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John D Colvin
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"History of Luzerne County Pennsylvania," H. C. Bradsby, Editor [S. B. Nelson & Co., Publishers, 1893], Part II, Biographical Sketches, p. 788: "CAPT. JOHN D. COLVIN. In 1820 Philip Colvin, with his wife Sarah, and sons, Joseph and Cyrus, and daughters, Polly, Mercy and Anna, with her husband, Elemuel Stone, from Rhode Island, traveling with ox teams, and bringing their household goods with them, settled in Abington township, Luzerne county (now Lackawanna county) Pa. Philip Colvin, with his son, Cyrus, settled on a farm in the western part of the township, near Factoryville; Joseph settled near the east line of the township, on a wild farm; Elemuel Stone and his wife, Anna, settled on a farm near the south center of the township; Polly, after being married to Thomas Smith, settled in the northern part of the township; Mercy married to Mr. James Nichols, and settled in Benton township, in same county; Cyrus Colvin, in 1821, married Miss Phoebe Northrop, whose parents emigrated from Rhode Island a few years previous. There were born to Cyrus Colvin and wife four sons and two daughters; Artless L., Augustus, Deborah N., Philip, George Perry and John Dorrance. His wife, Phoebe, died December 24, 1835; Philip Colvin, Sr., died in 1832, aged seventy-eight years; Sarah, his wife, died in 1844, aged eighty-three years; Cyrus Colvin died in 1879; aged eighty-one years. After the death of his first wife he married Miss Maria Dean, daughter of James Dean, one of the early settlers from Rhode Island. The second wife died in 1876, aged seventy-two years. There were born to him, by the second marriage, two sons: Cyrus D. and Albert Colvin. All the children of Cyrus Colvin lived at home, on the farm, until about 1850, when Artless L. went to Archbald, Pa., where she engaged in the millinery business, and soon afterward married J. W. Sheerer, an engineer; they are now living at Des Moines, Iowa, and have one son and one daughter, both married and living in Iowa. Augustus married about the same time, and is yet living on a farm in Wyoming county; he raised a large family. Deborah N. married a farmer by the name of Emanuel Dershimer, who died in 1881; they reared a family of three boys and two girls; the mother and two of her sons are yet living on their fine old homestead in Falls township, Wyoming Co., Pa.; the eldest son, Oscar, who resides at Tunkhannock, Pa., is a noted barrister, and stands high with his colleagues in the profession; one daughter married J. P. Carter, a druggist, and resides at Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; the other daughter and her husband, Jerome Lillibridge, resides on a farm in Pennsylvania. Philip went to California in 1859, and is now living on a ranch, near Pueblo, Colo., where he has resided since 1873, dividing his time between raising stock and prospecting. George Perry was an engineer on the Mississippi river steamers, also in Texas, Mexico and Brazil; he now resides near Colorado Springs, Colo., being paralyzed from the effects of a Wound received at Cedar Creek, Va., October 19, 1864. John Dorrance Colvin left home in 1854 and remained away until 1859, when he returned home, and there sojourned until the breaking out of the Civil war in 1861. After his discharge from the service, in 1865, he was connected with the work on the Central Branch of the Pacific Railroad from Atchison, Kan., to Fort Kearney, and went across the Missouri river on the ferry from Winthrop, Mo., to Atchison with the first locomotive that was placed on the road. In 1867 he returned to Pennsylvania, and was employed for five and one-half years in the coal department of the Delaware & Hudson Coal Company, when he took a position with the Lehigh Valley Coal Company. In 1885 cataracts affected his eyes. In 1890 he resigned his position with the Lehigh Valley Coal Company after seventeen years' continuous service. Mr. Colvin was married, in 1867, to Olive S. Reichardt, of Providence (now a part of Scranton), Pa., whose father's family were among the early pioneers that came from Germany and settled near Easton, Pa.; her mother was an Ackerly, whose parents emigrated from New York State, and settled in Abington, in 1828. John D. Colvin, after his marriage, settled at Olyphant, Pa.; from there he moved to Carbondale, same State, and in 1879 took up his