Sunday, November 8, 2009
General John E. Mulford
As the Town Historian, I am always curious about the families of our earliest settlers. As a result,I sometimes uncover little known facts about these people and their descendants. Such is the case of General John E.Mulford who was the grandson of Dr. Ezekiel and his wife Nancy (Lindsley) Mulford and the Gt.Grandson of Colonel Eleazer Lindsley (founder of Lindley.)
Recently,the Leader had a small advertisement stating that the home of General Mulford was for sale in the Watkins area. A call to the real estate agent-(Ed Atwell)resulted in his sending photos of the house and the question-"did I know anyone who might be interested in buying the home."
My question was "Who was General Mulford?" A little genealogical research and googling revealed an interesting story.
According to Uri Mulford-(another descendant)who wrote a Mulford genealogy "Colonial Ancestors and Descendants"," General Mulford was the son of Castilla (commonly known as the Major) and Sabrina Sheppard. He had charge of the exchange of prisoners during the Civil War and was confidential representative of President Lincoln in secret matters taken up with the Confederate administration. His home was in Montour Falls. He organized and was President of the company that built the Elmira and Watkins trolley line and was manager until his death. He ,also. was President of Cook Acadamy."
Looking further - I found I had the General's obituary which had been donated to the Town files by Bob Deneen, the great grandson of Uri Mulford. This confirmed the involvement of General Mulford in the exchange of prisoners in the Civil War-along with some other interesting facts.The obituary names his father as Jonathon.
For those interested in the Civil War- apparently this gentleman played a very important role in prisoner exchange. The obituary states that General Grant asked President Lincoln to appoint someone to organize and pursue efforts to exchange prisoners. This person was to be General Mulford after being interviewed by Lincon and Grant. The obituary goes on to say that when he tried to meet with General Lee as Major Mulford, , he was kept waiting for a week and was finally granted an audience only after sending the message that he would stay until he was received. His duties caused him to make many trips back and forth through the battle lines to visit prisons and keep a full account of all exchanges of prisoners. He reported to Secretary of War- Stanton. The article says he gained considerable information on his trips to the prisons. He was promoted to rank of General by Linclon in 1864 for his services -after having served in the various lower ranks of the army. He remained in the Virginia area until 1867,when all prisoners exchanges had been completed. 125 commissioned officers and a large body of regular troops were exchanged through his efforts.
As Captian Mulford, John raised the first company of enlistment at Havana(Montour Falls)in April 1861. The 100 man Regiment left Havana in May 1861 for Albany ,New York where they joined the 3rd Regiment of New York Volunteers,the first Regiment organized in New York State. They were the first troops ordered to Fortress Monroe.
As a youth, the General started as a clerk working in the lumbering industry and manufacturing industries. In 1877, he became President an iron works.An obituary found on the Internet from the New York Times states "he was President and Director of the Prentiss Vice Company ,and of the Lewis Tool Company, Vice president and Director of the Elmira and Seneca lake Railway Company and a director of the General Pneumatic Tool Company."
The General was born in Lawrenceville,Pennsylvnia on February 26, 1829 and died at his home in Montour Falls,New York October 18,1908. The obituary states" The General and his wife Francis (Goodwin) Mulford spent the greater portion of their 54 years of marriage in their pleasant home in Montour Falls." "It is a chosen spot which the General never tired of endeavoring to beautify and its spacious grounds bear evidence of this ,in their floral beauty of today". The Mulfords had 1 son and 2 grandchildren when he died.
The General must have been held in high esteem as businesses closed ,the flag flew at half mast and the railroad cars were draped in mourning the day of his funeral.
So one never knows what type of interesting stories abound when you start researching. There are more stories about the Mulford descendants- but that will be another "the rest of the story"