Tuesday, May 26, 2015

In Honor of Memorial Day: The McCulloch Brothers

In honor of Memorial Day, I give you two veterans buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in South Bethlehem: brothers Stephen and David McCulloch.  Both died in service to their country during the Civil War.

Both have write ups in The Heroes of Albany A Memorial of the Patriot-Martyrs of the City and County of Albany by Rufus Clark.  Hop on over to


 and go to page 806.

David served with Company D of the 44th New York State Volunteers.  He was captured in action at Mine Run Virginia and died at Andersonville Prison in Georgia.  While the tombstone reads 1863,  New York's Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts says he died March 22, 1864.

Clark writes in Heroes:     He was a kind boy, a dutiful son, and a generous and noble hearted brother....His officers and comrades award to him the highest praise for his uniform good conduct; his cheerfulness under privations and sufferings, and his noble bravery upon the battle-field.

Stephen served with Company B of the 10th Regiment New York State Volunteers. He died August 27, 1863 of disease at Bonnet Carre, Louisiana.

From Heroes:     He was a youth full of enterprise, ambition and intelligence.  He had, too, a very affectionate disposition, and was beloved by all who knew him.  He possesses the same spirit and feelings in regard to the war that fired the soul of his brother.

Clark concludes his section on the McCulloch brothers with words that should resound during this and every Memorial Day.

To the parents who thus gave up two sons for the country, the sympathies of a grateful nation should be cordially extended. 

Searching for Patrick Callanan

Not too long ago I had an enjoyable time searching for the grave of Revolutionary War veteran Patrick Callanan down at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in South Bethlehem.  You can read more about Callanan in June's Our Towne Bethlehem.  For now, this is how my search went.

Entering the gates.

Patrick's historic marker.

Not this Callanan.

Not this one either.  

Not these two

or this one.

Wait, maybe that one.  The tipped one that looks really old.

Success! Patrick's names and dates are just barely visible.
Patrick Callanan
Who died October the 4th 1824 aged 89 yrs

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Native American Projectile Point

In the continuing saga of things that turn up on my desk, I present this photo.

That is a Native American projectile point carefully bagged as part of an archaeology survey.

It was a vivid reminder for me that Bethlehem's history goes way, way back with significant occupation by Native Americans before good old Henry Hudson made his famous journey.

It also reminds me of my undergraduate days at the University of Rhode Island where one semester I actually had a paying job in an archaeology lab typing various and assorted stone artifacts.

So, after hasty and thoroughly unprofessional scrutiny, and a visit to http://www.projectilepoints.net/, I am calling it an Otter Creek from 6,000-4300 BP.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Genealogy Talk and Vital Records

I am getting ready to give a talk at the Bethlehem Public Library about genealogy and vital records held by the Town of Bethlehem.*  It is a Powerpoint, so I was looking for illustrations and I took this quick photo.  

And then got totally distracted.

The picture here is from book #2 of the Register of Vital Records. Births, marriages and deaths are recorded  The pages in this book are an intriguing look into the everyday lives of Bethlehem people. The death register is especially poignant.

This particular page is the first one of the death section  with 35 records from June 15, 1894 through October 26, 1894.  35 records sounds so impersonal - it is really 35 people.

The youngest is Chester A. Glasser age 3 months and 24 days who died July 27 from "cholera (infantum)"; the oldest is Charles Hungerford, age 88, who died October 26 from cystitis (senile debility)"

What really caught my eye were the drownings - four of them on this single page.  A truly intriguing story emerges when one reads the four listings.  With of course more questions than answers.

On June 3 we have Henry Ling age 46 years, 10 months.  He is married and a mason.  Born in Germany, he has lived in the U.S. for 26 years. There is no father's or mother's name but both are indicated has having been born in Germany.  Place of death: Kenwood Creek. Cause; Submersion.

Next on August 4 is simply "unknown" a "Negro". Place of death: "found in Island Creek." Cause: apnoea** (submersion).  Note; Reflecting mores of 1894, the form asks for "Race if other than White."

Then on September 17 is Christopher Mulson - or is it Neilson - the name is hard to read. He is 26, single and a laborer.  He was born in Norway.  No parents are listed.  Place of death: Van Wies Point. Cause: Apnoea (submersion.)

And finally another "unknown" with no specific date but listed between October 23 and October 16.  Age is listed as 30, "Don't know" is the answer for occupation and "Supposed to be German" for birthplace. Place of death: Hudson River. Cause: Apnoea (submersion.)

Aren't you curious now to know the story of these four people?  To me, the two unknowns are especially poignant. I don't even know if they are male or female.  How did any of them end up in the river?  The questions go on and on.

* The talk is Tuesday May 12, 7 pm at the Bethlehem Public Library.  Librarian Frank Somers and I are going to share resources for local Bethlehem genealogy research. Free and open to the public.

** The term "apnoea" is used three times with this spelling.  Apnea is what we would recognize today "a suspension of breathing" - altho Dictionary.com says it is a temporary suspension. In this usage the suspension was decidedly permanent.