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16th Vermont Infantry
Biography

Hezron George Day

In addition to a biography of Hezron Day's family, below, we are privileged to present his correspondence covering the entire nine months of his service, and his memoir of the Gettysburg Campaign.

Jarusha French (7) {Calvin (6), Josiah (5), Josiah (4), Jonathan (3), Joseph (2), Richard (1)}, was born in Proctorsville, Vt. 16 Sept., 1843. She was known by her family as "Rusha". She was married at Cavendish, (by her father, Judge Calvin French), 26 Jan., 1870, Hezron George Day of Plymouth, Vt. (b. Plymouth, 4 June, 1841, son of George Washington & Sarah Anna (Sargeant) Day).

To Jarusha----My Daughter---- on her Wedding Departure From Her Beloved Home (from Father, Calvin French) Do they miss me at home? I am wont to inquire When assembled all quiet, Around the hearth fire; In their nice Rocking chars, Dear Father and Mother, By the organ and gate, Beloved Sister and Brother.

Each morning, each evening; In sunshine or showers, I Fancy each dear one, Recall the sweet hours; Of Infancy's foibles, of childhood pursuits, Of maidenhood's employments, The soldiers brave looks; Of the last one in battle; His country to save; Of the terrible anguish, To know not his grave; All this and far more, Than my pen can impact By the Love ones at home, Is enshrined in my heart.

Hezron Day was a Civil War soldier. He had volunteered for service at Plymouth, Vt., and was mustered into the 16th Regiment, Company "C", 1st Vt. Volunteers of the Grand Army of the Republic on 29 August, 1862. The men of this company were all local friends and acquaintances with 102 of them signing up about the same time. They were mustered into action exactly two months later on 29 Oct., 1862. They fought bravely at the Battle of Gettysburg-- one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Hezron made it through and served about a year-- which was his enlistment period, and was mustered out of service with a majority of his company on the 10th of August, 1863. He wrote a letter to his mother every week in fulfillment of a promise he made to her before he left Plymouth. Many of the letters were written in pencil as he used the bottom of a barrel as a table while stationed in the field. At times he used ink he and his friends had concocted from a wild berry they found in the Virginia woods. He speaks in the letters of all the happenings and maneuvers of this company-- the day to day struggle to make it through the war and fight the battles necessary to win the peace. His letters are extraordinary candid. The story they tell is the account of all the young Vermont boys of Weston, Ludlow, Cavendish, Plymouth, and Andover, who joined up in the same group together and experienced the same hardships.

Jarusha attended the District school in Proctorsville and was such a studious young scholar she was able to teach her Proctorsville district school by the time she was 16 years old. She also taught at various times the district schools of Cavendish, Springfield, Ludlow, and Chester in Windsor County, and Athens (Windham County) Vermont. During the year of 1867 she was in the west teaching in Cambridge, Illinois. She had inherited from a long line of New England ancestry many characteristic qualities and was prudent, practical, positive and out-spoken when principle was involved, but ever kindly in thought and liberal in views.

Hezron came back from the war and settled in his home town of Plymouth where he took up farming. In due course he decided he wanted to learn the mercantile trade and went to work as a clerk in Cavendish at Robbins & White store. This is where Hezron met and fell in love with Jarusha. For many years the young people maintained a congenial friendship. It was through a dedicated term of letter writing -- over three years duration -- that the two became better acquainted and pledged their love for each other. This wonderful collection of 'courting letters' have been preserved with the French family correspondence.

Jarusha and Hez were married in Proctorsville by Jarusha's father Judge French. She was 27 years old, and Hez was 29. Immediately after their marriage the happy couple moved north to Bradford where Hezron had already opened a drug store, or "apothecary" operating under the name of H. G. Day, Dealer in Drugs and Medicines, Paints and Oils. The Days found Bradford a charming village which was about 100 years old, and located on a big bend in the Connecticut River. After a few years in Bradford, Hez and Rusha had constructed a large house on the Main Street which is still known as "The Day House". Their four children were born in the house. During their tenure in Bradford they made frequent trips by train and stage back home to Proctorsville for family gatherings. After Judge French's death and considering Hez had long suffered from asthma, the family decided to follow his doctor's advice and move to a more favorable climate. They had lived in Bradford for eighteen years before moving to Beatrice, Nebraska in 1888. Mr. Day opened a pharmacy in Beatrice and moved his family into a house located at 822 North 8th Street where they lived until Jarusha's death. Jarusha often visited her old home in Vermont and spent summers here with her mother, sister, cousins, and her children. Proctorsville, 12 June, 1891: "Mrs. Hezron Day with two children from Beatrice, Nebraska, came Saturday evening, intending to spend most of the summer with her mother-- Mrs. Valeria French."

