Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thomas D. Leonard

My great great grandfather, Mathew John Leonard from Portraine, Dublin, Ireland was my first Leonard ancestor to set foot on American soil in 1881.  But he wasn't the first in his own family to arrive. His uncle, Thomas D. Leonard (nicknamed "Prod"), had already set up a successful florist shop, greenhouse and garden on 648 Congress Street, one of the many shops located on the land now containing the Lafayette Hotel, in Downtown Portland, Maine.  Prod (and his business rival, Patrick Duffy) won dozens of awards for their flower displays.  Prod's awards were published in the Horticultural Report of the Portland Daily Press from 1862-1870, while he was working at the shop under the ownership of Miss Mary Jones.  Then from 1875-1881, he completely ran the business himself.

(Prod's flower shop was somewhere near the corner of Park and Congress, in the prior building)

Prod's father Patrick was a tenant farmer in The Burrow of Portraine Ireland during the Great Famine, which must have ravaged the Leonard family badly enough for Prod to be the first in his family to seek a new life, and send money back home.  He set sail for America in 1850.  There are a few Thomas Leonard's to have landed on the east coast during that time period.

If he arrived in New York Harbor, then it was most likely on the ship Mississippi, which sailed from London (as there is only one Irish born Thomas Leonard who arrived in October 1851). The below naturalization card appears to be Prod's, and it is where I have discerned the arrival date of October 1851:

The ship manifest gives his ID number as 5631.

I wonder if the Patrick Sullivan who bore witness on his naturalization card was any relation to his second wife, Catherine Sullivan.

Prod was one of the many early Portland Irish who settled there during the Great Famine.  St. Dominic's Church served as a beacon to Prod, like it did for so many other immigrants.  At the time of the Church's construction in 1830, there were under 100 Irish immigrants living in Portland.  By the time of Prod's arrival, in 1850, it had already swelled to the thousands.  It had already undergone two expansions to accommodate the growing population.

Prod was part of the Parish Committee & Finance Committee, and was a long time communicant, for the church, as were all his descendants and extended family from Ireland when they moved to Portland's West End, near "Gorham's Corner" in the West End, where the Irish began settling as early as the 1820s.

St. Dominic's has a rich and interesting history.  It was the first Catholic Church in Portland, originally built in 1830, but by the late 1840's, it was clear that the Great Famine was rearing its ugly head enough to cause concern within the Portland Diocese.  They rebuilt and expanded the church's size at that time, moving the entrance to the church from the very busy State Street to the side street on its northwest corner, Gray Street.  The prevailing theory at the time was that the church didn't want controversy with great numbers of Irish pouring out into State Street, so they had moved the entrance to the side street to appease the growing racism towards the Irish.  The church closed in 1880 for renovation, and reopened in 1893.  It stopped performing masses in 1997, and as of 2003 it's home to the Maine Irish Heritage Center, in addition to other functions.

(with new Gray Street entrance)

For the 1893 re-dedication, the church asked wealthy parishioners to pay for the stained glass window displays.  Prod did his part and one whole tier of window glass was paid for by him:

Prod eventually bought the entire western block of Briggs Street (between Salem & Danforth Streets), and his extended family lived there, along with tenants, for an 80 year period. 

(Row of houses going up the left side of street on right side of the picture were all owned by Prod)

On May 14, 1855, he married Alice Wade, a fellow Burrow immigrant, in Portland, whose brother Patrick was also a gardener.  A couple weeks later, there was the Portland Rum Riot, which resulted from the "Maine Law" (prohibition), which many Irish believed was a thinly veiled attack on their culture.  I wonder if Prod was involved in this riot?  It's unlikely, given Prod's gentle reputation as a florist and gardener, and given that he was taking care of his newborn child Elizabeth.  But who knows?  I do understand that my Irish family were very typically Irish in their drinking.  I'm sure Prod wasn't a supporter of the Maine Law.

