HARVEST JOURNAL: Memoir of a Minnesota Farmer (back to home page)

Research & Notes

Isaac Cummings Family Tree

Fred Cummings is a descendant of Isaac Cummings, who was born in England c. 1601 and came to the United States c. 1630. Isaac Cummings appears on a list of "Commoners" of Ipswich (Topsfield), Massachussetts, in 1641. Today, his descendants are spread throughout the country, and many are members of The Isaac Cummings Family Association. Fred's relationship to Isaac, as documented in The Cummings Memorial (1903) by Rev. George Mooar and in Cummings Genealogy (1904) by Albert Oren Cummins, unfolds this way:

Isaac / John / Nathaniel / Nathaniel / Eleazer / Eleazer / David N. / Frederick A.

Fred Cummings Family Tree

David Nevins Cummings, 1813-1906, married Ruth Brown*, 1810-1852
   Rosanna Hamilton Cummings, 1833-1875
   John W. Cummings, 1836-1906
   Henry J. Cummings, b. 1837
   James Marshall Cummings (Marshall), 1840-1881
   Benjamin Franklin Cummings (Frank), 1843-1928
   Frederick Augustus Cummings, 1846-1938
   Moses Brown Cummings, b. 1848
   Caroline Cummings (Caddie), twin of Catherine, 1851-1875
   Catherine Cummings (Kate), twin of Caroline, 1851-1935

Frederick Augustus Cummings, 1846-1938 married Rosannah M. Howe, 1851-1929
   Warren Ellsworth Cummings, b. 1869, married Jane Margaret Taylor (Jenny) b. 1873
      Myrna Violet Priscilla Cummings, b. 1893
      Elvyn Donnally Cummings, b. 1896
      Kenneth Allen Cummings, b. 1900
      Vinton Augustus Cummings, b. 1903
   Lewis S. Cummings, b. 1872, married Florence Maw
      Stanley Maw Cummings, b. 1904
      Ruth Cummings
   Reuben A. Cummings, 1873-1874
   Phoebe Myrtle Cummings (Myrtle), b. 1877, married George C. Heinzelman, b. 1876
      George Cleland Heinzelman (Cleland), b. 1904
      Lola Heinzelman, b. 1911
      Frederick Alden Heinzelman (Alden), b. 1917

* Family lore suggests that Ruth Brown is related to the abolitionist John Brown, but I haven't been able to document how. I would welcome contact from anyone who has information about this.

Note: A few of the people listed above, and many of their children, have assisted me by sharing their memories along with original photos, letters, and clippings. It has been a treat for me to meet with them while working on this project. I am not publishing death dates or names of spouses or children beyond those noted here to protect their privacy, but I am indebted to all the family members who aided me during this process.

--Sandra Wilcoxon

Custer's Speech

Headquarters, Third Cavalry Division;
Appomattox C. St. Va., April 9th, 1865

Soldiers of the Third Cavalry Division:

With profound gratitude toward the God of battles, by whose blessings our enemies have been humbled and our arms rendered triumphant, your commanding General avails himself of this, his first opportunity to express to you his admiration of the heroic manner in which you have passed through the series of battles which today resulted in the surrender of the enemy's entire army.

The record established by your indomitable courage is unparalleled in the annals of war. Your prowess has won for you even the respect and admiration of your enemies. . . . To the wounded and to those who languish in Southern prisons, let our heartfelt sympathy be tendered. And now, speaking for myself alone, when the war is ended and the task of the historian begins--when those deeds of daring which have rendered the name and fame of the Third Cavalry Division imperishable are inscribed upon the bright pages of our country's history, I only ask that my name be written as that of the commander of the Third Cavalry Division.

--G. A. Custer
Brevet Major General Commanding
Official: L. W. Barnhart, Captain and A.A.A.G.

Note: Full text of the speech is found on pg. 21 of Harvest Journal. You can imagine how excited I was to find this on four pages of hand-written stationery, and it wasn't in Fred's or Rose's handwriting--I thought it might be some original document. However, the handwriting is not that of Custer's, and I don't have a sample of Barnhart's writing. (If anyone can direct me to a sample of his writing, I please contact me.) Fred's brother Frank served with Custer, and may have heard this speech first-hand. Fred considered Custer a hero, statesman, and patriot, so it's possible that Frank or his wife copied the speech out of Custer's memoirs, published in the late 1870s, and sent it to Fred, but this is conjecture on my part.

--Sandra Wilcoxon

Names & Spelling

Many of the names of people and places in Fred's journals were spelled several different ways. For example: Frasier and Frazier, Lilly and Lillie, Maud and Maude. Discrepancies were also found in the local newspapers of the time, as one article might spell a name one way, but that person's obituary spelled it differently. I have tried to be consistent in the spellings presented here, using the ones Fred or the newspapers used most frequently, but I may have chosen wrong in some instances. Please contact me if you are aware of a misspelling or factual inaccuracy that exists in Harvest Journal, so that I may research it further and correct it in a future edition. Thank you!

--Sandra Wilcoxon

About the Authors

Sandra K. Wilcoxon was born in Texas, lived in Argentina as a child, and attended grade school through college in Minnesota. When asked about how the book came about, Sandra says, "I didn't even know Fred's journals existed until I was visiting my grandmother for Christmas in 1996. Sitting on the coffee table were several large, old, tattered, leather-bound books. I asked about them and she told me they were her grandfather's journals, that she had always intended to type them up, but her hands weren't working as well as they used to. I picked one up, saw the handwriting was pretty legible, and I offered to type them up using my new computer. She let me take the books back home, and the more I typed, the more fascinated I became by Fred's voice and observations. I thought that, perhaps, even people outside of the immediate family might enjoy his words. Then followed several years of transcribing, editing, attending workshops, rewriting, reading excerpts, and searching for a publisher or agent. As my grandmother approached her 90th year, I decided to take matters into my own hands, and worked with the team at Bookpublisher to produce the book. Their editors and designers were great to work with, and new technology facilitated the process. So, here it is--enjoy!"

When not working on Harvest Journal, Wilcoxon writes poetry, draws, travels, and cares for her cats and bonsai trees. She has 20 years' experience in museums and the arts, and works and lives with her husband near Chicago.

Frederick A. Cummings was born on July 22, 1846, in Thetford, Vermont, and died May 9, 1938, in Waukokee, Minnesota. What happened in between is the subject of this book, and is stated mostly in his own words. He left to his daughter more than 12 journals filled with recipes, poems, accounting, and impressions of the times that formed Harvest Journal. This is his legacy, which also lives on through his descendants, who may see a bit of themselves in him.


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Favorite Links

I am indebted to the Fillmore County History Center for their assistance with research for this book. If you are interested in the history of Fillmore County, check out this link. And here are a few of my other favorites:

For research about early Minnesota and correspondence between Warren Cummings and Thomas J. Meighen: The Minnesota State Historical Society

A great poetry site: PoetryPoetry.com

An addictive game: The Number Game



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