February 13, 2016

William Burden Stevenson 1842 – 1926

William Burden Stevenson – Soldier, Sailor, World Traveler

Usually, when you begin researching someone in a family line you start at their birth and work forward, and backward as well to connect them with their parents and ancestors. With William Stevenson I think I began in the middle and worked both directions. I knew some people in his immediate had lived here in Washington State, but what really piqued my interest was that William had resided here in my town of Port Orchard and is buried in a local cemetery here.

William’s parents were John and Ellen Burden Stevenson who were both born in Scotland circa 1815. As an adult, John was an officer in the Irish Coastguard and as his career was ending son William, who had been brought up to also be a Naval Officer for Britain, was just beginning his time in service. William’s father John had retired sometime after 1860 and was awarded a land patent by Queen Victoria. John had his choice of British locations, but in the end he chose Canada. To be specific, on Lake Malcolm in Ontario. All of the family still at home, including the youngest, Jane Elizabeth who was born in 1860 when her father was still stationed in Killybegs, Wexford, Ireland set sail for North America.

I’m guessing that William, the oldest, entered his naval service before the rest of the family left Ireland. His entry paper states he joined 27 June 1860 and was on the 1HMS St. Vincent. At the time of William’s service on the ship it was primarily a training vessel for young boys. William’s designation was as an Ordinary Seaman. Later records (American Civil War) note that during his time on the Vincent they spent time in the Mediterranean Ocean.

1862 – William Stevenson deserts the Royal Navy

One can only imagine what life was like in the Royal Navy for nineteen year old William. In looking at the records for the St. Vincent it wasn’t uncommon for these young sailors to be caned or birched if the Captain deemed it necessary. I don’t know that William ever received that punishment, but perhaps there was a far greater peril on the ship: disease. 1864 Training Ship, Home Station, Portsmouth. 2Report of Fevers and Small Pox onboard. Number of Cases of Disease and Injury. No proof has been found as to just how and where William left the ship, but we next find him as new soldier in the American Civil War.

In William’s Civil War pension application records he states that about two weeks after leaving the Royal Navy as a deserter he made his way to Pennsylvania, and joined Company I of the 111th PA Infantry under the false name of Thomas Crawford.

To be continued…

Sources:

1HMS St Vincent (1815). (2015, April 4). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:35, October 5, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=HMS_St_Vincent_(1815)&oldid=654963476

2(2015) HMS St Vincent. Retrieved October 05, 2015, from http://www.pbenyon.plus.com/18-1900/S/04400.html

© 2015 Carol Wilkerson. All rights reserved

 

Alonzo H Cushing – Medal of Honor Recipient Joins Our John Whitmore In Civil War MOH History

Today, the Medal of Honor was bestowed upon First Lt. Alonzo H Cushing by President Barack Obama for his conspicuous bravery during the battle of Gettysburg. See story at CMH News and Features.

I hope our Wilkerson family will take renewed pride in the fact that their ancestor John Whitmore was also awarded the Medal of Honor for his service during the Civil War. What makes John Whitmore’s Medal of Honor recognition so remarkable is that he was not an officer, but a lowly Private. It’s important because his courage and bravery must have been substantial in order for him to be recognized by his higher command. This is not meant to take anything away from Cushing’s heroism, but remind everyone that there were others who received the Medal of Honor as well.

iPentimento Memorial Day Remembrance 2008

Graveyard Rabbit Carnival – The Whittemores of Pleasant Grove Iowa

Tombstone Tuesday: The Wilkersons of Pleasant Grove, Iowa

 

7+ Websites for Revolutionary War Research

This is my first blog post using the Firefox addon Scribefire so it’s going to be abbreviated, but I wanted to tell you about an excellent article by Gena Philibert-Ortega that lists the Top 7 Websites for Revolutionary War Ancestors, plus one more suggestion from me as a resource.

My source is “ask your genealogy friends”. Sounds simple, but you never know who might have their own books on a topic. This link happens to go to Cyndi’s List which is always an excellent starting point for genealogical research.

 

WHAT WAS GAINED, WHAT WAS TAKEN FROM THE 24 NEW ARMY MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS

An Honorable Way To Fight Back Against Racism

I lived through the 60’s when race riots were in full swing. I truly thought we were making racism more and more of an anathema, but as we have all seen in the news racism has come back with a fury since President Obama was elected. As an American, I am proud to see there is a small righting of wrongs that will be done to honor the service of 24 men who were denied the Medal of Honor because of the color of their skin. As you probably know, no one “wins”  a Medal of Honor, but it is also not just wearing of a medal.  Consider these other benefits:

  • Special Medal of Honor pension of $1,194 per month above and beyond any military pensions or other benefits for which they may be eligible. The MOH pension is subject to cost-of-living increases.
  • Special entitlements to Space A air transportation.
  • Enlisted recipients are entitled to a supplemental uniform allowance.
  • Commissary and exchange privileges (includes eligible dependents).
  • Admission to the United States military academies for qualified children of recipients — without nomination and quota requirements.
  • 10 percent increase in retired pay.
  • Medal of Honor Flag.
  • Allowed to wear the uniform at anytime as long as the standard restrictions are observed.
  • Many states offer Medal of Honor automobile license plates.
  • Interment at Arlington National Cemetery if not otherwise eligible.

Which brings me to the “What Was Taken” part of the title of this article. Decades have passed since the end of the Vietnam War. The men who are deceased and were awarded posthumously the medal will have the honor attached to their names, but it is their families, and those of the few still living that I think of now with some sorrow for what was taken away from them. First in my mind is the missed educational opportunities the children of these men were denied. What great mind did we fail to enrich? Did any of the families falter financially when the extra money from the award might have meant better health, or a longer life? So many “what if’s” to be sure.

Twenty Four Heroes

One last thought, this award of the Medal of Honor cannot be seen as anything more than honoring the gallantry of individuals who didn’t think of the color of their skin when they fought and gave their lives. We need to focus on the kind of men they are and were: HEROES

Thank you gentlemen.

Medal of Honor: Congress Only APPROVED It

Graveyard Rabbit Carnival – The Whittemores of Pleasant Grove Iowa