History of the Town of Schaghticoke

the results of research about the history of the town of Schaghticoke

Category Archives: Civil War

Emery Beauchamp

This is probably the shortest of the bios of men connected with Schaghticoke who served in the Civil War.

Emery Beauchamp was born in Canada in 1838. From the name, I would venture he was from Quebec, but I know little of him. He enlisted in Company K of the 125th on August 22 in Schaghticoke. He was an axe maker, 5’7” tall, with gray eyes and light hair. There was an axe factory in Johnsonville: perhaps that is where he worked. He was sent to parole camp in Chicago with the rest, but deserted there on October 15. I have been unable to find him in the census either before or after the war.

N.Y.S. Muster Card for Emery Beauchamp

Daniel Barron

            Daniel Barron was born in Ireland about 1841. I think he came to New York in or just after 1860, as he does not appear in that census at all. He enlisted in Schaghticoke in Company K of the 125th in August 1862, reporting that he was 21, born in Ireland, a farmer with blue eyes and light hair, 5’7” tall. He was captured with the rest at Harpers Ferry in September and went through the parole camp in Chicago, returning to Virginia for most of the winter. He was discharged for disability from the camp in Centreville, Virginia on April 9, 1863.

N.Y.S. Muster Card of Daniel Barron

            Daniel’s disability wasn’t permanent, as he was listed on the draft roll for Watervliet in June 1863, as an unmarried laborer. He married another Irish immigrant named Mary in 1865. By the 1870 US Census they were a family in West Troy or Watervliet. Daniel, aged 30, listed his occupation as peddler, had a personal estate of $200, and reported that he couldn’t write. He and Mary, aged 32, had three children: Ann, 5; Andrew, 2; and James, 1.

            By the 1880 US Census for Watervliet, Daniel was listed as a retail grocer. The family had added another daughter, Margaret, aged 6. Mary was reported as illiterate.  Daniel was listed in the 1890 Veterans Census, but just with a note of his enlistment in 1864, which is incorrect. The 1892 N.Y.S. census listed Daniel, l as 53-years-old, and a peddler again, with son Andrew, 24, a butcher; son James, 22, a laborer; and daughter Annie, 26, a school teacher. Also in the family were Nora, 24, and a child John, 1.

            I believe Daniel died about 1897, as that is when Mary applied for a widow’s pension. The fact that he had not yet applied himself indicates to me that his health was relatively good, with no permanent impairment from his service. The 1900 US Census for Watervliet shows Mary living with son James, a fruit peddler. Annie remained an unmarried school teacher, and Margaret was listed as housekeeper for a household that included seven men boarders.  This census showed that Mary had immigrated in 1860.

          The three continued to live together in the 1910 census. Annie, 39, was still teaching, but James, now 37 was a decorator in a paper company. This time Mary reported that she had immigrated in 1858. Living just down the street were son Andrew, 39, a vegetable peddler, with wife Nora and their four children. By 1920, Mary had died, with just James and Annie living together.  I have not found where Mary and Daniel are buried. This is a nice success story for a pair of Irish immigrants. I think Daniel was lucky to finish his Army service so early.

John and David Bacon

Now I will begin to write about the enlisted men from Schaghticoke who served in the 125th NY Volunteer Infantry Regiment, mostly in Company K. The first on the list, John Bacon, had a younger brother, David, who served in the first Troy regiment, the 2nd. I will include him as they are brothers.

             John and David Bacon were the two sons of Gardner and Elizabeth Bacon of Schaghticoke. They are listed in the 1850 US Census in Schaghticoke, where Gardner was a 34-year-old farmer worth $150, and Elizabeth was 30. Their children were John, age 8, and David, 7, plus daughters Sarah, 3, and Sophia, 1. In the 1855 NY Census we learn that Gardner was born in Washington County, and was now working as a laborer. Then and in the 1860 census, the family lived in a house with at least three other families. The 1860 US Census lists both Gardner and 19-year-old John as farm laborers. David, just 16, had no occupation listed.