Jarusha was a good neighbor first of all, and both she and the four children whom she reared, took decided interest in intellectual and humanitarian movements and were active in civic life. It was a French family trait, and an example for each succeeding generation. Thoroughly patriotic and so possessed of the ideals of our Revolutionary forefathers, Jarusha naturally was one of those to take great interest in the D.A.R. and Elizabeth Montague Chapter of Beatrice, Nebraska was organized at her home Jan. 19, 1904.

From: Memories of Jarusha written 12 May, 1910 to her niece Georgie French, daughter of George B. French: "The only old home that I can remember is the long, low cottage in Proctorsville that, you know, where your grandmother [Valeria Blood French] still lives and which has been her home for nearly or quite seventy years. I was born there, but your father was born at his grandfather Blood's [Zaccheus & Experience (Proctor) Blood]-- the old brick house [on High Street in Cavendish] which burned several years ago. Our mother was a second wife and her marrying my father met with much dissatisfaction from his step-mother-in-law [Amy (Brown) Matthewson French], who had "other plans" for Calvin who was her step-son as well as her son-in-law. [Amy's daughter, Jarusha Matthewson was Calvin's first wife and Amy was Calvin's father's third wife]. He [Calvin] had one little crippled son, four years old when he married my mother [this was Charles M. French]. Mother [Valeria] was only twenty when she married, and I have often thought what an undertaking it was for a girl of that age to take charge of the poor little step-son, especially under such circumstances. Father was ten years older than mother but for all that I think, it was an unusually happy union, for I have heard mother say since father died in 1879 that she could not remember that he had ever spoken a cross word to her and that was surely a very uncommon record for they lived together almost fifty years."

Excerpts from: Mrs. Jarusha French Day's October, 1905 address to the Beatrice, Nebraska Women's Club entitled: AS OUR SERVANTS SEE US, ".... one of the pleasantest memories of my far distant childhood is of a pleasant-faced young Irish girl, Bridget Moyland, who came to live in my father's family when I was about eight years old. [Bridget went to work in Proctorsville for the French family in October of 1852, per Valeria's letter of that date., and left the French employ in April of 1855] It think she was probably very fresh from the sod of old Ireland - she was one of the best tempered, kindest, most willing girls it has ever been my lot to know. A dollar and a half a week was her wage and for this she worked from early dawn until everything was done at night. I don't remember that she asked or expected a day off. I don't think it was customary in those primitive days. She and an older sister who worked in the same village, Proctorsville, for the same price, saved enough money to bring from the old country their old father and mother and younger brother and sister. Well I remember their arrival after the anxious weeks of watching which was most heartily shared by the whole neighborhood, so closely woven were the interests of mistress and maid in those early days. [Bridget's father was Michael Moyland and he died in Cavendish, 8 Aug., 1867. Bridget must have married and left Cavendish after she left the French family service. The 1870 census of Cavendish shows the James Maloney family living in Proctorsville. James' wife was Mary Moyland, probably Bridget's sister. Also living in this household was Bridget Whalen Moyland (age 65), born in Ireland in 1805] Class distinction was very faint. Eating at the same table and sitting evenings with the paper. Bridget was one of the family and no one thought her out of place. Horrors! My father and mother looked after her interests as though she were a younger sister or a daughter and she repaid their interest by most faithful service."

Jarusha French Day died 28 Jan., 1916.

From her obituary: "... poor health and almost total loss of sight did not deter her from a keen interest in current events nor lessen her intellectual activity. She was an effectual, efficient leader of the current events department of the Woman's Club at a time when she could only recognize friends across the room by their voices. About four years ago, at the ripe old age of seventy, she accompanied her husband to a claim near Wood, South Dakota, at which place she died 28 Jan., of this year, after an illness of only a few hours. Besides her husband, H.G Day, she leaves to mourn her death two sons and two daughters: George C. Day, Captain of the USS Brooklyn; Warren F. Day of Lincoln, Nebraska; Anna Valeria, Dean of Women, Wisconsin State Normal School; and Mrs. Helen D. Coon, Spokane, Washington. Mrs. Day was a woman of strong personality and vigorous mentality and possessed a cheerful quiet courage not easily daunted, that was an inspiration to all who knew her."