Prod and Alice had five children, four grandchildren, one great grandchild, and all are deceased, with no further descendants:

1. Elizabeth Ellen Leonard (also known as "Eliza") (1855-1927), was born three months before Prod and Alice married.  Eliza married John Edward Graney in 1881.  John had migrated to Maine from Galway in 1864.  I've yet to establish the link between this Graney and the Patrick Graney that fathered Lizzie Graney-Leonard (who married Prod's grandnephew Matthew John Leonard Jr).  In any case, Patrick is old enough to be John Edward's brother, but they don't share any census records.  They might be cousins.  Eliza was a member of the Hiberian Order of Portland and served as its Secretary.  Eliza was accused of embezzling from her father Prod's estate when he died.  When confronted, she complained that Matthew John Leonard, Sr., Prod's nephew (aka "Old Matt") and executor on the estate, was taking too long to settle everything.  The result was that a third party lawyer and friend of the Graneys became executor on Prod's estate, just in time for Old Matt to begin to take ill and show signs of dementia, and the estate was liquidated in favor of Prod's children (and Old Matt's own estate was embezzled by his sister Annie).  Eliza & John Graney had four children:

--Alice G. Graney-Whalen (1882-1941) married Charles Augustine Whalen in 1910.  It seems unlikely that they had any children.

--John Edward Graney, Jr. (1884-1920) fought in WWI.  He was briefly married to a woman named Winona George prior to the War, but it's unlikely that he ever had children.  He worked as a railroad clerk, lived at 254 Danforth Street, and died of heart disease at 35.

--Thomas Leonard Graney (1887-1972) married Sarah Joyce in 1942, and lived on Peaks Island.  No children.

--George Edward Graney (1895-1925) worked as a policeman, married Helen Church and had one child, George Jr., who died at age 21.

2. Mary Alice Leonard (1858-1930) married John Haley in 1903.  They had no children.  John died in 1916 of myocarditis, and Mary in 1930, after a nine month illness.  John worked on the railroad as a brakeman, and Mary was a member of the Evangeline Auxiliary of the Brotherhood of Trainmen.

-The last three children of Prod and Alice died in infancy:  Charles, Thomas & Margaret.

This means that Prod had no descendants who lived past 1972.  It's too bad, because it's likely that some of his descendants might have kept some of his memorabilia, and would also likely enjoy the extensive research I've compiled on him.  I've managed to scrape together this information on him based on family lore, census and church records, as well as Portland directories, newspapers and Portland probate records.

Prod was drafted into the Civil War in 1863, but it's unclear whether he had to fight, since there appear to be a number of records of him living in Portland during the War. 

Here is a timeline of certain events in Prod's life:

In 1863, at age 35, he started developing his reputation for being a skilled gardener, winning the first of many awards for his fine roses and grapes.

In 1865, Alice died of consumption.  Prod married Irish born Catherine Sullivan a couple months later.

In August of 1865, Prod purchased a lot on Salem Lane from Cornelius Devine, who was a likely cousin to James Devine, who had married Thomas' niece, Elizabeth Leonard 20 years prior.

In 1866, Prod and his family rented 8 Briggs Street from Bill Lindsey.  The Great Fire of Portland that year, on July 4th (stemming from a firecracker) didn't affect any of Prod's property, but the blaze five blocks away was likely smelled throughout the block.

December 13, 1867, Prod purchased 2 Briggs Street from Bill Lindsey, which was dry land that Prod planned to build his own house upon.

December 18, 1867, Patrick Wade (Alice's brother) bought 8 Briggs Street, and enabled Prod and his family to remain living there while they built out 2 Briggs.  Prod & Catherine lived there, and later moved to 14 Briggs once Prod saved the money to buy it. 

In 1869, Prod opened up a shop on Westbrook Point.

In 1872, in reaction to a fire across the street from him, Prod ran in a panic and ended up having a fall over an embankment, injuring his spine.


In 1873, Prod purchased 39 Salem Street for $1,575.00.  This was across the street from 2 Briggs.  Prod never moved in, but rented it out.

In 1875, Prod took over the flower shop on 648 Congress Street (corner of Park Street), and was apparently very successful.

In July of 1877, there was a fire on Briggs Street, causing damage to his and his neighbors' homes.  His claim for damages was $115 ($2,836 value in 2020).  Insurance picked this up.

In 1879, Prod & his family moved from 8 to 14 Briggs Street, just after the house was built (he may have had a hand in building it).  This was next door to 16 Briggs, where the Currans lived (who were in-laws to Prod's niece Nellie Leonard-Smart).

In 1880, Catherine died at 14 Briggs Street of cancer.

In 1881, Prod closed the flower shop yet retained his private gardening business (more on this below).  The flower shop was then reopened by Oscar Sturdivant in 1882.

