Windham Life and Times – February 23, 2018

Windham Deserters in the Civil War

As somebody who has never donned the uniform or faced the fire of an enemy in battle, I make no judgment one way or another about the large number of deserters among the rolls of Windham men who fought in the Civil War. However, the number of deserters in Morrison’s History of Windham was quite astonishing to me. This led me to want to find out more about desertion during the War of Rebellion.

   Come to find out, the problem of desertion was widespread among both the southern and northern troops.  Mark A. Weitz in Desertion, Cowardice and Punishment says, “…the two sides put about three million men in the field during the course of the four-year conflict. Historians concede that exact numbers are unattainable, but estimates of total Confederates under arms is between 800,000 and 1,200,000. The Union army is estimated to have been slightly over 2 million men. Drawn from every corner of America, both armies were overwhelmingly volunteer forces comprised of men unfamiliar with war and the rigors of military life. Thus, in addition to the logistical challenges of training and equipping these armies, military and civilian officials faced the challenge of keeping the army intact, and throughout the war desertion posed a problem for both sides.”

“Defined as leaving the military with the intent not to return, desertion differs from cowardice. Cowardice in the civil war was defined as deserting in the face of the enemy. While deserters numbered in the hundreds of thousands, deserting in the face of the enemy was far less common a crime, or at least not as prominent in the records that survive…To be sure, the image of Henry Fleming fleeing the battlefield in Stephen Crane’s Red Badge of Courage, had its basis in historical fact and undoubtedly occurred …Desertion proved a far more difficult problem for both sides. Official figures show slightly over 103,000 Confederate soldiers and over 200,000


     Thomas Crook, bounty $175. 3 years; Mustered Dec. 23, 1863; ‘Not officially accounted for.’

     John Inshaw, substitute, Co. I, 3 years, mustered in August 23, 1864; deserted at Petersburg Va., October 10, 1864; regained from desertion Jan. 11, 1865; discharged sentence of G.C.M. March 24, 1865.

     James Brown, bounty $175, 3 years, mustered in Dec. 22, 1863; supposed to have deserted en route to regiment.

     Asa Bean, bounty $200, 3 years, Co. C, mustered in Sept. 19, 1862; deserted at Aquia Creek, Va., Feb. 7, 1863.

George W. Coburn, bounty $200, 3 years; mustered in Sept. 19, 1862; wounded Dec. 13, 1862; deserted Feb. 9, 1863; apprehended Sept. 13, 1864; returned to Co. January 18, 1865; sentenced by G.C.M. to forfeit all pay and allowances due, to make good time lost by desertion, and to forfeit ten dollars per month of monthly pay for 18 months; transferred to 2nd N.H. Vols., June 21, 1865.

Reuben O. Phillips, bounty $200, Co. C. 3 years; mustered  in Sept. 19, 1863; deserted at Aquia Creek, Va., Feb. 7, 1863.

Timothy Norris, bounty $200, Co. G, mustered in Oct. 18, 1862; deserted.

Union soldiers deserted, with some estimates as high as 280,000… Men deserted for a variety of reasons, many of which were common to both sides. The rigors or military life, poor food, inadequate clothing, homesickness, and concern for loved ones at home all drove men to desert… Many soldiers saw their enlistment as contractual in nature and any perception that the government was not living up to its end of the bargain justified their departure. This reliance on the government’s promise as a reason to desert would prove particularly troublesome for the Confederacy where soldiers believed their commitment to fight was based in part on the promise that their families would be taken care of in their absence.

