Dr. Darius Stoddard and honoring our veterans

A lot of time has passed since my last post! I have moved north to Massachusetts…not far from Connecticut, but a move is a move! I have a quick post regarding a project I am currently working on, which will likely take several years. I have set out to document the final resting places of the Revolutionary War officers from Connecticut who served in the Continental Army or Navy for three years or more, or who died in service to their country. I believe the number of men in this group is nearly 500, so I have my work ahead of me. I am doing this to ensure all these men (or, as many as I can discover) continue to have their grave sites well maintained and decorated, in memory of the sacrifice they made to ensure the establishment of the United States. As I have begun, I have noticed a cousin of mine (many times removed) did not have a marker noting his service. I am glad to say that thanks to the Flag Man, I have corrected this! Picture below:


Mary Ann Goodwin, wife of John W. Stoddard

Not too long ago I wrote a short story of John Washburn Stoddard, my 3rd Great-Grandfather. Much of that story remains the same, clouded with a bit of mystery and several family burial plots sitting unmarked. Until I uncover the mystery behind that story and hopefully someday raise the money to respectfully mark their graves, I can provide short updates on this small part of my family tree.

Mary Ann Goodwin was probably born in Oxford, CT, (as was her mother, Sabra Goodwin), on 14 February 1830/31. Mary Ann’s birth year is a bit confusing because she marked both 1830 and 1831 at different times; the best I can tell is that 1831 is correct, but perhaps she fudged the numbers so when she was married in 1848 it appeared she was 18. Without knowing too much about her, she appears to have been a loving mother and a positive influence on her family. She gave birth to 5 children, only one dying prior to adulthood (John L. Stoddard, died at age 3 years, 9 months – see earlier article on John W. Stoddard). After marrying John in Burlington, CT, in 1848, they lived most of their lives in Farmington. They moved in 1885 due to unknown reasons, although being farmers, perhaps life on the farm became difficult and John needed to seek employment in a different manner; the family moved to Meriden and Mary Ann appears to have been very supportive. After her husband’s death in December 1889, and with her children living in the general area (Waterbury, New Britain, and Meriden), she began living with her children…different children at different times. Her two daughters were not married (one never married, the other a widow) and they provided care and shelter, along with her son Nathan. The end of Mary Ann’s life is difficult to state for certain because she appears mainly in city directories and census reports as a resident, so only her address is known. Her final permanent residence was New Britain, CT, so I visited the town clerk there. Interestingly, they did have a record of her death, but merely a note that advised those concerned to visit Middletown, CT. A very mysterious treasure hunt to be sure…off to Middletown. The town clerk (actually, the Health Dept. in Middletown) had Mary Ann’s death certificate…she spent her final few days and died at the Connecticut Hospital for the Insane, which is why the record of her death was in Middletown, CT.

I was sad to think of Mary Ann’s last days being spent in a hospital for the insane, but at the beginning of the 20th century there were very limited places for adequate care…and mental illness, more than 100 years after Mary Ann’s death, still caries significant stigmas and shame from our society. I read a number of interesting articles online regarding early 20th century care for the mentally disabled (in Mary Ann’s case, likely some form of dementia) and was able to contact the hospital, requesting Mary Ann’s medical record. To my great surprise, after filling out the appropriate paperwork, I received a copy of her record that had been preserved on micro-film. Poor Mary Ann had become overwhelmed with feelings of insecurity and was filled with fear that people were trying to take away the last few things that she held dear. She died after a short stay in the hospital on 3 April 1903, at the age of 73, a little more than a dozen years after the death of her beloved husband. She was buried in an unmarked grave at Riverside Cemetery in Farmington, CT, next to her husband.

The rest of Mary Ann’s family remains a mystery. Her mother’s name was Sabra Goodwin…maiden name unknown. According to Mary Ann’s marriage record, her father’s name was Joseph Goodwin. After several hours of research, it does not appear that there is a Joseph Goodwin who married a woman named Sabra (from Oxford, CT) during the early 19th century, at least not from the well-known Goodwin family of CT, descendants of William and Ozias. There is some evidence that Joseph Goodwin was an immigrant from Canada or perhaps directly from England, but this information is circumstantial at best. If there is a solid connection to be made someday, I will certainly provide an update. For now, this is the story of Mary Ann (Goodwin) Stoddard, quietly resting along a beautiful river in Farmington, CT.

