Frank C Heermans in the Civil War

153 years ago today, Frank C Heermans died 10 Jul 1864 at Andersonville prison. He was born born c. 1842 to of Abraham, son of William (my ancestor), son of Abraham Heermans of Kingston, a soldier in the Revolutionary War. The below letter to his cousin William G Hall was written a month before his regiment would fight in Gettysburg. I do not know if that’s when he was captured. The scans were sent to me by my distant cousin Peggy Duff, who I believe got them from the Dutchess County Historical Society.

Headquarters 20th Regt N.Y.S.M.

Camp A Halls landing at the mouth of the Potomic Crick Vir. June the 5, 1863

Dear Cousin

I take this opportunity to answer your last letter wich I received last night it found me as well as can be expected for a souldier hoping that these few lines will find you and all the rest of the friends at home the same, you wrote your letter the same day that we was fighting the battle of Fredericksburg (December 1862) I presume that you saw the full particulars of the fight in the papers, but for all that I’ll try to give you a little discription of the fun that I passed through. We crossed the river on Friday at one O’ck and at three O’ck we had the most of our troops acrossed then the rebils commenced to shell us, the first one that they shot bursted over our heads the second one come very near killing the colonel of the 23rd Regt he was siting on his horse behind me some three ro…(?) it just passed his head and bursted it wounded two men in his regt by this time our battaryes open upon them and silenced them, then we was marched some two miles farther down the river, they did not trouble us eny more that night. The nex morning we packed up redy for a fight, at nine O’ck the ball commenced we was under constant fire untill after dark, at three O’ck in the afternoon there was three Co of our Regt was ordered out to a road as fi…(?) the Companies was A. R. J. we was on the left and just before we reached the road John R. Margas and Nickle Gilroy got shot John R. got shot in the arm and Gilroy in the cheek we laid three days and three nights in front of the enemy and it seemed like three weeks to us, we lost only some thirty men in our Regt, but thank God I never want to see another such a fight for I can’t begin to discribe it to you, a Saturday night we laid in a ditch and you could hear the wounded boy groaning and hollowing for help, but the nex morning we took care of them a Monday night we crossed the river and cheeted rebs, we have bin here I believe ten days. To day we are doing extry duty at present unloading boats with army supplies such as hay, Oats, Corn Be (?) but the word is now that we are agoing back to General Burnsides headquarters to do guard duty to wich is only six miles from here so now I must draw my scribling to a close for I don’t believe that you can read half of it

Please wright soon and oblige your sincere friend and Cousin

F C Heermans to William G Hall

The below information about the 20th NY is from the New York State Military Museum.

(The 80th Infantry Regiment of the Twentieth New York State Militia; Ulster Guard) was active at South mountain and Antietam, encamped at Sharpsburg for one week and marched through Crampton’s gap, Leesburg, Warrenton and Stafford Court House to Fredericksburg, where it participated in the battle. Winter quarters were established soon after near Hall’s landing and occupied until Jan. 7, 1863, when the 80th was assigned, to the provost guard brigade, with headquarters at Brooks’ station and remained on duty at army headquarters until after the battle of Chancellorsville. In June, 1863, the regiment was assigned to the 1st brigade, 3d division, 1st corps, and was closely engaged at Gettysburg, where it lost 170 killed, wounded or missing out of 287 engaged. It suffered most severely in the repulse of Pickett’s charge on the last day. After the battle of Gettysburg, the 80th was again ordered to headquarters for provost guard duty and continued in this service until the end of the siege of Petersburg, when it shared in the final assault, April 2, 1865.

Log of Earl W Baker 4/5/1917 – 4/17/1917

April 5th, 1917

Balances off. G H L. Co talks of guarding central station using own men. Crude reasoning.

April 7th, 1917

Bal. off I – cash posted up to date. I readings posted.

April 8th, 1917

Easter Sunday. Elmer preached on “Arise America”

April 9th, 1917

Invited by Marion Fleming to attend High School society dance. Enjoyed same immensely. British are making gains.

April 10th, 1917

British drive still continues. Saw a dandy play “Capt. Kidd, Jr.”* funny, sentimental, fine.

