Friday, July 27, 2018

52 Ancestors #30: Robert Muir (1875-1956): Union Mine Organizer?

Ancestor: Robert Muir, Great Grandfather
Haplogroup: Unknown

Robert Muir was born on 16 March 1875 in Swinhill in the parish of Dalserf, Scotland to James and Margaret (Semple) Muir. He was the couple's second child together but their oldest son had died the previous year. When the 1881 census was enumerated Robert lived with his mother at the farm of his maternal grandparents, Peter and Janet (Torrance) Semple. His father was not at the home when the census was taken.

Remains of Robert Muir's Sottish birth registration; personal collection

In June of 1887 James Muir immigrated to the United States. Margaret followed later that year with their living children.  They arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 30 September 1887 aboard the Allen Line's S/S Manitoban. The ship had sailed from Glasgow, Scotland, and made a brief stop in Ireland before reaching Philadelphia. Margaret, Robert, and his siblings likely took the train to Streator, Illinois, where James worked as a coal miner. Robert Muir became a naturalized United citizen on 10 October 1896 at the Livingston County Courthourse.

In 1900 he lived with his mother and two younger brothers in Reading, Illinois, where he worked as a coal miner beside his brother Peter. Each had been unemployed for six months during the previous year.

He and Ida Mae Riggin applied for a marriage license on 12 October 1902 in Collinsville, Illinois, and were married shortly thereafter. They lived in Troy for about a year after their marriage; then moved to Novinger, Missouri, where they were living when Robert's cousin, Peter Muir, listed him as his contact when he arrived in the United States in 1903. They moved to O'Fallon, Illinois, just before Ida Mae (Riggin) Muir died in 1909. The couple had two children, Henry and Alice.

In 1910 Robert and his two young children lived in O'Fallon, Illinois, next door to his mother. I imagine she helped care for his children as they were not yet school aged.

On 26 September 1911 Robert married Elizabeth "Liz" Fausz in St. Louis. They both claimed to be over 18 years old and that was certainly the case with Robert, but Liz was only 17 and pregnant. When Robert was required to register for the World War I draft in 1918, the family lived in the Edgemont Station area of East St. Louis, Illinois. Robert's appearance was described as being of medium height and stout build with blue eyes and partially gray hair. He and Liz had four children together. All but Henrietta was born in Illinois.

Robert was not enumerated in the 1920, 1930, and 1940 U.S. federal census. However, he was listed in the East St. Louis city directories between 1924 and 1930. He owned a home on 436 North 80th Street.

His daughter, Alice, my grandmother, always said her father was a union organizer and traveled frequently to coal mines across the country trying to get the workers to unionize. She said he'd been blackballed from several mines, threatened and even shot at. I always thought these stories were fantasies of a young girl who didn't know her father very well. However, not finding him in so many census records makes me wonder.

Robert Muir applied for the new Social Security insurance program on 4 December 1936. At the time he submitted his application he lived in Iaeger, West Virginia, and worked for the Pocahontas Red Bird Mining Co.

Social Security application with Robert Muir's signature; personal

He divorced Liz some time before 1940. When he retired from mining, some time after 1942, he bought a small piece of property along a river in Van Buren County, Tennessee. On that property he lived in an abandoned bus.

Robert Muir's Coal Miner's Certificate from the West Virginia
Department of Mines; personal collection

He was hospitalized in September 1956 while in southwest Virginia visiting his family. He died on 23 September 1956 at the Clinch Valley Clinic Hospital in Richlands, Virginia, of a cerebral hemorrhage due to hypertensive cardiovascular disease. He was 81 years old at the time of his death and was interred at Iaeger Memorial Cemetery in Roderfield, West Virginia.

Robert Muir died without a will. His real and personal property was auctioned off in two separate sales on 11 October and 15 November 1956. When his estate was settled in 1957, each of his six children received $310.52.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "Colorful," which I did not follow.

Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, Robert Muir, is Ancestor number 10 on my family tree:

10 Robert Muir born 16 March 1875 in Swinhill, Dalserf, Lanarkshire, Scotland, to James Muir and Margaret Semple; died on 23 September 1956 in Richlands, Virginia; married 1) Ida Mae Riggin, daughter of John Wesley Riggin and Clementine Wells, on 12 October 1902 in Collinsville, Illinois, and 2) Elizabeth "Liz" Fausz, daughter of Peter Fausz and Margaret Dietrich, on 26 September 1911 in St. Louis, Missouri (divorced)

10.1 Henry "Jack" Muir born 29 May 1903 in Adair County, Missouri, to Robert Muir and Ida Mae Riggin; died 24 May 1986 in Gretna, Louisiana; married 1) Mary Frances Canterberry, daughter of Howard Canterberry and Nancy Robertson on 3 July 1921 in Walls Creek, West Virginia, (divorced) 2) Armitar Ormmueth Alleman, daughter of Arrestide Alleman and Alice Istre, on 24 February 1930 in Acadia Parish, Louisiana, (divorced) 3) Eppa "Eppie" (Swan) Childs Swafford, daughter of William Henry Swan and Edna Sarah Norvell, before 1953, likely in Louisiana, and 4) Edith Mary (Davenport) Samples in May 1979 in St. Bernard Parish.

5 Alice Muir born 16 March 1906 in Novinger, Missouri, to Robert Muir and Ida Mae Riggin; died 14 December 1993 in Pamlico County, North Carolina; married Marvin Edward Jennings, son of Charles Edward Jennings and Effie Beard, on 13 May 1924.

10.3 Robert Muir, Jr. born 7 January 1912 in O'Fallon, Illinois, to Robert Muir and Elizabeth Fausz; died 22 February 1959 in Welch, West Virginia; married 1) Sadie Viola Cline, daughter of John Estil Cline and Maude Rasnake, on 1 November 1930 in Russell County, Virginia, (divorced) and 2) a woman named Carrie after 1949.

10.4 Verna Muir born 3 July 1917 in Illinois to Robert Muir and Elizabeth Fausz; died 18 April 2010 in Ravenswood, West Virginia; married Franz "Frank" Burglechner, son of Unknown Burglechner and Maria "Mary" Miller, before 1935.

10.5 Henrietta Muir born 14 January 1920 in Tralee, West Virginia to Robert Muir and Elizabeth Fausz; died 23 February 2008 in Eglin, Illinois.

10.6 Margaret Elizabeth Muir born 26 September 1924 in East St. Louis, Illinois, to Robert Muir and Elizabeth Fausz; died 14 June 1988 in Richlands, Virginia; married Cecil Roy Hess, son of Charles Robert Hess and Jessie Mae Fitzgerald, on 24 October 1942 in Buchanan County, Virginia (divorced).

