154th New York's Posthumous Celebrity, Amos Homiston, A Newspaper ' What?? ', September, 1865

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
18,419
Location
Central Pennsylvania
#1
humisted amos.jpg

Harness maker Amos Homiston enlisted in the 154th New York Infantry unaware that one photograph would launch him so firmly into national fame there would one day be a monument to him on the battlefield where he died.

humistead philinda.jpg

Philinda Homiston Barnes, mother of 3 children orphaned July 1st at Gettysburg, twice widowed by 1880 ( or 1881 ) second husband Asa Barnes died.

So came across this from September, 1865. Please no one run screaming up a wall, I'm not saying it's true- I am asking ' What on earth?? ' The glaring inaccuracy in the article where Amos Humisted's hometown moved to another state- ( the 154th New York wasn't a Pennsylvania regiment ) could be thought a ' clew ', those making stuff up generally throw quite a few clankers in the mix.

humisted kids.JPG

The faces that launched a million tears. The uber famous Homiston children, Frank, Frederick and Alice


Author of this piece claims Amos arrived home from a Confederate prison and takes a good swipe at the family, implication being some kind of fraud for money.

humistead 1.JPG

Author has a few things down, gets a big whiff on what the photo looked like AND Amos's home town.

humistead 2.JPG

But where does the story come from? Considering how beloved this previously unknown family had become to an entire country, what a huge risk to claim it had been a mistake and follow that up by implying anyone had a financial stake in it. IF the story had been true, how in blazes would husband or wife had known a. There'd been some ginormous error and b. Been able to perpetrate a ruse?

humiston muster roll.JPG

' Mustered out ' July 1st, why a casualty would be listed this way is anyone's guess. Record from Ancestry, there must be an official notation somewhere.

Initially buried as ' Unknown ' in the National Cemetery, 154th New York's Sergeant Amos Humistead-Homisted's stone now bears his name. I'm unsure how this transpired, how someone knew which Unknown was Humisted but you can pull up his marker on Find A Grave. His rending story, dying while clutching an image of his children and the search for who this family might be absorbed a nation, evoked a famous poem and seems to have resulted in widow Philinda's involvement in Gettysburg's famous/infamous, ill-fated orphanage. We don't speak much of the orphanage- not a good subject although hardly the widow's fault.

Unclear also is where and when Philinda married her second husband. Asa Barnes seems to have been 20 years her senior and from Massachusetts, where he took his bride and step children. He died without a will, under a heavy load of debt. Frank, Fred and Alice all wierdly owed their stepfather the exact, same amount of money at the time of his death. It's tough ascertaing which Asa Barnes is which too- one seems to have died in 1880, another 1881. Only one Asa has a previous family or can be found on previous census although in a day when names were spelled so variously that means little. Widowed when wife Marcia died, there's no mention in his estate of two children from that marriage.

humistead 1860.JPG

Here they are in 1860, cannot find Philinda in 1870, in 1880 one Asa Barnes was here, another, same age, also Mass., with wife Maria.

humiston phil 1880 barnes mass.JPG


NO idea what may have evoked this report from September, 1865. It's out of a Gettysburg newspaper, too, so must have caused quite a firestorm- and please, no ' the press ' snark. Coverage of the battle both as it happened and in ensuing years was really extremely good.

humistead philinda death.JPG


humistead philinda widow.JPG
 

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Northern Light

Lt. Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Jul 21, 2014
Messages
10,697
#3
It is almost laughable how many errors there are in this clipping. Obviously, it was not taken too seriously, as Philinda was offered the job in the orphanage.
 

Tom Elmore

Sergeant Major
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Messages
2,379
#4
Mark Dunkelman replied as follows:

--------------------------------------

(As) stated a Gettysburg newspaper published the September 1865 article “Ought To Have Died,” which avers that Amos survived the Battle of Gettysburg but was captured by the Confederates and returned to his family after the war. It is a verbatim reprint of an article, “An Affecting Story Spoiled,” which appeared in the Baltimore Clipper on August 22, 1865. The Clipper attributed the account to the Olean Times. Olean is adjacent to the Humistons’ hometown of Portville, New York, but there is no evidence that the story originated there, and it is, of course, untrue that Amos survived Gettysburg. The Baltimore paper hedged the story with this disclaimer: “Precisely how much of fact, of mistake, and of humbug are mixed up with the whole affair we are at present unable to determine.” The Gettysburg paper chose not to include the disclaimer.

