Edward Lavine 1835 – 1888

Edward was born about 1835, probably in Burlington, VT, the second child of Pierre Dextera dit Lavigne and Excelia Martel.  This family was counted in the 1850 census in Millbury, MA, where Peter worked as a laborer.  Both parents, and all the children except Edward were born in Canada.  Edward had at least 8 siblings, some of whom died young.    

In 1860, at age 25, Edward lived in Newton NH, with Betsey J Lavine age 29.  Although this year’s census did not list relationships, I did not find a sister for Edward named Betsey, and this woman was born in NH, so is presumed to be his wife.  Edward was a laborer, with no real estate, and personal property valued at only $50.  The rest of Edward’s family had moved to Hatley, Quebec, at the north end of Lac Massawippi.  They lived in a one-story log house and Edward’s father was a farmer.

Edward served in the Civil War, joining the 2nd Regiment of the New Hampshire Infantry, Company E.  He enlisted on 3 Jun 1861, listing Newton NH as his home town, and mustered out on 29 August 1861 at Washington, DC.  The regimental history for the 2nd Regiment indicates that it was first formed primarily by men who enlisted for three months.  Regulations changed the enlistment term to three years, and most in the unit re-enlisted for three years.  When I saw Edward’s muster-out date, I thought that he might have opted not to re-enlist.  However, I located another record that said that he had received a disability discharge from Company E.  Based on his dates, and the regimental history, it appears that Edward was in the first Bull Run battle, on July 21, 1861, where the regiment’s loss was 7 killed, 56 wounded, and 46 missing.  In August, his unit moved to Bladensburg, Maryland, and Edward was released at the end of that month.

It is likely that Edward’s marriage to Betsey ended in divorce, as I found records of Betsey J Lavine of Newton NH marrying George W Goodwin in 1865 and another record of Betsey J Lavine marrying Charles A Brown.  Unfortunately, the records do not name her parents, and do not indicate if she was previously married.  I did find an 1870 census for Charles A and Betsey J Brown, with a daughter Mary, age 8.  If this is the same Betsy, then Mary could be Edward’s daughter.  I have not found a birth record for either Mary Brown or Mary Lavine in 1862.

The next probable record for Edward is the 1870 census.  A man with his name, age 40, although born in NH, was a farm laborer, living in the Lewis Lamprey household in Exeter, NH.  Marital status is not listed in this census, and Betsey is not in the census with him, which is consistent with her having marrying someone else a few years earlier.  Newton is 10 miles from Exeter.  Later information in Edward’s pension also places him in the Exeter area prior to the War.

Edward moved to Barton, VT, and on 21 December, 1876, he married Anne Laclair, daughter of Barney Laclair and Sarah Ann Hawkins.  This record lists his parents as Peter Levine and Excellie (no maiden name listed for her.)  Edward was a laborer, and this was recorded as his first marriage.  He was 36, and Anne claimed to be 16, born in Conway, NH.  She was actually 14 ½. 

Edward and Anne’s first child, Lula May, was born 4 December 1878 in Barton. Edward’s occupation was listed as farmer, born in Montpelier. 

On 16 February, 1880, Edward E Lavine purchased property from J. P. Baldwin and T. W. Drew, paying $100 for 19 acres.

The 1880 census shows the family living in Barton, where Edward worked as a farm laborer.  They are living next to his brother Philip and family.  The second child, Florence Martha, was born 2 April 1880 in Barton.  Edward was listed as a farmer, born in Burlington. Since the census was taken in June, Florence should have been listed. 

Edward and Anne’s son Edward was born in Barton 12 September, 1882.  The father was a farmer, with birthplace listed as Burlington. Daughter Lavinia was born in September 1884.  Daughter Alvie was born 12 July 1886.  This record says that her father was born in Burlington, but as occupation, says in Hospital Insane.  

Edward died 21 May 1888, at the Vermont Asylum in Brattleboro, of apoplexy, a term used to describe a stroke, but the term can also mean an extreme rage or excitement.  I do not know where he is buried.

Anne was not able to keep the family together, and the children went to live with other families.  Son Edward was raised by Charles and Josie Royce, who had no children, and he took the Royce name.  Vinnie lived with a widow named Sophia Sawins, and most of her records use that last name.  Alvie ended up at age 13 living with and working as a servant for John and Ellen Ryan in Jay, NY, on the west side of Lake Champlain.   Anne remarried four years later, and died in 1937.  All of Edward and Anne’s children married at least once, and had children of their own. 

Records show that Edward Lavine had filed for an invalid Civil War pension on 30 June, 1880, but the card does not show a certificate number, so it appears that he did not get a pension. Charles Fairbanks, special examiner for the pension commission, investigated Lavine’s claim for a pension.  This investigation included sending an examiner to Barton.  Lavine’s file includes a letter to Mr. Fairbanks, written 23 August 1887, from C. H. Dwinell, Overseer of the Poor for Barton.  He reported that he had the care of Lavine’s family since he was taken to the asylum.  The examiner had come to town to establish whether his (Lavine’s) family had insanity.  Dwinell had found what seemed to be positive evidence on that point, but the examiner had been recalled and didn’t take his testimony.  Dwinell reported that Lavine was hopelessly insane and not expected to live but a short time.  He offered to forward his testimony.  This letter didn’t say what his evidence was, nor whether it would indicate if Edward’s family did or did not “have insanity.”