            The younger brother, David, was the first to enlist to fight. He went to Troy to enlist on April 24, 1861 in Company H of the 2nd NY Infantry Regiment, just days after the war had begun. He was just 18, with blue eyes and brown hair, 5’4 ½” tall. He gave his occupation as farmer. David participated in the battles of the 2nd, beginning with the 7 Days Battle in Virginia at the end of June and start of July 1862. The Regiment had seventy casualties at the first battle of Bristoe Station, Virginia on August 2. At some point David injured his foot, apparently rather badly, as he was discharged from the Army from the Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia on February 28, 1863. The record card indicates he also had rheumatism.

NYS Record Card for David Bacon

            I don’t know where David went upon his discharge from the Army. He did not appear in the 1865 NY Census for Schaghticoke, though of course he may have been here. He applied for an invalid pension in August 1865, indicating he was quite disabled by his service, though just a young man.

            By the 1870 US Census, David had come home. That census listed him as the 28-year-old head of a household including his wife, Margaret, 30, sons Daniel and George, 4 and John, 1, plus his parents Gardner, 61, and Elizabeth, 55, and sister Sarah, 24. David and his father were farm laborers and Sarah worked in the tow (linen) mill. From their location on the census, they lived in the area of Verbeck Avenue, west of the village of Schaghticoke.

            I feel that David and his wife must have died between then and 1880, though I don’t know where they are buried. By the 1880 US Census, grandparents Gardner and Elizabeth were heads of a household including their three teenage grandchildren, who were all working in the linen mill. Gardner himself was listed as “unable to work.” Daughter Sarah still lived in the family, though her last name was given as Golden. She worked as a washerwoman. She had two children, Warren, 3, and Eddie, 5 months. At least grandson Daniel stayed in the area his whole life.

            Turning to the older Bacon brother, John waited to enlist in the summer of 1862 with the rest of the local boys as a Private in Company K of the 125th.

NYS Record Card of John Bacon

 On his N.Y.S. Muster card, John gave his age as 22- he was probably 20- and stated he had been born in Schaghticoke. He was a farmer with gray eyes and dark brown hair, 5’4” tall. He made it through the capture at Harpers Ferry, the internment at Chicago, and the battle of Gettysburg with the rest of the 125th.

 On October 16, 1863, George Bryan reported “the most of the Schaghticoke boys are safe. One by the name of John Baken (sic) was wounded.” The 125th had just been in the battle of Bristoe Station, Virginia, when about 25 of the men in the regiment were wounded.  According to the 1890 Veterans Schedule, John was discharged for disability in Washington, D.C. on December 12, 1864 after a gunshot wound in the leg. He evidently survived a year in military hospitals before the decision was made that he would not recuperate enough to return to duty.

In the 1865 NYS census for Schaghticoke, though his parents were still living there, John lived in the family of William Verbeck, a farmer, along with fellow veterans of Company K, Andrew and Charles Houck. The three men had their occupation listed as “soldier.” John’s wounds were mentioned in the portion of the census which described Civil War soldiers. In November of 1868 he applied for an invalid pension on the basis of a wound in the left leg. He received $8.00 per month. Evidently he was permanently disabled to some extent. By the 1870 US Census, John was a farm laborer, living in the family of Alonzo Kenyon and his wife in Schaghticoke.  So both Bacon sons were disabled by their war service.

The situation had changed by the 1880 US Census.  The only John Bacon of the correct age I can find in the 1880 census was an inmate at the Marshall Infirmary in Troy, marked insane. I don’t know if he is the correct one or not.  John was definitely in Schaghticoke in 1882, when he was a charter member of the local G.A.R. post, and in 1883, when he was on the list of people receiving pensions at that time. In summer 1887 he participated in the reunion of the 125th Regiment in Troy.

