Saturday, September 15, 2012

Oh Brave Brackley Boys of Freeman

Private Orren Brackley1

They came from a small farming village in rural Franklin County, Maine, poignantly named Freeman, and the neighboring towns of Strong, Avon and Salem, my 3rd great grandfather, Howard Winslow Brackley (1829-1873) among them.

The Brackley boys fought as infantry men and cavalry soldiers, as well as light artillery. Most served as Privates, but one became a Corporal, and another a Second Lieutenant. Each had their own stories to tell, to be sure. One even wrote them down in a journal that survives to this day.

There are three among this generation of Brackley ancestors that have very meaningful stories to tell.

Rufus K. Brackley (1826-1863) was Howard's cousin and a farmer from Strong. A married man of twelve years, he enlisted for a 9-month stint on October 13, 1861, and joined Company D of the 28th Maine Infantry, serving alongside his cousin. The 28th Maine saw action in many hot spots throughout the South, including Chalmette, Louisiana and Pensacola, Florida, and took part in the Siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana on June 14th, 1863.  The 28th was mustered out on August 31st of that year, the same day that Rufus is said to have died.  Sadly, Rufus died at the age of 37, while walking back to Strong, Maine, because he didn't have a horse to ride.

Orren Brackley (1845-1921) left Avon, Maine, and went to war at 16 years old, encouraged by an uncle's gift of $15 to sign up. Enlisting in the 2nd Maine Light Infantry, he was eventually promoted to Full Corporal. in 1865. During his four years of service to the Union cause, he kept a meticulous journal, which remains as a memorable legacy with his direct descendants. 

Charles H. Brackley (1846-1864) enlisted from Salem, Maine, in the 29th Maine Infantry, led by Colonel George Lafayette Beal. The 29th left Maine for New Orleans on January 31st, 1863. It is there that, a year and a half later, Charles died of disease, one of over 190 soldiers of that regiment to do so. There is a cenotaph for Charles in the Mt. Abram Cemetery in Salem, Maine. His body, however, was buried in Chalmette National Cemetery in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Charles H. Brackley's Grave at Chalmette Nattional Cemetery2

Charles H. Brackley's Cenotaph in Salem, Maine3

1Soldiers of the Civil War, a chapter in “Strong, a Mussul Unsquit Village: A Legacy of Woods and Waters.” Website in partnership with Maine Memory Network. 

2Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 14 September 2012), memorial page for Charles H. Brackley (1846–1864), Find A Grave Memorial no. 32430838, citing Chalmette National Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana.

3Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 14 September 2012), memorial page for Charles H. Brackley (1846–1864), Find A Grave Memorial no. 50217095, citing Mount Abram Cemetery, Salem, Maine. 
Additional information obtained from:
Thompson, George A. and F. Janet Thompson. A Genealogical history of Freeman, Maine, 1796-1938, in three volumes. 3 vols. (Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, 1996)

This blog post will be part of the Great Civil War Genealogy Blog Challenge published by Bill West on his West in New England blog at the end of September.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Solomon Old and Wise ~ Wisdom Wednesday

Solomon Leighton was born in Barrington, in Strafford County, New Hampshire, on August 10, 1797. the second son of Stephen Leighton and his first wife, Mary "Polly" Emerson. In the terminology of the day, he was referred to as an "idiot."* Today, we might consider him to be a savant.

His father specified in his 1824 will that Solomon be looked after. He named his second wife Deborah as executrix, left land to his youngest son by his first marriage, Andrew, and his youngest son by his second marriage, Stephen, gave cash bequests to the other children, and gave Stephen responsibility for the support of his brother Solomon (Strafford County Probate, 30:33; 33:73, 82).

In the June 1880 Census of Strafford Town, he is working on Stephen's farm at age 82:

On August 13, 1900, the St. Albans (Vt.) Daily Messenger noted the 103rd birthday of Solomon Leighton, noting he could be the oldest living person in New Hampshire:

Note in the 2nd paragraph of the above article: "Events that happened ninety years ago are still fresh in his memory."  One has to wonder what a present-day diagnosis of autism might say about Solomon Leighton.

A 2nd cousin 5x removed, Solomon Leighton died later that same year, in Strafford County, New Hampshire, on September 23, 1900.**

* Leighton, Perley M. A Leighton genealogy: descendants of Thomas Leighton of Dover, New Hampshire. Compiled by Perley M. Leighton based in part on data collected by Julia Leighton Cornman. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical  Society, 1989.) p. 116.

** New Hampshire Death Records, 1654-1947.