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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Young Soldier’s Diary: Carl Albert Janowski Goes To War and Back


Carl Albert Janowski
By Diane Janowski
©Copyright 2007 All rights reserved by author

My grandfather was drafted into the United States Army in the 4th year of World War I, almost a year after the U.S. announced its involvement. He was enlisted in the 78th Division (the Lightning Division) Company F, 309th Infantry and sent to France in May 1918.

I researched my paternal grandfather’s journey after finding a June 24, 1916 photograph of a group of soldiers, including my grandfather, taken just before they went to Mexico to take part in General John J. Pershing’s expedition against Pancho Villa. My grandfather’s name, however, was not on the list of those men who actually went the day after the photo was taken. His presence in the photo is a mystery to my family as my grandfather never mentioned Mexico.

From what I have pieced together - the dated Company L photo was taken at the corner of Church and State Streets in Elmira, New York on a Sunday, June 24, 1916. On June 25, 1916, the Elmira Star-Gazette reported that our church (the German Evangelical Church - now the First United Church of Christ) had discussed a call for soldiers that Sunday morning. This could explain my grandfather’s zeal to enlist, but it does not explain his change of mind later in the day. From what I can guess, Grampa joined the army after church, had his photo taken with the group in the early afternoon (judging from the direction of the sun) and then something happened that made him un-enlist. I have a feeling that his mother may have changed his mind for him. Grampa was one of three brothers who ran our farm after his father died. Running a farm was one of several reasons that one could be excused from military duty.

Grampa did finally go to war two years later in 1918.It was an interesting situation because he was American-born of immigrant German parents and went to France to fight against Germans. This included by German-born maternal grandfather who was in the German army, and also stationed in France fighting Americans and English. My maternal grandfather lived through World War I and II in Germany before bringing his family to live in American.

At 8:00AM, on the rainy morning of April 3,1918, Carl Albert Janowski and fifty-eight brave Elmirans reported for roll call at Elmira’s Armory building, and then to the steps of nearby City Hall to have a group photo taken by the Star-Gazette. The Star-Gazette reported that at 10:00AM the Red Cross distributed “komfort kits” containing sweaters and socks for their journey. Then a seventeen-piece band, the Home Defense Unit, two boy scout troups, Mayor Hoffman, and a great parade of hundreds of Elmirans followed the new soldiers to the Lackawanna Station. As they boarded the special train, the crowd sang “Keep the Home Fires Burning.” The train left exactly on schedule at 12:05PM bound for Fort Dix in New Jersey. Not a person in the crowd ceased shouting until the train had passed out of sight.

On April 15 the Star-Gazette had reported that, “The last contigents of Elmira’s drafted soldiers are in quarantine in Fort Dix. They have been assigned to the 309th Infantry, Company F, one of the best regiments in the entire division composed mostly of Buffalo [New York] men. The Elmira boys were the finest lot seen since September.” By this time in the Great War, the Allied forces were ready to break the stalemate along the Western Front in France.

In the following accounts, I have illustrated my paternal grandfather’s army days through his daily diary accounts, his hospital records, and through excerpts from the book A History of the 310th Infantry, whose travels mirrored my grandfather’s unit, the 309th Infantry.

CAJ (Carl Albert Janowski) denotes my grandfather’s words.
Words in Italics are from The History of the 310th Infantry.


May 20, 1918
History of the 310th: [at Camp Dix, NJ] “The hour was at hand. We knew it was a matter of hours. Orders followed all ‘secret and confidential.’ Part of the regiment was to embark at Philadelphia and the remainder at New York. Last minute details disposed of our baggage and policing of the area, and we were off.

CAJ: Left Camp Dix at 4:30AM. [Left] New York at 8:00PM.

May 24
History of the 310th: “Who will ever forget. Halifax, the assembling of the convoy and those gray days or the daily fire and sub drills?”

CAJ: Left Halifax [on the shop] KIA ORA.

June 1
CAJ: Met 8 destroyers at 6:30PM.

June 2
History of the 310th: “A morning came when we [saw] a sausage balloon [dirigible] and a British Destroyer, and almost instantly a dozen or more little ships, and we knew we were in the Danger Zone at last.”

CAJ: Met 1 dirigible and 1 airplane (Sunday at 6:30PM). Met 5 subs, destroyed 3.

June 3
CAJ: Met 1 more dirigible.

June 4
CAJ: Arrived in Southhampton [England] at 3:30AM, Folkestone [England] at 8:30PM.

History of the 310th: “Rail transport was waiting for us and a few hours brought us to Folkestone for 5 days rest from the rocking swells of the Atlantic.”

June 5
CAJ: Visited Folkestone which is a summer resort.

June 5 - 9
CAJ: Take hike every morning and have the rest of the time to ourselves. We go around the city.

June 11
CAJ: Left Folkestone at 11:55AM, arrived at Calais [France] at 3PM. Camping in tents in sand fields. Ship ARUNDEL.

June 13
CAJ: Left Calais and are camping somewhere in France. Hiked 9 miles to camp in barn. 21 miles from the Ypres Front at the village of Journy. Air raid at Calais. Walked from Cambrai to Journy.

June 14
History of the 310th: “Schools of every degree abounded, for both officers and enlisted men, from elementary map reading to staff work [also gas defense training, musketry, and bombing]; there seemed no end to the learning we must acquire to fit us for service.”

June 26
CAJ: Sent to bombing school at Meckeleghem [Merckeghem].

June 29
CAJ: Air raid on Meckeghem [Merckeghem] at 11:50PM. It sounded like the 4th of July for about 15 minutes. Aircraft gun and machine guns.

June 30
CAJ: Walked to Bollezeele. Air raids all night.

July 4
CAJ: Were firing fireworks until 11:00PM and Jerry (the Germans) came over to see what we were doing and we had to stop.

July 8
CAJ: Took exams on bombs today.

July 9
CAJ: Two German airplanes over Corps School at noon.

