This is a photograph of my great grandfather, Eugene Grace.  He was born in Waterbury, Vermont, on what was probably a chilly Spring day in the little New England town that his father had emigrated to just five years earlier in 1778.

Eugene was born a fraternal twin to his brother, George.  George and Eugene were born the tenth and eleventh sons of Edward Grace and his wife, Catherine Warren Travers.

By this time Eugene’s mother, Catherine, would have been an experienced mom, and I imagine she must have suspected she was carrying twins.  It is likely that George and Eugene, like most twins, were born preterm, tiny and fragile.  This must have been terrifying for their parents, with infant mortality the way that it was in 19th century Vermont.  They must have been especially frightened after having lost their son, Michael, in 1870 when he was just 5 months old.

However fragile their beginning, George and Eugene would both grow to be men with children of their own.

In 1897 at the age of 14, the boys would lose their mother.  By the time of the 1900 census, the 17 year old Eugene was living as a boarder in Waterbury at the home of Eugene and Abbie Towne, and working as a farm laborer.

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The photograph above is the only picture my father has of his grandfather.  In the picture Eugene is wearing a US military uniform, with what looks like a cavalry insignia on the cap.  As of this time I have been unable to find out more about his military service.

At least two of Eugene’s big brothers, Robert Joseph Grace, and Edward Grace, were US Cavalrymen before him, having served in the Spanish-American War.

Having grown up doing farm work in a small Vermont town, I can only imagine that the tales of his older brothers’ battles in far away places like the Phillipines must have loomed large in Eugene’s imagination.  Whether or not this prompted him to follow in their footsteps by joining the US Cavalry is something we may never know.

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