(Thanks to Gail Gordon for sending the findagrave link to Richard’s grave marker in Lowell, MA)
Richard Cottrell was born on January 3, 1840 in Birmingham, England, the son of Abraham and Ann.
Richard was living with his widowed mother in Birmingham in 1850. He left England and immigrated to the United States in 1858 eventually settling in Michigan. By 1860 he was working for and/or living with George Lathrop, a nurseryman in Lansing’s 1st Ward. (He later claimed that in 1860 he was living with the attorney William Chapman in Lansing’s 2nd Ward but he does not appear on the census list for the Chapman family.)
Shortly after war broke out Richard became a member of the Lansing militia company called the “Williams’ Rifles,” whose members would serve as the nucleus of Company G.
Richard was 20 years old, stood 5’4” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and still living in Lansing when he enlisted with the consent of the Justice of the Peace in Company G on May 10, 1861. While the regiment was forming in Grand Rapids, Frank Siverd, also of Company G, wrote home to Lansing that by June 10 Richard had been with the company some time. “He likes camp life and has become quite a soldier.” Richard was reported a Corporal on February 27, 1863 and mustered out of service at Detroit on June 27, 1864.
Richard was probably in Massachusetts when he enlisted at Franklin, as a private in Company G, 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. He was discharged on June 26, 1865, at New Berne, North Carolina.
After the war Richard eventually returned to Lansing where he worked as a cooper for some years. By 1876, however, he had moved back east and was living in Lowell, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, when he became a citizen of the U.S.
Richard was probably living in Lowell where he married Canadian-born Harriet Matilda Earl (1853-1903) on April 4, 1881; they had at least one child, a son: James or John Samuel.
Richard was apparently living in Lansing in October of 1891 when he joined the Grand Army of the Republic Charles Foster Post No. 42 in Lansing; he was suspended from the post in December of 1898, possibly as a result of not paying his dues. That same year he and his wife and son were living in St. Jerusalem, Quebec, Canada.
Richard eventually returned to Massachusetts and by March of 1907 he was residing at 256 Lowell Street in Lawrence, Essex County, Massachusetts.
In 1910 he was apparently living alone in Lawrence’s 3rd Ward, Essex County, Massachusetts and still living in Lawrence in 1915. In 1920 he listed himself as a widower and was boarding with the Veacock family in Lawrence.
In 1891 he applied for and received pension no. 816114 for service in both units.
Richard was probably a widower when he died on October 3, 1921, in Lawrence and is buried in Edson Cemetery, Lowell, Massachusetts (his government stone notes only his service in the artillery).
Interestingly, in 1933, J. M. Couse, an attorney for Richard’s son, John Samuel Cottrell, wrote to the US Pension Bureau attempting to learn whether Richard had in fact been married previous to his marriage to Harriet. “There is a rumor,” wrote Couse on October 14, 1933, “that Richard Cottrell had been previously married and that a son was born of such previous marriage whose name is the same as that of my client, John Samuel Cottrell, and that this earlier son died while in the Naval Service of the United States in San Francisco. Thus far such earlier marriage is a rumor and no more, . . .” It remains a rumor to this day.