It all started with a membership to NEHGS

My grandmother Lois Shaw comes from a long line of New Englanders, many of whom arrived in the new world in the 1600s. So when the New England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS) had a sale on membership last fall, I thought it would be prudent to join.

The Shaw book that was put out by Evelyn Shaw Mason in 1997 for the reunion, has a good amount of information in it on our Shaw family. But some lines, usually the female ones, were not pursued at length.  One of those lines is Almyra BROOKS’, a family I have been trying to learn more about for quite a while now. A few months ago I decided to use the NEHGS site to check into my BROOKS who hailed from Albany, Albany County, New York before moving to Burlington, Vermont in the 1860s.

I knew that Almyra’s paternal grandparents John Brooks and Diana Smith were married in Albany, Albany County, New York in 1807, I had the church record to prove it. But that was about all I knew about them. Well that, and the fact that Diana Smith was born in England. From previous research I had also deduced that Almyra’s father John had a brother David, a tinsmith, who moved his family to Cherry Valley, Otsego County, NY.

So off I went to the NEHGS search engine looking for Brooks in Albany. My first find was a major one. It was an abstract from a probate record for a John Brooks dated 1817. In it was a list of the following children: Peter, b. 1804, Elizabeth, b. 1808, Thomas b. 1809, David b. 1812, and John b. 1815. John’s widow, Diana, was being granted guardianship of the children, along with her brother-in-law Peter Brooks.

Wow. This was a great find and that one little abstract told me a lot. First it told me this is the John I am looking for. This information was confirmed by the widow’s name being Diana, and the last two children being David and John, both born exactly as my previous research had indicated. The probate also mentioned one other very important item of interest. John was in the US Army. The light bulb that went off in my head said War of 1812.

My next step was to see if I could find a War of 1812 pension record for John and I did. Diana Little, his widow was the applicant. This has to be the Diana I was looking for, the coincidence was too great to pass up. So I ordered the pension file and it arrived three weeks later.

This is what the pension file told me: John Brooks died 31 May 1815 at Black Rock, NY of disease. Black Rock was a naval port during the war of 1812, and is now part of Buffalo, NY. He had enlisted in the US Army 4th Rifles on March 30, 1814 for a term of 5 years. As the war ended in December of that year, he probably participated in a few engagements with the British.

One curious bit of information from the abstract was the fact that the eldest son Peter was born about 1804, which is before John and Diana were married. So was Peter their son, or was John married before Diana? According to Diana she had lived in Albany for about 54 years, before that she was living in New Scotland, NY which is not far from Albany. So maybe New Scotland had records of interest and that is where John and Diana met.

Diana married Robert Little about 1817/18. Robert died in an almshouse in 1845, which could mean he was infirm in some way, an alcoholic, or mentally unstable. Diana/Dinah was living on her own for quite a while as can be seen in the census records. She eventually ends up in the household of William and Jane Cassidy – Jane might be a daughter she had with Robert, as she was born about 1818.

Diana, born in 1785 in England and died 11 April 1872 in Albany. She is buried in the Cassidy family plot.

I still don’t know where in England Diana hails from or who her parents are. But I do know a little more about her than I did before. The same goes for John Brooks. John could be a descendant of the Brooks of Massachusetts or the Dutch Brooks of Albany. There is still a bit of mystery left. But at least I now know he had a brother Peter.

One last interesting bit of information I found in the pension file was a letter sent by a women researching her Brooks family and hailing from Burlington, Vermont. She is a descendant of our John and Almyra of Vermont. Using this information I have found a living relative still in Burlington. I will be sending a letter this week.

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Emilia

It was early summer in 1904, Mrs. Hilda Shallman the local Swedish midwife heard a hurried knock on her door. She grabbed her bag, that was always ready for just such an occasion, and opened the door to an out of breath neighbor, who rushed to give her the news, and then Mrs. Shallman headed out the door to get to the apartment of Fred and Kari Hamm that was just a couple of blocks away.

Sometime during the day of 3 June Kari gave birth to a daughter. She was named Emilia after her husband Fred’s mother.

