Saturday, February 29, 2020

52 Ancestors 2020 #9 - Disaster - Or, the Dangers of Being Honored

Disaster, Or, The Dangers of Receiving an Honor

If I can't  use this space to tell the story handed down to me, I don't know where I can.
This isn't a particularly newsworthy post--most of the facts are in a previous post about 
(This post would be longer but I was trying to gather information online the same weekend the big "RootsTech" Conference is being held. I kept encountering technical difficulties, and as a result, I am skipping that route and will tell a story instead).
However his sole son, Charles B Tilton, told it to his children, my mother and siblings. Each of them remembered to tell it to me, and I was just reminded of it recently.
P S BANCROFT - A Snapshot Biography (Most of this portion is in previously mentioned post)
PS Bancroft was born in Connecticut. At the ripe old age of 8, he and his family migrated to the land grants in the Northwestern Territory (NW Pennsylvania and part of Ohio). They settled in Meadville and tried to farm.
PS was clever enough to finish school, finish college, and taught the "classics" (Latin and Greek) at college.
Then the Civil War broke out and he was made an officer in the Civil War (that's in the other post). He was injured (lost the use of one arm) and mustered out. He reentered immediately in the "Invalid Corps" and worked for the army until after the war.
In April, 1865, he was in his 35th year PS married 19 year old Bella S. Brinker. She was the  youngest daughter of Col. Jacob Brinker (a former sheriff of Butler County). 
They were farming the Meadville farm when Belle (Brinker) Bancroft died less than 10 years later in 1874, leaving 3 small children:
Children of Peter Sanford Bancroft and Isabella Brinker:
1 Flora Gertrude Bancroft (1867- 1949) my great grandmother
2 Earl D Bancroft (1868-1927)
3 Grove Graham Bancroft (1869-1899)
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After this, PS Bancroft realized he needed more money, especially as a father with 3 children. He moved from the farm to “town” (Butler). 
He must have realized as an educated man and as a professor, he could reorganize a previously used religious school which had closed during the war.
And he set about re-opening the school but as an ecumenical school, not a denominational school. The freshly opened Witherspoon Institute threw open its doors soon after he began work on it, and it thrived.
PS Bancroft still had the war on his mind, though. The sentiments which bring about the war didn't just die out right after the war was over. They had lingered on. So, though the South had lost the war, the wounds as well as the former opinions stuck around.
For some reason, once the Witherspoon Institute was viable, it was  a local paper, the Butler Eagle (February 1870), that  caught the attention of PS Bancroft.
The newspaper described itself as "a Republican journal, the viewpoints were forthrightly Republican" In its historical context, it was supportive of the Union and of Abraham Lincoln's presidency. And so PS Bancroft worked at the paper from March, 1888 to October, 1889.
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The paper moved and changed its name to the Butler County Record and commenced on June 6, 1888. On October 1, 1889, Bancroft moved to being its associate editor.
A snapshot description of the paper in 1895 said it was  “a neatly printed journal of thirty-six columns, politically independent and carefully edited. The certified circulation is 1,700.” (Source: History of Butler County Pennsylvania, R. C. Brown Co., Publishers, 1895)

The Danger of Being Honored:
PS Bancroft went from being a fellow on a farm out in the country, to being a professor, an educator, and journalist and an editor.
One day the little city of Butler sought to honor its Civil War veterans. I am told he was asked to be the guest of honor in Butler at a Civil War Dedication. As it is with most stories I hear, I wasn't paying attention to the date, but to the story.  To be honest, I don't know if it was the unveiling of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Butler, (which was as late as 1902) or an earlier commemorative event. It doesn't matter for the telling of the story, though.
PS Bancroft, by now a widower and respected townsman, was gussied up nicely and dressed in his finest clothes that day. He was on the dais, but they wished to place him near the cannon. He obediently moved to it. But he did not realize their intention was to shoot off the cannon.
Of course, I don't know if he jumped or what his immediate reaction was, but the consequence of being "honored" by having a cannon shot at his side, was he was totally deaf in his one ear for the rest of his life.
So, while the war cost him his arm, being honored for being a soldier & an officer in the war cost him his hearing.

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