residence at Parsons, Luzerne county, of which borough he is the present postmaster. In 1876 he took an active part in getting the district chartered as a borough, and he was twice elected its burgess. He served as school director for twelve years, and the borough's fine school property is largely owing to the exertions of John D. Colvin, Colvin Parsons, John Alderson, Jason P. Davis, Patrick Cox and William Smurl, as they took the first steps toward buying the lots and erecting the commodious graded-school building in 1877. Mr. and Mrs. J. Colvin have reared a family of two sons and three daughters—all of whom are yet at home. The oldest son, Harry, is assistant postmaster at Parsons, Pa.; Cyrus D. and Albert Colvin, sons of the second wife of Cyrus Colvin, are yet living in Lackawanna county, Pa. The six sons and two daughters of Cyrus Colvin are all yet living; out of the twenty-three grandchildren twenty-two are yet living, and out of the ten great-grandchildren nine are living. In politics the Colvins were Whigs and Republicans, and John D. Colvin cast his first Presidential vote for John C. Fremont. The war record of the sons of Cyrus Colvin should not be omitted, for they sprung from the defenders of the Stars and Stripes. Their great-grandfathers, on both sides of the family, fought in the Revolutionary war; their grandfathers, on both sides, fought in the War of 1812, and the war record below will show what the sons did for the country from 1861 to 1865. George Perry Colvin enlisted, September 13, 1861, in the Forty-seventh P.V., and was with the regiment in all its campaigns, including the ill-fated Red River expedition under Banks. On October 19, 1864, at the battle of Cedar Creek (on the day of Sheridan's celebrated ride) he was struck by a piece of shell, which caused the removal of a portion of the frontal bone of the skull and trepanning the same with silver. He is now paralyzed, and resides near Colorado Springs, Colo., but, thanks to an appreciative government, is receiving a pension sufficient to meet all his necessary wants. Augustus Colvin also enlisted in the Forty-seventh P.V. and served faithfully until after the close of the war. Philip Colvin was out with the emergency men in June and July, 1863. On July 2, 1861, John D. Colvin enlisted in Company G, Fifty-second Regiment, P.V. On account of some trouble between the captain and first lieutenant, while Colvin was back collecting recruits, the company was disbanded, a part joining Birney's Zouaves in Philadelphia. When he returned to Harrisburg with fifteen recruits he, along with them, was mustered into Company C (Capt. J. P. S. Gobin, now Gen. Gobin, of Lebanon, Pa.), Forty-seventh Regiment, P.V. on September 13, 1861, for three years. In December, 1861, he was detailed (in compliance with a general order from the War Department) and transferred to the U.S. Signal Corps, and sent to Red Stone Camp, near Georgetown, D.C., for instructions. On February 4, 1862, he was assigned to Gen. Brennen's brigade, and was sent to Key West, Fla., where Porter's mortar fleet was fitting out for the expedition to assist in the capture of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, on the Mississippi, below New Orleans. After the capture of New Orleans the brigade to which he was attached was sent to Hilton Head and Beaufort, S.C., to take part in the operations against James Island and the city of Charleston. At Hilton Head he was detached from the land forces, and for several months was on board the "Wabash," Admiral Dupont's flagship, for the purpose of communicating by signals with the army, and instructing the midshipmen and the quartermasters of the navy in the use of the army signals. He was placed on board the "Ericsson" when she accompanied the fleet to Charleston loaded with torpedoes for the purpose of removing the obstructions near Fort Sumter that prevented our fleet entering the harbor; was afterward assigned to duty on board the steamer "Powhattan," Capt. Green, flagship of the wooden fleet; was for a time on duty on the ill-fated gunboat "Housatonic;" was one of the signal-men on the ironclad fleet, April 7, 1863, when Admiral Dahlgren made the attacks on forts Sumter and Moultrie and the batteries protecting the channel to Charleston harbor. He afterward took an active part in the capture of the batteries on the lower end of Morris Island, in the charges on Fort Wagner in July, 1863, and was on