Sadly Emilea contracted gastroenteritis, or what is more commonly known as stomach flu. She died at the age of 1 year 2 months and 15 days on 18 August 1905. Myrtle never knew her sister.

Wallace Rosa’s Last Chapter – A story in 3 parts

Part 3


Fate had it in for Wallace as his next and last stop was at Andersonville Prison in Georgia. A prison that historians today consider the world’s first modern concentration camp. It was certainly the Civil War’s most notorious.


Andersonville started out as an unfinished stockade wall on almost 27 acres of land in a sparsely populated part of Georgia. There was a small creek running through the center and it was relatively close to the railroad for easy access to supplies. The stockade enclosure that was finally built on the land encompassed about 16 1/2 acres and was approximately 1000 feet long and 780 feet wide. The walls of the stockade were constructed by local farm slaves who cut pine logs on site and set them in a trench about 5 feet deep so close together that you could not see to the outside.  The stockade wall included two gates on the west side. After the first wall was constructed, a second wall was set about 19-25  feet inside with the space between the two walls being named No-man’s land, any prisoner crossing into No-man’s land was immediately shot by sentries posted around the stockade. This prison was built to hold 9,000 – 10,000 men. It ended up holding at its peak 33,006.
When Wallace arrived at the prison at the end of June, it had been in operation for about 6 months and already there were well over 20,000 men confined in this small space. It was at this time that prison administrators decided to expand the walls to the north adding another 10 acres using prisoners and slaves as the laborers. By July 1st the prison was now its final size of  just over 26 acres, and by August it was housing just over 33,000 men. It was the largest prison in its time and ours.
The stockade had no buildings or shelter other than the ‘hospital’ that had been constructed just outside the walls. Even that was inadequate in size. The men huddled around any burning embers they could find to keep warm at night and lay in holes dug into the ground to keep cool during the day. Because the walls of the prison were built so tightly together, there was not much in the way of breezes during the day. Alexander McLean a former prisoner recalled:
“During the day the sun would pour down scorching hot, and owing to the lowness of the ground where we were, and our nearness to the stockade, not a breath of air could reach us; when night came, the men would stretch themselves on the ground where they would soon become stiffened with the cold, and, during the night wold be so tormented by vermin and worms, with which the ground was perfectly alive, that they could get no sleep till their strength was completely exhausted. Oh! how we would long for the dawn…Some days there would be a slight thunder shower, and immediately after, the sun wold come out so hot that it would be almost impossible to endure it. I hardly know which we most dreaded, the clear noon-day, the chilly and dewy nights, or the passing shower.”

It was in June that summer when it rained down on the  prisoners for over 20 days. Their uniforms rotted to such an extent that they provided little to no cover or fell off completely and some men went around naked. Wallace would have been harassed daily by lice, flies, fleas, and mosquitoes. The ground became so infested with maggots that it look to be alive. Having no adequate facilities for reliving themselves the marshy area around the center of the prison became their latrine, eventually accumulating several inches of excrement, a situation that added more problems to the already horrendous conditions of the camp as it helped to spread disease, and of course rendered the only water source undrinkable.
Scurvy, the disease of starvation, was rampant in the camp. The men who could walk around were nothing but skeletons with skin holding them together. As James Jennings remembers:
“You could almost hear their bones rattle as they walked around and were being eaten alive with graybacks [ticks]. Some of these poor fellows were so covered with lice and nits that their hair would be matted tight to their heads; and their hands and faces and bodies almost as black as a negro from the dirt and smoke of pitch pine fires as they huddles over [them] to keep warm.”

Because the dead were buried outside the walls of the camp, burying the dead  became a fiercely fought over opportunity to leave the stifling confines of the camp and get some fresh, insect free, air.