*Made into a movie in 1919 with Mary Pickford, only 2 of 5 reels survive. Spoilers: the protagonists dig for treasure which turns out to be a note saying the “real” treasure is “the good health (they) will have from all of the exercise spent digging.”

April 11th, 1917

J.R. called on Wilson – offered his plan of volunteer army to go in advance of regular army. Col. Watterson writes a striking editorial advocating furtherance of J.R’s offer. “J.R. has a positive genius for the spectacular.”

Saartje note: Any WWI buffs got any idea who JR is?

Sun. April 15th, 1917

Congress – ie the House unanimously passed the 7 million war loan bill. Sat. Aunt Carrie arrived, that eve. I went out to Vassar to arrange meeting Sun.

Sun. A.M. went to Shear’s class then to hear Elmer on “Standards”. Helen V came for dinner – we went walking P.M. seems an agreeable all-round girl. Work statements off -began billing on 14th.

April 17th, 1917

Joined Provisional Company – given a good healthy setting up drill. Billed B on 16th. Posted same today.

Log of Earl W Baker 3/12/1917 – 4/4/1917

March 12, 1917

Posted most of 10th cash. Am downstairs. Went to Library. Noted article in Collier’s in favor of broad general business knowledge & contra specialization. Met M. R. who introduced me to Miss Ginsberg. M. R. is verbose – friendly. Studied Coml. Course slightly (?)* 11 P.M.

*the (?) was his note

March 17, 1917

Russia is in the way of becoming a Republic. The reigning house have abdicated in favor of the Duomo. All with comparatively little bloodshed or interval of time. So the Great War here accomplishes democracy, and turns history into a new period.

Tonight, Wilton Lackage, courtly villian & Blanche Bates in 11 P.M. Plot risque, acting superb.

Billiard – Highland & Hyde Park. N Hamburg/2. Too many sweets.

Opened Coml. Course books last eve. Am appreciating the book “Fellow Captains” by S Cleghorn. New thought in variations. Veget. diet still dormant. Am over indulgent. 12 PM

Am slack and not progressing; sheer impotence.

Wilson has called for an extra session.

April 2nd, 1917

Wilson made a wonderful speech to Congress – calm, logical, coherent, and clear cut in its definitions. His peroration “from Luther” is Lincolnesque in its eloquence.

April 3rd – 4th, 1917

Congress declared war – first the senate -latter the House where pacifists mustered 50 strong. The Pres. has signed the declaration & the allies are rejoicing. 5 Billion $ will be raised of which 3 will go as loan to the allies.

The conscription problem holds the stage. Considerable opposition may loom up against service abroad. Teddy R. is for once with the administration as are Taft & Bryan who has offered his services as private.

Poughkeepsie Female Academy – 2



Back in 2015 I published letters to my 2nd great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Knickerbocker of Madalin (Tivoli), Dutchess County, NY from her classmates at the Poughkeepsie Female Academy sent between 1853 and 1855.

The first article about the school is here.

Recently, I found a brochure and a sort of program tucked in with things belonging to her (then future) husband Dr. John E Losee of Upper Red Hook.  Below are the pages from the “program”, and below that are three pages from the “brochure” which is undated, but is definitely of the same period.

Log of Earl W Baker 2/25/1917 – 3/11/1917

Feb 25, 1917

Sat. billed and posted parts of G, K & L. eve – Liberty with Lewis. Sun. Shear at Trinity held forth on moral fibre not being spared from temptation but trial by fire & emergence of the man. Also the key to success being desires & determination. (Power of will). Then to hear Elmer on Spiritual Reserves, the backing of the fine things of life – appreciations – culture – art, etc. when our first best fails us. In PM went with Lewis to station and up to H.A.R. cottage tastefully arranged & furnished some original ideas & work – fine view. Enjoyable afternoon – listening to myself talk. Am beginning to appreciate results of thrift. 11:45 P.M.

Feb 26, 1917

Accomplished nothing all day at office. Are changing over downstairs. Holland, it seems certain, must enter the war – 7 of her vessells were sunk. Eng. is impatient over US attitude Wilson addressed Congress to ask for armed neutrality & merchant marine convoys. Must get in some health methods in Mar. diet, excercise, etc.