Morris Island during the sieges of Forts Wagner, Sumter and other batteries on Cummings Point; was a sergeant in charge of the signals on the night of July 3, 1864. When Gen. Hoyt, of the fifty-second P.V. with the One Hundred and Twenty-seventh N.Y.V., were repulsed at Fort Johnson, James Island, S.C., the fifty-second Regiment having their colonel (Hoyt) and one hundred and fifty-two officers and men captured, Sergeant Colvin also lost two of his signalmen by capture, both of whom afterward died in Andersonville prison. One of the men was Thomas Rimer, a nephew of John Jennon, of Scranton. In April, 1864, by order of Gen. Foster, Capt. Clum, chief signal officer of the Coast Division, detailed Sergeant John D. Colvin to endeavor to decipher the Rebel Signal Code. He was on this Secret service until the fall of Charleston, February 18, 1865, and succeeded in deciphering six of their straight alphabetical code, and their fifteen changeable or disk code; the latter was supposed to be impossible to decipher, as no two messages need be sent from the same key letter. By his work he gained much very valuable information, and gave Gen. Foster such reliable information of the enemy's movements when Gen. Terry, with his division, was operating against the enemy on James Island in the summer of 1864, that he recommended him for a commission. On February 14, 1865, Sergeant Colvin as commissioned a lieutenant in the United States Signal Corps. He also received a congratulatory letter from Col. Nichodemus, of the Signal Bureau at Washington, D.C., relative to his fitness for that branch of the service, and the valuable information received through him. Gen. Schammelfennig, commanding a brigade in the Coast division, wrote him a letter highly extolling him for his zeal and success in his branch of the service. And he wishes to have recorded in this volume his thanks and high appreciation of the services of such men as George H. Stone, Wm. S. Marsden, Sergeant Eddy and Quick of the corps, with the men assigned to him from the Fifty-second Pennsylvania Regiment and One Hundred and Twenty-seventh New York Regiment for their arduous duties and valuable assistance rendered him whilst deciphering codes and intercepting Rebel dispatches from all points along the Confederate lines. Our subject was mustered out of the service in September, 1865, after over four years' active campaign life. What was remarkable about Lieutenant Colvin was that when he entered the service he was sickly, and went against the wishes (on that account) of his friends; but the service agreed with him, for there was not a day, for over four years, on which he was not able to be in the saddle or attend to his duties, either in the navy or in the field; in fact, he reported to the "morning sick call" only twice during his entire service, and was absent from active service only for thirty days, and that was on a veteran furlough. On July 7, 1879, Capt. John D. Colvin, Capt. Wilt, Capt. T. C. Parker, Capt. Bennett, Capt. Rush, Capt. Harvey, Capt. McGinley, Capt. Wenner, with a number of other line officers, were instrumental in organizing the Ninth Regiment of Pennsylvania, and did all in their power to assist the field and staff officers to make efficient soldiers out of the "raw material;" and the people of Luzerne county should be proud that they had men of military genius to lay the foundation for one of the finest volunteer organizations in the State—an organization to look at and be proud of. Company E, of Parsons, organized by Capt. J. D. Colvin, is yet in existence, and stands second to none in the regiment. The Captain was seven years an officer in the Ninth Regiment. Capt. John D. Colvin and family are the only descendants of Cyrus Colvin living in the county, with their children: Harry C., assistant postmaster; Anna C., a teacher in the public schools of Parsons borough; J. Fredrick, Alice R. and Lena May. Harry C. was married on June 10, 1891, to Miss Carry Cordwell, and they have one child, a fine boy four months old, named Arthur Dorrance, after its grandfathers, and both the old veterans are proud of him, and hope he may grow up to be a true and loyal American citizen. Capt. J. D. Colvin is a member of the Masonic Fraternity, the G.A.R., the Knights of Honor, and the Patriotic Sons of America."
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- Clare Bradley
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