Sunday, May 11, 2008

Richard Cottrell

Richard Cottrell was born January 3, 1840, in Birmingham, England.

Richard claimed many years later that he was living with his widowed mother in Birmingham in 1850. In any case, he immigrated to the United States eventually settling in Michigan, possibly in the late 1850s, and by 1860 he was working for and/or living with George Lathrop, a nurseryman in Lansing’s First Ward. (He later claimed that in 1860 he was living with the attorney William Chapman in Lansing’s Second Ward but he does not appear on the census list for the Chapman family.)

Shortly after war broke out Richard became a member of the Lansing militia company called the “Williams’ Rifles”, whose members would serve as the nucleus of Company G.

Richard was 21 years old, stood 5’4” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and still living in Lansing when he enlisted with the consent of the Justice of the Peace in Company G on May 10, 1861. While the regiment was forming in Grand Rapids, Frank Siverd, also of Company G, wrote to a Lansing newspaper that by June 10 Richard had been with the company some time. “He likes camp life and has become quite a soldier.” Richard was reported a Corporal on February 27, 1863, and mustered out of service at Detroit on June 27, 1864.

Richard was probably in Massachusetts when he enlisted at Franklin, as a private in Company G, Second Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. He was discharged on June 26, 1865, at New Berne, North Carolina.

After the war Richard eventually returned to Lansing where he worked as a cooper for some years. By 1876, however, he had moved east and was living in Lowell, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, when he became a citizen of the U.S.

He was apparently living in Lowell where he married Harriet Mathilda Earl in 1881; they had at least one child, a son: James Samuel.

Curiously Richard was living in Lansing in October of 1891 when he joined the Grand Army of the Republic Charles Foster Post No. 42 in Lansing; he was suspended from the post in December of 1898, possibly as a result of not paying his dues. Richard eventually returned to Massachusetts and by March of 1907 he was residing at 256 Lowell Street in Lawrence, Essex County, Massachusetts. In 1910 he was apparently living alone in Lawrence’s Third Ward, Essex County, Massachusetts and he was still living in Lawrence in 1915. In 1920 he listed himself as a widower and was boarding with the Veacock (?) family in Lawrence.

In 1891 he applied for and received pension no. 816114 for service in both units.

Richard was possibly a widower when he died on October 3, 1921, in Lawrence and possibly buried in Lawrence.

Interestingly, in 1933, an attorney for his son, John Samuel Cottrell, wrote tot he US Pension Bureau attempting to learn whether Richard had in fact been married previous to his marriage to Harriet. “There is a rumor,” wrote J. M. Couse on October 14, 1933, “that Richard Cottrell had been previously married and that a son was born of such previous marriage whose name the same as that of my client, John Samuel Cottrell, and that this earlier son died while in the Naval Service of the United States in San Fransisco. Thus far such earlier marriage is a rumor and no more, . . .” As far as presently known it remains a rumor to this day.

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