“…Desertion from the Union army began early in the war and continued to some degree throughout the conflict. Early enlistments were for three months, and volunteers flocked to the cause believing the rebellion would be suppressed in short order. When it became clear that subduing the Confederacy would be a much more arduous task, particularly in light of Union defeats in July, August, and October of 1861, the patriotic fervor that drove enlistment in the first months of the war began to wane and with it the commitment of some men to the cause. However, one aspect of enlistment unique to the Union army clearly contributed to desertion and appealed to men who never intended to remain in the service. The Union paid bounties, or enlistment bonuses for new recruits, often as much as $300.00. Men enlisted, collected their bounty, and then deserted. Thereafter, a deserter re-enlisted under a different name and at a different place, collected another bounty, and then deserted again. The Union Army paid privates an average salary of $13 per month. A $300 bounty amounted to almost twice a private’s annual salary and a man willing to test the bounty system

Windham Life and Times – February 9, 2018

This is a page out of the William Austin scrapbook showing Dinsmore Hill with its view of Cobbett’s Pond. I believe Mrs. Austin was picking blackberries along the stone wall. In the left hand photograph one of the Austin children has climbed a pine tree to take in the view.


“I used to roam to Windham

    Beyond the Dinsmore farm;

The roving road to Windham

    Has much of simple charm;

It angles up among the hills,

    And there’s a little singing stream

That carols near at hand.”

“Now, I am far from Windham;

    It’s ways are drifted deep,

The yards that herded cattle,

    The snug folds for its sheep;

I would not climb it’s hill tops

    While bleak the norther blows,

But I’ll be fain to wander there

    Amid the cheery snows.”

“For oh the trees of Windham,

    Their blossoms are so white;

They haunt the mind with beauty,

    They thrill it with delight;

Though from the hills of Windham

    I still be far away,

In visions I will visit them

    About the break of May!”

“Here’s something cut from newspapers, which I changed the name within to fit the old days—-

From the scrapbook of Mrs. John Cochran

Windham Life and Times – February 2, 2018

Edward Searles and Angelo


So the story of Edward Searles (the Old Gentleman) and Angy Ellison comes to an end leaving more questions than answers.  The letters certainly show affection between the two but also seem a bit eccentric to modern readers.  The letters make it obvious why Angy felt so strongly that is was Searles intention to “adopt” him as his son. After all, Searles was signing his letters as “Dad.” You can fully understand how in Angy’s mind it would have logically follow that he would inherit a large share of Searles estate upon his death.

During the will trials, Victor Searle’s attorneys sought to use the relationship between Angy and Searles. In a special report to the New York Times on October 14, 1920 the following is disclosed to discredit the mental capacity of Searles to change his will: “In the opening fight of the Probate Court here before Judge White today for a jury trial in the $25,000,000 will contest involving the estate of Edward F. Searles, late of Methuen, Sherman L. Whipple, counsel for Albert Victor Searles, nephew of the testator, charged that Mr. Searles, when he made his will, was in a mental state and physical decay, and the victim of a plot having for its object the keeping of the vast estate from the party Mr. Searles intended should be the beneficiary.”

“Mr. Whipple dwelt at length upon the alleged affection of Mr. Searles for a young Greek lad, Angelo Ellison, who had been in his employ some six years, and said that a friend had said that Mr. Searles had intended young Ellison should receive the estate, but was dissuaded by Arthur T. Walker, chief beneficiary under the will, on the grounds that it would not do to leave such a vast estate to a poor Greek boy because of the public criticism. It was asserted that Mr. Searles was persuaded that the same object could be gained by leaving the money to some one ‘who could pass it along to Angelo.’ ”

“Counsel declared that young Ellison had disappeared and that had reason to believe the boy was now being paid by the proponent. He declared that the relations between Mr. Searles and the boy were more those of father and son than employer and servant.”

“Young Greek Treated Like Son: ‘We have letters from young Ellison to Mr. Searles couched in terms of the most endearing affection,’ said Mr. Whipple, who added that some of these letters began with ‘Dear Dad,’ ‘Darling Daddy,’ and ‘Dear Old Gray Boy,’ He said he could not find that Ellison was ever paid a salary, but that Mr. Searles gave him money as a father might have done.”