Dr. Darius Stoddard, Revolutionary War Veteran

DStoddardSig2A short biography of Dr. Darius Stoddard is detailed below. Dr. Stoddard is my second cousin, 7x removed. I recently joined the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut as a collateral representative of Dr. Stoddard’s and his service of 5 years as a Surgeon’s Mate and Surgeon in the Continental Army is something I am very proud to honor and remember by telling his story. His resting place is located in the Town Hill Cemetery, Lakeville, CT, in the middle of the beautiful campus of the Hotchkiss School.

DStoddardGraveMkrDarius Stoddard was the fifth of nine children born to Josiah and Sarah (Robbarts) Stoddard, and the fourth of five boys. He was born on 17 May 1754, in Salisbury (LitchfieldCounty) CT. Four of the Stoddard boys served with distinction during the War; elder brothers Luther (2nd LT, Hinman’s 4th CT; Capt., Burrall’s CT Reg.) and Josiah (Capt., 2nd Continental Light Dragoons, died during the War), and younger brother Samuel (Sergt., Warner’s Regt. and 2nd CT Line). His father died in 1764, leaving the 10 year old Darius’ guardianship to the executor of his father’s will. However, upon reaching legal age Darius was able to select his own guardian and chose Nathaniel Buell (Buell would also serve as an officer in the Revolution). The first record of Dr. Stoddard’s service began 1 Jan 1777, as Surgeon’s Mate and Surgeon in the Hospital Department of the Continental Army, at the age of 22. He continued service to the Continental Army, Hospital Dept. for a period of 5 years, serving for some of that time as Surgeon, Col. Henry Jackson’s Regiment. Darius and his two older brothers were widely known and respected for their bravery and patriotic service throughout the war, but the trio was also well known for their quick tempers and unseemly behavior. Although often finding themselves in trouble, Darius generally put his abundant energy to good use throughout his war time service as a Surgeon’s Mate and Surgeon, serving in the Hospital Department throughout much of the war. However, frequent disagreements with fellow patriots were not uncommon and perhaps the most famous incident in his military service occurred in the fall of 1780, when he raised serious charges against his late-brother’s commander, Col. Elisha Sheldon, 2nd Light Dragoons. The conclusion of Sheldon’s general court-martial ended with the Colonel acquitted of all charges, “with honor and approbation” and Stoddard fined for the expenses of the trial for bringing charges deemed without merit. Stoddard married Mary Holley, daughter of John and Sarah (Lord) Holley. Marriage date unknown, and several years after Darius Stoddard’s death, Mary is believed to have wed Elias Hall, of Castleton VT, an officer of the Revolutionary War. After the war, Dr. Stoddard continued to practice medicine in his hometown of Salisbury and in eastern New York until the time of his death. Stoddard and his brother, Luther, joined the Montgomery Lodge of Masons in 1783, the year of the lodge’s founding. The lodge is still active to this day, known as Montgomery Lodge No. 13. As the war ended, he petitioned Congress and the Connecticut State Assembly, finally receiving his back pay earned during the War. However, he became consumed with land speculation deals in Virginia and found himself accumulating great debts, which landed him in jail from time to time. After a brief stay in jail in 1790, he became ill and soon thereafter died of consumption on 12 July 1790. He is buried next to his father in Town Hill Cemetery, Lakeville, CT. His headstone is inscribed with the following words: “In Memory of Doctor Darius Stoddard, who Died July 12th 1790 in the 37th year of his age. Nor shill, nor art the shafts of death can shun, But all alike his Icy arms must try; How short our time, how soon our race is run, Then let’s with care to Christ for shelter fly.”

