A Little Bit of 5th New Hampshire History in Goffstown–Plus Something I Didn’t Know

In New Hampshire, we’re subject to a stay-at-home order which limits the kinds of things we can do. It seems clear that if we don’t behave ourselves and the pandemic gets worse, we will move to shelter in place (although the governor seems reluctant to move in that direction). With that in mind, it’s hard to think about what to do with your kids—if, that is, your kids want anything to do with you. But I did find something.

I recently remembered that in the pool of 5th New Hampshire veterans I was studying, there was one man who was buried in Goffstown, NH: Joseph Caraway. Indeed, he’s the only figure among the veterans I’ve studied (almost 400) who had any connection to Goffstown whatsoever. And, I thought, why not find his headstone? I looked him up in the data I’d collected and found to my delight that he was buried in Westlawn Cemetery which is only about a 10-minute walk from my house. So, I told my daughter that we were going on a big adventure to the local cemetery. She’s a freshman in high school, but she still falls for that kind of thing, although she did ask, “How long is this going to take?” I have to give her credit for being a good sport.

Vivien was a good sport.

We walked to the cemetery together, armed with the proper spelling of Caraway’s name, his birth and death dates, and a photo of his headstone that I found on Find A Grave. I had some trepidations because Westlawn is an old cemetery (although not as old as Hillside Cemetery in Grasmere which is where the original settlement of Goffstown took place). I feared that the system by which graves were organized would have changed repeatedly over the years and that it would be impossible to locate Caraway’s burial place. I have to say, though, that I had very little trouble. We found the cemetery directory in a small cabinet on the wall of the large shed that sits at the Church Street entrance and started thumbing through the pages.

First we found the index with all the names of those buried at Westlawn. Caraway was buried in Range #3, Lot #9.

We then located a map of Ranges #1 through #6 with Caraway’s grave clearly marked.

And then we established where Ranges #1 through #6 were in the cemetery.

It took all of five minutes.

We walked about two-thirds the length of the cemetery and espied Caraway’s headstone without any difficulty. It appears that since the Find A Grave image was taken, someone had cleaned Caraway’s marker. It’s in very good shape.

What do I know about Joseph Caraway? (His name is spelled “Carraway” in Ayling’s Revised Register.) Caraway was the son of Jean-Baptiste Danis (1812-1863) and Sophia Blome (1816-1903).[i] Both of Caraway’s parents were Quebecois, although accounts differ about where exactly they were born.[ii] They appear to have been married in 1837 in Baie-du-Febvre on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River halfway between Sorel and Trois-Rivières.[iii] Not long afterwards, they moved just a couple of miles across the American border to Franklin, VT. Shortly after relocating to the United States, Danis changed his surname to Caraway. It was in Franklin that Joseph Caraway— our Caraway—was born in 1843, on the older end of a very large brood.[iv] By 1860, 17-year-old Caraway was still living in Franklin where he worked as a laborer on Benjamin Wilson’s farm. Wilson, who had been born in Canada East (or “Lower Canada”) was extremely wealthy by the standards of the time, with real estate valued at $10,000.[v]

According to Ayling’s Revised Register, Caraway was living in Orford, NH, when he joined the 5th New Hampshire in September 1861.[vi] Why exactly he left Franklin, VT, is unclear, but the Census of 1860 reveals that Caraway’s parents now lived with many of their children (nine of them, in fact) in Lyme, NH, which was only a few miles from Orford.[vii]

Caraway was mustered into Company C as a private. This company was commanded (and partially recruited) by Captain James Perry. The great majority of men in this company came from Grafton County. The towns that contributed the most volunteers to this unit were Lebanon, Orford, and Hanover—all of which made sense since Perry and Nathan H. Randlett, his 1st Lieutenant (who also helped recruit the company), lived in Lebanon. The only unusual feature of this company was the large number of Canadian-born recruits. Where 5% of the regiment’s original volunteers were born in Canada (around 50 men), 12 of Company C’s 100 recruits were. In other words, a quarter of all the Canadians in the regiment were in Company C. Of these, though, only four (to judge from their last names) might have been French speakers: Stephen Bodo, Henry Daniel, Octave Labarre, and Isaac Loungeverns. (There was also a true-blue Frenchman enrolled in the company named Peter Thebeaux.).[viii]

Not having been to Washington, DC, to do archival work yet, I know little of Caraway’s service. However, Ayling’s Revised Register reveals that he was wounded at the Battle of Fair Oaks (June 1, 1862)—the regiment’s first major fight. The surgeon’s report for that battle, which was published in the New Hampshire Statesman on June 21, 1862, shows that Caraway had a “finger amputated.” He was discharged disabled on February 14, 1863. Whether the discharge bore any relation to his wound is unclear.[ix]

This discharge was not the end of Caraway’s military service. The Revised Roster of Vermont Volunteers indicates that in June 1863, while living in Hartford, VT (just across the Connecticut River from Lebanon, NH), Caraway joined Company L of the 11th Vermont Volunteer Infantry. The regiment garrisoned a number of forts in the Washington, DC, area before being redesignated the 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery in December 1863. In the spring of 1864, the unit was ordered to operate as infantry during the Overland Campaign in Virginia. The 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery saw hard fighting throughout 1864 and 1865. Caraway was apparently wounded on March 27, 1865 in fighting near Petersburg, VA (at what appears to have been the engagement at Mcllwaine’s Mill).[x] He was mustered out on May 13, 1865.[xi]