'Remains of Robert Muir's Scottish Birth Registration,' personal collection
'Robert Muir's Coal Miner's Certificate,' personal collection
'Social Security Application,' personal collection
1881 Scotland Census, 03/04/1881 Semple, Peter (Census 1881 638/02 002/00 018)
1900 US Federal Census, Census Place: Reading, Livingston, Illinois; Roll: 318; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0114; FHL microfilm number: 1240318
1910 US Federal Census, Census Place: O'Fallon, St Clair, Illinois; Roll: T624_323; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0155; Image: 641; FHL microfilm: 1374336
Alice (Muir) Jennings' Genealogy Notebook, page 4, 8
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1855-2013, 1875 Muir, Robert (Statutory Births 638/02 0037)
US, City Directories, 1821-1989, 1924 East St. Louis, IL (Muir, Robert)
US, City Directories, 1821-1989, 1926 East St. Louis, IL (Muir, Robert)
US, City Directories, 1821-1989, 1928 East St. Louis, IL (Muir, Robert)
US, City Directories, 1821-1989, 1930 East St. Louis, IL (Muir, Robert)
US, Illinois, Livingston County Court, Naturalization Application, 10 Oct 1896
US, Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002, 1911 Muir, Robert - Fausz, Elizabeth
US, Pennsylvania, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1800-1963, 1887 Muir, Robert
US, Social Security Application, Number: 235-10-9644
US, Social Security Card, Number 235-10-9644, State: West Virginia
US, Tennessee, Van Buren County Court Administrator, Settlement of and with C. C. Greer, Administrator, 27 Jun 1957
US, Tennessee, Van Buren County Court Administrator, Goods and Chattels Sale, 11 Oct 1956
US, Tennessee, Van Buren County Court Administrator Estate Sale, 11 Nov 1956
US, Virginia, Death Certificate 1956, Muir, Robert, No. 22810
US, West Virginia, Department of Mines, Coal Miner's Certificate No. 93665
US, World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, State: Illinois; County: St. Clair; Roll: 1614579; Draft Board: 1

Thursday, July 19, 2018

52 Ancestors #29: James Muir (1848-1926): Scoundrel

Ancestor Name: James Muir, great great grandfather
Haplogroup: Unknown

James Muir was likely the twelfth child of Robert and Henrietta (Brown) Muir. No parish church record exists for his birth. His birthday, 13 June, is listed on his death certificate and in my Grandmother's genealogy notebook. The birth year is more confusing. My Grandmother believed it was 1847. James' second wife believed it was 1845. I have settled on 1848. The closest record to his birth is the 1851 Scotland Census. That census was enumerated on the night of 30-31 March, which would make James Muir 2 years old, and that is his age as recorded on the census. He would turn three in June, hence 1848 as his year of birth.

When the 1851 Scotland census was enumerated, he was living with several siblings in Kirkton village, but his parents were not at home the night the census was taken. It is likely his mother had died by this time. We know she died before 1856.

Ten years later, James was living at 2 Birkenshaw in Larkhall with his father and several siblings. He was 13 and already working full-time in the coal mines. His father was no longer working in the mines but his older brothers still living at home were also miners. I have been unable to definitively locate James Muir in the 1871 census.

He married Margaret Semple on 4 Jul 1873 in Swinhill, Dalserf, Lanarkshire. She was the single mother of a young girl named Janet "Jessie" Semple. Margaret was pregnant with their first child at the time of their marriage, and that child was born on 4 October 1873. Their first son was named Robert Muir, after his paternal grandfather. Sadly, little Robert died on 25 January 1874 of hydrocephalus, which is the build up of too much cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. It is commonly called "water on the brain."

Parish church in Dalserf; photograph commissioned by me and taken by
Andrew Scorgie in 2013

My great grandfather also named Robert Muir was born on 16 March 1875. After my great grandfather, six more children were born in Scotland:
  • Peter Semple Muir (14 February 1877 -- 23 March 1877)
  • Peter Semple Muir (5 July 1878 -- 8 September 1878)
  • Peter Muir (12 July 1879 -- 23 July 1879)
  • Henrietta Brown Muir (29 July 1882 -- 9 January 1884)
  • Margaret "Maggie" Muir (6 May 1884 -- 29 August 1966)
  • Peter Semple Muir (3 February 1886 -- 30 October 1947)
Peter Semple was Margaret's father's name and naming a child in his honor was obviously important to her.

On 27 May 1887 James boarded the Anchor Line steamship Ethiopia in Glasgow and sailed to the United States. He arrived in New York City on the 6th of June and traveled to Streator, Illinois. Because the 1890 census was destroyed by fire, I do not know if he had relatives or friends who had already immigrated and settled in Streator or if he saw advertisements for Streator at the train station. 

James' wife, Margaret, and the living children followed him to Illinois, arriving in the U.S. on 30 September 1887. Margaret's daughter, Jessie, also traveled with her mother and half-siblings.  Margaret and James had two more children in Illinois: Alexander Muir (13 May 1889 -- 6 May 1957) and Jane "Janie" Muir (29 November 1894 -- 23 January 1990).

In 1900 James was living in Mystic, Iowa, a lodger at the home of Mrs. Margaret Greenbank. Appanoose was described as "one continuous mining camp" when James arrived. He claimed he was divorced. His wife, Margaret (Semple) Muir, however, was living in Reading, Illinois. According to her census records, she still believed she was married.

James married Margaret (McIntosh) Greenbank on 9 January 1913 in Princeton, Missouri. Princeton is in Mercer County, Missouri, which borders Iowa. I am left wondering after looking at the map, if Mercer County was a "Gretna Green" county, meaning it was possible to get a quickie marriage. Or perhaps county officials didn't look too closely at your documentation. I've found no evidence that James Muir actually divorced his first wife, nor can I find any evidence that Margaret Greenbank was divorced from her husband, Thomas, who was still alive, though living in the Mount Pleasant Hospital for the Insane.

Proximity of Appanoose County to Mercer County; image courtesy of

I have not found James in the 1910 census. When the 1915 Iowa state census was taken, James claimed he had lived in Iowa since 1895. If that is true, then he left his first wife when their youngest child was barely a year old. In 1920 he lived in Nineveh, Missouri, and was a boarder in the home of Mrs. Ida Logsdon. Her home was very close to the home James' first wife and the home of their daughter, Maggie, and her husband, Robert Caswell.

The 1925 Iowa state census indicated James was still married and back in Mystic, Iowa, and lived with his second wife. At the time two of Margaret's sons by her first husband also lived in the home as well as 11-year-old Robert H. Muir, who was listed as a grandson. I believe he was actually the son of Ethel Greenbank, one of Margaret's daughters by her first husband. James Muir did have a grandson named Robert Muir, Jr. He was born in 1912 so it is possible he was living with his grandfather in 1925 though I do not know why this would be.

James Muir died on 18 March 1926 at his home in Mystic of arteo-sclerosis and chronic bronchitis at the ripe old age of 81. He was miner, retired from the Egypt Coal Company. He was interred in Highland Cemetery in Mystic on 20 March 1926. His second wife was the informant listed on the death certificate. She is also buried in Highland Cemetery.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "Music," which I did not follow.

Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, James Muir, is Ancestor number 20 on my family tree:

20 James Muir born 13 June 1848 in East Kilbride, Scotland; died 18 March 1926 in Mystic, Iowa; married 1) Margaret Semple, daughter of Peter Semple and Janet Torrance, on 4 July 1873 in Dalserf, Scotland, and 2) Margaret (McIntosh) Greenbank, daughter of William Keir McIntosh and Christian Brown and wife of Thomas Greenbank, on 9 January 1913 in Princeton, Missouri. Interred at Highland Cemetery in Mystic, Iowa.

20.1 Robert Muir born 4 October 1873 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 25 January 1874 in Dalserf.

10 Robert Muir born 16 March 1875 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 23 September 1956 in Richlands, Virginia; married 1) Ida Mae Riggin, daughter of John Wesley Riggin and Clementine Wells, on 12 October 1902 in Collinsville, Illinois, and 2) Elizabeth Fausz, daughter of Peter Fausz and Margaret Dietrich on 26 September 1911 in St. Louis, Missouri (divorced between 1930 and 1940).

20.2 Peter Semple Muir born 14 February 1877 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 23 March 1877 in Dalserf.

