The Travels of Abiathar M. Harris: Off to Montreal

We continue following the travels of my 3rd great-uncle, Abiathar Millard Harris, on New Years’ Day of 1822. Abiathar was still in Kingston, Ontario. He had just recovered from a lengthy illness and spent an unhappy Christmas holiday. Here is his diary entry for January 1st:

"1822. On the 1st of January, I spent the day very agreeable with my friends – and in the evening, the Americans had a Ball at the Royal Hotel – at which [I] was one of the number. The evening passed in great harmony there being 19 couple[s]. The society in this place is very indifferent except with the Americans."

“1822. On the 1st of January, I spent the day very agreeable with my friends – and in the evening, the Americans had a Ball at the Royal Hotel – at which (I) was one of the number. The evening passed in great harmony there being 19 couple(s). The society in this place is very indifferent except with the Americans.”

It’s good to know that after his disappointing Christmas, Abiathar enjoyed a festive New Years’ celebration.

Several months passed before he took up his diary again to record that he was moving on from Kingston.

On the 18th June, I started for Montreal, a distance of 180 miles, in a bateau principally manned by Canadians – and spoke no English – I however made them understand. We stayed at Gananoque, a little settlement 22 miles distant.


In the early years of the 19th century, boat travel along the St. Lawrence became very popular for upper-class people taking pleasure cruises. Steamships of various sizes embarked out of Montreal.


Diary entries for the remaining days of June 1822 record Abiathar’s continuing journey to Montreal, where he found employment for a few weeks.

On the 19th we started early, the weather very fine – about 2 P. M. we passed Brockville, a little village pleasantly situated on the bank of the St. Lawrence on the Canada side. Nearly opposite on the American shore is a little village called Morristown. We arrived in Prescott 6 o’clock P. M. This place is small and the houses are very shabby, but considerable business is done in the transportation line. Opposite this place lies Ogdensburgh, a small village, but pleasantly situated, it being on high ground – much business is also done here. I crossed the ferry into this place, enquired for work, could get none – returned to Prescott, put up at J. Warner’s Inn.

On the 20th we started at 4 o’clock, passed Johnstown, C. shore – weather fine and fair wind. About noon it began to rain very hard. We arrived in Cornwall about 3 o’clock – 50 miles from Prescott. Here we took dinner at Chester’s/Charter’s Hotel – at 4 P. M. we started, it rained, thundered and lightened very hard. At 8 P. M., we arrived at the head of Lake S. François, in the County Glengary. Here we were obliged to stop here, the darkness of the night prevented us from proceeding. We put up at a farm house 11 miles from Cornwall.

On the 21st at 3 in the morning we proceeded to cross the lake, with fair wind, and at 8 we reached the Cedars, a distance of 40 miles. Here we went on shore – but soon resumed our journey – the Long Sault commences at this place. We came through, however, very dangerous, without any difficulty – at the foot Salmon River enters Lake St. Louis, we crossed the lake and arrived in Lachine 12 o’clock noon. During the passage from Prescott, Mssrs. Long & Wilson, of Niagara, were in company with me. We took a Caleche for Montreal, 9 miles, and arrived 3 P. M. Put up at Cushen’s Inn, Hay Market.

On the 22nd I walked about the town, inquired for work – got work at Gray’s Herald office – commenced work on the 24th.

On the 30th I took an excursion to La Prairie, in the steam boat, in company with the Mssrs. Burrells and Mr. Demarse, here we met a lady living No. 574 Broadway, etc.

The Montreal Herald was published by a Scottish immigrant, William Gray. Gray began the publication shortly after arriving in Montreal in 1811. Sadly, Gray died shortly after Abiathar started work for him. In February 1822, Gray fell ill while on a business trip to Toronto. He was only 33 years old.

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Asa Stearns: A Veteran Honored 200 Years Later

It’s an interesting thing to me that though I never knew my father or any of his folk, I’ve learned that he and many others on that side of my family tree were, like myself, very much interested in family history. They traced their roots, wrote out their lineages, saved newspaper items and obituary clippings, belonged to lineage societies (DAR and SAR), and even wrote books about their family heritage.

