Lieut. Colonel General John F. Coughlin was not native to New Hampshire, but he helped to organize, and then served with Manchester’s Irish Regiment, 10th New Hampshire
Infantry entering the service at Manchester, New Hampshire 5 September 1862. His regiment participated in several battles and skirmishes mostly in Virginia. On the 9 May 1864 at Swifts Creek, Virginia, he led his regiment to victory despite terrible odds, saving the guns.
He was promoted to brevet colonel and then to brevet brigadier general of the U.S. Volunteers on 9 April 1865. [A brevet was a warrant authorizing a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily, but usually without receiving the pay of that higher rank except when actually serving in that role. So if you see him being called Lieut. Colonel, that was the title he held during the Civil War. After the war he was entitled to use the Bvt. Brigadier General rank].
When his regiment mustered out on 21 June 1865 there had been 195 losses: 7 officers and 54 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded, and 1 officer and 133 enlisted men who died of disease.
It was not until twenty-nine years after his service, on August 31, 1893, that the President
of the United States [then Grover Cleveland] awarded then Lieut. Colonel John Coughlin the Medal of Honor as follows:
“The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Colonel John Coughlin, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 9 May 1864, while serving with Irish Regiment, 10th New Hampshire Infantry, in action at Swift Creek, Virginia. During a sudden night attack upon Burnham’s Brigade, resulting in much confusion, Lieutenant Colonel Coughlin, without waiting for orders, led his regiment forward and interposed a line of battle between the advancing enemy and Hunt’s Battery, repulsing the attack and saving the guns.”
Lieut. Colonel John Coughlin died on 20 May 1912 in Manchester, New Hampshire, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va. (Section 2, Lot 936, WS).
John F. Coughlin was born on 19 June 1837 in Williamstown, Orange County Vermont, into a large Irish family. Both of his parents, Daniel & Margaret (O’Neill) Coughlin had immigrated to the United States by 1834, settling in Williamstown Vermont area where his older brother Jeremiah was born. By 1850 the Coughlin family had moved to Manchester, New Hampshire. John probably attended at least a few years of school, as he was literate. By 1860 when he was 23 years old she is shown in Manchester’s City Directory as selling liquor at Emerald Block on Elm Street, and the same year census shows him living with his brother-in-law Michael Gillis who owned a grocery business.
1860 Manchester City Directory [page 66 and 83]
Coughlin John, liquors, clk 3 Emerald blk. Elm, n. Park, bds 17 Central.
Gillis, Michael, grocer, Elm, near Park, house do.
Even before the Civil War, John Coughlin was highly regarded as a competent, popular, leader–being elected by the City of Manchester’s 5th Ward as Alderman in 1861 , and as a member of the House of Representatives from Manchester in 1862. By the fall of that year, he and others had organized a mainly Irish regiment–the Tenth New Hampshire.
The Farmer’s Cabinet, a regional newspaper in Amherst NH announced the following:
“Previous to the departure of the Tenth New Hampshire Regiment from Manchester Monday for the seat of war, horses were presented to the field officers by their friends. Below is a roster of the regiment:
FIELD OFFICERS–Michael T. Donahue, Colonel; John Coughlin, Lieut. Colonel; Jesse F. Angell, Major.
STAFF OFFICERS–John Faxton, Adjutant; Thomas Sullivan, Quartermaster; John Ferguson, Surgeon; H.J. Harwood, John Haynes, Assistant Surgeons.
NON-COMMISSIONED STAFF–I.S> Bartlet, Sergeant Major; Richard H. Short, Commissary Sergeant; Timothy Cahill, Hospital Seward; M. McSweeney, Quartermaster Sergeant.
A–John M. Caswell, Thomas C. Trumbull, A.L. Day
B–T.B. Crowly, Geo. Edgecomb, M. Moran
C–W. M. Kelly, Chas W. Johnson, Chas H. Gardner.