Burying the dead.
The ration wagons, when they arrived, would be swarming with flies, with all the food just dumped into them, cooked or raw, what ever the cook felt like that day. The food was then passed out with buckets that had just scooped it up off the floor. The camp baker would not allow the prisoners to wash the wagons, even though some of them were also used to carry the prison dead.
It was bad enough that the prisoners were abused by their captors, they also had to contend with “raiders,” other prisoners who were remembered as thugs not unlike the gangs of New York City. Transferred from other camps, these thugs continued their illicit activities after they were transferred to Andersonville. Their main activity was stripping the ‘fresh fish’ (new prisoners) of any valuables or useful items. Their goal was robbery, but they had no problem adding murder to their resumes. Eventually the abused prisoners had had enough of the raiders and names were named and men were hanged. The abuse stopped, for a while. The men who formed a police force to keep the peace eventually became abusers themselves.
General Sherman began to move his army into central Georgia in September of 1864 in what was the start of ‘Sherman’s March’. The Confederates, fearful of multitudes of freed Union soldiers rampaging in the southern countryside, evacuated the majority of prisoners from Andersonville to a new camp at Millen and later evacuations to Savannah, Charleston, etc. Only those too sick to be moved were left at Andersonville, of which Wallace was one.
Sherman never did free any prisoners, although an attempt had been made in July of 1864 – the real goal had been to destroy one of the South’s major supply sources, the railroad, in that area and possibly free some prisoners if the chance presented itself, but the attempt failed, and resulted in more prisoners being added to the already swelled ranks of Andersonville. Freeing prisoners was not a large priority for Sherman, and it is not that he didn’t care, because if he had freed them, the politics of it would have been a boon for Lincoln, instead, he was focused on ending the war, a much better way of getting the prisoners released.
For Wallace a rescue might have made a difference. The scurvy he had contracted was finally taking it’s toll. He lay in the ‘hospital’ on his spot on the ground in the open air by the swamp and the stench of the latrine. If he was lucky he had a blanket. He breathed his last foul breath of air sometime on October 26, 1864. His body was probably stripped of any valuables by other inmates, including any gold fillings he might have had. By the time Wallace died there were no coffins or shrouds for the dead so his body would have been place in a shallow ditch, poorly covered with dirt and became food for the vultures. The only item provided at his death was an entry in the burial records of the camp.


All together the filth, sickness, and starvation rations contributed to just under 13,000 men dying in this prison. History attributes the atrocities at Andersonville on the South’s inadequate rail system, the federal blockade, widespread corruption, greed, fraud, local politics, and administrative incompetence. All of this added together makes Andersonville the first excellent example of bureaucratic collapse due to an administration’s inability to run itself in the modern age. It was this ineptitude that caused the creation of the horror known as Andersonville. The South is not alone in its prison horror stories as the North had comparable administrative problems, but they also had much better resources, so prisoners of war did not suffer the same, but they did suffer. Only Andersonville retains the honor of being the worst.


7 James A. Mowris, A History of the117th Regiment, NY Volunteers (Hartford CT: Case, Lockwood and Company, 1866) 298. [From Ghosts and Shadows of Andersonville, by Robert Scott Davis: p21&22].
8 A Story of the Trials and Experiences of James Jenning: Late of Co. K 20th Illinois Infantry At Andersonville Prison During the Civil War, by James Jennings. [From Ghosts and Shadows of Andersonville, by Robert Scott Davis: p54].
9 Scurvy: Early symptoms include malaise, lethargy, loss of appetite, peevishness (ill-tempered), poor weight gain, diarrhea, fever. After 1-3 months patients develop shortness of breath and bone pain. Skin changes with roughness, easy bruising, gum disease, loosening of teeth, poor wound healing, and emotional changes occur, irritability, pain and tenderness of the legs, swelling over the long bones, hemorrhage. Late stage symptoms include, jaundice, generalized edema, oliguria, neuropathy, fever, and convulsions. Left untreated fatal complications include cerebral hemorrhage or hemopericardium. Definition from: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/125350-clinical.
10 The majority of information regarding prison experience at Andersonville is from Ghosts and Shadows of Andersonville, by Robert Scott Davis, a highly recommended read.

