Monday, January 25, 2010

Excerpts from the Journal of Horace Purdy (1st Connecticut Volunteers) - March 11 - April 2 1861

I apologize for the blogging hiatus, it's taken me a few weeks to get back into things. This batch of journal entries deals with the quiet time right after Lincoln was inaugurated and leading into the Connecticut gubernatorial election of 1861. The first posts are a reminder of the times in the nineteenth century when diseases like smallpox were still prevalent and feared. Deaths were practically an everyday occurrence for these people, but nothing like the horrors they are about to face. Things are about to get much more interesting because of an April 1861 event that took place in Charleston, South Carolina.

Monday March 11th 1861 Danbury, Connecticut

“Dr. Bennett has eight cases of small pox in town. Widow Wilcox’s youngest son has it just out on the corner. After I finished my work in the shop I went to Tweedy Brothers shop to see Lieutenant John W. Bussing about electing Frederick Starr Captain of the Guards.”

[John W. Bussing was the 2nd Lieutenant of the First Connecticut Volunteers.]

Tuesday March 12th 1861 Danbury, Connecticut

“I went to Andrew Knox and got a little paint to put on my rooms upstairs before renting.”

[Andrew Knox was a sergeant in the First Connecticut Regiment.]

Friday March 15th 1861 Danbury, Connecticut

“Philander Betts having had the varioloid in his family came to the shop for the first time since. The men, thinking him to be a dangerous person to be in the shop, called the men together and by a unanimous vote requested him to leave the shop and to stay away until it was safe for him to go out from his family without exposing other people.”

[Varioloid is a mild form of small pox that occurs in someone who has previously survived the disease.]

Monday March 18th 1861 Danbury, Connecticut

“Mr. Betts came to the shop again this morning and wanted to go to work, but the men being yet afraid to work with him on account of the varioloid, which he had had himself and in his family, voted unanimously to request him to stay away another week, but still he hung around the shop seemingly intent on exposing every man in the factory if it was possible.”

Tuesday March 26th 1861 Danbury Connecticut

“Warm and pleasant. The snow is disappearing pretty fast. Anna Beers died this morning at four o’clock. On my way home from the shop I took a letter from the office for Father Griswold from his brother (Uncle Dwight) bearing the intelligence of the death of Aunt Kate. She jumped from her chamber window. In a short time after she died. She was deranged.”

Thursday March 28th 1861 Danbury Connecticut

“I attended prayer meeting in the eve, after its close I stopped at concert hall a short time to listen to O. S. [Orris Sanford] Ferry addressing the Republicans previous to the state election on Monday next. Anna Beers was buried at 1 o’clock this P.M.”

[Orris Sanford Ferry was a Connecticut State Senator, Colonel of the 5th Connecticut Volunteers and later a Brigadier General. After the war he was elected to the United States Senate for two terms.]

Friday March 29th 1861 Danbury Connecticut

“I went to the drill room in the eve but there being only four members present we adjourned and went home. A Mr. Perrin who is speaking to the Democrats of Danbury this eve at Concert Hall is undoubtedly one cause of the vacant drill room.”

Saturday, March 30th 1861 Danbury, Connecticut

“Cyrus W. Northrup of Norwalk spoke to the Republicans in the eve at the Concert Hall. I went and heard him. Our brass band was there, also the Bethel Glee Club.”

[Northrup was a President of Yale College and later President of the University of Minnesota. He was a Lincoln supporter and a popular Republican orator of the time.]

Monday April 1st 1861 Danbury, Connecticut

“State election.”

Tuesday April 2nd 1861 Danbury, Connecticut

“I came home by way of Geo[rge] Starr’s shop and got a bag of shavings. Geo was at the Democratic meeting last eve at the Concert Hall and while setting down the figures of the election returns for his own gratification, was mistaken for the Jeffersonian’s reporter and three groans were given for him and then a vote taken to put him out, but he saved himself the trouble by going himself. The returns which they received last night were quite favorable for them and they thought that they had carried the state. But today the scale has turned and they laugh from the other sides of their mouths. We have carried the state. Gov Buckingham is elected by a larger majority than last year. We have a majority of both branches of the legislature, but we have lost O. S. Ferry of this district for Congress."

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