Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Edward Day Cohota, 1927–1929

The New York Times
November 13, 1927
Only Chinese in Union Army Still Survives, Aged 84
Hot Springs, S.D., Nov. 12 (AP).—The only Chinese recorded as serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, Edward Day Cohota, is spending his last days at the Battle Mountain Sanitarium here.

Cohota is 84 years old. He was brought to America by a sailing master and roamed the Massachusetts waterfronts as a boy. He enlisted in a Massachusetts regiment, reenlisted after the war and spent thirty years in the service.

He was retied from Company G, Eighth Infantry, in 1894, as the only Chinese ever mustered out of the United States Army.

Aberdeen Daily News
(South Dakota)
May 22, 1928
Chinese Claims to Be Only U.S. Civil War Vet of His Nationality
by Earl B. Douglas
Staff Writer for Central Press

Hot Springs, S.D.—The only Chinaman, according to official records, who was born in China and still is a veteran of the Civil War, is Edward Day Cohota, an inmate of Battle Mountain Sanitarium for War Veterans, in Hot Springs. Cohota served in the Union army during the conflict. He is now 85.

The story of this old veteran’s life is a strange one. More than 80 years ago a 4-year-old Chinese boy, in rags and tatters, was playing around the wharves of a small port, near Shanghai, and took the fancy of a sailor on a Yankee clipper ship.

Had to Shift for Himself

The sailor fell into talk with the lad and had just enough command of the language to gain some knowledge of the boy’s circumstances. The child’s mother was a widow, and he was forced to fend for himself for the most part. And children then, as well as now, were not looked after well by poor Chinese folk.

Telling the sailor that he would like to sail away with him, the boy stayed about the wharves until the clipper’s captain returned to his ship. Then there was a conference between captain and deckhand, with the result that when the ship sailed the boy sailed on it, and never again saw his native land.

When the boy was seven, the clipper put in at New York for the first time since he had been aboard, and finally into Gloucester, Mass., home of Captain Edward [sic] Day, the clipper’s master. The captain took the boy to his own home and wife and bestowed on him the name Edward Day, to be used in addition to his own name, Cahota [sic]. The boy grew up in the Day home, and when the Civil war broke out enlisted promptly.

Cohota, loving adventure, being shrewd, adaptable and friendly, also had the money-making and saving faculty. When the war ended he had saved a considerable sum of his pay, as well as having earned other sums by services to his comrades, and had the great happiness of helping his benefactor, Capt. Day, in his old age.

Re-enlisted After War

Having learned to like soldiering, he soon re-enlisted in the regular army and saw service on the western frontier. Before the Spanish-American war he was retired, to his great disgust, and even tried to enlist again for service during that struggle. While serving at Fort Randall, S.D., in the days of Indian troubles, he married a Norwegian girl, and his first child was ushered into the world at that army post.

Cohota, now a widower, with five living children, has lived in Battle Mountain sanitarium for six years. He is alert and vigorous, and plans to take an automobile trip to Gloucester this coming summer to see his boyhood haunts.

Berkeley Daily Gazette
May 25, 1928
Chinese Veteran of Civil War Now 85 Years Old

Akron Beacon Journal
June 6, 1928

The Cold Spring Recorder
(New York)
June 29, 1928
Chinaman a Comrade od Civil War “Vets”
Few Civil war veterans know that one of their number is a Chinese. He Is Edward Day Cohota, who is still alert at eighty-five. More than eighty years ago, as a small boy of four in tatters on a Shanghai wharf, he took the fancy of a Yankee sailor, with the result that the boy sailed away and never again saw his native land. He finally landed in Gloucester, Mass., the home of Capt. Edward Day, the ship’s master. The captain took him to his home and gave him his name, using in addition, Cohota. He grew up in the Day home and enlisted in the Civil war and when the war ended had the great happiness of helping his benefactor in his old age. He re-enlisted in the regular army and saw service on the western frontier. He was retired before the war of ’98, much to his disgust. While serving in South Dakota he married a Norwegian. He is now a widower with five living children.—Boston Globe.

The Niagara Falls Gazette
(New York)
August 23, 1928
Civil War Veteran, Only Chinese Enlisted, Visits Boyhood Home
Joined Union Army at 15; Is One of Two survivors of Gloucester Company.
Gloucester, Mass., Aug. 23 (AP).—Edward Day Cahota, reputed to be the only full-blooded Chinese to enlist in the union armies in the Civil war, came to Gloucester this summer to revive boyhood memories.

The National Tribune, organ of the veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic, is authority for the statement that Cahota was the only one of his race ever to enlist in the American regular army up to the time of the world war.

Cahota claims to be a Gloucesterite, for his association with this old seaport goes back more than 70 years. In 1857 Capt. Sargent S. Day, skipper of the last of the old square-riggers sailing out of Gloucester, was on a voyage to the treat ports of China. While there he took on a Chinese cabin boy of eight years who proved so likable that the captain adopted hum under the name of Edward Day Cahota.

That was how Cahota reached Gloucester. He was only 15 when, in 1864, he stretched his age and won enlistment in the army. He was assigned to Company I, 23rd regiment under Capt. Edward Story of Gloucester.

At the battle of Cold Harbor a member of the company, William E. Lowe, now living in Marblehead, was wounded. Cahota took him to the rear to an ambulance station and then rejoined the fighting line.

In recent years, when members of the old 23d regiment have had their reunions, Lowe has been the only member of Company I to answer roll call. He has responded as “the only surviving member of Company I.”

When Cahota learned that Lowe was in Marblehead, somewhat ill he drove to the fellow-veteran’s home to greet him.

