Celebrating friendships, stories and discoveries along the way

Friday, May 31, 2013

Beacon Hill Civil War Walking Tour

On Sunday genealogy friends Liz Loveland, Wendy Whiston, Mary Ellen Grogan and I attended a Civil War walking tour on Beacon Hill conducted by Boston Civil War tours. Our tour guide, Ted, gave a 90-minute tour of Beacon Hill and its environs. Ted was a superlative guide and was extremely knowledgeable about the history of Boston and its significant players during the Civil War era. Our tour began at the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment monument and the Massachusetts State House and then proceeded onto Mount Vernon Street. Among the many sites included during the tour were the home of Lemuel Shaw, Herman Melville’s father-in-law, at 53 Mount Vernon Street;

the home of Charles Francis Adams, ambassador to England during the Civil War, at 57 Mount Vernon Street;

the home of Samuel and Julia Ward Howe, author of Battle Hymn of the Republic, at 13 Chestnut Street;

the home of Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth, at 35 Chestnut Street;

the final home of Louisa May Alcott, Civil War nurse and author of Little Women, at 10 Louisburg Square;

the home of George and Susan Hillard, a stop along the Underground Railroad, at 62 Pinckney Street;

the home of escaped slave Lewis Hayden, a stop along the Underground Railroad, at 66 Phillips Street;

and the birthplace of Charles Sumner, senator from Massachusetts and a leader of the antislavery movement who was caned on the Senate floor by South Carolina congressman Preston Brooks, at 58 Irving Street.

The tour concluded as we traversed the Holmes Alleyway along South Russell Street to the African American Meeting House on Smith Court.

The tour provided glimpses into the visually stunning architecture and landscapes of Beacon Hill and insights into the challenges and predicaments of its residents. It was a very great pleasure to take the tour with Ted and to listen to his well-researched and detailed stories of the lives and the intrigues of the historical figures who lived on Beacon Hill. I highly recommend this tour to anyone with an interest in Boston Civil War history. For more information about Boston Civil War tours please visit http://www.bostoncivilwartours.com.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Remembering Edith Caverly Swaine

My great-grandmother, Edith Caverly Swaine, died suddenly and tragically on this day, May 30, in 1889. She was only thirty-one years old. She was deeply loved and mourned by her family. Her obituary in the Dover Enquirer announced the sad news of her death:
Thursday morning at Rochester Mrs. Herbert C. Swain[e] died very suddenly, aged 31 years. She had been for some months in poor health but was able to be about and attend to her domestic duties. On Wednesday night she retired as usual and slept till 2 o’clock, when she awoke, finding difficulty in breathing. A little later, she rose up in bed, threw up her arms, and fell back in the embrace of death. She was a most estimable lady and greatly beloved. She leaves a husband and two children behind while two little ones have preceded her to the spirit land. She is the daughter of John S. Caverly of Barrington and sister of J. Colby Caverly of this city. The funeral will be from the Congregational church in Barrington Saturday at 1 p.m., Rev. E. Haskell of this city officiating.1


Edith left behind a husband, Herbert, a son, Philip, and a daughter, Hazel. Hazel died less than two years later on March 23, 1891 at the age of four. Edith's husband, Herbert Swaine, remarried in 1893 and died three years later on September 3, 1896 at the age of forty-one. Edith's only surviving child, my grandfather Philip, was raised by his stepmother, Ella Ballard Swaine, married Bertha Fairchild in 1913, and raised seven children. At his death in 1969 he was survived by six children and twenty-one grandchildren.

1 “Very Sudden and Sad Death,” Dover Enquirer (Dover, New Hampshire), 7 June 1889, page 2.
2 Pine Grove Cemetery (Barrington, Strafford County, New Hampshire), Edith Caverly Swaine marker, grave 11-9E; photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 31 May 2003.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Remembering the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment - 150 years later

On this day 150 years ago, May 28, 1863, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the first African-American regiments to serve in the Civil War, were presented their regimental colors by Massachusetts governor John Andrew during a parade through the streets of Boston as they prepared for their departure from the city. Immediately after the parade the 54th Massachusetts boarded the transport vessel De Molay bound for Civil War service in South Carolina.1 The 54th Massachusetts was commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, son of Francis and Sarah Shaw, fervent Boston abolitionists.2

On July 18, 1863, Colonel Shaw was killed as he bravely led the charge on Fort Wagner in South Carolina The men of the 54th Massachusetts continued the charge into the fort and suffered heavy casualties. Colonel Shaw was buried in a mass grave with his soldiers. Although the charge at Fort Wagner was a military defeat it was regarded as a moral victory, as it proved the bravery of the 54th Massachusetts and the worth of the African-American soldier.3

Colonel Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts were immortalized by the famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in a spectacular 1897 bronze relief sculpture on the Boston Common directly across from the Massachusetts State House.