In the meantime, Caraway’s overaged father volunteered for the 15th New Hampshire on September 8, 1862 and was mustered in exactly a month later. The regiment was engaged in the Siege of Port Hudson in Louisiana before it was mustered out on August 13, 1863 (it was a nine-month regiment).[xii] Danis died just over three months later in Orford. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that at his age (he was almost 50), army service may have proved too much for him.[xiii]

At some point shortly after the war, Caraway married Nora Basha (b. 1851) who appears to have emigrated to the United States from Canada in 1855. I have not been able to find where they were married.[xiv] In fact, I haven’t been able to establish Caraway’s whereabouts after the war until 1877, when a son of his was born in Goffstown. The only other important information I could glean from the birth certificate was that Caraway was a simple “laborer.” [xv] It appears that for the rest of his working life, he remained one. The Census of 1900 indicates that Caraway’s “mother tongue” was French and that he could neither read nor write. [xvi]  The Census of 1920, however, records that he could read and write.[xvii] Despite his humble occupation and his possible struggles with literacy, Caraway owned his own house free and clear in 1900. It also appears that he had at least six children.[xviii]

This image of Joseph Caroway appears on his Find A Grave page

At some point, for reasons unknown, Caraway moved to Epping, NH, before 1920 and died there on December 9, 1925.[xix] It’s clear, though, that he considered Goffstown his home because both he and Nora (d. 1929) chose to be buried there.

If you thought this story was over, it isn’t. Because buried right next to Caraway, for no apparent reason, is Wesley Wyman. His government-issued headstone caught my eye with the following inscription:

SEPTEMBER 26, 1918

This is exactly the reason I love walking through graveyards or reading old newspapers. It’s so easy to get distracted by the different stories that both offer. I wondered—was this cutter sunk by a U-boat during World War I?

I immediately headed to the internet to find out. Apparently the USCGC Tampa had just finished escorting convoy HG-107 from Gibraltar to the Irish Sea (where the convoy was bound for Wales) when the cutter was torpedoed by UB-91 at a range of just over 500 meters. All 147 hands went down with the ship—mainly Coast Guardsmen with some US Navy personnel, sailors from the Royal Navy, and several civilians. It was the greatest loss the United States suffered at sea due to enemy action during World War I. Only three bodies were ever recovered which leads me to believe that Wyman’s tombstone is a memorial and not a marker.[xx] Until I saw this inscription, I’d never heard the story of the USCGC Tampa. But I’m glad I stopped to take a look. Now I know.

The USCGC Tampa (ca. 1916) (from Wikipedia)

[i] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/101680769

[ii] Find A Grave has Jean-Baptiste born in Saint-Donat-de-Montcalm (a wild area about 75 miles northwest of Montreal) and Sophia in Yamaska (about 50 miles northeast of Montreal). A family tree I located on FamilySearch claims that Jean-Baptiste was born in Saint-Michel-d’Yamaska and that Sophia was born in Trois-Rivières. See https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/83862589/jean_baptiste-danis; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/89504285/sophia-caraway; and https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/LDQW-QWJ

[iii] See https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/83862589/jean_baptiste-danis; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/89504285/sophia-caraway; and https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/LDQW-QWJ

[iv] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/101680769; see also Ayling’s Revised Register, 221 (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?q1=Carraway;id=mdp.39015011525055;view=1up;seq=243;start=1;sz=10;page=search;num=221).

[v] “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MFD4-4VM : 12 December 2017), Joseph Caraway in entry for Benjamin Wilson, 1860.

[vi] Ayling’s Revised Register, 221 (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?q1=Carraway;id=mdp.39015011525055;view=1up;seq=243;start=1;sz=10;page=search;num=221).

[vii] “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M7WR-NTT : 19 March 2020), John Caraway, 1860.

[viii] Most of this information comes from an Excel spreadsheet that compiled data from Ayling’s Revised Register.

[ix] Ayling’s Revised Register, 221 (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?q1=Carraway;id=mdp.39015011525055;view=1up;seq=243;start=1;sz=10;page=search;num=221).

[x] The 1890 Veterans Census does not indicate where Carraway was wounded. See “United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War, 1890,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K837-1F8 : 11 March 2018), Joseph Caraway, 1890; citing NARA microfilm publication M123 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 338,199. For the action at McIIlwaine’s Mill, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appomattox_campaign

[xi] See Revised Roster of Vermont Volunteers, 449 (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo1.ark:/13960/t9p27g94k&view=1up&seq=467)

[xii] Ayling’s Revised Register, 741 (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015011525055&view=1up&seq=763).

[xiii] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/83862589/jean_baptiste-danis

[xiv] They were definitely married at some point between 1865 and 1868. A family tree on FamilySearch has the date falling in August 1867; https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/GMV2-JWT.

[xv] “New Hampshire Birth Records, Early to 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FLLZ-5BN : 10 March 2018), Joseph Carraway in entry for Joseph Carraway, 07 Feb 1877; citing Goffstown, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States, Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, Concord; FHL microfilm 1,000,490.

[xvi] See the Census of 1900: “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M3YW-8GG : accessed 24 January 2019), Joseph Caraway, Goffstown town, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 81, sheet 18A, family 325, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,947.

[xvii] “United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MH8T-CH2 : accessed 24 January 2019), Joseph Caraway, Epping, Rockingham, New Hampshire, United States; citing ED 119, sheet 3A, line 26, family 54, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1013; FHL microfilm 1,821,013.

[xviii] https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/GMV2-JWT

[xix] “United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MH8T-CH2 : accessed 24 January 2019), Joseph Caraway, Epping, Rockingham, New Hampshire, United States; citing ED 119, sheet 3A, line 26, family 54, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1013; FHL microfilm; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/101680769

[xx] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USCGC_Tampa_(1912)

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