They had much to be proud of, as their ancestors were part of the founding of this nation. Most of  my father’s family lines trace back to the earliest settlements of the English in America in the 1600s. Some arrived in Winthrop’s Fleet and there are even Mayflower  passengers in the family tree. As would be expected, there are also many Revolutionary War patriots in my paternal lines. So far, I’ve verified 18 men who served in the War for Independence.

Asa Stearns was my 4th great-grandfather:

    • Asa Stearns m. Lucy Cady (25 Mar 1784)
      • Curtis Jasper Stearns m. Mary Ann Dana (abt. 1836)
        • Sarah Elizabeth Stearns m. Minard H. Garrison (15 Dec 1856)
          • George Byron Garrison m. Virginia Louise Harris (22 Nov
            1888) [my great-grandparents]

In the book, Genealogy and Memoirs of Charles and Nathaniel Stearns (1901), the following information is provided about Asa:

ASA STEARNS (6269), b., July 30, 1758, son of Samuel and Jemima (Hoyt) Stearns, of Worcester, Mass.; enlisted in Col. Ward’s Mass. Regt., the day after the battle of Bunker Hill. He was with the Americans when they were drawn off from Long Island in 1776, and was in the battle of White Plains. He served twenty months in Col. Ward’s Regt., and then joined Col. Cilly’s N. H. Regt., in which he served three years. During the service he was not sick a single day. He was at the capture of Burgoyne, in the battle of Monmouth, and with Gen. Sullivan, at Wyoming, where he suffered excessively from privations. After this, he was at sea in a privateer and helped to capture the “Hannah,” richly laden with merchandise, which was taken into New Haven. After the war, he went to Claremont, N. H., and md. (i). Mar. 25. 1784, Lucy Cady, b., Mar. 30, 1764, dau. of Lieut. Elijah Cady. of Wethersfield, Vt. They lived successively in Wethersfield, Cavendish, Moretown, Waterbury, and Benson, all in Vt. At the last place, his wife d.. Aug., 1825. of a casualty, being thrown from a carriage. He then moved to Chazy, Clinton Co., N. Y.. where he md. (2), Mrs. Phoebe Dunham, then sixty years of age, who d., Mar.. 1849. After her death, until his decease. Feb. 2, 1852, he lived with his dau.. Mrs. Laura (Stearns) Heaton, of Chazy; twelve children.

While some of the information from this book about Asa’s military service is true, some is not.

The Daughters of the American Revolution Genealogy Research System verifies that Asa Stearns served as a private in both the Massachusetts and New Hampshire militias  (Ancestor #: A109274) under Capt. Joseph Fay and Col. Jonathan Ward. It turns out that his father, Samuel Stearns (1720-1776), has also been verified by the DAR as a patriot (Ancestor #: A109431). Samuel was 55 years old when he marched on the Lexington Alarm with Capt. Luke Drury’s Company of Minutemen on April 19, 1775.

The Fold3 website includes numerous documents which verify Asa’s service, including his application for pension in April 1818.

Fold3 Revolutionary War Pension and BountyLand Warrant Application Files

In reading Asa’s own description of his service, discrepancies with the account printed in Genealogy and Memoirs of Charles and Nathaniel Stearns include that Asa states he enlisted in Capt. Fay’s Company in May 1775, which was a month before the Battle of Bunker Hill. There is no mention of serving aboard a privateer.

One thing Asa doesn’t mention is that while with Capt. Scott’s Company, they were encamped at Valley Forge with Gen. Washington that fabled winter of 1776-1777. The website, Valley Forge Legacy, includes an entry for Asa Stearns which also debunks another claim in Genealogy and Memoirs of Charles and Nathaniel Stearns, i.e. he did indeed fall sick.

Valley Forge

In looking into Asa Stearns, I bumped into a cousin who honored Asa’s service to his country in a special way: he commissioned a headstone for Asa’s unmarked grave.

Press-Republican-June 13 1986 Page 6

Press Republican (Plattsburgh NY) June 13 1986 Page 6

Press Republican (Plattsburgh NY) 18 Jun 1986

Press Republican (Plattsburgh NY) 18 Jun 1986

These newspaper items are what tipped me off that Asa was present at the Valley Forge encampment. Mention of service aboard a privateer and “accounts of several acts of bravery” has yet to be verified. I’m trying to discover the titles of these “area history books.”

