Photo Friday—Pvt. James Merritt Wetherbee

Pvt. James Merritt Wetherbee, Company D, 83rd Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, abt. 1863.

This carte de visite photo was featured in Photo Sleuth in the spring 2017 edition of Military Images magazine [1].

On 21 Aug 1862, James Merritt Wetherbee joined the 83rd Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served through the remainder of the Civil War.

During 1863, his regiment held Fort Donelson in Tennessee. [2]

According to Frederick Gaede [2], the “83rd was heavily engaged on February 3, 1863 at Fort Donelson, where it repulsed an attack by 8,000 Confederate troops under Joseph Wheeler and Nathan Bedford Forrest. During the engagement, known as the Battle of Dover, the regimental loss was 13 killed and 51 wounded. Soon thereafter, certainly by July, a number of the regiment were detached and ‘transferred to mounted Infantry to hunt guerrillas in 1863.’ It was reported in the Nashville Daily Union (Jan 1865) that Sergeant Brady of Wetherbee’s company and several other members of the 83rd captured Jake Sly and several companions who were ‘noted guerrillas.’”

The Photo Sleuth article describes Gaede’s identification of James’ weapons in the photo as a Merrill carbine and Starr revolver. Further, he says these weapons were primarily used by Union cavalry regiments, instead of infantry. [2] This suggests James was transferred to this mounted Infantry unit along with SGT Brady to hunt guerrillas.

“During the year 1864 the regiment had some 200 miles of communications to guard, as well as heavy patrol duty, and during the winter of 1864–65 it was on provost duty at Nashville, Tennessee.” [1]

He was discharged at the end of the war, on 5 Jul 1865, in Chicago.

James was born in Royalton, Niagara County, New York, the son of Ira Jay Wetherbee and Lydia Manchester. He removed to Illinois by 1857. After the Civil War, he removed to Fayette County, Iowa, by 1877, and to Palouse, Whitman County, Washington, by 1920. He was a farmer, and later a grain mercant/dealer.

He was married three times, his first two wives dying before the ages of 28 and 39 respectively. We have confirmed he had five children with his first wife Louisa Johnson, and six children with his third wife Catherine Maria Roberts.

According to the photo inscription, the photo was given to his first daughter, Ellen Rexaville Wetherbee.


James Merritt Wetherbee (1831-1920) is 3rd great-grandson of John Witherby II (1677-1720), and 4th cousin 5x removed of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

References:
[1] Kurt Luther, Photo Sleuth—Merrill Carbine Leads to a Soldier’s Identification, Military Images, spring 2017.
[2] 83rd Illinois Infantry Regiment, wikipedia.org.

Jazaniah Howe’s Jun 1783 Honorable Discharge

This document, for sale by Bauman Rare Books, showed up in our email inbox recently. The name How [Howe] caught our eye.

The history lesson is free. The document is not!

(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) WASHINGTON, George. Document signed. Newburgh, New York: June 11, 1783. Folio, original ivory printed document (measures 8 by 13-1/2 inches) printed on both sides and finish by hand on the recto. WITH: two pay vouchers, each 6-1/2 by 8 inches, printed on recto and finished by hand.

A fine example of a soldier’s discharge, boldly signed “G. Washington,” issued from his headquarters in June, 1783, near the end of the Revolutionary War, instructing that one “Jazaniah How, Sergeant” of the Invalid Corps, having served for six years and one month, is hereby discharged. It is said that Washington insisted on personally signing soldiers’ discharges at the end of the war, wanting to display his appreciation for the sacrifices they made.

This rare June 11, 1783, official document, signed by Washington at his headquarters, comes just three months before the Treaty of Paris would officially end the American Revolutionary War. While the American victory at Yorktown in late 1781 had dealt a mortal blow to the British and effectively ended their offensive operations on the continent, the British still had 30,000 garrison troops occupying New York City, Charleston, and Savannah. Washington remained skeptical of British intentions and was wary of his army easing its guard. “He didn’t know that on November 30, 1782 a preliminary peace treaty had been signed… As another icy winter loomed, Washington sensed deep discontent roiling his troops” and vowed to keep a watchful eye on his men (Chernow, 430). “With little fighting to do… only the hand of Washington kept the army from another revolution” (Clark, 11).