“Mr. Whipple said that Mr. Walker knew of Mr. Searle’s fondness for Angelo and that one of the letters purporting to be from the young Greek to Mr. Searles was in the handwriting of Mr. Walker, and was evidently written by Mr. Walker for Angelo as Angelo was not highly educated and probably asked Mr. Walker to write it for him.

‘Searles,’ said Mr. Whipple, ‘had pictures of young Ellison in his sleeping room and had been seen sitting before these pictures in an attitude or worship.’ Counsel said there was no question that the chief thing in the latter part of Mr. Searle’s life was his affection for this boy, and that there was evidence he intended to adopt him, but that someone, ‘we think we know who,’ (Walker) dissuaded him….”

“Mr. Whipple described the trip taken across the continent by Mr. Searles with young Ellison. Some time after this trip, said Mr. Whipple, young Angelo went to Greece to see his mother. Angelo returned to this country this spring and after seeing Mr. Searles, returned to Methuen. After the millionaire  fell ill, said Mr. Whipple, Angelo was permitted to see him once and then sent to the Searles Estate in Windham, N.H., and did not see Mr. Searles again during the latter’s life.”

What is interesting is that the counsel for Victor Searles was using the argument that Angelo Ellison was the intended heir in order to get a settlement for his client. Whatever the case, Walker settled with Searles out of court. While a settlement doesn’t prove guilt it seems to me that there was something to the story. It is said that Victor Searles had his bequest under the will changed from $250,000 to over $2,000,000.  Ellison claimed that Victor Searles was an alcoholic and a drug addict and not a nice man. Events would bear this out. In October of 1921, he was divorced from his wife Etta who received $140,000. He was also said to have been blackmailed out of $50,000 after being trapped with a woman in a Back Bay apartment. He was also reported to have settled for $1,000,000 an alienation suit in having committed adultery with Mary Johnson of Portsmouth N.H.

As for Angelo Ellison, who was most likely the intended heir for much of Searle’s millions, he ended up with just $10,000. He also went to court to contest the will but lost. Andrew “Angy” Ellison in his later life was consigned to the loss saying that the money would have probably ruined his life.


Windham Life and Times – January 19, 2017

Edward Searles and Angelo


“Pine Lodge. Methuen, Mass. July 22, 1916

Mr. Dear Ellison,

Your little note received; glad to hear from you and that you were well this very hot weather. I have not been able to find a cook for the castle, although I have answered several advertisements. I was in Boston yesterday trying to find someone but did not succeed. I think I shall be obliged to try for a Japanese.

I hope we shall be able to find someone soon as I am anxious to have you back again.

Yours truly,

E.F.S. “

“Pine Lodge. Methuen Mass. July 24, 1916

As soon as I hear from the cook, at what time he will arrive, I will send you word so you can come on at once, which I hope will be the last of this week,

I got your clothes from the tailor and have taken them to Windham.

Hoping we shall soon be able to get settled at the castle, I remain,

Very truly yours,


“Pine Lodge. Methuen, Mass. Sept. 29, 1917

My Dear Ange,

Just a line to let you know that I received your two letters this morning and hasten to tell you how glad I was to hear from you.

If you got to New York today I am sorry that I cannot be there. I was obliged to come to Methuen to attend to many things, but I will be in New York next Saturday and Sunday.

If you can get away I will be waiting for you at the Murray Hill.

I hope you will soon get your uniform as I am afraid you will be cold in your thin clothes.

If you get hungry buy something outside, if you can get it, and don’t mind spending the money for you can have more. If I don’t come to New York next Saturday I shall go out to Allentown to see you on Monday or Tuesday following.

Do the best to take care of yourself and be a good soldier and believe me, as ever,

Faithfully yours,


“Pine Lodge. Methuen, Mass. Oct. 4, 1917


My dear Soldier Boy,

In your new uniform is not warm enough you must get some new under clothing. Don’t spare the money to make yourself comfortable. I don’t think I will be able to go to New York again until after the fifteenth of this month; if I do I will telegram you.

