Thursday, November 3, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday - a 61st Wedding Anniversary Celebration

It's Treasure Chest Thursday - time to look in my digital image files to see what treasures I can find for my family history and genealogy musings.

This week's "Treasure" is a newspaper report of the 61st wedding anniversary celebration of Augustus and Mary Ann (Allard) Brigham in 1901 in Worcester, Massachusetts, as reported in the Worcester Daily Spy newspaper on 10 November 1901 (accessed on GenealogyBank (

The transcribed article is:

Relatives and Friends of Mr. and Mrs. Augustus Brigham Plan and Execute a Celebration of Their Wedding Anniversary
Mr. Brigham's Comrades in the Grand Army Remembered Their Associate and Among the Warmest Congratulations were Those from the Boys of '61

Mr. and Mrs. Augustus Brigham of 51 Abbott Street celebrated the 61st anniversary of their wedding yesterday.

The celebration took the form of a surprise party for the couple, and the day will be long remembered by both of them.  Sergt. Brigham is 80 years old and his wife is 78.  He is, with one exception, the oldest Grand Army man in the city.

A daughter, Mrs. Hanry L. Engley, who lives with her husband and daughter, Miss Rosa, at 1 Cottage Street, conceived the plan of giving her father and mother a surprise that would be the event of their lives on the occasion of their 61st wedding anniversary.  Mrs. Engley is an invalid, and it was decided to have the celebration at her home.  Mr. and Mrs. Brigham were invited to spend the afternoon and meet a friend or two at the Cottage Street residence.  they came unconscious of the plans and the great surprise in store for them.

On arriving at the home of their daughter they were greeted, not by a few, but by a crowd of friends and acquaintances who gathered to congratulate them on the passing of the day.

The couple were met by their son, J. Augustus Brigham, and Mrs. Brigham of Spencer, Mrs. Sophia Hildreth of Leominster, Miss Hattie Brigham of Leominster, Mr. and Mrs. Adam Shandelmayer of  Springfield, Orlando Engley of West Medway and many others from Fitchburg and Newton.

There was a reception from 3 o'clock until 5 o'clock in the afternoon, and refreshments were served to the guests under the direction of Miss Rosa Engley, assisted by Miss Mertie Webber and Miss Edith Grosvenor.  At Thursday night's meeting of George H. Ward Post. Information had quietly been given concerning the surprise, and Grand Army men went to the house in squads to congratulate their old comrade and his wife and wish them many more celebrations of their wedding anniversary.

Letters were read from Mr. and Mrs. Thomas J. Newton, residing at Albany, Vt., extending congratulations and containing a substantial sum and from Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence of Lowell also containing money.  Mr. Newton is a half-brother of Mr. Brigham, also a veteran of the war, and is blind by reason of his services for the Union.

The reception was informal and was a complete surprise to Mr. Brigham.  In addition to the Grand Army visitors, the aged couple were congratulated by delegations from the Woman's Relief corps, from Maple Lodge of Odd Ladies and from Trinity Church, of which both are members.  There were two anniversary cakes prepared, one for Mr. and Mrs. Brigham and another one for the guests.  They were made by Miss Rosa Engley.  The only two children of the guests of honor, Mrs. Engley and J. Augustus Brigham of Spencer were kept busy telling tales of their father's upright and eventful life.

Augustus Brigham was born in Sterling, but has lived in Worcester for more than 40 years with the exception of a brief period spent in Boylston.  He enlisted in the Twenty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, Company E, in 1861, for three years, and went to the front from Boylston, where he was at that time.  A son, Henry F., now dead, enlisted and endured service with him.  Mr. Brigham was quickly promoted to corporal, but at the battle of Roanoke Island, where Gen. Burnside's army charged through the swamps, he became ill from the effects of disease contracted in the marshes, and was invalided home.  His services were rewarded by prompt promotion and he was made a sergeant during his illness.

As soon as health had been partially restored, Sergt. Brigham decided to enlist again, but his two sons, J. Augustus and Oren W., aged 17 and 15, respectively, bothered him because they determined to follow their father to the front.  He resolved to respect their patriotic wishes and get them sworn in.  He did so with some shame and hesitation, alleging that J. Augustus was 20 and Oren W. was 18 years of age.  Since that time, it is said, he has never told a lie.  Father and sons enlisted in the Fourth Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, Company F, and served until the close of the war in detached service in defense of Washington.  After the war Mr. Brigham returned to Worcester and resumed work at his trade.

Mr. and Mrs. Brigham are both wonderfully preserved for their years.  The former never wore glasses and is able to read as well as anybody without artificial aid.  Mrs. Brigham attends to all the duties of her home and gets about in a manner that would do credit to one much younger.

The reception was continued between the hours of 7 and 9 o'clock last night, when a number of friends of the couple called to pay respects.

Augustus was a step-brother to my second great-grandmother, Sophia (Newton) Hildreth (1834-1923), whose father was Thomas J. Newton, the second husband of Sophia (Buck) Brigham (1797-1882).

This article provided quite a bit of biographical detail about the life of Augustus Brigham,. which I have added to him in my genealogy database.  One of my hopes is that, by publishing information about Augustus, a descendant of Augustus Brigham will contact me for further information, and perhaps has family papers or records about the family, including Thomas J. Newton, the second husband of Sophia (Buck) (Brigham) (Newton) Stone, and the father of Thomas J. Newton (1832-1915) of Albany, Vermont and Sophia (Newton) Hildreth (1834-1923).

I have a list of ten children for Augustus and Mary Ann (Allard) Brigham, and was surprised to read in this article that only two were living in 1901.  I need to find marriage and death records for these children. 

1 comment:

Linda gartz said...

I enjoyed reading this, Randy. It reminded me of a newspaper clipping on my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary (and 50th) that I have in my collection. They were married in 1911, so not as impressively aged as yours, but fun to read!