 All of the 1890 federal census except the Veterans’ Schedule was destroyed, but John Bacon is on that veterans’ listing in Schaghticoke, with the note that he had been discharged from the army for his leg wound. Between 1880 and 1884, John had met and married a widow named Laura Camp, who was from Vermont. According to the censuses of 1900 and 1910, Laura had had eleven children, six of whom survived.  She had eight children in her first marriage and she and John had three children of their own, John, Jr., and Jennie, who appear to have been twins, born in 1884, and Annie, born in 1887.

John appears in the 1900 US census as a mill laborer, age 62, with wife Laura, 55. John and Jennie, aged 15, worked as laborers in the flax mill. They lived in the village of Schaghticoke, near the mill. By the 1905 NY Census, John owned a farm on Stillwater Bridge Road. Son John was working on the farm with his father and mother, and daughter Jennie was evidently already a widow, as she lived in the family but was named Jennie Keon.  By the 1910 US Census, John, now listed as 75, was retired. Son John was a farm laborer, but “worked out”, so evidently John, Sr.’s farm was not active. A grandson named John Welch, age 5, lived with them. I feel he might have been the son of daughter Annie. In the 1905 census there had been a couple on Stillwater Road , George Welch, age 21, a wool mill worker, and wife Anna, age 18. Indeed, George and Anna Welch are in the 1910 US Census in Pittstown, where George was now a fireman in the twine mill. They had three small children. John, 5, was the oldest- so he probably appears on the census twice. Perhaps he lived with his grandparents John and Laura Bacon some of the time.

I do not find the Bacons in the 1915 NY Census. But John Bacon, Jr. is in the 1920 US Census for Half Moon. He is now married to Hattie, also age 35. In the family are her four children by a previous marriage, aged 8-17, last name Golden, and their daughter Laura, age 5, named for her grandmother, who had died in 1913. John, Jr. was working as a mason in a paper mill. I could not find John Bacon Sr or Jr in the 1925 census, but I finally found John Bacon, the Civil War veteran, age 99, as a boarder in the family of William Golden, age 58, in Menands, Albany County, in the 1930 US Census. Certainly Golden was related to John’s son’s wife, but how I do not know. The Bacons and Goldens were certainly intertwined, as John’s sister Sarah had married a Golden as well.

 John died later that year, and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery. In the same plot are his wife, Laura, their son John, Jr., and his wife Hattie, who died in 1960, and daughter Jennie, who died in 1966. Jennie had evidently remarried, to a man named Samuel Green. They lived in Schaghticoke, where he was a teamster and laborer, and they had at least three children.

 There is quite a bit of inconsistency in John’s birthdate over the course of his long, long life. As of 1862, his birthdate was 1840, and it remained so until at least the 1900 census, but the 1930 census and his tombstone both give the year as 1830. Perhaps John enjoyed exaggerating his already great age even more.

Tombstone of John Bacon in Elmwood Cemetery. He was probably born in 1840 rather than 1830, but still lived a long life.

So John, discharged from the Army in 1864 and awarded a pension for permanent disability from a severe leg wound, had an eventful life- apparently unable to settle on one job, working as a farm and mill laborer, finally marrying and having a family. He attained farm ownership, but only for a few years. It seems odd that he ended up living with non-family members in his final years, when he still ended up in the family plot in the local cemetery. But who knows what his children’s situation was- maybe they just didn’t have room for the old man, or maybe he preferred to live elsewhere. He had lived apart from his family when he first returned from the Civil War- maybe he was hard to get along with. And John certainly had a strong constitution, to survive to 90 years of age.

It seems very neat to me that we can come so close in time to a Civil War veteran and his children.

Morgan L. Wood

The next of men connected with the town of Schaghticoke who served in the Civil War……the last of the officers and enlisted men of Company K of the 125th.

Morgan L. Wood was the 4th Corporal of Company K of the 125th. He was the son of William W. and Orpha Wood, both from New Hampshire. According to his New York State Muster Card, he was born in 1841 in Stillwater. William moved around the area, showing up in the 1850 US Census in Easton, and the 1860 US Census in Schaghticoke. At that point he was a 47-year-old master painter, with a personal estate of $500. His wife Orpha was 50; son Morgan L, the future soldier, was an apprentice painter. Also in the family were daughter Mary, 17 and two elderly ladies, Lydia Whitney, 83 and Phebe Jaquith, 73. Certainly one must have been Orpha’s mother.

morgan wood

The New York State Muster Card of Morgan Wood.