Hope you are well and take good care of yourself, and believe me as ever the same.



“Pine Lodge. Methuen, Mass. October 7, 1917

My dear Soldier Boy,

Oh how sorry I am that I was not at the hotel to welcome you. I was obliged to come home, to be on time for payday the first of the month.

I went up to the castle today and closed it up. I think of you every day and night and wonder if you are warm and comfortable. I miss you very much, my life is only half a life without my dear boy.

God bless and keep you from harm is my prayer.

With much love from your old guardian,


P.S.—This is all the paper I can get tonight; the Pine Lodge paper is in Miss Littlefield’s desk and she has gone to bed. 11:45 P.M. Good Night”

October 10, 1917

My dear Boy,

I leave tonight at 12 M. I could not get ready for the five o’clock train.

I went to the Studio to see your pictures and I took three of them. They are fine. I had one taken of myself for you. Will  send on to you next week if I get them.

I now must get ready and pack my bags. I miss you my Boy.



“Pine Lodge. Methuen, Mass. June 3, 1918

My dear Ange,

Yours of the 29th received and I was very happy to hear from you, and wish you could be here sitting under the pine trees. I think you would like the odor of the pines better than the smell of gasoline and oil, but we cannot do anything now-a-days that we want to do.

I have been up to Windham two or three times, but the castle looks lonesome without you and Sammy rolling on the grass. Sammy has grown to be a fine big dog.

Yours as ever, the same old, loving Dad”


“Pine Lodge  Methuen, Mass. July 5, 1918

My dear lonesome boy Ange,

I was very glad to hear from you; it seems as though I have been away a month, although it is only a week.

Yesterday I celebrated the Fourth by going up to Windham with Miss Littlefield and paid a visit to Morrison lodge and the Castle on the hill.

We got caught in a thunder shower so we had to wait in Morrison Lodge until the rain was over. Seavey and the men were at work in the field until the rain came on; then they had to give it up.

Take good care of yourself and sleep well at the Murry Hill and forget that you are lonesome.

Faithfully yours,

Your loving old Dad is lonesome without you, Dad”



Windham Life and Times – December 29, 2017

Edward Searles and Angelo

Camp Crane, Allenstown, PA Army Ambulance Training

In New York and the Army

“After I began to work for Mr. Searles he rented a suite at the Murray Hill Hotel, on Park Avenue. It was an old-fashioned hotel, and he liked it because it was just one block from Grand Central Terminal. It was a family hotel, and we had an apartment there. He could take a cab or the subway to his office down on Broadway, near Wall Street. Arthur Walker ran the office for him. Mr. Searles would meet there with businessmen who came to see him about his properties…”

“He liked to travel and visit his properties. I went on trips to those railroads and coal fields he owned in Pennsylvania. He would always arrange to travel in a private railroad car for those trips. He was treated like a dignitary because he owned a railroad himself; the Pittsburg and Shamut. We each had our own rooms, and a parlor; half the car in those days! On those business trips he would always call me ‘his boy’! He would introduce me to those officials, who ran the railroad and coal fields, with ‘I want you to meet my boy, Angy.’ After I was introduced I would go off to the side, so I wouldn’t interrupt their business, but I could hear him speak about me like I was his own son! One time we stayed in Philadelphia, and he was going to see the Rowlands. I asked him who they were, and he told me they were cousins; he said, ‘I try to help them.’ One time he took me to see the castle he owned in Great Barrington. I was only there once with him. But I knew he went there himself, from time to time. We stayed there, in the castle. There was furniture in it; but it was a big place! He told me he had built it for his wife. Some of the furniture in Pine Lodge, and the castle in Windham, came from there.

