Monday, December 29, 2008

Walter Butler Loyalist American Revelution

Genealogy of the Butler family and a interesting lost heirloom
Walter Butler and Mary Harris, living in New London, Conn. could not have ever realized what the infant son John born 1728 would grow up to be. His parents learned of the land and opportunities in central New York and moved the family to the Mohawk valley around 1742, arriving just a few years after William Johnson, Young John impressed Johnson with the on coming trouble with French and Indians out of Canada, Johnson made a Allie of the family. This was a great opportunity for the Butler family. over the next 3 years they would become the second wealthiest family in upstate New York, second only to William Johnson.
The year 1743 began with the third outbreak of the French and Indian war, Walter Butler began the wood frame building known as Butlersbury, located on a eminence of land overlooking the Mohawk Valley near Canawaugah, and by 177o's commanded 26,000 acers.
In 1755 John was commissioned a Captain in the Indian Department of Col William Johnson's
Militia. During this year Johnson was advanced to Major General of the British American Army and defeated the French at Fort William Henry, in Lake George, N. Y., Capt. Butler was there and the 250 Indians under his command with King Hendrick, and preformed well, Gen. Johnson was made a Baronet and reappointed Indian Superintendent, John Butler was his second, the two of them served during many campaigns and Butler attended the many conferences with Johnson trying to keep the Iroquois on the English side.
John Butler was at Fort Niagara 1759 in command of 700 Iroquois warrior, with Sir William Johnson's militia forcing the surrender of the French. He was a again present with a command of some 1300 Iroquois warriors joining Gen. Amherst army of 10,000. Together they defeated the French ending there power in America for ever.
Capt John spent enough time at Butlersbury to marry in 1752, Catalyntje Bradt and father
6 children, the first being Walter Butler, born 1752 at Butlersbury, Johnstown, New York.
Like his father he was interested in military affairs, he studied law in Albany admitted to the bar
in 1775. He was a Ensign in the Militia 1768. due to the time spent in the Militia, and college he knew most of the young men in the Mohawk Valley.
Unrest was starting in the Colonies, to make thing worse Sir William Johnson died 1774, leaving
his son John in charge. 1775 the the Palatine Committee of Safety was formed at Adam Loucks home and 24 May 1775 first meeting was held at William Sebbers home. A liberty pole was erected at Fort Herkimer and at Fort Johnson-The Loyalist knew the fuse was lit and it was only a matter of time when it would all explode. John Butler with his son Walter left with the other loyalist for Fort Niagara, before leaving he placed two navy flint locks on the shelf behind the fireplace in case his wife needed them, loaded and with extra shot and powder.
By Jan 18 1776 Gen Schuyler and Gen Herkimer with the Militia disarmed the Johnstown loyalist , some 400 in the area. They did not find John Butlers pistols, however they did take his wife and children back to Albany for safe keeping and the pistols were forever forgotten.
John Butler was commissioned a Lieutenant Colonel, was present at ambush of Oriskany, and in June 1788 with 20 of his rangers and 100's of Indians ravaged the Wyoming Valley [now Wilkes-Barre] Penn. burning over 1,000 homes with the victorious Loyalist and Iroquois executing and scalping the remaining prisoners and fleeing Patriots [est 2000]. In August his son Capt. Walter with two companies of Rangers and 300 Iroquois allies burned and massacred Cherry Valley.
Lt Col John Butler died 12 May 1796 a war hero, to the British, life-sized bronze bust erected in 2006 at the National War Memorial Ottawa. The 2000 plus patriots in Wyoming Valley go undisturbed.
Capt Walter Butler, was not so lucky, he with Major Ross, launched a destruction raid on the Mohawk-Schoharie valley in late August and October burning the crops, buildings and scalping the inhabitants. Lt Wormuth, young patriot that Walter had known was put to death by Walter, mid October a running battle started at Johnstown, N. Y. and ended 30 Oct 1781 at West Canada creek when the American forces under Major Willet over took Walter Butler,
Butler was wounded and asked for quarter a Seneca Warrior shouted "I give yu Sherry Valley Quarter" grasped his hair and removed his scalp.
When the news was reported in the Mohawk valley people were so glad they were done with Butler they hardly reacted to Cornwallis's surrender.
Meanwhile Butlersbury is abanded, patriots take everything of value out of the house , no one lives in it for years. Then in the 30's the W.P.A. has a program to restore or preserve the old building of our past, Butlers home was on the list. A man was working on the fireplace when he discovered a chamber holding what was left of a couple of guns. He put everything in a bag and eventually sold it to Jack Markum the gunsmith living at Fort Johnson. The stock on one gun was completely disintegrated, the other about 50% rotted away. the barrels [which were loaded] and the mountings were all brass. the lock plates although they were steel had been protected by oil soaked leather cover. Jake Markum restored the guns and made a case for them. Earnest Spencer local Textile Manufacturer bought he flint lock pistols and in 1945 I married his niece June Vosburgh, Earnest lived with us until his death in the 60's when I came to own them. I passed them on to my son Lancing Lord, who is very interested in History and active in the historical societies in the Johnstown N. Y. area.
Strange how hero's are honored and there deeds no matter how cruel and cunning are forgotten,
today we stand ready to convict a soldier in our ranks for shooting civilians in a war zone, it happens in every war but our reaction is not always the same. I suppose after our present generation has died off new generations will forgive the atrocities of WW11 and the other conflicts.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cpt. Cyrus Balleu Co. A 115th N. Y. Inf.-Hangman

