Erma Joy - Our Centenarian

This Thankful Thursday I'd like to pay tribute and celebrate from afar, the 100th birthday of cousin, Erma Joy.

The daughter of Robert C. Danforth and Avis A. (Sherburne), granddaughter Albro Danforth and Eunice Matilda (Short), great-granddaughter of  William H. Danforth and Marianne (Morse),   Erma was  born in Purple Springs, Alberta, Canada on the 17th of July, 1914.

Today and Saturday our centenarian will be joined by family and friends at her home to celebrate this kind and caring mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother.

Happy, happy birthday, Erma!


T.A. Moore Shot on the 4th of July, 1863 - Pronounced Mortal

A tribute by P. Davidson-Peters

The son of James U. Moore and Rebecca (Cook), Thomas Anderson Moore was born on 31 Oct 1838 in Scio, Harrison Co., Ohio.  In 1847 he moved with his family to Collinsville, Madison Co., Illinois where his father and uncle were bell manufacturers. 

Rachel (Arbaugh) Bennett to Emma Crites 1929
Letter courtesy of Marian E. Karpisek Collection
By time the country was embroiled in civil unrest, the Moore family, like America, had become divided.  Tom's  parents had opposing sentiments as stated in an 1929 letter written by Rebecca's grandniece, Rachel (Arbaugh) Bennett, which reads in part: "Uncle Jim left Aunt Becca during the Civil War he went to the South and she begged him not to go and she told him if he went and would fight against the north she never would live with him and he said he was going and would shoot his own brother down so they never lived together again  he married again & she lived with her children in St. Louis."

The 1860 census supports this information.  Tom, his mother, and his younger brother Joe were residing in the St. Louis household of Gabriel Darlington.  A supporter of the abolitionists, Tom enrolled on 01 Aug 1862 with the 33rd Infantry Missouri, a regiment which was recruited under the patronage of the Union Merchants Exchange of St Louis.  The Secretary of the Merchants exchange, Clinton B. Fisk was Colonel, and William A. Pile, captain.  Tom mustered in at Benton Barracks on the 5th of September and was married two months later to Clarissa V. Pilcher, daughter of Ezekiel and Louisa (Ballard) in St. Louis on his bride's 17th birthday, October 7th.

Tom's first letter on file to his young wife was dated from Camp Fisk, Near Rolla six days later.  He wrote as often as possible, over a dozen and a half letters between October 1862 and his last dated from Helena, Arkansas on 17 Jun 1863. Helena had been a busy agricultural and commercial center on the Mississippi River with a population of just over a thousand citizens, but by July of 1862 it had been taken over and was occupied by Union troops under the command of Major General Samuel Curtis. 

The 33rd Missouri was camped opposite of Helena near the river bank where a crooked bayou reached from the Coldwater called the Yazoo Pass. It had once been navigable for ordinary steamboats, but before the war a levee had been thrown across the pass on the east bank.  Thinking that cutting through this would allow the current to run along the old water way, Grant planned to float his army down the Yazoo’s mouth and end up near Vicksburg.  Part of Tom’s company had been sent on this expedition, he being on a steamer which proceeded to Duvall’s Bluff where a lively engagement had taken place. The expedition lasted ten days upon which time the men had returned to Helena. 

In a letter of January 22nd to his wife Clarissa, Tom explained that the fleet had consisted of 37 boats and that they had gone as far up the river as Duvalls Bluff expecting a desperate fight, but that within a couple miles the fleet stopped and closed in on the fortifications only to find that the rebels had left the day before by rail to Little Rock. 

"We will transfer from this steamer to the Florence or Blackhawk this evening and then we will be hurried off to (slaughter) vicksburg to night or early morning we havea good deal of sickness, the men being caged up on Board like hogs …"

The fleet returned to Yazoo Pass toward the end of February again in hopes of severing the Confederacy and opening the Mississippi Valley, and had moved down the river when their Ironclads opened on the Rebel Works. The gunboats fought, but could not take Fort Pemberton and retreated, then meeting reinforcements under the command of General Quimby who stated that they "would take Fort Pemberton or kill every man and sink the fleet trying."

By the month of May, the men at Helena had received notice to be prepared for an attack at any moment.  At daybreak on the morning of July 2nd, Tom’s camp remained under arms. The hills of Fort Curtis were not yet tinted with the morn’s dusky hues when the alarm pealed out that the enemy was near. To "horse" was sounded and the camp, except for its sick and those caring for them, moved out beyond the levee above town. Their line of defenses extended for some four miles along the river and was encamped for five miles along the river front with the 1st Indiana Cavalry three miles below town on their left, and the 5th Kansas Cavalry one mile on the right above town.

Missouri newspaper clipping
Taken from personal collection of P. Davidson-Peters
According to the July 5th news clipping, "The enemy attached our works a few minutes before daylight on July 4th, yesterday, at all points in vastly superior numbers.  For four hours our men held their positions, but finally the two lower batteries being overwhelmed by superior numbers retired toward the town.  The Rebels could now be seen swarming over the hills toward town."

"At this juncture Fort Curtis opened on them with heavy guns, the range being fine, and killed the butternuts in scores, sending them scampering up the hills in double quick time.  Our boys then charged upon them and drove them from the rifle pits, at the same time cutting off the retreat of the Arkansas regiment, and capturing the whole concern."

Listed among the Killed and Wounded 33rd Missouri was "T.A. Moore, gun shot wound over right temple, pronounced mortal."

