The Local Legacy of U.S. Colored Units, American Civil War

Vol. 5, No. 12

The recent vote by the Hoag Library Board of Trustees to sell the 26th U.S. Colored Troops “National Color” in March has raised questions about local connections to that particular unit and other Colored Infantry regiments. U.S.C.T. regiments, established under the direction of the Bureau for Colored Troops, appointed white officers to lead black soldiers. According to a dissertation entitled “The Selection and Preparation of White Officers for the Command of Black Troops in the American Civil War,” by Paul Renard, the government utilized various methods of electing officers to lead U.S.C.T. regiments. Early U.S.C.T. regiment officers were selected by a board of divisional officers while others were selected in a process similar to white regiments. Renard argues that the selection of officers through an examination board overseen by the Bureau for Colored Troops was the most effective method used.

Racism permeated throughout the Union Army, which refused equal pay to black soldiers and relegated segregated units to manual labor behind the front lines.… More

Barre farmer, an immigrant, enlisted with Union Army and later became US citizen

Vol. 5, No. 10

This photograph shows Johann George Singler around the time of his enlistment in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Born March 28, 1829 in the territory of Baden to Joseph and Mary Greisbaum, Singler received his common education (equivalent to a high school course in the United States) while in Europe. At the age of 22 he emigrated to the United States on a 49-day journey across the Atlantic, settling at Cleveland, Ohio. Six months later he traveled to Buffalo where he worked as a carpenter for eight months and finally relocated to the town of Barre sometime around 1853. On February 10, 1855, he married Eva Rupp at Clarendon and the couple raised eight children together on a modest farm in Barre.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Singler enlisted with Company G of the 151st New York Infantry at the age of 33.… More

Ziba Roberts

Vol. 4, No. 35

Ziba Roberts was born July 31, 1840, near East Shelby to Ziba and Susanna Wolcott Roberts. This image, which appears within A Brief History of the Twenty-Eighth Regiment New York State Volunteers by C. W. Boyce, shows Roberts in his mid-50s. Pinned upon his chest is the medal of the Grand Army of the Republic, typically worn by members of the fraternal organization. Roberts was an active member of the S. J. Hood Post GAR in Medina, serving as the organization’s commander and chaplain.

Nearly seven months after the Confederate attack on Ft. Sumter, Roberts enlisted with the 28th New York Volunteer Infantry on November 11, 1861, at Rochester; he was placed with Company D with other men from Orleans County. During the Battle of Winchester on May 25, 1862, the 28th New York faced a force of Confederate troops nearly four times greater in size under the command of Gen.… More

The Soldiers & Sailors Monument: A County-wide Civil War Memorial

Volume 4, Issue 21

Passing through the sandstone arch of Mount Albion Cemetery, one may catch a glimpse of the towering monument atop the highest point in the area. The Soldiers & Sailors Monument is perhaps the most impressive and beautiful war memorials in our area, but the true significance of the shrine is often overshadowed by the novelty and “thrill of the climb” up the winding steel staircase. There is a commonality between the circumstances surrounding the efforts to erect this monument to the memory of over 450 men who lost their lives during the Civil War and the war itself. In the face of grave sacrifice, a community struggled to memorialize the hundreds of young men, sons, brothers, and fathers, who left the security of home for ideals far greater than themselves.

Efforts to construct a county-wide memorial were initiated in 1864, but the association struggled to raise the necessary funds to complete the project.… More

ALBION BOY PRESENT AT EXECUTION OF LINCOLN ASSASSINATION CONSPIRATORS

Vol. 4, No. 19

Last week’s article featured the story of William Collins of Albion who claimed that he was present with the detachment of cavalrymen from the 16th New York Cavalry responsible for the capture of John Wilkes Booth. Occasionally I receive feedback from readers that pushes me in a particular direction and this week just happens to be one of those occasions. Steven Miller of Illinois, an expert on Boston Corbett, contacted me about John Chamberlain Collins and encouraged me to explore his story. So I thought it would be of interest to share more about the life of John C. Collins.

John Collins was born September 19, 1850, at Albion to Michael and Susan Collins; one of nine children born to the couple. He was raised Roman Catholic, presumably attending St. Joseph’s Church after its establishment, and attended the local schools in the village. At the outbreak of the Civil War, his brother William enlisted with the 28th New York Infantry raised under the command of David Hardie.… More

ALBION NATIVE WAS PRESENT AT CAPTURE FOR JOHN WILKES BOOTH

Vol. 4, No. 18

As I prepared last week’s article about Asa Hill of the 28th New York Infantry and his beautiful monument situated at Millville Cemetery on East Shelby Road, I stumbled upon an image of another soldier from the same unit. Several years ago I encountered the story of William Collins but was unable to locate an image of him. As the 153rd anniversary of the capture and death of John Wilkes Booth passed on April 26th, I thought perhaps it would be worthwhile to recall this particular story.

