The last post was about Marshall Frederick Cortis, the father of Ruth Martha Andrews. Marshall was adopted when he was four years old, and his birth name of John Marshall Remington was changed by his adoptive parents. Marshall’s parents voluntarily placed him for adoption. Although we will probably never know the exact reason why they chose to place him with another family and not care for him themselves, it probably had to do with economic reasons. They were no longer together. His birth mother decided to keep their youngest child with her, and it seems that Marshall was aware of, and probably kept in touch with, his brother in that he was mentioned in Marshall’s obituary. So what is known about Marshall’s birth parents?
Bernard Collan Remington was born following the Civil War on September 5, 1867 in Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. (All official records list his middle name as Collan, although it was possible that it was intended that the name be spelled Cullen after his mother.) He was the third child born to Bela Remington and Margaret Cullen, his father’s second wife. He had six older siblings at the time of his birth, and his parents would have two more children after his birth.
The Remington family was one of the oldest families in Hingham, having settled there in the early to mid-1600s. His father worked as a farm laborer. His mother was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1849 when she was 16 years old, traveling by the ship “Robert” from Liverpool, England to Boston, Massachusetts. An 18 year old male, Edward Cullen, who was probably her brother traveled with her. They were escaping the death and poverty caused by the potato famine in Ireland.
Bela and Margaret were married in 1862. Bela’s first wife, Bridget Crehan, was also from Ireland and died in 1861 from childbirth, leaving four children ranging in age from four years to ten years.
Bernard spent his early years in Hingham, but moved to Boston by his late teens. There he met Margaret Deveau. Although I could not find a record of marriage, they established a household and their first child, George M. Remington, was born February 18, 1887. Five months later, on July 15, 1887, George died from cholera morbus, which is acute gastroenteritis that occurs in the summer or autumn.
Bernard and Margaret moved back to Hingham, where their next two children were born. It doesn’t appear that the family lived very long in Hingham before they moved back to the Boston area, and the family split up. In January 1894, Bernard and Margaret agreed to the adoption of their second son, John Marshall. They both remarried during the year.
Margaret Deveau, Marshall’s birth mother, was born in January 1870 in Weymouth, Digby County, Nova Scotia. She was the daughter of Marshall and Margaret Deveau. Weymouth is a small, rural village. During the late 1800s and early 1900s there was a large migration of immigrants from Canada into the United States. There were opportunities and the need for workers in the various manufacturing industries in the East, and Massachusetts was one of the areas that many immigrants settled. During the late 1800s it was very easy to cross the border from Canada into the United States. Margaret probably immigrated in 1885 or 1886.
Margaret married Thomas Powers on November 29, 1894 in Malden, Massachusetts. Margaret listed her occupation on her marriage application as domestic and Thomas was a driver. Both stated that this was their first marriage. Thomas was also from Nova Scotia and arrived in the United States in 1888. Thomas and Margaret had one child, Gertrude Theresa. This was a stable relationship for Margaret, and she and Thomas spent the rest of their lives together. Margaret died in 1936 in Everett, Massachusetts. Thomas died after 1940.
Bernard’s life was much less settled. Following his relationship with Margaret, Bernard married Estelle May Wood. Estelle was born about 1876 in Nova Scotia. Bernard indicated on his marriage application that this was his first marriage. This marriage probably didn’t last long, and Estelle remarried in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1913. No children were identified from this union. And there was another woman! Regina Louise Belle-Isle was born June 13, 1884 in Lowell, Massachusetts. Although I did not find any records verifying the marriage of Bernard and Regina, she was listed as Regina Remington in the 1910 Federal Census. She and Bernard had two children, the first born in 1904. This relationship did not last long. On February 20, 1912 Regina Louise married Everett Marshall Higgins. She used her maiden name on her marriage application and indicated that this was her first marriage. Regina died November 28, 1944 in Stowe, Massachusetts.
So what do we know about Bernard, other than he had at least three relationships with various women, and fathered at least five children? I found military records for him, which helped to fill in some of the blanks. Military records give physical descriptions of enlistees. This information helps to form an image of the person when we do not have pictures. Bernard was 5’5” tall, had blue eyes, auburn hair, and a ruddy complexion. He was a plumber when he enlisted in the Army on April 19, 1898. He was part of the artillery, and fought in the Spanish-American War in Cuba.
He was discharged as a master sergeant, was listed as an excellent soldier on the Army register, and continued his career in the military. He would enlist for several years, receive a discharge, and reenlist. He considered his occupation as a soldier. He was stationed in the Boston area. His reviews were excellent – until they weren’t! His last reenlistment was December 14, 1909. On March 30, 1910, he deserted. Why, after such a long and apparently successful career in the Army, did he desert? We can only speculate, and I can’t even do that! He was apprehended on October 13, 1910 and was then confined at Fort Banks (Massachusetts) awaiting court martial. His rank was reduced to private.
Bernard was dishonorably discharged from the Army on February 8, 1911. Following his discharge, he worked as a gasfitter for the gas company and continued to live in Boston. He died February 19, 1920 in Boston and was buried in Hingham. He was 52 years old.
Bernard’s children with Margaret Deveau were:
1. George M. Remington was born February 18, 1887 and died July 15, 1887, both in Boston.
2. John Marshall Remington was born April 16, 1889 in Hingham and died February 29, 1956 in Worcester. His name was changed to Marshall Frederick Cortis upon his adoption.
3. Bernard Charles Remington was born June 22, 1890 in Hingham and died July 5, 1958. Bernard served in the military during World War I and is buried in the Forestdale Cemetery in Malden, Massachusetts.
Bernard’s children with Regina Louise Belle-Isle were:
1. William Cullen Remington was born June 10, 1904 in Boston. In 1930 he was listed in the federal census as in the Army.
2. Louise Edna Remington was born around 1905. She married in 1926.
The next post will continue with the Remington Family.
So what do you know about the Spanish-American War? One of the interesting things about genealogy is finding out more about what was happening in our country and the world at the time our ancestors lived. Why did Bernard decide to join the Army and go to War? Why did he decide to stay in the Army following the War? Do an Internet search on the Spanish-American War to refresh your high school history lessons.
Did you know that in 2020 we will be celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the Pilgrim’s arrival in Plymouth, Massachusetts? We will get to Richard Warren, the Mayflower ancestor of this family, way before then!
Enjoy the beautiful autumn weather. Leaves are beginning to turn in Massachusetts. This is my favorite time of the year!
Until next time….