July 11
CAJ: Left school, walked to Watten and took train to St Omer. Went through a cathedral which was made [in] 1531 and saw figures carved out of stone in the year 1553.

July 12
CAJ: Arrived with the CO (commanding officer).

July 18
CAJ: Left Journy and went to Roellecourt and billeted (camped) about 3 miles from town.

July 23
CAJ: Went to a band concert and heard Elsie Janis sing and dance. Rained all day long and got very wet. Walked about 10 miles in the rain.

July 24
CAJ: Payday, band concert, two letters.

July 28
CAJ: Went to Saint Pol. Had two fine meals, went through church which was built in 1681.

July 31
History of the 310th “Our first experiences of the German night bombing raids began during our stay in the St. Pol area. Every clear night the Boche planes came droning over the towns, headed for St. Pol or division headquarters.

August [?]
CAJ: Hiked through Monty Bretton. Rained all day. Towns I have been in: St. Omer, Lumbres, Licques, Journy, Merckeghem, Watten Aire, St. Pol, Orlencourt, Osterville, Monty Bretton, Roellecourt.

August 15
CAJ: Hiked to Maisoiul [sic] and moved there.

August 16
CAJ: Pass to St. Pol. Fine food. Bought souvenirs.

August 20
CAJ: Loaded baggage for the 78th Division all day and night at Roellecourt.


August 21
CAJ: Entrained and traveled through St. Pol, Doullens, Amiens, Beauvais, Paris, Meaux, Chateau Thierry, Epernay, Chalons-Marne, Vitry-la-fran├žois, St. Dizier, Chaumont. Detrained below Chaumont and hiked 20 miles through Bourbonne to Laferte, camped for 4 days, then hiked from Laferte to Concourt. Arrived August 28.

August 28
CAJ: Went swimming in a mill pond and had a great time.

September 4
CAJ: Leaving Concourt at 6PM and hiked until 3:00AM.

History of the 310th: “Orders arrived mid-afternoon directing marching by night and concealment by day. By dawn, we were some twenty kilometers closer to the war.

September 5
CAJ: Rained all day and camped in a tent. Was in Vauconcourt.

History of the 310th: “That night march will live long in the minds of all. Rain fell continuously, transforming the roads into seas of mud, ankle deep, soldiers struggled with their water-soaked packs. Blankets and shoes were saturated with water. Marching, always by night, over unknown roads to an unknown destination had now ceased to be a novelty. The question ‘When do we eat?’ was paramount. Cold food, and an empty stomach, and ceaseless rain spelled discomfort for all; a night march sounded promising; at least we could keep warm.

September 7
CAJ: Camping near Dommartin. Hiking every night.

Writer’s note * They were headed toward the town of San Mihiel to liberate it after four years of German occupation.

September 10
Writer’s note * They were hiking along Bois de la Cote.
History of the 310th: “Of course we had no idea where we were going, but if you can believe the trait possible in an American - we ceased to be interested. Yet, here we were, moving up into the San Mihiel Offensive. Our instructions were simple, to follow of the 309th (my grandfather’s unit). Our training was ended; we were now in the game we came to play. The marvelous spectacle, the continuity of it, the aweful splendor of it overshadowed all other thoughts.”

September 12
Writer’s note * The 309th was ordered to act as a reserve for the 1st Corps during this day’s attack, but later it was not needed as the 1st Corps had been successful. The fighting was in Martincourt, St. Jean, Mamey, and Fey-en-Haye (in the San Mihiel area) with 4,153 US soldiers lost that day and 284 missing. The constant bombing lasted until 8:30AM and accomplished its objective.

CAJ: Rained, and hiked all night. Very muddy. Saw the first guns fired in the attack on Metz at 1:00AM.

History of the 310th: “As the day advanced, the roar of artillery, became more distant as the attack progressed successfully.”

September 14
CAJ: Camped in woods [in the Limey sector], two days after Germans were driven out. They lived in fine dugouts.

History of the 310th: “The air had changed and the air grew stale and dead. We knew we were in what had been No Man’s Land. The ground had been churned by the fire of small arms and machine guns. Not one tree or flower existed.”

September 15
Writer’s note * The 309th was in combat liason with the 310th in the town of Thiaucourt.

History of the 310th: “As we were entering the town, an enemy battery opened fired with one casualty.”

CAJ: Under shell fire and spent the night in German dugouts.



September 16
History of the 310th: “Officially the San Mihiel Offensive ended at midnight.”

September 22
CAJ: Relieved in the trenches and are resting in woods.

September 26
CAJ: Up in support trenches.

September 30
CAJ: 4:00AM Raider machine gun position captured and one killed.

October 2
CAJ: Hiked through Lismy [sic], Hisrey [sic], and Mandres.

October 10
CAJ: Still hiking to another front.

Writer’s note * The Division was moved to the Argonne Front.

October 15
Writer’s note * The morning’s orders were to relieve the 77th Division in Grand-Pre/St. Juvin sector by 6:00AM the next morning.

October 16
History of the 310th: “First Phase [some sources list it as the second] of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. At 3:30AM, orders were received to attack all along the northern edge of the Bois des Loges. The 309th Infantry (my grandfather’s unit), which simultaneously on our right while the 156th Infantry Brigade was to advance on our left. 6:00AM was the planned hour of attack. The 309th Infantry, had gone into the line by way of the Fleville Road, had accomplished its relief, and had started its attack promptly at 6:00AM. At 1:45PM, when all troops were in position, they were subjected to an intense artillery and machine gun fire, losing men killed and wounded every few yards. Automatically, the men spread out to fill the gaps left by their comrades who fell. [Writer’s note * Now it was late afternoon and early evening.] The 309th Infantry, which had advanced towards the town of Champigneulle, had encountered heavy machine gun fire from the edges of that town, and after reaching the outskirts, had withdrawn to a ravine some four hundred yards south of that town. The 309th and 310th were now under fire [from the front and right rear], and the line was withdrawn after dark to a shallow ravine a few hundred meters to the southeast of the woods. Here they reformed and held on throughout the night under continuous, but decreased, artillery fire.”