Sources: CT Adjutants General, Records of Service of Connecticut Men in the War of the Revolution (Hartford CT, 1889) pp. 61, 93, 110, 257, 272, 327, 629; Secretary of the Commonwealth, Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, Vol. 15 (Boston, MA, 1907), p. 62.; Francis Heitman, Historical Register, Officers of the Continental Army (Washington DC. Rare Book Co.  1914) p. 522; Dr. Darius Stoddard, Letter to the CT General Assembly, dated 15 October 1782 (Connecticut State Archives: Revolutionary War, 1763-1789), series 1, roll 23, p. 263; Malcolm Day Rudd, Men of Worth of Salisbury Birth, The Salisbury Quadrimillenium Edition, (The Salisbury Assoc., 1991), p. 157-161; Find-a-grave and gravestone photo, Town Hill Cemetery, Lakeville, CT; Montgomery Lodge No. 13, Lakeville, CT.

John Washburn Stoddard (1826-1889)

John W. Stoddard (my 3rd G-Grandfather) has been an interesting man to investigate…and there is much more to know. John W. was born on 26 Feb 1826 in East Windsor, CT (John Stoddard of Wethersfield, by D. Williams Patterson, 1873) and the date of his death was not quite clear, although often listed as August 1889. Also interesting was his Civil War service in 2nd Light Artillery Regiment of CT…until I discovered a pension record after his death that listed his widow as Martha Matthews Stoddard. John Washburn Stoddard, my ancestor, was married to Mary Ann Goodwin in Burlington, CT, in 1848…so the Civil War soldier pension record pointed to a potential confusion. After digging into the Civil War records and following those leads, I discovered a John W. Stoddard (possibly John Wesley Stoddard) of New Haven, who did marry Martha Matthews, and they are buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, CT…not “my John W.” Back to the drawing board to untangle the tangled records.

What I do know of John Washburn Stoddard is that he married Mary Ann Goodwin in Burlington, CT (I have a certified copy of this). I also know that they lived in Farmington, CT, for several years and he worked as a farmer. I believe they had 5 children, Nathan William Stoddard being one of those children and my 2nd G-Grandfather. One of their children, John L. Stoddard, died very young (3 years, 9 months) in 1856. As I searched for additional details of John W. and Mary Ann Stoddard, the census reports and the city directories led me to Meriden, CT; where for some reason they moved after leaving their farm in Farmington in 1885. John worked at the Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Co., for just a few years until he died on 15 December 1889 (again, I am fortunate to have a copy of his record of death from Meriden). Understandable confusion since the John W. Stoddard of New Haven died in August 1889. But where did my “John W.” go? A thorough search of the cemeteries in Meriden revealed nothing; and then a review of the local papers revealed an obituary that noted “his remains were brought to Farmington” (Meriden Daily Republican, 16 Dec 1889). Back to Farmington!

RiversideCem-Stod2A thorough review of the headstones and cemetery information in Farmington, CT only revealed one family member: John L. Stoddard, died at age 3 years, 9 months. I went out to the Riverside Cemetery to find the young man’s grave, hoping to pay my respects and also to perhaps find some undocumented grave markers close by. I wandered through the cemetery, fascinated by the sheer number of Cowles family members in the Riverside Cemetery, until I finally found the grave marker for young John L. Stoddard. I was quite happy, both in finding his resting place and also for beating the rain that was looming in the dark clouds above my head. I continued to look in the general area for other family members, but found nothing. However, I did discover something quite interesting in the “nothing” that I did find. As the posted picture of the general area reveals, there seemed to be an amazing absence of grave markers around young John L. Stoddard…something didn’t seem quite right here.

RiversideCem-Stod1I returned home and looked up the phone number for the office of Riverside Cemetery. Briefly explaining my research to the kind woman on the phone, I told her I could only find one Stoddard family member in the Riverside Cemetery. She asked me to hold as she retrieved the map of the cemetery for a closer look. After a short review, I heard her say, “no, there are several Stoddard family members buried there, right next to John L. Stoddard.” And not one of them was marked! She proceeded to tell me of the burial spots for John Washburn Stoddard; his wife, “Mrs. John W. Stoddard”; Sabra Goodwin (Mary Ann’s mother); daughters Ella and Jane (known as Jenny); and Dwight James Stoddard. A total of 7 family members buried in a family plot with space for 8, but only John L. had a marker. My sense of discovery was great, but then I quickly wondered why so many family members would be buried without markers on their graves. This, unfortunately, is where the story ends today, but I am still on the search for answers.