Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Buried in Albany, Remembered in Cooperstown

By John Hart, Assistant Curator of Collections

Probably one of the best aspects of being an historian is sharing information with others, or learning something new from a fellow researcher. And in this position I’m always receiving and giving out the history of an object, a person, or even an event.

Most recently I’ve been researching T. Ellery Lord, a Brevet Brigadier General from New York, as we included part of his uniform in Empire Waists, Bustles & Lace: A Century of New York Fashion. We are fortunate enough to have not one, but nearly three complete uniforms (along with patches, epaulettes and the like) that once belonged to Ellery, as he often called himself in his letters, in the collection, along with much of his correspondence during the Civil War in the NYSHA Research Library.

Imagine, then, my surprise when I came across a website that listed a T. Ellery Lord as being buried in Albany Rural Cemetery! A little digging here, a few emails there, and I stumbled upon Mark Bodnar, a Civil War historian from Albany who is quite familiar with the cemetery. After corresponding with Mark a few times, he was gracious enough to send me the images you see here (above and below), along with a reference to Ellery in a book written in the late 1990s, Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue.

I was surprised yet again when I found that this book included an image of Ellery in uniform, and so far as I can tell, in the uniform we’re exhibiting at Fenimore! (below) The image and present-day representation isn’t exact, in fact. As one of the Cooperstown Graduate Program students, Andrew Gaerte, suggested, it’s likely that Ellery placed the epaulettes on his uniform sometime after the war since they’re a little impractical in battle (and would have made him an easier target, I imagine). But, we have the shoulder boards, as they’re called, that show the same rank that you see in the image.

For any historian interested in the Civil War, finding uniforms as intact, complete, and in such good condition as Ellery’s is a dream come true, but the connection made with another historian familiar with Ellery is even better.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Wow, that is so neat! I love when things come together like that.

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