According to the book, Connecticut Pirates & Privateers (Arcadia Pub., 2015), the Hannah was captured by the American privateer Minerva under the command of Capt. Dudley Saltonstall. Further research is need to discover whether a crew list exists.

The headstone which Bob Elliott had erected to honor Asa Stearns is quite lovely.

Asa Stearns d.1852 headstone


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The Travels of Abiathar M. Harris: North to Kingston

The diary of A. M. Harris included just one more entry in the year 1821. In late summer, he left York (i.e. Toronto) and headed further north to Kingston, near the Thousand Islands.


The Frontenac steamboat was the first paddle steamer launched on the Great Lakes, in 1817.

On the 4th of August started for Kingston on board the Frontenac Steamboat. I was obliged to return to Fort George, as the Steamboat did not return to York on her way to Kingston; we arrived in Ft. George, thank God, about ten o’clock A. M. – here they discharged their cargo, which consisted of soldiers and their wives and children, they quarreled the whole passage – I called on an acquaintance, who invited me to stop until the boat left. I accepted his invitation and Mr. Easton, a school master, invited me to examine his school. So I did.

Excerpt- 5Aug1821

On the 6th being Sunday, we had preaching by the Rev. Doct. Morse – we arrived in Kingston, 4 o’clock P.M. Put up at the Old Kings Head, George Millward.

On the 7th I applied at the Herald Office and obtained work – commenced at 12 o’clock noon.

On the 27th I was taken sick of a fever which confined me for seven weeks – I lay 2 weeks at the scotch house of Peter McQuinn, here I was badly and little or no care taken of me – I was  removed to Mr. Thompson’s, my employer – where I received the greatest attention. I was attended by Doct. Sampson. Expenses of sickness was about 100 dollars. I stayed in the place about 11 months and enjoyed myself extremely well. The village is not large, by very pleasantly situated at the head of the St. Lawrence. There are many Americans in this place and a great intercourse between the states and the Province. I spent Christmas very much to my dissatisfaction and disappointment, having on Christmas eve visited the French Church, (it is customary to laminate their Churches that night at 12 o’clock) and afterwards spent the greater part of the night in social amusements. I retired to bed rather late with an intention of rising soon to spend the day by writing and partaking of a sumptuous dinner which had been prepared – and afterward have a dance – But what was my disappointment at waking 8 o’clock in the evening.


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A Video About My Home Town

A little trip down memory lane!

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Arthur T. Irvine: Soldier, Sailor, Inventor

Photo circa 1900, courtesy Library of Congress

Photo circa 1900, courtesy Library of Congress

Just before William Irvine took his wife and children off to America, the 1852 Montreal City Directory shows that he was working as a saddler and the family lived on the Rue Saint Vincent in the shadow of the magnificent Notre-Dame Basilica. The family were French-speaking Canadians and Catholic. They would have attended Mass at the beautiful church just up the street from where they lived.

When the family left Montreal in 1852, Arthur was 9 years old. He was born Jan. 13, 1843, in La Prairie, Montreal, Quebec. He had a dark complexion, brown hair and grey eyes.  Arthur was the 6th of 8 children (perhaps more) of William Irvine and Marguerite Domitille Leber. When the family arrived in America, it appears they first lived in Boston, where they are found on the 1855 Massachusetts State Census. According to the 1855 Boston City Directory, they lived at 101 Fourth Street in South Boston. No doubt, Arthur and other the children were attending school and learning to speak English.

A few years later, Arthur moved with the family to Rochester, NY. There, in August 1859, his mother died. Still in Rochester, the 1860 U. S. Census shows that as a young man of 17, Arthur was working as an apprentice to his father.

1860 CensusA year later, when the Civil War broke out in the spring of 1861, Arthur was in Chicago and, per his U.S. Army Enlistment Record, he was working as a machinist. (Click on image below to enlarge.) On May 14, 1861, Arthur enlisted in the 5th Regiment, U. S. Artillery (Regular Army), Battery D, for a 5 year term.  I wrote about Arthur’s Army service in an earlier post, so I won’t repeat it here.

