I thought I’d give the reader an idea of how much time is spent researching some of these articles you see in this paper. In some cases, I write about a person or event that up to now has not been recorded. When it’s not previously recorded, it’s not unusual to have many hours invested in research. Sometimes researching these histories stretches out a week or two. The story below will give you an idea how my articles begin and the methods I use to discover lost bits of history.
In Ted Spaulding’s many donations to the Chester Historical Society, several families are represented. The main families we encounter are Spaulding, Marshall, Horton, and Fletcher. After handling these photos and documents, you begin to get familiar with the many different individuals. I’ve reached the point that I instantly recognize many of the sitters.
In a recent Ted Spaulding donation, there was a circa 1885 photo album. The first photo in the album is Leon Fletcher followed by many more photos of the Fletcher family. In this album I found a Civil War photo of Rosalvo Howard. When I said, “Here’s a photo of Rosalvo Howard in a Civil War uniform.” Peter instantly said, “He’s an Andover boy.”
Danny Clemons then found a Civil War period photo for his wife, Catherine, in the same album. But Catherine who? On the reverse of this photo written in ink is: “Catherine Howard – Rosalvo’s wife.”
We were left wondering how a photo of Rosalvo Howard ended up in the Fletcher album. I looked Rosalvo up in Peck’s Roster and found he was in the First Vermont Cavalry in the Civil War and credited to Andover.
Peter called a couple days later to tell me he found mention of Rosalvo in his grandfather’s (Harry Farrar) diaries. The entry mentions Rosalvo died in Bellows Falls in 1904.
Now I had something to run with. I called Danny Clemons and asked for his help. Danny is a whiz at finding where people are buried. Danny found Rosalvo buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Bellows Falls. Next to him is his wife Catherine (Fletcher) Howard. Immediately, we recognized her maiden name was Fletcher, so the pieces were beginning to come together.
Catherine Fletcher and Carlos Cooledge Fletcher, “C.C.” Fletcher, were brother and sister living in Popple Dungeon. C.C. married Lydia Davis, another name we see in Ted’s donation. C.C. and Lydia were Leon Fletcher’s parents. So that’s the connection to Ted’s family.
Leon married Rosetta Marshall. Rosetta was sister to Ted’s grandmother Mehitable Marshall. This explains why Rosalvo’s photo was in the Fletcher photo album.
Rosalvo Howard was born in Andover in 1835 and grew up in the house known as Solomon’s Temple. In 1856, he married Catherine Fletcher.
Rosalvo enlisted as a private in the Civil War on Sept. 17, 1861 in Company F of the First Vermont Cavalry. He re-enlisted Jan. 28, 1864 as a sergeant in Company H where he served till war’s end being promoted to 1st lieutenant. The First Vermont Cavalry participated in over 75 battles.
From Peck’s roster: “During its three years of active service in the presence of the enemy, the regiment captured in open field three battle flags, thirty-seven pieces of artillery, and more prisoners than it had men – a record which, it is believed, was not excelled by any regiment in Union service.”
This was an extremely hard fought unit. Its original strength was 1,174 with new recruits adding another 1,130. Losses were heavy with 392 killed, 302 wounded, and 699 taken prisoner.
As Danny Clemons and I go cemeterying in area cemeteries we see graves for First Vermont Cavalrymen. Grafton and Chester cemeteries have several buried there with one or two dying at Andersonville prison.
Resolvo returned to Vermont, settling in Bellows Falls with Catherine, working as a carpenter.
This was a story that couldn’t have been told if Peter’s grandfather hadn’t mentioned Rosalvo dying in Bellows Falls in his diary. That allowed Danny to locate his grave, which led to his wife, Catherine’s maiden name of Fletcher. Sometimes we get lucky as we did with this story.
This week’s old saying was used on a sure bet. “You can bet your Sunday socks on this one.”