This issue, we are featuring Mary Elizabeth Chandler, a Civil War officer’s wife, who was a witness and to some of the most historic times during the Civil War and later during Reconstruction. Many genealogical entries about ancestors, especially women are simple: born, married, children, and then died, but fortunately she was mentioned in two books about the Civil War and we have the links to those books that you can read free online if you wish. So for those of you are also Civil War buffs, and I know that at least one of our members is, this is a story that should be most interesting as gives a glimpse of what life was like with the first African American regiment, plus we have pictures. Mary Elizabeth was the last child of Reuben and Mary (Parcher) Chandler whose family story was featured in the past few issues.
Member Alert! If any of you still have the, I believe, 2006 Chandler calendar, there is a picture of Mary Elizabeth and her husband George Chamberlin in his uniform in it. Please let me know if you have it so we can scan it and add it to the story in the future.
Because of the amount of time it took for the Mary Elizabeth Chandler story and other ongoing Chandler research (what you see is the tip of the iceberg), plus non-genealogy obligations, the Revolutionary War series will not start until the next issue.
Also, tips, Duxbury news, the return of “Who Do You Think You Are,” DNA news, brick walls and more.
I am hoping to go the Czech Republic in the fall with my brother as that is where our grandmother came from (not all ancestors are Chandlers!) so I am not sure if the next edition of the newsletter will be before or after that trip. I will keep you all posted.
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS
This issue we welcome new members. I hope that the new members will browse our Members’ Only section which has over a thousand pages of information including maps and photos. There is a lot of info that you won’t find elsewhere. Probably the one resource that all Edmund Chandler descendants should see is the Chandler section of The Genealogy of Edward Small which is in our online Library. This is considered the bible on Edmund and the early Chandlers and is universally respected as it is meticulously researched from primary sources. The first edition came out in the early 1900s and the second in the 1930s. I believe that we have the second edition. This is important to know because the author, Lora Altine Underhill, made corrections and updated a few items in the second edition. Since she wrote her book information about Samuel Chandler, Edmund’s son, has been corrected.
The discovery of another son of Edmund (John who died on the way to Barbados), and proof that Capt. John Chandler was the grandson of Joseph Chandler were made by our members. Our members through their own dedicated research have been able to continue and build upon her research.
As you all know we have been trying to get a plaque installed in Duxbury. Our member, Billie, is going to Duxbury in June with plans to find people who will be receptive to the plaque and continue her Chandler research. We have the funds allocated and just need someone official from Duxbury to give us the go ahead.
The genealogy TV show, “Who Do You Think You Are” is coming back. This is the program which sent a squadron of Ancestry.com researchers and their cohorts into the most obscure archives and worldwide locations tracing the family trees of celebrities such as Rob Lowe, Lisa Kudrow, Susan Sarandon and others. The most interesting part, at least to we genealogy buffs, was not so much the celebrities, but the research and worldwide locations the show visited The series ran for three years on NBC before it was cancelled, but like the phoenix it rose again. This time it is will be on the cable TV network, TLC, formerly known as the Learning Channel. The first program is scheduled for July 23, 2013 at 9 PM Eastern. Check your listings as TV schedules can change. Here are a couple of links for more details:
For those of you who live in California you might want to see the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree held June 6-9th. It is the second largest genealogy convention in the country. If you don’t want to pay to hear the lectures, the exhibit hall is free Friday through Sunday. Parking is not free. Lots of clubs and group are represented such as the DAR, German, Czech and Civil War as well as the big genealogy companies such as Ancestry, Familysearch, Rootsmagic, Fold3, FTDNA, Family Heritage and many more have booths and give big discounts on their wares. DNA continues to be the hot topic as a whole day, June 6, is devoted to lectures on that subject.
Here is the link: Welcome to Jamboree!
TIPS AND RESOURCES
Familysearch is continuing to plow forward with frequent changes and additions so can be quirky at times. They now require people to sign up before they can use their site. It is a simple and free process and you will not be pestered with e-mails as a result. They do have a new feature which allows people to put their family trees on the site. They still are working on their plan to enable people to correct mistakes and have unified family trees.
Dale H. Cook maintains several GenWeb pages which include Duxbury, Plymouth, Marshfield, etc. He is also a terrific researcher. The above source consolidates indexes from 13 volumes of early Plymouth records. As Duxbury was a suburb of Plymouth there are many references to Chandlers and activities in early Duxbury. Previously if you wanted to look up Edmund Chandler or one of the early Chandlers, you would have to look in the index of each of the thirteen volumes to find that person. Now they are in one place.
NEW YORK RESOURCES
As far as I know, very few Edmund Chandler descendants migrated to New York. A couple of them were wives and the one family who did move to New York moved back to Vermont or New Hampshire where they originally came from. The Chandlers who did leave New England seemed to favor, Illinois, Ohio and Iowa.
However, in case you have New York ancestors, Carrie, a teacher from New York who enjoyed our site sent along these two New York resources:
“New York State Historical Association Research Library”
“A Guide to New York Historical Resources” –
Our co-chairperson and treasurer, Bob, found the item below in his local genealogical society newsletter, the Lincoln-Lancaster Genealogical Society Newsletter, and wished to share it with our group. I contacted the author, Elyse Doerflinfer, who has a genealogy blog, and she granted us permission to use it. She also is offering free research forms that you can download. Here is her blog address:
Blogger Elyse Doerflinfer blogs at Elyse’s Genealogy Blog| (http://elysesgenealogyblog.com). Recently Elyse wrote an informative two-part blog post on how to organize and tackle a “brick wall ancestor” — that elusive ancestor for whom the research trail has gone cold. Elyse has graciously granted permission to reproduce the post in its entirety. Thank you Elyse! —Ed.