Writer’s note * This battle was intended to be the capture of the town of Grand-Pre just west of Champigneulle.

CAJ: Wounded in face and left hand at 7:00PM by piece of shell on the Argonne Front.
Writer’s note * Grampa was injured while positioned in a ravine southeast of the town of Champigneulle.

HOSPITAL RECORDS: “Immediate treatment was A.T.S. [anti-tetanus serum] on hand 5:35AM on October 17. Incised wound across knuckles and index finger left hand. Extensor tendon and joint cut by fragment. Tendon and joint sutured. Splint applied.”

October 20
CAJ: Arrived at Base 52 Hospital at Remoncourt.

HOSPITAL RECORDS: “Arrived at Base #52 with G.S.W. [gun shot wound] condition S [severe]. Cut left hand by fragment of shell.”

October 24
HOSPITAL RECORDS: “Received 1000 units A.T. S. [anti-tetanus serum].”

October 30
CAJ: [Still] at base 52. I am 23 years old today.

HOSPITAL RECORDS: “Wound still discharging profusely.”

November 1
HOSPITAL RECORDS: “Hand dressed. Iodine. Splint applied.”

November 2
HOSPITAL RECORDS: “Dressed. Very little discharge.”

November 11
Writer’s note * Armistice Day and 26 days after Grampa was injured.

November 20
HOSPITAL RECORDS” “Great improvement.”

December 1
HOSPITAL RECORDS: “Wound healed - hand still in splint.”

December 4
HOSPITAL RECORDS: “Examined and dressed wound. Wound healing well but sluggishly.”

December 11
HOSPITAL RECORDS: “Wound healed on index finger. Splint off 4 days. Able to flex fingers slightly. No open wound.”

December 16
CAJ: Left Base 52.

HOSPITAL RECORDS: “Admitted to Base Hospital #20. Wound healed. Fingers stiff from disuse - joint and tendon functioning to moderate degree. Recommended return to U.S.A.”

December 17
CAJ: Arrived at Base 20 at Chatel-Guyon. Towns I have passed through are: Donzy, Sully-la-Tour, St. Martin-Laurent, Octroi, Pouilly-Sur-Loire, la Charite, Nevers, Saincaize, Mars, Montino, Bessay, Varennes, Crechey, St. Germain, St. Remy, Gannat, Riom. Chatel-Guyon is a summer resort and contains several mineral springs and is noted for its baths.

December 22
CAJ: Taking long hikes every afternoon. Visited castle at Chateau-Guyon.

December 24
CAJ: Went through castle which was built in the 13th century.

December 25
CAJ: Walked up to cavalry hills. Had fine dinner. Went to theater at night. Snow for the first time tonight.

December 27
CAJ: Leaving Chateau-Guyon at 3:45PM.

HOSPITAL RECORDS: “Admitted to Hospital Center.”

December 28
CAJ: Spending the night at Tours at Red Cross.

December 29
CAJ: Arrived at Bordeaux.

December 31
CAJ: Transferred to Base 114.

HOSPITAL RECORDS: “ Admitted to Base Hospital 114. Oblique scar 1 1/2 inches long over dorsum of index finger just above the metacarpal phalangeal articulation. Wound healed. Unable to flex completely the finger. Extension of the same digit weak but normal. Small scar 3/4 inch long over extended portion of superior left eye. Would healed. Patient sent to workshop. Considered: Walking Healed.”

January 22, 1919
CAJ: Still at Base 114 and waiting for service records. All ready to go back to the states.

January 29
CAJ: Reveille at 5:00AM. Left for ship at 6:45AM. On board ship SANTA TERESA at 11:00AM.

February 1 - 5
CAJ: Seasick.

February 10
CAJ: Severe storm.

February 12
CAJ: Arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey. Saw the Vaterland.

______________

Corporal Carl Albert Janowski, ID #1,762,091, got off the boat with “1 barrack bag, 1 bed sack, 3 blankets, 1 belt waist, 2 pairs woolen breeches (one pair almost new), and 1 winter cap.”
After returning home to Elmira, New York, he married Loretta Worner and had two sons, and, eventually, two grandchildren. He was a vegetable grower on Esty Street on Elmira’s Southside until his death in 1976.


Sources:
Elmira Herald, Elmira, New York, April 1918
Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmria, New York, April  1918
Association of the 310th Army. A History of the 310th Infantry, Seventy-Eighth Division, USA. New York City: The Schilling Press, 1919.
Janowski, Carl Albert. Diary. May 20, 1918 - February 12, 1919.



Regional Sheet Music Restoration


by Diane Janowski

I restore historic American hometown sheet music books. So far, I have completed four volumes. The songs in my books are specific to the towns, cities, mountains, rivers, and lakes of New York and Pennsylvania. The first volume has songs written in - or about - Elmira, Binghamton, Canisteo, Ithaca, Chenango, Tioga, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica. The second book contains songs about Buffalo, Albany, Jamestown, Niagara Falls, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh,Yonkers, Tonawanda, Saratoga Springs, Herkimer, the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains, the lakes of Oneida, Onondaga, Chautauqua, and Seneca, and the Genesee and Hudson Rivers. The third one is about the Pennsylvania towns of Allentown, Altoona, Carlisle, Easton, Ephrata, Erie, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Sunbury, Wilkes-Barre, Williamsport, and the Pocono Mountains
The fourth one is a wedding book with songs written by small town composers.


In the 19th century, long before radio, television, motion pictures, stereos, computers and iPods, we entertained ourselves, our families, and our guests with music and singing. In most families, usually, at least one person read music and played an instrument. By 1850, pianos sat in parlors of many, if not most, middle-class homes. Music and bookstores sold songs in sheet music form. The technical demands of this “parlor music” easily allowed amateur musicians and singers to share their talents. Although Tin Pan Alley in New York City was the center for song publishing at the time, music and bookstores in many smaller towns published hometown compositions. Piano-makers and music teachers, especially, produced their own-labeled music to help promote their businesses or products.