“While in New York we would go all over town. It was on one of those walks that he told me he was buying a place in upstate New York, for Arthur Walker; as a place for him to retire. One day the old gentleman and I were in front of one of his buildings and I said that maybe I could have an office in it! He said, ‘Don’t bother with that building; I’m getting rid of it! It’s too old-fashioned. Not up to date at all; besides, you’re going to have a lot of buildings some day!’ At that time New York was his legal residence, but at some time in the future he planned to make Massachusetts his legal residence again. He said he was selling off his New York property. It was at this time he told me that I would have the castle in Windham someday. I was surprised, and asked him how I would be able to afford to keep it up! He told me I would also be getting enough money to keep it up. I knew he was telling me the truth because I felt that he would do anything for me. He used to give me spending money, and he bought me a gold watch at Tiffany’s. Another time we stopped there and he bough me a gold ring, with a big green stone in it, for a thousand dollars; he picked it out for me… Mr. Searles would have me go to his tailor, and all my clothes were made special for me. On Sundays, in New York, we always went to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Mr. Searles gave money for some of the work there because his architect, Henry Vaughn, designed a few of the chapels. Inside you see those lanterns; he spoke to me about them. They are beautiful and I think he gave those to the cathedral. He built many churches and gave money to the National Cathedral. We went to Washington to see it, he and I, and they were building it at that time. His architect, Henry Vaughn, designed it, and after Vaughn died he was buried there, right at the cathedral.”

“In 1917 I went into the Army; I wasn’t drafted, I enlisted. Afterwards, I realized that Mr. Searles was pulling strings for me behind the scenes, to keep me from going to Europe. All my pals went over but the old gentleman had me transferred from camp in Allentown, Pennsylvania to New Jersey so he could see me more often. (Camp Crane) When my pals went over to Europe, and I stayed behind, I cried like a baby. I was in the Army for two and a half years. During the winter I was in Allentown, where there was a training camp for the ambulance corps. I knew how to drive; it wasn’t everybody who could drive at that time. Some of those boys had never been in a car before, let alone drive one! They had me teach the men how to drive ambulances and trucks. All the while I was in at Allentown, Mr. Searles used to come out to visit me every week. He gave me spending money so I could eat out anytime, because the Army food was poor; just beans and beef stew. Later when I was stationed in New Jersey I really ate good! I don’t think I ate regular Army food more than twenty times in all. That’s what I was doing when a truck backed into my arm and broke it. I couldn’t drive anymore, then, because you had to use a clutch and a big floor shift.  So I was transferred to Hoboken, New Jersey, where I was a dispatcher. It was right across the river from New York City and when I was not on duty I could go into the city and stay at the Murray Hill apartment. I’m sure Mr. Searles used his influence to get me transferred there.   When my arm was better I was assigned as driver for a General Shanks; later they named a camp for him. Camp Shanks, up in New York. He was a rough guy; he wanted me to run down people in the streets! People would be walking and I would have to just crawl. He said, ‘What are you doing? You’re crawling! Get going; they’ll get out of your way!’  Well I spoke with my officer there, he was a nice guy and he told me that he would get me another duty. So I became a driver for a Navy captain that planned ship movements from New York harbor; it was a security operation. Only he knew when they would sail; and I knew too because I was stationed in his office. I would drive him out to Staten island, or Long Island: all over!… I was still driving for him when the war ended in 1918. It was almost the middle of 1919 and I was still assigned, and the old gentleman was as mad as the devil! He wanted me out! I think he went to his friend, Major General Edwards, to get me out, and he did.”