U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments

U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments

Whether he sustained injuries in battle or succumbed to illness, Arthur landed in the West Philadelphia Hospital (Satterlee) in September 1862. The circumstances surrounding his release from the hospital and discharge from the Army are curious. On Sep. 20, 1862, the Honorable Oswald Thompson,  President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the City of Philadelphia, sent a writ of habeas corpus to the officer in charge at the hospital. Two days later, he was released. Unfortunately, exactly why a civil court judge demanded Arthur’s release from the military remains a mystery at this point.

3 Apr 1907 - Notation in War Record

Notation in War Record found in widow’s pension file.

About a year later, in October 1863, while living in Pennsylvania, Arthur enlisted in the Navy. He was appointed as an Acting 3rd Assistant Engineer. He served aboard three ships: the USS Monongahela, a rigged sloop of war;  the USS Hollyhock, a steamship; and the USS Donegal, a large sidewheel steamer. In March 1864, he was admitted to the Naval Hospital in New Orleans, “suffering the effects of climatic influence,” i.e. chronic diarrhea, as noted by his physician. His appointment was revoked in June 1864 because of his nearsightedness. Odd. Why not just get him glasses?

"USS Monongahela (1862)". Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

“USS Monongahela (1862)”. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

When Arthur was released from the Navy, he was back in Philadelphia where he remained for a while. He can be found in the 1866 Philadelphia City Directory living on S. Front street and working as a machinist. The following year, he was in Jersey City where, on Jan 31, 1867, he married Isabella Volk. From the 1867 Jersey City and Hoboken Directory, the couple lived at the corner of Prospect and N. Ninth in Hoboken.

The next year, though, Arthur and Isabella had moved to Rochester, NY — a place familiar to Arthur — where again he’d found work as a machinist, according to the 1868 Rochester directory. He still had family inRochester, primarily his widowed sister-in-law, Phoebe.

In November 1869, Arthur Charles Irvine was born. Arthur, Belle and their baby were living in Rochester on the 1870 U.S. Census.

1870 CensusThe couple were in Dunkirk, NY, later that year, where (sadly) Isabella died. They may have been visiting Arthur’s brother, O. P. Irvine, who was married that same year. It’s tragic that she died so young, and I’m frustrated that I cannot find anything about her … not her parents, or why she died or where she’s buried.

The next few years, Arthur was on his own with his son, Charles. He’s listed in an 1871 Rochester city directory living on Walnut St. near Magnee. The Erie Canal was across the street from him, and Phoebe’s house on Jay Street was a few blocks south of him. It’s probable that Phoebe took care of little Charles while Arthur worked. But Arthur left Rochester, as he is not listed in the Rochester directories for 1872-1874. It seems that he ended up back in Dunkirk. It was there that he married Amelia Theresa Beach, daughter of William A. Beach and Adeline Palmer, on May 5, 1874. How Arthur and Amelia met each other when they lived far apart is one of those mysteries I’d love to unravel one day!

Arthur and Amelia stayed in Dunkirk through at least 1875. Their son, Lewis Walter Irvine, was born there in May of 1875 and the family is listed on the 1875 New York State Census — the Census taker misspelled the family surname and incorrectly identified baby Lewis as a daughter.

1875 NY CensusA few years later, the family moved to Titusville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania. The petroleum industry was booming in Titusville, and Arthur may have found employment in one of the refineries there. But sorrow came to the family in Titusville when baby Lewis died at the age of 3.

1878 - death of Lewis Walter IrvineShortly thereafter, the family left Titusville for Oil Creek where, in January 1879, their daughter Florence was born. They stayed in Oil Creek for a while, as can be seen on the 1880 US Census. Having lost her son just two years previous, it must have been comforting to Amelia to have her parents living with her in those years.

1880 US Census

1880 Patent Application-schematicIt was while Arthur was employed in the oil industry that he applied for a patent for a gate valve he had devised. (Click on the image to enlarge)

A year later, the family moved to Duke Center, McKean County, PA, where three more children were welcomed into the family:

  • Edith, born Dec. 28, 1881
  • George, born Apr. 2, 1885
  • Henry, born May 7, 1886

While the 1890 U.S. Census was lost in a fire, the 1890 Veterans Schedule survived, and on it Arthur can be found living in Duke Center.

