Monday, February 19, 2018

Flashback: 1976 images of house where Antietam officer died

A 1976 image of the Jacob A. Thomas house, where Union officer Wilder Dwight died on Sept. 19, 1862.
The post-war bay window seen here has crumbled, leaving a gaping hole. (See this post on my blog.)
                                   HOVER ON IMAGE TO SEE PRESENT-DAY VIEW
         In 1976, the second-floor porch, a feature of several area houses, was still intact.
                                   HOVER ON IMAGE TO SEE PRESENT-DAY VIEW
            The circa-1850 summer kitchen and farmhouse have deteriorated since 1976.

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In a little more than 48 hours since I hit the publish button, a post on the crumbling house where a Union officer died from his Antietam wounds has cracked the top-10 most popular entries on my blog. The story of 2nd Massachusetts lieutenant colonel Wilder Dwight -- who succumbed in an upstairs bedroom of the old Jacob A. Thomas house near Boonsboro, Md. -- has many tentacles.

2nd Massachusetts officer
Wilder Dwight died of his
Antietam wounds on Sept. 19, 1862,
in a bedroom of Jacob A. Thomas'
house near Boonsboro, Md.
Since publishing the piece, I've learned that, upon receiving news of his son's wounding, Dwight's father traveled south to the battlefield via train from Massachusetts with the father of 20th Massachusetts officer Oliver Wendell Holmes, who had suffered a neck wound at Antietam.  (He recovered -- Oliver became a U.S. Supreme Court justice in 1902.) William Dwight received news of his son's death when he reached Baltimore.

Also, a reader of the blog has shared with me a letter from a 2nd Massachusetts officer, dated Sept. 19, 1862, to Chaplain Alonzo Quint, who was with Dwight  when he died.  "My best love to the Col.," Colonel George Andrews wrote. Wilder, a Harvard-educated lawyer, died early that afternoon.

Unsurprisingly, many of you wonder why the house hasn't been preserved, and I'll aim to write about that in another post. In the meantime, I want to share these 1976 images of the circa-1850 Thomas house and circa-1870 barn on the property. The photographs were part of a 1978 Maryland Historical Trust  report, which noted that even then the farmstead was "deteriorating seriously."

Compare the images here to photos from my recent visit. Also, hover on the second and third images in this post to see a present-day view of the summer kitchen and farmhouse. (Note: Hover effect does not work on phone or tablet.) At the bottom of this post, find an interactive, present-day panorama of the old Thomas farmhouse and summer kitchen.

I'm keenly interested in telling the story of Wilder Dwight's death. If you have information to share, e-mail me here.

The summer kitchen in 1976. It has deteriorated significantly since this image was taken.
Another 1976 view of the front of the once-stately home on a knoll near Boonsboro, Md.
The fence seen in this 1976 image has long since been removed.
The circa-1870 barn underwent significant restoration in 1999, 23 years after this photo was taken.
       INTERACTIVE PANORAMA: Present-day view of  summer kitchen and farmhouse.
                                     (Click at upper right for full-screen experience.)

-- Have something to add (or correct) in this post? E-mail me here.

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