Wallace Rosa’s Last Chapter – A story in 3 parts

Part 2
Grant’s Spring campaign was about to begin in earnest. On the 16th of June the 9th corps marched 32 miles. Early on the morning of the 17th the brigade halted to make coffee and rest. After a two hour break the corps continued on, stopping 4 miles outside of Petersburg. By the end of this day Wallace Rosa would go from being a guard at a prison camp to being a prisoner of war. This change in status happened during the start of the Union’s assault on Petersburg, a battle that lasted from June 15-18 and was a major loss to the Union.4


The upper right area of the map shows the position of Wallace’s regiment  during the battle.

For the battle to come the Sharpshooters had been stationed in an open corn field with only small embankments for protection and with no shade. They suffered much from the heat of the sun. The first skirmish with the enemy was a chaotic mess, with bone-weary soldiers, lines not in place, confused orders, and charges made at the wrong time. But the Sharpshooters could be proud of their efforts at the end of it, as a look into the enemy fire pits showed they were filled with the rebel dead. But the battle was not done. 
It was heading towards evening, and there was little light. The next skirmish commenced. This time the Sharpshooters position placed them alone on the field. The other companies were further off. The first advance the Federals made that day had almost broken the back of the Confederates, but unfortunately, unknown to the Federal generals, the rebels had reinforcements arriving. The next and last battle of the day raged until about 11:00 that night. Firing commenced and at one point the Sharpshooters defending their position heard rebels cry out “We surrender don’t fire.” Some of the Sharpshooters were not sure what to do, others hurried to reload, and still others just held their fire. The rebels were arriving in such numbers that they brazenly began demanding the surrender of the Federal troops. But the Sharpshooters would have none of this. They shoved their rifles in the faces of the rebels and fired. Sheets of flame raged up and down the ridge of dirt between the two forces. They were so close together that clothes caught fire with no regard to philosophies. The flashes from the guns illuminated angry faces screaming obscenities. At this time the Sharpshooters had the advantage, since the rebels had just completed a hard march with a quick run at the end of it. As the enemy continued to came over the edge of the ditch, the Sharpshooters lunged at them with bayonets and clubbed them with empty rifles.  The two sides grappled in a vicious hand to hand fight. The Sharpshooters drove their bayonets into some of the rebels, others they forced to surrender. The short but bloody engagement came to an end. The Federals had driven the Rebels back but the fight had been devastating loss to the Sharpshooters as there were now only 100 left to man their exposed position. The worst was yet to come.


In the moonlight the Corps commander saw what appeared to be reinforcements arriving, but a second look showed that these were rebel reinforcements. He quickly ran back to his men who had already started firing at the Confederates heading their way. The 100 Sharpshooters could only repel the onslaught for a few minutes before they were overwhelmed. Those who could get away did. Unfortunately for Wallace he was not one of those men. He was quickly stripped of his weapons and accoutrements and hustled away with the other Federal prisoners. Their captors treated the Michigan charges with consideration. Some of the Sharpshooters were surprised as they had expected worse. It was explained that those men who fought in the front, were not the same as those who didn’t as they understood what each other had gone through and didn’t have the same animosity for the enemy as those who were safely away from the front lines. For three days they were confined in an old tobacco warehouse in the city of Petersburg. Then they boarded a train with hundreds of other captives taken in the battle. They were all headed to the prison camps.5, 6

4 While this first battle will be a loss for the Union, eventually the assault on Petersburg will be a win for the Federal Army and will last for several months.
5 Information on the First Michigan Sharpshooters was gleaned from the book These Men Have Seen Hard Service, The First Michigan Sharpshooters in the Civl War, by Raymond J. Herek; Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1998.

6 Source for battle details of Petersburg assault is from Footnote 4, source 87 – Cutcheon, 20th Michigan, 154; Richard J. Sommers, Richmond Re-deemed: The Siege at Petersburg (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1981), 183.

