NY Rensselaerville Cemetery

lupaglupa

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The charming little village of Rensselaerville is tucked into the southwest corner of Albany County, one of several "hilltowns" on top of the Heldeberg escarpment. Though it was first settled in 1629 as part of the Rensselarwyck patroonage (large tracts of land given out during the Dutch Colonial period), few made their homes in the hills until after the Revolution, when land was given rent-free to settlers for their first seven years. That a number of veterans of the recent war took up the offer is evident in the cemetery, where worn stones marked with DAR flag holders show the resting place of Revolutionary soldiers.

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That military heritage may have influenced the local men when the Civil War broke out. Though the population of the village barely topped 3,000 in 1860, the recruiters had no problem finding volunteers. When the surrender arrived, 29 of the men who had left to fight did not return, felled by wounds and disease while in service to the Union. The community did not want these fallen soldiers forgotten. Money was raised and on July 4th, 1867 a monument was dedicated on the highest point of the cemetery. Featuring a stack of rifles and two caps, the stone has carved into the names of 29 soldiers and the epitaph "They died in the defence of their country."

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lupaglupa

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Elias Bell, 1847-1891, private Company M, 7th New York Heavy Artillery. A farmer from Berne, just north of Rensselaerville, Elias enlisted in the 7th New York Heavy Artillery in November of 1863. Originally organized as the 113th New York Infantry Regiment in August of 1862, the 113th had been converted into an artillery regiment in December of 1862. Additional companies were recruited the following year, Elias's Company M among them. The 7th HA is noted for the high losses it suffered in battle: it ranks third among all heavy artillery regiments for losses of those killed or fatally wounded - a total of 291 men.

Elias survived the War and returned to Rensselaerville. He married and had two children, working mostly as a laborer. He likely worked part of the time for his father, who was a hotel keeper.
 

lupaglupa

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George Bouton, 1845-1864, private, Company K, 7th New York Heavy Artillery. George enlisted in December of 1863. One of ten children, he grew up on the family farm in Rensselaerville. He gave his occupation when he enlisted as "laborer." George was captured at the Second Battle of Ream's Station. He died at Salisbury Prison November 16, 1864 of an unspecified disease. He is buried as Salisbury - this cenotaph was likely put up by his family.
 

lupaglupa

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Lieutenant William T. Conkling, 1837-1861, 1st Lt. 30th New York Infantry Regiment. Conkling enlisted as a lieutenant at Rensselaerville May 7, 1861. That November 28th he died in a hospital in Washington, DC. His death was caused by typhoid pneumonia, which the pension applications for his wife Mary were emphatic to state he had been exposed to "in the field." Mary, who had married William in 1858, was granted a pension of $17 a month: the couple had no children. Sadly the verse on the stone has been eroded by acid rain.
 

rpkennedy

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Rensselaerville recruited troops into two units, the 177th New York Infantry and the 7th New York Heavy Artillery.

The 177th New York was a 9 month regiment that served in Louisiana, including the fights around Port Hudson.

The 7th Heavy Artillery served with the Second Corps and Eighth Corps during the Overland, Petersburg, and Appomattox Campaigns. They suffered heavily, losing 1315 casualties between the battles of Spotsylvania and Hatcher's Run.

Ryan
 

bdtex

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View attachment 409395

Lieutenant William T. Conkling, 1837-1861, 1st Lt. 30th New York Infantry Regiment. Conkling enlisted as a lieutenant at Rensselaerville May 7, 1861. That November 28th he died in a hospital in Washington, DC. His death was caused by typhoid pneumonia, which the pension applications for his wife Mary were emphatic to state he had been exposed to "in the field." Mary, who had married William in 1858, was granted a pension of $17 a month: the couple had no children. Sadly the verse on the stone has been eroded by acid rain.
So he is actually buried there.
 

lupaglupa

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Two brothers, dead the same year, memorialized on the same stone. A tragedy and also, a mystery.

Lester Nathan Fish, 1844-1864, was the youngest of Dennison and Minerva Lester Fish's children. He enlisted in Company K of the 7th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment in August of 1862. He declared himself to be 22 and a farmer, though he was only 18. June 14, 1864 Lester was one of 304 men from the 7th NYHA captured at Petersburg. He was sent to the Confederate prison at Andersonville, where he died of catarrh August 20, 1964. He is buried at Andersonville in grave number 6215.

William L. Fish, 1832-1864, was the eldest son. He had moved from the farm by 1855, when a New York Census found him living in Deerpark, New York, working as a railroad man. This is the last definitive record we have for him. But - he is said to also have died at Andersonville, four months before his brother. However, I can't prove (or disprove) this.

There is a grave at Andersonville, number 279, with a stone that reads 'Wm. Fish N.Y.' One official records states that this marker is for a "U.S. soldier" who died April 1, 1864 of typhus. Another record states that the William Fish who died April 1, 1864 had enlisted in the 10th New York Infantry Regiment. But the 10th NY has no record of a William Fish. A different record states that Fish was a member of Company H, 17th New York Infantry. Again, the 17th NY has no record of Fish. Yet another record from Andersonville says Fish was in Company H of the 17th Kentucky, not New York. But the 17th KY has no William Fish either. I was not able to find any William Fish whose service reflected the known facts of William L. Fish's life. Nor was I able to find another William Fish who could have been at Andersonville.

