Newton’s newly restored Civil War Soldier’s Monument was just re-dedicated this past spring. It was built in 1864 to commemorate the Newton men that died in that war.
Each month this year, Katy Holmes from Newton’s Planning Dept has been compiling biographies, from all available records, for each soldier who’s name appears on the monument. Throughout this year, Katy has been releasing biographies on the month of each soldier’s death.
Here are five more Newton Civil War soldier’s stories:
At the age of 18, Thomas Duran enlisted with the Mass. 18th, Company F on August 24, 1861. Prior to enlisting Thomas worked as a laborer and lived with his family in Upper Falls, in a house on Chestnut Street near its intersection with Elliot. Thomas was born in Ireland c.1845, and his parents were Patrick and Mary.
Thomas enlisted as a private and was promoted to Sargent on March 1, 1864. He also enlisted on the same day as Michael Vaughn, aged 21, a machinist from Upper Falls, who enlisted as a Private.
On August 30, the 18th mustered out and camped just outside of the Capital near Fort Corchoran, Va. On September 26th the 18th was moved to the front and camped near Hall’s Hill, VA, which served as the Union outpost. The 18th joined other regiments here for drills and picket duty over the winter. Vaughn was discharged from this camp with a disability on December 24, 1861, and died on January 4, 1862 in Washington D.C. Thomas mustered out on September 2, 1864. Though the soldier card for Thomas Duran states that he survived the war, a pension card for Mary Duran (his mother) was found that showed an application date of October 7, 1864.
The Mass 18th, Company F fought in all the major battles in the war, and at the end of the three year enlistment period, which ended for most in September 1864, the Mass 18th companies joined the Mass 32nd, which contained a number of Newton men. Many of the men who fought in the Mass. 18th were from Bristol, Norfolk and Plymouth Counties, located in the southeast portion of the state including the Cape.
What happened to Duran and where he might be buried is not currently known.
Henry Clay Harrington
Born in Weston in 1826 to Luther and Achsah Harrington, Henry was a twice-married, 39 year-old carpenter when he enlisted with the Mass. 45th, Company K on October 7, 1862. Harrington was a Newton resident as of 1850 and lived there with his second wife Letitia Wiswall Harrington when he enlisted. Their baby daughter Sarah Elizabeth was born three months before Henry enlisted. Harrington mustered out of service on July 7, 1863 and was able to return home. He died of malaria over two years later on October 6, 1865 and is buried in Newton Cemetery.
Harrington served in the Mass. 45th with 26 other Newton men who enlisted for nine-month tours. The Mass. 45th spent much of its time moving through the Carolinas, with heavy losses sustained at Kinston and Whitehall.
Henry C. Harrington first married Sarah E. Saunderson in Newton on October 21, 1849. They had a son, Francis Henry, who was born in 1852. Sarah died eight years later in 1860. Their son Francis lived to be 55 years old and died in 1907. On April 28, 1861, Henry married his neighbor three houses down, Letitia Wiswall. Their daughter Sarah was born in 1862 and lived to be 89 years old.
A descendant of the Wiswall family in Newton, who currently resides in Virginia, provided some details on the descendants of Henry Harrington. Henry’s son Francis married Hannah E. Crowley in Newton in 1874, and had three children. Sarah Elizabeth Harrington married Frank Henry Mitchell in 1892, and also had three children. Sarah died in 1951 and is buried in Maine.
Joseph Robbin Pratt
Joseph R. Pratt was born in Chelsea, MA in 1835. By 1860 he was a 27 year-old carpenter living in West Newton with his wife Elizabeth P. and two children, George Henry (aged three) and Susan Matilda (aged one). A third child, Josephine, was born after Pratt was deployed in 1862. Pratt and his wife married in Newton in 1857. Newton census records show that his family lived with his father Caleb, mother Margaret, and sister Sarah E. in what appears to have been a two-family house.
Pratt enlisted on July 28, 1862 with the Mass. 32nd Company K with 22 other soldiers who enlisted from Newton and who appear on the Soldiers’ Monument. Pratt died three months later on October 12, 1862 in Sharpsburg, MD. Records show that he died of disease a month after fighting in the Battle of Antietam. His wife Elizabeth filed for a pension on June 26, 1863 and lived until 1912, when she died at the age of 76.
In 1868, Elizabeth and her father-in-law Caleb appear in the Newton directory for that year as living on Emerald Street in Auburndale. A search on GIS and the state’s historic building database shows conflicting dates for home construction on that street, so it’s not immediately clear which house they may have occupied in 1868.
Grace Ethel Hagar, presumably a relative, posted on ancestry.com the following information for Joseph R. Pratt: “Remains brought home November 26 and buried in Chelsea family tomb November 29, 1862.” The search is still on for the Pratt family tomb.
John McQuade was a married father of five and working as a machinist in Upper Falls when he enlisted with the Mass, 24th, Company E on September 7, 1861. Married to Bridget, who had her first child at 16, both he and his wife immigrated from Ireland. John was 33 years old when he enlisted, and after he served a three-year tour of duty, returned home after mustering out on September 7, 1864.
McQuade served in the Mass. 24th Company E with George H. Baxter, 37, a farmer from Newton, though McQuade enlisted almost a year after Baxter. The 24th mustered out of Readville, MA and served in North Carolina in 1862, working its way down the coast until it reached Florida, where McQuade mustered out of Fort Clinch, FL in 1864.
John Myer, who is listed above John McQuade on the monument, died in 1874; George H. Nichols, who died in 1864, is listed below him. John McQuade was not listed on the monument when it was dedicated in 1864, but it is unclear when his name was listed (presumably after 1874), or when he died. No further information about this family is available after 1860.
Gilbert A. Cheney
Gilbert A. Cheney was a 23 year-old firefighter living in Upper Falls when he enlisted with the Mass. 2nd Infantry Company D. Known as the “Fitchburg Company,” this group was comprised almost entirely of Fitchburg men, of whom Cheney was one, having grown up in Fitchburg. Marriage records show that he was born in Woonsocket, RI. Cheney enlisted on May 25, 1861 and over a year later was wounded in the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862. Cheney died of his wounds on October 2, 1862.
The son of Stephen and Elizabeth Cheney, Gilbert married another Fitchburg resident, Mary Jane Young in 1858 when she was 17 years old.
May 25, 1861, the day Cheney enlisted, was the day Mass 2nd organized in West Roxbury at Brook Farm under the command of George H. Gordon, a West Point graduate. There is evidence to suggest this regiment was the first to be comprised of Massachusetts residents in the early days of the conflict. By late summer and fall the regiment was stationed in Virginia on picket duty along the Potomac River, and by the winter was housed at Camp Hicks near Frederick, MD. By early the next year the Mass 2nd joined Gordon’s 3rd Brigade and was engaged in battles through Virginia and Pennsylvania, leading to the engagement on September 17th at Antietam that resulted in Cheney’s wounds. The Union commander of this brigade, Lieut. Col. Wilder Dwight, was also lost on that day.
Gilbert Cheney’s name also appears on the Fitchburg Soldiers’ Monument under the heading “Died of Wounds,” with a different death date than what other records report. Fitchburg recorded his death as October 18, 1862. His grave site is not currently known.