Speaking of mistakes, Amos is referred to as “Homiston,” “Humistead,” “Homisted,” and “Humisted” in the article. It reminds me of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s definition of a hero as a soldier killed in battle whose name is misspelled in the newspapers. And the statement that Asa Barnes was Philinda’s second husband is also incorrect. As I relate in my book Gettysburg’s Unknown Soldier: The Life, Death, and Celebrity of Amos Humiston, Philinda Betsy Ensworth married Justin H. Smith on April 15, 1850. He died of unknown causes on January 10, 1851. The widow Smith married Amos Humiston on July 4, 1854 in Candor, New York, at the home of Amos’s brother Morris Humiston. The widowed Philinda Humiston married Asa Barnes of Becket, Massachusetts, at the Homestead Orphanage in Gettysburg on October 26, 1869. As I wrote in my book (page 213), “Philinda took to calling herself Linda Barnes after her third marriage. When grandchildren came and grew and learned her story, they occasionally delighted in referring to her as Philinda Betsy Ensworth Smith Humiston Barnes, the names revealing a life history.”

-------------------------------------

By the way, Mark's book, published in 1999, is currently out of print, although it may eventually return in paperback. For the time being it is available in a print-on-demand format: https://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=C8174C
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
18,419
Location
Central Pennsylvania
#5
Mark Dunkelman replied as follows:

--------------------------------------

(As) stated a Gettysburg newspaper published the September 1865 article “Ought To Have Died,” which avers that Amos survived the Battle of Gettysburg but was captured by the Confederates and returned to his family after the war. It is a verbatim reprint of an article, “An Affecting Story Spoiled,” which appeared in the Baltimore Clipper on August 22, 1865. The Clipper attributed the account to the Olean Times. Olean is adjacent to the Humistons’ hometown of Portville, New York, but there is no evidence that the story originated there, and it is, of course, untrue that Amos survived Gettysburg. The Baltimore paper hedged the story with this disclaimer: “Precisely how much of fact, of mistake, and of humbug are mixed up with the whole affair we are at present unable to determine.” The Gettysburg paper chose not to include the disclaimer.

Speaking of mistakes, Amos is referred to as “Homiston,” “Humistead,” “Homisted,” and “Humisted” in the article. It reminds me of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s definition of a hero as a soldier killed in battle whose name is misspelled in the newspapers. And the statement that Asa Barnes was Philinda’s second husband is also incorrect. As I relate in my book Gettysburg’s Unknown Soldier: The Life, Death, and Celebrity of Amos Humiston, Philinda Betsy Ensworth married Justin H. Smith on April 15, 1850. He died of unknown causes on January 10, 1851. The widow Smith married Amos Humiston on July 4, 1854 in Candor, New York, at the home of Amos’s brother Morris Humiston. The widowed Philinda Humiston married Asa Barnes of Becket, Massachusetts, at the Homestead Orphanage in Gettysburg on October 26, 1869. As I wrote in my book (page 213), “Philinda took to calling herself Linda Barnes after her third marriage. When grandchildren came and grew and learned her story, they occasionally delighted in referring to her as Philinda Betsy Ensworth Smith Humiston Barnes, the names revealing a life history.”

-------------------------------------

By the way, Mark's book, published in 1999, is currently out of print, although it may eventually return in paperback. For the time being it is available in a print-on-demand format: https://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=C8174C

Thank you! That was awfully kind. Whoa, appreciate all this information and effort! Interesting anyone in 1865 felt it to be a story to pick on- inventing his ' return ' was just cruel. It seems the family hit a national nerve, a father not coming home like so many but we SAW the children. Talk about putting a face on war.

If anything could provoke interest in getting to facts, it'd be this article and reply- very good thing there's a book, thanks for the link! Seems rather important. Philinda, widowed three times, seems to bring home one of the answers to ' What was life like ' for our ancestors.

Yes, if you read articles from the era, various Ancestry results, etc. you can't get a grasp of a common spelling. We're familiar with how it's spelled now, seems to have been quite a few spellings. Heck, I've come across Smythe/Smith/Smithe- if that can get butchered who knows what could happen with Humiston?
 



Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top