As Arthur grew older, the children married and started their own families. He and Amelia remain in Duke Center. Weirdly, the 1900 US Census listed Arthur under the name of his younger brother, Albert.

Arthur remained in Duke Center until his passing in 1907.

A T Irvine obituary - Portville Autograph Friday 1 Nov 1907

Portville Autograph Friday 1 Nov 1907

These are the bare-bones “facts” of Arthur’s life, and we can discern some things about the man from them.

  • He was a brave man: after seeing his share of human destruction while serving in the Army during the horrific Civil War, he re-upped in another branch of service — the Navy. What compelled him to do so? He was a native Canada and had no “dog in the fight.” Yet he chose to fight for the Union. We can’t know why, but we can certainly state that he was a courageous man, not afraid of a fight.
  • He was a family man. While he had siblings who never married, Arthur preferred the married life and a family.
  • He found an occupation and made it his career. While initially he trained to follow in his father’s footsteps as a wagonmaker, Arthur found his talent in machinery and engineering. He applied his skill and knowledge in the Navy, in the railroad industry, and in the oil fields. As it happened, this knack for machinery was transferred to his sons and grandsons.

Insights into other aspects of Arthur’s character  can be gleaned from newspaper items. For instance, his political views drove him to run for office in 1894 under The People’s Party. He only took about 3% of the vote, but he participated, so he must have felt strongly about the issues at stake.

1894 House of Rep Election Results McKean CoAnother interesting item cropped up in the McKean County Miner,  15 October 1903.

McKean County Miner 15Oct1903Arthur, then 60 years old, and this Mr. West fellow got into a tussle, but the court found them equally to blame and thus the “costs were divided.” I’m going to take a wild guess that both men were intoxicated when the row took place. It would explain why, upon Arthur’s passing, his widow, Amelia, became very, very much involved with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Movement. She held various offices in her local chapter and was quite active.

One thing I think we can be safely assured of: Arthur was proud of his military service. His headstone gives clear evidence of this, as it commemorates for all time the sacrifice he made for a country which wasn’t even his.

Arthur Thomas Irvine headstone

Arthur was my great-great grandfather on my mother’s side. I have found him a fascinating man to contemplate. Mysteries about his life remain, and I’m sure I will often revisit his life to see if I can get to the bottom of those mysteries.

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Squires S. Tidd: A Life Disrupted

When looking into ancestors’ lives, there are often periods where we can’t trace their movements or figure out what was going on with them. I have this issue with my maternal 3rd great grandfather, Squires S. Tidd. Like millions of Americans, his life was disrupted by the Civil War, such that during that period it’s hard to figure out what was going on with his family.

Squires was born the 4th son of William Tidd (1792-1874). William had married Rosanna Buckman in 1813 and she bore him two sons; William Jr. and Charles. Sadly, Rosanna died 10 days after the birth of Charles. She was only 21 years old. A year later (June 1, 1817), William married Luthera Bond. They resided in Woburn, Massachusetts, their entire lives. Their children were:

  • Henry Hubbard (born 1819)
  • Squires S. (born 1821)
  • Horace Hall (born 1830)
  • Sarah Bond (born 1832)
  • Louisa Jane (born 1834)
  • Luthera Bond (born 1836)

Squires’s father, William, was engaged in the leather trade, as had many generations before him. The children were all born in the North Woburn house their Revolutionary War grandfather, Jonathan Tidd Jr. had built.

Jonathan Tidd House WoburnThe children all attended public school, and the boys helped out in their father’s currying shop. The tannery was situated near Pine and Tidd streets, conveniently near the railroad depot.

Squires lived at home at least through the 1840 U. S. Census, when he was 19 years old. Presumably, he stayed on working in the tannery after he’d finished school, learning the family trade. He was employed as a tanner/currier throughout his life.

On Aug 13, 1843, at the age of 22, Squires married Miss Harriett A. Wheeler of nearby Stoneham, MA. Their first child, Horatio Oliver, was born in Stoneham on Oct. 5, 1846. Soon after, Squires took his young family away from small town life and headed for Boston.

Interestingly, about this same time, his older half-brother, William Tidd Jr., had launched a prosperous leathermaking business of his own in Stoneham. In 1847, his small business employed 20 men. William Tidd Jr. became one of Stoneham’s most prosperous businessmen. Yet, Squires never returned to Stoneham to work with his older brother.

