Sunday, June 25, 2017

WWI Blog Follows 100 Year Old Journey

George Stevens Sherwood
Almost a year ago I came up with the idea for a second blog  that chronicles as much as possible all the postcards and letters of my Uncle George sent home to his family while he was "Somewhere in France" until he came marching home as they say.  He joined the 108th Army Engineers as was part of the American Expeditionary Forces fighting the Germans in the Great War.  The goal is to post them 100 years to the day that he wrote or mailed them.  That blog is dedicated to his experiences in and around that war.  I decided to post part of that information here but to expand some of the family history not elaborated upon there.  A trickle of posts have been done but the wave of missives will begin in earnest in September of this year.  
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George Stevens Sherwood's mother, Ella Jane Richardson Sherwood, had been born Julia Eldora Welch to Mary Elizabeth Richardson and Evi Welch both of Vermont.
Mary Elizabeth Richardson Welch Dexter
Evi died before their daughter was six months old.  Mary Elizabeth later married Martin Dexter and they had five more children two of whom died young (apparently from lung disease - possibly cystic fibrosis). 
Ella Jane Stevens/Julia Eldora Welch was likely taken at the time of her adoption.
Mary Elizabeth's sister, Rosina Jane Richardson (who went by Jane)  and her husband David Eastman Stevens, had no children.  When Julia Eldora was six years old, she was adopted by her aunt and uncle Jane and David.  Her name was changed to Ella Jane Stevens.
 Rosina Jane "Jane" Richardson Stevens
David Eastman Stevens

  Ella Jane Stevens later married William Sherwood and they were the parents of George Stevens Sherwood.   
At the same time that he was considering a future in the Army, George's great uncle Robert Richardson was writing to his sister, George's great aunt Eva (known as Nellie).  Robert and Eva were the only two remaining of 8 siblings, and were the eldest and youngest siblings of Jane, George's late grandmother.
Robert Fletcher Richardson II.  This Robert was not a Jr. because the former Robert Fletcher Richardson was his grandfather.  His father was Robert A Richardson
This is Eva (Nellie) Richardson Thompson with her foster daughter Myrtilla.

Robert had lived his entire life in Vermont. Eva, born and raised in Vermont, married, moved to Minnesota, divorced, remarried, moved to the Dakota territories, took on the foster care of three children,  moved to Washington Territory (Palouse) and lived there until her husband George  Thompson died in 1914.  In 1915 Nellie as she had become known, moved back to Wisconsin to be near her dear niece, Ella Jane, George's mother. 
When I came across this letter today while working on a future WWI post I realized that this letter did claim its place in the posts dedicated to WWI.  Robert, and his wife Rosetta Dexter Richardson (who added a long postscript) were also serving their country in their own way struggling to keep their farm going when all the young men who might  have helped them were going off to war.  I love hearing the voices as their words of 100 years ago are read, knowing that they had weathered the storms of war before and knew of what they spoke. 
1917-0624 – Robert & Rosetta Richardson to Eva (Nellie) Richardson Thompson
Washington, VT, June 24, 1917
Dear Sister Eva[1],
            I realize that I have owed you a letter for a long time but I find but little time for aught else only to do the necessary work on the farm; had had only one days work since last fall.  No help to be hired at any price.
            12 young men from our town have enlisted within a few days, are gone and other are soon to follow.  Charles Henry[2] has enlisted as chemist and mineral expert ready to be called on at any time for government work.  This is a terrible war and peace seems to be a long ways off.  I do not expect to live[3] to see the close of the war, for old people in Vermont are fast passing away. We have had the coldest winter and spring in Vt. that has been known since 1843.  The season is five weeks behind times, a short season unless a late fall.
            Mother and I are fast growing old, cannot expect to stay here much longer.  How are you and do you feel that you are growing old faster than when younger?  Henry’s widow Lilla[4] is expecting to get a pension[5] in a short time. Do you get more favorable news from your pension[6] of late?  Government works slow in all matters of late.  Your birthday is near at hand and hope you will enjoy it and many more.  Please write us often and I will try to answer.     
                                                          With much love,

[1] Eva was the youngest sibling of the Robert and Rosina Richardson children.  Robert F Richardson was the eldest of the 8 children, six of whom reached adulthood. 
[2] His son.
[3] Robert F Richardson did, however, live until 1922.
[4] Lilla M Keyes was the fourth wife of Henry Carlton Richardson, Robert F. Richardson’s brother, who had passed away on August 15, 1915.
[5] Civil War pension as Henry Carlton Richardson was a veteran of that war and had been wounded twice. He enlisted on December 2, 1861 and was discharged on July 17, 1865. 
[6] Eva (Nellie) was the widow of George Thompson who was also a Civil War Veteran.

June 24, 1918
Dear Sister Eva,
            I will try to write a few lines to add to Robert’s letter, he wished me to address his letter to you and I take the liberty to write a few lines.
            If I have not addressed it right please tell me how to address letter to you when you write next time. My memory is getting treacherous and I am forgetting how to spell the words, also how to shape some of the letters.  Do you wonder when you think that I shall be 85 years old if I live to the see the 2nd of next December.  I can hardly realize that Robert and I have lived together 60 years the 9th of this month.
            I have not been very well for more than a year.  I got through the winter alone but I had a neighbor come in and help me one forenoon and two afternoons this spring.  I have done my washings alone thus far but do not think that I can much longer.
            Henry was home for a few days but is now doing geological work in Vt is to return to Syracuse NY to teach a summer school before the college opens in Sept.  I think he is working too hard.
            My brother Avalyn and his wife spent the winter in California, but are now visiting relatives in different states.  He wrote me that he should be here this week.  Walter Burgin has bought my father’s old farm with much other land; he has two boys grown up to help him.
            Brother Lewis spent the winter in Fla for his health.  His trouble is a leakage of one of the arteries of the heart.  I expect him here in a few days.  He does not think he can ever do any more pastoral work. 
                                    Your loving sister, Rosetta
Please kindly remember me to Ella Sherwood.  I should dearly love to step into her home for a few days visit.  It is raining hard here just now. 
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