This post is titled a “Short Biography…” because I have had no luck finding any published biography for the author of these letters. In fact, just discovering basic information about him has proven to be difficult because of the various spellings of his name. His scanty military records are (mostly) under the name Augustus Alonzo Hoit. However, census and family records seem to refer to him most generally as Alonzo Augustus Hoyt (1825-Aft1900). As near as I can determine, Alonzo was born in Vermont (probably Woodbury, VT) to a couple that divorced not long after his birth. His mother, I’m certain, was Anna (True) Hoyt (1804-1884). His father’s identity, however, remains a mystery. Alonzo’s mother remarried to John Blanchard (1799-1865) on 18 September 1827 in Cabot, Washington Co., Vermont, and relocated to Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio, prior to the Civil War where the family earned a living by farming.
Initially I assumed that Alonzo’s father had died prior to his mother’s remarriage, as was usually the case. However, a letter in this collection leads me to believe that Alonzo’s biological father was yet alive and that his parents must have divorced — pretty rare but happened occasionally in the early 1800s. In that letter (22 August 1862), Alonzo states that he has heard from his father, residing in Campton in 1862. I presume this was Campton, Grafton County, New Hampshire, which is some 100 miles from Woodbury, Vermont. His father must have remarried for Alonzo says that his father’s daughter — “Mary,” born in 1839 or 1840 — corresponded with him occasionally and had just recently (spring 1861) married a “Mr. Keniston.” There were families by that name in Campton but I have not been able to learn who he was. Alonzo does not speak of his father with much reverence and his obvious dislike for those who favor strong drink suggests to me that he thought his father a drunkard. To add weight to that theory, Alonzo wrote that his father had opened a “stand” in the village which usually implies a “liquor stand.”
John Blanchard and Anna (Alonzo’s mother) had at least 8 children — 5 sons and 3 daughters — who were all half-siblings of Alonzo. None of these daughters were named Mary and none of them married a Mr. Keniston, by the way, in case you were thinking that Alonzo was referring to his step-father as his “father” in the 22 August 1862 letter. The two youngest sons — E. Jasper Blanchard (1844-1910) and Albert E. Blanchard (1845-1935) — are mentioned in Hoyt’s letter of 10 September 1862. Jasper served with the 2nd Ohio Battery and Albert served in Co. E, 29th Ohio Infantry.
Alonzo was married in Brattleboro, Vermont, on 4 August 1849 to Rebecca P. Guptill, the oldest daughter of Curtis Guptill (1804-1888) and Belinda Libby (1807-1881).
In 1860, Alonzo was enumerated in Gouldsboro, Hancock County, Maine [under the name Hoyt] and his occupation was given as “seaman” which explains his commentary on the Union Navy. The census tells us he was born in Vermont about 1825. He was married to Rebecca P., born about 1830 in Maine. They had five children at that time: Guptill A. (b. 1851), Augustus T. (b. 1853), Anna J. (b. 1855), Lillian E. (b. 1857), and Mary E. (b. 1859). Residing in an adjacent household were Alonzo’s in-laws, Curtis and Belinda (Libby) Guptill.
In 1870, Alonzo A. Hoyt (age 45) is enumerated in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida, and his occupation is given as “carpenter.” Residing in the household with him was his wife Rebecca (age 40), and his children Alonzo D. (age 19), Augustus T. (age 17), Annie G. (age 15), Mary E. (age 11), Leon A. (age 3, born in Florida), and Charles C. (3 mo., born in Georgia).
In 1871, Alonzo A. Hoyt is listed in the Jacksonville City Directory with his occupation given as “Cabinet Maker.”
In 1876, Alonzo A. Hoyt is listed in the Jacksonville City Directory with his occupation given as “Clerk.”
In 1880, Alonzo A. Hoyte (age 55) is enumerated in Conneaut Township, Ashtabula County, Ohio in the household of his mother, Anna T. Blanchard (age 76).
During the Civil War, Alonzo was commissioned an officer in Co. G, 8th Maine Infantry on 7 September 1861. He was promoted to full Captain on 15 June 1863 when he mustered out of the 8th Maine and into Co. A, U. S. Colored Troops, 34th Infantry. He was promoted to Major on 1 March 1865 and mustered out of the service on 28 February 1866. Nothing more could be found pertaining to his war record.