Beneath a standard Civil War veteran’s headstone at the Clewleyville Cemetery in Holden lies a man who left quite the paper trail, especially after leaving the army.
He’s Valentine Clewley, a surname long found around the lower Penobscot Valley, especially between Brewer and the Dedham Hills. We might call him “Valentine” or “Val,” but hopefully none of his friends in Co. D, 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment, ever called him “Valentine’s Day.”
Born in Holden to Walton and Mary (Pray) Clewley on January 3, 1840 (one source cites the same date in 1841), Valentine had a passel of siblings before he enlisted in Co. D, 18th Maine Infantry Regiment on July 29, 1862. Before her death in 1854, his mom gave birth to at least nine other children: John (1828), Montraville (1830), Sarah (1831), Elizabeth (1838), Josiah (1839), Antha (1842), Augustus (1844, also his death year), Marcia (1847), and Sabrine (1850).
Walton, born in 1785 and 27 years older than Mary, already had two children with his first wife, Jane (Townsend) Clewley: Charles (1809) and Flavilla (1825). Charles was dead when Valentine appeared, and Flavilla lasted only until 1845.
The Clewleys lived in Brewer in 1850.
His soldier’s file at the Maine State Archives describes Valentine as “single.” An Eddington resident, he stood 5-6¼ and had a light complexion, light hair (likely blonde), and gray eyes. Employed as a teamster, Valentine probably figured he could make more money even as a $13-per-month private. He mustered with the 18th Maine in Bangor on August 21 and headed for Washington, D.C.
By January the regiment became the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, enlarged with additional companies and men and assigned to the District of Columbia forts. Converted to infantry in May 1864, the 1st MHA earned glory with its unsupported charge at Petersburg on June 18, 1864. Company D lost 27 men killed or mortally wounded and another 26 men wounded.
Apparently living a charmed life, Valentine survived unscathed that disaster and every subsequent 1st MHA fight, at least as the regimental history indicates. A rifle toter who did his job, he earned mention on only one page in The First Maine Heavy Artillery 1862-1865.
Valentine Clewley mustered out “near Washington, D.C.” on June 6, 1865. He married Lucy Orcutt (another familiar surname in the Penobscot Valley) in Eddington on either December 3 or 8, 1866. Their son Melvin A. Clewley was born on April 24, 1867.
You can count the months.
Lucy later died. Valentine married Marantha J. Hadley in Amherst on October 8, 1874. She, too, died, and circa 1886 Valentine married a third time. The lucky bride was Jennie M. Parks of Caribou, and “like father, like son,” Valentine was 27 years older than Jenny, born in April 1868.
Imagine marrying a woman not even conceived when you married your first wife: True to his name, Valentine knew how to win a lady’s heart.
The Clewleys lived in Van Buren when their eldest daughter, Elsie Bell, was born on September 1886. A second daughter, Ethel May, was born in Van Buren on May 30, 1888.
The family lived in Brewer’s Ward 1 when census-taker Patrick H. Dunn counted noses on June 20, 1900. Valentine was 59, Jenny 32, Elsie 13, and Ethel 12.
His hair now gray and his height now 5-9, Valentine was admitted to Togus on July 9, 1917. Among the disabilities affecting him were arteriosclerosis, “incontinence of urine,” impaired vision, “hyper prost[ate],” rheumatism, and an indecipherable affliction involving “both feet & legs.”
His “nearest relative,” son Melvin, lived on Lake Avenue in Auburn, but we do not know if Valentine went to live there when discharged by Togus on July 16, 1918.
According to www.geaneanet.org, Valentine Clewley became “deceased between 1860 and 1930.” The first date is way off, the second date closer to the truth.
His headstone indicates only his Civil War service, and obviously someone among his descendants ensured Valentine received this particular stone, ubiquitous in military cemeteries throughout the eastern United States.
So few words engraved on his stone, yet so much was written about Valentine Clewley in the records (including his muster roll and pension application) in life.
If you enjoy reading the adventures of Mainers caught up in the Civil War, be sure to like Maine at War on Facebook and get a copy of the new Maine at War Volume 1: Bladensburg to Sharpsburg, available online at Amazon and all major book retailers, including Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble. —————————————————————————————————————–
Brian Swartz can be reached at email@example.com. He enjoys hearing from Civil War buffs interested in Maine’s involvement in the war.