family’s religion. Barnabas Everson joined several faith groups throughout his life, as did his children Richard and Imogene Everson. As a child, Imogene was briefly raised in the South Hanson Baptist Church. By the mid-1850s, however, the Eversons became captivated by the Spiritualist movement and remained Spiritualists until the 1890s. In the 1890s Imogene began taking Christian Science courses from Mary Baker Eddy. She remained a member of Church of Christ Scientist until her death.

 

1872 McClellanGeorgeEversonImogeneMarriage-MAVRs - Copy.jpg

Marriage record of George R. McClellan and Imogene L. Everson in Hanson, Mass. on 3 June 1872

Imogene became pregnant immediately following her marriage. Their first child, George Cameron McClellan, was born 5 March 1873 – 9 months and 2 days following their wedding day. His first name honored his father and his middle name was in honor of George’s mother’s surname Cameron.

1873 McClellanGeorgeCameron Birth-MAVRs - Copy.jpg

Birth record of George Cameron McClellan, the first child of George Roderic McClellan and Imogene Lillian Everson, born in Hanson, Mass. 5 March 1873

Having no property and little cash to his name, George and his new wife Imogene McClellan moved into a rent-free house on the east side of Indian Head Street near Maquan Pond in South Hanson owned by Imogene’s mother, Deborah (Bates) Howland Everson. Deborah had lived there with her first husband, Warren Howland, until he died of consumption in 1846, followed shortly thereafter by the death of their infant son and only child Warren Howland Jr. After the 1848 marriage of the widowed Deborah (Bates) Howland to Barnabas Everson they rented out the Howland house for extra income, and Barnabas and Deborah  Everson moved into a newly built house across the road on the west side of Indian Head Street, where they raised their family, including daughter Imogene. In 1873 new father George McClellan was seemingly well situated to step into the family businesses which his father-in-law Barnabas had founded.

Barnabas Everson, like George McClellan, had trained as a mason and trained as a shoemaker, which he worked at when construction opportunities were unavailable or off-season. Barnabas was a talented businessman and soon began acquiring tracts of farmland, woodlots, and cedar swampland in South Hanson, turning his talents to market gardening and selling his agricultural products to larger towns on the South Shore and Boston. He built a sawmill by the South Hanson train station, using lumber from his woodlots and swampland in the cedar swamp in South Hanson, which manufactured box boards and shingles. Everson later sold the sawmill to John Foster and continued to farm until his death.

Everson’s eldest son, Richard A. Everson, two years older than his sister Imogene, followed in his father’s footsteps but also went his own way in business. In his teens, Richard apprenticed and worked as a shoemaker for several years before going to work in Barnabas’s sawmill. Richard then took an interest in cranberry farming and began acquiring a large number of cranberry bogs in Hanson. He invented the “Cape Cod Champion Cranberry Picker” and eventually became the director of the New England Cranberry Sales Company. Richard’s “varied interests are indicative of his enterprise and versatile mind, and the success he has made in his different undertakings shows his executive force,” according to a biography.

Perhaps the career of Richard A. Everson can provide some insight into his brother-in-law George R. McClellan’s next steps. Family stories, you may recall, suggested that George McClellan may have moved to Denver after leaving his family in Hanson, Mass. behind in the 1890s. But it turns out that George went to Denver much earlier than that, and not only once, but two times during his marriage to Imogene.

Hoping to strike it rich in the pioneer town, George McClellan first left for Denver in late 1873, leaving behind his wife Imogene and their infant son George. Gold and silver were mined in Colorado and then filtered through the city of Denver, where business and real estate opportunities abounded in the rough-and-tumble city. After a childhood spent apart from his family, and his adolescence and young adulthood spent moving from place to place in search of employment, he had finally formed roots in Hanson, Massachusetts with his new family. But after one year he was itching to move again, and this time -West.