March 11, 1917

Sat. I bal. “I”. Sun. arose late. to church – read “Gueed”* Walked with Lewis — The last week or so have been sunk in sensu ✱  but am now erect once more. Last Sun. heard Rabbi Wise, a liberal Jew, proclaim his kinship to the unitarians. Last Thur. heard a concert by Burr, Campbell, etc. Last Mon. Lyman Howes movies**, attended two dances.

Am going downstairs in office tomorrow. 11 P.M.

*his Rs look nothing like the U-shape in this word

**Lyman Howe, early movie-mogul showed films with a phonograph playing music and sometimes Foley sound effects and his own narration. The shows would travel to a given location to be screened. More info at Explore PA History site.

Log of Earl W Baker 2/19/1917 – 2/23/1917

Feb. 19, 1917

Billed B started to post G. Eve attended lecture at YMCA by Vining. He preached gospel of the strenuous enthusiastic sacrificing radical life scoffed at will power love as the pilot* and proclaimed desire & ideals as the real dynamics of life. Preached new thought – self affirmation – eliminate failure from vocabulary by substituting “arrested success”. Endorsed H Munsterberg & H Bergson**. 11 P.M.

*”love as the pilot” was written in with a caret and not that legibly. As this sentence makes no sense, it’s probably wrong.

**Hugo Münsterberg German-American psychologist and college mentor of the guy who created Wonder Woman “one of the pioneers in applied psychology, extending his research and theories to Industrial/Organizational (I/O), legal, medical, clinical, educational and business settings” (Wikipedia) and Henri Bergson “known for his influential arguments that processes of immediate experience and intuition are more significant than abstract rationalism and science for understanding reality.” (Wikipedia)

Feb. 22, 1917

Tuesday – posted G. – in eve went to “Pals First” with Courtenay & Wise*. Had ½ opportunity for acquaintance – maybe with more ease, savoir-faire, etc. Wed posted I – billed H. Rutherfords in eve. Am sensu-plus.** Thur. posted H. eve Institute at High School – “King” on Eyes that See not & Ears that hear not. Fluent flowery facile oratory. 11 P.M.

*Assuming this was a play. Seems to have been made into a movie in 1918 and again in 1926.

**Maybe Latin for “more sensible”?

Feb. 23, 1917

Fri. took of sales G& I ✱ Must commence a rigid food basis – no meat, tea or coffee, cake, pie or sweets & less quantity. 10:45 P.M.

(Saartje’s note: I am eating a huge chocolate chip cookie while typing this)

Log of Earl W Baker 2/12/1917 – 2/18/1917

Feb. 12, 1917

8.15 Ex. Sun bath, walk, read. History of the Fabian Society* in P.M. Went to Spring Lake – found myself a poor skater – need more winter exercise & fresh air. – was below zero all day. Movie in eve. Typed a few lines. 10.00

Skates 40, car 5, movies 10, chocolate 5 (60₵)

Feb. 13, 1917

7.30 Ex. To work late – was called. Must improve this. Nation seems to be marshaling its resources for war. Went to Richardson’s in eve. Have a 3 led. cash posted up to Dis. Per.

75₵ 11.30 P.M.

Feb. 18, 1917

Have been ill. Stomach – after reception at Rutherfords 95 – Wed. Thur 0 & Fri 25, ill – posted cash up. Sat 40₵ took of discts – 17th on recap & all statements. G/2 billed. Sun. Trinity SS & enjoyed Shear Morn. Ser. at Bap. Church. P.M. Liberty service.

Wasted day in general – but finished Pease’s History of the Fabian Society. 11 P.M.


*Per Wikipedia: “The Fabian Society is a British socialist organisation whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism via gradualist and reformist effort in democracies, rather than by revolutionary overthrow.”

Earl W Baker – Biography

Earl Wheaton Baker was born in Salt Point, NY on 6 November 1893, the only child of jeweler Charles Vassar Baker and Anna Reid. In 1900 they lived at 460 Main St. in Poughkeepsie and Earl’s paternal grandmother Mary F Vassar was in the house with them. Earl married Ruth S Baldwin (born 25 May 1894) on 29 May 1919 and they had one child: James Gordon Baker born 31 Jul 1926. Gordon later removed to the midwest and was living in Minnesota in 1973 when his father died.