The story of my Great Grandfathers brother in law, his part in the family genealogy and events around his life Capt. Cyrus Balleu, born in Montgomery Co. New York about 1826, a house painter at a very early age, a trade that he worked at all of his life. He married Anna Margaret Lasher in 1853, she was sister of John "Jack" Lasher, my great grandfather.
Cyrus and Anna lived in the little house on the left behind the new Court House in Fonda, New York. They were both very devoted to the Canawaga Church, were all of the children were baptized. however they had very bad luck trying to establish a family There was a total of 8 children. Mary A. bn 1854, James bn 1855, each died during the first few months after birth. Then Louisea born 1856 over came the odds and lived for many years. then they had Eliza 1857 she died same year. Followed by Willard C.D. born 1859 died 1861, then they had Cyrus S. born 1861 he drowned in the Mohawk River 1 Mar 1873.

In spring of 1860, Dewitt Lasher and his wife Margaret, brother of Anna, came to live with Cyrus
and they were both engaged in house painting. The civil war began and Cyrus enlisted 18 Aug 1862 with his brother in law John Lasher.

Cyrus was given a clerks position and attained the rank of Sargent. under Captain Van derVree, and Col Sammons in Co. A, 115th New York Infantry called the "Iron Hearted"

The unit did not see much combat until Petersburgh, were they were engaged by now Cyrus was Orderly and has been promoted to Lieutenant. There next engagement was Florida, here things took a turn for the worse. the 115th was fully engaged and lost a lot of men killed and captured. Cyrus was advanced to Captain after both Col. Sammons and Captain Van DerVree were badly wounded. The men fell back to Pilatka below Jacksonville and Cyrus penned this letter:
March 19th 1864
letter from Orderly C. N. Ballon, Capt. Co A 115th Rgt. The regiment is at Pilatke, about 75 miles from here, up river. I was here sick, but am better now and shall join the regiment in a few days.-Stephen Morris and George Bellos are dead. They were brave men. We had but sixty men in the battle of Olustee, thirty two were killed or wounded. thirteen are missing and supposed to be prisoners, all wounded except Elisha Carson. He was tired out by hard marching. Capt Van Dervee was severely wounded in front of his company, before he had got into his position in the line. A Minnie ball passed through his thigh, it bled profusely. I tried to get him to leave the field, but he would not abandon his post. At last he was shot through the breast, and was carried to the rear. The boys stood until they had fired their last cartridge, and then cut the cartridge boxes from their dead and wounded companions. We numbered 670 and held our position for more than two hours under a murderous and steady fire, from the enemy. We stood about fifteen minutes after all our ammunition was exhausted and would not yield an inch of ground till we were ordered back. Lieut Davis was brought 7 miles from the battle field. We left him comfortably and we thought safe, but he fell into the hands of the enemy. There was ten miles of woods before us and I could not get him on to a wagon. The men were all tired out and we could do no better. I am proud of the 115th Regt. from your old friend C.N.Ballou

June 27,1865 Line Officer Capt. Cyrus Ballew was en route to Albany
New York, to be discharged the battle roll for the 115th shows 1,493 names and left on the field 301 pretty high casualties.
Once home life soon became routine another child Gracie joined them in 1869 but her stay was shortened by death in 1872 at which time her brother Cyrus passed away. This left the family with just Cyrus and his wife and daughter Louise who lived until past 1880 census.
In 1872 Cyrus was a Deputy Sheriff in Montgomery Co. and was given the job of building the famous Montgomery County Gallows. When completed Cyrus was put in charge of the execution of one Ecker who had murdered Durdick the School Master. This launched a carrier job for Cyrus he would become famous in the Mohawk valley communities for his exceptional and professional execution of the condemned, a man who the valley sheriffs could real on to preform a safe reliable job. His most Gaulish encounter was Sam Steinburg a colored man This man had been accused by a teen age girl of molestation, the trial was short, while in Montgomery Co. Jail Steinburgh sold his skin to local tanner, to raise money that his daughter might get a education. After his death the tanner finished the leather and made several items, I personally saw a wallet and small lamp shade.[looked like any other leather to me] The sad thing is the teen age girl admitted a few years,later "it never happened".
Cyrus went on to oversee many other executions in the valley. The change to the electric chair ended this career. Cyrus then operated a steam boat excursion on Canada Lake, N. Y. he died at his home in Fonda 24 Jan 1902 A very common man swept up in war to have rank and honor bestowed on him only to,returning to his home town were he served the law as under sheriff and deputy for years.