E–A.B. Cook, W.H. D. Cochrane, C.W. Woodbury
F–John L. O’Brien, Michael Corcoran, John L. Henan
G–Geo. W. Towle, Geo. E. Hodgman, Simon R. Marston
H–George H. Hubbard, Foster Kimball, John Hubbard
I–Darius G. Harriman, Richard Cody, Jas. Nott
K–James Madden, Patrick Doyle
RANK OF CAPTAINS. Caswell, Crowly, Harriman, O’Brien, Hubbard, Cook, Towle, Strain, Kelly, Madden.
RANK OF FIRST LIEUTENANTS. Trumbull, Cody, Edgecomb, Doyle, Hodgman, Cochran, Kimball, Welch, Corcoran, Johnson
RANK OF SECOND LIEUTENANTS. Moran, Day, Hubbard, Maguire, Nott, Henan, Woodbury, Marston, Gardner
[Source: Thursday, September 25, 1862 — The Farmer’s Cabinet (Amherst NH) Vol 61, Issue 9, Page 2: THE NEW HAMPSHIRE TENTH.]
An extensive biography of John Coughlin was printed in 1910 in the Manchester Union newspaper and can be read here., so I will try to present only additional information not found there.
From the obituary printed in the Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth NH) 28 May 1912 we learn: “At the close of the war he settled in Washington where he engaged in the drug business for many years. He retired from business several years ago because of impaired health and during the last three years has spent much of his time among his old comrades in New Hampshire. His body will be given a military burial. His only near relative is his sister, Mrs. Cody. Of late years since his return from Washington, he has been a frequent visitor to this city [ie Portsmouth NH], being the guest of his old comrade, Capt. J. Albert Sanborn.”
John F. Coughlin died while staying at 219 Massabesic Street in Manchester, New Hampshire 27 May 1912, age 74 years 11 months and 8 days old. His body was removed to Arlington National Cemetery, to be buried with honors. He never married, and had no children, so my genealogy below will mention his parents and the descendants of his siblings.
======PARTIAL GENEALOGY of Lieut. Col. John F. Coughlin======
Daniel Coughlin, born abt 1795-1799 in Ireland; prob. died 1851 in Manchester NH;
married Margaret O’Neill; She born about 1800 in Ireland and d. (prob) 12 Feb 1857 in Manchester NH. In 1856 Margaret is shown n the Manchester City Directory living at 4 Park Street, a widow. Daniel and Margaret and family probably moved to Manchester sometime between 1848-1950 [the Manchester City Directory of 1848 does not show anyone by the name of Coughlin living in the city, but they are in the census of 1850].
Editor’s Note: it was entirely odd to me that Daniel Coughlin seems to disappear from sight about 1851 and his death record includes some cryptic dates. His wife Margaret disappears in the same manner after 1856. I believe that I know what happened to both of them as follows. The 1856 Manchester City Directory shows Margaret Coughlin as a widow so we know that Daniel has to be dead by this time. Daniel Coughlin’s death certificate [see here] post dated 1906 shows 3 separate dates, i.e. June 3, July 7, 1849 and July 4, 1851. 1851 and the cause of death fracture of the brain. This seems to correspond with a newspaper notice about the death and possible murder of a “John” Coughlin by a Thomas Welch in Manchester, then a few months later about the indictment in court for killing a “David” Coughlin. I believe both refer to DANIEL, John’s father. By 1858 Margaret Coughlin has disappeared from the Manchester City Directory, and the newspaper carries a story about a Mrs. Coughlin who was seemingly murdered over accusations about stolen cheese, and that her husband had been killed a few years prior by a Thomas “Wells” [Welch in reality]–I believe this is Margaret. I am unable to find either in the (old) St. Joseph Cemetery where reportedly they are buried, perhaps near their daughter Johanna (Coughlin) Gillis.
Thursday, January 9, 1851 New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette (Concord NH) Vol 4, Issue 190 page 2
On Thursday last an Irishman named John Coughlin was murdered in his house in Manchester, by Thos. Welch, also an Irishman. Welch has been arrested. It appears from the evidence before the coroner’s jury that both had been drinking and the murder was the result of a quarrel between them.
