Friday, April 28, 2006

A friend "through all the combats that were fought"

Rev. Emanuel Fortune
[Photo from Florida State Archives]
Born a slave, Emanuel Fortune was a prominent minister and leading Republican party activist in post-War Jackson County. He was elected as a delegate to the Florida constitutional convention in early 1868 and as a Jackson County representative in the state legislature. A close friend of the Bureau agents, he accompanied Hamilton on voter registration and organization drives and may have saved Hamilton's life during a brawl with whites in Walton County. Fearing for life after the Finlayson/Purman shooting, Fortune fled with his family to Jacksonville in the summer of 1869. His son, Timothy Thomas Fortune benefitted from Purman's patronage when the latter was in Congress and became one the leading African American journalists of the early 20th century.

"that good brave, noble, valuable friend..."

Dr. John L. Finlayson
[Photo from Florida State Archives]
Fairly prosperous land and slave owners before the war, the Finlayson family had suffered financially, particularly during the 1864 Union arm raid known as "the Battle of Marianna." The oldest son, Dr. John L. Finlayson, a Confederate army veteran, born in 1838, was about two years older about than Hamilton and Purman and became close friends with the two men. Remarkably, Finlayson allied himself with the Bureau, providing medical services to freedmen and teaching adults at the Bureau night school in Marianna. He attended a Florida Republican convention in 1867 and accepted appointments as Bureau medical officer and later clerk of court for Jackson County (July 1868). Dr. Finlayson was shot dead by a concealed assassin on the night of Feb. 26, 1869 in the town of Marianna while walking together with Purman after attending a minstrel performance by the local army garrison. Shortly after John's death, his sister Mary Martha married Charles Hamilton. In October 1871, sister Leodora married Purman. In a letter to Dickinson, Hamilton recalled Finlayson, "that good brave, noble, valuable friend, whom I loved with an almost holy affection." John L. Finlayson's burial place is unknown.

Addendum (Jan. 2007):
Reading through the Florida legislative journals, I learned that Finlayson's assassination was followed by the "almost immediate death of his wife, who fell an innocent victim to grief in devotion to her husband." The Finlaysons left behind "two little orphans": Sallie (born about 1865) and John P. (born Nov. 1867). In Jan. 1870, state Senator Purman introduced a bill entitled "An Act for the relief of the children of Dr. John L. Finlayson, late Clerk of the Circuit Court of Jackson county." The bill passed and the children were awarded an annual payment of $300 for the period of ten years.

Addendum (Feb. 2007)
The orphaned Finlayson children, John P. and Sallie, are listed in the 1870 census living in Mobile, Ala. with a family named Bond. Presumably the Bonds are the family of their late mother. John P. continued to live in Mobile, married Lillie Ellen Barry, and had a son in 1895 whom he named John Purman Finlayson. "Purman Finlaysons" have resided in Mobile to this day. According to a descendant, the family became quite successful in the grocery business.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"almost inseperably associated for the greater part of our lives"

William J. Purman: Charles Hamilton's boyhood friend, fellow veteran, political ally, and brother-in-law. Hamilton obtained Purman's appoinment as Freedmen's Bureau civilian agent for Jackson County, FL obstensibly under Hamilton's command, though the two shared their duties as equals for almost two difficult years [photo: Florida state archives].
PURMAN, William James, a Representative from Florida; born in Millheim, Centre County, Pa., April 11, 1840; attended the common schools and completed his studies at Aaronsburg Academy, Centre County, Pa.; taught school; studied law at Lock Haven, Pa.; during the Civil War entered the Union Army as a private and served on special duty at the War Department until transferred to Florida in 1865; was admitted to the bar in 1868 and commenced practice in Tallahassee, Fla.; member of the State constitutional convention in 1868; served in the State senate 1869-1872; appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State senate as secretary of state in 1869, but declined; chairman of the Florida Commission in 1869 for entering into negotiations for transfer of West Florida to the State of Alabama, which transfer was not ratified by Alabama; assessor of United States internal revenue for the district of Florida 1870-1872; chairman of the Republican State committee 1870-1872; member of the Republican National Committee 1876-1880; elected as a Republican to the Forty-third Congress and served from March 4, 1873, to January 25, 1875, when he resigned; member of the State house of representatives for one session and resigned when elected to Congress; elected to the Forty-fourth Congress (March 4, 1875-March 3, 1877); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1876 to the Forty-fifth Congress; returned in 1878 to Millheim, Pa., and engaged in agricultural pursuits; moved to Boston, Mass., in 1883; moved to Washington, D.C., where he lived in retirement until his death on August 14, 1928; the remains were cremated and the ashes deposited in a vault at Glenwood Cemetery. []
Interestingly this biography does not mention the 2 1/2 years (spring 1866 to September 1868) that Purman was Freedmen's Bureau agent for Jackson County, FL.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

