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“TURNPIKE TALES” #24
“TURNPIKE TALES” #24
Aug 1, 2018
“TURNPIKE TALES” #24
(Historical items from the “Madison-Bouckville Antiques Week” region)
AARON T. BLISS – CIVIL WAR VETERAN AND GOVERNOR
--By Jim Ford
Aaron Bliss was born in the Town of Smithfield on May 22, 1837 and received his early education at that place. As a youth, he found work in the Stone Store at Bouckville (today’s Landmark Tavern) and clerked there from 1854 to 1861. In that year the country was swept by the Civil War and Bliss enlisted on October 1, 1861 as a private in Company D, 10th New York Cavalry at the age of 24. He was so well liked that he was elected a Lieutenant, and a year later was promoted to Captain.
Bliss saw active service for three years and five months, and then was taken prisoner at Ream’s Station, Virginia. For six months he was held, first at Salisbury, North Carolina, then at the infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia. He was then moved from Andersonville and held at Macon, Georgia, as well as Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina.
Bliss managed to escape from the Confederate prison at Columbia on November 29, 1864. He learned to avoid the roads and kept to the swamps, keeping hidden by day and traveling by night. There was little to eat.
When Captain Bliss reached the Union lines on December 16, a long 17 days after his escape, he was emaciated and starving.
When the war was over, Bliss became interested in the lumber business and subsequently moved to Saginaw, Michigan. He decided to make that place his home. Mr. Bliss briefly returned to Madison County in 1868 to marry Miss Allaseba M. Phelps, the daughter of Ambrose Phelps, of Solsville. He had known his bride when he was clerking in the Bouckville store. They were married at her parents’ home in Solsville on March 31, 1868.
On his return to Michigan with his new wife, Bliss became interested in Republican politics. He became a City Alderman and then a County Supervisor. Later he was elected to the Michigan State Senate and from 1889-1891 was a representative to Congress from the 8th District of the State of Michigan.
Bliss was elected Governor of the State of Michigan in 1900 and re-elected in 1902. The Governor and his wife were frequent visitors to Madison County where their families lived. They returned home for the holiday in 1902 and met with old friends in Bouckville and Solsville. Mr. Bliss even called on J.P. Tooke, his old schoolmaster.
On September 16th of 1906, Aaron Bliss passed away. He was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery, in Saginaw, Michigan.
(Editor’s note: In the Bouckville Methodist-Episcopal Church there is a plaque which was commissioned by Governor Bliss to honor his fellow soldiers from the Bouckville area and was presented in March of 1907. Governor Bliss had intended to be at the presentation ceremony but passed away in 1906.)
Credit: George W. Walter – Article from his works entitled Chips and Shavings.
THE BLISS PLAQUE –
Here is the wording on the plaque at the Methodist Church in Bouckville:
IN THIS MEETING HOUSE
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS OF
COMPANY D, TENTH NEW YORK
WERE SWORN INTO THE SERVICE OF THE
OCTOBER ELEVENTH 1861
FOR THE DEFENSE OF THE UNION
Joseph F. Ashtenaw Augustus I. Eldridge Henry M. McElroy
Walter Bell Robert Evans William Ryan
Daniel W. Belton John W. Fletcher Mortimer Spring
Aaron T. Bliss Hiram Hadden Calvin Stevens
Jacob R. Brodock Leonard Hanawall Richard L.Tuke
David R. Davis Eli Laird Liba Z. Washburn
Charles Eastman Isaac Manchester Ebenezer S. White
John A. Edson Thomas McElligott William W. Williams
LATER, THESE WERE JOINED BY THE FOLLOWING
MEN FROM BOUCKVILLE AND NEARBY
James K. Carter, Henry C. Clark, Josiah Edwards,
Elias D. Evans, Kelsey H. Fox, Cyrus D. Howard
Lorenzo Lewis, John H. McQuien, Wesley W. Tackabury
Charles H. Underwood, David Williams
THIS TABLET WAS ERECTED OCTOBER ELEVENTH, 1906, BY
COMRADE AARON T. BLISS, CAPTAIN
(Editor’s note: The plaque can be seen at the Bouckville Methodist Church. It is proudly displayed as an important part of the history of that church.)
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