The Muster Card indicates that Morgan had blue eyes and brown hair, with a “sandy” complexion. He was 5’7”.  He enlisted at age 21 in Troy or Schaghticoke in August of 1862 as a Private, and was promoted to Corporal by April of 1863. In January 1863, George Bryan, writing from camp in Virginia, stated, “my tent is almost full now, Morgan Wood is here. He is well.” Morgan was wounded at the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. He died of those wounds either July 21 or 24 in a hospital in Newark, New Jersey. Unlike some others who died of wounds or disease in the war, Morgan was returned home for burial in Elmwood Cemetery. Perhaps this was because he died a couple of weeks after the battle, when few others would have been dying. Also, Gettysburg is relatively close to Schaghticoke. His mother applied for a pension based on his service and death immediately.

morgan wood

Tombstone of Morgan L. Wood in Elmwood Cemetery


It must have been difficult for the family to have promising apprentice painter and only surviving son Morgan first enlist to fight, and then die.  They had suffered the death of six other children. The 1865 NY Census lists William and Orpha with their daughter Mary, 22, and a 15-year-old nephew, Dexter Bedford, living with them. Perhaps he became the new apprentice.  The census also records that Orpha had had eight children The veterans portion of the census records Morgan’s death, but just one dependent parent- I’m not sure why. In any case, father William died in 1870 at age 57.

Orpha and her only surviving child, Mary, moved to Stillwater. In the 1870 US Census they were living next door to another painter, Asa Wood. Perhaps he was Orpha’s brother-in-law. By the 1880 US Census, Mary had married and her mother was living with her in Michigan. Perhaps the distance is why Orpha is not buried with the rest of her family in Schaghticoke. In the plot in Elmwood besides father William and Morgan are William F., who died in 1850 at age 2, Sarah M., who died in 1855 at age 4 years, 9 months, Phebe, who died in 1846 at 14 months, and Elvira, who died in 1853 at age 12 years, 8 months. Elvira’s parents are given as A. and M. Wood, perhaps Asa and his wife. So she may have been a cousin of Morgan and his siblings.




William H. Holden


William H. Holden was the 3rd Corporal of Company K of the 125th. He enlisted at age 20.  He was born in Virginia, and had blue eyes and light hair and was 5’4” tall. He gave his occupation as “cradle maker” – referring to grain cradles. He had been living in Schaghticoke since at least 1850, when he was listed in the census, age 6, with his mother Maria, age 30, and sister Annette, age 4. By the 1855 N.Y.S. census, the three of them were living with his mother’s father, Harold W. Johnson. He was a 60- year- old widowed merchant. He had been living alone in the 1850 census, and listed his occupation as grocer.

By the 1860 US Census, our future soldier William was on his own.  He was a 17- year- old apprentice machinist living in the boarding house of George Clark. On the same census page were the families of Isaac Grant and Daniel Viall, proprietors of Grant and Viall, makers of grain cradles in Grant’s Hollow; so it is reasonable to assume that William was their apprentice and lived nearby.  He enlisted along with Isaac’s nephew Job Grant in the summer of 1862. (see previous post)By March 15, 1863, he was promoted to Corporal. He was captured in action on June 22, 1864 near Petersburg, Virginia, but unlike Job, he was paroled. He was evidently either wounded or ill later, as he was mustered out of the service on May 23, 1865 at Jarvis Hospital in Baltimore.


N.Y.S. Muster Card for William H. Holden

William returned to Grant and Viall, and is listed in the 1870 US Census as a grain cradle maker, aged 26. His wife was Dorcas A. Eddy. They had a daughter, Ella, age 1. Dorcas died in 1872 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery.  With her are two other children who died as infants: Albert, who died aged 1 month in July 1865 and Cora, who died in July 1868 aged 9 months.  Albert’s birth date gives us evidence that William came home on leave in 1864, and that William and Dorcas had been married at least since then.