In 1883, Prod donated $7.25 ($204 value in 2020) towards the "Soldier's Monument". This was likely the 1812 Soldier Monument on Munjoy Hill (which I've done a lot of research on myself).  It was this same year that he was elected Warden of Ward 7.

In 1886, Prod was elected Constable of Ward 7.

In 1888, Prod's nephew, Mathew John Leonard, moved into Prod's house on 39 Salem Street.

In 1889, Prod was permitted by the City to build additional dwellings on his property on Briggs Street.

In 1890, Prod moved from 14 Briggs Street to 2 Briggs Street.  His two daughters and their families lived next door at 4 Briggs.  At this point in time, Mathew John Leonard moved into 14 Briggs Street, where he and his wife Lizzie raised their three kids.

In 1892, Prod was elected City Forester, and again in 1894.

In 1894, Prod was named Administrator of his niece's husband, John H. Devine's, Estate.

In 1897, Prod demolished 2 Briggs Street, and rebuilt in Victorian style (see photo below).  I'm assuming he lived at 4 Briggs during the rebuild.  During this year, he was named Administrator of John McLaughlin's Estate.  It's unclear what his connection was here, as it wasn't a relation.  McLaughlin's death record does state he was born in Dublin, Ireland, so that is a clue.  Also that year was another fire, this time on 12 Briggs Street, occupied by the McQuade family:

Portland Daily Press
July 17, 1897

By 1900, Prod was now retired from the flower business altogether.  He rented out 8 Briggs Street to the Johnson family of Ireland, 10 Briggs Street to the Silk and Smith families from Ireland, and 12 Briggs Street to the McIsaac family from Ireland.  He got deeper into local politics at this time, and at the age of 72, Prod was elected Councilman of Ward 7.


By 1910, Prod was renting out 12 Briggs Street to the Canurchewitz's, a Polish family (the first to arrive on the block).

In 1910, Patrick Wade was going senile, so he gifted 8 Briggs Street to his daughter, Margaret Wade-Lee.

In 1911, Lizzie Howlett-Leonard died at 14 Briggs Street.

In 1912, Prod died of a pulmonary embolism at 2 Briggs.  His estate took over 30 years to settle.  But the Will named Mathew John Leonard as Executor, and also gave him 14 Briggs Street.  The Will gave his two surviving daughters the properties 2, 4, 10, and 12 Briggs Street.  4, 10 & 12 remained rental properties; Elizabeth & Mary remained at 2 Briggs.

In 1914, Margaret Wade-Lee sold 8 Briggs Street to Mathew John Leonard.  He and his children moved in immediately, then turning 14 Briggs into a rental property for the Quinncannons.

In 1916, John Haley, Prod's son in law, died at 2 Briggs Street, leaving behind his wife Mary.

By 1920, Prod's estate was renting out 10 Briggs Street to the Coyne and Foley families from Ireland, and 12 Briggs to the Silk family from Ireland, and 14 Briggs to the Concannon family from Ireland.

In 1927, Prod's daughter Elizabeth Leonard-Graney died at 2 Briggs Street (her husband had died there one year earlier).  Their children were already grown up, so that left Mary Leonard-Haley.

About 1928, the Sabasteanski family from Poland purchased 10 Briggs Street from Mathew as Executor.

About 1929, the Huszcza family from Poland purchased 14 Briggs Street from Mathew.

By 1930, 4 Briggs Street was being rented out to the Savage family from Lithuania

In 1930, Mary Leonard-Haley died in hospice.  She had left behind 2 Briggs Street a year prior, which made this a rental property.

Around 1931, 2 Briggs Street was sold off.

In 1934, Agnes Petersen-Leonard died at 8 Briggs Street, leaving behind her husband Thomas Mathew Leonard & son Thomas Edward Leonard.

In 1939, Mathew John Leonard died at 8 Briggs Street.  His sister Annie had defrauded his will, and got herself named owner of everything, which would include 8 Briggs Street.  Thomas Mathew remained in the house by himself, however, paying rent to Annie.

In January 1943, 2 Briggs Street was sold to Veronica Danilewicz via Trustee Sale upon judge's orders.