On Dec. 31, 1849, Squires and Harriet welcomed their second child, William Bond. The 1849 Boston Directory lists Squires employed as a currier, working in the city at Market Square and living at 4 S. Margin Street in Chelsea.

1849 Boston Directory (p 274)-snipBy 1850, Squires seems to have been doing okay. The 1850 U. S. Census lists the family living in Boston Ward 3. The Manufacturing Schedule shows that he owned a small currier business employing 9 men (the last entry in the image below – CLICK on image to enlarge).

1850 Census - manufacturing schedule

This is about the time where Squires’s military bent begins to emerge, at least “on record.” I was able to locate a newspaper item which names Squires as a member of the “American Rifles” organization in Boston, or, as it was more formerly known, The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts. In the meeting described, wherein officers were chosen, Squires was chosen a 1st corporal.

The Daily Atlas Boston MA 10 Sep 1851

The 1851 Boston Directory shows Squires had moved both his business and home:

1851Boston Directory-snipOn Aug. 4, 1852, Harriet returned to Woburn to give birth to her youngest child, Laura Frances. The family remained in Boston through the years leading up to the outbreak of the Civil War. They are found on the 1855 Massachusetts State Census and in the 1860 Boston Directory.

Crazily, despite countless hours of searching, I cannot locate Squires in the 1860 U. S. Census. Peculiarly, his 13 year old son, Horatio, was living on a farm some 60 miles away in Goffstown, NH, with a family by the name Kimball. The 1860 Boston Directory shows Squires lived in Chelsea at the time. Though I haven’t found Squires in the 1860 Census, I did see some families named Kimball living in Chelsea, one of whom was a dealer in produce. Could Squires have found his son a job on a farm through this produce dealer? Hard to say. But, why would a lad of 13 be sent away from home in the first place? I have found no Kimballs anywhere in my family tree to suggest they were related in any way to Squires or Harriet.

History of the First Regiment (Massachusetts Infantry), from the 25th of May, 1861, to the 25th of May 1864 by Warren Handel Cudworth January 1, 1866 Walker, Fuller and Company. (Google Books)One possibility is that Squires was struggling financially. This could also explain why, a mere month after the attack on Fort Sumter on Apr. 12, 1861, Squires — a man of 40 with a wife and 3 children — enlisted 3 years of service in the 1st Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry, Company “K”.

Another possible explanation for Squires signing up is that, already having exhibited a military bent through his membership in the American Rifles, and having grandfathers, great grandfathers and uncles who had fought in the Revolutionary War, Squires was filled with patriotic enthusiasm for Preserving the Union. Massachusetts in general, and Boston in particular, was a hot bed of the Abolitionist Movement. (see Massachusetts and the Civil War article.)

Squires’s grandfather, Jonathan Tidd Jr. and great-grandfather, Jonathan Tidd Sr., both responded to the alarm at Lexington and Concord and went on to serve in the Continental Army. Likewise, his maternal grandfather, William Bond Jr., and great grandfather, William Bond Sr., served in the Continental Army. Squires had uncles, great uncles, and great grandfathers who fought for American Independence. As his grandfathers didn’t pass away until Squires was over 20 years old, it’s hard to imagine he hadn’t been raised with tales of their exploits during the Revolutionary War. Surely, the family were very proud of their veterans.

Robert_CowdinThe 1st Regiment headquartered at Faneuil Hall in Boston, where the men were drilled and made preparations for their departure. Theirs was the first regiment to leave the state. Requiring more room for the large body of men to maneuver, the Regiment moved to Cambridge and named their first encampment, Camp Ellsworth. On June 15th, 1861, under the command of Col. Robert Cowdin, the Regiment departed for Washington, D.C., where they arrived two days later.