William continued to work at Grant’s. In the 1880 US Census, he had a new wife, Jennie.  The records of the 125th Veterans Association state that he lived in Melrose. The 1890 Veterans Schedule states that he had scurvy of the mouth.  Scurvy is caused by lack of vitamin C.  Apparently soldiers on both sides of the Civil War suffered from it, though not to a huge extent. One of the results of scurvy is softening of the gums and loss of teeth. Was William saying that he suffered from the loss of teeth? I can’t see the scurvy continuing throughout his life, though the loss of teeth certainly would!

On April 11, 1887, William applied for an invalid pension.  That same August he participated in the reunion of the 125th Regiment in Troy.   By the 1900 US Census, William, now 59, was widowed again and rented a place on 10th Street in Troy with his daughter Ella Overocker, also widowed. Although his occupation was listed as carpenter, he had not worked at all in the previous year. Ella was a dressmaker.

William was a patient at the Soldiers and Sailors Home in Bath, Steuben County, New York from June to September in 1903. He was recorded as age 63, 5’5” tall with dark hair and blue eyes. He was a Protestant, and a laborer, suffering from cardiac issues and hemorrhoids. He gave his closest relative as Mrs. Jennie Wilson of Ballston Spa. I’m not sure who she was.  Very sadly, I find a William H. Holden in the 1910 census as a patient at the Utica State Hospital for the Insane. He was the correct age to be the same person, 69, and listed as born in Virginia, though his father was recorded has having been born in Massachusetts and his mother as in New York. William Holden did live until 1914, and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery with his first wife, Dorcas.


william Holden tombstone elmwood

Tombstone of William Holden and Dorcas Eddy at Elmwood Cemetery



Job A. Grant


To me, the story of Job A. Grant is one of the saddest of many sad Civil War stories. Job enlisted as a Private in Company K of the 125th with everyone else in August of 1862. He was born in Schaghticoke, with blue eyes, light hair and a fair complexion, 5’8” tall. He gave his occupation as mechanic, and his age as 21- though I think he was 19. By April of 1863 he had been promoted to Sergeant.

Job A Grant

The N.Y.S. Muster Card of Job A. Grant

Job’s father, John, was the brother of Isaac Grant, inventor, and proprietor of the factory which made grain cradles and fanning mills in what is now Grant’s Hollow. Isaac was about ten years older than John, and always employed him in the business. In the 1850 US Census, John was a mechanic, implying he worked making the machinery, while Isaac was a manufacturer. In the 1855 NY Census, the brothers lived next door, though Isaac owned a large house and John rented a small one. At that point John was 38, his wife Catherine 35, and they had four children. Job, the eldest, was 12. In the 1860 US Census, John was called a machinist. The family consisted of Job, 17, Mary, 15, Warren, 12, Nora, 10, Inez, 5, and Stella, 3. While the family was not wealthy: John owned no real estate and had a personal estate of just $300, brother Isaac certainly employed both John and then Job- as indicated by the occupation he gave when he enlisted.

John Grant and his wife were killed in a railroad accident on the Troy and Boston Railroad near Buskirk’s Bridge (Troy “Daily Times” January 16, 1862). They were on the way to the funeral of a friend in their carriage when a train struck their wagon, “sending its occupants high in the air, demolishing the vehicle into fragments….their sad untimely fate is regretted by all….Mr Grant was employed as superintendent of the large manufacturing establishment of his brother.” Who knows why the Grants didn’t see- or hear- the train coming? It was winter- maybe snowbanks? But they were in a carriage and not a sleigh, which implies pretty clear roads. They were able to travel in a vehicle with wheels, rather than one with runners.