By 1870, songs of this genre became more complex and sophisticated in their melodic and harmonic vocabulary, and professional singers and musicians played them in public recitals.

For whatever reasons, mainly changes in musical tastes, the songs in this book have been forgotten. Yes, they are archived in the Library of Congress, but the tunes are not recognized in modern times. In fact, these songs may not have even been played in the last hundred years or more.

Please keep in mind that these compositions reflected the times in which they were written, with an emotion and verve that describes the actions and events of the day. Although the tunes tend to be exuberant, you can actually hear the hometown pride in these songs. Many of the songs were written for special occasions - to herald an anniversary, the opening of a grand building, to celebrate natural beauty, to honor a school, and to give a town its own song. Some songs were played by local musicians or bands at fancy parties and balls. You imagine women in ball gowns and men smoking cigars, candle chandeliers and all the Victorian opulence of life in Upstate New York.

I’m from Elmira, New York and I knew that some old songs about Elmira existed. I thought that eventually, I would turn the idea into a history article. Then I got to thinking if Elmira has old songs - other towns must also. Where were they? Let’s get them out and play them. I want to hear what they sound like. So I became a music archaeologist and found these songs and played them. I liked what I heard and wanted to share the music. Through the miracles of 21st century technology I was able to “clean up” the rips, tears, water stains and reintroduce these songs from our forgotten musical past. I have also created a music CD of many of the songs in this book should you like to hear them - available on the New York History Review and Victorian Pride websites.

The songs in this book are a different and unique type of history - when you play or hear them, you feel an instant connection with the composer. You are transported back in time. The songs here date from 1850 to 1884.

We were all proud of our towns, our natural wonders, our buildings, and our people, and we showed our appreciation with songs.




History sometimes happens unnoticed: First Ever Night Football Game


by Diane Janowski
©2005 All rights reserved.

History sometimes happens slowly and unnoticed. It might not be memorable at the time it happens, but years later you look back and say, “Gee that really was important.” That’s what happened in Elmira, New York on Friday night, November 21, 1902. The Elmira Daily Advertiser and Free Gazette had a big advertisement stating, “Football To-Night, Biggest Game of the Season,” but its significance was much bigger than a just a 50¢ per ticket football game. Special excursion trains were coming from Corning, Waverly, Montour Falls, and Watkins [Glen] with expectations of large delegations of out-of-towners.

What happened in Elmira at 8:00PM that evening changed football, and all sports for that matter, forever.

This professional game was the first to be played with electric lights at night, anywhere.

Baseball's Philadelphia Athletics, managed by Connie Mack, and the Philadelphia Phillies formed professional football teams in 1902, joining the Pittsburgh Stars in the first attempt at a pro football league, named the National Football League. For some reason, their opponents that evening of November 21 over at the Maple Avenue Driving Park was the Kanaweola Athletic Club of Elmira, New York. The Kanaweolas were a bicycling club with an indoor track inside the Steele Memorial Library building. Kanaweola tried really hard, but were way ineffectual against the opposing team. The Athletics easily beat Kanaweola with a score of 39-0 in the first night football game ever played.

On the next day, the newspaper did not report the importance of the electrically lit field. The headlines on the sports page read, “Kanaweola Eleven was Brushed Aside, Great Game Just the Same.” I wonder how many years later before someone asked, “Where and when was the first night pro-football game?”

Author's Note: Back on September 29, 1892 in nearby Mansfield, Pennsylvania, a football game started between Mansfield Normal School and Wyoming Seminary with intentions to be the first ever night football game, but called the game at half time with the score at 0-0. The lighting just wasn’t good enough to play the game.



From Soldiers' Home to Medical Center


Excerpts from the new book by Robert E. Yott
Photo courtesy of the author

In early April of 1863, the Civil War entered its third year with no immediate end in sight. The casualty list for the north had risen to over 101,000 dead, wounded and missing. Ex-Governor Edwin Morgan of New York observed veterans returning home disabled, unemployable, and homeless and seen the need to establish a refuge. He pushed the issue until the State Legislators passed an act to incorporate a State Soldiers' Home on April 24, 1863. This was two years before one of the last acts signed by Abraham Lincoln incorporating a National Asylum for disabled volunteer soldiers and sailors of the Civil War.  

Large contributions were made but a State Board of Trustees, after canvassing the area found that patriotism was now running high in the North. The thought of returning veterans being turned out into the street or housed in asylums and poorhouses was absurd. Families and friends were reluctant to have their veterans committed to an asylum so the idea was dropped.

In 1872 Major-General Henry A. Barnum, Department Commander, Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), raised the issue once again. He convinced Legislature to pass an act incorporating a Soldiers’ Home. Ironically, no funds were appropriated for the project and after several attempts, the G.A.R. in 1875, decided to appeal directly to the public. The response wasoverwhelming and on May 15, 1876, Governor Samuel L. Tilden signed the act incorporating the Grand Army of the Republic Soldiers' Home of the State of New York.

Corporal James Tanner took the lead. At the request of Tanner, The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher spoke at the Academy of Music in Brooklyn; raising over $14,000 in just 35 minutes. After a four-year struggle, the New York State Soldiers’ Home was becoming a reality.

On June 1, 1876, notice was given to all places interested in hosting the Home. The following responded: Elmira offered 50 acres and $25,000; Penn Yan offered 188 acres on Lake Keuka and $5,000; Watkins offered 200 acres and $5,000 and Bath offered 220 acres and $6,000 in cash and offered the services of the Davenport Institute for Orphaned Girls for soldiers who were admitted. Bath won after a tie breaking vote.

On Wednesday, June 13, 1877, the GAR semi-annual encampment was held in Bath to coincide with the cornerstone laying ceremony. No fewer than 20,000 people attended including twenty reporters.