The other members of the Fish family are buried nearby and it seems likely that this stone (or cenotaph) was erected by the family. Certainly they would have known the date of William's death. It's worth noting that there is no military information on the stone for William and that he, unlike Lester, is not memorialized on the Rensselaerville monument as a fallen soldier. It may well be that he did not serve. But if so, how and where did he die? And if the 'Wm Fish N.Y.' at Andersonville is not this William - who is he? I'm hoping our Andersonville expert, @Gary Morgan, can help solve this.
 

lupaglupa

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While this stone actually marks the burial site of Adeline Bryant Holmes, it also memorializes her husband so I am including his information here.

Edmund Holmes, 1836-1864, enlisted as a private in Company K of the 7th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment on August 18, 1862. Though born in Dutchess County, New York, he had moved to Rensselaerville as a child. At the time of his enlistment he was working as a shoemaker. He and Adeline had married in 1857 and had two children, Sarah Jane and Frank. Edmund was one of the hundreds captured at Petersburg and transported to Andersonville in June of 1864. His time at the prison camp was short: Edmund died of diarrhea August 28, 1864. He is buried at the Andersonville Cemetery in grave number 7104.
 

lupaglupa

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Apr 18, 2019
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Upstate New York
Rensselaerville recruited troops into two units, the 177th New York Infantry and the 7th New York Heavy Artillery.

The 177th New York was a 9 month regiment that served in Louisiana, including the fights around Port Hudson.

The 7th Heavy Artillery served with the Second Corps and Eighth Corps during the Overland, Petersburg, and Appomattox Campaigns. They suffered heavily, losing 1315 casualties between the battles of Spotsylvania and Hatcher's Run.

Ryan
Thanks for adding this. The extent of their losses is devastating. One source I saw said they left Albany with 66 officers and 774 men and after the Battle at Petersburg had only 6 officers and 168 men.
 
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That is basically an 80% casualty stat. Seems Edmund and Adeline were given a wicked hand in life. Edmund dead at 28 and Adeline with two adolescents to raise as a widow. All the thousands of similar life stories that no one ever knew. May they all RIP
 
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Aug 2, 2019
View attachment 409430

Two brothers, dead the same year, memorialized on the same stone. A tragedy and also, a mystery.

Lester Nathan Fish, 1844-1864, was the youngest of Dennison and Minerva Lester Fish's children. He enlisted in Company K of the 7th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment in August of 1862. He declared himself to be 22 and a farmer, though he was only 18. June 14, 1864 Lester was one of 304 men from the 7th NYHA captured at Petersburg. He was sent to the Confederate prison at Andersonville, where he died of catarrh August 20, 1964. He is buried at Andersonville in grave number 6215.

William L. Fish, 1832-1864, was the eldest son. He had moved from the farm by 1855, when a New York Census found him living in Deerpark, New York, working as a railroad man. This is the last definitive record we have for him. But - he is said to also have died at Andersonville, four months before his brother. However, I can't prove (or disprove) this.

There is a grave at Andersonville, number 279, with a stone that reads 'Wm. Fish N.Y.' One official records states that this marker is for a "U.S. soldier" who died April 1, 1864 of typhus. Another record states that the William Fish who died April 1, 1864 had enlisted in the 10th New York Infantry Regiment. But the 10th NY has no record of a William Fish. A different record states that Fish was a member of Company H, 17th New York Infantry. Again, the 17th NY has no record of Fish. Yet another record from Andersonville says Fish was in Company H of the 17th Kentucky, not New York. But the 17th KY has no William Fish either. I was not able to find any William Fish whose service reflected the known facts of William L. Fish's life. Nor was I able to find another William Fish who could have been at Andersonville.

The other members of the Fish family are buried nearby and it seems likely that this stone (or cenotaph) was erected by the family. Certainly they would have known the date of William's death. It's worth noting that there is no military information on the stone for William and that he, unlike Lester, is not memorialized on the Rensselaerville monument as a fallen soldier. It may well be that he did not serve. But if so, how and where did he die? And if the 'Wm Fish N.Y.' at Andersonville is not this William - who is he? I'm hoping our Andersonville expert, @Gary Morgan, can help solve this.

The National Park Service database lists him as

Fish, William​

Side:Union Unit Name:17 New York Infantry Regiment:17 State:New York Function:Infantry Company:H Rank:tongue:rivate Description:Buried in National Cemetery Capture Date: Capture Site: Alternate Name: Remarks:H 10 NY [1]; H 17 NY INFANTRY [3]; NOT FOUND IN 10 NY INFANTRY [63] OR 17 NY INFANTRY [64]

Since there is some confusion, apparently, about what he regiment was (different sources say different things), I'm inclined to think that this is the brother of Lester. The records are only as good as the handwriting of the person writing them and the interpretive abilities of the person reading them.

I'll dig a bit and get back to you, but an April death is consistent with the 270 grave number.
 
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