Lawrence Millard Theodore Bristol
Lawrence Millard Theodore Bristol , born March 23d, 1839, died in New York City, Aug 14th, 1864, of wound received at Petersburg, VA. He was the first of the four children born in the town of Bristol, Wisconsin. He was a noble child, strong and healthy and ? - - ? in the family for his equals ?- - ? courage and tenacity. He was goodness ?- -fied. An incident or two will illustrate his childish characteristics. When about three and a half years old he one day climbed up a ladder that stood almost perpendicular against the side of the house, then crawled a few feet up the steep roof till he got hold of the chimney and managed to stand up in spite of the steep slope. Some of the others ran discovered him looking down and smiling at them. They warned him not to stir for he was within two feet of the end of the roof as well as near the eaves. Father was called and carefully rescued him from his perilous position. The ladder was removed but he was not scolded on the contrary became a little hero in the family. Not long after this he was one morning dabbling a stick in a barrel of soft soap that had been made the day before and was still warm. Climbing up in order to reach farther down into the soap he lost his balance and plunged headlong into the warm soap, only his feet sticking out. The parents were gone that morning but the three older children were right by playing. Kate and Mettie caught hold of his feet, drew him out and carried him to a barrel of water standing nearby, all the time shouting at him not to open his eyes. Towels and cloths were brought and the soap washed out of his eyes and ears with unceasing warnings not to open his eyes. He was soon bathed and dressed in another suit and then allowed to open his eyes. During all this time not a whimper was heard from him, and as soon as dressed he went to playing as if nothing had happened. (Kate could not have been more than eight or nine years old at this time). Lawrence began going to school at Bristol and regularly attended the district schools wherever the family lived except perhaps at Appleton. As a pupil he was average in all his studies and excelled in mathematics, while he was the finest penman in the family unless an exception he made in Kate who wrote a beautiful running hand. In deportment he was always perfect. He made no pretentions to public speaking but was capable of stating his views sincerely; clearly and without embarrassment. In reading his letters at this late day one easily sees how aptly he quoted now and then some short, pithy saying of a poet, writer or orator illustrating or enforcing what he was writing. He did not take much part in politics but his elder brother believed that had he lived he certainly could have been a man of prominence in any community. His brother believes that he possessed political acumen of a high order and that honors and office would have come to him without the asking.
At twelve years of age he was as large as Cicero and became larger and stronger. From that time forward he always took the heavy end of farm work while they lived at home and later of whatever they might be doing while they lived in Nebraska and Colorado. In June 1858 Lawrence joined his brother at the latter's home at Olatha on Salt Creek, Nebraska. From that time they were inseparable until they parted on the depot platform at Berlin, Wis. June 1864 he shortly to enter the eastern army, the brother the western. The history of Lawrence is virtually told in that of Cicero for this period, but not quite in full. While the elder brother was looking after the hay business and managing the teams Lawrence hired to Smith and Chaffee to “feed” their quartz mill in the Lake Gulch where we had farmed by lived [uncertain] (Jerome B. Chaffee afterward became a distinguished United States Senator from Colorado, serving twelve years)[actually from 1876 to 1879]. As the engineer frequently wanted to be away for an hour or two he soon taught Lawrence to run the engine. It was not long until he was made engineer a position he held for over six months, or until the mill closed down. During this time he constructed a lifting machine and began a careful practice with a view to increasing his strength. When he began he could lift but four hundred and fifty pounds – a dead lift with his hands; when he ceased practicing he could easily lift eight hundred and sixty pounds, and people began calling him “The Strong Man.” In mature life he was about five feet eight or eight and a half inches tall and weighed one hundred and sixty-five pounds. He had brown hair, beard a shade lighter, eyes gray, complexion light and easily tanned. His head was large and well formed, his features regular, and bore the impress of truth, frankness and kindness.
Lawrence never had any very serious love affairs. Several years before leaving Dakota he was paying attention to Hattie Cracker and they were doubtless fond of each other,but it was at most a rather childish affair. He afterward became acquainted while staying a short time in Curl Bend, Iowa with a beautiful girl named Mary Battsford, a niece of Mr. and Mrs. Battsford. She was brilliant, witty, tender hearted and religious. It was no wonder Lawrence loved her. On one occasion when he had taken her home from some gathering they stood on the porch for a few moments and he left her with a good night's kiss. That kiss was their undoing. Mrs. Battsford bad been blind for a number of years and as a consequence her hearing had become extremely acute. She heard the kiss! Then trouble began. She possessed in full measure “the awful virtues” of her New England ancestry and in her view it was an unforgivable sin for a girl to kiss her lover who was just on the eve of making a long trip to the Rocky Mountains. He went and a short time there after Mary's mother sent for her daughter and she went also to her new home. No scars were left on their hearts but doubtless there was an “aching void” in each for a time.
In 1864 Lawrence decided to complete his education at the State University. He and his sister, Dora, at once entered that institution in tending to remain indefinitely. But soon the call for troops seemed almost imperative to him and he enlisted in Company G, 37th Regiment Wisconsin Vol. Infantry. He was the only student at the time who enlisted, but the others gave him a hearty send-off, shouting “Hurrah for Bristol” and manifesting their enthusiasm by marching down the street with him. On the 16th of June he was appointed 6th corporal and soon went forward to General Grant's army then investing Petersburg to the south of Richmond. He was in the assaulting column that advanced against the Confederates on July 30th immediately after the blowing up of the fort. Afterward advancing about [a] mile under a deadly fire the troops were halted and then ordered to lie down. There they lay under an enfilading fire for nearly three quarters of an hour. Soon after lying down Lawrence was struck in the back of the head by a Minnie ball which imbedded itself in the broken skull. He was completely paralyzed for a half hour tho he knew everything that was going on around him. At the end of that time he had regained the power to control himself. Henry chase was severely wounded at the same time and together they were taken from the battlefield to a temporary hospital where their wounds were dressed and two days after were put aboard of a steamer and taken to new York. It was while at the temporary hospital in Virginia [or at the Jewish Hospital in New York where they were taken – this sentence has a line through it.] that Lawrence heard that he had been promoted to a sergeancy; presumably for bravery in battle. For a few days he seemed to be doing well, could walk around the room and wrote a few short letters. But he soon began to grow weaker and it was evident that he could not live. Henry Chase's wound had improved so that the officials had given him a furlough. But he nobly refused to leave his friend and comrade. It was he who wrote Catherine, then Mrs. Pope, that her brother could not live. She started at once for New York and when she reached the hospital it was Henry who first met her and told her tenderly that Lawrence was dead. She had resolved before leaving home that if he died she should take his remain back for burial. She at once began preparations to carry out her intentions but met obstacles at every turn. Permits from the health officers, contracts with undertakers for embalming permits from the railroad officials to hip the coffin and orders from army and hospital officials, had to be secured. And all these things to be done by a young, inexperienced woman in a great city where she was a perfect stranger. With great courage and energy she soon had all arrangements completed and started on her long journey with her precious burden. At all the stopping places where time permitted she was out on the platform night and day, seeking the care whose ?--? ?--? ?--? to be sure that it was undisturbed and well (?) layed.
Source: A hand written manuscript. Author and date unknown. Probably his sister Dora.