Squires served with the Regiment, with some brief periods on furlough, for over 18 months. Here is a brief synopsis of the Regiment’s activities during the time in which Squires Tidd served in K Company:


  • May 23 – Organized at Boston and mustered in Companies A, B, G and H under Colonel Robert Cowdin
  • May 24 – Companies D, F, K and I Mustered in
  • May 25 – Company E mustered in
  • May 27 – Company C mustered in
  • Jun 15 – The regiment left the state for Washington, D.C.
  • Jun 17 – Arrived Washington and attached to Richardson’s Brigade, Tyler’s Division, McDowell’s Army of Northeast Virginia, with duty at Camp Banks, Georgetown, D.C.
  • Jul 16-21 – Advance on Manassas, Va.
  • Jul 17 – Occupation of Fairfax Court House
  • Jul 21 – Battle of Bull Run
  • Jul 22 – Aug 15 – At Fort Albany
  • Sep 7 – Moved to Bladensburg; attached to Hooker’s Brigade, Division of the Potomac
  • Sep 7- Oct 7 – Expedition to Lower Maryland. Attached to 1st Brigade, Hooker’s Division, Army of the Potomac
  • Oct 25-27 – Moved to Posey’s Plantation
  • Oct 28 – Duty at Posey’s Plantation and at Shipping Point
  • Nov 14 – Affair at Mattawoman Creek


Squires’s service record states that from Sep. – Nov. 1862 he was hospitalized. On Nov. 25, 1862 he was discharged with disability. I don’t know the exact nature of his injury. As he went missing from the company muster in September, it is likely that he was among the over 8000 Union Soldiers injured at the Second Battle of Bull Run.

Draft registration - NH

U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Following his discharge from the Army, the next record I’ve located for Squires results from President Lincoln’s Enrollment Act of 1963. That summer, Squires shows up living in Goffstown, NH — where his son Horatio had been sent a few years earlier. Apparently, Harriet and the younger children went to Woburn to stay with family when Squire enlisted back in 1861. It is doubtful that they joined him in Goffstown, however, for on Dec. 23, 1863, Harriet passed away in Woburn. At 43 years of age, she died of consumption (i.e. tuberculosis).

In the spring of 1864, Squires signed up for military service again, this time with the 6th Unattached Company, Massachusetts Infantry (Militia). The company was organized at Readville, MA, and mustered in for 90 days’ service on May 4, 1864. The men served guard and garrison duty was at Readville and were mustered out August 2, 1864. He went in a private and came out a sergeant.

During the war years, Squires’s older brother, Henry, had moved his family to Westborough, in Worcester County. The 1865 Massachusetts State Census shows that he had taken in Squires’s children, Horatio (18 yrs) and Laura (12 yrs). Horatio is listed on the census as a soldier, for he had signed up with the 1st Regiment Massachusetts Cavalry.

But where were Squires and his middle son, William, during the 1865 Massachusetts State Census? Were they back in Goffstown, NH? I haven’t been able to find them!

After the war ended, Squires also settled in Westborough, where, on Feb. 22, 1866, he married Mary Elizabeth Pierce. He was 45 years old and she was 20. It may have been a marriage of necessity, in that 5 months later Mary gave birth to a son. They named him Charles Squires. Sadly, the infant died of cholera 6 months later.

Currier working a leather hide

Currier working a leather hide

Squires lived with Mary in Westborough the rest of his life, employed as a currier as long as he could work. In 1879, he received an invalid’s military pension. In January of 1886, his son Horatio died of meningitis. Squires passed away two years later of heart disease: Feb. 9, 1888. He was 66 years old.

Squires’s life and family, so obviously disrupted by the Civil War, brings home to me the far-reaching wreckage of that great national tragedy. During those troubled years, Squires’s family was scattered, his wife died, and he endured the unimaginable horrors of numerous battles, injury, and months of recovery. And yet, after all that, he enlisted again!

I’ll always wonder what kind of man he was and what motivated him to head off to war when he need not. Was he fired up by patriotism? Did he feel compelled to distinguish himself from his very successful older half-brothers, William and Charles? Neither his older brother, Henry, nor younger brother, Horace, enlisted for military service during the Civil War. So what compelled him? And why can neither he or his son William B. be found in the 1865 Massachusetts Census?

These are the questions that family historians puzzle over and go back to, again and again!