20.3 Peter Semple Muir born 5 July 1878 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 8 September 1878 in Lesmahagow, Scotland

20.4 Peter Muir born 12 July 1879 in Lesmahagow, Scotland; died 23 July 1879 in Lesmahagow.

20.5 Henrietta Brown Muir born 29 July 1882 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 9 January 1884 in Dalserf.

20.6 Margaret "Maggie" Muir born 6 May 1884 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 29 August 1966 likely in Vermilion County, Illinois; married Robert Caswell, son of John Caswell and Elizabeth Russell, on 3 August 1902 in St. Joseph, Michigan.

20.7 Peter Semple Muir born 3 February 1886 in Dalserf, Scotlankd; died 30 October 1947 in Detroit, Michigan; married Mame Zebio, daughter of Louis Zebio and Mary Frey, on 1 July 1908, according to my grandmother's genealogy notebook.

20.8 Alexander Muir born 13 May 1889 in Streator, Illinois; died 6 May 1957 in Seattle, Washington; married Bertha I. Cloren, daughter of John Patrick Cloren and Janet Ann Milnes on 13 June 1914 in Adair County, Missouri.

20.9 Jane "Janie" Muir born 29 November 1894 in Reading, Illinois; died 23 January 1990 in Centralia, Washington; married Herbert Bartist Beck, son of John B. Beck and Christina Beyerle, on 20 Jun 1912, according to my grandmother's genealogy notebook.

Margaret Semple had a daughter, whose father is unknown, before she marred James Muir. Jessie was raised as part of the Muir family.

20.10 Janet "Jessie" Semple born 25 November 1871 in Dalserf, Scotland; died 23 February 1942 in Adair County, Missouri; married Alexander Hutchison, son of Alexander Hutchison and Lilias Ewings, on 2 January 1889 in Streator, Illinois.



Alice (Muir) Jennings Genealogy Notebook, undated, personal collection
'Dalserf Parish Church,' personal collection
'Iowa and Missouri Counties' map, FamilySearch
1851 Scotland Census, Parish: East Kilbride; ED: 15; Page: 17; Line: 2; Roll: CSSCT1851_152
1851 Scotland Census, 30/03/1851 Muir, Elisabeth (Census 1851 643/00 015/00 016)
1861 Scotland Census, Parish: Dalserf; ED: 6; Page: 34; Line: 18; Roll: CSSCT1861_95
1861 Scotland Census, 07/04/1861 Muir, Robert (Census 1861 638/01 006/00 034)
1900 U.S. Federal Census, Census Place: Mystic, Appanoose, Iowa; Roll: 416; Page: 18A; Enumeration District: 0024; FHL microfilm: 1240416
1920 U.S. Federal Census, Census Place: Nineveh, Adair, Missouri; Roll: T625_902; Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 17; Image 329
Global, Find A Grave, 144021172
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, 1873 Muir, James (father)
Scotland, Select Marriages, 1561-1910, 1873 Muir, James - Semple, Margaret
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1855-2013, 1873 Muir, James - Semple, Margaret (Statutory Marriages 638/02 0011)
U.S., Iowa Gazetteer, Appanoose County, page 93
U.S., Iowa Select Deaths and Burials, 1850-1990, 4-1537
U.S., Iowa Census Collection, 1836-1925, 1925 Muir, James
U.S., Iowa Census Collection, 1836-1925, Card No. A239
U.S., Iowa, Certificate of Death, 1926, Muir, James, 4-1537
U.S., Missouri Marriage License, 1913, Muir, James - Greenbank, Margaret, 4850
U.S., Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002, License No. 4850
U.S., New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1857, Year 1887, Muir, James
U.S., Washington, Select Death Certificates, 1907-1960, Muir, James (father)

Friday, July 13, 2018

52 Ancestors #28: Robert Muir (c1800-1869): Coal Hewer

Ancestor: Robert Muir
DNA Haplogroup: Unknown

Robert Muir was born about 1800 in Ireland; and, according to his death registration, his father's name was James Moore.  From other records, we know Robert Muir was not Catholic so this may be his baptismal record. Much more research needs to be accomplished to prove it is correct.

Possible baptismal record from Roots Ireland

Robert came to Scotland sometime before 1828 when he married Henrietta Brown on 28 January in Avondale parish, Lanarkshire. Robert and Henrietta had 13 known children, eight of which lived to marry and have children of their own. Two of their children, Henrietta and James emigrated from Scotland to other countries after marrying. Henrietta, her husband and children went to Australia and were early settlers of Bundaberg, Queensland. James Muir, his wife and family settled in the United States and lived in several coal “patches” in Illinois and Missouri. At this time, not much is known about Robert and Henrietta's first-born child and first son, William Muir.

In 1854 the Registration of Births Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act was enacted. The law required compulsory registration of births, deaths and marriages at the local parish registrar beginning on 1 January 1855.  Previously, families recorded these significant events at the established Church of Scotland or at their Roman Catholic parish. Many of these pre-1855 records have been lost over time, as they were not required to be sent to any type central repository. This has made tracing Robert Muir and his family somewhat challenging. 

Lanark county, or Lanarkshire, is the area of Scotland in which Robert Muir settled. It was in the central lowlands and was traditionally the most populous shire in the country. From the mid-18th century to the early 20th century Lanarkshire benefited from its rich seams of coal. So it’s no surprise the Muirs were mostly miners. Robert’s occupation is only mentioned in four records: on his daughters’ 1830 and 1834 birth registration entries, he is listed as “coal hewer” and “coal cutter;” "coal cutter" again on the 1841 census, and on the 1861 census, his occupation is “formerly coal miner.”

Coal Mining

Coal had been mined in Scotland since 1210 when monks at Prestongrange were granted the right to quarry it. During Reformation the mines passed out of control of the church and were owned by landowners. The Act of 1606 bound all miners to the mines and gave coal masters the right to “apprehend all vagabonds and sturdy beggars to be put to labor.” In 1641 the restrictions were extended to those who worked at the surface of the mine. The Act of 1775 freed miners after a period of 3 to 10 years. Four years later, the Emancipation Act was enacted and declared miners free of servitude.  In 1842 the Mines Act prohibited children under 10 and women from working in the mines.

Children were mostly educated in schools run by the established Church of Scotland. However, by 1847 the Free Church claimed over 44,000 children were being taught in their schools. Education did not become compulsory for children aged 5 to 13, however, until 1872.  Robert and Henrietta’s children could not read or write and signed legal documents by making their mark. Most of their children received at least some education and were literate.

1845 Map of Lanarkshire, Scotland, from the Statistical
Account of Lanarkshire published in 1841

Robert Muir and his family lived in Avondale, Glassford, East Kilbride and Larkhall parishes -- all in Lanark county. The family moved to East Kilbride by 1837 and eight of Robert's youngest children were born there. The town is located about 8 miles southeast of Glasgow in the Scottish Lowlands.

East Kilbride

The earliest evidence of habitation are ancient graves near a local river and Roman coins and footwear have also been found. The town takes its name from St. Bride, an Irish saint, who founded a monastery for nuns and monks in Kildare, Ireland.

In 1836, about 960 people lived in the town and most of them were considered very poor. Rev. Henry Moncrief, one of the contributors to the Statistical Account of Lanarkshire, which was published in 1841, wrote that:

"A considerable portion of the people are very poor. This is particularly the case in the village of Kilbride where there is a number of weavers, but no regular manufactory to keep the people in employment. In the rural parts, the population are generally comfortable, industrious, contented, and influenced by the religious habits of their forefathers. There are many persons in the villages of excellent character, both intellectually, morally, and religiously. Poaching in game, it is to be feared, used to be prevalent, but is not so now."

