Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Alfred Pew

Alfred Pew, also known as “Pugh,” was born on April 6, 1839 in New York City, New York, the son of George (b. 1798) and Mary (Aldrich or Aldridge, b. 1805).

George and Mary were married in 1825 in Cheltenham, Gloucester, England, where they resided for some years. In August of 1832 George, a carpenter by trade and his wife and several children arrived in New York City on board the brig John and Margaret, which they had taken from London, England. They eventually settled in New York City. Alfred’s family left New York City sometime after 1840 and by 1850 were reportedly living in Rochester, New York. The family eventually pushed on to Michigan settling in Grand Rapids, Kent County.

Alfred was living in Grand Rapids by September of 1855 when he became a member of the Grand Rapids Light Artillery, first under the command of Captain Lucius Patterson and then Captain Baker Borden. (Many of the men who were active in the GRLA would enlist in Company B, which was also under the command of Baker Borden.)

By 1859-60 Alfred was living on the east side of Turner between First and Second Streets on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids, and in 1860 he was listed as a painter and furniture finisher living with his older brother George H. and his wife in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward.

On May 22, 1861 Alfred married New York native Lucy Amelia Foote (1837-1920) in Grand Rapids (she was the sister of Allen Foote who would also enlist in Company B), and they had at least three children: Lillie (b. 1865, Mrs. Alvin Dings?),Della Antinetta (b. 1867, Mrs. Harlow Rice). And Frederick W. (b. 1871).

Alfred was 22 years old, stood 5’5” with gray eyes, light hair and a light complexion and residing in Grand Rapids when he enlisted as Third Sergeant in Company B on May 13, 1861. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant in July of 1862, commissioned May 21, replacing Lieutenant John Lindsey, was reported “present in his quarters” in July, and promoted to First Lieutenant on October 27, commissioned October 20, 1862, re-mustered on May 27, 1863, at camp near Falmouth, Virginia, to date October 27, 1862, replacing Lieutenant Fred Stow. From Edward’s Ferry, Maryland, Alfred wrote to “Friend Reuben” Randall, formerly of Company B, on October 14, 1862.

I received your letter Sunday morning before daylight between here and Washington. I am glad you arrived safe home and I presume before this time you have seen my wife. I rec’d one from her with yours. She said she had not seen you yet. Well, Rub, we have left the sacred soil of Virginia to try our luck in Maryland. We left camp Saturday morning at 4 o’clock, it rained like buzz all night and the roads were muddy. We crossed the Chain Bridge and took the road up the river over hills and valleys. We had a pretty hard march that day. The men had to carry their knapsacks, which they did not fancy much. We marched until after dark, then camped for the night. Resumed our march the next morning [at] 6 a.m. and arrived here about 8 p.m. It was raining too and did all night. We camped here. There is a new regt here. There is also a new regt added to our brigade – the 17th Maine so we have 7 regiments now. Ball’s Bluff is about 3 miles form here and Leesburg is 2 miles from the river.

Opposite us on the other side, there they say the rebels are in force. We may have a job one of these days of cleaning them out over there, that is if we are able, but they need not get up every night on my account, but if they do, I suppose I shall have to have a hand in. Lieut. [Fred Stow] is sick. He went to Washington so I am all alone with the Company, but I get along about as well and sometimes I think better than if either of the other two were here. It is a splendid country around here, you can look for miles around on cleared fields, a grand place for a cavalry charge. We expected to have a fight with Stuart’s cavalry that crossed a few days ago and went into Pennsylvania and stole horses and cattle. They crossed between here and Harper’s Ferry. Poolville is about 1 1/2 miles from here back from the river. Well I believe I have told you all the news now so will close. The boys are all well, as usual and send their respects, hoping this will find you well. I now bid you good day, and remain your friend as ever. Lieut. A. Pew.

I shall be glad at anytime to receive a letter from you and will endeavor to reply . . . if you will write.

Alfred was a witness at the court martial of Lieutenant James Bennett, also of Company B, in May of 1863.

Alfred was reported absent sick in Philadelphia from June 11, 1863, through August – in fact he was admitted on June 14 to Prince Street General Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, suffering from an abscess of the axilla, and transferred on June 15 to the Seminary hospital in Georgetown, and on June 26 was transferred to admitted to the Officers’ General Hospital, Department of Pennsulvania, in Philadelphia. The abscess was openedand by July 21 had healed, but he was suffering from eczema on his elbows and other joints. He was returned to duty on September 3, 1863. Alfred was on detached service in Michigan from December 23, probably recruiting for the Regiment, and was promoted to Captain on January 15, 1864, commissioned November 1, 1863. Alfred was wounded in the head on or about May 5, 1864, at the Battle of the Wilderness. (This was substantiated by Col. Byron Pierce.) He claimed later that he was treated in a field hospital by regimental surgeon Dr. James Grove. He was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.

After the war Alfred returned to Grand Rapids where he was possibly worked for W. T. Powers as a finisher in 1865-66, but eventually wen to work for Nelson Mather (?) & Co., furniture manufacturers in Grand Rapids. By 1870 he was working as a furniture refinisher (he owned some $3500 worth of real estate) and living in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward with his wife and two daughters; also living with them were two of his wife’s family members as well.

Around 1876 or 1877 Alfred moved to Goshen, Indiana and went to work with the Hawks furniture Co. as supervisor of their finishing works. In about 1883 he moved to Grand Island, Hall County, Nebraska, where he was living in 1885 in the house, sign and paper hanging business. He was apparently living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1889 and again in 1891 but listed as “temporarily” residing at Takoma Park, DC. By 1892 he was living at 223 D Street NW in Washington. He was still living in Washington in 1893 and in August of 1895 he was working as a “watchman” at the Bureau of Pensions in Washington and living at 1369 F Street NE; by June of 1898 he was probably residing at 1315 F Street NE in Washington.

By April of 1909 he was living at 738 Cedar Avenue in Long Beach, California. According to his wife, Alfred suffered a “stroke of paralysis” on April 21, 1909. and he was unable to read or write.

In 1888 Alfred applied for and received a pension (no. 322100), drawing $15.00 per month by 1909.

Alfred died on December 12, 1909, in Grand Island, Hall County, Nebraska and was buried on Grand Island cemetery. According to his wife, he died on Sunday morning at about 10:00 am, “sitting in his chair, closed his eyes and just went to sleep, without moving a muscle. His ‘Father’ called him & he went home.”

Lucy also received a pension (no. 703652). In 1916 she was living in Wayne, Michigan, and in 1919 she was living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but by 1920 she was living with her daughter Lillie and her husband in Centralia, Lewis County, Washington.

3 comments:

John R said...

Thanks very much for posting. I am a direct descendant of Alfred Pew through his daughter Della and Lester Rice. This was very good information. I remember that my father had a book (vanity published, I think)that Alfred had written about his war experiences, but can not find it. Are you aware of anything like that?
John Rice

Steve Soper said...

Hi John, I have not heard of Albert's memoirs but would love to see a copy!

Bob Velke said...

I would too! :-)

John, as Steve knows, I am writing a book about recipients of the Kearny Cross, a medal which was awarded to Lt. Pew, among others. I have a photo of him from around the turn of the century. Do you happen to have one of him as a younger man?