On April 8, 1878, the Grand Army of the Republic Soldiers’ Home of the State of New York was transferred to the state and renamed the New York State Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home. On Christmas Day, 1878, the first 25 Civil War veterans admitted to the Soldiers' Home sat down to a banquet.  

Billed as the greatest event of the year 1879 in the Conhocton Valley, the formal opening of the New York State Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home took place on January 23, 1879. The 13th annual Department Encampment of the G.A.R would take place on Wednesday, January 22, 1879, to coincide with the official opening. Among the many guests and speakers were Commander-elect General James McQuade, General Wm. F. Rogers (Department Commander), The Honorable William Prior Letchworth of Buffalo, Past Commanders Corporal James Tanner,  John C. Robinson and Henry A. Barnum. General Henry W. Slocum and the Letchworth Rifles under the command of Captain Abram B. Lawrence, of Warsaw were also present.

On Wednesday, Commander Rogers called the Annual Encampment to order. In his opening address he remarked that no other public building was ever erected for the same number of men at such a small cost. For this, Rogers recommended that Superintendent E. C. Parkinson should be praised. Commander Rogers then pointed out that the Soldiers' Home was the incentive needed to bolster the membership of the G.A.R., proving how essential the G.A.R. was to their comrades in need.

General Slocum, President of the Board of Trustees, in his speech shared that New York State had contributed 445,758 men, or 1/6 of the 2,690,401 soldiers that answered the call to defend our country. More than 1,500 New Yorkers who had resided in almshouses, or poorhouses, before the war answered the call to proudly serve their country. (In March of 1877 a survey was made of the 60 poor-houses in New York State; only 28 responded, stating that over 400 veterans were again residents of said homes.)There were now more than 9000 veterans, many of them New Yorkers, residing in four National Homes established shortly after the war. These four National Homes were located in Togus, Maine; Dayton, Ohio; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Hampton, Virginia. One Soldiers’ Home, established in 1851, was located in Washington, D.C. This was a Home for Regular Soldiers who were disabled, crippled or well advanced in years and could only house 400 men.

Using these numbers, General Slocum explained the reason why the need was so great for a Soldiers' Home here in New York. General Slocum continued, remarking on the contributions made by the public and the cost of the Home. In his closing remarks, General Slocum stated “Although this is now a State institution, and must be hereafter supported by the State, it bears the name of ‘The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home of the Grand Army of the Republic.’”  He also stated, “Here is erected a monument which will perpetuate the Grand Army, whose comrades can appreciate the services of
the humble heroes who will be gathered within these walls.”

General Slocum then read a dispatch from Edwin F. Brown, Governor of the National Home in Dayton, Ohio, saying 800 New York veterans of the Dayton Home “... united with him in sending greeting and congratulations.” (Governor
Brown was unable to attend the ceremony due to delay of the train.)

After the glee club and audience sang “Marching Through Georgia” Past Department Commander Tanner was introduced amid cheers of the crowd. Corporal Tanner began by stating that although he had never broken down in front of an audience, he thought he might today, merely because the Home was finished. Tanner reminisced about how Senator Ira Davenport, E. C. Parkinson and he reported to the Senate Committee on Finance seeking approval for their proposal. He also spoke of the first subscriptions secured in Brooklyn and the mass meeting led by Henry Ward Beecher at the Academy of Music. Beecher had told him “. . . when the work got heavy and we needed help . . . he would go to every city, town and village and lecture for us.”

Tanner announced that they would not be content with just three buildings, not while there were wounded and disabled soldiers in the poorhouses and the National Homes. Tanner also called for a building here in which to hang in a prominent place every tattered battle-flag of the state.

Tanner then spoke of his visit with Governor Brown of the National Home in Dayton, Ohio and remarked that hundreds of New York veterans had asked him for the opportunity to return to New York. Tanner had promised them that a Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home would soon be built. Tanner now spoke of how those men are “. . . gazing
eastward with longing eyes, hoping we will send for them.”

Corporal Tanner concluded his speech by stating, “In the name of those who suffered and died for the Union we ask the help of the people of the State for these men.” The Home was now officially opened.



The Ripening of a Sociopath


by Benjamin Feldman,
Author of Butchery on Bond Street
©2008 All rights reserved by author


Imaginery wedding bells pealed to the rhythm of the New York Central's wheels, lulling Emma Cunningham to sleep as she and her daughter Helen headed back to New York at summer's end. Their visit to Saratoga had been a successful one, by all accounts, and if her luck held, a beautiful golden circle would soon grace the fourth finger of Emma's left hand. The ringing in Harvey Burdell's head was entirely different, though; a devilish pain of suspicion and greed had begun to creep around in his skull. The dentist's intentions and Emma's wishes were far, far apart. According to the testimony of his closest male friends at the inquest into Burdell's death conducted some eighteen months later, while publicly suing for Emma's affection, Burdell was privately telling the same men of his deep aversion to the female sex and utter distaste for matrimony. Emma had high hopes of consummating her second marriage and securing a stable financial future for herself and her large brood. Unfortunately, Harvey Burdell had other things in mind.

After having amassed tens of thousands of dollars in assets and risen to the top of the dentistry profession over a twenty-year career in New York, Burdell had also grown wealthy through his directorship of the Artizan's Bank, the Webster Fire Insurance Company, and from various real estate investments on Bond Street, along the thriving Arthur Kill waterfront in Elizabethport, New Jersey, and in his native upstate Jefferson County. The elegantly dressed dentist was undoubtedly eager to see and be seen in Saratoga with his colleagues from the Bank's board of directors, and the more successful of his many patients and Bond Street acquaintances who frequented the Village in summertime. Having a beautiful, mature and respectable woman on his arm was an essential part of the act.