In October, 1943, Thomas Mathew Leonard died at 8 Briggs Street.  His only survivor was his son, Thomas Edward Leonard, who was living in California and fighting in WWII, serving the Navy.  This was the last presence of Leonards on Briggs Street.  Harold King moved in to 8 Briggs Street within a year of Thomas' death.


2 Briggs Street (built in 1897)

4 Briggs Street (built in 1844)

8 Briggs Street (built in 1834)

10 Briggs Street (built in 1854)

10 Briggs Street (side view)

12 Briggs Street (built in 1854 - same time as 10 Briggs, but then rebuilt in 1897 due to a fire)

14 Briggs Street (built in 1874)

Block was condemned in 1975, taken by eminent domain (Urban Renewal),
razed, and rebuilt as a housing project with parking lot and playground.

It's interesting Prod had the means to make it to the USA, take care of his family, have a servant (Johnnie Murray), and own the entire Briggs Street block, all on a florist's income.  His Will required upkeep of this family headstone and ten high masses in his honor, once monthly.  He had also named his niece Annie Leonard-Quinlan (then living in Portraine) in the Will.  Annie had taken care of her nephew, Frank Devine, Sr., for nine years, since he was orphaned at age 9.  Frank went back to America in 1903.

Annie showed up in 1913 to claim her inheritance from Prod's estate ($100.00), and stuck around to get herself named on her brother (Mathew John Leonard)'s will, wiping out all money (save $1.00) that was to go to his own children.  She reportedly pulled a fast one, and managed to get lawyers to declare Mathew mentally unsound, and got him to sign everything over to her.

Calvary Cemetery, South Portland, Maine

As for the flower business, I understand that the newspaper, Portland Argus, has some tribute advertisements in favor of Prod (who was Mary Jones' gardener) and his rival Patrick Duffee (who was J.B. Brown's gardener) being promoted for their award winning floral displays.

Portland Daily Press 
November 12, 1870:
"Portland Horticultural Society....The committee on Garden, Green Houses and Graperies of the Portland Horticultural Society have made the following awards for the season of 1870:
To Thomas Leonard, gardener to the Misses Jones, for the best managed and well kept green house,    $8.00"

But, a bit of research has shown me that both Prod and Duffee had a much bigger rival in the Portland floral market, who might have prevented them both from succeeding even more, one Will E. Morton, Jr., a florist and confectioner from Deering (Stevens Plains).


Will E. Morton Jr.'s parents had moved to Deering from New Vineyard (Franklin County, Maine) around 1835, and ran a family flower shop in Stevens Plains (then part of Westbrook/Saccarappa).

Morton Jr. had inherited the family business in 1878, and expanded it with much ambition, opening up greenhouses in Allen's Corner near his home in Deering, and a shop on 159 Exchange Street, with a summer store up in Bar Harbor.  Morton moved to Congress Street and set up the W.E. Morton Flower Shop and Confectionary downstairs from his home, right across the street from Prod's shop.  His shop became instantly successful and he also sold the "finest chocolates and bon bons in the world, made fresh every day", according to his regular advertising in the Portland directory.

Morton had the means to create his own newspaper, the Portland Floral Monthly, wherein the ads for his business (and no ads for competitors such as Prod) were naturally ubiquitous.  The newspaper served the latent function of advising horticultural enthusiasts on how to care for a variety of plant and flower species, with clever marketing built in which directed the reader to purchase the best of each varietal at his own shop on Congress Street, which catered to local patrons but also kept a thriving mail order business (not sure how the flowers stayed fresh when delivered by horse and buggy to other towns).  Naturally, Prod and his ilk were never promoted or mentioned at all in this popular publication.  See below for a couple of the regular advertisements from the Monthly.  One which features a sketch of the successful business, and the standard advertising, and the other is a direct appeal to potential funereal clients.



Not coincidentally, the year of Morton's move to Congress Street (1880) was one year before Prod's own flower shop folded.  Prod's shop was reopened in 1882 by Oscar R. Sturdivant, who held it for a few years, but then every successive year it was owned by a different entrepreneur who tried in vain to compete with Morton, until the very successful Harmon's Florist opened there (and became the leading floral business in the Portland area, and still is today).  


