December 1861 Letters

Sherman Stiles Leavenworth in the Civil War. Photo courtesy of Cynthia.
Sherman Stiles Leavenworth in the Civil War. Photo courtesy of Cynthia.

Sherman Stiles Leavenworth, 18, a farmer, was five feet, ten inches tall with hazel-colored eyes. He enlisted as a private in Company B, 56th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry, at Newburgh, New York, on August 17, 1861, to serve three years.

Company B, 56th Regiment was stationed in Washington D.C. with the 10th Legion, 56th Regiment which defended the capital until March of 1862.

December 6, 1861
Dear Brother,
I got the dinner yesterday that you sent me. The chicken was first rate and so was the cake.

We went down to Washington yesterday. We was in the reception room of Uncle Abe’s house. I never thought thare could be as nice a room as that was. We were in the Smithsonian Institute. I seen more sights in thare than I ever seen before.

The fellows that I tent with is Samuel Bardsley, James Lewis, John McCabe, John Lavermire. Samuel Bardsley is my next best friend to George Eldred. He is an Englishman, but he is honest and he don’t brag any like most all others of his country.

I weigh 151 pounds with all my clothes on without my equipment on. It has not snowed any here yet. It is a nice warm day here today. I will send you a breast pin with the picture of McClelland on it.
S.S. Leavenworth

Washington, December 20, 1861
Dear friends,
I have found out where James Sergeant is. He is in the 87th Regiment Co. C. He came down to our camp yesterday. I did not expect to see him. He has been sick, so I understand him to say, for about two weeks in the hospital, but he is better now. His regiment is going in the same brigade that ours is.

Thare is strong talk in the papers here that England is going to pitch into the north. If she does, I think she will get enough of it. Thare has been talk so I have heard of enlisting more men so if the British interfere, we will have men enough to send to Canada to fight them there.

If Atwell gets a chance to enlist, he better not, for they can swear volunteers in as regulars for 5 years if they are a mind to. Thare has been talk of this regiment being regulars. If George goes in as one, I think I shall, but I think it is a great chance if they do. I expect it is a great consolation to the Tories if there is any prospects of the British helping the south. Continue reading

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December 1932

Two of the violins Garfield made. Photo courtesy of Cynthia.
Garfield played violin and also made violins. Two of the violins Garfield made. Photo courtesy of Cynthia.

November 1932

December 1932
The first snow of the season fell on Saturday, December 10.

Thursday Garfield and Jim went to the Christmas program practice at the Methodist Church. Friday night it was 12 degrees below 0. Jim was sick with an earache and Clara sat up all night to the keep fires going.

Garfield played violin at the Hall for the Library, Saturday, December 17. Monday and Tuesday evenings Garfield was at the church for practice.

Jim was still sick Tuesday and the doctor was called for three times. Wednesday Jim was better.

Thursday Clinton and Bill Meyers went to get a Christmas tree for the Leavenworths.

Friday, two days before Christmas, Clinton and Bill Meyers took Clara and Anna to have their teeth pulled. Clara had six removed and Anna two. Garfield played for the Methodist Christmas program in the evening. Poor Anna was sick all night.

Christmas Eve day Clinton took a turkey and other food to his grandfather Frank Sergeant.

Christmas was not that much fun for Jim who was “miserable yet” and Anna as her jaw still ached. It was such a warm day that they let the fires out for about three hours.

Jim and Anna were some better the day after Christmas, but “still miserable with ears and jaw.”

The last day of the year Bill Meyers Jr. stayed late at the Leavenworth home listening to the radio. (And maybe enjoying Anna’s friendship?)

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1932: August through October

Doily that Ella crocheted, courtesy of CLB.
Doily that Ella crocheted, courtesy of Cynthia.

August through October 1932
August 1932

During August Garfield worked on Lou Kelley’s porch. Frank Sergeant screened the porch. Garfield put steps in and rails, which Ella painted. Garfield also put in the front walk.

In August the Ladies’ Aide Auxiliary held Church Fairs. Ella and the ladies in town worked all year making items to sell. When Mary Sergeant stopped by, Ella sent some of her crocheted work to be sold at the fair.

Towards the end of the month Ella canned 32 quarts of corn. Anna and Clara got a few apples from the old Echo Hill Farm which were not much good. Aunt Anna Leavenworth was at the Leavenworths for the day on Tuesday. They canned 68 quarts of corn. Garfield and Aunt Anna husked it. (Garfield put more shelves in the cellar for the cans.)