Every genealogist has a brick wall ancestor – that ancestor with the record trail that seems to just stop. One of the keys to busting down that brick wall is to organize your project in a way that lays out what you already know about the ancestor, your research problem, and a research to-do list. Having this summary and plan written up, will make it super easy to follow through and bust down those brick walls.
THERE ARE 7 STEPS TO ORGANIZING YOUR BRICK WALL PROJECT:
1.) Write Down Everything You Know and How You Know It. I prefer to do this in a timeline format – starting from birth and listing every event I have about my ancestor until their death and/or burial. Under each event, I list the source from where the information came from. I also like to write a summary sentence or two about the weight of each piece of information.
2.) A source is where you got the information from. Original sources provide information that is not derived by another source. Derivative sources, just as the name suggests, is a source that has been abstracted, transcribed, summarized, or in some way derived from another source. It is usually best to see the original source whenever possible to be sure exactly what it says. Derived sources like transcriptions and abstractions can sometimes contain errors.
There are two types of information that can be found within a source. Primary information comes from records created at or near the time of the event with information by a person with close knowledge of the event. For example, a birth record (unless it is delayed) will contain primary information about the birth of a child. This information was probably provided by the parents that were present or the midwife/doctor that was present during the birth. Secondary information is information found in records created after a long period of time has passed from the event or was contributed by a person who was not present at the event.
The complicated part is that one source may have multiple types of information within it. For example, a death certificate is an original source with primary information regarding the death date and place, but secondary information regarding the names of parents and date of birth. The secondary information will need to be assessed and it will probably be best to search for more records created closer to the time of the event.
2.) Identify the Problem: Now that you have a clear picture of what you know about your ancestor, it’s time to identify exactly what question you want to answer. If there are multiple questions, list each one separately and clearly.
Examples: Where was George Monroe Rogers born? What was the name of his parents? Where was John N. Morris living during the 1900 census? Did Adolph Doerflinger become a naturalized citizen? Where was Julia Morris Rogers buried?
3.) List Your Hypotheses. What are your educated guesses to answer your research question? What do you think may have happened? What is your reasoning behind your guess?
4.) Create the F.A.N. List: When researching your ancestors, it is super important to keep a list of the people your ancestors interacted with throughout their lives. These people are called F.A.N.s – friends, associates, and neighbors. These are the people your ancestors did business with, sat next to in church, and signed documents as witnesses. When you get really stuck with an ancestor, it is often the friends, associates, and neighbors that will have more information – research the F.A.N.s and you might find the missing piece of the puzzle to your research question.
5.) Create a To-Do List: Now that you have all information about your ancestor and the research problem laid out in a clear and organized manner, it is time to create a research to-do list. Carefully look at the information and begin to brainstorm the records and resources you want to check. Maybe you need to employ a new search strategy – like trying different naming spellings or checking the surrounding counties – to a resource you’ve already checked to find your ancestor.
6.) Collaborate: Collaborating with other researchers is a great way to find new perspective and get new research ideas. Whenever I have a research problem, I share the problem with others – two heads (or more!) are always better than one! I love to write blog posts
about my brick wall ancestors – this will hopefully attract unknown cousins that might have information to share, and other researchers can have a chance to make recommendations or share resources I hadn’t thought of yet. Someone else might look at your research and have a fresh perspective to offer – like maybe you read a word incorrectly or didn’t know that geographic boundaries had changed and you should be looking in a different jurisdiction for that record.
If blog posts are your style, use a message board to share your problem. Like a blog post, other people can comment with ideas and fresh perspective – and you might just find a cousin!
Also look into using collaborative websites like WikiTree (This is my favorite – and not just because I work there!) or WeRelate. Both of these options allow for multiple researchers to collaborate on one ancestor profile.
7.) Re-Evaluate & Repeat: As you finish steps 1-6, you’ve hopefully gathered some new information. Now repeat the entire process, entering in all new information, until you have successfully answered your question.
For those of you who are new and are not aware of the Chandler DNA Project , the ECFA is co-sponsoring the project with our sister group, the Chandler Family Association. Chandler is an occupational name so there are many unrelated Chandler families. Our member and Chandler project co-administrator, Dick, estimates that there are about 150 distinct and unrelated Chandler families in the world. So far we have about 70 family clusters and the majority of men who have taken the YDNA test have found matches. You can click the link to find out more if you wish.
Additional Edmund Chandler descendants have taken the YDNA test recently and match Group 13, the Edmund Chandler Group. Out of respect for their privacy, I am only including part of their lines. We now have a second Capt. John Chandler descendant who matches the Edmund Chandler family. Capt. John was once one of our “mystery” Chandlers. Here is his line Capt. John>Edmund*>Joseph>Edmund, the immigrant. (* indicates, in this case, compelling circumstantial evidence that he was the father of Capt. John)
We also have a descendant of Judah Chandler (Judah>Joseph>Joseph>Edmund, the immigrant who was a match to Group 13 and lastly a descendant of yet another Jonathan Chandler who took the test who matched Group 13. This Jonathan was from North Yarmouth, Maine and was the brother of Judah. Here is his line: Jonathan>Joseph>Joseph>Edmund, the immigrant
Dick is spearheading, both by leading and donating money, a big push into YDNA testing English Chandlers in hopes of connecting to them to Chandlers worldwide which would include the United States and of course, Edmund. Thank you Dick!