Morton suffered from Bright's Disease (of the kidneys) and died in March 1895 at 45 years of age, and his business across the street from Prod's old shop folded, leaving the market more open for Harmon's success, although Prod had aged and was then doing only private gardening until he retired in 1900, and passed away in 1912.  See table of ownership of Prod's flower shop below:

Owners of Flower Shop on 648 Congress Street:
1863-1875 - Miss Mary Jones
1875-1881 – Thomas D. Leonard
1881-1882 – closed business
1882-4 – Oscar R. Sturdivant
1885 – Thomas & Matthew Kane
1886 – John C. Alexander
1888 – William Crane & Peter Peterson
1889 – Peter Peterson
1895-1902 – EJ Harmon & Co.


Daily Eastern Argus

Portland Daily Advertiser

Portland Daily Press

US Census


Calvary Cemetery Records, South Portland, ME

Monday, September 6, 2010

John & Nancy Tooker

As mentioned in other blog posts, the Tooker family of Connecticut was vast and spread out well over the State.  They frequently intermarried with the Hall, Clark and Bogue families, among other families in 19th Century Connecticut.  Many of these marriages were of first and second cousins.

John Harvey Tooker, Jr. (1819-1904) was one of the many Tookers of Lyme.  As mentioned in other blog posts, his father was born John Harvey Tucker (1790-1874), but changed the family name due to not wanting the family to be confused with a delinquent Tucker family, who also had similar first names.  John's mother was Olive Dart (1793-1872) , whose father, Samuel Dart had migrated from Devon, England (need to verify).  John Sr. died of cystitis, and Olive died of palsey, both in the family home in Lyme.

John Jr. was married to Adelia Slate from 1844 to 1849.  Delia divorced him based on "intolerable cruelty" and him being "habitually intemperate".

John conceived a child named Alice Tooker with Nancy Ann Hall (1836-1917) before ultimately marrying Nancy in February of 1854.  Nancy was one of the many Halls of Lyme.  Her father, Harvey Hall (1805-1859) was from England but lived in Colchester, Connecticut much of his life.  Her mother, Sarah "Sally" Hewlett-Mott-Hall (1805-1895), lived on the Glover farm in Newtown (Fairfield County Connecticut) after Harvey died.  The Glovers were not relatives, so I'm not sure why the move, when she might have been able to live with any of her seven children's families in Lyme.  Sally was daughter to Stephen Hewlett and Mary Daniels.  Her sister Abby married William Bogue and had 11 children.  Her brother Edwin Hewlett married Francina Mott (must have been some relation to Sally's first husband.

Nancy's brother Charles married a Clark.  Her brother Harvey married a Tooker.  It was the way things went, apparently.

Below is a brief account John & Nancy's family:

-Alice (1853-1920) married George Thomas Bogue (of the Lyme Bogues - who was also descended from Clark and Dart cousins of Alice), and had two daughters:  Alice and Nellie.  Nellie married her first cousin, Willis Manley Clark, who was Francina's son, and they lived in Essex, CT.  Nellie and Willis had six children together.  In 1911, at age 36, only three years after having her sixth child, Nellie was hit by a train in Willimantic, CT, while she was walking on the tracks by herself.  The train apparently tried to signal a warning whistle, but Nellie hadn't heard it since she was deaf.  She eventually turned around and saw the train, and was struck.  She died in the hospital from skull fracture.  Full article of this sad event, as written in the Willimantic Chronicle, October, 1911, is transcribed below:


A Woman was walking along the track and paid no attention to the warning whistle, turning however just as the engine strikes her.  A woman about 50 years old whose name could not be learned was struck this afternoon by the three o'clock train from New Haven, just this side of Turnerville.  She was walking along the track and was seen by the engineer.  He blew the whistle and she did not seem to hear it, he then applied his brakes but could not stop his engine quick enough to avoid striking her, the woman turned around and as she did she was struck in the shoulder and thrown to the ground.  The train was soon stopped and the woman placed on a stretcher and taken aboard the train.  Word was sent to St. Joseph's hospital in this city and the ambulance called, it met the train and took the woman to the hospital where she was treated for her injuries.
The woman was poorly dressed and looked as though she was in great pain. She had to be held down on the stretcher by the railroad man, until brought to this city and when taken in the ambulance to the hospital had to be held down on the stretcher by the attendant.