But what led to such a huge move? A handsome and cocky young man, George likely bumped heads with his father-in-law Barnabas Everson. Although the two men seemingly had much in common, it appears that George McClellan was unwilling to step into his father-in-law’s business and wanted to come into wealth on his own. Barnabas Everson may have been a hard man to work under, since even his own son Richard A. Everson only spent a few years working in Barnabas’ saw mill before starting his own cranberry company in Hanson and building his own success in tandem with his father. However, if Barnabas and his son Richard had disagreements, they nevertheless worked closely together, both on a personal level and physically within the same town. For some reason, however, George McClellan wanted to put 2,000 miles between them. Barnabas himself had an appreciation for risk-taking, having successfully grown his own businesses from small start-ups into large, successful operations. Perhaps George heard about business opportunities from his brother-in-law John D. W. Sherman, whose trading company was also booming in the 1870s. And perhaps at first George even received seed money from Barnabas Everson to support his endeavors in Denver.

But would George McClellan strike it rich in Denver?

 

Up Next: Part Three: George McClellan’s First Adventures in Denver, Colorado

Previously: Part One: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan

Advertisements

Mystery Monday: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan

McClellanDisappearance

Part One: Family Traditions: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan

My grandmother’s house, the childhood home of my father, has been in the family for several generations. It holds countless memories and stories, and the story of its origin looms large in family lore. My grandmother is a McClellan from Hanson, Mass., but the introduction of the family surname to Hanson was surrounded in a century-old scandal. Built in 1903 for my great-grandmother Imogene Lillian (Everson) McClellan, the house was intended to be a fresh start for Imogene and her three children. Her husband, Nova Scotian-born (with Scottish roots) George Roderic McClellan, had abandoned the family several years previously, and by 1903 Imogene determined to file for divorce in absentia. She sold their house on Main Street in Hanson and built a new one on Phillips Street.

 

The story goes that one day during the 1890s, George said he was taking the train to Boston to purchase a rug for their house, and he never returned. Imogene hired a private investigator who reported a lead that George may have gone to Denver, but the trail ran cold and no further details could be determined. George was an itinerant bricklayer who had been hired by Imogene’s father, Barnabas Everson, one of the wealthiest men in Hanson, to help build a tall brick chimney for Everson’s sawmill. There he met Barnabas’ daughter Imogene, and they married in 1872. They had four children: George Cameron, born the following year who died young, Lillian, born 1876 who never married, Roderic Cameron b. 1882 and Sherman Barnabas b. 1886 who married the Ramsdell sisters Edith and Bessie, respectively. But sometime after Sherman’s birth, the McClellan marriage crumbled, and when Imogene built her new house in 1903, it was on land inherited from her recently deceased father Barnabas Everson, and thus stood in the shadow of the brick chimney that George McClellan had built years ago.

MainStChimney

The Barnabas Everson sawmill chimney stack, built by Barnabas Everson and George R. McClellan ca. 1871-1872, Main Street, South Hanson. Photograph courtesy Mary Blauss Edwards, taken 2010.

 

DononRoof

My grandfather sitting on the roof of the family house, with the Everson chimney in the background. Photograph courtesy Don Blauss.

And that was that, so far as the memories of George McClellan lingered in family stories.  A bit of Scottish pride from the surname itself, but mysteries surrounding the man who introduced it to the family. Many stories are preserved about Imogene, a tiny woman with a big legacy, but George always remained a question mark in the eyes of her grandchildren.

 

Over the past decade I have been trying to unravel the story of George McClellan, his origins, his time in Hanson, and his disappearance. The digitization of records from Canada to New England to Denver have been vital in this research process, and over the years I have pieced together incredible details about his life. It’s a tale filled with broken dreams of striking-it-rich turned to literal smoke, small and large family drama, and public scandals of political corruption involving bribery, gambling and prostitution leading to a tragic and deadly race riot. There were many twists in the process of uncovering the complicated life of George Roderic McClellan and his family left behind in Hanson – as well as discovering that following his disappearance, he went on to have a second family, entirely unknown to his first.