The average wage for a general laborer was about 10 to 12 shillings a week. Men who worked in East Kilbride's many limestone quarries may have earned a little more. Sixteen pecks of potatoes cost 16 shillings in 1840.

According to Rev. Moncrief, there was a parish library and a subscription library. There were three district parochial schools in the parish and a "very excellent school in Maxwellton, supported by the liberality of Sir William Maxwell. In all the schools, ordinary branches are taught. Some of the modern improvements have been introduced, with great advantage, into Sir William Maxwell's school."

The parish also had a savings' bank, which was connected with the Glasgow National Security Savings Bank. There were 19 inns and public houses, which Rev. Moncrief thought "prejudicial to the morals of the people."

East Kilbride Old Parish Church; photograph
courtesy of the Scottish War Memorials Project

The original parish church had been built on the site of a pre-Christian well. The current church was built in 1774 near the original site. It was the church in which Robert and Henrietta's children were baptized. 

On 30 Mar 1851 when the census was enumerated, Robert and Henrietta’s children were living in East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, but their parents were not in the home at the time. It is possible Henrietta was sick, perhaps she never fully recovered from Nathaniel’s birth, and was in a hospital. This is merely supposition on my part.

Robert and Henrietta's daughter, Jean Muir, who was born in 1837 died on 19 August 1856. Her death registration indicated that her mother was deceased. Henrietta's youngest son, Nathaniel, had been born in December 1850; so Henrietta died sometime between December 1850 and 19 August 1856.

Robert Muir was enumerated as a widower in 1861 in the parish of Dalserf and had formerly been a coal miner. Six of his children lived with him. His daughter Henrietta worked as a servant and the five sons living with him worked in the coal mines, even Nathaniel who was 10 years old at the time the household was enumerated.

Robert Muir died on 20 April 1869 in Stonhouse, Scotland, of heart palpitations and chronic bronchitis. His son registered his death with the civil authorities and stated that his father's name was James Muir and his mother's name was unknown.

Which Robert Muir?

Another Robert Muir was born about 1801-1803 in Ayrshire, Scotland. Many, many public trees indicate that Robert Muir is the same person who married Henrietta Brown. I do not agree. Though records are scarce, the 1841 and 1861 census are consistent. The 1841 census stated Robert Muir was foreign born, which included England or Ireland. The 1861 census indicated he was born in Ireland. I believe this misidentification has occurred because there a photograph of the Robert Muir, born in Ayrshire, exists.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "Travel," which I did not follow.

Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, Robert Muir, is Ancestor number 40 on my family tree:

40 Robert Muir was born in Ireland about 1800 to James Muir and an unknown woman; died 20 April 1869 in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire, Scotland; married Henrietta Brown on 26 January 1828 in Avondale, South Lanarkshire, Scotland.

40.1 William Muir, born about 1826 (no more is known about this child at this time)

40.2 Elizabeth Muir born about 1829 at Avondale, Lanarkshire; died 27 October 1863 at Dalton, Cambuslang, Lanarkshire. She married Matthew Cassels on 15 December 1851 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.

40.3 Martha Muir born 2 September 1830 at Glassford, Lanarkshire; died 6 June 1876 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire. She married John Riddell on7 August 1852 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.

40.4 Jean Muir born 8 April 1834 at Avondale, Lanarkshire. She likely died before 1837.

40.5 Henrietta Muir born 29 January 1836 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire. She likely died before 1841.

40.6 Jean Muir born 8 October 1837 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 19 August 1856 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.

40.7 Robert Orr Muir born 1 October 1839 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 8 July 1917 at Bathgate, Linlithgow, Scotland. He married twice: 1) to Jane Paton Loudon on or before 1863 and 2) to Mary Watson Shaw on 23 June 1871 at Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire.

40.8 Henrietta Muir born 21 May 1841 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 1 September 1929 at Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia. She married James Williamson on 27 September 1861 at Avondale, Lanarkshire. They immigrated to Australia on 6 May 1885 aboard the cargo ship S/S Waroonga.

40.9 Thomas Muir born 25 November 1842 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 5 May 1901 at Larkhall, Lanarkshire. He married twice: 1) to Janet Sorbie on 6 November 1863 at Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, and 2) to Isabella Moore on 4 October 1870 at Glassford, Lanarkshire.

40.10 James Muir born on 2 August 1844; likely died before 1847 or 1848.

40.11 John Muir born 28 June 1846 at East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; died 2 June 1932 at Larkhall, Lanarkshire. He married Lillas Weir 6 October 1865 at Stonehouse, Lanarkshire.

20 James Muir born on 13 June 1847 or 1848; died on 18 March 1926 at Mystic, Appanoose, Iowa, USA. He married twice: 1) to Margaret Semple on 4 July 1873 at Dalserf, Lanarkshire, and 2) to Margaret “Maggie” (McIntosh) Greenbank on 9 January 1913 at Princeton, Mercer, Missouri, USA. He immigrated to the U.S. on 6 June 1887 aboard the steamship Ethiopia.

40.12 Nathaniel Muir likely born sometime in December 1850; died 23 February 1923 at Whitburn, West Lothian (was Linlithgow previous to 1921). He married twice: 1) Janet Shaw 1 May 1870 at Avondale, Lanarkshire, and 2) Christina Ure on 29 May 1899 at Bathgate, Linlithgow.

1841 Scotland Census (database), Ancestry, Robert Moore, Kilbride, Lanarkshire; citing Parish: East Kilbride; ED: 4; Page: 10; Line: 1149; Year: 1841(accessed 14 Nov 2014)
1845 Map of Lanarkshire, Statistical Account of Lanarkshire1841 (accessed 6 Apr 2014)
1851 Scotland Census (database), Ancestry, Elizabeth Muir, East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; citing Parish: East Kilbride; ED: 13; Page: 8; Line: 3; Roll: CSSCT1851_152 (accessed 14 Nov 2014)
1861 Scotland Census (database), Ancestry, Robert Muir, Dalserf, Lanarkshire; citing Parish: Dalserf: ED; 6; Page: 34; Line: 13; Roll CSSCT1861_95 (accessed 14 Nov 2014)
Brown, Henrietta (O.P.R. Births 644/01 0210 0036 Glasgow)
East Kilbride Old Parish Church, Gazetteer for Scotland, ScotlandsPlaces (accessed 9 Jul 2018)
Ireland, Church Baptisms, Donegal Ancestry, 1799 Muir, Robert
Ireland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911, 1911 Moore, James
Questions, Questions, Questions, Tangled Roots and Trees (accessed 9 Jul 2018)
Robert Muir (c1800-1869), Robert Muir Family (accessed 9 Jul 2018
Robert Muir's Parents! Yes? Maybe? No., Tangled Roots and Trees (accessed 9 Jul 2018)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 26/01/1828 Muir, Robert (O.P.R. Marriages 621/00 0040 0232 Avondale)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 08/04/1834, Muir, Jean (O.P.R. Births 621/00 0040 0088 Avondale)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 14/02/1836, Muir, Henrietta (O.P.R. Births 643/00 0030 0085 East Kilbride)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 05/11/1837, Muir, Jean (O.P.R. Births 643/00 0030 0096 East Kilbride)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 22/08/1844 Muir, James (O.P.R. Births 643/00 0030 0124 East Kilbride)
Scotland, Old Parish Records, 1538-1854, 13/12/1851 Muir, Elizabeth (O.P.R. Marriages 643/00 0030 0220 East Kilbride)
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, 1834  Jean Muir
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, 1837 Jean Muir
Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, 1844 James Muir
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1854-2013, 1856 Muir, Jane (Statutory Deaths 643/00 0038)
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1855-2013, 1863 Cassels, Elizabeth (Statutory Deaths 627/00 0073)
Scotland, Statutory Registrations, 1855-2013, 1869, Muir, Robert (Statutory Deaths 656/00 0018)

The Robert Muir Family Blog
I am writing a multi-volume book about the descendants of Robert Muir (c1800-1869) and his wife, Henrietta Brown. Volumes I and II may be downloaded from the above link.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

James Muir (1905-1974) or James Muir (1906-1981): Untangling Scots Immigrants

Muir is a common surname in Scotland. And because of the Scots convention for naming their children after grandparents and parents, there are many people running around Scotland with the same name, but when there are two men both named James Muir, born a year apart to parents named Robert and Janet, things get complicated, especially when they both immigrated to Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. I am only related to one of them but which records belonged to which man?