Thursday April 24, 1851 Farmer’s Cabinet Amherst NH Vol 49, Issue 37 page 2
Thomas Welch, indicted for man slaughter in killing David Coughlin; Daniel Clark and Franklin Pierce Esqrs, were assigned his counsel by the Court. After consulation he pleased guilty, and his counsel stated the circumstances in mitigation of punishment. The Attorney General was satisfied that it was a case that deserved the mildest punishment. It appears that Coughlin assaulted Welch first, and Welch struck him and knocked him down, and that in the fall Coughlin’s head struck either on some wood or on the stove, that cracked the skill on the back part of the head and death ensued. Sentenced to imprisonment 60 days in the common jail, and a fine of $25.00.
Thursday, February 12, 1857, Farmer’s Cabinet (Amherst NH) Vol 55, Issue 28, Page 3
Irish Woman Murdered. Last evening, Friday, about 6 o’clock, on the lower end of Chestnut street, a woman was found nearly lifeless, under circumstances that, according to what we have been able to gather, leaves no room to doubt that she was killed by another woman in a fit of passion. By the hushing up qualities so characteristic of the lower classes of the Irish, the matter was kept quite still till this morning, and then but few facts were elicited. The case has been handed over, by the City Marshall, to Coroner Rowell, who has appointed an inquest this afternoon, at 11-2 o’clock. The woman killed is Mrs. Coughlin, who resided in the large new block at the lower end of Chestnut Street. Her husband was killed six years ago in a affray with Thomas Wells, in this city. Mrs. C. had a dispute yesterday with her next door neighbors, Mrs. Hennessey, about a piece of cheese which she said she bought, and which she accused Mrs. H. of having. Mrs. H. was heard to say, during the day, that she would pound Mrs. C for saying so. About — o’clock Mrs. C was in Mrs. H’s tenement, both –, and it is supposed that they got into a quarrel about the cheese. No one heard it, but a little — that has been after a pail of water, saw a foot sticking through the kitchen door to the entry-way as she passed and heard a noise, and looked in and saw Mrs. C on the floor and called in —. A man near by run in and found Mrs. C on the floor, and Mrs. Hennessey on top, with both knees on Mrs. C’s stomach, and with a cloth over Mrs. C’s –. He jerked her off, and pulling the cloth –, found that she was breathing her last. That is a story. The Coroner’s Jury will have more — testimony. The cheese was found in Mrs. Hennessey’s house this morning, wrapped in paper with Mrs. Coughlin’s name on it. This act is becoming quite a sensation. [Mirror of Saturday. The Coroner’s Jury rendered a verdict, that deceased came to her death by a cause to them unknown]
1850 Manchester NH [SEE copy]
Daniel Coughlin 51 (born abt 1799) Male Ireland, cannot read or write
Margarete Coughlin 50 (born about 1800) F, Ireland cannot read or write
Timothy Coughlin 20 (born about 1830) Male Ireland Laborer
Mary Coughlin, 18 (born about 1832) F Ireland
Jerry Coughlin 16 (born abt 1834) M Laborer Ireland
John Coughlin, 13 (born abt 1837) M Ireland
William Coughlin, 10 (born abt 1840) M Ireland
Ellen Coughlin, 8 F Ireland (born abt 1842)
Winney Murray 16 F Ire
James Murray 14 M Ire
Francis Murray 12 F Ire
Bridget Murray 10 F Ire
1860 Manchester City Directory [page 66 and 83]
Coughlin John, liquors, clk 3 Emerald blk. Elm, n. Park, bds 17 Central.
Gillis, Michael, grocer, Elm, near Park, house do.
[Note: Emerald Block is Elm, corner of Park Street // Park Street from Elm, north of S. Grammar School to Old Hall Road] [1870 Park, from Elm, east of Hanover]
Children of Daniel & Margaret (O’Neill) Coughlin:
1. +Johanna Coughlin, b. 1828 in Cork, Ireland; d. 7 March 1913 in Manchester NH [see continued below]
2. Timothy Coughlin, b. abt 1830 Ireland; died 15 March 1856 Manchester NH, of consumption. The 1856 City Directory shows Timothy living with his mother at 4 Park Street, occupation: Machine Shop
3. +Mary B. Coughlin, b abt 1832 Ireland; d. 7 Aug 1902 Amesbury MA, age 70; married Joseph Gillis. He was b abt 1835 in Ireland. In 1860 US Census living in Manchester NH, Ward 6 with wife and 3 yrs old son Joseph H. Gillis [b abt 1857].