 

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

 

Up Next: Before arriving in Hanson, Mass. in 1872, where did George McClellan come from? Part Two: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: His Roots

Part Three: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: Success In Denver Turns To Smoke

Part Four: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan:Becoming Officer McClellan, the Farcical Moon Affair, and a Bribery Scandal in Denver

Part Five: The Disappearance of George McClellan: Anti-Chinese Riot and Officer McClellan’s Prostitution Scandal and Resignation from the Denver Police

Part Six: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: George and Imogene’s Life in Hanson

Part Seven: The Disappearance of George Roderic McClellan: Life and Death in Boston

Treasure Chest Thursday: Framing the Past: Identifying Crapo Family Ambrotypes

FramingThePastCover

I recently had an article published in American Ancestors (published by NEHGS) which explored my journey of identifying a mysterious set of ambrotypes which were found in my grandfather’s workshop.

Cover of American Ancestors, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 2013

Cover of American Ancestors, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 2013

These were the ambrotypes that were discovered tucked away in my grandfather’s desk, placed out of sight for years, which had never been seen by my grandmother:

CrapoAmbrotypes

Click on the image below to read the full article and discover how this mystery was solved!

Mary Blauss Edwards, "Framing the Past: Identifying Crapo Family Ambrotypes", American Ancestors, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 2013, p. 42-44

Mary Blauss Edwards, “Framing the Past: Identifying Crapo Family Ambrotypes”, American Ancestors, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 2013, p. 42-44.

As I stated in the article,  Henry Emerson Crapo and Isabella Frances Lannigan’s daughter Ada Marion (Crapo) Howland had three children. So if any cousins have labeled duplicates of these ambrotypes or other images of Henry and Isabella Crapo, please let me know!

Have you ever identified an unlabelled family ambrotype, daguerreotype or photograph through genealogical research?

Sibling Saturday: 1860 Letter from Ellen J. Bonney of Hanson, Mass. to her brother Otis L. Bonney of Boston, Mass.

Below are scanned images, a transcription, and explanatory footnotes of a letter written on 18 March 1860 by fifteen-year old Ellen Josephine Bonney (b. 22 Feb. 1845) of Bonney Hill, South Hanson, Mass. to her older brother, twenty-one year old Otis Lafayette Bonney (b. 2 Dec. 1838) who at the time was working for Daniel Allen & Co. in Boston, Mass. They were both the children of Ezekiel Bonney and Angeline White of Hanson, Mass. Three years after writing this letter, Ellen J. Bonney married Noah A. Ford at East Bridgewater in 1863. In addition to reporting local news relating to their family and friends, she also relates details pertaining to a debate club that her brothers participated in. The club seems to have consisted of numerous young male friends of the Bonney brothers. Yet Ellen is well-informed of their discussions, and a particularly wonderful image of the Bonney women “accidentally” overhearing the debates is casually mentioned by Ellen at the end of the letter: “Oh I forgot we had the door open last night so we heard all they said at the debating meeting”.

Front of envelope addressed to Otis L. Bonney

Front of envelope addressed to Otis L. Bonney

Back of envelope

Back of envelope

1860 Letter from Ellen J. Bonney to her brother Otis L. Bonney

1860 Letter from Ellen J. Bonney to her brother Otis L. Bonney

1860 Letter from Ellen J. Bonney to her brother Otis L. Bonney

1860 Letter from Ellen J. Bonney to her brother Otis L. Bonney

Transcription of the letter:

[Envelope (front) 3 cent stamp]

So. Hanson Mass.

Otis L. Bonney

Boston, Mass.

Care of Daniel Allen & Co.

[Envelope (back)]

[in different hand, pencil] South Hanson 1860

 

[Letter, page 1]

March 18th 1860

Dear Brother,

I will commence again to write as Theodore[[1]] received your letter last night and it was read with pleasure in the club room Theodore says the question was decided in the negative but then the most of them were in faver of the negative in the first place there was four on the affirmative they were Reuben S.[,] Alonzo B.[,]  Morton V.  and T.L. B. and on the negative they were Josiah B.[,]  Thompson P. and Joseph T. [,]  Lot. P. and George Stetson.[[2]] Theodore thought some of them that they didn’t decided according to the merits of the argument, the question for discussion next Saturday night reads thus, are early marriages condusive to the public good. Theodore says he should like to hear from you by Friday night if he could, if you can write then as it would give ample time for perusal he read your letter to the club with and it was received with great applause Theodore says they are going to they and fetch have that question brought up again after they have got through with the marriage ceremony next Saturday night.[[3]] The next is the condition that Bil Thomas is left in[.][[4]]