I don’t understand why Job, eldest child in a large family, would go ahead and enlist in the Army in the summer after his parents had died, leaving him in charge of his young sisters.  He had a job, and he must have been a responsible young man, as he was quickly promoted to Sergeant in the Army. Another of Isaac Grant’s employees, William Holden, enlisted at the same time, so perhaps he was caught up in the patriotic fervor. His cousin, Job P. Grant, son of Isaac, registered for the draft as required, but did not enlist. He was a bit older (26 in 1862) and married, so perhaps that dissuaded him.

Not long after Job A. was promoted to Sergeant in the spring of 1863 he was absent ill for a while in the hospital in Washington, DC. He returned to duty and was out on picket duty near Mine Run, Virginia on December 1, 1863, when he was captured by the Confederates along with forty other men. He was the only Sergeant in the captive group.

According to the Regimental History, General Meade and the Union army were arrayed facing General Lee and the Confederates across the stream Mine Run, ready for battle. The night of December 1, Meade decided to withdraw his Army rather than attack the enemy under very adverse conditions. Due to an error of command, the 41 men on picket duty from the 125th were not withdrawn with the rest of the regiment and the rest of the army and were captured. This constituted 1/7th of the Regiment at the time. The men were prisoners at Belle Island, near Richmond, for two months, then at Richmond for two weeks, then were transferred to Andersonville, Georgia when it opened in February 1864. Only nine survived.   Job died of dysentery on July 23, 1864. Hopefully he and the other men of Company K of the 125th who were there: W.O. Carr, Douglas Fisher, C.E. Stratton, John Conlin, Fred Scharp, Alexander Whyland, James K. Simon, Arteus Loomis, and Andrew Jackson Doty stuck together and supported each other. Stratton and Fisher died in June, Carr in August, and Conlon in September. Simon, plus Loomis and Doty, who arrived at Andersonville after the others, were transferred to Florence, South Carolina when Andersonville closed in September, as the Union army closed in, and survived the war.

jobgrant tombstone

Tombstone of Job A. Grant at Andersonville National Cemetery, Georgia

andersonville graves

Vista of graves at Andersonville National Cemetery. Prisoners were buried in trenches, shoulder to shoulder. At the time Job Grant died, at least 100 men were dying each day.

andersonville new york monument

Obverse of the N.Y.S. monument at Andersonville National Cemetery. More N.Y.                                              soldiers died there than from any other state.

The 1865 NY Census reported Job’s death, listing him as the guardian of four dependent sisters. Brother Warren, only 17 by this point, must have been out on his own. I found Warren as a 22-year-old farm laborer in Canaan, Columbia County in 1870. He married and stayed there- even had a daughter named Inez like his sister- and died in 1914. In the 1865 NY Census, baby Stella was living with her uncle and aunt, Henry and Eliza Rose in Schaghticoke.  In 1880, she married a man named Charles Washington Williams, a dry goods merchant in Manhattan, and lived the rest of her life there, dying in 1898. Two of her sisters were also in Manhattan. Mary married a lawyer, John Vincent, who became a District Attorney. Nora married William Connel, also a merchant. Inez married Charles Jackson, who worked for Singer Sewing Machine Company, in 1882, and died just a year later.  The children did not apply for military benefits based on their brother’s service, but perhaps they didn’t need them.










Sgt. William VanSchaack

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.

william van schaack muster card

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.

william van schaack home 1877

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.


William VanSchaack

Tombstone of William and Alice VanSchaack at Elmwood Cemetery, GAR marker at right



Lt. Col. Aaron B. Myer




I have included Lieutenant Colonel Myer here because George Bryan of Schaghticoke  mentions him frequently in his letters home to his friend Jennie Ackart.  Aaron was born in Westchester County in 1824, (or in Hudson, according to the History of the 125th) and moved to Troy in 1827. His middle name was either Beekman or Bennett. The 1850 US Census for Troy listed him as a 27- year- old saddle and harness maker, with wife Julia, 22, born in Connecticut, and a son Albert L., age 4. Living with the little family were Julia’s parents, T.P. and Nancy Perkins. According to the History of the 125th, he was an original member of the Franklin Hose Company, and was seriously injured by a wall falling on him in the Galusha fire of March 1845. He recovered to marry Julia that September.