4. Jeremiah “Jerry” Coughlin, b. abt 1834 Vermont; In 1856 the city directory shows him living with his mother at 4 Park Street, occupation: Laborer. Although another source states that he died in 1868 in Mississippi, to the contrary I find him in the 1871 directory of Manchester NH, and he is shown as an engineer house 257 Porter Street [another list for a Daniel G Coughlin, gilder boarding at his house]
Civil War veteran: Private, Res. Boston; 26; seaman; enl. and must. Aug 13, 1862; re-enlist. Dec. 29 1863; wounded March 25, 1865 at Hatcher’s Run, Va.; must. out July 27, 1865.
5. +John F. Coughlin, b. 19 June 1837 Williamstown VT [the subject of this blog story].
6. William Coughlin, b. abt 1840 VT; in 1860 living in Manchester NH with his sister and brother-in-law, Joseph & Mary (Coughlin) Gillis
7. +Ellen Coughlin b 12 March 1843 in Middlesex VT [see continued below]
Johanna Coughlin, daughter of Daniel & Margaret (O’Neill) Coughlin, b. 1828 in Cork, Ireland; d. 7 March 1913 in Manchester NH; m. Michael Gillis [not John as her death record states]. Michael Gillis, son of Peter and Ellen Gillis, was b abt 1827 in Ireland and died 10 November 1889 in Manchester NH. He was a long time grocer of Manchester NH.
1860 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester
Michael Gillis M 33 Ireland Grocer 2000
Johanna Gillis F 31 Ireland
Mary Gillis F 9 NH
Ellen Gillis F 7 NH
Maragret Gillis F 5 NH
Therna Gillis F 3 NH
Elizabeth Gillis F 1 NH
John Coughlin M 22 Vermont Grocer
1880 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester > 184 Amherst STreet
Michael Gillis M 53 Ireland laborer
Johanna Gillis wife F 50 Ireland
Maggie GIllis dau F 23 NH works in cotton mill
Joseph Gillis son M 11 NH cigar maker
Agnes Gillis granddau F 3 NH
Martha Gillis dau F 14 NH at school
John Gillis son M 16 NH at school
Thursday, November 21, 1889 NH Patriot and State Gazette, Concord NH, Page 5
MANCHESTER–Michael Gillis, a prominent man for many years in Ward 5, died a week ago last Sunday, after a sickness of less than one day. He was a near relative of Lieutnant Col. John Coughlin late of the 10th regiment.
1900 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester
Phamilla, Frank Head W M May 1855 45 married 30 yrs Belgium Belgium Belgium; imm 1894 6 yrs naturalized Cigar maker
Phamilla, Martha wife W F Oct 1865 34 married 30 yrs 1 ch 1 living NH Ire Ire
Phamilla, Esther dau W F April 1888 12 single NH NH NH
Gillis, Johanna Mother in law W F May 1830 70 widow Ire Ire Ire imm 1845 55
Children of Michael & Johanna (Coughlin) Gillis:
1. Mary F. Gillis, b abt 1851 NH; died 22 Nov 1877 in Manchester NH, of consumption
2. Ellen Gillis b abt 1853 NH; m. 8 November 1871 in Nashua NH to Charles A. Murray, son of Lourette/Garnett & Catherine/Katherine (Crawly) Murray. He was b abt 1850 in Goffstown NH (both of his parents born in Ireland).