 

[Letter, page 2]

He had his court last Wednesday for getting his [corn?] hiding and they didn’t fetch in but five dollars for Ezra[[5]] to pay besides the cost of the court and then they took Bill as soon as the court was done with Ezra they took him for slander and he has so many enemies they say it will go hard with him he is bound over for one hundred dollars to appease to the court next Friday at Bourne’s hall here in Hanson they think they will have a greater time than at the court at Abington the court up there now was from nine o clock in the morning until in the evening and he would not have got home that night if it hadn’t been for Theodore and George Bonney[[6]] for he couldn’t get anyone to be bound for him as his father did not go up and so Theodore and George were bondsman until the next day and then Bill’s father l released them Bill seems to be up to his eyes in the law business at this time.

There was a gentleman spend the night here last night and he has

[Letter, page 3]

Just gone away his name is Elms he came here yesterday noon he wanted to be here to the debate he writes pieces for the Division he writes a good deal of poetry and reads it at the Div.

Mr. Levi Everson is dead he died last week and was buried last Thursday[[7]] and the doctor thinks that Marina will live until the fall if she gets any better they don’t let anyone see her only in the morning because she is not so well in the afternoon[[8]]. There was a lady drowned herself in Hanover yesterday but we haven’t heard what her name is yet[[9]] it is a pleasant day here today but not so pleasant as it would be in the city. Sarah and Melly are in here now and they send their respects to you and they are going down to the depot and I am going to and are going to carry this down[.]Sarah wants you to get your ambrotype taken and bring it home when you come home and give it to her she wanted me to write it in the other letter but I forgot it.

[Letter, page 4]

We are looking for you home fast time and bring your accordion to and Mother wants you to send her a box of soap home[[10]] and when you send it you let us know you can write when you write home again our spelling schools are going yet and we have good times. Oh I forgot we had the door open last night so we heard all they said at the debating meeting there were quite a number here it is a general time of health I came from Julia’s yesterday and they were all well.[[11]] We had an earthquake here last Wednesday night there was two of them[.] St. Patrick had a real pleasant day yesterday[.][[12]] I cannot think of any more to write this time but I will write again next Sunday[.] Good-bye.

Ellen

 

—————————————————————————————————————-

Ellen’s children are later mentioned in a letter written to Otis Lafayette Bonney by their cousin Ida which was previously transcribed here. If anyone has additional knowledge about the people or events mentioned in this letter, please let me know!

 


[1] Theodore refers to their twenty-three year old brother, Theodore Lyman Bonney (b. 27 Oct. 1836). T. L. Bonney died three years later during the Civil War of typhoid fever on 11 May 1863 at Aquia Creek, Virginia. Post 127 of Hanson’s G.A.R. was named in his honor.

[2] Otis and Theodore belonged to a debate club which met in Hanson weekly on Saturday evenings and whose membership largely consisted of male 20-somethings from Hanson, although this letter does not provide the club’s name. Apparently Otis was still able to participate in the club’s debates from afar by writing his answer to the weekly question in a letter. The fellow club members mentioned were probably 26 year old Reuben Smith Jr. (b. 29 March 1833, Otisfield, Me., son of Reuben Smith and Mary C. Whitney), 20 year old Alonzo Beal (b. 1840, son of Edwin and Sarah D. Beal), their 19 year old brother Morton Van Buren Bonney (b. 8 March 1841, Hanson, son of Ezekiel Bonney and Angeline White), 20 year old Thompson Pratt, 19 year old Lot Phillips (b. 13 Feb. 1841, Hanson, son of Ezra and Lucy Phillips), and their neighbor 27 year old George Forbes Stetson (b. 11 April 1833). No teenaged or twenty-something Hanson residents could be identified for “Josiah B.” – this was possibly their 32 year old second cousin Josiah Bonney. No teenaged or twenty-something Hanson residents could be identified for “Joseph T.” unless it was “Joseph F.” in which case it may have been 23 year old Joseph Fish.