Our paper trail for Edmund’s origins remains cold, but may warm up again with Billie on the trail. YDNA testing offers an alternate way to find his origins.
The offer is for 12 marker tests for English Chandlers. If the initial results look promising, the tests will be upgraded to more markers to either confirm or eliminate that particular testee as a match to a previously tested Chandler family. Our ECFA members have donated money for research into the Edmund Chandler family previously and we will back that up with additional money from our treasury if need be for further testing of promising Edmund Chandler family candidates amongst those that Dick may find.
We are still looking for specific American Chandlers to test and we and/or the CFA will offer free DNA testing for proven Chandler male line descendants of the following men:
Zebedee Chandler of Plympton, Mass born c. 1712. He is one of our “mystery” Chandlers and is believed to be descended from Edmund. None of his descendants have been YDNA tested yet as to our knowledge.
William Chandler of Newbury, Mass. He immigrated to Newbury, Massachusetts in the 1600s. As none of his descendants have been YDNA tested it is unknown if he could be related to any previously tested Chandlers. William of Newbury is the patriarch of one of the “Big Four” New England Chandler families which consist of the aforementioned William of Newbury, Mass, William of Roxbury, Mass, Edmund of Duxbury, Mass, and Roger of Concord, Mass. I refer to them as the “Big Four” because most of the early New England Chandlers descended from one of them. Roger Chandler of Duxbury is not included as he had no surviving male descendants that we know of.
William Chandler of Portsmouth New Hampshire and Deptford, Kent England. It appears that he did not have many descendants. He immigrated to the American colonies in the 1700s. His descendants settled in New Hampshire and York, Maine. What is intriguing about him is that he was from Kent. Roger Chandler, long believed to be related to Edmund, married Isabella Chilton in Canterbury, Kent. For that reason Kent is high on list of possible places where Edmund came from.
The U198 DNA Project
The U198 Project ( U198 Project-page 5 )goes back farther than the use of surnames which is about 500 years. It is a test for a marker whose common ancestor lived 2000 to 3000 years ago. That seems like a fairly useless bit of knowledge if surnames were not being used, so what can it show us? Potentially if enough men check for this marker, we may find migration patterns and geographic clusters of descendants. We already have one Edmund descendant who is being tested to see if he has this marker and one is all we need per group. This testing is only in its infancy, so we will have to wait and see if it will give us any useful information.
If enough information can be gathered about U198, we may be able to find the general area where descendants of one of Edmund’s long ago ancestors live today. Now, with limited testing, there seems to be a cluster of U198 in Lowland Scotland.
I am the pipsqueak of the Chandler DNA committee and only answer the most basic questions as John Chandler (a William and Annis descendant) is the expert and Dick is rapidly becoming more expert. I help with lineage issues and occasionally get caught up in Chandler mysteries far afield from Edmund such as three southerners who match, but only one has the Chandler surname for sure, one is iffy, and the other has another surname. We made progress, but it is still a puzzle and more data is needed.
NEW TELEVISION SHOW ABOUT GENEALOGY
PBS announced that it will add a new series Genealogy Roadshow to its fall lineup. Part detective story, part emotional journey, Genealogy Roadshow will combine history and science to uncover the fascinating stories of diverse Americans. Each individual’s past will link to a larger COMMUNITY history, revealing the rich cultural tapestry of America. GENEALOGY ROADSHOW will air Mondays, September 23-October 14, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET.
Unlike “Who do You Think You Are,” everyone is qualified to be part of the show. The original airing will highlight people’s stories from several cities: Austin, Detroit, Nashville, and San Francisco.
If you live in, or by any of these cities, you can participate. The producers of the show are looking for people who can address these questions;
Is there a family legend you would like to explore? A missing piece or person in your family tree you have always wondered about? Do you believe you might be connected to our nation’s rich history and folklore? Have you discovered an ancestral link to a founding father or an American icon? Is there a family story passed down for generations you would like investigated and finally answered?
To apply submit an application to;
San Francisco: http://www.kqed.org/grshow/
LIFE on the FARM
by Barb Chandler
Many of our Chandler ancestors were farmers, this caused me to wonder what life was like for them.
This short video clip answered my question and gave me an appreciation for the life many of our ancestors lived.
Life on the farm is hardly laid back like the picture John Denver paints in his song “Thank God I’m A County Boy.”
IMMORTALIZING OUR ANCESTORS
By Barb Chandler
One way to make sure your family history is not buried with your ancestor is to contribute your research to the public. Besides preserving your family history; your research will help future genealogists, and you may even find others who are researching your line.
Contribute your research to genealogical or linage societies. Google ‘genealogical society’ for your state or you can find a number of genealogical and linage societies on Cyndi’s List; http://www.cyndislist.com/societies/
Consider sending photos to your state genealogical library and/or contribute them to Dead Fred, a genealogy photo achieve; http://www.deadfred.com/
Think about putting your family tree online. Rootsweb, as well as other web sites, offers free space for family trees; http://accounts.rootsweb.ancestry.com/
Another place to add your research is Find A Grave; http://www.findagrave.com/ do a search for your ancestor, if they aren’t listed and you have sourced information where they are buried create a memorial to them, if you have an obit and/or picture all the better. Also, consider adding memorials for current relatives who have died.