3. Margaret “Maggie” Gillis b abt 1857 NH, and died 27 July 1908 in Manchester NH ; m. 15 December 1890 in Manchester NH to James Kane, son of Joseph & Mary Kane; He was a blacksmith, 2nd marriage for widowed groom, He b. 1849 Ireland, and died 17 May 1903 in Manchester NH. Resided 201 Lake Avenue, Manchester NH. They are buried in the old St. Joseph Cemetery, Manchester NH
4. Theresa “Clara” Gillis b abt 1857 NH, died 4 March 1881 in Manchester NH; m 5 Aug 1875 in Manchester NH to Revilo G. Houghton, son of Alvin & Esther R. Houghton. The 1880 census shows them living in at 288 Bridge Street with his mother. They have a child, Maud E. Houghton, age 4 [b abt 1876 NH]. Maud died 6 Sep 1910 in Gardner MA. She married 16 November 1898 in Gardner MA to Hiram W. Caswell, son of Isaac W. & Matilda (Reynolds) Caswell. He was born March 1869 in Canada.
5. Elizabeth Gillis b abt 1859 NH; died 4 Dec 1877 in Mancester NH, age 18 of consumption
6. Joseph Gillis, b abt 1860 NH, prob dy
7. Anne Gillis, b abt 1862 NH; died 1 February 1880 Manchester NH, of consumption.
8. +John F.A. Gillis, b Oct 1864; died 6 March 1897 Manchester NH, age 33 yrs 5 mo 24 days: married. Cigar maker; m. 20 December 1886 in Manchester NH to Mary A. McDermott, dau of John & Celia McDermott. [See descendants here].
9. Martha Gillis, b abt 1866 possibly Concord NH, died 28 August 1933 in Concord NH; m. 24 September 1900 Concord NH to Frank Phamilla [Vermulen] son of John & Mary (Lessard) Vermulen. Occupations cigar maker and dressmaker, he b. Belgium
10. Joseph H. Gillis, b. 1869; died 16 May 1885, age 16
Mary B. Coughlin, daughter of Daniel & Margaret (O’Neil) Coughlin, b July 1833 Ireland; d. 7 Aug 1902 Amesbury MA, age 70; married Joseph Gillis. He was b abt 1835 in Ireland. In 1860 US Census living in Manchester NH, Ward 6 with wife and 3 yrs old son Joseph H. Gillis [b abt 1857].
1880 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester
Gillis, Mary B W F 46 keeping House VT Ire Ire
Gillis, Joseph H. W M 22 son works woolen mill Mass Ire VT
Gillis Ellen M. W F 16 dau works wollen mill NH Ire VT
Gillis Daniel E W M 19 son works woolen mill NH Ire VT
Children of Joseph & Mary B. (Coughlin) Gillis:
1. Joseph H. Gillis, b abt 1858 MA
2. William F. Gillis, b abt 1861 in Concord NH; died 12 January 1876 in Manchester NH, age 15.
3. +Ellen M. “Nellie” Gillis, b abt 1864 Concord NH, died 21 August 1896 in Manchester NH; married 29 Jun 1891 in Manchester NH to Francois E. “Frank” Bourassa [SEE MORE BELOW]
3. Daniel Edward Gillis b abt 1871 NH; died 9 February 1889 in Brockton MA, age 22, painter, single.
Ellen Coughlin, daughter of Daniel & Margaret (O’Neil) Coughlin, b 12 March 1843 in Middlesex VT, died 18 Aug 1926 in Manchester NH; m. Walter Cody, son of Michael & Catharine (Fitzgerald) Cody. He was b. 24 December 1837 in Waterford, Ireland and d. 7 June 1904, age 67 years in Manchester NH. [219 Massabesic Street]. He served in and received a pension for service in the Civil War, 1st Lt, company C, 3rd NH Infantry. Pension 21 Feb 1863; Shoe dealer per son Walter’s birth rec. Her brother Lieut. Col. John Coughlin died at her residence during a visit wit her.