[3] A marriage which took place in Hanson on Saturday, 24 March 1860 could not be identified in Hanson Vital Records.

[4] Possibly either William Thomas (b. 28 Jan. 1828, Hanson, son of John and Mary R. Thomas) or William Otis Thomas (b. 31 Oct. 1830, Hanson, son of Nelson and Anna Thomas).

[5] Possibly either Ezra White and Ezra Magoun.

[6] George Bonney was a second cousin of Otis and Theodore. George was born at Hanson, 2 December 1826, son of Nathaniel Bonney and Polly Robinson. He was married to Julia A. Smith, daughter of Reuben and Mary Smith.

[7] On 13 March 1860, 53 year old Levi Everson, a farmer, died of consumption in Hanson. He was the son of Levi Everson and Bathsheba Holmes and the husband of Mary T. Dunham.

[8] This may have been 23 year old Marina Winslow Turner Bearce (b. Hanson, 24 Nov. 1836, daughter of Isaiah and Marina A. Bearce). If so, not only did she “live until the fall”, she married 30 June 1860, Cyrus A. Bates and died in 1915.

[9] Angelina (Bates) Church, wife of Lewis C. Church and daughter of Calvin Bates and Elizabeth Stetson, a 41 year old married woman of Hanover. According to her death record, she died in Hanover on 17 March 1860 of “insanity, death by drowning”. She was born at Hanover, 11 March 1819.

[10] Their 52 year old mother, Angeline Dean (White) Bonney was born at Easton, 11 May 1807, the daughter of Howe White and Temperance Dean. She married Ezekiel Bonney 10 June 1827. She died of Bright’s disease at Hanover, 20 Feb. 1880, and was buried at Fern Hill Cemetery, Hanson.

[11] Refers to the family of their 28 year old sister Julia Ann (Bonney) Howland (b. 28 Sept. 1831). Julia married Martin Howland 6 November 1851. In 1860 they were living in Halifax, Mass. and had one child: John Francis Howland (b. 21 Aug. 1852, Hanson).

[12] St. Patrick’s day had been celebrated in Boston, Mass. since the 18th century.

 

Below are images of two of the Bonney brothers mentioned in this letter:

Theodore Lyman Bonney during the Civil War, circa 1863

Theodore Lyman Bonney during the Civil War, circa 1863

Morton Van Buren Bonney during the Civil War

Morton Van Buren Bonney during the Civil War

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Hidden Sword Blade Guard in a Secret Compartment of Grace McClellan’s Sideboard

In 1969, after the passing of Nana Grace (Hanson) McClellan, a large wooden sideboard from her house was moved next door to her granddaughter Edna’s home, where it has sat by the kitchen table for 43 years. This month, Edna gave the sideboard to her daughter Debbie, and a small group of family members gathered to help maneuver the heavy piece of furniture. As they cleared out the sideboard of possessions that had accumulated over the years, they uncovered a false back in one of the drawers, which was moved to reveal a small hidden compartment. Neither Edna nor anyone in the family had ever known of the compartment’s existence since its arrival in 1969.

Imagine the surprise, then, to open the compartment and discover this little treasure sitting inside:

Brass object discovered in a hidden compartment in Nana McClellan’s sideboard. Photograph courtesy of Don Blauss.

The object was made out of brass, with a design featuring an eagle with six arrows behind the eagle and a narrow arm with a floral design along the arm. It’s the handle and blade guard to a sword – with the sword missing, of course.

Back side of the brass sword handle and blade guard. Photo courtesy of Don Blauss.

Grace (Hanson) McClellan acquired the sideboard from Daniel Waldo Field, the Brockton shoe manufacturer and philanthropist, who died in 1944. Although the exact date of purchase is uncertain, it probably occurred between 31 January 1920 (when Grace Hanson of Whitman, Mass. married Roderic McClellan of Hanson, Mass.) and the death of D. W. Field in 1944.