Wallace Rosa’s Last Chapter – A story in 3 parts

PART 1

With Lincoln winning the election of 1860 the fears of the South finally came to fruition, an administration with Lincoln at the head was going to put a stop to their dream of the continued expansion of slavery into the newly won lands in the west.1 This threat was too much for many  Southerners and a few short months after the election was over, seven Southern states declared their succession from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. Of course the federal government and the majority of citizens of the United States regarded this as a rebellious act of treason.2

On 12 April 1861 the Confederate army decided to commence hostilities on its fellow citizens and fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The Federal Government responded by calling on volunteers to put down this outrageous rebellion, an act that energized four other Southern states into joining in the succession. And so started the bloodiest war to ever occur on our own soil.
It was about a year and a half later, on 15 August 1862 at St. Joseph, Michigan, that Wallace Rosa (age 34), one of four Rosa brothers who enlisted, made the decision to join in the fight to preserve the Union. 

Sophia Smith Rosa



The 19th Michigan Infantry, Company I was Wallace’s first foray into enlistment. We say first because as his wife Sophia testified in her application for pension “he did not like the company there was so many ol cuntry people.” On 26 September 1862 while the company was at camp in Gravel Pit, Ohio Wallace was noted as ‘deserted’ on his military service record. According to Sophia he had been with the company for a few months (although his military record shows it was just over a month) and then suddenly showed up at home. That same evening soldiers came to take him back to his unit as he was AWOL. He went back to his regiment with out any trouble and was gone for maybe six months, after which he showed up at home again, only staying a few days. Sophia didn’t know whether he was on furlough or not and Wallace didn’t say one way or the other. Wallace did tell her that he wanted to join the same regiment his brothers were in and that he was never going back to Company I. After that conversation he disappeared. It is apparent that his family was worried about him because sometime in late 1863 to early 1864 his brother Abram, while back in Michigan on sick leave from his own regiment, decided to go searching for Wallace. Abram eventually “found him at Camp Douglas in Illinois answering to the name of Benjamin Freeman.” Wallace had re-enlisted 22 April 1863 in the 1st Regiment Michigan Sharpshooters, Company F which was now stationed there. After having finally found his brother, Abram asked him why he had changed his name and was informed by Wallace that “he heard they were after him to take him back to his regement; and thought it might not be well with him.” So he bought himself some hair dye and colored his hair and whiskers then headed to Kalamazoo to re-enlist.3  As he stayed with the regiment, he apparently had no quarrel with this bunch of boys.

Shortly after Wallace enlisted in the 1st, the regiment was ordered to pack up its gear and head for Dearborn, Michigan. Life for the regiment was mostly drilling and guarding. The only excitement the regiment saw was their engagement with Morgan’s troops of the infamous Morgan’s Raid, in July of 1863. About a month later on 16 August 1863 the Sharpshooters received orders to vacate the Dearborn arsenal and proceed immediately to Camp Douglas in Chicago. Addressing the companies before they departed Colonel DeLand admonished the men, “It is hoped that the hurtful and disgraceful practice of whiskey drinking will be discontinued, that the disgraceful scene of our former march [those who had been chasing Morgan through Indiana understood his reference] may be avoided.” The soldiers were then loaded into passenger cars on the train and headed to Camp Douglas. Most of the men were disappointed that they still weren’t heading to the front. Their duties at Camp Douglas were once again guard duty, but this time they were going to be guarding rebel prisoners. When they arrived on the 17th there were only 49 prisoners at the camp. Eventually it filled up to hold over 4000, nearly all of whom were Morgan’s men.
On St. Paddy’s Day, 17 March 1864 long awaited orders finally arrived. The Sharpshooters were to depart Camp Douglas for the front. None of the men in the regiment had any regrets about leaving after 7 months of boredom, guard duty and drilling. They happily boarded the train to Baltimore, then transferred to the ship that took them to Annapolis. They arrived about 7 in the evening on 21 March. The weather was rainy for a good two weeks after they arrived causing much illness in the camp, but they were now part of the 9th corps.
The Sharpshooters received their first order on April 22. They were to head out to join the Army of the Potomac that was 44 miles away. A nasty thunderstorm drenched the men on their march the night of the 24th. The next morning they walked ten miles over muddy roads and through a creek to Washington, DC. When they arrived they were told to make themselves presentable, for they were going to pass in review in front of the president. Crowds were lined up along the streets, apparently never tired of seeing soldiers marching  in review. The President stood on a balcony at the Willard hotel overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue. During the march the men were energized with excitement. Various regiments sang martial tunes, cheered in unison, or quoted poems to the president as they went by. It was a celebration, and the excitement of it all helped the men forget, for a short time, the fatigue of the march the previous few days.


