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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Durham

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 1713-1715 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The Durham ancestors came from England to America. Uzziel Durham, the first member of the family of whom we have information, died March 8, 1828, aged eighty-eight years. His wife, Mary Durham, died April 16, 1806. Among their children was a son Joseph, see forward.

(II) Joseph, son of Uzziel and Mary Durham, was born May 23, 1770, died April 6, 1850. He married Mary Durfee, born July 2, 1780, died June 6, 1858. Children:

  1. Ann, born March 14, 1800;
  2. Stephen, August 8, 1801;
  3. Benjamin, February 25, 1803;
  4. Julia, April 8, 1807;
  5. Durfee, see forward;
  6. Anson, March 24, 1820.

(III) Durfee, son of Joseph and Mary (Durfee) Durham, was born February 28, 1810, in Easton, Washington county, New York, died April 24, 1889. He married, January 30, 1837, Anna Ann Hall, born in Easton, New York, died September 14, 1900. Children, the first eight born in Easton and the two youngest in Hebron:

  1. Richard, May 6, 1838;
  2. Joseph, December 8, 1839;
  3. Dialoan, October 14, 1841;
  4. Stephen, April 20, 1843;
  5. Mary, May 31, 1845;
  6. Albert L., November 1, 1847;
  7. Anna Eliza, December 11, 1849;
  8. Lois Amelia, March 14, 1852;
  9. Emily, June 24, 1854;
  10. George, November 24, 1856.

Rufus Hall, grandfather of Anna Ann (Hall) Durham, was born in Exeter, Rhode Island, June 19, 1747, son of Samuel and Dinah Hall, who were members of the Society of Friends. He appeared in the public ministry in the twenty-sixth year of his age; in 1775 he removed to Easton, New York, and in 1804 removed to Northampton, where he died May 26, 1818, aged seventy years. He married Anna Hoxie, and they were the parents of Richard Hall, father of Anna Ann (Hall) Durham. Richard Hall was born November 19, 1783; married (first) Europa ————, born October 22, 1788; married (second) Rebecca ————; children of first wife:

  1. Hiram, born May 6, 1811;
  2. Susanna, January 1, 1813;
  3. Anna Ann, April 2, 1815;
  4. Emeline, June 27, 1817;
  5. Lois, March 14, 1819;

children of second wife:

  1. Eunice, born July 19, 1825;
  2. Isaac, July 5, 1827;
  3. Mary Antoinette, March 5, 1831;
  4. Rufus, August 24, 1832.

(IV) Richard, son of Durfee and Anna Ann (Hall) Durham, was born May 6, 1838, at Easton, Washington county, New York, died December 9, 1901. He enlisted in Company A, One Hundred and Twenty-third Regiment, New York State Volunteers, from Greenwich and Easton. This regiment was enlisted in Washington county, New York, in August, 1862, mustered into the United States service, September 4, 1862, joined the Army of the Potomac. It was engaged in the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg in May and July, 1863; was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland, was engaged in the campaign of the Carolinas, and mustered out at Washington, D. C., at the close of the war, June 8, 1865. Its first camping ground was Capitol Hill, Washington, where it remained until September 17, drilling, equipping and performing camp guard duty; it next went to Arlington Heights, where it drilled until September 29, and from there pitched camp in Pleasant Valley. Here the regiment was assigned to the Second Brigade (Brigadier-General Thomas C. Kane), First Division (Brigadier-General A. S. Williams), Twelfth Corps (Major-General H. W. Slocum). The regiment went into camp in Loudon Valley during the months of November and December, 1862, and was thoroughly drilled; on January 24, 1863, the regiment went into camp at Stafford Court House to remain for the winter. On the morning of April 27, 1863, orders came to pack up and move on the thirtieth; it struck the Fredericksburg plank road, and here was ordered to silence a battery worked by rebel cavalrymen, which they did — this was the first time the boys had been under fire. It was the beginning of the Chancellorsville battle. On May 3, 1863, the battle commenced and raged with great fury for more than four long hours, and finally ended in repulse (although the boys fought like Spartans) and were ordered back behind their breastworks, where many of their brave comrades lay dead and many were wounded; this ended the battle, with one hundred and thirty-five killed, wounded and missing.

