Gettysburg ~ NY 42nd Infantry Monument Dedication by artwhiz47

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Gettysburg ~ NY 42nd Infantry Monument Dedication by 


A group of members of the New York 42nd Infantry – the Tammany Regiment – meets for the dedication of its monument on September 24, 1891. My great grandfather James Elson was part of this regiment, & he can be seen in the front row, fourth from left, bearded, wearing a bowler hat & carrying a cane. James was born in England in about 1845, & made his way to the United States as a young lad apprenticed to a man who has been described as a leather-worker & a checkerboard maker, but who appears to have been first & foremost a brute. Though James’s history is hazy, & he never talked much about it to his children, it seems that he escaped this unhappy situation, spent some time at the Newsboys Home in New York, met the son of a Connecticut farmer while there, & ended up working on the Southport farm while in his early teens. He also claimed to have shined Abraham Lincoln’s shoes at one time…. James enlisted in the Union army when the Civil War broke out. He was underage, but he lied about it & was accepted, joining the Tammany Regiment. He was wounded in the head at Antietam (not seriously) & went on to take a bullet in the leg at Gettysburg. Family legend has it that he cut the bullet out himself while in the field, using his trusty penknife. Later, field surgeons wanted to remove the leg, but James refused; the limb healed nicely, & though he’s shown with his cane in the photograph, he never had problems walking.
The regimental monument was dedicated when James was about 45 years old. At this time he was living in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife & family, & he became a successful foreman & inventor for the McLaughlin Brothers toy manufacturers. He also invented a folding lunchbox & a ferryboat gate!
The Tammany Regiment was named for Chief Tamanend of the Lenni Lenape Delaware tribe, a ‘friendly’ (to the British) Indian who lived from about 1628 to about 1698. To see a photo of the beautiful monument itself (the photographer here was more interested in the fellas than in the fantastic sculpture above their heads), see Tammany monument . There is a link above the photo that will take you to more information about the regiment itself.
A photograph of James, in uniform, at age 17, can be seen here .

A short bio, eh? I am Sheila, & I am short.

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Comments

  • Marvin Collins
    Marvin Collinsover 4 years ago

    What a treasure to have Sheila, very interesting history!!

  • Thanks, Marvin. I’m up to my eyeballs in this stuff – am sharing the wealth, so to speak! :)

    – artwhiz47

  • Tom Gomez
    Tom Gomezover 4 years ago

    Wonderful, so nice to have a handle on your family history …

  • Thank you, Tom – may have said before that I’ve become the sort of de facto historian in the family. It’s a mixed blessing; I have the curious & reasonably organized mind for it, but not the room!!!

    – artwhiz47

  • Mike Oxley
    Mike Oxleyover 4 years ago

    What a simply marvellous piece of family history, Sheila, and an absolutely wonderful write up. You certainly have an extensive archive and I would dearly love to see it. I expect it’s just a tad more organised than my old shoeboxes!

  • Thanks, Oxley of Cornball. Do not be deceived – I can say that my shoeboxes are of archival quality, so I’m doing the best I can under trying conditions ~ as I said to Tom above, No Room. Fortunately the house is sturdy & the floors aren’t sagging – yet. My problem is that while I know pretty much where everything IS, it’s such a pain to get to a lot of it that I don’t see it often.

    – artwhiz47

  • oulgundog
    oulgundogover 4 years ago


    Absolutly fantastic Sheila .. Brilliant write up on the history and that photo is a treasure.. i’m ‘gub’ smacked!!

  • Hey! Glad to have smacked yer gub, Dog. Thanks! I have more to add, so try & stay in shape.

    – artwhiz47

  • David Friederich
    David Friederichover 4 years ago

    Yes, brilliant write-up, Sheila. Not only are you a wonderful ornithologist, you are an historian too. What you have done here is just so terrific. I love it!

  • Thanks, David. I am nothing if not a mixed metaphor. I have so many interests, & I always want to know everything – have always been that way!

    – artwhiz47

  • Edengirl
    Edengirlover 4 years ago

    Fantastic photo, Sheila. It’s an amazing historical piece you’ve put together, well done

  • Thanks, Cynthia. I’m really enjoying this aspect of RedBubble – I have most of these family facts at my fingertips, so it doesn’t require much of me to get it all down. But is is enormous fun to rehash it & get it out there! I’m so glad people are taking to it!

    – artwhiz47

  • WatscapePhoto
    WatscapePhotoover 4 years ago

    Excellent bit of familiy history and a great photo. Your great grandaddy, James seems to have been quite a character. Excellent work, Sheila.

  • Thank you, Steve. James was a quick & funny man, so I’ve heard tell, but I wish he’d been more forthcoming with his own history. Would love to fill in a million blanks in his fascinating story. And where in England did he come from – still don’t know after years of searching.

    – artwhiz47

  • Jadon
    Jadonover 4 years ago

    Great shot Sheila..and even more interesting story behind it, thanks for sharing..

  • Thanks, Jason. I love unraveling these Past Lives. I do have James’s military papers, so I know where he was & when during the Civil War. I could write a book – several, in fact!

    – artwhiz47

  • Antanas
    Antanasover 4 years ago

    lovely old photo

  • Many thanks, Antanas.

    – artwhiz47

  • Gene Walls
    Gene Wallsover 4 years ago

    Wonderful photograph, Sheila! It is so rich in heritage and history! …great writeup, too!

  • Thanks, Gene. The original of this photograph is large, mounted on cardboard, & faded badly. I did have an internegative print made of it in b & w, & it is a bit austere & contrasty – great for pulling up certain details, but not quite ‘right’. This one is from a scan that I’ve been able to tweak to my heart’s content. I was really happy with the end result as seen here ~ gets the sepia point across, has some heightened contrast, but doesn’t yell at you!

    – artwhiz47

  • Can you see the resemblance between my great grandfather James (front row, 4th from left) & his granddaughter, my mum, seen here ?

    – artwhiz47

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