With that piece of provenance, there are four probable scenarios for who originally owned the blade guard (and missing sword):

1) An ancestor of Grace (Hanson) McClellan (1886-1969)

2) An ancestor of Roderic McClellan (1882-1962), the husband of Grace (Hanson) McClellan

3) An ancestor of Edith (Ramsdell) McClellan (1883-1918), the first wife of Roderic McClellan

4) An ancestor of Daniel Waldo Field (1856-1944). This seems unlikely if the sideboard was sold during his lifetime, because he presumably would have known that the piece was hidden in the compartment. However, if it was sold perhaps as part of his estate after his decease, its possible that his heirs were not aware that it was hidden.

Additionally, there’s the chance that Roderic and Grace McClellan or Daniel Waldo Field picked up the piece as a curiosity and hid it away, although the hidden nature of the compartment suggests it held value – sentimentally or financially. And it’s also possible that someone owned the sideboard prior to D. W. Field, though the chances of it remaining undiscovered during so many moves over the years seems unlikely.

Closeup of blade guard. Photo courtesy of Don Blauss.

Closeup of the top of the blade guard, including the hole where the sword used to sit. Photo courtesy of Don Blauss.

 

Base of the handle and blade guard. Photo courtesy of Don Blauss.

The eagle with six arrows behind it certainly suggests a military decoration, such as the federal war eagle. A search for similar blade guards online resulted in some similiar matches, such as this blade guard attached to a Spanish-American War sword for a New York officer:

sword was presented to First Lieutenant Alfred Somerset Orchard Commanding Company D 23rd Regiment National Guard of the State of New York on the occasion of his promotion. Courtesy of Specialist Auctions.

A Civil War era Calvary officer’s blade guard had a similiar eagle with six arrows:

Civil War era Calvary Officer’s Sword. Courtesy of Civil War Preservations.

But without any maker’s mark or inscribed date on the brass guard, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact era of the sword. If anyone can locate another guard with the exact same design with a known provenance, that would be extremely useful in helping to solve the mystery of the guard’s original owner.

But assuming that the sword could possibly date to World War I (1917-1918 for U.S.), the Spanish American War (1898), or the Civil War (1861-1865), let’s revisit the four possible owners.

1) An ancestor of Grace (Hanson) McClellan (1886-1969). Grace Hanson was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland to John F. Hanson and Lila Cody and orphaned when she was a teenager. She then went to live in the household of her maternal aunt Margaret (Cody) Andrews and Fred Andrews in Brockton, Massachusetts, where she became a schoolteacher. Little is known about her father, but according to the 1910 Census, he was born in England, and if he was a similar age to his wife Lila Cody (b. ca. 1864, Maryland), he was too young for service in the Civil War. It is uncertain if he was alive for the Spanish American War – the family has not yet been identified in the 1900 Census. So with just those bare facts, he seems an unlikely candidate for the original sword owner. Lila (Cody) Hanson’s father, Martin Cody, was probably the 39 year old “Martin Codey” who enlisted from Baltimore as a private on probably in June 1863 in Company G, 10th Regiment Infantry of Maryland Volunteers for a six month term, but likely never reported for duty when his information was filed 10 July 1863, since he was listed as AWOL on 5 July 1863 and by October 1863 was classified as deserted. Since he enlisted but probably did not report for duty, it is unlikely he received a uniform or weaponry. Additionally, he had two eldest sons, and several of his daughters moved and married in Massachusetts, so any of those children would probably more likely to inherit war mementoes than his orphaned granddaughter Grace Elizabeth Hanson would have. Therefore, Grace (Hanson) McClellan and her immediate ancestors can probably be eliminated as the original owner of the sword, if it indeed dates to Civil War, Spanish American War, or World War I military service.

2) An ancestor of Roderic McClellan (1882-1962), the husband of Grace (Hanson) McClellan. Roderic himself served in the Massachusetts State Guard during WWI, a duty sergeant of N Company in the Fourteenth Regiment of Infantry, which was disbanded on 18 December 1918. He was the top-ranking sharpshooter in his company during that time. However, there is no evidence that he was issued a sword.