Anna took her mother’s film to Mr. Krause in Port Jervis. (She got the photos back September 1.) The last day of August, an eclipse covered 95% of the sun.

September 1932
During the month of September Ella canned: 124 quarts of peaches, 76 quarts of tomatoes from their garden, and 27 quarts of apples. Garfield cut the millet and sowed grass seed on the front lawn close to the house. He cut down the cornstalks. They had picked 2,034 ears of corn total for the season.

Garfield and John Dunlap drew hay from Kelley’s. They also plowed a garden patch in Garfield’s meadow. Garfield worked on the walk to the back door, put curbing by the bay window, and cut wood in their woods.

Ella received a package from Sears with sport shoes for her girls and Garfield’s chambray shirting. School started on Monday, September 12. Ella painted the kitchen.

Towards the end of the month Mr. Avery was in to pay the balance of $2.15 on his egg bill. Ella bought two small hams from the A&P. Continue reading

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July 1932

Rosa centifolia foliacea’’ (Cabbage Rose) by Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840) in public domain.
“Rosa centifolia foliacea’’ (Cabbage Rose) by Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840) in public domain.

July 1932
Friday, July 1, Ella noted that the Democratic Convention was going on.

Monday, July 4, Clinton and Jim went to ballgames. Mr. Sidwell, their neighbor, visited for the evening. Tuesday Clinton went back to work, but was home on the weekends.

Thursday, July 7, Kate Love and Charlotte visited with Ella. Friday Garfield and Ella paid the balance on their barn lumber to John Love.

Mid-July Garfield made a cart to draw hay on. Clinton and Jim went to a ball game on the weekend, then to Highland Lake to see their Sergeant grandparents.

Garfield and Everett cut Kelley’s hay and worked on the Leavenworth driveway. Ella canned 18 quarts of greens and gave her aunt Lou three bushels of endive to can.

The first day of August Anna and Clara got the cabbage rose slip from the Leavenworth farm.

The original bush came from Holland. “Grandmother’s grandmother brought it over,” wrote Ella. (Elizabeth Lazerlier Van Pelt’s family had once lived in Holland.)

“Clara got the Cabbage Rose slip from the Leavenworth Farm.”

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June 1932



June 1932
June was very busy. At the start of the month, Garfield and Ella lost 16 turkeys because the fire went out in the brooder. A week later 105 chicks arrived in the afternoon mail.

Ella and Garfield finished planting the garden. They set out 55 tomato plants and 30 pepper plants. The frost mid-month didn’t seem to hurt the garden as Garfield and Ella got up early and put water on the beans and tomatoes.

Jim Leavenworth took regents exams and went to the school picnic.

Anna graduated from High School. Her aunt Charlotte stopped by on her graduation day. Her grandfather Frank Sergeant bought her a class ring.

Bill Meyers, Clinton, and Jim took in a couple baseball games. Clinton was home for the weekend a couple times. One week he worked for the County. Garfield worked six hours for the Scouts one day. He was laid off for a few days and built a new run for the dogs.

Garfield and Clara played for a dance at Beaver Brook.

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San Juan, May 1932

Postcard Art Austin sent his aunt Aida.
Postcard Art Austin sent his aunt Aida.

Tuesday on the east side of Eldred, Aida Austin received a postcard from her nephew Arthur.

Arthur Austin, San Juan, to Miss Aida Austin, Eldred

May 10, 1932
Dear Aunt Aida, Arrived here this afternoon and will leave tomorrow at 2 p.m. It is the rainy season down here and it has been raining all day. Arthur

Arthur Austin, Yeoman
Art had received a 90.9% average on a Civil Service Clerical test to qualify as a Steward’s Yeoman (a petty officer performing clerical duties on board ship). The pay 
was $1,032 per year.

I took a few extra courses in high school, and worked on a few temporary jobs—the most interesting was as yeoman on an army transport which plied between New York and the Panama Canal.—Arthur Austin.

Art resigned when he returned from the 16-day round trip (4,800 miles, New York to the Panama Canal) on the U.S.S. Chateau Thierry. Art had gotten quite seasick, but there were things happening in the upper echelon that he didn’t think were right. Art was discharged from Brooklyn, with a “very good” rating.

