Friday, May 27, 2011

Unique American History Connections in Family

There are possibly not many Canadians who can boast the unique connections that my wife Ellen can claim with her ancestor's connections to significant events in American history.

One of Ellen's fourth great grandfathers is Andrew Kimmerly, a United Empire Loyalist, essentially someone who remained loyal to the British crown through the American Revolution and was subsequently granted lands in the area of present day Belleville, Ontario in recognition of his loyalty.

Another of Ellen's ancestors from that era is Francis Faulkner, her second cousin six times removed, who fought against the British during the Revolutionary War. Francis' home in Acton, Massachusetts was, in fact, the destination of Dr. Samuel Prescott who travelled there after escaping from the British who had held him and Paul Revere, carrying the warning of the British troops being on the move. Francis, upon receiving the warning from Prescott is reported to have fired three warning shots into the air signalling the other town folks on April 19, 1775.

Now joining the group of ancestors is Philip H. Wagner, Ellen's second great granduncle and a Captain in the 65th Regiment of the New York State National Guard and later the 187th Regiment of New York Volunteers during the American Civil War. Philip was born in Wayne County, New York State, probably just after his parents and older siblings including brother Jacob (Ellen's second great grandfather) had immigrated from their homeland of Germany. It appears that Philip enlisted in the 65th Regiment, likely at Elmira, New York and while it also appears that he saw some action involving Rebel forces, his regiment under the command of Colonel William Berens was sent in July 1863 to New York City to assist in quelling the Draft Riots.

Philip led a company of troops and was assigned to protecting the treasury buildings on Wall Street. Colonel Berens in his report on the regiment's actions mentioned Philip and his role in New York, "At 11 p.m. orders came from General Couch to report with my command at Bridgeport, to General Hall, commanding at Fort Washington. At 7 a.m. next morning took the cars, arriving at Bridgeport at 5 p.m., and reported. I remained with my command at Bridgeport, doing guard duty, till the 14th, at 7 p.m., when I was ordered by General Hall to proceed to the city of New York. By great activity and exertion, a train of cars was gotten together and provided for the next morning. At 4 a.m. July 15, I put my men on board the cars, leaving our camp and garrison equipage at Fort Washington, and arrived at the city of New York at about 5 p.m. Before leaving Fort Washington, a battery of four howitzers, belonging to the Eighth New York National Guard, was attached to my command. On arriving in New York, I immediately marched my command to headquarters, reporting in person to General Wool. On the way from the dock, a large mob gathered about, and attempted to get possession of two negroes who were serving as cooks with the artillery company of the Eighth New York National Guard. I protected them from harm by placing them amidst the battery, and protecting the same by a company thrown on either flank.

Upon reporting to General Wool, I was ordered to take quarters at Centre Market, and to report to General Harvey Brown, which I did. Pursuant to orders from General Brown, the same evening I sent two companies to guard the treasury buildings, on Wall street, viz, Company E, Captain [Philip H.] Wagner, and Company H, Captain [Christian] Schaeffer, and two other companies, along with some United States troops, to restore order in the vicinity of Union Square, viz, Company A, Captain Seeber, and Company D, Captain [Charles] Geyer."

Philip was mustered out of military service on July 1, 1865 and returned to his wife and family in Buffalo, New York where he made his living over the next years in the quieter life as a carpenter before passing away in an 1889 drowning accident.

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