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The Travels of Abiathar M. Harris: Into the Niagara Region

This is installment #3 in a series of excerpts from the diary Abiathar Millard Harris, an itinerant printer, born 1802 in Otsego County, New York. Abiathar was the 2nd son of Daniel Harris, a pioneer of the city of Rochester, New York, where Abiathar grew up. His grandfather, Asa Harris, was a Revolutionary War veteran and his grandmother, Faith McCall Harris, was a Mayflower descendant. Abiathar is a 3rd great grand uncle on the paternal side of my family.

This excerpt marks the beginning of Abiathar’s travels through Canada. He would spend a few years traveling up and down the St. Lawrence River, which forms the border between Canada and New England states.

On the 18th [July 1821] commenced work in the Patriot Office, D. M. Day, Printer. During my stay I visited Black Rock, 3 miles distance, spent my time very agreeable in sporting with ten pins, Billiards, etc.

In 1815, David M. Day had started the second newspaper in Buffalo. The original title was The Niagara Journal. In 1820, the title was changed to The Buffalo Journal. Mr. Day became a well-known citizen in Buffalo, such that when he suffered an early death (age 48), he was much mourned.

Fredonia Censor, December 1839

Fredonia Censor, December 1839

Horse Shoe Falls

On the 28th I started for the falls of Niagara, a distance of 22 miles, took dinner at Black Rock with Mr. Scallin, an acquaintance of mine – crossed the ferry about sunset with one Chase, we traveled 6 miles, and at one [arrived?] in the town of Bertie … John Palmer’s Inn (a dutchman) in the town of Willibee, District of London.


The Black Rock Ferry was a popular conveyance in the Niagara area before the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. In one of those quirks of fate, the John Palmer Inn where he stayed was operated in Willoughby (Welland, Ontario, Canada) by a 5th great-grandfather on my maternal side! I wrote about John’s son, Lewis Palmer, in an earlier blog post. He was not a “dutchman.”

On the 29th we rose early in the morning and went a fishing, had bad luck. Paid our bill and traveled 2 miles, took Breakfast at M. Holder’s (a Dutchman), we started and traveled on the bank of the river passed thro Chippewa, and arrived at the falls 12 o’clock noon. Put up at Brown’s Hotel in the town of Stamford. There I found an old acquaintance, Mr. Morse. We passed under the falls, etc., went to the burning spring.

On the 30th I started for Queenstown, 8 miles – 2 miles from the falls, I viewed Londe’s Lane, where the battle was fought between Scott & Drummond – arrived in Queenstown 10 A. M. – a desolate looking place, situated on a side hill, and very stony. I crossed the ferry and walked about a mile to Lewiston, a pleasant little village situated on a plain. I stopped at Kelsey’s Hotel – called on Mr. Shockey, an acquaintance, called for work, no success, returned to Queenstown, and started for Fort George, arrived 3 P. M., put up at Chas. Koun’s Hotel. I walked about the town, much pleased with the place; it is situated at the mouth of the Niagara River, and opposite Fort Niagara, on the American side. I examined the fortress, etc. This place is principally settled with Scotchmen. I enquired for work – got none – d___d glad of it. The office was owned by Andrew Heron, an old knave – what little work was done was half done – the men being sailors when there  was no work – and when there was, they sat down to it with a bottle of grog by their side – and the office was like a hog pen.

The “Londe’s Lane” referred to is Lundy’s Lane, site of a great battle during the War of 1812, in which, sadly, my 5th great grandfather, Cornelius Wheeler, lost his life. Lewiston, NY, is an historic village in Western New York. The portrait which Abiathar paints of Andrew Heron and his printing office is interesting. Apparently, Abiathar was rather fastidious and held higher standards of behavior and hygiene than most men. (Ha ha ha!!)

On the 31st I went on board the Kingston Packet for Little York, a distance of 36 miles, fair wind, and arrived 5 P.M. Enquired for work – got none – found an acquaintance Saml. Hopkins, staid with him, looked about town, saw nothing but mud (which as usual, in the most parts of Canada, is in abundance) …

Continued in his own writing …
The Kingston Packet was a Canadian schooner which served passengers sailing on Lake Ontario. “Little York” was the name for the town which would, in 1834, be incorporated as the city of Toronto. Note again how our finicky Abiathar complains about the mud everywhere. He really wasn’t one for “roughing it.”

The next blog post will pick up with Abiathar’s entry at the beginning of August.

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