1 The Mexican–American War was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 that started when in 1845 the U.S. annexed Texas which Mexico considered part of its territory despite the 1836 Texas Revolution. American forces finally captured Mexico City and forced Mexico to agree to the cession of its northern territories to the U.S.

2 It will be noted that no other country in the world ever acknowledged the Confederacy at any time during its existence.

3 Sophia M. Curtis application for pension, widow of Wallace Rosa aka Benjamin Freeman; case number 387817; microfilm Can No.:1181; Bundle No.: 3, NARA, Washington, D.C.

Georgina Amundson, I have found you

Today I received an envelope in the mail from the Minnesota Historical Society. In it was a case file for Georgina Amundson who died 28 April 1907 at the Fergus Falls State Hospital. (If you have been paying attention to the Amundson family, you would know that this is the same facility that her daughter Amelia had been sent to in 1898.) The reason for Georgina’s commitment was dementia. Apparently her husband Amund couldn’t take care of her anymore as she had become a bit violent towards others, and was speaking incoherently and irrationally. She was committed by the court and arrived at Fergus Falls 21 February of 1907.

By the time of her commitment Georgina was 68 years old and she was only a resident for a short time when she died. Her symptoms has been around for six months to a year.

But thanks to this record of her commitment we  now know when and where Georgina died, and we have her parents names. Unfortunately I can’t read her father’s last name clearly it could be John Staneson, Stannson, Stanuson, or Stamson, but her mother’s name is clearly Carrie Johnson, and both were born in Norway. So when Jorgina was born she was most likely baptized as Jorginia Johnson (not Thonson as Kari would indicate in her Social Security form.)

Oh great more Norwegian records to go through. I have to admit my Norwegian is a bit rusty.

More DNA testing

FamilyTreeDNA, the company that has done all of our genetic testing in the past, had a holiday sale at the end of 2011. So I decided to upgrade a few of our samples that they have in their freezers.

Firstly, I upgraded Robert Cain’s sample to 67 markers. It had previously only been tested at 37 markers along with a specialized SNP test that is being used to help sort out the CAIN lines. That is probably all I will be able to do with his sample for a while, and I am crossing my fingers that we won’t need many more tests with his DNA, samples can go bad and with Robert having passed away, I am left without a source for this genetic line.

Secondly, I upgraded grandfather’s (William Shepard) sample. Grandfather’s maternal DNA was never tested, so I remedied that situation, and I added the FamilyFinder test. This is the one I had done, sometime in early 2011, to my DNA. The results help you to find cousins in their database (male or female, it doesn’t matter) and your ethnicity. Grandfather’s maternal DNA will give us genetic information on g-grandmother Dick’s maternal line back to Sarah Asher who married Thomas Headlee in Pennsylvania in the very early 1800s.

Results are expected sometime around February 20th. If we are lucky it might be a little earlier. But I imagine with the sale that they had, lots of folks have decided to jump on the upgrade bandwagon.

I will keep folks updated.

On the same note, I periodically receive updates from surname group administrators on the progress of the testing, the sorting out of the lines, and other news related to that surname. The most active group so far has been the CAIN line, and it has come to our attention that there is a particular marker that is showing up with our CAINs, that will be confirmed with the upcoming upgrade results, indicating a Briefne connection. Part of what this means is that our CAINs are descendants of original Irish/Celts, not one of the invaders who later integrated into the population. It also points to Martin Cain possibly coming from the Northern Ireland area, as I was beginning to speculate.

The future is looking very interesting.

NOTE: The Kingdom of Breifne or Bréifne (anglicized BreffnyBrefnie or Brenny) was the traditional territory for an early Irish tribal group known as the Uí Briúin Bréifne. The Bréifne territory included the modern Irish counties of Leitrim and Cavan, along with parts of County Sligo. [from Wikipedia]

I love surprises of the genealogical kind…

I have access to several excellent newspaper databases. Each one has it’s own strengths. As these databases are constantly being updated with new data, I regularly check them for random names in our genealogical database to see if anything new shows up.