By 1855, Dr. Harvey Burdell was a well-known figure among the upper middle class set that shuttled between Manhattan and Saratoga Springs during the warmer months of the year. A brilliant and shrewdly calculating medical man, Dr. Burdell had come to New York to join his older brother John Burdell in dental practice in 1834. Harvey Burdell first located his clinic near City Hall, at 21 Chambers Street, only a few dozen yards from John's home and office at 69 Chambers Street. After two years, Harvey moved even closer to John, setting up shop next door at 67 Chambers Street (The address given for Harvey Burdell in the contemporary directory may in fact reflect the two brothers practicing from the same clinic space). They remained together in partnership for five years, until John's personal and professional life were destroyed by a series of hideous perfidies. An English apprentice, Thomas Gunning, who came to live and work with the brothers in 1839, created havoc in the clinic as well as in John's boudoir.

Though somewhat inconsistent with several contemporary accounts and extant genealogy records, an article published in the New York Dental Recorder at the end of 1857 furnishes plentiful detail about the family dynamics of the Burdell brothers' childhood. The account paints a sorry picture of young Harvey's personality that presaged both the future torrent of fratricidal warfare among the several Burdell siblings and their respective offspring, as well as Harvey's untimely and violent death. Though other published synopses of Harvey's early life insisted that he lost his father while still a toddler, the Dental Recorder implied that Harvey's parents were separated when the lad was nine or ten years old. About 1820, Harvey was said to have moved with his father to the Jefferson County village of Sackett's Harbor, New York where after being schooled for a couple years, the boy was apprenticed to a printer in neighboring Oswego. His formal education, ended, and Harvey became financially independent of his father. Parental supervision of the young man's moral and ethical development ceased forthwith.

Left to his own devices, the energetic youth worked as a compositor for a couple of years and then was said to have accepted an invitation from his older brother John to move to New York and learn the dentistry trade in the late 1820s. A term supposedly followed at a Philadelphia medical school, and thereafter Harvey returned to New York and joined as a full-fledged member of John's dental clinic. Though undistinguished in the eyes of this professional journal as a practitioner, and reportedly only able to maintain a modest income from his dentistry skills, Harvey played upon his older brother's respectable reputation to enhance his own practice. The size of the murder victim's estate at the time of the publication of the Dental Recorder item was well known, and the author attributed Harvey's success in amassing wealth not to his skill as a dentist, but rather to the extreme parsimony with which he lived. Harvey Burdell learned to function alone in the world, fearful of all those around him, and became fixated with the accretion of wealth in lieu of acquiring intimate personal relationships. "[H]e was literally 'alone,'" the magazine reported sadly, "no one being dependent upon him, no really intimate associates; usually sleeping in a room adjoining his office, and procuring his meals at restaurants. A naturally frank-hearted disposition had been smothered or sacrificed by a morbid desire to grasp the almighty dollar. Friendship, the ties of kindred and affection, professional ambitions, were thrown aside or crushed the instant they came into collision with any prospect of gain. All the true happiness of life he seems to have sacrificed, and to what end? Simply to amass a bribe sufficient to nerve his murderers to the execution of one of the most diabolical murders on record."

The several stories of Harvey and John's parentage published at his death are somewhat inconsistent as to the exact date of Harvey's birth and his father's given name, as well as where the family made its home when Harvey was a small boy. A sorry critical thread runs through all versions, though: young Harvey Burdell was forsaken by his mother in his formative pre-teenage years. It appears most likely that Harvey was born January 8, 1811 in the hamlet of Hounsfield, in Jefferson County, New York. Harvey, John, and their brothers James, William and Lewis, were the offspring of Polly Cunningham Burdell and her first husband, also John Burdell. During Harvey's early years, various combinations of the parents and their children lived in the villages of Herkimer and German Flats in upstate Herkimer County as well as in Sackett's Harbor, on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Harvey Burdell's narcissistic personality was forged in adversity: contact with his mother evaporated at a young age, whether via his parents' divorce, or through being thrown out of his childhood home after his mother was widowed. Some accounts insisted that John Burdell died leaving Polly with the five children to raise. One thing is certain, though: by the time Harvey Burdell reached the age of thirteen, Polly had remarried farmer James Lamon. Five new sons and daughters followed in short order. A jealous husband and demanding little children surrounded Polly Burdell Lamon, spelling trouble for young Harvey and the other Burdell boys. The children from her first marriage became unwelcome in their mother's new home, and by 1824, Harvey was forced out of the house. His feelings towards women in general and his aversion to any emotional commitment to another human being, much less marriage, were a natural result of harsh pre-adolescent experiences.

Thirteen-year-old Harvey finished a few years of schooling at the Sackett's Harbor Academy and then struck out on his own, working as a compositor. In 1828 or 1829, the boy, still in his teens, became owner of a several-year-old weekly newspaper in the upstate area, the Oswego [New York] Advertiser. Renamed by Harvey The Freeman's Herald, the paper was founded to support the Republican administration of the newly inaugurated John Quincy Adams in 1825 and to compete with the opposite views of the long-established Oswego Palladium. Harvey gave up the unprofitable operation after one year and accepted employment in Oswego with Major James Cochrane, who published the anti-Jacksonian Oswego Democratic Gazette.

According to one report published after his death, when Harvey's journalism career ended, he followed his older brother John to Philadelphia in the late 1820s or early 1830s, and attended lectures at Jefferson Medical College. The College's lists of graduates for the years in question make no mention of either Burdell brother having been granted a medical degree, but it was a common practice at the time for young men without sufficient finances or educational backgrounds to merely attend a number of medical school lectures without matriculating, and then hold themselves out as physicians. Thoroughgoing prevarication by men holding themselves out as experienced and educated in many other businesses and professions was just as commonplace. In later years, and regardless of how many hours, if any, Harvey spent in Jefferson's dank lecture halls, it was easy for the creative Dr. Burdell to concoct and pass off as truth various versions of his medical training credentials for consumption by patients and professional societies.