By the 1860 US Census Aaron was a grocer with a personal estate of $1000. Son Albert, 14, was a clerk for his father, and the family had a second son, Francis, 4. Mr. Perkins had died, but grandma Nancy still lived with the family.

Meanwhile, Aaron had gotten involved with the Troy City Artillery, one of the local private militia companies. He was a Sergeant until 1861, then Captain until he enlisted in the 125th. When the 125th began to recruit, he raised Company B and became its Captain. He was promoted to Major in March 1863 and had a 30-day furlough about the same time. Aaron was slightly wounded at Gettysburg. According to the Division of Military and Naval Affairs website, the N.Y.S. Library owns some letters Aaron wrote home to Julia that summer in which he speaks of the extreme pain of his wound.

Aaron had three brothers in the war: 2nd Lt. Robert Emmet Myer, also of the 125th, and Captain Charles F. Myer and Thomas T.B. Myer, both of the 93rd NY. Only Robert survived the war of the four brothers.


First N.Y.S. Muster card of Aaron B. Myer



Following the battle of Gettysburg, Aaron was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He was wounded at the battle of the Wilderness on May 5, 1864 and died three days later. The Regimental History reports that he was leading part of the 125th plus three other regiments, pushing the enemy a mile through underbrush until they were back in their earthworks. At that point he was shot, falling into the arms of Adjutant Merritt Miller and other comrades who carried him to the rear.  He survived for several days, but had been shot so high in the leg that it could not be amputated. His body was interred first at Chancellorsville, then moved to Troy’s Oakwood Cemetery.  His wife applied for a widow’s pension immediately.  An article in the Troy “Daily Times” reported his death and extolled his virtues as a prominent citizen of Troy. The Troy City Artillery met and did the same, voting to wear black armbands for a month in his honor and memory.

aaron b myer 3

2nd Muster Card of Aaron B. Myer


aaron b myer

Illustration from the History of the 125th.


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Tombstone of Aaron B. Myer at Oakwood Cemetery in Troy, thanks to Find-a-Grave

Aaron’s son Albert enlisted in the 11th U.S. Infantry in the fall of 1865. He made a career of the Army, reaching the rank of Major by the Spanish American War, serving many years in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and ending his career as a Brigadier General at a post in Texas. He and his wife Wilhelmina, born of a Scottish father and Spanish mother, married in 1871 and had three children. Albert died in 1915 and she survived him.

Aaron’s widow Julia remained in Troy for the rest of her long life. Her mother lived with her until at least 1880, when Julia, 51, and her mother Nancy Perkins, 89, lived on Hoosick Street. Julia reported Aaron’s service to the 1890 Veterans Schedule of the census.  By 1900, Julia had moved in with her son Francis and his wife Margaret, who had no children. “Frank” was the foreman in a shirt factory. She lived until at least 1910.


Lt. Merritt B. Miller


merrit miller

This is one of three N.Y.S. Muster Cards for Merritt Miller, this one has his physical description.

Merritt B. Miller was born in Troy in 1843. I include him here because he was an officer in Company K. The 1850 US Census listed his family in Troy: father Hosea, 45, a stove mounter, born in New York, mother Emily, 41, plus Merrit, age 9; Emily, 7; and William, 1. By the 1860 US Census  he had joined his father in the business, listed as a stove mounter at age 17.  He enlisted in Company G of the 125th in August 1862.  He is described as having light hair, blue eyes, and being 5’11” tall.

This young man must have had leadership qualities as he was named 1st Sergeant when he enlisted, and promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in February 1863, then to 1st Lieutenant in Company K in September 1863. This put him in charge of the “Schaghticoke boys.” So far he had survived the initial capture of the whole regiment at Harpers Ferry in September 1862, parole camp in Chicago until December, and then Gettysburg in July of 1863.   Promotion to Adjutant followed on May 14, 1864. The Adjutant had administrative responsibilities in a regiment, so Merritt must have been literate and capable.  Unfortunately, he was wounded in the thigh in action near Petersburg, Virginia on June 22, 1864 and died several days later in the regimental field hospital at City Point. Ezra Simon, Chaplain and author of the Regimental History, quotes a letter Miller wrote home to a brother who was planning to enlist: “never swerve from the path of truth and honesty…Avoid swearing…Avoid all of the vices of camp life….Obey commands.”