Today I decided on Fred Hamm, his wife Carrie Amundson and Emil, his brother. I was looking in the Wisconsin or Minnesota papers as that is pretty much where they lived their whole lives.

Boy did I get a doozie.

 This article has so many goodies in it I am giddy with joy.

First it tells me that Fred was fired from his policeman’s job, we also can confirm that he is a bounder, for not supporting Carrie and Myrtle. Fred and Carrie had been separated for several months. Carrie’s son John was living with her parents for a while and that her mother died about two years earlier. Lastly it confirms that the couple has been married, although we can find no record of the marriage, yet.

I am energized into researching the matter further and maybe now I will be able to find Carrie’s mother Jorgina’s death record.

This article is from November of 1908, one of the local Duluth newspapers.

Civil War tidbits…


In 1865 Abram Rosa was put in front of a military court and charged with “Conduct prejudicial to good order and Military discipline”.

The result of which he ended up spending 3 months in a military prison in Florida. A true hellhole.

According to the charges he took offense at his superior officer, Major Thomas B. Weir’s treatment and punishment of a fellow soldier threatening and insulting him with, “No God damned Officer shall abuse that man, “Look here,” God damn you, you have churned that man enough, “ I’ll show you, by God. He also removed his coat and shook his fists in a threatening manner towards, Major Weir  still using insulting and threatening language. All this happened near Eagle Pass, Texas about September 7, 1865.

While I knew the story, and was of course appalled by the verdict and punishment (nothing like good old military justice). I was interested in learning more about the story, or at least by researching the officers involved in the case maybe I might find something else out about the incident.

Major Thomas B. Weir
Well something interesting did turn up when I googled Major Thomas B. Weir the officer whom Abram threatened. This Major Weir is famous, as he was the same Major Weir who was involved with Custer and the massive defeat at Little Bighorn. 

Major Weir commanded Company D of the 7th Cavalry under Custer, and joined him in the attack on a large Native American encampment on the Little Bighorn River in Montana on June 25, 1876. Weir disobeyed orders to remain on what is now Reno Hill, and instead, moved north to attempt to support Custer, who had led a detachment to attack the encampment from that direction. The effort was too late and Custer and his soldiers were slaughtered. Weir himself survived the assault, but died later the same year, 1876, having drank himself to death. It is believed over his inability to save Custer, whom he greatly respected.

I doubt that Abram would have shown any sadness at his passing, maybe he even did a little jig when he heard the news. It is interesting that Weir allows Abram to be sent to hard labor in a horrible prison for three months, when he was only trying to protect a fellow soldier from over-enthusiastic punishment. Yet, Weir disobeys orders from his superiors, hoping to protect Custer from a disasterous attack, fails, and wasn’t punished in any way by the military.

But justice comes in many forms.

Volunteering is good for the soul

I have done a bit of volunteering over the years, some I have quite enjoyed, some has been a bit of a chore, but all of it was a result of my girl scout years and my mother’s influence. I guess some of it stuck.

As a genealogist I have had many instances where someone who lives in another state has helped me find some wonderful genealogical record, or had photos that I had never seen, or volunteered to check out a cemetery for me to see if one of our ancestors was buried there. These are all acts of wonderful kindness. I have tried to reciprocate when I can, because I do believe in paying it forward.

There has been a lot of talk lately of several genealogical sites that have started big digital indexing projects and are looking for volunteers to help with the massive indexing that needs to be done, all from the convenience of your home. I was intrigued, but put it off for a while as I was a bit busy, but this last month I decided to dig a bit deeper.

At work we are currently assisting the Holocaust Museum in indexing it’s millions of records of victims for the general public, this is through Ancestry.com

I decided to try my hand at indexing for the Family History Library. So I downloaded the software and dug right in. I have found that it can become quite addicting. But, I am really enjoying the process and they make it pretty easy to do. There is also the satisfaction of knowing that many people will find these indexes of immense value in their own research.

Back to work — jen