Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Grandfather Joined the Army in 1899...Briefly!

While searching through Ancestry.com for records for my grandfather, Frederick W. Seaver (1876-1942), I ran across a series of small articles in the Fitchburg [Mass.] Sentinel newspaper in October 1899.   These were all in the columns headed "Leominster" and are daily snippets of news for the local community.

Here is what I found:

1)  In the October 4, 1899 issue, on page 5, is:

A transcription:

"The family of Fred Seaver, who enlisted at Clinton last week, as a member of Company K, 43d regiment, are making a vigorous attempt to have him discharged on the grounds that he was unduly influenced to enlist.  Chairman Cook of the selectmen has interested himself in the case at the solicitation of Seavers' parents and will personally visit Fort Allen, Burlington, Vt., where Seaver is doing duty and request his discharge.  Failing in this, congressman Weymouth will be asked to act in the matter through the secretary of war.  Previous to his enlistment, Seaver worked in the comb shop of Williams & Wipp.  He is of good habits and an honored member of Leominster Lodge, I.O.O.F.  As a result of his prudence and industry, there is a nice balance to his accounts in the Leominster Savings Bank.

"One day, last week, in company with two veterans of the Spanish-American war, Seaver visited Clinton.  The men had a few glasses of beer together, when one of the veterans dared the other to enlist.  Seaver was the only one to take the matter seriously.  He passed the required examinations and immediately entered the service.

"[...words illegible ...] affidavits to the effect that Seaver was under the influence of liquor when he signed the enlistment papers.  Seaver, himself, is already tired of a soldier's life.  He is now on the hospital list."

2)  In the October 6, 1899 issue, page 6:

A transcription:

"Aubry Corkum, one of the young men who persuaded Fred Seaver to enlist, has also enlisted and has been assigned to the 43d regiment, and left Leominster for Fort Ethan Allen, Vt.,Thursday.  Corkum has deserted his family -- a wife and young child -- who are in very destitute circumstances and are likely to become town charges.  Mrs. Corkum is in delicate condition.  Chairman Cook of selectmen, who is entered in the Seaver case, will go to Fort Ethan Allen, Monday, and try to get both Seaver and Corkum dismissed.  Corkum served in the regulars during the Spanish war."

3)  In the October 14, 1899 issue, page 5:

A transcription:

"Chairman Cook telegraphed from fort Ethan Allen, Vt. Friday, that his efforts to obtain the discharge of Fred Seaver from the United States service had been successful and that both he and Mr. Seaver would reach Leominster today?

4)  Finally, the October 16, 1899 issue, page 5:

A transcription:

"Chairman Cook returned, Sunday morning, with Fred Seaver, discharged from the United States service, avoiding the usual red tape customary in military circles, by appealing to the authorities in Washington."

Whew, my grandfather enlisted in the Army while under the influence of liquor (at age 23) at the dare of his "friends," didn't like it, and managed to get released in the space of about two weeks.

I wonder about Aubry Corkum - did he get released also?  I don't think so - in the 1900 U.S. census, Aubrey D. Corkum, born January 1878 and resided in Leominster, was enumerated in the Military and Naval forces in Barugo, Philippine Islands.

It is little vignettes of life like this that can change the course of a person's life.  If Fred Seaver had continued in the military in 1899 and gone overseas to the Philippines or Cuba, then he probably would not have married my grandmother, Alma Bessie Richmond, on 21 June 1900 in Leominster.  Who knows if he would have survived, or married Bessie, or had a family of seven children, including my father in 1911.  There might not have been a Randy born in 1943, and therefore no Genea-Musings.

Now to add this to my grandfather's Notes and craft a source citation for it.  I don't think that anyone in the family, besides his parents and brother, ever knew about this!

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

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