Here's what many, many hours of research and burning through several credits on ScotlandsPeople has revealed:

James Muir (1905-1974)
  • Born on 8 December 1905, Camlachie, Glasgow, Scotland
  • Parents: Robert Muir and Janet Boag Morrison Speirs (married 30 August 1889 in Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland)
  • Arrived in New York City on 28 October 1907 aboard the SS Caledonia, traveled with his mother and three older siblings
  • Married Katherine Rolfe Davis, daughter of Frank Davis
  • Known children:
    • David James Muir (1928-1994)
    • Martha Caroline Muir (1935-1998)
    • One living daughter
  • Lived in Homestead and Munhall, Pennsylvania
  • Died in Jun 1974
  • Last Social Security benefit payment was sent to an address in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
World War II Draft Registration Card for James Muir (1905-1974);
courtesy of

This James Muir's ancestry is as follows:

Robert Muir (?-?) married Ann Ferrie (or Ferry)
> Robert Muir (c1836-1890) married Jane McColl
>> Robert Muir (1863-1933) married Janet Boag Morrison Speirs
>>> James Muir (1905-1974)

If you are an subscriber, you may find the relevant record transcriptions on my public tree. 

James Muir (1906-1981)
  • Born on 19 April 1906 in Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, Scotland
  • Parents: Robert Muir and Janet Early (or Earlie) (married 13 July 1888 in Bothwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland)
  • Arrived in New York City on 29 August 1923 aboard the RMS Olympic, traveled with his father and three brothers
  • Married Eleanor Henderson, daughter of James Russel Henderson and Rosetta O'Neill
  • Known children:
    • Robert James Muir (c1933-1947)
    • Douglas Errol Muir (1938-2003)
    • One living daughter
  • Lived in Homestead, Pittsburgh; Glenville, New York; and Georgia
  • Died 20 March 1981 in Fulton County, Georgia
  • Interred at Mount Zion Baptist Church Cemetery in Hickory Flat, Georgia
World War II Draft Registration Card for James Muir (1906-1981);
courtesy of

This James Muir's ancestry is as follows:

James Muir
> Robert Muir (c1800-1869) married Henrietta Brown
>> Robert Orr Muir (1839-1917) married 1) Jane Paton Loudon and 2) Mary Watson Shaw
>>> Robert Muir (1863-1927) married Janet Early (or Earlie)
>>>> James Muir (1906-1981

If you are an subscriber, you may find the relevant record transcriptions on my public tree. This James Muir was my second cousin twice removed and I have a few DNA matches with his descendants.

Friday, July 6, 2018

52 Ancestors #27: John Bryan (c1710-1799): French-Indian War Veteran

Ancestor: John Bryan, five times great grandfather
Haplogroup: E-M35

John Bryan, Sr., (often John Andrew Bryan in written genealogies) was born about 1712 in Northern Ireland, likely in County Down near Banbridge. His parents weren William and Margaret (maiden name unknown) Bryan, who lived in County Down, Ireland and attended the Ballyroney Presbyterian Church in Banbridge.

Family tradition has it that William sent his son John to get a stick of wood to be made in to a handle for a weaving hook. While searching for an appropriate stick, John was arrested for poaching. After much trouble and expense, his father was able to clear the charge; but the incident caused him to decide to immigrate to the American colonies where he said timber was free and there were no constables.

The Bryan family sailed to American 1718 likely landing in Philadelphia. They were said to have lived in Pennsylvania and New Jersey before migrating to southwestern Virginia where William Bryan became one of the first settlers of the Roanoke Community of Virginia. He acquired 400 acres and established Great Spring plantation. His land was on the Roanoke River a few miles from present-day Salem.

John Bryan, Sr., married Mary Morrison on 10 March 1742 and moved to the Bordon Colony near present-day Fairfield in Rockbridge County. The community had been established in 1737 and at the time was the furthest outpost in the Shenandoah Valley.  Some genealogies indicate the colony was harassed by Native Americans too often for John's liking. So he moved his family, likely before 1753, to the Roanoke Community and secured a grant of 242 acres of land along the Great Road a few miles east of his father's planation near present-day Salem in 1756.

Map of original land grants in southwest Virginia; courtesy of Kegley's
Virginia Frontier 1740-1783,
page 562

John Bryan is said to have served in Capt. Peter Hogg's company under George Washington during the French and Indian War and fought at the Battle of Great Meadows and at the siege and surrender of Fort Necessity on 4 July 1754. Many published sources also indicated he served during the Revolutionary War in Capt. Thomas Merriwether's company, First State Troops; however, Daughters of the Revolution (DAR) genealogists credit that service to John Briant of Caroline County, Virginia. John is a DAR Patriot, having been proved to have provided supplies to the cause of independence. Two of his sons, Andrew and John Jr., served with Capt. Leftwich's company under Col. Christie and saw action at the Battle of Brandywine.

About 1779 John Bryan, Sr. sold his holdings in the Roanoke Community and moved to Campbell County by 1783-84. He purchased 329 acres from Richard Stith and 639 acres from Benjamin Arnold. The smaller tract was near Molly's Creek and the larger tract was two miles southeast of Rustburg.

Last Will and Testament

"In the name of God Amen, this is the 19th day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety, I John Bryan of Campbell County, on Mary's Creek, being in perfect health of body and sound of mind and memory but calling to mind the mortality of my body and that it is appointed for all men once to die do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form as followeth, viz:

First, I recommend my soul into the hands of Almighty God nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same by the might power of an Almighty God and my body I recommend to be buried in a decent and christian manner at the discretion of my executors. And as touching such worldly goods which it hath pleased God to bless me with, I give and devise and dispose of them in the following manner and form.

Imprimis, I give and bequeath unto by beloved wife Mary one whole third part of all my estate in goods and money that is if she survives me to be at her disposal and to my son William I give and bequeath one silver dollar as a legacy and to my beloved daughters, Mary, Jean, Margaret, Agnes and Katherine, I give and bequeat the other two thirds of all my money, goods and chattels, the other third part if my wife dies before me excepting my daughter Jean Davis forty shillings more than her sisters and to my sons, Andrew Morrison and John Bryan, I give and bequeath to each of them one silver dollar.

Lastly, I appoint Patrick Gibson and John Akers my sons-in-law to be executors of this my last will and testament and I hereby revoke and disannul all and every other will and testament by me made, confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this day and year above written.

John Bryan (seal)

Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said John Bryan to be his last will and testament in the presence of us.

John Forbes
John Depriest
John Reid"

On 9 October 1799 John Bryan wrote a codicil to his will that has caused me much confusion.