The 1989 movie Glory portrays the story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and its commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. The movie was based on the letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the novels Lay This Laurel, by Lincoln Kirstein, and One Gallant Rush, by Peter Burchard.4

1Massachusetts Historical Society, “54th Regiment!,” Massachusetts Historical Society: 54th Regiment (http://www.masshist.org/online/54thregiment/essay.php?entry_id=528: 28 May 2013). Civil War Trust, "Robert Gould Shaw," Civil War Trust:Robert Gould Shaw (http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/robert-gould-shaw.html: 28 May 2013).
2Celebrate Boston, “Colonel Robert Gould Shaw,” Celebrate Boston: Robert Gould Shaw Biography (http://www.celebrateboston.com/biography/robert-gould-shaw.htm: 28 May 2013).
3Civil War Trust, “Fort Wagner and the 54th Massachusetts,” Civil War Trust: Fort Wagner and the 54th Massachusetts (http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/batterywagner/battery-wagner-history-articles/fortwagnerpohanka.html: 28 May 2013).
4“Glory (1989 film),” Glory (1989 film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glory_%281989_film%29: 28 May 2013).

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day on Boston Common

Boston honored its veterans on Memorial Day with a beautiful display of American flags along the base of the Civil War monument in the center of the Boston Common. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day and has been celebrated in the United States since the Civil War. The flag display was sponsored by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund, with each flag representing a Massachusetts service member who died in the line of duty.1

1 Sara Brown, “Memorial Day Flag Display,” Memorial Day Flag Display - Boston.com (http://www.boston.com/yourtown/boston/beaconhill/gallery/common_flag/: 27 May 2013).

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Settlement Patterns in Nova Scotia

Identifying the time and place that an ancestor settled in Nova Scotia helps to pinpoint the geographic area of origin of the immigrant and the reasons for settling in Nova Scotia. Methodologies for understanding migration patterns are keystones for genealogical research and are particularly helpful for Nova Scotia study, as many ethnic groups migrated to Nova Scotia over different time periods. American migration into Nova Scotia occurred during three main waves: the New England Planter migration during the 1760’s, the Loyalist migration in the early 1780’s, and the Chesapeake Bay migration after the War of 1812. New England Planters settled in and around Annapolis immediately after the Acadian deportation in 1755 to the 1770’s. The New England Planters group is well-documented through a variety of genealogical and historical resources, including land records. Planters and Pioneers in Nova Scotia 1749 – 1775 by Esther Clark Wright, available for research use at the New England Historic and Genealogical Society, documents all known settlers in Nova Scotia from the Planter timeframe. Utilizing this source I was able to pinpoint the date of immigration and place of origin of my mother’s ancestors, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1759 from Massachusetts and New Hampshire during the New England Planter settlement period. For additional information about settlement in Nova Scotia by various ethnic groups please visit the Nova Scotia travel and history website at http://www.novascotia.com/explore/culture.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Remembering Mom

Remembrance truly hits home during the bereavement of a dearly loved family member. My beloved mother Mary Swaine, who was 94 years old on February 5 earlier this year, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly four days after her birthday. She was deeply loved and is dearly missed.

I have devoted much of my genealogical research this year to exploring my mother’s unique ancestry. She has a special combination of Irish and Nova Scotia heritage by birth and Southern Italian ancestry from her adoptive parents, and I am thrilled to be part of her genealogical journey through research of her ancestral trails in County Donegal in Ireland, Digby and Yarmouth in Nova Scotia, and the comunes of Gaeta and Scafati in Italy.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Remembering Oliver Bates – 150 years later

In marking the 150th anniversary of Fredericksburg , Chancellorsville, and Suffolk I wish to remember the service of my second great-granduncle Oliver Bates. Oliver was a private in Company A of the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Volunteer Regiment, a storied unit known also as “The Harvard Regiment” due to the number of Harvard graduates who served as officers. Oliver enlisted in August of 1861 and saw some of the heaviest fighting of the Civil War at Ball’s Bluff, Fair Oaks, the Seven Days Campaign, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Second Fredericksburg/Chancellorsville. The 20th Massachusetts was a hard-fighting regiment and was in the thick of every battle. By the end of the war the 20th Massachusetts suffered the fifth–highest casualties of all Civil War regiments. Oliver had seen hard service and heavy fighting in each battle, but as of May 1863 he came through each episode without injury, with the exception of Fredericksburg.

