Saturday, January 17, 2015

Family Discoveries: More on Cornelius Godshalk Sellers

"Camp of the 11th N.J. Volunteers,
Fitzhugh Farm, . . . March 1863"
I mentioned in a recent post about the two documents I had ordered from the New Jersey State Archives relating to my great-great-grandfather, Cornelius Godshalk Sellers.  One of them provided a copy of his signature, allowing me to put together six consecutive generations of Sellers signatures.  That document also gave me a small mystery:  Cornelius mustered out June 6, 1865, but the voucher I received was for a payment due from when his father, Franklin, had died in 1863.  I don't know why the money was paid two years later when Cornelius mustered out, but it's now on my list of projects.  Always more research to do . . . .

snippet from The Civil War Letters
of General Robert McAllister

on Google Books
Since I had such good luck with the new information about Cornelius, I decided to keep looking for more.  I Googled different variations of his name and found some interesting stuff.  His name shows up twice in a book about the Civil War letters of General Robert McAllister, the commander of the New Jersey 11th Volunteers.  Cornelius was McAllister's orderly in May and June of 1863.  In May, Cornelius apparently had been speaking to McAllister about his father's (Franklin's) newspaper in Belvidere, New Jersey.  In the letter written in June, McAllister said that Cornelius was sick with typhoid fever and was going to the hospital.  Going by the date, this matches with one of the hospital documents I found at the National Archives, but that document says Cornelius was suffering from anemia.  Maybe typhoid fever was going around the camp and McAllister just assumed that's what Cornelius was suffering from.  Yet another reason to work on getting all the morning reports for the regiment!

At the top of both letters, McAllister indicated that he was writing from Camp Fitzhugh Farm.  When I searched for that, I found the pencil drawing above, digitized and available online from the Rutgers University Libraries.  It was drawn by a Sergeant Smith of the New Jersey 11th, showing the regiment in March 1863 while it was camped at Fitzhugh Farm.  There's not enough detail to see anyone specifically, and no one is identified, but I can pretend that Cornelius is one of the men pictured in the drawing.

I found a few instances of Cornelius' name on a blog dedicated to Warren County, New Jersey, in the Civil War.  Those posts did not provide any new information about Cornelius, being merely his name in lists of men from the county who had volunteered to fight, but the posts led me to read more of the blog, and I found a lot about Cornelius' father, which I'll talk about in a future post dedicated to him.  I also learned the name of Cornelius' half-brother from his mother's first marriage, yet another new research avenue.

Last but not least, I learned a little more about the Odd Fellows Cemetery in which Cornelius was buried in 1877.  According to information on FindAGrave, when Odd Fellows was taken over by the city of Philadelphia, some bodies were distinterred and moved to two other cemeteries.  While the odds are against Cornelius being one of those bodies, I try not to leave any (tomb)stone unturned, so I'll be pursuing this lead, along with all the other new ones I turned up.

It is so much fun when I have time to research my own family!

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