Roderic McClellan in uniform. Duty Sergeant, Company N, 14th Regiment of the Massachusetts State Guard. Circa August 1918.

Roderic’s father, George McClellan (1848-1912), was from Nova Scotia and living in Canada during the Civil War (and too young to serve) and had abandoned his wife and children in the 1890s and did not serve in the Spanish American War. His paternal grandfather Dougald McClellan lived in Canada and had died by the American Civil War. His maternal grandfather, Barnabas Everson, did not serve in the Civil War and died before the Spanish American War. Therefore, Roderic McClellan and his immediate ancestors can be eliminated as the original owner of the sword, if it indeed dates to Civil War, Spanish American War, or World War I military service.

3) An ancestor of Edith (Ramsdell) McClellan (1883-1918), the first wife of Roderic McClellan. Roderic McClellan married Grace Elizabeth Hanson in 1920, two years after the death of his first wife, Edith May Ramsdell, who died in 1918 during the Spanish influenza epidemic. Her father, Edgar O. Ramsdell (1863-1899) was too young for Civil War service and did not serve in the Spanish American War. Her paternal grandfather, John Brooks Ramsdell (1819-1895) did not serve in the Civil War and died before the Spanish American War. Her maternal grandfather, Caleb Francs Wright (1828-1907) registered for the Civil War Draft in June 1863, but did not serve in the Civil War or Spanish American War.

4) An ancestor of Daniel Waldo Field (1856-1944). D.W. Field was too young for service in the Civil War, and his father, William Lawrence Field (1828-1914) did not serve. D. W. Field married Rosa A. Howes of Barnstable in 1879. Her father, Philip Howes (1811-1867), also did not serve in the Civil War.

So unfortunately, that provides no likely suspects for the original owner of the sword. Perhaps if more details come to light about the provenance of the sword, or if anyone can help to date the sword more precisely, further details can be brought to light.

 

Amaneunsis Monday: Inventory of the Estate of Capt. Henry Josselyn of Pembroke, Mass., 1787

Below is a transcription of the inventory of Capt. Henry Josselyn of Pembroke, Mass. He was born at Scituate, Mass., 24 March 1696, the son of Henry Josselyn and Abigail Stockbridge. He married at Pembroke, 23 September 1718, Hannah Oldham. He died at Pembroke by 26 June 1787, when his probate was filed, at the age of 91 years. His eldest child, Hannah Josselyn, married Henry Munroe Sr. at Pembroke on 16 November 1738. The unknown origins of Mary Miller, the wife of their son Henry Munroe Jr., were recently discussed in this blog.

From Plymouth County, Massachusetts Probate Records, volume 30, page 195 [part of docket #11660]

Plymouth, SS. To Messrs. William Torrey, gentleman, James Bonney & David Oldham, yeoman, all of Pembroke in the county of Plymouth, Greeting –

You are hereby impowered and directed to make a just and equal appraisement of all the estate, real and personal, which Henry Josselyn, late of Pembroke, aforesaid, gentleman, deceased, died seized, in lawful money, and make return of this warrant with your doings, under your hands & upon your oaths, as soon as your can. Given under my hand and seal of office at Hanover, this 26th day of June 1787.

Joseph Cushing, Judge of Probate

An inventory and appraisement of the real & personal estate of which Henry Josselyn, late of Pembroke in the county of Plymouth, gentleman, deceased, died seized, taken by us the subscribers this fourth day of July 1787 by virtue of a warrant from ye Honorable Joseph Cushing, Esqr., Judge of Probate for the County aforesaid, viz –

Homestead farm, 280£ _ Foster Lot (so called) 216£…496.0.0

16 acres (so called) 45£ _ Wood lot in the West Parish [present-day Hanson, Mass.] 150£…195.0.0

Cedar Swamp, 3rd Lot 28.6.8 _ 9th ditto 28£ _ 13th ditto 26.13.4…83.0.0

22nd ditto 72£ _ 27th ditto 20£ _ fresh meadow 22£ … 114.0.0

Amount of real estate ___ £888.0

Wearing apparel … 1.16.6

[total] £889.16.6

William Torrey, James Bonney, David Oldham

Plymouth, SS. July 7th 1787. Then Josiah Smith, administrator with the will annexed on the estate of Capt. Henry Josselyn, late of Pembroke, deceased, made oath that this inventory contains all the estate of said deceased, that had come to his knowledge and if hereafter he should know of any other, he will render account of it, the appraisers having also made oath to the same. Before Joseph Cushing, Judge of Probate.