"This ninth day of October 1799 I john Bryan Sr. of Campbell County being in a very low state of health and weak of body though sound of mind and judgment do appoint Daniel Evans as an executor in place of Patrick Gibson, he being at present at too great a distance from this place as witness my hand and seal the day and year above mentioned.

John Bryan (his mark)


John Bryan, Jr.
Caty Bryan
Elizabeth Adams"

John's will was proved on 9 December 1799 so we know he died sometime between 9 October when he wrote the codicil to his will and 9 December.

The confusion caused by the codicil revolves around Patrick Gibson, who is one elusive fellow. I have only found three references to him to date:
  1. He received 2,356 pounds of tobacco for building the court house in Campbell County.
  2. The references above in John Bryan's will and codicil
  3. And in two books of Bryan family genealogy which indicated he married Margaret (Bryan) Mitchell, my four times great grandmother, after the death of her first husband, Daniel Mitchell, Sr. in about 1820-21. Margaret and Daniel Mitchell were said to have married in 1772 and their youngest child was born about 1797. So Patrick Gibson could not have been married to Margaret when her father wrote his will in 1790. He had to have been married to another daughter of John Bryan's. But which one? That is a mystery on which I am currently working.
This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. The theme for this week was "Independence," which I did not follow.

Using the Ancestral Reference Numbering System, John Bryan, is Ancestor number 154 on my family tree:

154 John Bryan, Sr., born about 1712 in Northern Ireland, likely County Down, to William Bryan, Sr. and Margaret (maiden name unknown); died between 9 October and 9 December 1799 in Campbell County, Virginia; married Mary Morrison on 10 Mar 1742. Several years ago, their bible was in the possession of the Dinwiddie family of Charlottesville, Virginia and included the following information:

154.1 Margaret Bryan, born on 3 March 1743; likely died before 3 March 1752.

154.2 William Bryan, born on 20 April 1744.

154.3 Jane "Jean" Bryan, born on 6 August 1746; likely died before 16 May 1761.

154.4 Andrew Morrison Bryan, born 14 April 1748; buried in Greene County, Ohio; married Mary Akers.

154.5 Mary Bryan, born 16 May 1750.

77 Margaret Bryan, born 3 March 1752; died on an unknown date; married 1) Daniel Mitchell, Sr., son of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell and Mary Enos, and 2) married Patrick Gibson some time after 1820-21.

154.6 John Bryan, born 2 Jun 1754; likely died before 19 December 1756.

154.7 John Bryan, born 19 December 1756; married Catherine Evans.

154.8 Jane "Jean" Bryan, born 16 May 1761; married John Davidson.

154.9 Agnes Bryan, born 9 August 1763; married 1) John Akers and 2) Reuben Bagby.

154.10 Catherine Bryan, born 21 October 1765; married Samuel Cole.

I have done no research yet into the lives of John Bryan, Sr. and Mary Morrison's children.


Brien, Lindsay M. Bryan Wills and Deeds with Genealogical Notespages 24-35.
Chalkley, Lyman. Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia(Rosslyn, VA: The Commonwealth Printing Co., 1912), page 223 (accessed 5 Jun 2018).
Daniel Mitchell, Sr. (c1750-c1821): Tavern Keeper, Tangled Roots and Trees (accessed 6 Jun 2018).
Genealogical Research System (database and images), DAR, John Bryan, Sr., born circa 1712, died 9 Dec 1799; citing Ancestor No. A016254 (accessed 2 Jun 2018).
Kegley, F. B. Kegley's Virginia Frontier 1740-1783: The Beginning of the Southwest The Roanoke of Colonial Days, (Roanoke, VA: Southwest Virginia Historical Society, 1938), pages 103, 109, 256, 562, 609.
McKenzie, George Norbury and Roades, Nelson Osgood (editors). Colonial Families of the United States of America, etc.(Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1966), Volume VI, The Bryan Family (accessed 2 Apr 2018).
Shearer, James William. The Shearer-Akers Family "Combined with The Bryan Line" through the Seventh Generation(Somerville, NJ: The Press of the Somerville Messenger, 1915), pages pages 11-14 (accessed 1 Apr 2018).
William Bryan (c1685-1789): From Ireland to Virginia, Tangled Roots and Trees (accessed 4 Jul 2018)
Y-DNA Classic Chart, Bryan DNA Project (accessed 2 Jun 2018).

William Bryan (c1685-1789): From Ireland to Virginia
Daniel Mitchell, Sr. (c1750-c1821): Tavern Keeper

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Private Joseph (Melvin) Leonard's Congressional Medal of Honor Story

Continued from Joseph Leonard (1876-1946): Cohoes, NY Resident and Medal of Honor Recipient

On 4 June 1899 the Washington Times published an article entitled An Ensign Praised by Admiral Dewey. I re-published the first part of the article as part of my post yesterday, honoring the service of Private Joseph Leonard, who enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps as Joseph Melvin and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in the Philippine-American War. He was stationed on the USS Helena (PG-9) when Ensign Cleland Davis, who led the Colt automatic gun crew on which Joseph Leonard served, volunteered to support the Army during what became known as the Malolos Campaign.

"Ensign Davis' Account

The report of Ensign Davis is addressed to Commander W. T. Swinburne, of the Helena. He reported to General MacArthur, under orders received February 27, and remained on the firing line at Caloocan until March 23, when, with the army's artillery he went to La Loma church. His description of the campaign and comments on the Colt gun follow:

On March 25 operations commenced. The general plan of advance was as follows: General MacArthur was in command. His division consisted of the First Brigade, Brig. Gen. H. G. Otis, on the left, composed of the Third Artillery, Kansas and Montana regiments, and the Second Brigade, Brigadier General Hale, on the right, composed of the Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Nebraska regiments. The divisional artillery was in the centre, which rested at La Loma Church.

La Loma Church in 1900; courtesy of Wikipedia

This general formation was maintained until Malinta was reached, the centre advancing along the Caloocan-Novaliches road to Cabalahan [sic] thence along the Malinta-Novaliches road to Malinta, the right wing swinging so as to preserve the front. At Malinta, the division was joined by Brigadier General Wheaton's independent brigade, consisting of the Third and Twenty-second infantry, the Oregon and part of the Minnesota regiment, which had advanced along the railroad from Caloocan. From there on this brigade was in reserve, guarding the railroad communications. The front was now contracted and the advance continued with the centre along the railroad track.

Railroad north from Manila to Dagupan from Fighting in the Philippines;
courtesy of Internet Archive

The character of the country was extremely favorable for defensive warfare. The fields were rice land covered with numerous copses of dense bamboo thicket. There was a network of tide water rivers, mostly unfordable. In addition the enemy had built strong entrenchments from ten to twenty-five feet thick at short intervals along the roads, on the river banks and especially along the railroad. These trenches were of modern type. The advance of the army was so rapid that the enemy had no time to destroy the iron railroad bridges and the unfordable streams were crossed on these with little delay, the mules and horses swimming.

U.S. Army artillery battery near Caloocan. Private Leonard's gun detachment
spent most its time during the Malolos Campaign with the artillery. Philippine-
American War, 1899-1902; courtesy of Center for Military History

The detachment[1] under my command went into action in the following engagements: Near Cabalahan [sic] on March 25, covering with artillery the advance of the Montana and Pennsylvania regiments against strong entrenchments on the Malinta-Novaliches road. In the afternoon of the same day a platoon of thirty men from Fourth Cavalry found the enemy strongly fortified on the opposite bank of the Tulihan River and engaged with heavy loss to themselves. The Colt gun with one piece of artillery went into action under heavy fire on the left of the road and the enemy shortly fled from his entrenchments.