This document also speaks to the Continental Congress’s June 1777 creation of an Invalid Corps, after the terrible losses at the Battle of Long Island. “They suffered overwhelming odds when the tally of losses was taken—records, though not exact in verification even up to this day, show that at least 1,100 were taken prisoner and approximately 300 were killed and 650 wounded. It was considered a great loss for that time when taking into account the number of combatants involved. Faced with this great loss, Gen. George Washington was more than determined to face the task of saving his remaining troops and this, fortunately, he was able to accomplish later. At that time, the idea of forming a different class of regiment occurred — soon to be known as the ‘Invalid Corps.’ This idea, it seems, grew out of discussions and decisions which had been initiated concerning the number of disabilities and the problem of allowances and status of pensions after the battle. So many losses were precipitated during the Battle of Long Island — losses of arms and legs and other body parts — that something had to be done to alleviate the severity of the problems that arose. The plan that was devised was to help the Continental soldiers willing to enter battle, even at the risk of their own lives, and this was to offer what was to be the first American ‘pension plan.’ What Congress decided was to grant half-pay to the wounded and disabled, but also put forth the following caveat, that all such officers and soldiers who were found capable of doing guard or garrison duty should be formed into a ‘Corps of Invalids’ and ‘subject into the said duty'” (Joan Brown Wettingfeld).

Countersigned by J. Trumbull and Jonathan Pugh, the regiment’s adjutant. At the bottom of the document is the declaration that “The above Jazaniah How has been honored with the Badge of Merit for six Years faithful Service,” signed by Lewis Nicola, who founded the Invalid Corps. Accompanying this discharge are two pay vouchers for How, each signed by Eleazer Wales and dated July 25, 1783, one recording the payment of “Sixteen pounds, six shillings and one penny” and the other “Thirty-seven pounds and six shillings”; Jazaniah How signed each document with an “X,” noted as “his mark.”

Bauman Rare Books

Jazaniah Howe (1737-1816) is 3rd cousin 8x removed of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

John Witherbee 1666 Court Testimony

Below is an image of the primary source [1] first placing John Wetherby I in Massachusetts, and also establishing his birth year as 1641 or 1642.

John Witherbee court testimony, 2 Oct 1666.

On 2 • 8 • 66 (2 Oct 1666), John Wetherby testifies in the Court of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, in the case of William Kerley vs. Thomas Rice & others. Wetherby (or Wetherbee) is spelled Witherbee in the transcript. October is the eighth month in the Julian calendar used in England and the British Colonies at the time.

In his testimony, John Wetherby states that he is “aged about 24 years,” so it is likely his birth date is before 2 Oct 1642, in either 1641 or 1642.

William Kerley is the Constable of Marlborough, Massachusetts. He files a complaint against Thomas Rice, Edward Rice, and Joseph Rice (three brothers), and Peter Bent claiming they failed to perform night watch duties for the town.

Apparently, John Wetherby was performing night watch one night with Thomas Rice, and John testifies about their encounter with the Constable, John Barnes, and Nathanial Johnson during that watch.

Although the events occur in Marlborough, it is interesting to note that most of the involved parties probably knew each other in Sudbury, Massachusetts, where most of them lived previously. Among the early settlers of Sudbury, we find William Kerley, Edmund Rice (father of Thomas, Edward, and Joseph), John Bent (grandfather of Peter Bent), and Solomon Johnson (possibly related to Nathaniel).

Note below the interesting coincidence regarding John Wetherby and Thomas Rice.


John Wetherby (1642-1711) is 9th great-grandfather of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

Thomas Rice (1625-1681) is 10th great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch.

References:
[1] FamilySearch; Colonial county court papers, 1648-1798; Folio 40; Middlesex County (Massachusetts), Clerk of Court; Family History Library Film 901001 / DGS 007902664.

Say Anything …

“Shall we never, never get rid of this Past?” cried he, keeping up the earnest tone of his preceding conversation. “It lies upon the Present like a giant’s dead body!”

—Holgrave, The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Photo Friday—Charles and Sarah Clewett Tablet

Charles Felix Clewett and Sarah Churly Clewett tablet; West Norwood Cemetery and Crematorium; West Norwood, Lambeth, Greater London, England.

During a recent trip to London, L. Wetherbee went to the West Norwood Cemetery and Crematorium to visit the gravesite of Elizabeth Ann Clewett, 4th great-grandmother of MKS. Unfortunately, the gravesite does not appear to have a marker for her. There is, however, a marker for one of her twelve children—Charles Felix Clewett, and his wife Sarah Robina Churly Clewett.