The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

The above is an excerpt from the book Butchery on Bond Street: Sexual Politics & The Burdell-Cunningham Case in Ante-Bellum New York
by Benjamin Feldman
Published by The Green-Wood Cemetery Historic Fund in association with The New York Wanderer Press;  May 2007; 978-0-9795175-0-1
Copyright © 2008 Benjamin Feldman

Author Bio
Benjamin Feldman has lived and worked in New York City for the past thirty-eight years. After retiring in 2000 from a successful career in real estate and law, Ben turned to the full-time pursuit of his true love, New York City history. His essays about New York and about Yiddish culture have appeared on-line in The New Partisan Review and Ducts magazine, as well as in his blog, The New York Wanderer. Butchery on Bond Street is Ben's first full-length work.


Rugged Individualism and Sexual Predation: The Cultural Context of the Burdell-Cunningham Affair


by Benjamin Feldman,
Author of Butchery on Bond Street
©2008 All rights reserved by author


Despite the early years of plenty Emma enjoyed during her marriage to George Cunningham, and by Harvey Burdell during much of his adult life in New York, misery had accompanied them throughout their childhoods. Their personalities developed in remarkably similar ways as both struggled to adulthood in the midst of privation. Harvey and Emma shared two traits with many of their peers: desperate grasping for wealth and amoral interpersonal manipulation were widespread in mid-century America. Emerging feminist credos provided a novel context for Emma and Harvey's interaction, though, and on that springboard, violence virtually unknown in their middle class world was launched.

Emma Cunningham and Harvey Burdell shared with countless Americans of their generation an obsession with the creation of personal wealth, regardless of means or methods. The art of the swindle had become the American raison d'etre in the second quarter of the nineteenth century as legions of young men and women, equipped with little more than their optimism and vigor, arrived in urban centers from rural and exurban areas of the United States, as well as from abroad. Many newcomers were eager to amass material and social fortunes in the free-wheeling climates of major American cities.

Simultaneously with this explosion of materiality, significant changes occurred in the nature of how and why many Americans sought sexual relationships and marriage opportunities. Always important to the formation of marital bonds, wealth took on new meaning and complex characteristics as prospective partners dealt in mid-century with a novel problem. Social mobility and rapid demographic change frequently rendered useless the traditional markers of land ownership and established connections that had long guided such decision-making. Marriageable individuals now frequently met as total strangers in urban environments, courting without the benefits of long-standing mutual acquaintances. In the 1830s and beyond, men and women of very modest backgrounds could, as never before, realistically strive to join the rapidly growing upper middle class in Eastern seaboard cities, both via personal industry and fortuitous commercial events (and, in the case, primarily, of women, via well-planned sexual adventure). Marriageable individuals in unprecedented numbers came to see each other as opportunities for instant riches, much like promising mining claims.

Early nineteenth century America witnessed the migration of legions of young people of modest means to its larger cities. Men took positions in all kinds of business and industry, while women were employed principally as domestics, seamstresses and factory workers. During the first two decades of the century, single urban male immigrants, many serving in quasi-apprenticeship status, were usually housed with their employers. One building would house both the proprietor's family and the store or workshop in which the young man was employed. Female domestics also lived-in, optimizing their masters' labor bargain.

Residing in the employer's household also subjected the employee to ethical supervision and provided some basis other than the morals and behavior patterns of the employees' now-distant childhood homes for regulating sexual activity. This structure was not to last, though. With the growth of many mercantile and manufacturing establishments in the early part of the century, the scarcity of land in central business districts led to the development of exclusively residential neighborhoods where prosperous businessmen could afford to live in relative cleanliness and quiet, away from their factories and warehouses. Living arrangements for young workers became separated from those of their employers and thus devoid of the supervision that had to some extent insured moral behavior. The liberation of young men (and some young women) to live where they might, on very modest sources of income in relatively anonymous urban hostelries, created explosive growth in what came to be known as the "male sporting culture" of American cities of the 1830s. Unwatched by parents, pastors or employers, young male clerks fraternized with women in theaters, restaurants and ice-cream parlors, as well as in venues less open to public inspection, with a degree of openness and sexual expression that would have been unthinkable in previous decades.

A psyche of personal freedom for the young entrepreneurial class, be they shop-clerks, aspiring dentists, or petty criminals, prevailed among a large segment of these youthful urbanites. The advent of the California Gold Rush in 1848 added an immense quantity of libertarian fuel to this fire. Sexual adventure for men and women, independent of regulation, and geared to the rapid aggrandizement of personal wealth and social status, replaced many of the more stable psychic foundations of marriage that so recently prevailed in what had been a largely agrarian society. But men and women brought different tools to the field in which social mobility was sown, as well as being subjected to different restrictions. Marriage to a well-off man or one with bright prospects provided the only hope of economic betterment to vast numbers of women who lacked substantial family backgrounds. By comparison, men from lower classes could rely on their own entrepreneurial skills to better themselves, free from the bonds of traditional domesticity if they so chose. Laws that put at risk any property owned in a woman's own name at or after her marriage existed side by side with paternalistically administered, common law rights to damages for seduction and breach of promise. Single women who were swindled in the sexual marketplace in these decades could resort to the law, but usually only with the assistance of male family members as their legal representatives. Unsuccessful marriages were difficult to sunder: in New York through the mid-1850s, women such as Margaret Burdell and Dimis Hubbard Vorce who sought divorce could not pursue relief in chancery court in their own names, regardless of the grounds.

A woman seeking divorce had first to secure the assistance of a legally competent individual to act as her "next friend." Margaret's father, William Alburtis, satisfied the requirement as an adult male, but widows also qualified under New York statutes to act in such capacity. Somehow the law considered the mere bereavement of a married woman to instantly invest her with sagacity equal to that of a man. The day before her loss, however, the same woman was deemed incompetent to handle her own affairs, much less represent another woman in court. The law was surely an ass in Emma Cunningham's case. It seems that a more determined surrogate could have been found when Dimis Hubbard needed help. Unfortunately the circumstances of her engagement by the plaintiff were not destined to provide maximum advocacy when Dimis's wily older cousin, Harvey Burdell, made the introduction. Emma was desperate to please Burdell. Agreeing to lend her name to Dimis's divorce petition in November, 1855 might convince the recalcitrant dentist to finally offer Emma his hand.