T.A. "Tom" Moore circa 1865
Photograph of visible gunshot wound
Lying on the battlefield and given up for dead, a passing soldier found a breath in him and Tom was transported to a hospital in Memphis.  He was later treated by A.T. Bartlett, Surgeon of the 33rd Missouri Infantry Volunteers, who in 1890 wrote an account of some of the men whom he treated after the Battle of Helena. "Private Thomas A. Moore's wound consisted in an extensive compound fracture of the anterior portion of the skull and a large section of the bone was removed long after the receipt of the injury. He has attended one or more of our reunions and is a forcible and touching reminder of what our country cost."

Tom was discharged from the Memphis hospital the first week of December, and returned home to his beloved Clarissa in St. Louis.  In the years following, despite afflictions from his wound, he worked as a carpenter with the Pilchers and Kalbs.  Eight children were born to this union, the first two daughters (Emily Ellen and Minnie) dying in infancy in 1864 and 1865, and the youngest barely three years of age when Clarissa, who had become a homeopathic doctor, died at the age of forty-four in 1890.  Heartbroken and loyal to his beloved Clarissa, Tom never remarried.  He died at the age of seventy-six, a chaplain for the GAR Lyon Post No. 2 in St. Louis. 

Today, one hundred and fifty-one years to the day that he was shot at the Battle of Helena, it is with honor and privilege I pay tribute to him, proud to call this devoted father and husband, man of principles and sensitivity, my great-great grandfather.  

Special thanks to Marian E. Karpisek and Katherine Jones for sharing their family history and the 1929 letter.

Additional Notes: Clarissa Vanbergen Pilcher was born in Springfield, Illinois on 07 Oct 1845 and attended the Medical College of Missouri at the Old Physician and Surgeon's College Building located at 1131 N. Jefferson Ave.  She studied under Dr. James A. Campbell, a professor of opthamology and otholgy. She graduated in 1886, but sadly lived only a few years longer. She passed away on 07 Apr 1890. A letter from Dr. Campbell and notes taken by her husband after an operation, detail her last hours.

Children of T.A. and Clarissa were: Emily Ellen born in 1864; Minnie born 1865; Thomas Anthony, born 1867 married 1st Rebecca Tebbetts, 2nd Eleanor Chase; Clarissa "Amanda" born 1870, wife of John A. Fenton; James Asbury, born 1873, married Lydia Harzmeier; Mabel Grace born 1877, wife of Samuel E. Jones; Mary Jeannette "Mamie" born 1880, married Clarence Lane; and Beulah Abrams born 1887, wife of Roy D. Vosburgh. 

Tom, Clarissa, Emily, Minnie, James, Mabel, Mamie and Beulah are all laid to rest at Bellfountaine Cemetery in St. Louis.


Photograph Album of Hannah (Rich) Peters

Hannah (Rich) Peters
Photo courtesy of Carolyn F. McPherson
About ten years ago a beautiful photograph album belonging to Hannah (Rich) Peters came into the loving care of her great-granddaughter, Carolyn Flanders McPherson.

The album was given as a wedding present to Hannah in 1861 when she and William Blakely Peters were married in South Kortright, Delaware County, New York by Rev. John D. Gibson.  The reverend, whose photo (as well as his wife’s) is included in the album, performed many weddings at the United Presbyterian Church for over forty years from 1845 to 1886.  His name is no doubt very familiar to any researcher of Delaware County.

The album, which Carolyn shared with me in 2005, contains thirty-eight photographs, many of which were identified by Hannah who wrote the names of her loved ones on the reverse side.  In those instances where there was no identification, Carolyn and I scrutinized the details of each photo and subject. As an artist, Carolyn has a great eye for detail and conducted extensive research into the photographers, their trademarks and stamps.  She also closely examined the props used in the photographs along with the hairstyle, clothing, and jewelry worn to better calculate the date the photograph was taken.  With the various details she provided me, I was able to utilize my experience and knowledge as a researcher to locate who might have been in the area at the time the photograph was taken, and how those persons might have been related to Hannah.

Hannah's photographic album
Photo courtesy of Carolyn F. McPherson
The surnames included in the album are: Blakely, Bowers, Buchan, Clark, Crofoot, Davenport, Gibson, Leonard, Marvin, McLaury, Mitchell, Murvin, Oliver, Peters, Pudney, Rich, Southard, Struthers, and Tallman.

Working with Carolyn over the years has always been a pleasure, and I truly enjoyed the privilege of designing the pages for the album which I presented online in 2005.  As a complement to the album, links to other family photos, obituaries, census records, and biographies are also included as are photographs of Blakely, Riverside, and South Kortight, and Tully Cemetery which were contributed by Carolyn, Noelle Fairbanks and SkipAZ.

We are still hopeful that viewers with Delaware County, New York connections will be able to identify those photos which still remain a mystery; but even if you don't have a relation to Hannah or the area, I am certain you will find it a pleasure to view this treasured photo album in the online presentation .  You may begin here with the introduction which is followed by an index linking to each individual photograph.

You can also look forward to a future blog regarding another worn and lovely photo album, "Stratton and Fox," which was contributed by Sandy (Fox) Whitney.

Until then, I hope you enjoy viewing Hannah's album.

Biographical Notes:  Hannah Rich was born 17 Jul 1838 in South Kortright, Delaware Co., New York.  She was the daughter of James Rich (1791-1857) and his wife, Jane Ann Southard (1800-1876), life-long residents of New York.  She was the sister of Captain John Rich who served with Co. D of the 144th New York Volunteers and an agent for the Mallory line of steamers; and Isabella Rich, who was the wife of Rev. James M. Stevenson.  Hannah married William Blakely Peters, the son of John and Jane (Blakely) Peters on Hannah’s 23rd birthday.  They were the parents of: Jennie; Elizabeth “Belle”, who married Frederick M. Lyon;  James Rich, who married Alice Roth; and Sarah, who was the wife of William Hendry Hickok.