T.W. Osborn: the villain of our story

OSBORN, Thomas Ward, a Senator from Florida; born in Scotch Plains, Union County, N.J., March 9, 1833; moved to New York in 1842 with his parents, who settled in North Wilna; attended the common schools and graduated from Madison (now Colgate) University, Hamilton, N.Y., in 1860; studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1861; during the Civil War entered the Union Army in 1861 as lieutenant and became captain, major, and colonel of Battery D, First Regiment, New York Light Artillery; appointed assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Refugees and Freedmen for Florida 1865-1866; settled in Tallahassee, Fla., and commenced the practice of law; appointed register in bankruptcy in 1867; member of the State constitutional convention in 1868; moved to Pensacola, Fla.; member, State senate; upon the readmission of Florida to representation was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from June 25, 1868, to March 3, 1873; was not a candidate for reelection; served as United States commissioner at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1876; moved to New York City and resumed the practice of law; also engaged in literary pursuits; died in New York City, December 18, 1898; interment in Hillside Cemetery, North Adams, Berkshire County, Mass []
[Left photo from Florida State Archives/ right from Library of Congress]
More biographical information about T.W. Osborn:
GENERAL THOMAS W. OSBORN, son of Jonathan and Amelia Osborn ....After graduation he entered the law-office of Starbuck & Sawyer, at Watertown, being admitted to practice law in 1861. It was not until after the battle of First Bull Run that he determined to do what hecould to sustain the government. He raised a company for light artilleryservice, afterwards known as Company D, First New York Light Artillery. Ofthis command he was commissioned captain. The battery served continuouslywith the Army of the Potomac and engaged in more than 30 pitched battles,from the Peninsula to Gettysburg, proving itself one of the best artilleryforces in the army, only equaled by the battery of Mink and Spratt, also raised in Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties. After this generaland entirely truthful statement it is not necessary to go into details, for Osborn's battery has a record that can be found in the history of the Army ofthe Potomac. The services of Captain Osborn were so meritorious that he was rapidly promoted from one grade to another, having been chief of artillery ofthe second division of the second corps, under General Berry, with the rankof major; in 1863 he was promoted to the command of the second brigade of thevolunteer artillery of the Army of the Potomac; and in June, 1863, was madechief of artillery of the second corps, under General Howard, in whichcapacity he went through with the battle of Chancellorsville. In 1864 he was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland, and was chief of artillery of thefourth corps of that army; and while thus employed was seriously wounded.While in command of the recruiting barracks at Louisville, Ky., he organizedthe 106th, 107th and 108th regiments of colored troops. Returning to thefront as soon as convalescent, on the 28th of July, 1864, he was assigned, byGeneral Sherman, as chief of artillery of the Army and Department of theTennessee, commanded by General Howard. This assignment gave Major Osbornthe largest artillery command held by any officer during the war, with theone exception of Major-General Barry, who was General Sherman's chief of artillery. November 1, 1865, upon the organization of Sherman's army for the Savannah campaign, Major Osborn was relieved from the command of theartillery of the department, and retained that of the moving army. December 21, 1864, in addition to his other duties, he was put in command and hadcharge of all the artillery, light and heavy, captured at Savannah; January 9, 1865, he received his previous command of the artillery only with themoving army and entered upon the Carolina campaign. This he retained untilMay 10, 1865, when he was relieved by the Secretary of War and assigned to other duty.
From: The Growth of a Century: As Illustrated in the History of Jefferson, County, New York, from 1793 to 1894, John A. Haddock, Philadelphia, Sherman & Co., 1894. Page 822.
Found at