In 1920 Earl lived on Lexington St in Poughkeepsie with his new wife and widowed father. Earl was a bookkeeper with a “Gas Company” (Central Hudson-proper didn’t come along until 1925).

When he died 13 Apr 1973 at Vassar Hospital, Earl was a member of Poughkeepsie Friends Meeting. He had retired from Central Hudson, where he was a tax and insurance manager, in 1960. He had been with the company 46 years. He and Ruth are both buried at the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. Ruth passed c. 2012 and shortly after I was given their genealogical files to find a home for them. I’m still looking.

Log of Earl W Baker 2/11/1917

Feb. 11, 1917

8.45 Ex. sh. – Awoke to find College Hill bldg. Burning. It was a fine old structure Parthanonic – substantial. Went to Prof Shear’s class – he spoke of Lincoln – also the woman of Samaria*. – influence of X on the sphere of women. Classified McKinley with Lincoln & Washington – to my disapproval. He is a conservative type and more assuming than he would acknowledge – always interesting – class 50- about $5. Visited fire after class – the old house added immeasurably to the hill’s charm. In the eve went to Dr. Sutherland’s little church – (20) and heard my own views liberally propounded. He disposes of orthodoxy triumphantly, but retains heaven. Why? The next step I suppose is Felix Adler & then – a reversion back to R. Catholicy. Is Pouys right in insisting that a coherent logical religion is an anomaly – unsound? Went next door to Van W this P.M. after church. Waster P.M. Slept.

Shall retry vegetarian diet & forsake tea. 11.30

20 ₵

*Wikipedia says this is the “Samaritan woman at the well…in John 4:4–26”

Saartje note: He occasionally adds a large ✱ but there is no companion to explain why.

The imposing structure which for 80-odd years crowned the summit of College Hill as one of the most prominent landmarks of the whole Hudson Valley, immeasurably valuable because of its association with the history of Poughkeepsie and unique as a model of architectural beauty, having been a replica of the Greek Parthenon, was destroyed Sunday morning by a fire which broke out a t 8:45 o’clock.

“The blaze, one of the most spectacular ever seen in Poughkeepsie was caused, according to Fire Chief George B. Wood, by a defective flue which communicated the flames to the southern side of the attic from which, they spread quickly throughout the building. Large logs, burned Saturday in the fireplace, were left to smoulder during the night and it is the fire chief’s belief that sparks from these lodged in the chimney and fanned by a strong draft started the fire.

“The structure was burned to the last piece of timber in just three hours and twenty minutes and at noontime there was nothing left but a smouldering mass of charred timbers and bricks. 

– (Poughkeepsie) Semi-weekly Eagle And Telegraph, 13 Feb 1917

Vassar has a video about College Hill with photos and info about the fire on their YouTube channel. Click Here

Log of Earl W Baker 2/6/1917 – 2/10/1917

Feb 6, 1917

7.15 A.M. Ex. R+ self found bal of “B”. Must not get behind on own work. Idea – should hand in at least one new suggestion each week. Should bathe 3 times per week & shave as often if not more. Saw “Bunker Bean” play of new thought tendencies set in slang. Well played. War situation looms blacker. 11.45 P.M.

Play 75 milk 10 candy 5 mag 15 clips(?) 30

Feb 8, 1917 (no entry for the 7th)

7.30 Ex. Bal 1-AM-7th. Posted itin P.M. Dance in eve. 8th. Indexed I – eve went to Alone at Last – disappointed. Am to bed too late nights – am growing irritable.

Dance 50 milk 10 candy 5 – show 75 lunch 10

Feb 9, 1917

7.30 Ex. Billed Highland

War spirit waning. Ford making spectacular comments. Saw Louis Telegen (?) in Victory of Conscious- movie. – Library.

Am slack about personal appearance-shaving etc. Ex. 11 P.M.

Feb 10, 1917

7.30 Ex Billed Hyde Park on Till 6.00 PM.

War seems uncertain: E.P. & I had row. Am too sensitive.

Must develop faculty of indifference to friction and real internal suavity. Purchased socks 1.00, garters 25, music 35, brush 10 etc 5. 3.25 11.20 PM

Germany has sent supposedly new terms restricting her declaration and proposing a solid peace basis with U.S.