Somewhere in France

"Soldiers letter" sent by Ellsworth Hawkes to Ben Myers. Ms 101842

“Soldiers letter” sent by Ellsworth Hawkes to Ben Myers. Ms 101842

Ellsworth A. Hawkes worked for the Aetna Insurance Company in Hartford before joining the army in World War I. On December 7, 1917, he wrote to a co-worker, Ben Meyers, from somewhere in France, where he was with the 101st Machine Gun Battalion. He reported that so far the weather had been seasonable and he had not taken ill, important facts to relay. Continue reading

Forgotten Wars?

Almost everyone remembers from history class the names of the major wars fought by the United States—the French and Indian War, the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War,  World War I and World War II. Then there are the “forgotten wars” like the The Mexican-American, Spanish-American and Korean wars and Vietnam.  With Veteran’s Day just around the corner, I decided to take a look at what we have in the collection related to the above-named conflicts.

We abound with manuscripts related to the American Revolution (there is even a collection with that name) the War of 1812 and the Civil War. World War I and World War II are rather well represented as well. For the Spanish-American War we have much less, in fact only ten manuscript items.  One of those is the minutes of the McKinley Command No. 116 of the United Spanish War Veterans that met in Norwalk. Inside the front cover is a circular letter from the state association describing “Recent Laws Passed for the Benefit of the Veterans of the Spanish-American War” passed in 1909; the minutes begin in 1901. I am reminded of the stories we hear on the news today about soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq having trouble getting medical care and other benefits. Continue reading

The Statue on the Green

1995_36_81The Hartford photographer William G. Dudley took this photograph of a Civil War monument on the town green in Glastonbury shortly after it was erected to commemorate Frederick M. Barber and other Glastonbury men killed in the Civil War. Barber, a captain with the 16th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, died on September 20, 1862 of wounds received in action at the Battle of Antietam. His widow Mercy dedicated the monument in 1913, more than fifty years after her husband’s death. Mrs. Barber lived for four more years and died in 1917 at the age of eighty-seven. This summer, Jay LIchtmann, a volunteer at the Connecticut Historical Society, scanned over 1000 of Dudley’s original glass negatives, and Sasha Agins, a student from Bryn Mawr, finished formatting and finishing online records begun a decade ago by yet another dedicated volunteer, Norm Hausman. It was Agins who identified the monument in the photograph and determined its location.


Equipment for soldiers

We recently acquired the Connecticut Adjutant General’s records of clothing provided to soldiers serving in the Connecticut Volunteers during the Civil War. The Regiments are 1st Cavalry, 1st Heavy Artillery, 2nd Heavy Artillery, 7th Infantry, 8th Infantry, 10th Infantry, 11th Infantry, 15th Infantry and the 16th Infantry. Not all companies in each regiment are covered in these volumes. The records include the name of each soldier; the cost of and the date the clothing was issued; his signature or mark; notes about discharge, desertion, being taken prisoner and being mustered out; and any amount due the government at the end of the war or when the account was settled.

William Wilson 2nd, who enlisted in Bridgeport, deserted the service as indicated in the clothing book. Ms 101722.

William Wilson 2nd, who enlisted in the 7th Infantry in Bridgeport, deserted the service, as indicated in the clothing book. Ms 101722.

Several volumes include detailed records of equipment issued to the men, such as haversacks, canteens, and rubber blankets, as seen at the end of the entry below. The men slept on the ground, and the rubber blankets were put down to keep them dry.

Only a few of the volumes we have provide detail about the equipment issued to soldiers. This example includes socks, shoes, shirts, pants, and a rubber blanket. Ms 101722

Only a few of the volumes we have, like this one for the 7th Infantry, provide detail about the equipment issued to soldiers. This example includes socks, shoes, shirts, pants, and a rubber blanket. Ms 101722

Our manuscript holdings on the Civil War include numerous letters and diaries from soldiers, muster rolls, and some government records. Many of our collections(those we had up to about 1990) can be seen at the Civil War Manuscript Project page on the CHS website,

Silent Glow does its part for the war effort

A very nervous potential donor walked in the door at CHS carrying a treasured scrapbook. He doubted if we would be interested, but took his chances. Well, I must have spent close to an hour with the donor oohing and aahing over this scrapbook. It was created by Rose Chorches Gold, an employee at Silent Glow Oil Burner Corporation of Hartford and the donor’s father’s cousin. Rose started the scrapbook in 1940 although some images date from 1937 and focused on the employees of the company.

Silent Glow produced oil burning kitchen stoves, furnaces, and portable styles of oil burners. An advertisement in the December 1, 1930 Lewiston (Maine) Journal claimed Silent Glow had created the market in range burners and were a leader in the industry in general. During World War II, the company president, R.M. Sherman, also head of the burner industry’s association, promoted conservation in a program entitled “Save for Defense”. Sherman cited the need for fuel conservation by adjusting burners to work more efficiently, keeping the temperatures lower, and installing insulation. (Sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?) Rose has a number of articles from newspapers and magazines that illustrated Mr. Sherman’ role at a national level.

Hartford Courant story about Oil Burner’s Efficiency is Fuel Saver, with a button bearing the logo “Save for Defense” from the oil burner industry, 1941. Ms 101680

In addition to documenting Silent Glow’s leadership in the industry, Rose also kept track of those employees who were drafted or entered the service. In the picture below, she lists men who joined or were drafted into the Army and Marines. Other men who entered the military sent post cards or Rose cut out stories about them from the newspaper. So the list of men is not complete.

This page, entitled “Called to Duty” listed men who had joinged the military. John Deluca, Nick Suzick and Jake Shannon were drafted into the army, Ronald G. Hopper enlisted and was wounded in action, and Joe Julius enlisted with the Marines. Ms 101680

Rose’s scrapbook is a great snapshot of this company in the years leading up to the war and through to 1942. She includes employees at work and at play and in most instances has provided identification for people in the pictures. Some she cut out like paper dolls. One gets the feeling from the scrapbook that the company was like a big family. If you want to see this wonderful scrapbook, please ask for Ms 101680 when you come to the Research Center.

Employees of Silent Glow Burner Corp. Ms 101680.