Send Barb or Carol stories about your relatives so their lives can be immortalized in the Courier.
MARY ELIZABETH CHANDLER
Lineage: Mary Elizabeth>Reuben>Jonathan*>Judah>Joseph>Joseph>Edmund, the Immigrant
Research by Sharron Ross and Carol May
Mary Elizabeth Chandler’s early life showed no sign that she would be swept up in one of the seminal events in Civil War history. She was born in Maine into a family of paupers that was split up. (See the last several issues about her family)
She was the last child of Reuben and Mary (Parcher) Chandler. Various sources list her birthdate from 1836 to 1839, but most show 1837. Shaker records show her brother Hewett and sister, Statira, had been sent to live with the Shakers. We don’t know if she also lived with the Shakers or lived with other relatives. We do know that her father, Reuben, was alone in in the US 1840 census. Her mother, Mary, formally joined the Shakers in her later years.
Like her brothers and sister, Mary Elizabeth left Maine for Massachusetts where there were jobs and opportunities. At age 23, she first appeared in the records as a resident in her brother, Malcolm’s, household in the 1860 US census for Brighton, Mass where Malcolm was a prosperous ice dealer.
She married George Barret Chamberlin later that year on Nov. 27, 1860 in Brookline, Mass. Brighton records show her birthplace as listed as Lewiston, Maine which is adjacent to Poland, Maine.
Her young adult life was uneventful and typical for a New England woman of her age, marriage then the birth of a daughter, Annie, born May 1, 1863 until the event that rocked the nation — the Civil War. From then on Mary Elizabeth’s life wasn’t typical anymore.
Her husband, George, enlisted as a private in Union Army on August 15, 1862 in Boston, but was only enlisted for a nine month term. After being mustered out he volunteered and was recommended to serve as quartermaster under Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson of the First South Carolina Volunteers Colored Infantry later to be renamed the 33rd United States Colored Infantry Regiment. He was promoted to First Lieutenant and was mustered Aug. 29, 1863 in Beaufort, South Carolina. His enlistment was for three years.
George’s service with the First South Carolina Volunteers Colored Infantry is what separated Mary Elizabeth’s life from the lives of most Civil War wives, because Mary would later join him not only living in strategically located army camps in captured enemy territory, but with a history making regiment.
George and Mary Elizabeth must have also had Abolitionist sympathies or he wouldn’t have been recommended for appointment to this regiment and Mary Elizabeth would not have joined him in an army camp consisting of former slaves in captured enemy territory. Mary Elizabeth also had undoubtedly been exposed to Shaker views and practice of tolerance and equality growing up as her brother was a Shaker leader and her mother joined the Shakers.
To understand how unique George and Mary Elizabeth’s experience was with the First South Carolina Colored regiment and its historical significance, here is a little history of how the regiment came into being.
The First South Carolina Volunteers Colored Infantry, later renamed the 33rd United States Colored Infantry, was the first officially recognized regiment composed of African Americans and the first composed of escaped slaves. This was also the only regiment formed from the rebelling states that was loyal to the Union, a matter of pride amongst the men.
The movie “Glory” depicted the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Army but it was formed later from free African Americans from the Boston area. Free African Americans were willing to fight, but were not allowed until a presidential proclamation allowed them to do so later on. At the time, the majority of people in the North felt that it was a “white man’s war.” As for slaves, many Northerners doubted the ability or willingness of former slaves to fight. Some Northerners were Abolitionists, but the majority was not.
At the beginning of the war slaves were returned to their owners if they supported the Union. Initially, as more and more slaves escaped or were abandoned, the Union evaded whole legal issue by declaring them “contrabands of war” then abandoned property. When Union General David Hunter captured parts of coastal South Carolina, there were 10,000 slaves that had been abandoned by their fleeing owners or had escaped. General Hunter, who was an Abolitionist, declared them, as well as all of the slaves in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, free.
Unfortunately, that order freeing the slaves was rescinded by President Lincoln and General Hunter was reprimanded for acting on his own. Lincoln had to walk a fine line between freeing slaves and pushing the loyal slave states into seceding and joining the Confederacy because four states, five when West Virginia formed, while loyal to the Union, were still slave states.
General Hunter, also and on his own and unofficially, had been asking for volunteers and was “drafting” the escaped and abandoned slaves who had not been put to work harvesting the abandoned plantation cotton and rice fields into the military.
His retort to Congress regarding the slaves was:
“I reply that no regiment of “Fugitive Slaves” has been, or is being organized in this Department. There is, however, a fine regiment of persons whose late masters are “Fugitive Rebels” –men who everywhere fly before the appearance of the National Flag, leaving their servants behind them to shift as best as they can for themselves… thousand(s) of these hardy and devoted (African American) soldiers.”
This first military effort did not go well as the former slaves were not paid and, did not really get a full chance to fight. On July 17, 1862 a proclamation was made authorizing African Americans to be employed in the war effort and to become soldiers, but still no official recognition, still no full pay, and still no promise to be free when the war was over. At this early stage of the war, the war was to preserve the union and not to free slaves, although that would come later, but by the war’s end 12.5% of the slaves had been freed, considerably weakening the South’s ability to fight.
Pressure from Abolitionists, an ever growing number of escaped and abandoned slaves, and a need for more troops led to orders that were sent down from the Secretary of War to General Rufus Saxon. Those orders were for General Saxon, who was anti-slavery, to find someone to lead a new regiment consisting primarily of slaves which would be commanded by white officers.
Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson was asked and accepted the appointment. Colonel Higginson was a Harvard educated, Unitarian minister, ardent Abolitionist, author, scholar, friend of Harriet Tubman, of the Underground Railroad, and future mentor and friend of poet Emily Dickenson. He also had been part of the “Secret Six” who supported John Brown, the Abolitionist, who in a failed attempt tried to free the slaves and begin a slave revolt at Harper’s Ferry in 1859.
They began recruiting escaped slaves and remnants of General Hunter’s unpaid disheartened soldiers for this brand new, regiment consisting of former slaves, the First Carolina Volunteers Colored.
Many slaves on the outer reaches of the Sea Islands had seen very little or nothing of white people, only black overseers, and were fed stories, undoubtedly started by plantation owners, of Yankees as having horns and tails and with the intent of capturing slaves in order to sell them to Cuba or pull carts like oxen.
Finally, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and Colonel Higginson introduced Dr. W. H. Brisbane who read the text to a gathering of soldiers and citizens on January 1, 1863 next to a moss draped tree that became known as the Emancipation Oak. Lincoln’s Executive Order declared the slaves in the rebelling states to be “forever free” which ended the ambiguous status of escaped slaves and allowed them to join the military and made the First South Carolina Colored official.
A lone elderly former slave with a slightly cracked voice began to sing My Country Tis of Thee, and was soon joined by two women also former slaves. The officials on the stage started to join in, but Col. Higginson quieted them as he felt that only the voices of the former slaves should be heard as they finally were free and had a country. To read Col. Higginson’s moving account and to see pictures click: Take a walk through Beaufort’s history: The Emancipation Oak, and ‘independence’ | Beaufort SC Local & Visitor Guide | Eat Sle
A lot was riding on this regiment for both the African American soldiers and their white officers, as they knew that they would be heavily scrutinized and that they could not fail or it could doom the fate of all African Americans.
Northerners, upon hearing what slave conditions were like, sent teachers, who had to take an oath to the Union and be commissioned, and philanthropists to the Port Royal area to help the ever growing number of escaping slaves and freed slaves
Colonel Higginson wrote later, “this particular regiment lived for months under the glare of publicity” which “tests any regiment where they had a continuous stream of visitors, military and civil”.
“Watched by microscopic scrutiny by friends and foes. The slightest camp incidents sometimes came back to us, magnified and distorted, in letters of anxious inquiry from remote parts of the nation,” he wrote.
They had to meet Army standards and if there was any mutiny or major desertions “it would be all over.”
Upon hearing that the Union was forming regiments using former slaves, Confederate President Jefferson Davis issued a proclamation that if the slaves turned soldiers and their white officers were captured, the African Americans would be auctioned off and their white officers hanged.
Colonel Higginson called it “serving under the threat of the noose.” He had another worry, if they were too strict in training the troops they would appear to be like slave owners and if too lenient the troops would fall apart. He decided that strict army discipline and fair treatment was the proper way to go. Once the former slaves were convinced that they were all under the same military rules and military hierarchy, officers and enlisted men alike, it worked out and the former slaves turned soldiers took pride in their service and what their service meant. One former slave and now a sergeant pointed to his stripes and said “See this. This means guv’ment” when his authority was questioned.
The regiment did not participate in major battles, but engaged in military raids, often accompanied by gunboats, obtaining supplies, chasing rebels and freeing slaves up the St. Mary, St. John and the Edisto Rivers. They later had picket line duty where they had to patrol the line to keep the Confederates from recapturing strategic Port Royal which served as both a blockade against the South and a vital supply point for the Union. They shot at the Rebels and in turn were shot at as the Rebels tested the line while the Union pickets looked for any movement of Rebel troops that could indicate a major attack. They had to watch out for snipers, being lured into Rebel traps, and disguised Rebels trying penetrate the line or attack them. The southerners also had their dogs, ‘the detectives of the South” as Col. Higginson called them. These dogs formerly used to hunt runaway slaves, now looked for any Union soldiers reconnoitering or moving as advance troops.
When not on patrol or picket duty, the regiment was posted mostly near Beaufort, a small town situated on Port Royal Island which lay between the port cities of Savannah Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. There was Camp Saxton and later Camp Shaw which were both located on the Old Fort Smith Plantation. The ruins of the original fort dated back to colonial days and pre-dated the plantation. Later on the regiment moved to Hilton Head and Folly Island near Charleston.
New troops were added as slaves were freed. Harriet Tubman, famous for being a conductor of the Underground Railroad, served with the regiment as a Union Spy, army scout and nurse. She was a friend of Col. Higginson and with Col. Montgomery she planned and led a raid up the Combahee River that freed over 750 slaves and captured a fortune in goods and supplies for the Union. Most of the escaped slaves joined the regiment. These slaves, afraid of the Yankees at first until Harriet reassured them and spread the word of the Emancipation Proclamation, charged to board the gunboats. They ran from the fields and cookhouses, with men hired by their owners in pursuit, shouting that “Lincoln’s gunboats” had come to set them free.
This was First Lieutenant George Barret Chamberlin’s regiment and the regiment where later Mary Elizabeth and daughter baby Annie joined him.
Mary Elizabeth’s Arrival to Camp Shaw
It was November of 1863 and the regiment was settled in their winter camp at Port Royal Island, South Carolina, near Beaufort, when, according to Colonel Higginson’s diary, George B. Chamberlin, the quartermaster, knocked at the door of his tent.