Monday, April 24, 2006

Yet another Hamilton portrait

This photo is from the Florida State Archives (Florida Memory Photographic Collection)

This photo is also available at the private collection website: Picture History:

Sunday, April 23, 2006

John Quincy Dickinson Letters

I am not sure what to do with the John Q. Dickinson material I have gathered. In any event, here's a list of writings and letters which I have found:

J.Q. Dickinson to "Dear Mother," Tallahassee, FL., Aug. 13, 1868 (UVT Library)

A.H. Jackson to J.Q. Dickinson, ___, Sept. _, 1868 (Freedmen's Bureau Records)

J.Q. Dickinson to A.H. Jackson, Marianna, Fl., Sept. 15, 1868 (FB Records)

J.Q. Dickinson to A.H. Jackson, Marianna, Fl., Sept. 17, 1868 (FB Records)

J.Q. Dickinson to A.H. Jackson, Marianna, Fl., Oct. 1, 1868 (FB Records)

J.Q. Dickinson to Rutland Herald (pub. 4/15/69) - titled "A Letter from Florida" subtitled "The Murder of Dr. Finlayson, dated Marianna, Jackson Co. , Florida April 5, 1869.

J.Q.D. to "Dear Father", Marianna, Fla, April 11, 1869 (UVT Library)

Malachi Martin to J.Q. Dickinson, State Penitentiary, Fla. Aug. 10, 1869 (fr. Benson, VT. Historical Society)

JQD "Memoranda and Occurences": Sept. 28 - Oct. 26, 1869 (Kaplan Collection)

J.Q. Dickinson to C.M. Hamilton, Marianna, Sept. 30, 1869 (Congress Hearings)

J.Q. Dickinson to C.M. Hamilton, Marianna, Oct. 3, 1869 (Congress Hearings)

JQD: Fleishman Affadivits, Oct. 4, 1869 (Kaplan Collection)

J.Q. Dickinson to C.M. Hamilton, Marianna, Oct. 7, 1869 (Congress Hearings)

J.Q. Dickinson to C.M. Hamilton, Marianna, Oct. 11, 1869 (Congress Hearings)

C.M. Hamiton to J.Q. Dickinson, Washington, Dec. 29, 1869 or 1870 (Kaplan Collection)

J.Q. Dickinson to G. Gile, Marianna, Florida, Feb. 24, 1870 (FB Records)

W.J. Purman to J.Q. Dickinson, Tallahassee, Fla. Oct. 5, 1870 (UVT Library).

J.M. Hawks to J.Q. Dickinson , Pensacola, Fl., Nov. 25, 1870 (UVT Library)

Benj. Thompson to J.Q. Dickinson, Ship Peruvian, Savannah, Dec. 2, 1870 (UVT Library)

Laurie (?) Thompson to J.Q. Dickinson "

Hart Collins (?) to J.Q. Dickinson, Orange Hill (?), Fl, Dec. 9, 1870 (UVT Library)

Benj. Thompson to J.Q. Dickinson, Ship Peruvian, Savannah, Dec. 25, 1870 (UVT Library)

J.C. Gibbs to J.Q. Dickinson, Tallahassee, Feb. 14, 1871 (UVT Library)

J.Q. Dickinson to J.C. Gibbs, Marianna, Feb. 23, 1871 (Congress. Hearings)

