|In the Hartford Daily Courant, undertaker William Roberts and businessman M.S. Chapman|
advertised for their services to retrieve bodies of Union soldiers from battlefields in the South.
(CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)
In the Hartford Daily Courant, Roberts and businessman M.S. Chapman, a former Union soldier, frequently touted their body retrieval services: "...have it done in a thoroughly reliable manner, by one who has had much experience, and is well-acquainted with the different localities in the South," one advertisement noted.
|A sketch of William Roberts that appeared |
with his obituary in the Hartford Daily Courant
on May 23, 1898.
"Those who have lost friends in the army and desire to procure their bodies," the newspaper reported, "will do well to consult W. W. Roberts, No. 12 Pratt st."
Even well into October 1864, months after the war ended, Roberts and Chapman advertised for their services.
Born in Newington, about seven miles from Hartford, Roberts was orphaned at an early age. After learning to become a carpenter, he operated a furniture business on Pratt Street in Hartford, across the street from a bank. Roberts later added an undertaking business and was known for the impressive innovation of adding glass to the sides of a hearse -- the first man in the United States to do so. He became so good at coffin-making that his "burial caskets of artistic design earned him a reputation which extended throughout New England."
In September 1866, Roberts, a wealthy man, left the business of death for the entertainment business. In 1868, he built the Hartford Opera House on Main Street and for 17 years "provided practically all of the professional entertainment in the city."
"Silent and uncommunicative by nature," Roberts died at age 84 on May 22, 1898. The man who was very fond of horses and "always had one or more handy steppers in his stable" is buried in Hartford's Spring Grove Cemetery, not far from where he once crafted coffins for the dead of Antietam.
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-- Hartford Daily Courant, May 23, 1898.