Plymouth, SS. To the Honorable Joseph Cushing, Esqr., Judge of the Probate of Wills &c., for & within the County of Plymouth. Humbly shows, Josiah Smith, administrator with the will annexed of Henry Josselyn, late of Pembroke, gentleman, deceased, that he apprehends said estate is insolvent, therefore, prays commissioners may be appointed to examine the claims thereon & such procedure has as the law in such case has provided and as &c.,

Josiah Smith.

Plymouth County, Mass. Probate Records, 30:195, Inventory of Henry Josselyn of Pembroke, Mass., 1787

Amanuensis Monday: Marriage Records of Barnabas Everson and Deborah (Bates) Howland, 1848, Manhattan

Barnabas Everson of South Hanson, Plymouth County, Massachusetts (4 January 1825 – 22 February 1896) was a prominent citizen of the town, a wealthy businessman with major landholdings. His parents and grandparents were from the town of Hanson (or the part of Pembroke which became Hanson in 1820), and his children and grandchildren were born and raised in the town. It wasn’t until a recent inspection of the record of his marriage to the young widow Deborah (Bates) Howland (4 September 1819 – 16 April 1892), recorded at Hanson, that I noticed that their marriage was performed by an unexpected person: the mayor of New York City.

The Hanson, Mass. Marriage Record

The marriage record of Barnabas Everson and Deborah (Bates) Howland, recorded at Hanson [MA VRs 38:194], reads:

Marriages registered in the Town of Hanson for the year 1848-9, Isaiah Bearce, Clerk

[Registered] No.: 55   Date of Marriage: 1848 August 25th

Names & Surnames of Groom and Bride: Barnabas Everson & Deborah B. Howland

Residence of Each at Time of Marriage: Hanson & Hanson

Age of Each in Years: [Blank] & [Blank] Occupation of Groom: Mason

Place of Birth of Each: Hanson & East Bridgewater

Names of Parents: Richard Everson & Moses Bates

What Marriage, Whether 1st, 2nd, 3rd, &c.: 1st & 2nd

Name and Official Station of Person By Whom Married: W[illiam]. F[rederick]. Havemeyer, Mayor of N.Y. City

25 August 1848 Hanson, Mass. Marriage Record of Barnabas Everson and Deborah (Bates) Howland. [Courtesy of http://www.AmericanAncestors.org]

The Manhattan, N.Y. Marriage Record

Their marriage was also record at Manhattan, in the New York City Marriage Registers, v. 1-3, 1829-1860 [FHL Film no. 1671673], which was organized alphabetically by the first letter of the groom’s surname. The marriage record stated:

Date of Marriage: 1848 August 25

[GROOM] Name: Barnabas Everson; Place of Nativity: Mass.; Age (Years, Months, Days): 23 years; Residence: Mass.

[BRIDE] To Whom Married: Deborah B. Howland; Where Married: Mayor’s Office; By Whom Married: William F. Havemeyer; Color: white; Remarks: Mayor

First page of the 1848 Marriage Record of Barnabas Everson and Deborah (Bates) Howland. [FHL Film 1671673]

Second page of the 1848 Marriage Record of Barnabas Everson and Deborah (Bates) Howland. [FHL Film 1671673]

Barnabas generated an abundance of records throughout the course of his lifetime, with no obvious connections to Manhattan. Anyone know of a historical trend of couples traveling to Manhattan from rural New England towns to be wed?

[Genea-blogger John Newmark (author of TransylvanianDutch) started Amanuensis Monday: “A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.”]