“The door opened and the Quartermaster thrust in the most beaming face I ever saw. “Colonel” said he, “there are great news for the regiment. My wife and baby are coming by the next steamer!”
“Baby!” I said in amazement. QM (we always called the Quartermaster QM for shortness) “There was a pass sent for your wife, but nothing was said about a baby, baby indeed!”
George, the QM, replied, “Baby was included in the pass. Besides the pass itself permits her to bring necessary baggage, and is not a baby six months old necessary baggage?”
Colonel Higginson asked him, “How can you make the little thing comfortable in a tent, amidst these rigors of a South Carolina winter, when it is uncomfortably hot for drill at noon and ice forms by your bedside at night?”
George replied, “Trust me for that!”
The quartermaster, resourceful enough to get both wife Mary Elizabeth and baby Annie down there, was up to the task. The tent soon had rafters, a floor, chimney, a door with hinges, but no latch as Colonel Higginson got the only latch. The regimental carpenter made a bedstead and a cradle which could fit underneath. A scrap of red carpet was the finishing touch. It was a double tent with the front serving as the quartermaster’s office and the rear portion, the living quarters and parlor. One of the sergeant’s wives was hired to be a nursery maid.
Mary Elizabeth and Annie, who was now six months old, arrived at Port Royal by steamship and settled into Camp Shaw populated by a few white officers and fewer still of their wives, 800 former slaves turned soldiers, plus cooks, laundresses, and workers who were also former slaves.
Camp Shaw was named after Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who died with his men in the second battle of Fort Wagner. The movie “Glory” about the 54th Regiment and Colonel Shaw, took literary license as portraying it as being the first regiment made up of slaves, but that honor actually went to the First South Carolina Volunteers Colored, Col. Higginson’s regiment. Colonel Shaw and his fallen troops were heroes to the men, which is why the camp was named after him.
Camp Shaw was far, far different than Boston. In addition to the slaves turned soldiers and constant influx of liberated or escaped slaves, there was the ever presence of the enemy who would send over volleys of shells. Instead of cranberries and snow there was tremendous heat, humidity, disease in warm months, magnolias, hanging moss, alligators, and bugs, many bugs, especially mosquitoes and sand fleas.
Mary Elizabeth may also have known Clara Barton, “the angel of the battlefield” and founder of the American Red Cross as she was in nearby Beaufort. She also most likely met Harriet Tubman as she was with the regiment. Mary Elizabeth did become friends with Susie King Taylor, a former slave, who served with the Regiment as a laundress and nurse wrote of Mary Elizabeth in her book “Reminiscences of My Life In Camp with the 33rd United States Colored Troops First S.C. Volunteers.”
“Mrs. Chamberlain (sic), our quartermaster’s wife, was with us here (Camp Shaw, near Beaufort South Carolina). She was a beautiful woman; I can see her pleasant face before me now, as she, with Captain Trowbridge, would sit and converse with me in my tent two or three hours at a time. She was also with me on Cole Island (near Charleston, South Carolina), and I think we were the only women with the regiment while there. I remember well how, when she first came into camp, Captain Trowbridge brought her to my tent and introduced her to me. I found her then, as she remained ever after, a lovely person, and I always admired her cordial and friendly ways.”
It was baby Annie who caught the heart of the regiment. Her nursery maid would take her on tours of the camp. Colonel Higginson was so taken by baby Annie that he devoted an entire chapter in his book to her. (You can read more about baby Annie by going to our newsletter archives and read Sharron’s story about her in the Sept. and Oct. 2006 issues or read the chapter in Col. Higginson’s book, Army life in a black regiment – Thomas Wentworth Higginson – Google Books)
“At guard-mounting in the morning, Baby was always there to inspect them,” wrote Col. Higginson. The Officer of the Day “would come to Baby to on his way to receive her orders first” and then on to Col. Higginson.
Annie would review the troops daily. Monthly, “some inspecting officer was sent to the camp by the general in command to see the conditions of everything from bayonets to buttons”, Col. Higginson wrote, but then he would always say that there was one more thing to inspect that was “peculiar to the regiment,” then out would be brought Annie, “a flower in the midst of war.” He wrote that she never failed to elicit a smile.
“Our little lady was very impartial and distributed her kind looks to everybody. She had not the slightest prejudice against color, and did not care in the least whether her particular friends were black or white,” Col. Higginson wrote of baby Annie.
Annie especially liked the drummer boys as they “were small and made a noise.” The drummer boys, who “gave more trouble than all the grown men,” would catch partridges to show to Annie according to Col. Higginson. Lizards and possums were also presented to her, but the only animals that she took a shine to were the kittens. “Little baby” addressed to the kittens were, Annie’s first words. Annie had a playmate for a few weeks when the baby of one of the sergeant’s was visiting.
While the tent stove usually kept the family warm, on occasion, the wind shifted and they would be smoked out of the tent and Mary Elizabeth and baby Annie in her Red Riding Hood cloak would be forced to flee in the rain to the Adjutant’s wife’s tent.
The soldiers sang spirituals, which along with the Gullah dialect of the Sea Islands, were a source of study and fascination for the Colonel.
While the soldiers sang spirituals around campfires, for the officers, the quartermaster’s tent was the place to be in the evenings where Methodist hymns were sung, “With Mrs. C.’s sweet tones chiming in.”