At the Marialo River March 28, the detachment advanced under cover to within seventy-five yards of the enemy's trenches, strongly thrown up on the bank across the river and my a sweeping fire covering the trench, which was about 150 feet long, silenced the enemy's fire and enabled the artillery to come up on the open road to within seventy yards of them. Twenty-three of them surrendered in this trench, though a deep river was between. Some twenty-odd who attempted to escape were nearly all shot down. As an instance of the accuracy of the Colt gun, Colonel Funston, of the Twentieth Kansas and Assistant Surgeon Smith, attached to the artillery, reported that one man was found dead with five holes in his body in a space that could be covered with a hand, all made by the 6-mm. bullets from the Colt gun as he attempted to escape.

Alexander, Joseph H. The Battle History of the U.S. Marines: A Fellowship of
(New York, NY: HaperCollins, 1997), page 26
At Guigunto on March 29 the enemy was encountered in force on the opposite bank of the river retreating before the advance of our troops to a fringe of woods about 1,500 yards distant, from which they poured in a heavy and destructive fire as we crossed the river on the railroad bridge. Our troops were here under a great disadvantage, their Springfield rifles not being effective at this range. My detachment crossed the bridge under this fire and opened up at a range of from 1,600 to 1,900 yards with, it is believed, good effect.

Near Malolos, on March 31, the artillery and the Colt gun commenced the action and in a few minutes the enemy retreated from behind strong entrenchments. After the artillery had driven them from their works the Colt gun kep up a fire on the retreating enemy up to a range of 2,000 yards. Malolos was then occupied with little resistance.

Bocaue Burns from Philippine-American War, 1899-1902; courtesy of the
Center for Military History

On April 4 I took part with my detachment in a reconnaissance northward as far as the Quingua River, where the enemy was encountered in some force, fortified on the opposite bank.

I returned to the ship on April 5 in obedience to your orders of the 3rd instant.

In my opinion the efficiency of the automatic gun in operation on shore was amply demonstrated in this campaign. The light weight of the gun and ammunition and its simplicity of handling makes it available for varied uses. As an adjunct to artillery, especially as the modern tendency seems to be toward close ranges, it would seem to be invaluable. A gun, tripod, and 2,500 rounds of ammunition, the whole weighing less than 260 pounds, could be readily carried on the limber of each piece. But two men would be required to set it up and operate it, and it would be equivalent to the support of a company of infantry with the additional advantages of being able to fire over the heads of advancing troops with perfect safety, as was done at Guiguinto. Its portability is such that it could form part of the equipment of each infantry company or cavalry, and it is so small and compact that it can be taken with its tripod almost anywhere a man can go. Another point is its value for high angle fire. The value of a battery of such guns to a regiment is obvious. During the campaign about 4,500 rounds were fired from the gun. An examination of the barrel and mechanism shows the whole to be in excellent condition after a total of over 7,000 rounds had been fired from it. The Winchester ammunition furnished proved to be defective and not fit to be used in the gun. The U. M. C. ammunition was satisfactory in every respect. The last 2,500 rounds were fired without a single jam.

The conduct of the detachment is deserving of commendation.

I cannot refrain from expressing my admiration at the skill with which the campaign was conducted and of the valor, endurance and cheerfulness of the American troops."

Very Respectfully
Ensign Cleland Davis, U.S. Navy

It should be noted that Ensign Davis' report was forwarded by Commander Swinburne up the chain of command and to the Navy's Bureau of Navigation. The Bureau Chief did not agree with Admiral Dewey's commendation for Ensign Davis but did recommend Davis, Prendergast, Buckley and Melvin for the Congressional Medal of Honor on 8 June 1899. The Nation's highest military honor was conferred on the three enlisted men, but not Ensign Davis, on 8 July. Private Joseph Leonard was presented with his medal in December 1901 when he was stationed at Marine Barracks, Washington Navy Yard.

The first two endorsements required for the Congressional Medal of
Honor. Congressional Series Set, Annual Reports of the Navy Department
for 1899. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1899), pages
942-946; courtesy of Google Play

Private Leonard was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps on 6 June 1902.

Cleland Davis invented the Davis gun, the first recoiless gun in 1910. It was known as the Davis gun. He died in 1948 and was interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Corporal Thomas Francis Prendergast has not been located. Private Howard Major Buckley died in 1941 and was interred at Wheeler Cemtery in Wheeler, New York.

[1] Ensign Cleland Davis' detachment consisted of Corporal Thomas Francis Prendergast and privates Howard Major Buckley and Joseph Melvin.

Joseph Leonard (1876-1946): Cohoes, NY Resident and Medal of Honor Recipient
Joseph Leonard's Service in World War I: Just in Time for Meuse-Argonne

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Joseph Leonard (1876-1946): Cohoes, NY Resident and Medal of Honor Recipient

Pete and I walked through West End Park in Cohoes, New York, one Sunday afternoon, photographing honor roll memorials for Heather Wilkinson Rojo's Honor Roll Project. On Veterans Day 2017 a dedication ceremony was held to commemorate the refurbishment of the Cohoes Civil War Memorial, which was originally erected in 1910.

Civil War Memorial in West End Park, Cohoes, New York.Recently refurbished and
re-dedicated; personal collection

The park may be accessed from Columbia Street between Matsen Avenue and Walnut Street. Behind the Civil War Memorial are several honor rolls and other veterans monuments. Of special interest to me was the monument honoring the service of Sgt. Joseph (Melvin) Leonard during the Philippine Insurrection. It is a period of history and geography about which I have recently been studying.

Monument honoring the service and sacrifice of a Cohoes Medal of Honor recipient;
personal collection

Aug. 28, 1876-Sept. 23, 1946
Philippine Insurrection
Cohoes' Recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor
in the Philippine-American War

Born in Cohoes and entered the USMC as Joseph Melvin on June 7, 1897.
Leonard attached to the 8th Army Corps was involved in the jungle fighting,
clearing the insurgents from the vicinity of Manilla. He was cited for "distinguished
conduct in the presence of the enemy in battle" for action on March 25, 27, 29 and
April 4, 1899. Honorably separated on June 6, 1902, he would once again serve
in World War I with the USMC and ranked out as Sergeant July 3, 1919.
Died and buried in Yountville, CA.

J.M. Leonard Camp No. 188, Cohoes, NY,
Sons of Spanish American War Veterans (SSAWV)

Joseph Leonard; courtesy of Find A Grave volunteer,
Greg Speciale

The Philippine-American War, also known as the Philippine Insurrection, lasted from 4 February 1899 until 2 July 1902. The Filipinos saw it as the continuation of their revolution against the Spanish but the U.S. viewed it as an insurrection in territory acquired from Spain through the Treaty of Paris which ended the Spanish-American War in 1898.

The war started when fighting broke out in Manilla and ended with the capture of the Philippine president by U.S. forces, though Philippine groups continued to battle for several more years. It was guerrilla warfare at its most brutal. Nearly a half a million Filipino soldiers and civilians died during the conflict.

When the Spanish-American War began, Joseph Leonard served on the USS Helena (PG-9), a Wilmington class gunboat. Joseph Leonard was part of a Marine marine detachment responsible for were responsible for security and defense of the ship. They operated the ship's brig, fought shipboard fires, and fought onshore as the occasion warranted.