A short time after being taken into the hospital the woman died from fracture of the skull. Word was immediately sent to Dr. Louis I. Mason, the medical examiner, later it was learned that the woman was Mrs. Willis Clark of Hopeville which is about a mile from Turnerville.
The funeral of Mrs. Willis Clark of Turnerville who died in St. Joseph's hospital yesterday afternoon from injuries received in being struck by a train a short time before will be held Friday at 12 o'clock.  The service will be in the Episcopal Church of Hebron and internment will be in the Hebron Cemetary.

The deceased was about 45 years old and leaves a husband and six children.  The engineer felt much grieved at the woman's death.  He said that Mrs. Clark was walking on the tracks and apparently did not hear the whistle.  He put on his brakes, but not soon enough.  The woman, just as the engine approached her turned to one side and as she did the brake beam of the engine struck her.

Mrs. Clark was deaf and had the left the train at Turnerville.  Her home was about a mile and a half this side of Turnerville.

After her death yesterday afternoon medical examiner Dr. Louis I. Mason, who was called and after viewing the remains, turned them over to Elmore and Shepard to be prepared for burial.

-Francina Czarina (1855-1919) was given her middle name due to a Russian woman living with them at the time.  She moved to Montville, CT, and married William Edward Clark (brother to her sister Lizzie's husband Niles).  They had eight children.  Their youngest, Richard William Clark, married his own niece, Viola West, and went to jail for it.  They changed their last names to Williams and moved up to Keene, New Hampshire for a while.  Richard and Viola were married for over 50 years, and had five children together, all of whom lived to be happy normal adults.  I guess the heart wants what it wants...

-Ephraim Norman (1856-1858) died just a few days shy of his 2nd birthday.

-John F. (1860-1913) married twice (Ida Beers & Mary Mitchell), and had 5 children.  When he died in 1913, Mary married Gilpin Clark, a cousin to all the Clarks everyone else was marrying.

-Ralph Saunders (1862-1939) married Lillian Bogue and had two sons, Arannah and Ralph Jr.  They both married Clarks.

-Charles Carrol (1864-1942) was a building carpenter.  He married Minnie Allen and had five kids.  His eldest son Horace married Charles' sister Musette's eldest, Josephine.

-Lizzie Tooker (1870-1942) married Niles Clark (brother to Francina's husband William), and had nine kids.  Lizzie and Niles were my great grandparents.

-Sarah Lucretia (1872-??), I can't find anything beyond the 1880 Census.  She wasn't named on her father's will, probated in 1917, so she must have died prior to then.

-Musette Cressie (1874-1948) married Augustus Ferdinand Snow, who was 30 years her senior.  They had eight children together.  Augustus had a son Albert (1880-1949) from a prior marriage (well actually Albert's mother was the neighbor during his prior marriage), who lived with his father and stepmother Musette.  When Augustus died, Albert (being only 6 years younger than his stepmother) married Musette, and adopted the eight children as his own.  Albert was married to Musette for 30 years, twice as long as his father was married to her!

-Samuel Israel (1875-1951) was a stone mason.  He married twice and had a daughter named Flora.

-Mary Tooker, the youngest, married George W. Lovely, and had two boys, George Jr. and John.  John married a girl named Fanny...which means that her married name was Fanny Lovely!

John Harvey Tooker fought in the Civil War from 1862-1863 in the CT 26th Regiment, Company F.   He enlisted on 30 August 1862, and mustered out November 10 of that year.  He finished up in August 1863, completing a nine month enlistment, and was paid $44.78 for clothing/money advanced.  Below is an account of the 26th Regiment, which saw its only Civil War battles in Louisiana:

Regimental History
C. V. INFANTRY (Nine Months)
THE Twenty-sixth Regiment was organized in September, 1862, under General Orders No. 99, dated August 13th. Recruiting occupied from about August 20th to September 10th, when ten companies assembled at Camp Russell, Norwich, coming from New London and Windham Counties. The officers of the line were elected by each company after its enlistment, before they were commissioned. On September 19th the field officers were elected by the line officers. The staff was appointed by the Governor. On September 25th the regiment was formally mustered in by a United States mustering officer, but the rolls were not signed. From this time to November 13th the regiment remained in Camp Russell, and became quite proficient in company and regimental drill.
On November 10th and 12th the regiment was again mustered in by United States Mustering Officer Lieutenant Watson Webb, who signed the rolls. Orders were received on November 12th to break camp, which was done on the 13th, and at 3 P. M. the regiment, with full ranks, eagerly left its first camp and marched through the crowded streets of Norwich, viewed by thousands of spectators and friends, and embarked on the steamer "Commodore" for New York. On November 14th it was disembarked at Brooklyn, and marched to Centerville Race Course, where it made its second encampment until December 4th. This camp was known as Camp Buckingham. On December 4th this camp was evacuated, and at 4.30 P. M. the regiment arrived in Brooklyn, and the same evening embarked on the steamer "Empire City." Remaining in New York Harbor until the morning of December 6th, the steamer put to sea under sealed orders. It was not divulged until several days later that this regiment was a part of an expedition to rendezvous at New Orleans, under Major-General N. P. Banks. On December 13th, arrived in the Gulf of Mexico; on the 14th, at Ship Island; and on the evening of the 16th, at New Orleans. On the 18th disembarkation was made at Carrollton, a few miles above New Orleans, and tents were again pitched, at Camp Parapet, a large enclosure from the Mississippi to Lake Pontchartrain. Here for the first time arms were issued to the regiment, and officers and men eagerly studied and practiced the manual of arms. In common with all Northern men going into camp so far south, much malarial sickness appeared, and soon the hospital was more than full, and many died. The influence upon the men of these frequent and sudden deaths was somewhat dispiriting.
On January 21 and 22, 1863, the regiment was paid off in full.
On or about March 13th, when Commodore Farragut passed up the Mississippi with his magnificent fleet and successfully passed the Port Hudson batteries, the cannonading of which could be distinctly heard in the regimental camp, it became quite evident that the Twenty-sixth was soon to participate in more active warfare at the front. For this change the men were impatient. On May 20th the regiment embarked at Carrollton, on board the steamer "Crescent," for Baton Rouge, where it arrived on the morning of May 22d, and during the forenoon it disembarked some six miles above, at Springfield Landing, in full view of the river works of Port Hudson, which, like Vicksburg, was a high bluff at a bend in the Mississippi, and strongly fortified on the river front; also with a parapet several miles in length in the rear, passing over and across ravines, gulches, and woodland, enclosing a rebel camp of many acres, and garrisoned by 6,000 to 7,000 men under Major-General Frank Gardner. The Twenty-sixth regiment was at this time attached to the First Brigade (General Neal Dow), Second Division (General T. W. Sherman), Nineteenth Army Corps (Major-General N. P. Banks).
Upon disembarkation at Springfield Landing the regiment was ordered immediately to the front to report to division headquarters. "Grim-visaged war" was now apparent. The mortar fleet below Port Hudson kept up a continual shelling of the rebel works, the missiles passing directly over the regiment. On May 24th the regiment joined the left wing of the corps investing Port Hudson, which had progressed from right to left. The enemy were driven into their inner works during the afternoon of this day, abandoning their rifle-pits and outer works, ten in number, in front of Sherman's Division. During the evening communication was ordered to be established at the extreme front, between Sherman's and Augur's divisions on our right. A detachment from the Twenty-sixth was selected for this purpose, and by 10 o'clock its object was accomplished, and Port Hudson was completely invested. May 25th, 26th, and 27th were days of preparation for the first assault by the entire corps upon the enemy's works, which were as strong as skill and time could construct. At 10.30 A. M. the bugle called into line Sherman's Division, but not until 1.30 P. M. was all in readiness for the charge. The Twenty-sixth occupied the right center of Dow's Brigade, and it so happened that at this point, by the "Slaughter" plantation house, were assembled Generals Dow, Sherman, and Andrews (Chief of Staff to General Banks), when General Dow ordered his brigade to the charge. With great enthusiasm General Sherman also in person ordered "Forward!" and led the column until he lost his leg and his horse by a shot.
Charging over an open field upon a protected enemy is a story that has been told and written in the blood of thousands. Impetuosity, bravery, and skill accomplished the same here and no more than at Fredericksburg and many other historic fields. An advanced position was secured and held. When the Twenty-sixth called its rolls after the battle, 107 were dead and wounded. Among the number were all ranks, from colonel to private. This regiment had received its first baptism of fire and blood, but only to prepare it for better service. The picket line that night was held in front of Dow's Brigade by the Twenty-sixth.
From May 27th until June 14th the entire command was under continual fire, night and day. On the afternoon of June 13th a heavy skirmish line was thrown out on Sherman's front, in which the Twenty-sixth performed a conspicuous part, losing one man killed and seven wounded. On June 14th a second general assault was ordered. Sherman, who had lost a leg May 27th, had been succeeded by General Dwight, who selected a position more to the left, and on the extreme right of the enemy, near the Mississippi River. The result of this assault was similar to the first. It was made in the early morning. No troops could have been better handled, or acted with more gallantry. In this charge the Twenty-sixth numbered 235 men, and its total casualties were sixty-one. Of this number four were killed and sixteen wounded by a single shell. After this battle the brigade commander said in his report: "The nine months troops have demonstrated by their gallant conduct that they can be relied upon in any emergency."
From June 16th to July 8th the siege was continued. On July 7th news was received of the surrender of Vicksburg, and on the next day Port Hudson surrendered, with 6,408 prisoners. General Banks's total casualties during the siege were 500 killed, 2,500 wounded (official). That the Twenty-sixth had borne a conspicuous part was acknowledged by its being selected as one of ten regiments to receive the capitulation of the garrison on July 9th, and was assigned to the left of the line-the second post of honor. From July 10th to 25th this regiment performed provost and guard duty at Port Hudson. On July 25th orders were received to break camp and embark on the steamer "St. Maurice," and return to Connecticut for muster out, by reason of expiration of term of service. The regiment left Port Hudson on the 26th, via Mississippi River, Cairo, Chicago, and New York; thence by steamer to Norwich, where it arrived August 7th. Upon its arrival it was received by the Mayor and city authorities, who bestowed upon the organization every attention and honor. The Mayor delivered an address of congratulation and welcome, and the citizens turned out en masse and provided a sumptuous collation on the public park. On August 19th the regiment again reassembled in its original Camp Russell, and was mustered out and paid off.
Port Hudson, La., May 27, 1863.
Port Hudson, La., June 13, 14, 1863.