W.J. Purman to J.Q. Dickinson, Tallahassee, Fla., March 10, 1871 (UVT Libary)

A.J. Dickinson to "Dear Mother," Marianna Post Office, April 4, 1871 [mistakenly dated by A.J., should be May 4, 1871] (UVT Library)

W.J. Purman to Isaac Dickinson, Tallahassee, April 8, 1871 (private collection)

W.J. Purman to Isaac Dickinson, Tallahassee, April 17, 1871 (UVT Library)

D.B. Peck to Isaac Dickinson & Family, Washington DC, April 17, 1871 (UVT Library)

W. Chapman to I. Dickinson, Marianna, Jackson Co., Florida, April 29, 1871 (UVT Library)

P.R. Sherwood to Mrs. Dickinson, Knox Co. Ohio, April 2_, 1871 (UVT Library)

Isaac Dickinson to W.H. Milton, Benson, Vt., Sept. __, 1874 (UVT Library)

Isaac Dickison to Mr. Chapman, Benson, Vt., Feb. 13, 1875 (UVT Library)

W.H. Milton to Isaac Dickinson, Marianna, Fl., April 15, 1879 (UVT Library)

SEE ALSO: Wartime letters from JQD to Rutland Herald dated March 13, April 5, April 27, May 1, July 15, 1862; July 4, 1863; Aug. 20, 1864 reprinted in Donald H. Wickman, Letters to Vermont from her Civil War soldier correspondents to home press (Bennington, Vt., 1998), vol. II;

manuscript diary, 88 pages, March 10 - May 6, 1862 in possession of UVT Library;

J.Q. Dickinson to "Dear Uncle", Baton Rouge, LA, Aug. 10, 1862 (Navarro College, Texas).

J.Q. Dickinson to "Dear Mother," Metropolitan Hotel, NY, March 11, 1862 (BensonHS)

J.Q. Dickinson to "Dear Mother," Ship Island, April 4, 1862 (BHS)

J.Q. Dickinson to Dugald Stewart, Near Carrollton, La., Sept. 1, 1862 (Jeffrey D. Marshall, ed., A War of the People: Vermont Civil War Letters.)

J.Q. Dickinson to "Dear Father," Fort Pickens, La., Dec. 3, 1863 (BHS)

J.Q. Dickinson to "Dear Father," Barnacas, La. May 17, 1864 (BHS)

J.Q. Dickinson to "Dear Father," New Orleans, Jan. 14, 1865 (BHS)

J.Q. Dickinson to "Dear Father," New Orleans, Oct. 18, 1865 (UVT Library)

[updated April 21, 2010]

[photo: ]

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Another Hamilton Congressional Portrait (with longer beard!)

Here is "Handsome Charley" - the youngest member of the 40th Congress - no more than thirty, impressively goateed, poised and at the peak of his career. No foreboding of the pathetic end he would find in just another half-dozen years (Photo from Library of Congress).

Monday, April 10, 2006

Grave Inscriptions

Col. Charles M. Hamilton
_____ son of
John & Hannah Hamilton
Died Oct. 22, 1875
In the 35th year
of his age

Commissioner Freedmen
Bureau for Florida 1865
Represented Fla in the
40th and 41st Congress

An officer in ____
________ _________1861
_________ Penn.

Post Master Jacksonville
Fla. ______
Collector Customs ___Key
West, Fla. 1873

Hamilton's Grave: Jersey Shore Cemetery, Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania (July 2005)

The grave of Charles M. Hamilton is the smaller of the two obelisks. The larger is the marker of Charles's younger brother, John L., killed in action at Petersburg one week before Lee's surrender. The small rounded markers in front of the obelisks in the picture on the left are the graves of John (left) and Hannah (right) Hamilton, the parents of Charles and John.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Charles M. Hamilton

Charles Memorial Hamilton: Congressional portraits taken by Brady studio sometime between July 1868 and March 1871. The Library of Congress has different portraits, possibly from three different sittings.