1880 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester > 312 Merrimack Street
Cody, Walter W M 42 Shoe dealer Ire Ire Ire Shoe Dealer
Cody, Ellen W F 37 wife keeps house VT
Cody, Genevieve C W F 10 dau at school NH
Cody, Walter F. W M 7 son NH
Cody, Ellen M. W F 5 dau NH
Cody, Michael D. W M 2 son NH
Cody, Mary G. W F July 10/12 daughter NH
1900 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester > Ward 6 > 219 Massabesic Street
Head Walter Cody M 63 Ireland W M Dec 1837 62 m 31 yrs Ire Ire Ire Retired Merchant
Wife Ellen Cody F 57 Vermont March 1843 m 31 yrs 5 children 3 living VT Ire Ire
Son Walter F. Cody M 28 New Hampshire Oct 1872 27 single NH Ire VT shoe cutter
Son Michael D. Cody M 22 New Hampshire Feb 1878 22 single NH Ire VT post office clerk
Daughter Mary G. Cody F 21 New Hampshire July 1879 20 single NH Ire VT
Children of Michael & Ellen (Coughlin) Cody:
1. Genevieve C. “Jennie C.” Cody, b. Nov 1869 Manchester NH; died 27 Feb 1881 Manchester NH of scarlet fever.
2. Michael D. Cody, b. 17 Feb 1878 in Manchester NH; d. 17 Oct 1911 at Shelburne, Coos NH, age 33; Post Office Clerk, Accidental Gun Shot Wound; In 1910 living with his mother in Manchester NH, single.
3. Walter Francis Cody, b 17 October 1872 Manchester NH; d. 19 Dec 1943 Manchester NH; Registered for WWI Draft in 1917: living at 219 Massabesic St., age 45 unmarried, shoe cutter at Kimball Shoe Co., NOK is mother Ellen Cody at same address.
4. Ellen M. Cody, b abt 1875 Manchester NH; died 2 March 1881, age 5
5. Mary G. Cody, b. July 1879; d. 25 Sep 1943 at Manchester, NH
Ellen M. “Nellie” Gillis, daughter of Joseph & Mary B. (Coughlin) Gillis, b abt 1864 Concord NH, died 21 August 1896 in Manchester NH; married 29 Jun 1891 in Manchester NH to Francois E. “Frank” Bourassa, son of Francois & Margaret Bourassa. He was born April 1855 in NH.
The 1900 US Census shows him living in Manchester NH, a widower, at 552 Lincoln Street, a patrol man. Living with him is his mother-in-law, Mary B. Gillis; and son, Frank G. aka Francois Xavier Bourassa
Child of Frank E. & Ellen M. (Gills) Bourassa:
1. Frank G. aka Francois Xavier Bourassa, born August 1893 NH, and who died 27 February 1941 in Manchester NH. He married 7 June 1921 in Manchester NH to Beatrice Fontaine, daughter of Frank & Jane (Rattigan) Fontaine. In the 1940 US Census they are living at 112 Bridge Street in Manchester NH with son +Francis J. age 15 , and daughter Mary T. age 10. Occupation insurance clerk.
Francis J. Bourassa, son of Frank G. & Beatrice (Fontaine) Bourassa, was born in Manchester, N.H., Oct. 28, 1924, and died at the age of 84, on June 11, 2009 in Williamsburg, Virginia. He attended local schools and graduated from St. Anselm College in 1948 with degrees in chemistry and metallurgy. He was a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War. He worked in the semiconductor industry prior to his retirement, and was a longtime resident of Newton, Mass., and Tequesta, Fla., prior to his move to Virginia.He was an active parishioner of St. Jude’s Church in Tequesta. His wife of 44 years, Charlotte Gauvin Bourassa, died in 1995. He was predeceased by two children, Michelle and Mark Bourassa. Family members include three sons, Glen, Neil and Craig; two daughters, Denise and Camille; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. He also leaves a sister-in-law, Mrs. John (Bernice) King of Manchester. [Several public obituaries posted]
NOTE: I would be deeply grateful if any relatives who have more information and/or additional photographs of John Coughlin and family would contact me through this blog.
[Editor’s Note: This article is one of several I have written at the request of Don Pinard, Department of Public Works, Chief of Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Division, City of Manchester, New Hampshire. It is a volunteer project (on my part) to better record and share the stories of the men memorialized by the city’s “Military Squares.” All the information specifically within the body of this project is shared copyright free with the City of Manchester and its representatives, with the exception of photographs provided by family or friends who still retain whatever rights conveyed to them by law.]