About this blog

I started this blog as a means of sharing some informal observations on historical figures and places that inspire me. My expertise lies in the history of the Civil War era, and so the majority of my articles focus on that time period. But I would not characterize this as a “Civil War blog” as I often delve into other centuries–also, at times, into local history and folklore. So, the subject matter of this blog is, you might say, eclectic. Some of the articles fall under the category of “musings” while others take a more academic approach.

Hopefully, others find a bit of historical inspiration in these entries too.

77 responses to “About this blog

  • Jane Carroll Browne

    I don’t know how I happened on your blog, however, my father’s name is Samuel Prescott Browne. We have a cherry desk in our family that was supposedly passed down from the original Samuel Prescott. Reading your article has made me want to do some further research. Funny that our last name is now Browne!

    • Patrick Browne

      I’m glad you happened upon the blog and found it interesting. That is quite a coincidence about the name! I’m very pleased it’s inspired you to do some more research. I hope you find out more about the connection.

  • Ron Guilmette

    I also happened upon your blog. I am doing some research on Luther Stephenson Jr.
    He was the first Chief of the Massachusetts State Detectives appointed by Governor Andrew. Would you have information on the birth, life and death of Luther.
    Thank you.
    My name is Ron Guilmette and I am vice president of the Ma State Police Museum. http://www.mspmlc.com
    email: Ltcrjg@aol.com

    • Patrick Browne

      I’m happy to offer the following notes and comments I have on Luther Stephenson. Much, if not all, of it is probably known to you, but I hope it may be of some use.
      Born April 25, 1830.
      He was captain of Hingham’s pre-war militia company, the “Lincoln Light Infantry,” which became Company I of the 4th Massachusetts Infantry at the beginning of the war.
      August 13, 1862, he became captain of Company A of the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry, and rose through the ranks to Lieutenant Colonel and the command of that regiment.
      He was wounded very seriously at Gettysburg, being shot through the face, and twice again during the Overland Campaign in May and June of 1864.
      He was forced to resign due to his wounds on June 28, 1864. After the war, he was awarded the brevet rank of brigadier general.
      February 18, 1875, according to the Boston Post, Gov. Gaston names Stephenson Chief of the new State Detective Police.
      One of his annual reports as Chief Detective is available online and has some interesting information:
      In 1878 his term as Chief Detective was not renewed and the State Detective Police was reorganized to become the Massachusetts District Police.
      1879, Appointed general agent for eastern Massachusetts of the Massachusetts Mutual Aid Society
      1880, 1881, State Senator from the Plymouth District. At the same time he was giving popular lectures in Boston on the Maryland and Gettysburg Campaigns
      April 1883, Appointed Governor of the Eastern Branch National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Togus, Maine outside of Augusta. The following book on the National Home in Togus has the only photo of Stephenson that I’ve seen: http://books.google.com/books?id=vQJToAX2bQwC&pg
      His term as head of the Soldier’s Home was controversial. The above book calls him a “hard edged disciplinarian” and there were allegations of corruption and mistreatment. Stephenson resigned from that post in 1897 and retired.
      He died in 1920. Oddly, I can’t seem to find an obituary.
      A small compilation of his public addresses was printed: http://books.google.com/books?id=PbcTAAAAYAAJ&pg

  • Ron Guilmette

    We had a John F Browne who was a state police constable in Essex County in 1873??

  • Ron Guilmette

    Would you have information on Hollis, John B. State Deputy Constable also from Hingham?


  • Bill

    With memorial day coming..did you know the oldest veterans memorial in the entire country is in Rhode Island at 9 Mens Misery Monument from King Philips war? Pretty cool!

  • Anonymous

    Excellent article on the Baltimore riots; one of the best I’ve come across.

    Rob Grant (Queensland, Australia

  • Marcia Kimpton

    How interesting to find your blog! I am researching the late 1800’s and early 1900’s stories from my family, hoping to put it all into book form. My Grandmother Richard Brown built a house at 7 Winslow street on land in 1901, that was “given to him as a wedding present by the Willoughby family”. I just read this in an old newspaper article, did not know about it previously (that he acquired it as a gift). I’m assuming it must have been the same Willoughby family who owned the Mayflower Society House at one time. In your article you said you lived across the street from it, and wondered which house you lived in. So strange to find this just as I am researching the house. I don’t know what relation the Willooughby family had to my grandparents to give them the land. Thanks for any input,
    Marcia Kimpton

    • Patrick Browne

      Hi Marcia,
      Your research sounds very interesting. Always fun to explore family history. I lived on North Street but I know the house you are referring to. Interesting that the land was gifted–clearly there must have been some close relationship there. I wonder if your grandfather’s occupation in the census records might provide any clue.

  • Marcia Kimpton

    Thanks for your reply. My grandfather worked at the Plymouth Cordage Company – not sure what his job was, but something in the directing office of the company. I haven’t been able to find out where he lived before building that house.
    I am also trying to transcribe the Civil War journals of my great grandfather Abraham Oliver Brown, as well as letters from 1864/65 of my great aunt Harriett Errington, who travelled around Yosemite with Frederick Law Olmstead’s family, horseback and camping during those two summers during the Civil war. I’d like to put these and other historical family documents into a book form. They are not the originals, but have been typed up on old translucent typing paper, and are very hard to read, so would not be good to “scan”. I’m hoping to find a “voice to text” system where I could read them and have them go into a Word document. Do you have any advice on this project? Thanks for any input!

    • Patrick Browne

      Those documents sound fascinating! As far as transcribing them, I think you’re right in that voice to text might be the best way to go. I see an Abraham Brown from Taunton in the records, is that your great grandfather?

  • Marcia Kimpton

    His name was Abraham Oliver Brown, born 3/3/1842 in Hanover, NH, died 9/7/1896 in Plymouth MA. He enlisted in Comp.K 15th Vermont, but was registered there as “Oliver Abraham Browne”. He was in General Stannard’s brigade at Gettysburg, and later was in seven other battles, including Fairfax Court House and Centerville (this according to an obituary in the Old Colony Memorial, Plymouth). The diary that I have covers from Nov 13, 1862 to July 11, 1863

    • Patrick Browne

      That is certainly an ancestor of which to be proud. You perhaps know of the famous role Stannard’s brigade played in repelling Pickett’s Charge. The diary must be a wonderful document to have.

      • Marcia Kimpton

        Yes, and apparently AO Brown bound up wounds for Gen Stannard on the battlefield. Thanks to your question, I have read a few family papers more closely, and found that the diary is printed up on the VermontCivilWar.org site, which should save me a considerable amount of time. Thanks for your replies!

  • Jim Yates

    Jane, I’m trying desparately to find any information about the hospital steamer, Commodore, which served during the 1862 Peninsular Campaign. Any ideas? Not a picture anywhere! Jim Yates

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