Windham Life and Times – December 15, 2017

Edward Searles and Angelo

Searles and Junior


“I started to work for Mr. Searles in 1915, and Stanton Harcourt was the first place he brought me. We came to Methuen, Mr. Searles and I, and we stayed at the Red Tavern. We didn’t go to Pine Lodge because it was too late, and he didn’t want to bother Miss Littlefield. There were no rooms for guests at Pine Lodge, there were only two bedrooms; the rest was his museum. Carrie Barnes was the manager at the Red Tavern. She ran the place for him, and he sent her a telegram to let her know we would be arriving on a late train and to get rooms ready for us. The next day she fixed breakfast for us, and after that we went up to see the castle.  At that time people were working inside; they still had some woodwork to fix, and the kitchen was not finished yet.  Everything there had to be made in Boston; Vaughan was his architect. After the kitchen was finished he brought in a nice couple to take care of the place for him. He arranged for me to live with the Seavey family. Seavey was in charge of the estate. The place in Windham was called ‘Searles Castle’ or ‘Searles Folly’. I always called it ‘the castle’ myself. We had over two thousand acres there, and at Stillwater we had about one thousand acres! We had our own sheep, and cows, hogs, chickens, and horses; everything we used there. I had a room in the farm house; that was on the road before you go up the hill to the castle. Seavey’s wife would take care of my room and I would have my meals there. I became friends with her daughter, Emma Richter. She was Seavey’s step-daughter, and her husband worked there on the farm. Emma liked me, and she named her daughter after me; ‘Angie’. I’m the girl’s godfather! Whenever I was up there, in Windham, Mr. Searles would come to visit every day to watch them finish the work inside. Later, when the rooms in the castle were ready, he would sometimes stay overnight and go back to Pine Lodge in the morning, but he would come up again later in the day, to see me. Most of the time though he would go back to Pine Lodge for the night. My room in the castle was on the second floor overlooking the lakes; the old gentleman had his room upstairs.

“One of the towers of the castle was unfinished and I had my workshop there. I asked Mr. Searles if I could have a flagpole made for that tower, and he wanted to know why. I said that every English castle has a flagpole on the tower, so I put one up there! I had a crew move a small house from Rockingham Park up to the estate. Mr. Searles owned land at Rockingham Park at that time, so he had the house moved to Windham and I had my shop there. (It’s still there at the base  of the driveway to the castle.) He bought me a boat to use on Canobie Lake. The motor that came with it was not that good so I asked Mr. Searles if he could get me a better one. I heard him tell Arthur Walker to order one. When it came, I went all over the lake in that boat; I had a lot of fun there, and I learned to skate on Canobie Lake. In the winter they used to cut ice on the lakes for the icehouse on the estate. I remember blocks were fourteen inches thick! We put them in the icehouse, and covered them with some kind of straw, to keep it cool; the icehouse was in the shade anyways. In the summer we used the ice up to the castle, and on the farm. We had dogs there; I had three dogs myself! Mr. Searles had a dog named ‘Junior’, that would follow him around Pine Lodge without a leash.”


I first learned to drive in 1915, up in Windham. Mr. Searles had two Studebaker trucks, and I was shown how to drive; up and down the hill. After I learned the old gentleman bought a Studebaker car for me to use, and later his chauffeur gave me a few lessons on the big Pierce-Arrow. When we came back from trips to New York the driver would meet us in Boston, at the train, and take us to Methuen. I was with Mr. Searles, and the driver, when they went down to the Boston showroom to buy another one; in those days Pierce-Arrows were the best cars made in America, those and Packards. The big Pierce-Arrow  was a limousine, with a glass between the driver and the passengers; you could slide the glass to talk to the driver. The newer one he bought that day was a passenger car. He would use that car sometimes, but he never drove himself; he had his chauffeur. I think he bought that smaller car for me because it was the one that I used in Methuen. One day I asked him if I could use it to go visit a friend in Lewiston, Maine, and he said it was all right. On the way I had an accident. In those days they had big water wagons to use on the roads to keep the dust down, and I hit one and damaged the fender on the car. There weren’t body shops back then, so I went to a blacksmith and he did a good job repairing it. When I got back to Methuen, I spoke with Mr. Searles about the accident, and the only thing he was interested to know about was if I had been hurt! All he asked me was, ‘Are you hurt?’ ‘No?’ ‘All right don’t worry about it, as long as your were not hurt.’ That was the way he was. He didn’t care about the car or the money, as long as I was all right”