B. Altman and the Fleishmans

When Sophia returned to New York with her children after her husband's murder, her brother Morris led the business that had been founded by their father. In 1872, however, the youngest Altman sibling, Benjamin, established his own “fancy” and dry goods store under the name “B. Altman and Company.” Morris died suddenly at the age of thirty-nine in July 1876, leaving Benjamin to manage the family businesses. At the time of Morris Altman’s death, the Altman brothers were already quite successful merchants and employed over two hundred people. Morris had been a greatly respected businessman and was a prime mover behind the effort toward advocating shorter working hours for dry goods clerks (New York Times, July 14, 1876, p. 4. Henry Hall, ed., America’s Successful Men of Affairs: An Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous Biography, vol. 1 (New York, 1895-96), 16). Morris’ widow died shortly after him and Benjamin assumed responsibility for raising Morris’ four children. Consequently, in addition to operating a large and growing business, Benjamin Altman, thirty-six years old, now had ten fatherless young nieces and nephews in his care. These burdens may very well explain why Benjamin never married and had children of his own.
At his death in 1913, the New York Times estimated Altman to be worth forty-five million in real estate, art holdings and his B. Altman stock (New York Times, October 8, 1913). He donated his celebrated art collection to the Metropolitan Museum Art which was acclaimed at the time as the “most splendid gift that a citizen has ever made to the people of the city of New York” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guide to Altman Collection, 13. His collection included, at various times, thirteen major Rembrandts). Altman also became known as a patron of American artists and was commended as a philanthropist who avoided publicizing his charitable works. A biographical note commended Altman for his devotion to the care and education of Morris’ four orphaned children (Hall, America’s Successful Men, 17). Altman remained attached to Judaism and was a member of Temple Emanu-El. After Altman’s death in 1913, Adam Schiff unsuccessfully urged the editors of the Evening Post to mention that Altman “had lived and died as a Jew” (David Levering Lewis, W.E.B. Du Bois - Biography of a Race, 1868-1919 (New York, 1993), 488-9). Altman left his store, B. Altman & Co., in the care of his foundation for the benefit of charitable causes and the employees.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Senator Thurston's Unfortunate (and Recycled?) Poem

As discussed in a previous post, Nebraska Senator John Thurston's marriage to much younger Lola Purman, not long after his wife's death, and his poem to Lola, titled "The White Rose" may have caused a scandal that ruined his political career. The Chicago Tribune described Lola as "about 25" and "pretty and brilliant." The rose poem was precipitated by Lola's having "presented the Senator with a rose at the opera last winter, which resulted in his poem which has now become famous" (Nov. 14, 1899). Thurston denied, however, that he wrote the poem for "Miss Purman" but protested that it was a "youthful effusion written 30 or more years ago" (Tribune, Nov. 18, 1899). The couple married on Nov. 18, 1899 at the Purman household in D.C.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

More on Fleishman News

In my rush to post the breaking Fleishman news before any other historyblog, I forgot the most significiant aspect of the N.Y. Journal of Commerce item. This is the first newspaper item I found outside of Florida that mentions Fleishman. This news, of course, contradicts the point made in footnote 130 (p. 76) of the SJH article that Fleishman's death, unlike Bierfield's murder, was not reported in the national press. I remain comforted, however, by the fact that the Journal of Commerce only reprinted an excerpt from the Jacksonville Florida Union. It would be interesting to learn, however, how the Florida Union item came to the attention of the Journal.
It is tempting to imagine Benjamin Altman, sitting in his store on 6th Avenue and coming across the news of his brother-in-law and business partner's murder. This fantasy raised the interesting question of how fast news did travel in those days. According to Dickinson, rumors of Fleishman's murder arrived in Marianna on the evening of Oct. 11th. Dickinson confirmed the murder on the 13th. The Journal item appeared on Oct. 21st. Presumably, Sophia would have telegraphed her brothers almost immediately so that they would have known of the murder for almost a week before the first (and only?) New York newspaper mention.