Currier, Henry Sawyer, Pvt. Company E, 3rd Inf. Maine Volunteers- GAR Post 20
Henry married first Catherine C Fallon on September 9, 1850, who died of childbed fever on April 17th, 1867 at the age of 35. They had three children. Henry enlisted as a teamster for a term of three years with the Maine Regiment Company E 3rd Volunteers on June 4, 1861. He was described as being 5’7” tall, with blue eyes and light brown hair. His photo, obtained on Ancestry from a cousin, bears a remarkable resemblance to my youngest son.
Henry contracted malaria at Fair Oaks, Virginia, and was admitted to the General Hospital in Philadelphia on June 1 of 1862 and discharged that November 26th from both the hospital and the army.
He returned to Hallowell, Maine, and took up his occupation as a teamster. On April 8, 1868, he married Mrs. Aura Clary Campbell, a young widow 23 years his junior whose husband had drowned shortly after marriage. Henry and Aura had 5 children the eldest of whom was my Great Grandmother, Charlotte.
For the next 30 years, Henry continued to suffer recurrent bouts of malaria. Causation for malaria was not established until 1881 but was regarded as a form of poisoning most likely caused by swamp gas. The record shows Henry declining in health year by year as he continues to work to support his family. In time he loses a thumb due to poor circulation but continues to work. He applies multiple times for a disability pension and is finally given one based on working half-time sometime after 1881, the original application of that date having been rejected. As his health continues to decline, he again requests a full pension, the last application being in 1892.
The census of 1900 shows Henry living in a Veteran’s Home and Aura described as a widow and running a boarding house. One of her boarders is George Godfrey, a man her age. Henry and Aura divorce on October 9, 1891, and on February 2, 1893, Henry dies. On June 1, 1903, George and Aura marry. In 1895 their adult children Charlotte and Frank marry and in 1898 my grandfather Earl Godfrey is born.
My Grandfather recalls growing up in Maine where they were so poor, they had to eat lobster sandwiches for lunch because they couldn’t afford peanut butter and school didn’t start in the Fall until all the potatoes were harvested on the big farms. Until I sent for Henry’s Civil War Pension file from the National Archives, no one in my family had remembered this sad story of a man who had lived for 28 years before the legitimacy of his pension application was recognized. The applications, declarations, and affidavits supporting his repeated claims to a pension for his Civil War service are almost an inch thick and weigh well over a pound.
One can’t help but wonder at the lives lived in between all the pages of this sad record – the loves, the births, the building of houses, planting of gardens and family gatherings by the shore around clambakes and lobster boils, all of which my grandfather remembered. Grandpa, known as “the Deacon,” was remembered by all four of his children and their children with great affection as a kind, patient, and very orderly man. He volunteered in the Mexican Border Wars against Poncho Villa at the age of 16, fresh off the farm in Main, and in WW I in the trenches in France against Germany where he was gassed with mustard gas and contracted trench foot. Like his grandfather before him, he lived all of his adult life, until the age of 86, with disabilities from the war that rendered him unable to live a full and active life. One life, you might say, foreshadowed another.
submitted by descendant and Tent 22 member, Dottie McIntosh.
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