Sometime in the early 1930s, Art and some of his Eldred and Barryville friends visited Coney Island and had their picture taken.

 Friends at Coney Island. Bud Smith, Bill Warden at the wheel, Charles Geissler, Ian Warden, and Arthur Austin. Next to Art, Bub Toaspern, in front of Bub, Royden Toaspern. Photo courtesy of MBA.
Friends at Coney Island. Bud Smith, Bill Warden at the wheel, Charles Geissler, Ian Warden, and Arthur Austin. Next to Art, Bub Toaspern, in front of Bub, Royden Toaspern. Photo courtesy of MBA.
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April and May 1932

Austin Smith drives the care he bought for his 21st birthday in 1931. The car is in front of Ira Austin's house. Photo courtesy of CW.
Austin Smith drives the care he bought for his 21st birthday in 1931. The car is in front of Ira Austin’s house. Photo courtesy of CW.

May 1932
• Charles A. Lindbergh Jr., infant son of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, kidnapped and later found dead not far from his home.

• Amelia Earhart’s transatlantic flight in her single engine Lockheed Vega 5B from Newfoundland landed in Northern Ireland instead of Paris due to winds, icy conditions, and mechanical problems.

Continuing Ella Sergeant Leavenworth’s 1932 Diary.

April 1932
The first week of April, Bill Meyers bought a new Dodge car. Clinton worked on the Methodist Church Hall. Tom Hill and family, and Austin Smith visited one evening.

Mid-April Austin Smith and Frank Hill were in for music lessons [from Garfield]. Jim played all day with the Eldridge boys—perhaps William and Charles, the sons of Harriet Hill from her first marriage.

Garfield started on a contract barn building job. Clinton worked for the County at Hurleyville.

May 1932
Ed and Mabel Smith (Austin Smith’s parents) called on Monday, the second day of May.

Tuesday Ella did some spring cleaning. She washed quilts and more quilts and cleaned two bedrooms. Clara helped her clean the rest of the upstairs. Continue reading

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January 1932

I am revisiting the year 1932 from the Diary of Ella Sergeant Leavenworth from “Farewell to Eldred;” and adding the months that I did not initially include.

October through December 1931

January 1932

Busy times at Ella and Garfield’s home on the first day of 1932. Garfield helped Ken Crandall. The girls went skating; the boys went after bait fish. Dorothy Meyers was there for dinner.

Garfield cleaned the ice house for the Scout Camp the second week of January. Clinton went hunting, but Anna, a senior, and Jim, 10, were still in school.

Mid-January was very unseasonable weather—“75 degrees in the shade.” They had yet to have some cold weather. Garfield remodeled the pantry.

Harold (Bud) Myers was hurt in an automobile accident and died the next day. Harold, the son of Charles Cripps Myers and his first wife Lena Schoonmaker, died three months before he turned 25. His half sister Eleanor was 12.

Charles Myers, Harold’s father, was a cousin to Jennie Austin and Garfield Leavenworth.

    The funeral of Harold C. Myers was conducted Wednesday afternoon at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Love of Eldred by the Rev. J.J. Wade. Pallbearers were Stanley Myers, Alvin Hill, Walter McBride, Hugh Myers, Lynn Myers, and Oliver Dunlap. Flower bearers were Archie Von Ohlen, Forrest Wilson, Orville Myers, Clifford Crandall, Alfred Hill, and Stanley Crandall. Buried in Eldred Cemetery.—Middletown Times Herald.

Snow squalls threatened on Friday, the 25th. Saturday was colder, but still beautiful, clear and warm. No snow had stuck to the ground yet.

Paul Knorr was busy at the Leavenworth home at the end of the month. He fixed the door bell and buzzer, put in sidelights, two plugs, and finished the wiring.

Kate Love, and Alvah and Mary Sergeant stopped by to see the Leavenworths.

The last day of the month, Clinton and Jim headed to Port Jervis to get a radio fixed. The international news was not good.—pp. 118 and 120.

1928 Certificate for Paul Knorr for electrical work on the Premises of Garfield Leavenworth. Coutesy of CLB.
1928 Certificate for Paul Knorr for electrical work on Garfield Leavenworth’s home. Courtesy of CLB.

1932 World and National News
• Japan occupied Manchuria.
• Nazi party largest single party in the German Reichstag (parliament).
• 12 million unemployed.
• Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

February 1932

March 1932

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