Continuing to write about the men of Schaghticoke who served in the Civil War…the officers of Company K. …..
William VanSchaack was the 2nd Sergeant of Company K of the 125th. According to Anderson’s “History of Rensselaer County,” he was born in Stillwater on January 31, 1822. The 1855 NY Census for Schaghticoke lists William H. VanSchaack, age 34, born in Saratoga County as a mechanic, with a wife, Alice, age 29, born in Vermont, and two children, Theodore, age 8 and Chancy, age 6. Anderson goes on to state that he was educated in the public schools, and married Alice A. Thayer of Bennington on December 2, 1846. They had three children, Theodore, Chauncy T., and Nettie O. This is confirmed by the 1860 US Census for the village of Schaghticoke, which lists the boys and adds that William had a personal estate of $300 and his wife Alice of $350. William was a master painter. This indicates he had served an apprenticeship.
According to New York State’s records, William enlisted as a Private at age 41, and was promoted to Sergeant on April 4, 1863. The muster card states he was born in Schaghticoke, and had gray eyes, black hair and was 5’7 ¾” tall. One wonders why a family man with a set career would enlist at age 41 in the Army- he would never have been drafted. Perhaps this measured his patriotism.
The N.Y.S. Muster Card for William W. VanSchaack
During the winter of 1861-1862, spent in Chicago after the 125th surrendered at Harper’s Ferry, William went home on leave, according to George Bryan. In April, Bryan stated that “Jacob Force has been promoted to orderly sergeant, ….but it belongs to William VanSchaack.” In fact, William also was promoted to Sergeant on April 16. He was wounded in the right side during the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, and ended up in the Patterson Park Hospital in Baltimore. Bryan mentions that Lt. VanSchaack was wounded at Gettysburg- perhaps the designation as Lieutenant was just his error. Byran also stated, “I do not think he will ever join the company again. I hope he will get his discharge and go home where he belongs. I think it is his place at home, and all men that got families depending on them for support. I do not think $13.00 go a great ways towards keeping a family for a month.” The standard military pay was $13 per month.
William went home on leave, but reported back to the hospital in Baltimore. In February 1864, Bryan stated, “I stopped in Baltimore and saw WM VanSchaack. He was looking quite well, and has a good place.” In March, he was transferred to the Veteran Reserves Corps, which defended the capitol area and was made up of men recovered from wounds, but not enough to go back to the front lines. He was soon discharged from the service. In the NY Register of Officers and Enlisted Men, compiled during the war, William reported himself has having his health permanently impaired by his service.
Evidently, William was able to pursue his painting career while in the Army, as in the 1865 NY Census he is listed in Schaghticoke as a painter, but with the note that he was usually in Baltimore. He and Alice lived in a brick house in the village of Schaghticoke, and had added a daughter, Nettie, to the family. In the 1870 US Census, he lived in a house on Main Street, on the west side, just north of Pleasant Avenue. I believe it is now gone. It was worth the considerable sum of $4800, and had a paint shop in the back. Anderson’s history states that he was a “house, carriage, sign, and ornamental painter.” Son Chauncey learned the trade as well.
from Beer’s Atlas of 1877. Main St. intersects with Pleasant Ave. at the right, School Street at the left.
William applied for an invalid pension in December, 1872. He received the relatively small amount of $4.00 per month. Unfortunately, William’s son Theodore had died in 1867. Chauncey also predeceased his father in 1878. William himself died in 1882, and daughter Nettie in 1885, but Alice lived until 1908. In the 1900 US Census, she was living in the village of Schaghticoke in a house she owned. Her son-in-law George Beecroft, a butcher and widower of daughter Nettie, and her grandchildren lived with her. All are buried in Elmwood Cemetery.
Tombstone of William and Alice VanSchaack at Elmwood Cemetery, GAR marker at right