Samuel Grumman: Revolutionary and Genealogy Hero

As I’ve written about before, I love to attend Norwalk’s “Let Freedom Ring” program on Independence Day. This past 4th of July, the program included a special wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of Samuel Grumman, who was in the militia during the Revolutionary War.

After being led across the Mill Hill cemetery by Boy Scout Troop 222 color guard, we opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and listened as historian Madeleine Eckert told us the story of Samuel Grumman.

Following the Color Guard down the Norwalk River Valley Trail. Author’s collection.

The following are some of the highlights:

  • Samuel was born in 1725 at the site of 93 East Avenue in Norwalk.
  • He married Elizabeth Keeler and they lived where 74 East Avenue is today.
  • He owned a mill located on the Norwalk River, where 40 Cross Street is today (right around the corner from me!).
  • He was the Town Clerk in Norwalk during the Revolution until the time of his death in 1804.
  • In 1776, he enlisted in the 9th Regiment of the Connecticut militia under Jabez Gregory (who is also buried at Mill Hill), but never saw any military action.

Jabez Gregory’s grave. Author’s collection.

  • Samuel served on various Revolutionary War committees during 1778-1779.
  • In 1779, when Norwalk found out that General Tryon would be attacking them, Samuel had the foresight to hide the town records in a safe place, protecting them from the Burning of Norwalk. Descendants of colonial Norwalkers owe a debt of gratitude to him.
  • He died in 1804. Both he and his wife are buried at Mill Hill Cemetery. Elizabeth’s stone is broken in half, but is still legible. Samuel’s original stone has deteriorated with age.

Appropriately, current Town Clerk Richard McQuaid had the honor of laying a wreath at Samuel’s grave. Behind the decayed stone is a new marble marker for future generations to enjoy. “Taps” was played by Norwalk High School trumpeter Victoria Russo.

Richard McQuaid lays the wreath. Author’s collection.

Samuel Grumman’s new grave marker. Author’s collection.

The program continued indoors at the old meeting house, where Mayor Harry Rilling remarked how much we owe to the patriots who fought back in the Revolution, right up through present times. Connecticut Senator Bob Duff pointed out how interesting it was to hear the stories behind the names of our current streets. He also marveled at the sacrifices our forefathers made, all due to following their passion to be free. Because they followed their passions then, we are able to follow our own passions today.

Richard McQuaid, in period dress, read excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, followed by the thirteen rings of the bell by Senator Duff as Mayor Rilling read off the names of each of the thirteen original states. Catherine Robinson, of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, then sang the National Anthem in a beautiful contralto voice.

Mayor Rilling and Senator Duff let freedom ring! Author’s collection.

If you’re ever in Norwalk, take some time to pay respects to some patriots here! The Norwalk River Valley Trail now runs through the Mill Hill historical site, and the path goes right past Samuel Grumman’s grave.

The meeting house at Mill Hill. Author’s collection.

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Honor Roll Project: Norwalk, CT – World War I (part 2)

In recognition of those who have served our country in the military, Heather Wilkinson Rojo of the Nutfield Genealogy blog started the Honor Roll Project. It’s an opportunity to publicly document the names on military memorials around the world, thus making them easily searchable on the internet for people who are looking for them!

WWI Memorial on the Norwalk Green. Author’s collection.

This is a continuation of the names on the World War I memorial on the green in Norwalk, CT. Below is the second panel and its transcription. You’ll note that the first group of names are women!

Second panel of WWI memorial. Author’s collection.

1917 – THE WORLD WAR – 1919

 