After Jarusha's death, Hezron spent his summers in Hot Springs, South Dakota at the Battle Mountain Sanitarium and his winters with his son Warren's family in Lincoln, Nebraska. Excitement came about on 18 Aug., 1926, when a very distinguished visitor arrived at the soldier's home in Hot Springs. It was none other than President Calvin Coolidge. He was on a trip touring Yellowstone National Park with Mrs. Coolidge and their son John. They arrived at Hot Springs by special train where thousands of cheering fans gave them welcome and the bands played and flags waved. "Stop," said the President, suddenly. "Didn't I hear something about a veteran from my old home town?" So the auto cavalcade motored to the Battle Mountain Sanitarium while attendants put in a hurry call for the 'feller from Plymouth, Vermont'. Hezron G. Day, the aged veteran of the Union Army, was surprised beyond expression when the President walked in and singled him out. "Pull up a chair," said the President. "Did you know my father?" "Indeed I did, Mr. President," said Mr. Day, "and your grandfather too. I visited often with him and with your mother." "Been back there lately?" "No, Mr. President, but tell me, how's your Uncle John Wilder and Aunt Sarah and all the folks in Plymouth?" The two Vermonters chatted there for 15 minutes, interrupting a program which the people of the mountain resort had been weeks in the making.

Hezron G. Day, Civil War soldier and Plymouth, Vermont native, died in Lincoln in 1932 and his body was carried back to Bradford, Vermont where he was buried.

The following is a letter from Edith Day to Helen Day Coon concerning Hezron's death:

"Wednesday Night--: Dearest Helen: Father died in my arms at one thirty today. He came down from Hot Springs alone on Sunday and showed up in a taxi about two o'clock. We had had no word and didn't know he was expecting to come. He was awfully tired all day Sunday and Monday, but by yesterday he seemed to feel quite himself again and enjoyed having the paper read to him. This morning he started to get dressed but went back to bed and asked me to get him some of his asthma medicine. It was then just time to get the boys to school and I got the medicine on the way home and gave him a good smoke and his breathing got easier. He didn't want the doctor and seemed very comfortable but was persuaded to stay in bed. He ate quite a little lunch and then about one o'clock, tried to get up and I ran in to help him and he sank in my arms. I called Bailey's and Dr. Flanagan was here in five minutes but he had ceased to breathe by the time she got here. He was not in pain and his asthma seemed no worse than usual, but he just hadn't strength to fight longer.

We all mourn him deeply. He had the visit he wanted with Warren and seemed very happy to be here. How thankful we all are he did reach us and that we could be sure he was loved and cared for at the end. Warren had to go out to Mr. Cook's yesterday and had only reached Lincoln about two o'clock. The man at the office located him and after some delay with the car he got home before father was taken away. Father had told me several times that he wished to be buried beside mother. He was so sweet this morning Helen, and said once, "You've always been very kind to me Edie, I don't want to make you trouble" and I was so glad to be of any use at all to him! I didn't dream he was so near the last for many many times he has seemed far more ill and then felt much better in a day. He has had a lonely time, in spirit, and I knew he was very, very tired of the long struggle with the asthma. He told me the news you wrote him last and was eager to hear the letter George wrote to Margaret this week. Lovingly yours, Edith.

Day Children (born Bradford, Vt.):

1. George Calvin Day, b. 8 Nov., 1871

2. Anna Valeria Day, b. 4 July, 1874

3. Robert Ichabod Day, b. 28 May, 1878. From a note written by Hezron G. Day dated at Bradford, Vt., 13 May, 1879, to George French in Woodstock, Vt: ".... : Little Robert passed away last evening. His troubles are all over. We bury him tomorrow afternoon. We shall miss him very much. [I] have telegraphed Proctorsville and do not know but the news may find you there. Yours Truly, H. G. Day." little Robert d. 12 May, 1879 (age two months shy of one year)

4. Warren French Day, b. 17 June, 1883

5. Helen Grace Day, b. 29 Oct., 1886

Families of Cavendish, Vol. 3, compiled by Linda M. F. Welch, published by the Cavendish Historical Society, Cavendish, Vt. 1999. Used with permission.