John died of chronic bronchitis in April of 1904 in their Lyme home.  Nancy died of stomach cancer in the summer of 1917.  At the time of John's death, his house in Lyme was valued at $200, his 30 acres of land at $200, and his 4 head of cattle at $120.

Here are a few assorted pictures of the Tooker family, including children of John & Nancy Tooker (Francina, Musette, Charles, and Lizzie):

Fannie Stoll-Snow, Richard Snow, Winona Snow
Emma Clark-Stoll, Musette Tooker-Snow (unknown baby)




Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Murals of Richard Leonard

Richard Bernard Leonard was born in 1929 to parents Matthew John Leonard Jr. and Lizzie Graney-Leonard of Portland.  At age 7 he underwent a horrific mastoid surgery, and almost lost his life.  He grew up on 1208 and 1312 Congress Street, and around 1946 the family moved to 32 Sewall Street.  Richard attended Portland School of Art, and was an acclaimed artist from an early age.  See newspaper clipping below with him receiving The Baxter Award.

While living on Sewall Street, he opened up a paint store in 1967, on the corner called The Paint Pot, which is still in business today, and sells California Paints.  Richard retired from the business in 1991:

While many in Portland know Richard as owner and manager of The Paint Pot, many others still know him well as a commercial artist.

Richard had befriended many of the Italian families of Cumberland County in his travels.  The DiSanto Family, as owners of Anjon's, gave him the nickname "Leonardo" for his very popular mural work showcased on the walls of many of Portland's finest restaurants.  To name a few, Anjon's, Sportsmans, DiPaolo's Restaurant, Deering Ice Cream Union Station, Bubba's Sulky Lounge, and the Hotel Victoria and Falmouth Hotel, and signs for Maria's Restaurant.  He also worked on a large mural at a restaurant called "The French Club" in Lewiston, as well as several KofC and Freemason clubhouses in Lewiston, in addition to many murals in many private homes.





Back in the early 70's, he and John DiMillo were painting large dinosaur logos on the Sinclair gas tanks in South Portland.  I seem to recall seeing one when I was a child, and having later dismissed it as my own childhood imagination.  It was nice to learn that I wasn't hallucinating after all, once I eventually met my cousin Richard in person.

While every single mural of Richard's is now gone, due to businesses closing and building demolition, and since Richard managed to not keep photographs of his work, I was able to find a few photographs online, courtesy of people who like to memorialize historical Portland businesses.

Richard Leonard (2010)