As the regiment was actively engaged in war, George, Mary Elizabeth and baby Annie’s residence moved with the troops. When the regiment was on picket duty, Mary Elizabeth and baby Annie came along. Regimental headquarters were set up in an abandoned plantation house which had half of the windows broken out, about seven miles from Beaufort. “Baby’s father and mother had a room upstairs” and where the ladies “hung wreaths and hangings of evergreen” to cover the dirty walls.
Life in regimental headquarters certainly was more exciting for the whole family, especially Annie. She would watch the couriers and officers come and go all day with dispatches and orders. When bored with the latest courier, her attention would turn to the tethered horses. Often her father was one of the riders and he would take her in his arms and treat her to a gallop around the house. According to Col. Higginson “she was fearless” and enjoyed everything with equanimity.
Annie now had an “intimate knowledge of drills and parades” and certainly of inspections. So she it seemed “that the closer that she came to actual combat, the more seemed to like it, peaceful although her little ways may be.” Shot, shell and cannon fire would be exchanged and couriers would be “sent to and fro” and the men would be called to arms preparing for Rebel attack. The ladies would come downstairs at headquarters with their best bonnets on and wait for the ambulances to evacuate them before the expected fight.
“She (Annie) shouted with delight at being suddenly uncribbed and thrust into her little scarlet cloak, and brought downstairs at an utterly unusual and improper hour, to a piazza with lights and people and horses and general excitement. She crowed, gurgled and waved her little fists and screamed out what seemed to be her advice on the military situation.” Colonel Higginson wrote that if he could have interpreted what she was apparently trying to say “perhaps the whole of the Rebel Force could have been captured with her plans.” He wrote that he would have rather obeyed her orders than those of some generals that he knew. Once the danger of attack had passed the ladies and Annie would return to their beds. Little Annie would go back to spilling her milk and bread in the morning as if nothing had happened.
That winter, while at Beaufort, the regiment was told to pack up the camp and make ready to leave for battle in Florida. The troops were eager to go as much as General Saxton wished them to stay. The general kept saying that there was small pox amongst the troops so they shouldn’t go but Col. Higginson countered with that there was always smallpox and the men who had it were getting better. In the end with the camp broken down and packed aboard the ship, General Saxton prevailed and the entire camp that they just loaded onto the ship that morning now had to be unloaded. One of the soldiers remarked it was like “loading feathers,” but “unloading lead,” they were so dispirited at not being able to join the battle in Florida.
Days later there was a regimental ball in Beaufort where all of the ‘collected flags of the regiment were hung.” Civilians were few at the ball and Mary Elizabeth was one of the fewer still women who attended. However, during the ball rumors began floating through the gathering about things not going well in Florida. Then came another rumor about the ship, Cosmopolitan, arriving with wounded from the battle. “Suddenly in the midst of ‘Lancers’ there came a perfect hush, the music ceasing. General Saxton strode hastily down the hall, his pale face very resolute and, looking almost sick with anxiety,” Col. Higginson wrote.
He told the crowd the ball must end immediately because there were 250 wounded men from the Battle of Olustee, Florida that had just arrived by boat.
Later that evening, as Col. Higginson walked on board the boat carrying the wounded, he thought that “I longed to ask the men (of his regiment who didn’t get to go) what they thought of our ‘Florida disappointment’ now?”, but he dared not.
Once on board, he “found our kind-hearted ladies, Mrs. Chamberlin and Mrs. Dewhurst, on board the steamer, but there was nothing for them to do, and we walked back to camp in the radiant moonlight; Mrs. Chamberlin more than ever strengthened in her blushing woman’s philosophy, ‘I don’t care who wins the laurels (awards for the dead and wounded) provided we don’t!’ “
George asked for a leave of absence on May 24, 1864 so he could take baby Annie back to Massachusetts as she had been ill for several weeks. The family was back in Massachusetts, but sadly little baby Annie Chamberlin, died on June 11, 1864 in Brookline, Massachusetts, “before her toes could trod the ground,” wrote Col. Higginson. Mary Elizabeth was also expecting again.
Son Edward Chandler was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on Christmas Day in 1864 when the Chamberlins resided on Beacon St. Their daughter Marion W. Chamberlin, was born sometime during the period of 1865 and 1871. Every source for her gives a different birth date, although all sources say that she was born in Massachusetts. She did not show up in the 1870 US census, but whether that was due to error, her away visiting relatives, or that she was not yet born, we don’t know.
Col. Higginson had to leave the regiment because of an injury and malaria. George was later assigned to General Saxton’s headquarters in Beaufort by the General himself. George also became ill from the diseases that were so prevalent in the South in the warmer months and was given a medical leave of absence which was extended several times. This was in 1865 and the war had ended. Because of his assignment to the General’s staff and later illness, he was not with his regiment and the government lost track of him and declared him AWOL. It wasn’t until c. 1915 and a pension was sought that the government declared the AWOL designation erroneous.
Once the war was over or military service ended, for most was it was a return to home and resumption of normal civilian life, but not for the Chamberlins.
They both must have been people of conviction, because George became a Deputy U.S. Marshall during Reconstruction in Atlanta, Georgia and Mary Elizabeth and young Edward went with him, according to the 1870 US census. The marshals were armed and wore a uniform.
Georgia had been decimated during the war, rice plantations ruined and never were revived, cotton plantations were reduced from producing 700,000 tons of cotton to 50,000 tons, most of the livestock was gone, farm equipment was gone, most everything was in ruins. The people were hungry, especially the newly freed slaves with no jobs and no homes. It was during that time Ku Klux Klan and the Red Shirts made their first appearance.