The below record, found at the cemetery, lists the family members interred in Section 20, plot 14942:

  • Charles F. Clewett—son of Charles Felix and wife Sarah
  • James Clewett—son of Elizabeth Ann
  • Charles Felix Clewett—son of Elizabeth Ann
  • Elizabeth Ann Clewett
  • Sarah Clewett—wife of Charles Felix
Charles Felix Clewett plot entries; West Norwood Cemetery and Crematorium; Section 20, Plot 14942.

Charles Felix purchased the plot on 15 Aug 1874 upon the death of his child Charles F. at age 3.

This record helped us resolve the children of Edwin and Elizabeth Ann Clewett.

Baptism records list an Edwin and Elizabeth Clewett with four children—Margaret Ann, Mary Ann, Emily Ann, and Charles Felix—born between 1831 and 1837.

The 1851 and 1861 England Census list an Edwin and Elizabeth Clewett with eight children—Edwin, George, Elizabeth, James, Emma, Charlotte, Caroline, and John—born between 1840 and 1855.

Previously, we had not found anything to connect these two sets of records as being the same family. This cemetery record, listing Charles Felix and James, does that. And, it inspired us to dig deeper.

We then found three other records for further confirmation. Elizabeth P. is found living with sister Mary Ann in the 1861 England Census. Charles Felix and James have children baptized on the same day at the same church in 1873. George’s 1908 record in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar, lists brother Charles Felix.

It appears some of the children worked as servants for other families—Mary Ann, age 17, in the 1851 England Census; Emma, age 13, in the 1861 England Census.

Interestingly, Margaret Ann and Mary Ann married brothers—Henry William Stanley and Robert Stanley, respectively. Of the twelve children, it appears only Mary Ann immigrated to the United States.


Edwin Clewett (1809-1858) and Elizabeth Ann Agg Wain (1809-1891) are 4th great-grandparents of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

Charles Felix Clewett I (1837-1888) and James Clewett (1846-1875) are 4th great-uncles of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

Sarah Robina Churly (1843-1895) is wife of Charles Felix Clewett I.

Charles Felix Clewett II (1871-1874) is son of Charles Felix Clewett I and Sarah Robina Churly, and 1st cousin 4x removed of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

An Act for Erecting a District in the County of Middlesex, by the Name of Boxborough

Whereas a Number of Inhabitants, living in the extreme Parts of the Towns of Stow, Harvard, and Littleton, labor under many Inconveniences by Reason of their great Distance from any Place of Public Worship, and have requested this Court that they may be incorporated into a District, with all the Privileges of a Town, that of sending a Representative to the General Court excepted:

Be it therefore enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That a Part of Stow, a Part of Harvard, and a Part of Littleton, all which are included within the Boundaries following, viz. : Beginning at the Road Southerly of John Robbins’ Buildings, and running Southerly to Acton Corner Three Miles and Ninety-two Rods, to a Heap of Stones ; from thence running Southerly in Acton Line, to a Place called Flag Hill, being two Miles, three Quarters and ten Rods, to a Heap of Stones ; from thence Westerly in Stow two Miles and a Quarter, to a Stake and Pillar of Stones in the Harvard Line ; then running Northerly through Part of Harvard, to a white Oak Tree, by a Causeway from thence to the Place first set out from, be and hereby is incorporated into a District, by the Name of Boxborough. And all the Polls and Estates that are included within the said Boundaries, shall belong to the said District, except those of such of the Inhabitants of that Part set off from Littleton, as shall not within the Term of twelve Months from the passing this Act, return their Names into the Office of the Secre- tary of this Commonwealth, signifying their Desire to become inhabitants of the said District.

And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the said District be, and hereby is, invested with all the Powers, Privileges and Immunities, that Towns in this Commonwealth do or may enjoy (except the Privilege of sending a Representative to the General Court) and the Inhabitants of the said District shall have Liberty from Time to Time to join with the Town of Stow, in choosing a Representative, and shall be notified of the Time and Place of Election, in like Manner with the Inhabitants of the said Town of Stow, by a Warrant from the Selectmen of the said Town, directed to a Constable or Constables of the said District, requiring him or them to warn the Inhabitants to attend the Meeting at the Time and Place appointed : Which Warrant shall be seasonably returned by the said Constable or Constables ; and the Representative may be chosen indifferently from the said Town or District: The Pay or Allowance to be borne by the Town and District, in Proportion as they shall from Time to Time pay to the State Tax.