The following is an account of the battle of Gettysburg: July 1, 1863, the regiment struck the road leading to Gettysburg; news came from the front that our forces were engaging the rebels near Gettysburg, near Spangle Springs; they threw up breastworks, making works that would stand a shell; on July 3, at 1 o'clock p. m., the enemy opened fire with one hundred and fifty guns on the center and left, the position of General Hancock's corps; the Union batteries, equal in number and calibre, replied promptly, and for the following two hours the earth shook and trembled under the feet of the two armies with the terrible concussion; the air was filled with iron missiles; forest trees were riven and torn and splintered as if struck by lightning: shells fell thick and fast around the regiment, three hundred pieces of artillery were in action, and such a terrific roar was never heard before and probably never will be heard again. Another sharp fight occurred later in the afternoon, driving the rebels back with great slaughter; this ended the terrible Gettysburg battles. On July 4th large details were made to bury the dead, and this duty occupied the entire day. The corps to which the regiment belonged buried that day fifteen hundred dead rebels: the dead lay in every imaginable shape. On Cemetery Hill and in the National Cemetery now sleep the brave boys who fell at Gettysburg; here repose the precious offerings laid upon the altar of the country by the loyal states: there they lie, those of the rank and file, "Unknown"! "Unknown"! the only epitaph of hundreds. Eight hundred and sixty-seven dead sons was the sacrifice which New York gave at this battle; the One Hundred and Twenty-third Regiment lost twelve in killed and wounded. New York furnished four hundred and forty-eight thousand eight hundred and fifty men to repress the rebellion; ninety-two separate commands were engaged in this battle.

Richard Durham, as corporal, participated in the battle of Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863; battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863. He was also engaged under General Sherman in Georgia as follows: Battle of Resaca, Georgia, May 15, 1864, with eight men killed and wounded; battle of Cassville, May 19, 1864, the regiment gaining this battle without loss of life and took possession of Cassville, the enemy falling back; battle of Dallas, or New Hope Church, May 25, 1864, killed and wounded in this division nine hundred and fifty men; battle of Culp's Farm, June 22, 1864, in this fight the regiment losing forty-eight men killed and wounded and missing, while only eighty-three men were lost in the entire brigade; after the battle the boys buried their comrades, burying them in their army blue where they fell fighting the foe. The boys were thoroughly exhausted by the incessant marching, exposure and privation of a fifty-nine days campaign. Corporal Richard Durham was taken prisoner at the latter-named battle, was confined in Andersonville prison, and was prisoner of war until close of hostilities, June 8, 1865. He made several attempts to escape, but was each time recaptured; on his way to prison he jumped from a moving train, shots were fired after him, missing their mark; he ran to the woods, bloodhounds were put on his track, which chased him up a tree, and at the point of bayonets he surrendered; he escaped again, living on berries and persimmons for four days, at the expiration of which time nature gave out; he then went to a southern home for food and gave himself up. Another time he managed to secure a rebel suit, and went into their camp, but when roll call came was unable to give a rebel name and was arrested for a spy and sentenced to be shot, when a hasty call came for more men, and for some reason, which he never learned, his life was spared and he was made a prisoner again. He made two other unsuccessful attempts, after which he concluded it was impossible to reach the Union army.

Andersonville Prison, Georgia, was one of the worst during the civil war. A brute named Wirz, the keeper, will go down in history for his inhumanity to the men; he placed the slop houses over the little stream of water running through the stockade, polluting the water used for all purposes. While Corporal Durham was confined there, after a hard shower one night, a pure flow of water burst forth from a rise of ground within the stockade: the prisoners named it "the Providential Spring," and spoke of it with great reverence. Who will say this was not the work of a kind heavenly Father to place pure water within impossible for the cruel Wirz to pollute; it was still flowing at the close of the war. In this prison pen many of our noble boys were laid to rest through exposure, starvation and the dread disease, scurvy, with the added brutalities of Captain Wirz, the Swiss keeper, who showed a fiendish delight in adding to the tortures of those committed to his care, and who richly merited being tried and sentenced to the hanging which he suffered, November 10, 1865. He was the only person executed for the part he took in the war.

At the close of the war, Corporal Richard Durham returned to his father's home in North Hebron, Washington county, New York, and remained there until March 12, 1868, the date of his marriage to Rosalinda, daughter of Daniel and Lucina (Woodard) Braymer. The following eleven years he engaged in farming in Hebron, New York, then removed to Salem, Washington county, where he engaged in the feed business for three years. He then went west and entered into partnership with Daniel Braymer, his brother-in-law, in the ranch and cattle business in New Mexico, continuing for ten years. He then returned to Hebron, New York, and engaged in the general grocery business in Granville, continuing for seven years. He was a man of sterling worth, honorable and upright in all his dealings, charitable and kind hearted, giving liberally to all good works. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Granville, and was a Republican in politics. He served as captain on the round-ups in New Mexico, and as assessor and supervisor for two terms in the town of Hebron. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons. The widow of Corporal Durham resides in Granville.

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