I have been researching the Civil War service of Oliver in an anniversary blog for the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. For additional information about Oliver Bates and the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment please visit http://20thmassregt150.blogspot.com.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Remembering Chancellorsville and Suffolk – 150 years later

May 1 through 5 marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle at Chancellorsvile and the lesser-known conflict at Suffolk. Chancellorsville was yet another in a long line of Union defeats by a much smaller Confederate force. At Chancellorsville the Union forces outnumbered the Confederates by more than two-to-one, and Confederate General Robert E. Lee boldly divided his army and surrounded the Union troops from both sides.
General Thomas “Stonewall” Jacksons’s brilliant flanking movement ended in tragedy when he encountered friendly fire from his own troops while maneuvering inside his own picket lines after nightfall.

He was transported by litter to nearby Ellwood Plantation, where his left arm was amputated.

General Jackson was conveyed by ambulance to Guinea Station, where he died one week later from pneumonia. General Robert E. Lee’s greatest victory was a pyrrhic one, as he lost one of his most able generals.

May 3 marks the 150th anniversary of the conclusion of the Siege at Suffolk. Confederate forces under the command of General James Longstreet were guarding the supply lines in and around Suffolk, and the Ninth Union Corps was deployed to harass the Confederates and break the supply lines. General Lee ordered Longstreet to rejoin the main body of the Union Army on May 3 as the Confederates planned their next move: to strike north of Washington to force the United States to come to terms of surrender. That next move would take place in early July at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Remembering Augustus Fairchild and Nathaniel Caverly – 150 years later

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Civil War battles at Chancellorsville, Suffolk, and Gettysburg. In December of last year the 150th anniversary of Fredericksburg was observed. In marking these anniversaries I wish to remember the sacrifice of my second great-granduncle Augustus Fairchild at Fredericksburg and the sacrifice of my great-granduncle Nathaniel Caverly at Suffolk.

Augustus Fairchild, a private in Company A of the 27th Connecticut Infantry Volunteer Regiment, saw his first military action at Fredericksburg and was killed during the doomed Union infantry assaults on Marye’s Heights on 13 December 1862. His body was not recovered after the battle and his mortal remains lie in an unmarked grave in Fredericksburg National Cemetery atop Marye’s Heights. Eight-five percent of the burials in this cemetery are unknown soldiers from the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Augustus’ family placed a gravestone in his memory in the Fairchild plot at the Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven.


Nathaniel Caverly, a corporal in the 13th New Hampshire Infantry Volunteer Regiment, also saw first military action at Fredericksburg. He survived that hellish battle but was mortally wounded at Suffolk on 3 May 1863 during a gallant charge on the last day of the Siege at Suffolk. He died on 5 May 1863 and was buried at Suffolk. In 1866 his remains were removed to a place of honor at Hampton National Cemetery in Hampton, Virginia.


I have been researching the Civil War service of Augustus and Nathaniel in two anniversary blogs that commemorate their military service and the journey of their regiments throughout the war. For additional information about Augustus Fairchild and the 27th Connecticut Infantry Regiment please visit http://27thctregt150.blogspot.com and Augustus' Find A Grave memorial. For additional information about Nathaniel Caverly and the 13th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment please visit and http://13thnhregt150.blogspot.com and Nathaniel's Find A Grave memorial.

Augustus Fairchild and Nathaniel Caverly had notable New England ancestry. Augustus was a direct descendant of William Bradford and Nathaniel was a direct descendant of American poetess Anne Dudley Bradstreet. To view Augustus' descent from William Bradford please click here. To view Nathaniel's descent from Anne Dudley Bradstreet please click here.

1Grove Street Cemetery (New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut), Augustus B. Fairchild marker, Magnolia Avenue, Lot 58, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 5 November 2009.
2Hampton National Cemetery (Hampton, Virginia), Nathaniel Caverly marker, Section D, Lot 3183, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 24 October 2007.