USS Helena joined the Asiatic fleet in the Philippines on 10 February 1899 after transiting the Suez Canal. On 27 February 1899 Private Leonard (who served as Joseph Melvin) was temporarily attached to Gen. MacArthur's 2nd Division, along with the remainder of his gun crew, which included Ensign Cleland Davis, Corporate Thomas Francis Prendergast, and Private Howard Major Buckley. They were responsible for aiming and firing their Colt automatic gun and were assigned to MacArthur's artillery. During their assignment with 2nd Division, they participated in the Malolos Campaign.

USS Helena (PG-9) at anchor sometime between 1897-1901; courtesy of the
Library of Congress

On 4 June 1899 the Washington Times published an article entitled, An Ensign Praised by Admiral Dewey, and included an account of the fighting which earned Private Joseph (Melvin) Leonard the Medal of Honor:

"Admiral Dewey's Report

In his report Admiral Dewey says:

Ensign Davis was a volunteer for this duty ashore with the army. He was engaged in all action against the insurgents that took place on the northern front of the army between February 27 and April 4, 1899. I therefore commend him to the department, and recommend that he be advanced ten grades.

The crew of the Colt's gun consisted of Corporal Thomas Francis Prendergast and Privates Howard Major Buckley and Joseph Melvin, U.S. Marine Corps.

While the crew was not composed of volunteers, none being asked for, the men performed their duty under the most trying conditions of war in the most exemplary manner, and deserve high praise. I hope the department will reward in a suitable manner their services..."

Major Richard W. Young described the gun crew's services to the Army as follows:

"...February 27 by General MacArthur's direction, he reported to me for assignment with a Colt automatic gun and a detachment of three Marines. From that date until March 23 he was stationed at Caloocan, where on several occasions he materially assisted in quieting the firing of the insurgents. March 25, with his gun and detachment, he accompanied the artillery in the forward movement toward the Tulihan River. The gun was employed against the enemy about noon of that day near Cabalahan [sic], and toward evening a scouting party of about twenty-five dismounted cavalry from the Fourth Regiment had developed the enemy in considerable force strongly entrenched behind very elaborate works on the right or west bank of the Tulihan. The cavalry suffered severely, about 35 percent of their number being wounded or killed, when a Utah gun and Ensign Davis with the automatic gun were ordered forward and brought into position behind a fence screen within 125 yards of the insurgent position. During the approach to position, the time consumed removing obstacles and in preparation to fire, the detachments were under vicious fire, which was redoubled as soon as the guns opened. The enemy was, however, soon silenced, the automatic gun having contributed largely to the result.

March 27 Ensign Davis at his own request took a position on the Marilas [sic] River opposite the insurgent trench not more than seventy-five yards distant. Though under a heavy fire, he poured in a well-directed fire, which enabled artillery to come forward, protected by advancing infantry and assisted materially in bringing about the surrender of the insurgents in the trenches.

March 29 he brought the gun in action well to the front over the railway bridge at Garquinto [sic], under a very dangerous cross fire.

March 31 he cooperated in the artillery attack on the trenches in front of Malolos.

April 4 he went forward on a reconnaissance to the Quingua River, where he temporarily commanded one of Lieutenant Fleming's guns during the latter's absence with the other gun, and this under a heavy fire. He also pushed the automatic gun forward to a position within 250 yards of the enemy, entrenched on the opposite bank of the Quingua. Here the enemy's fire was intense. Owing to orders to return, the gun was not fired..."

"...His detachment served faithfully and bravely."

Ensign Cleland Davis' account will be told on this blog tomorrow.

Joseph Leonard was born on 28 August 1876 in Cohoes, New York, to James and Mary (Melvin Leonard); he was the fourth of five known children. His parents were born in County Sligo, Ireland, but had migrated at an early age to Blackburn, England, where his father worked as a spinner in a mill processing cotton from British India. Sometime between 1871 and 1874, the family immigrated to the United States and settled in Cohoes, New York, joining Mary (Melvin) Leonard's brother, Patrick. Joseph's father likely worked for Harmony Mills, spinning cotton from the southern U.S. The parents, James and Mary, returned to Blackburn by 1891 with at least their three surviving children. Joseph worked as a spinner along side his father in the cotton mills. James returned to the U.S. in 1893, the year after his mother died. He sailed on White Star Line's SS Germanic. The ship left Liverpool on 18 October and arrived in New York City on 27 October. On 7 June 1897 he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in Brooklyn, New York. He was discharged on 6 June 1902 in Washington, DC. During his term of service he fought in the Philippine Insurrection and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. By 1911 he lived in Coyote, Montana, and worked as a miner. Her married Grace G. Cunningham on 1 November 1911 in Lewistown. They had two children before Grace died on 16 October 1915. Joseph and Grace's children remained in Montana and were raised by their maternal grandparents. Joseph's whereabouts are not known until he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps again on 19 April 1918 in Cleveland, Ohio. He had likely been living in Youngstown at the time of his enlistment, his youngest sister settled there after returning to the U.S. in 1894. During World War I, Joseph served in France. He was discharged on 3 July 1919 in Washington, DC, as a Sergeant. He made his way back to Montana and lodged with Mr. and Mrs. Albin Stenius in Butte, where he worked as a copper miner. In 1928, he was admitted to the Pacific Branch of the U.S. National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Sawtelle, California, suffering from chronic constipation, lumbago, chronic cystitis, and hemorrhoids. His daughter, who lived in Denton, Montana, was listed as his nearest relative. He planned to live in Los Angeles when he was released. He still resided at the National Home when the 1930 census was enumerated. By 1940, he lived in San Francisco and was not working. In 1944, he became a resident of the Veterans Home of California in Yountville, where he remained until his death on 23 September 1946. He was buried at the Veterans Memorial Grove Cemetery. After his wife's death, he never remarried and his daughter predeceased by when she died in 1937 at the age of 25.

Joseph Leonard's Service in World War I: Just in Time for Meuse-Argonne
Honor Roll: Veterans Memorial Park, Cohoes, New York 
Honor Roll: Cohoes First Ward Memorials

Sunday, July 1, 2018

50th Anniversary Commemoration of Gettysburg

Today is the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, considered the most important engagement during the Civil War.

From 29 June and 4 July 1913 a 50th anniversary reunion was held at Gettysburg. There had been numerous smaller reunions previously, but 1913 was the largest ever with over 53,000 men attending from 46 of the then 48 states, including over 8,500 Confederate Army veterans. The reunion was called the Gettysburg Battlefield Encampment. The Chief Surgeon of the U.S. said at the time, "never before in the world's history [sic] so great a number of men so advanced in years been assembled under field conditions." Not only was there concern about the men's health, people were also concerned there might still be lingering "unpleasant differences."

July 2 was Military Day; July 3, Civic/Governor's Day; and July 4 was National Day and included a speech by President Woodrow Wilson in which he said:

"We have found one another again as brothers and comrades in arms, enemies no longer, generous friends rather, our battles long past, the quarrel forgotten -- except that we shall not forget the splendid valor."

Photograph of attendees of the 1913 Gettysburg Battlefield Encampment;
courtesy of the Library of Congress

On 5 May 1913, Powhatan County, Virginia, supervisors said they would defray the cost of any ex-Confederate soldier who wished to attend the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the Battle of Gettysburg. A committee was formed to determine which veterans wished to attend. Thirty-eight veterans from the county attended, including Joseph Sampson Jennings, who had served in the Powhatan Light Artillery Battery during the last year of the war. Powhatan County spent $325,000 to send their veterans to Gettysburg.

When the veterans assembled in 1919 to attend a reunion in Atlanta, only six were able or willing to go.