BALL HAZEL J. ANDERSON EINAR BARRETT FRANCIS J. BETTS DANIEL ALLEN BROWN ROBERT E.
BETTS MARY BISSELL ANDERSON FRED BARRY JOHN J. BISHOP W. FRANKLIN JR. BROWNE GORDON W.
CALLAHAN MARY G. ANDERSON HAROLD E. BARRY THOMAS E. BLACKMAN J. WILBUR BRUNDAGE EVERETT W.
CAVANAUGH MAE E. ANDERSON HOWARD S. BARRY WILLIAM J. BLAKE GUY F. BRUNDAGE RALPH W.
COLLINS MARY J. ANDRESSINI FRANCESCO BARTLIFF FREDERICK L. BLASCK BENJAMIN BRUNJES GEORGE R.
CROCKETT MARION ANDREWS WILLIAM H. BARTO EARL B. BLAUVELT WALTER BUCKLEY CLIFFORD H.
DOWNES EDITH ANDRULICS GEORGE BATES GORDON BLOOM HAROLD A. BUCKLEY FRED W.
GRAY ETHEL LOUISE ARENA ANTHONY BATES HARVEY R. BLUNT JOSEPH BUCKLEY JAY S.
HAND MOLLY ARMATO FRANK BATES PERCY W. BOBROWSKY JOSEPH BUCKLEY JOHN
HIPSON ANNA TRANT ARNOLD CHARLES BATES RALPH BOOTH ARTHUR JOSEPH BUNDONIS JOHN
MACKENZIE ALICE ARNOLD JOHN BATTERSON ALBERT H. BOOTH RUBEN THOMAS BUONO LAWRENCE
MILLER ANNA ARTELL SAMUEL BAYLISS WILLIAM BORST ELBRIDGE L. BURGESS WILLIAM E.
MILLS GLADYS ASHBEY FRED P. BEACH ROWLAND M. BORST HENRY J. BURNES FRANCIS J.
ROBERTS GRACE ASHE A. ALEXANDER BEATTY JOHN T. BOSSING THEODORE L. BURNES MATTHEW E.
RUMMLER JOSEPHINE ALICE ASHWELL JOSEPH A. BECKER ARTHUR H. BOTTONE LORENZO BURNS SARSFIELD
VAN COVERING JEANNETTE ASHWORTH CHARLES BECKER FREDERICK V. JR. BOUTON ARTHUR I. BURNS WILLIAM JOHN
WELD MARGARET M. AUMACK HARRY BECKETT HARRY BOUTON CHARLES A. BURR HORACE G.
A AXON ERNEST BEDELL CLARENCE L. BOWKER JOHN POWELL JR. BURR JOHN GOULD
ABBOTT CHARLES E. JR. B BEDIENT CHARLES E. BOWMAN WILLIAM E. BURT CHARLES W.
ACKERLY WALLACE C. BABIN PROVOST BEEBE WILLIAM

BEERS AUGUSTUS H.

BOYLE CLARENCE E. BUSCH WILLIAM J.
ACQUINO FREDERICK J. BAILWITZ EARL G. BEERS JAMES LLOYD BRACKEN LYMAN G. BUTLER FRANK J.
ADAMS LEWIS H. JR. BAKER EARLE E. BEERS MILTON C. BRADLEY JOHN E. BUTTERY CHESTER W.
AHEARN WILLIAM JAMES BAKER HOWARD D. BEESKOW ALBERT F. BRAMLEY FRED HAROLD BUZZARD ARTHUR R.
AIKEN GEORGE E. BALDWIN HERBERT E. BEESKOW ALFRED BREDICE MICHAEL H. BUZZARD CHARLES
AIKEN JOHN H. BALDWIN STANLEY H. BEESLEY JAMES H. BREISLER ALFRED J. BYINGTON CHARLES
AKOS JOHN BALESTRIERE GLACOMO BELL CLAYTON M. BRENNAN ALBERT D. BYINGTON FLOYD I.
AKOS WILLIAM BALLARD ISAAC BELT A. PARKER BRENNAN EDWARD J. BYINGTON RUSSELL I.
AKSTIN ANTHONY BANINGOSA JOSEPH BENEDICT ELMER R. BRENNAN ERNEST J. BYRNES JOHN T.
ALEXANDER SAMUEL BANKS LESLIE J. BENEDICT HOWARD M. BRENNAN EUGENE I. BYRNES THOMAS FRANCIS
ALGARA FRANCIS A. BANKS WILLIAM J. BENEDICT SEELEY L. BRITTO ALBERT F. BYXBEE ALFRED A.
ALLEN JOHN L. BANYAI STEPHEN BENELISHA ARCHIBALD BRITTO HAROLD F. BYXBEE EDWARD R.
ALLEN VINCENT BANYARD JOSEPH BENELISHA WALLACE BRITTO HARRY BYXBEE MORRIS F.
ALLINGTON WILLIAM H. JR. BARBOUR GEORGE W. BENJAMIN WILLIAM E. BRITTO VINCENT A. C
AMBLER ARTHUR W. BARDOS DANIEL BENNETT CHARLES H. BROADWAY ELWOOD CAHILL JOHN A.
AMBLER TRACEY B. BARDOS JOSEPH BENNEWITZ CHARLES BROPHY EDWARD CALLAHAN JAMES F.
AMUNDSEN CHARLES J. BARDOS STEPHEN BENNEWITZ CHRISTIAN BROTHERTON JOSEPH F. CALLAHAN JEREMIAH J.
AMUNDSEN CLIFFORD A. BARHAM JOSEPH T. BENTON HARRY STACEY BROTHERTON THEODORE I. CALLAHAN JOHN
AMUNDSEN GUSTAVE A. BARKER ANDREW BERNARD EDMUND J. BROWER WILLIAM E. CALLAHAN JOHN J.
AMUNDSEN OSCAR L. BARKER HARRY DELVIN BERNARD PRESTON N. BROWN GEORGE E. CALLAHAN LAWRENCE
ANDERSON ALFRED L. BARNARY GEORGE BETTS ARTHUR S. BROWN GEORGE W. CALLAHAN WILLIAM C.