The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

The above is an excerpt from the book Butchery on Bond Street: Sexual Politics & The Burdell-Cunningham Case in Ante-Bellum New York
by Benjamin Feldman
Published by The Green-Wood Cemetery Historic Fund in association with The New York Wanderer Press;  May 2007; 978-0-9795175-0-1
Copyright © 2008 Benjamin Feldman

Author Bio
Benjamin Feldman has lived and worked in New York City for the past thirty-eight years. After retiring in 2000 from a successful career in real estate and law, Ben turned to the full-time pursuit of his true love, New York City history. His essays about New York and about Yiddish culture have appeared on-line in The New Partisan Review and Ducts magazine, as well as in his blog, The New York Wanderer. Butchery on Bond Street is Ben's first full-length work.

A Tricky Treat...


by Benjamin Feldman
Author of Butchery on Bond Street
©2008 All rights reserved by author

"Cemetery." Not a great way to start a conversation with a stranger, is it?  Today all things deathly are impolite.  But it wasn't that way in years gone by. Passing was something to be embraced. For two hundred years, urban American Christians were buried in churchyards. Then things got crowded and large cemeteries were born.  Boston's Mount Auburn, Philadelphia's Laurel Hill, and Brooklyn's Green-Wood were all founded in the first half of the 19th century on rolling expanses of rural land.  Mourning lasted an entire year in genteel families.  "Mourning" stores dotted downtowns, where dignified clothing, visiting cards, window drapings and all the necessary accoutrements of a "proper" bereavement could be purchased. But hand in gray kid glove, a fun side flourished at the cemeteries. Burial grounds were places of joy. 

Until the opening of Central and Prospect Parks in Manhattan (1857) and Brooklyn (1867), these two then-independent cities lacked large public spaces for dignified promenading and carriage rides.  Almost from the get-go, Green-Wood filled a recreational function for Brooklynites and adventurous Manhattanites willing to make the journey. Picnics, concert-going, Decoration Day celebrations, and stately carriage rides were enjoyed by legions of well-dressed weekenders who had no other connection to the permanent residents interred at the top of the Gowanus Hills. The ubiquitous gravesites dampened no one's spirits.  

There's no room at the inn at Green-Wood these days. All plots were long ago sold, and a permanent resting place will be a wall nook in the columbarium for your urn of remains. Things have come full circle as Green-Wood morphs into a history theme park. The parasol-toting and hoop skirted ladies, the bowler-hatted, hamper-toting picnickers of 1880 had the right idea. Perhaps it's time we 21st centurions followed suit.

Halloween and All Souls Day have lost all religious meaning in today's America.  But that's no reason to despair:  This Halloween do something different.   Go down in the hole and emerge at Brooklyn's spectacular Green-Wood Cemetery (R or M train to 4th Avenue and 25th Street, then walk one block over to 5th Avenue and bing you're there...)  

More dead people than you can shake a stick at lie in this 450+ acre burial ground, all 560,000 of them, packed in layers, for godssake, in the most gorgeous, spooky place in all New York... Starting in 1840, New Yorkers were put there, famous, infamous and totally unknown.  Gangsters, pols, molls and good guys lie chockablock along exquisitely manicured ways with names like "Gardenia" and "Olive Path."  Meanwhile, the only operating crematorium in the five boroughs continues to puff its barbecue pit each and every day as the worms crawl in but never crawl out . . .

Three events beckon, so put on your warm clothes, say a few prayers and join Cemetery resident historian Jeff Richman to celebrate your Halloween. Stops on the tour will include the grave of Dr. Harvey Burdell, a notorious murder victim of 1857, whose lover was tried for her role in his gruesome death at the start of the year. Burdell, a loathsome womanizer and swindler (but a fine scientific dentist!) was found by his servant boy in what the papers described as a "pool of gore" in the good doctor's dental operatory early one January morning, with 15 stab wounds from a four-sided dirk riddling his corpse and a skein of purple veins splayed up his neck where a cord had been tightened to make sure he was really dead.  Say a prayer for poor old Harvey as you pass by, but keep in mind, he deserved to die . . .

October 25, 2008, Saturday
1:00 PM -- Halloween at Green-Wood, Part 1 -- A Walk. Celebrate the holiday with fascinating tales of murder, mayhem, and Spiritualism. A visit to the Wizard of Oz and the Catacombs is included. This is a very, very popular tour, so arrive early. This special tour is $20; $10 for Historic Fund members. No reservations necessary.

October 26, 2008, Sunday
1:00 PM -- Halloween at Green-Wood, Part 2 -- A Walk. Celebrate the holiday with fascinating tales of murder, mayhem, and Spiritualism. This is a very, very popular tour, so arrive early. This special tour is $20; $10 for Historic Fund members. No reservations necessary.

If you're too busy getting your costume ready and filling those apples with razor blades (or just a glutton for ghouls), take a day to recover from your hang-over after the Greenwich Village parade and then head back out to Green-Wood for an All Souls Day program (one day late!). Meet at that subway stop (4th Avenue and 25th Street) @ 3:30 p.m. where program director Steve Estroff will assemble a group to experience a Haitian "Rara" procession with trumpet and Dja-rara, walking on to the Cemetery for a tour entitled "Symbols Stories and Trumpets" that will end about 6:00 p.m.

And careful whom you talk to when you're out there in Brooklyn.  Don't trust anyone, even the dead . . . 


©2008 Benjamin Feldman

Author Bio
Benjamin Feldman has lived and worked in New York City for the past thirty-eight years. After retiring in 2000 from a successful career in real estate and law, Ben turned to the full-time pursuit of his true love, New York City history. His essays about New York and about Yiddish culture have appeared on-line in The New Partisan Review  and Ducts magazine, as well as in his blog, The New York Wanderer. Butchery on Bond Street is Ben's first full-length work.