William Collins was born September 28, 1843 to Michael and Susan Collins of Albion. His father was an Irish immigrant who worked as a day laborer in the village, raising a rather large family in the vicinity. Little is known about William’s early life, but shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War in April of 1861, the 17 year old enlisted and as was mustered into service on May 22, 1861 with Company G of the 28th New York Infantry, one of the first units raised in Orleans County.… More

Millville Cemetery Monument Stands as a Remarkable Local Landmark

Vol. 4, No. 17

Our rural communities are filled with strikingly beautiful landscapes and recognizable landscapes scattered throughout the region. As I passed through Millville this week, I thought about one of my favorite “little” landmarks in Shelby, a cemetery marker that has always grabbed my attention since I first visited Millville Cemetery.

The stone is rather remarkable, aside from its overwhelming appearance, towering over the seemingly smaller stones placed around it. Rarely does an attractive statue such as this adorn the burial site of an individual and perhaps its location in a rural cemetery makes it all the more unique. Yet the story of Asa Hill, the man memorialized by the granite obelisk and stoic soldier standing guard, adds a degree of mystery to the stone itself.

A native of Shelby, Asa Cummings Hill was born August 19, 1837 to William and Clarissa Miller Hill. When the South seceded from the Union in April of 1861, Asa found himself drawn to military service like so many other local men as indicated by his enlistment on November 14, 1861.… More

Historic Marker to Designate Only Orleans County Soldier Killed at Gettysburg

Volume 2, Issue 40

It was nearly one year ago that this piece was first published. Although I do not fancy reproducing work in such a rapid fashion, I thought it was fitting that this short story of the 140th New York Infantry at Gettysburg should yet again be featured as part of my weekly column. Saturday, October 8th at 11:00am, students from the Albion Middle School will dedicate an historic marker to the memory of Pvt. Herbert Charles Taylor of Clarendon who was killed on July 2, 1863 at Gettysburg. It is rare to experience such a profound and symbolic gesture that will bring attention to the sacrifice of not only Taylor but of other men who gave their lives during the Civil War.

Upon Little Round Top rests a large monument dedicated to Col. Patrick O’Rorke, the site where New York’s 140th Volunteer Infantry made a valiant and daring charge down upon Hood’s Texans.… More

Reflecting on the Sacrifices of Our Veterans

Volume 2, Issue 22

On May 26, 2016 the 7th grade class of students from Albion Middle School dedicated a beautiful granite urn, sugar maple tree, and bronze plaque affixed to a slab of pink Medina Sandstone. The task undertaken by Tim Archer should be applauded and imitated by teachers throughout the region as a heartfelt effort to educate students about the importance of becoming noble citizens.

Over 140 students stood on the very ground once selected by David Hardie and other area municipal supervisors for use as a lot for veteran burials. Just two years later, the men of Curtis Post Grand Army of the Republic dedicated a flag pole and M1841 6-pounder bronze howitzer cannon to the memory of their fallen comrades. Those same men committed themselves to ensuring that all indigent soldiers who found themselves interred within potter’s field be removed to this newly consecrated lot.

In conjunction with the ceremonies held on May 26th and Memorial Day, it may be fitting to share a few brief notes of interest pertaining to Civil War veterans from Orleans County.… More

Col. Achilles Contributed to Success of Phipps Union Seminary

Volume 2, Issue 20

This image of Lt. Col. Henry Ludwig Achilles shows him garbed in his Union officer’s uniform taken sometime around 1862 at the studio of George Hopkins in Albion. A New Hampshire native, Achilles established himself in Rochester as a young entrepreneur and man of religious conviction. As an established tinsmith, he was responsible for starting one of the first foundries in Rochester where he engaged in the manufacturing and sale of sheet metal and tin. His early successes in business allowed him to contribute to the purchase of property for the construction of the First Baptist Church of Rochester of which he was a superintendent in the early 1830s.

When the First Baptist Church split into two congregations due to the overwhelming growth of the group, he assisted in establishing the Second Baptist Church in Rochester and was selected as one of its first trustees. As a respected gentleman in the city, he served a short term as town clerk of Brighton and local fire inspector.… More