“WE HONOR THOSE WHO DO US HONOR”

Stanislaus Markoski: 9 Olive and Beyond

The Markoskis, their unmarried children and Doris and husband John returned to Holyoke, Hampden country, MA in 1936. This time they are listed with Americanized names: Stanley and Joan. They rented a house in a more residential part of Holyoke: 9 Olive Street, yet it wasn’t too far from the old neighborhood and their church.

In addition to Max and Doris, the other Markoski children began marrying and starting their own families. Stephen, who remained behind in Springfield when the family moved to Brooklyn, married Josephine L. Paneled by 1933. Robert, having graduated Williams College, married Ingrid Benson and started his teaching career under the new surname Marr at Vermont Academy by 1935. I suspect that Anita, like her younger brothers, met her future husband while in Riverhead, Suffolk County, NY; she married Stephen Hornyak in Manhattan, NY on November 14, 1936. Just a month later, Charles married his high school sweetheart Janet M. Benjamin on December 22 in Manhattan as well. (I assume that Charles must have been on winter break from Williams College.). Last (and definitely not least!), my grandfather Bruno married my grandmother Viola Alice Biliunas in Riverhead on November 27, 1937.

Viola Biliunas + Bruno Markoski, flanked by their wedding party (no other Markoski’s here). Author’s collection.

Despite the new households being set up, Stanislaus and Johanna kept their doors open to their family. Bruno and Viola spent 1939 and 1940 at 9 Olive. From 1936 to 1941, Doris and John were in and out of that home, together and Doris separately (for some reason, but not permanently). (I have to note here that in 9137, Doris and John had moved to Norwalk, Fairfield County, CT – where I’m living now! What a surprise that was to me!)

Being in the midst of the Great Depression, Stanislaus’ employment at this time was uneven. In 1936, he worked for the WPA. (I wish I knew in what capacity!). Once 1939 rolled around, employment was more steady. The city directories until 1942 listed him as an “inspector” in Chicopee Falls. Since the 1940 Census listed him as a sweeper in a rubber factory, I suspect that he was back at Fisk Tire.

From 1943 until 1945, Stanislaus was an inspector then a janitor at “WP&M Corp”, which was back in Holyoke. I haven’t found out what WP&M stood for or what the company was; I’ll have to ask about that on Facebook.

The 1946 city directory shows “Stanley” and “Joan” as “removed to New Jersey”. To me, this is an even bigger mystery than Brooklyn. If they did in fact move to New Jersey, it would have to be in connection with Doris or Anita, but I cannot confirm it one way or another. One thing I can confirm is that they eventually lived with Doris in Riverhead. Stanislaus somehow became bedridden, and it was at this bedside that my mother visited with him.