The examiners took a statement from George Dacoto, whose family lived across from Lavine’s parents, in Kaleville, near North Hatley in Quebec.  He stated that when Edward came home from the army, he stated with his parents for about three years.  He was sick all the while and did no work.  Mrs. Lavine sent George into the woods for tamarack gum, which she used to make medicine for Edward.  George said Edward coughed blood, complained of headaches all the time, and had fits.  They occurred from once a week, to as often as twice a day. George said Edward told him that he got the fits, headache, and cough while in the army, saying specifically that they were caused by sunstroke. 

Another neighbor, Joseph Bresett, also gave a statement, saying that he had known Edward before he went in the army, and then saw him when he came back to visit his brother Jerry Lavine.  Bresett thought he heard the Lavines say that their son had fits before going in the army.  He also testified that Edward told him that he had sunstroke in the army and had headaches and dizzy spells ever since.  Bresett also remembered that Mrs. Levine had used roots to make medicine for Edward. 

The examiner took a statement from Edward’s wife, Anne.  She said that they had lived and kept house in Barton until about the time he went to the asylum, and that her family was supported by the town.  She stated that they had five children, the oldest was nine, the youngest 15 months.  Anne said she had only known Edward a few weeks before they were married and didn’t know that he had medical problems.  Soon after they were married, she became aware of him having spells of being absent minded, which lasted one to three hours.  He wouldn’t know anything nor respond if she spoke to him.  He complained of pain in the head on those days.  He told her he had been bothered by these spells ever since he came home from the army, and he told her the spells were caused by sunstroke.  Anne also said that Edward told her that he had fits from the time he was a little boy, and his father also had them.  They were fits of epilepsy.  Anne said that the fits were real bad for the first few years of their marriage.  Anne also said that Edward’s brothers Philip and Jerry told her he had fits since a child, and another brother had a fit and drowned.  Anne described some fits where he would fall down, froth at the mouth and bite his tongue.  She also described spells where he didn’t fall or froth. 

Andrew Currier provided a statement that he had seen Edward have “queer spells” while in the service, and that he had one within a day or two after the first Bull Run fight, in Washington, DC.  He said Lavine acted like a crazy man, and he helped hold him down.  Currier didn’t think Edward had been injured in the battle, and didn’t know he had been “sunstroked.” 

The special examiner also took a statement from Jacob Carlisle of Exeter, on 13 November 1887.  Carlisle said that Edward Lavine had worked for him for about two years prior to his enlistment, as a stone worker.  Carlisle testified that Lavine would be “taken suddenly, drop to the ground, and froth at the mouth.  After a few minutes, he would get up and go back to work.”  Carlisle said that before he witnessed any fit, Lavine had told him that he was subject to fits, and not to be frightened as he (Lavine) should come out of it all right.  Carlisle said that other than this, Lavine was sound, and didn’t show signs of mental troubles. 

The examiner wrote to the hospital, asking for Lavine’s date of admission, and information that would show the cause of the disease.  Dr. Joseph Draper, superintendant, report back that Lavine was admitted to the Vermont Asylum for the Insane on 18 January, 1886, “laboring under mania of three or more months’ duration.”  Dr. Draper was not able to identify the cause of the mental disease. 

A document written by special examiner Charles Fairbanks dated 19 November 1887 says that Jacob G Grey was Edward’s guardian, and lived in Barton.  He had been given notice of a hearing scheduled in Concord NH, but neither Grey nor an attorney attended.  The finding was that the attack which Edward had just after the Bull Run battle was a repetition of what he had had many times before – epilepsy.  Fairbanks concluded by giving the opinion that the mental trouble from which Edward was now suffering was related to the epilepsy, and congenital, and in no way due to his army service. 

After the investigation, on 23 November, 1887, the pension was formally rejected, as having existed prior to enlistment. 

After Anne remarried, to James Hyland, she filed for a widow’s pension in 1911, and also for a pension on behalf of the minor children.  Alvie, the youngest, was 25 by then. 

On 11 May, 1911, son Edward applied for pension benefits, on behalf of himself and his sisters, all of whom were under the age of 16 at the time of Edward senior’s death. On the form in the space where cause of death was to be listed, Edward wrote “Army causes”.  The form was pre-printed to include the name of  P.J. Lockwood of Washington, DC, who would act as the family’s attorney. 

On 25 July, 1911, the Bureau of Pensions denied the family’s claim for pension, “as the soldier’s death from apoplexy cannot be accepted as due or connected in any way with his military service.”  On 31 July 1911, Ed responded to the rejection letter, pointing out that his father was honorably discharged from the army, on account of disability, arguing that the disability was sunstroke.  Ed’s argument was that two doctors had told him that apoplexy could be caused by sun stroke, as “both are a brain trouble.”  Ed’s letter confirmed that Edward had received no bounty or pension for his service.  Ed alleged that his father was “insane by spell from the time he was discharged until his death, and left his family destitute.” 

It appears that as late as 1938, family members were still trying to claim a pension or other benefits.  Vermont Congressional Representative Charles Clason, contacted the pension office to ascertain whether the now-adult children were entitled to benefits at this time, since they had not applied for nor received benefits when they were under the age of 16.  The pension office responded that pension record shows that Edward Lavine filed a claim of pension on 1 June 1911, but it was disallowed because the veteran’s death from apoplexy was not due to, or connected to his military service.  Because his death wasn’t related to his service, and the children were all over the age of 16, they were not entitled to benefits.  I’m not sure what would have inspired a family member to bring up this issue 27 years after the previous petition was denied.  Anne had died in 1937 – perhaps someone found old pension papers in her property and decided to try again.

In researching Edward’s family, I found that the “Lavine” spelling was used almost exclusively, except for daughter Alvie.  In some newspaper stories, where her maiden name was used, it was spelled Lavigne.  However, the older Quebec vital records for Edward’s parents and siblings use Lavigne and Dextera or Destera.

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