According to the Regimental History, he “would go into battle with a smile on his face,” and his last words were “Boys, all is well: put your trust in the Lord.”

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This N.Y.S. Muster card includes the notation of Merritt’s death

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Illustration from the Regimental History


Merritt’s body was returned home for burial. He has a beautiful tombstone in New Mt.  Ida Cemetery on Pinewoods Avenue in Troy, which lists his family on the reverse. I cannot find that his mother applied for a pension, to which she would have been entitled.

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These photos of Merritt’s tombstone were taken on June 25, 2014 by members of the 125th Regimental Association, who were cleaning stones of veterans. Coincidentally, this was the 150th anniversary of the death of Merritt. Spooky.



Lt. Lee Churchill


Lee Churchill earns a place in this volume since he served as 2nd Lieutenant of Company K, from February to December of 1863, hence through the time of Gettysburg. Lee was born in Troy in 1836, the son of Joseph and Sarah Churchill. Joseph was a grocer in Troy. He and Sarah also had a daughter, Jane, and another son, DeWitt, a couple of years younger than Lee. The 1860 US Census showed Lee, 23, as a clerk in a shirt factory. The Regimental History of the 125th states that he began as a clerk for his father, then worked for his brother, who had a shirt factory.

Lee enlisted in the 2nd NY Infantry Regiment in Troy in April 1861 as a Lieutenant. I do not know what experience he had to earn him that spot. Nor do I know why he resigned his commission in June. He reenlisted in Company F of the 125th Infantry Regiment in August 1862, beginning as a Sergeant. His muster card described him as a clerk, with grey eyes and light hair, 5’7” tall, aged 26. He was promoted to First Sergeant by early 1863, then followed McGregor Steele as Lieutenant of Company K. His records are voluminous and confusing.

LeeChurchill muster card

One of a number of N.Y.S. muster cards for Lee Churchill


LeeChurchill letter

Letter attached to the muster card of Lee Churchill


Several sources say that Lee was “wounded in four places at Gettysburg”, but the circumstances are not recorded. Whatever the wounds, he was not hospitalized for long, and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and moved to Company B in December 1863. Just after our local Lieutenant George Bryan was killed before Petersburg, Lee was wounded again, this time in the arm, with an artery severed, on June 21, 1864. He resisted having his arm amputated and did recover, but not enough to go back into action. He was mustered out on October 14, 1864. He was promoted Captain and Brevet Major after he was wounded.

lee churchill ny cartes de visite (2)

Illustration from  NYS Cartes de Visites, on ancestry.com

The 1870 US Census for Troy listed Lee back home. His father, now 72, was working as a letter carrier. Lee, 33, and his brother DeWitt were “paper collar makers.” Lee married in 1874 and applied for an invalid pension in 1878. His arm must have been giving him trouble.

On the 1880 US Census his new family still in Troy. He was a 42-year-old collar manufacturer. He and wife Ellen, 30, had one son, LeGrand, aged 7. A daughter Nellie, was born in 1883.  I did not find him in the 1890 Veterans Schedule for Troy, but the entries seem quite chaotic. He was involved in the writing of the history of the 125th, so definitely participated in Veterans’ activities.

By the 1900 US Census Lee was working as a watchman. Both children were at home: LeGrand, 26, was a clerk, and Nellie, 16, still in school. The Troy “Times” reported that Lee was the Vice-President for Ward 6 for the Rensselaer County Veterans Association in 1904. Ellen applied for a widow’s pension in August 1905, pinpointing his death date pretty closely. She survived until 1928.

lee churchill oakwood

Tombstone of Lee Churchill at Oakwood Cemetery, Troy, thanks to find-a-grave