In 1949, Stanislaus passed away and was laid to rest in Mater Dolorosa Cemetery in South Hadley, Hampshire County, MA. Johanna was not to join him for another two decades, and we’ll look at her story next time.

Holiday Break

Yes, I’m breaking a little earlier than usual; but who knows? I could be back earlier than usual!

Despite the longer holiday season, my schedule seems to be more packed than ever. However, I still enjoy it, especially since I take care to focus on the things that are most important to me.

One of my favorite activities before Christmas is attending Norwalk High School’s “Candlelight” concert. This is a tradition for the high school for over 75 years – since the mid-1930’s. There were only a couple of times during World War II that Candlelight was not held. Since then, it has been going strong.

Candlelight concert program.  Author's collection.

Candlelight concert program. Author’s collection.

Over the years, hundreds of students in the music department have performed instrumental and vocal music, along with humorous skits and sometimes even dancing. The music ranges from secular to sacred and spans the common December holidays. What I particularly love, however, is the quality of performance every year, and the spirit of the season that the concert embodies.

Does your community have any unique holiday traditions?

Honor Roll Project: Norwalk, CT – World War I (part 1)

In recognition of those who have served our country in the military, Heather Wilkinson Rojo of the Nutfield Genealogy blog started the Honor Roll Project. It’s an opportunity to publicly document the names on military memorials around the world, thus making them easily searchable on the internet for people who are looking for them!

This post is the beginning of several I’ll post over time regarding the World War I memorial on the green in Norwalk, CT. There are eight panels with hundreds of names on it. Here is a shot of the whole memorial:

WWI Memorial on the Norwalk Green. Author's collection.

WWI Memorial on the Norwalk Green. Author’s collection.

And below is the first panel and its transcription:

First panel of memorial. Author's collection.

First panel of memorial. Author’s collection.

THIS MONUMENT IS ERECTED
AS A TRIBUTE OF HONOR TO THE
CITIZENS OF NORWALK, CONN.
WHO DEVOTED THEMSELVES TO THE CAUSE
OF FREEDOM IN THE SERVICE OF OUR COUNTRY
DURING THE GREAT WORLD WAR, 1917 – 1919
AND AS A MEMORIAL TO THE MEN
WHO MADE THE SUPREME SACRIFICE

ABBOTT FRED E GROTTY WILLIAM JAMES GEORGE L. PARADISO ANTONIO
AMUNDSEN FRED W. DAVENPORT CHARLES R. LEONARD JAMES P. RICCO GIOVANNI
BATES CHARLES FERRIS FRANK H. LARSEN ALBERT C. SCHULTZ GILBERT O.
BENNETT EDWARD GODFREY FRANK C. LOUDEN CLARENCE A. SHEEHAN FREDERICK
BIRDSALL CORTLAND V. GOLDSTEIN PETER LUEVINE SAMUEL SHEEHAN MARCUS
BLAKE MORTIMER G. GOODROW WILLIS MOORE FREDERICK SMITH RUSSELL I.
BLOOM CHARLES H. HALLWATER KENNETH MOSCARIELLO THOMAS SMITH WALTER J.
BURWELL JOHN C. HALL ROBERT S. MULVOY ANTHONY J. SNIFFEN CHARLES H.
CAFFREY THOMAS P. HAYES ARTHUR NICHOLS CLAYTON W. TARLOV AIME
CANTONI JAMES G. HOLSTON ANSLEY H. O’BRIEN JEREMIAH F. WEED DAVID JONATHAN
CIFATTE STEPHEN HUNT FREDERICK OWENS PATRICK ZOELLER WILLIAM
COLEMAN JAMES E.

 

THE CANNON THAT SURMOUNTS THIS MONUMENT WAS USED BY THE FRENCH
ARMY DURING THE WORLD WAR. IT WAS CAPTURED BY THE GERMAN ARMY AND LATER
RECAPTURED BY THE FRENCH AND PRESENTED TO THE
CITY OF NORWALK, CONN. JULY 16, 1921. BY THE REPUBLIC OF FRANCE

Honor Roll Project: Norwalk, CT – Civil War

In recognition of those who have served our country in the military, Heather Wilkinson Rojo of the Nutfield Genealogy blog started the Honor Roll Project. It’s an opportunity to publicly document the names on military memorials around the world, thus making them easily searchable on the internet for people who are looking for them!