And be it further enacted, That Jonathan Wood, Esq ; of Stow, be, and he hereby is empowered to issue his Warrant, directed to some principal Inhabitant within the said District, requiring him to warn the Inhabitants of the said District, qualified to vote in Town Affairs, to assemble at some suitable Time and Place in the said District, to choose such Officers as Towns and Districts by Law are required to choose in the Month of March annually : Provided nevertheless, That the Inhabitants of the said District shall pay their proportionable Part of all such Town, County and State Taxes, as are already assessed by the said respective Towns from which they are taken, and their proportionable Part of all public Debts due from the said Towns ; and also provide for the Support of all the Poor who were Inhabitants within the said District before the passing of this Act, and shall be brought back for Maintenance hereafter.

And whereas it is ft and necessary, that the Whole of the said District should belong to one and the same County :

Be it therefore further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That that Part of the said District which is set off from the Town of Harvard, in the County of Worcester, shall be, and hereby is annexed and set to the County of Middlesex. And the Line established by this Act as the Boundary betwixt the said Town of Harvard and the said District, shall hereafter be the Boundary Line betwixt the said County of Middlesex and the said County of Worcester.

Passed February 25, 1783; Signed by Samuel Adams, president of the Senate, and John Hancock, Governor.

Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Printed by Benjamin Edes and Sons, Printers to His Excellency the Governor, the Council and Senate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; M,DCC,LXXXII (1782).

Early Settlers—Sudbury, MA

In The History of Sudbury, Massachusetts, 1639-1889 [1] by Alfred Sereno Hudson, we find that our ancestors played a significant role in founding Sudbury. Among the approximately 130 early settlers, Hudson identifies eight of our ancestors heading families there. They came to America as part of the Great Migration of English Puritans to Massachusetts from 1620 to 1640.

According to Hudson [2], “From the town records we have compiled the following list of the early grantees or settlers, who went to Sudbury Plantation about 1638 or 1639 : —

Peter Noyse (Hampshire, England)
Walter Haine (Wiltshire, England)
John Haine (Wiltshire, England)
John Howe (Shropshire, England)
Edmond Rice (Suffolk, England)
John Stone (Suffolk, England)

“The following are names of persons who were at the settlement soon after it began : —

John Moore (Essex, England)
Thomas King (Dorset, England)
…”

Another 11 listed there are cousins or relatives by marriage. Here is a list.

Map of the First Roads & House Lots in Sudbury, Drawn by J.S. Draper. [3]

Below are excerpts from [1] regarding their roles in the affairs of Sudbury.

  • Walter Haynes represented the town in the General Court of Massachusetts in 1641, 1644, 1648, and 1651, and was a selectman ten years.
  • John Howe served as a selectman of Sudbury in 1643.
  • Peter Noyes was a selectman eighteen years, and represented the town at the General Court in 1640, 1641, and 1650.
  • Edmund Rice was one of the committee appointed by the General Court, 4 Sep 1639, to apportion the land in Sudbury to the settlers. He served as selectman from 1639 to 1644, and was deputy to the General Court several successive years.
  • John Stone was an elder in the church, and in 1655 was town clerk.

We also learn there [4] that John Howe of the Wetherbee branch and Edmund Rice of the Watne branch had house-lots next door to each other in Sudbury, 327 years before the Wetherbee-Watne grandparents of MKS married. The map above reflects that John Howe probably sold his lot on The Street (left side of map on Mill Road) to either Griffin or Rice, and took the lot on The Plain (right side of map).

Hudson’s book provides short biographies for each of these first settlers.


John Haynes (1622-1697) and Dorothy Noyes (1627-1715) are 11th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

Walter Haynes (1583-1665) and Elizabeth Haynes (1586-1659) are 12th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

John Howe (1620-1680) and Mary Martha Jones (1618-1698) are 10th great-grandparents of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.

Thomas King (1600-1676) and Anne Collins (1608-1642) are 11th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

John Moore (1602-1674) and Elizabeth Rice (1612-1690) are 11th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

Peter Noyes (1590-1657) is 12th great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch. His wife Elizabeth (1594-1636) died before the family emigrated from England.

Edmund Rice (1594-1663) and Thomasine Frost (1600-1654) are 11th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

John Stone (1618-1683) and Anne Stone (1613- ) are 11th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

References:
[1] The History of Sudbury, Massachusetts, 1638-1889, by Alfred Sereno Hudson, 1889.
[2] Reference [1], 26-27.
[3] Reference [1], map after 76.
[4] Reference [1], 74.