According to the U.S. Marshal’s official web site, this is why the marshals were sent to Atlanta,
“These acts of violence and terrorism led to the passing of the Klan, or Force Acts of 1870 and 1871. These acts put U.S. marshals and their deputies in charge of supervising all congressional elections in cities. They made it a crime to wear masks or disguises to attack citizens. The acts essentially established the first hate crime law – they made it illegal to attack any person based on race, color, or previous enslavement. Marshals were encouraged to vigorously enforce the new laws, even being promised they would be protected from arrest by the state governments. Attorney General Amos Akerman stated, “The Government in these matters is not vindictive, and wishes to worry no citizen unnecessarily, but it expects from all its officers the most energetic efforts to bring these marauders to justice.” (Calhoun)
Southern Marshals arrested approximately 7,000 violators of civil rights laws throughout the former Confederate states between the late 1860s and 1877, the period known as Radical Reconstruction”.
Col. Higginson wrote several years earlier of the hostility of the southern women toward the black soldiers while they were being rescued by them from a big fire in Beaufort, so one can only imagine what it must have been like for the Yankee marshals and their families who were there helping the former slaves.
Sadly, Mary Elizabeth died March 20, 1871 in Atlanta, Georgia. She was only her in thirties. By the 1880 US census, George, still in Atlanta, had remarried. Little Eddie and Marion had gone back to Boston to live with their grandmother and aunts. It was there in Massachusetts that Mary Elizabeth was buried.
Although Mary Elizabeth was no longer by his side, George was still ever the crusader. The teeth had been taken out of the Reconstruction laws and the power had gone back to the states and with it most of the power to protect the former slaves voting rights and freedom from persecution by whites, so George resigned from the marshal service. His new appointment was as a Special Agent of the Postal Department according to the 1880 census.
The government was appointed special postal agents to go after the post-Civil War explosion of swindlers who were using the US mail to carry out their schemes and to catch train robbers where U.S. mail was stolen. The marshals were also given the responsibility to enforce the new Comstock Law directed at stopping pornography which had proliferated during the Civil War. Unfortunately, it was an overzealous effort as even medical books and art were being confiscated.
Sadly, George’s new marriage was not a happy one. Perhaps he married too soon after Mary Elizabeth’s death and still grieved for her, or perhaps his new wife couldn’t tolerate Atlanta, or perhaps they just weren’t meant for each other. The marriage ended and he married for a third time, this time happily and had three sons. He went to work in the Virginia/ Washington D.C. area and died in 1915. He was buried in Arlington Cemetery as was his third wife, Aglae. She was of French descent and it is a French name.
Our member Sharron’s husband descends from George and Mary Elizabeth (Chandler) Chamberlin through their daughter, Marion, the only one their three children, Annie, Eddie and Marion, to have living descendants.
Camp Shaw and Camp Saxton, now a National Historic site, later became part of the Naval Hospital grounds in Beaufort. They have Civil War reinactments there and the Emancipation Proclamation is still read every year by the Emancipation Oak.
“Massachusetts, Marriages, 1841-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NWYL-M2Z : accessed 29 Aug 2012), George B. Chamberlin and Mary Eliza Chandler, 1860.
“Massachusetts, Marriages, 1695-1910,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FHHJ-3Z6 : accessed 29 Aug 2012), George B. Chamberlin and Mary E. Chandler, 27 Nov 1860; citing reference 75, FHL microfilm 2031400.
Mary’s name was abbreviated to Mary Eliza. Her parents were listed as Reuben and Mary Parcher. The second marriage record was most likely transcribed incorrectly as it gives her parents as “Reubin” and “Mary Parker” instead of Reuben and Mary Parcher.
“Massachusetts, Births and Christenings, 1639-1915,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FCYK-42F : accessed 29 Aug 2012), Mary E Chamberlin in entry for Anna Chamberlin, 01 May 1863; citing reference , FHL microfilm 1420999. (Birth of daughter, Anna (Annie)
“Massachusetts, Deaths, 1841-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N7JV-54L : accessed 04 May 2013), Annie P. Chamberlin, 1864. (The death of Annie)
Massachusetts, Births, 1841-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FXZ7-G79 : accessed 29 Aug 2012), Mary E. Chamberlin in entry for Chamberlin, 1864. (Birth of son Edward H. Chamberlin (Eddie)
United States Census, 1860, Mary E. Chandler, age 32, in the household of “Malcomb” Chandler. Fold3
“Massachusetts, State Census, 1865,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MQCL-GJH : accessed 13 May 2013), Mary E Chamberlin in household of Phinehas Chamberlin, Westford, Middlesex, Massachusetts.
“United States Census, 1870,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MC33-DJ6 : accessed 06 May 2013), Sarah George in household of Gen B Chamberlin, Georgia, United States; citing p. 60, family 487, NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 545650.
“United States Census, 1880,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M8GM-GG3 : accessed 07 May 2013), George B. Chamberlan in entry for L. M. Dunwich, 1880. (George B. Chamberlin, wife Doris and daughter Agnes age 4)
“United States Census, 1880,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MHX5-ZQQ : accessed 07 May 2013), Mary N. Chamberlin in entry for Rebecca Chamberlin, 1880. (Eddie H. Chamberlin now living with grandmother, aunt and cousin back in Massachusetts)
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