Norwalk, CT has a lot of memorials. They are located near the beach, in parks, even at City Hall. There is one obscure memorial that I came across recently on the front lawn of the Norwalk Public Library on Belden Avenue:

Civil War memorial at Norwalk Library.  Author's collection.

Civil War memorial at Norwalk Library. Author’s collection.

It reads:

IN MEMORY OF
WILLIAM A. BUCKINGHAM
WAR GOVERNOR OF CONN. 1861-1865

AND IN HONOR OF OUR DEPARTED COMRADES
OAK TREE PLANTED IN 1909 BY
BUCKINGHAM POST NO. 12 G.A.R.

TABLET ERECTED BY SURVIVING MEMBERS NOV. 11 1926

GEORGE W. RAYMOND      G.A. FRANKE
NICHOLAS KLINE      GEORGE A. WHITE      SAMUEL W. MCGOWAN
ANDREW GEDDES      CYRUS RUSCOE           WILLIAM B. DOUGLAS

I would like to document more of the memorials here in town, but that is going to take some time, as I believe there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of names to transcribe! So stay tuned during the Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day seasons.

Let Freedom Ring – Norwalk Style

Every Fourth of July, I try to make it out to Norwalk, CT’s annual “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony at the old Town House at Mill Hill. Out of all the Independence Day celebrations, this one is most true to the real meaning of the holiday. It is celebrated every year nationwide (although it is not formally organized) as a result of a Concurrent Congressional Resolution that can be read here (see the top of the linked page). Every year, it’s a little different; sometimes more elaborate than others. This year was rather simple, but faithful to Independence Day.

Let Freedom Ring!

Let Freedom Ring!

Diane Jellerette, Executive Director of the Norwalk Historical Society, welcomed everyone to the annual “Let Freedom Ring” bell-ringing ceremony. She reminded us of how our own city of Norwalk was involved in the Revolution during the Battle and subsequent Burning of Norwalk, where General Tryon only left about 6 homes standing of nearly a hundred that were in town.

Ms. Jellerette welcomed the many city and state officials that were in attendance. Mayor Harry Rilling said a few words, proudly declaring that, “America is, without a doubt, the best country on earth.” He reminded us of the phrase “with liberty and justice for all” from the Pledge of Allegiance we recited earlier applies now more than ever to all people.

Mayor Rilling.  Author's collection.

Mayor Rilling. Author’s collection.

Dressed in colonial garb, Town Clerk Rick McQuaid had the honor of reading excerpts of the Declaration of Independence (to be honest, I believe he read the whole thing).

Town Clerk Rick McQuaid reads the Declaration of Independence.  Author's collection.

Town Clerk Rick McQuaid reads the Declaration of Independence. Author’s collection.

Finally came the centerpiece of the ceremony: the ringing of the bell thirteen times, once for each newly independent state. (Technically, the bell ringing is to occur at 2pm, but that is when we started the whole ceremony.)  Councilman Erik Anderson read off the list of states as Senator Bob Duff (who attends the event every year) rang the bell of the old Town House.  (I was hoping to embed video, but WordPress doesn’t accept that filetype.  However, you can view my tweet that captured at least part of it here.)

What followed was a beautiful, pitch-perfect rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” by Catherine Robinson of Norwalk’s Crystal Theatre. Many couldn’t help but join in as the song progressed.

Catherine Robinson, singing the National Anthem.  Author's collection.

Catherine Robinson, singing the National Anthem. Author’s collection.

The ceremony concluded as Ms. Jellerette explained that the Town House will shortly be undergoing a renovation. Just recently, the grounds of Mill Hill were renovated to include a walkway and an herb garden, which she invited all to check out. And in the fall, a new Norwalk Museum will be opening up on the same grounds as City Hall after being out of commission for quite some time. There is much to look forward to regarding Norwalk history!

New herb garden at Mill Hill.  Author's collection.

New herb garden at Mill Hill. Author’s collection.