Cahota went west after the Civil war, enlisted with the “regulars” and remained with the army 30 years, until 1904, when he was retired.

His residence is at the National Sanatorium in South Dakota.

Cortland Standard
(New York)
August 24, 1928
Civil War Veteran, Only Chinese Enlisted, Visits Boyhood Home
(same story and photograph in the Niagara Falls Gazette)

Lockport Union-Sun Journal
(New York)
August 24, 1928
Civil War Veteran, Only Chinese Enlisted, Visits Boyhood Home
(same story and photograph in the Niagara Falls Gazette)

The Poughkeepsie Eagle-News
(New York)
August 29, 1928
Civil War Veteran, Only Chinese Enlisted, Revisits Old Home
(same story in the Niagara Falls Gazette)

The Binghamton Press
(New York)
August 29, 1928
Civil War Veteran, Only Chinese Enlisted, Visits Boyhood Home
(same story in the Niagara Falls Gazette)

The Gettysburg Times
August 31, 1928
Chinaman, Vet of Civil War
Only Member of His Race to Serve With U.S. Regulars, Visits Enlistment Town.
(same story in the Niagara Falls Gazette)

(Omaha, Nebraska)
September 9, 1928
(same story, minus the last three paragraphs, in the Niagara Falls Gazette)

Springfield Republican
September 30, 1928
An unusual reunion of two soldiers of the Civil was recently took place at Marblehead. The pair who met were William E. Lowe of Marblehead and Edward Day Cahota of North [sic] Dakota, a Chinese. About 75 years ago Cahota came to this country as cabin boy on the old Gloucester square-rigger of Capt. Sargent S. Day. He was but seven years old when he shipped on Capt. Day’s vessel and a strong attachment for the captain caused Cahota to adopt his name. When 15 years old Cahota was such a loyal American that he lied about his age and enlisted in the Union army, participating in many hard-fought battles with Co. I, 23d regiment, M.V.M. At the battle of Cold Harbor he risked his life to rescue his wounded comrade, Lowe, and carried him to the rear for medical attention.

The Repository
(Canton, Ohio)
October 12, 1928
Native Born Chinaman Fought in Civil War
Edward Cahota, 85, Hunts South Dakota “Diamonds” After Life of Adventure—Wedlock With Norwegian Girl
Hot Springs, S.D. Oct. 12.—Edward Day Cahota, only native born Chinese known to have served in the civil war, is now 85 years old and lives in the Battle Mountain National sanitarium here.

Cahota, when a mere lad, stood on the shore of a Chinese port and watched with rapture an American clipper dock. The boy went aboard the ship and expressed to the captain, Edward [sic] Day, a desire to accompany the ship on its voyage away from China. The captain assented, bit it was not until after three years sailing of the high seas that Cahota reached America.

Upon arrival in the States, Captain Day adopted Cahota and named him Edward Day Cahota.

The Chinese man never saw his mother after the day he left the oriental shore, although he sent money to his brother for her support. Later, when the two brothers met in San Francisco, they could talk to one another only through an interpreter, for one was an Americana and the other a Chinaman.

Cahota had made his living in various ways since his service in the army during the civil war and in the regular army after peace was declared. At the present time he spends hours in the hills surrounding the sanatorium hunting “South Dakota diamonds.” These stones are a form of topaz and are very beautiful when polished.

Cahota was married to a Norwegian girl during the time he served in the U.S. Regular army.

Rockford Republic
October 19, 1928
(same story in The Repository)

South Dakota, Sui Generis
Stressing the Unique and Dramatic in South Dakota History, Volume 3
Doane Robinson
American Historical Society, 1930
page 237
...Doctor Bouza since 1919 has been health officer of Mellette County, and has done a great deal of educational work in the improvement of home and public sanitation. He is a member of the Rosebud District, the South Dakota State and American Medical Associations, and is a member of the Society of Military Surgeons. He is county coroner. He married Elizabeth Perry, daughter of Edward Day Cohota, of Valentine, Nebraska. They have a daughter, Crystal Josephine, born September 25, 1928.

During April 1929, many newspapers published the profile of Edward Day Cohota, who was photographed with his Oldsmobile.

The Troy Times
(New York)
April 4, 1929
Chinese Veteran Enjoys Oldsmobile

The Daily Argus
(Mount Vernon, New York)
April 6, 1929
Chinese Veteran Enjoys Oldsmobile

Evansville Courier and Journal
April 7, 1929
Chinese Veteran Enjoys Oldsmobile

Seattle Daily Times
April 7, 1929
Thrills of Motoring Are Enjoyed by Aged Chinese
Although a Chinese by birth, Edward Day Cahota, 86 years old, is a veteran of the American Civil War and is believed to be the only one of his race who took part as a soldier in that struggle. He is an ardent motoring fan and likes to make lengthy trips.

When 8 Years Old, Edward Day Cahota Played on Wharves in Shanghai; He Served in Civil War and Is now ardent Autoist.

Age is no barrier to enjoying the thrill of automobile touring, according to Edward Day Cahota, a Chinese by birth and the only veteran of the U.S. Civil War of his nationality. Although 86 years old, he thinks nothing of taking a 4,000 mile tour in his Oldsmobile sedan, says A.R. Tyson, president of Tyson Oldsmobile Company, state distributor.

Few are alive today who have witnessed the marvelous changes in transportation that has been the fortune of Cahota. He has seen it rise from its most ancient forms to the present speedy gasoline age. His personal recollections are virtually a thumb-nail, sketch of transportation’s development.

In 1843 he was born in Shanghai as Sing-Loo. For eight years he was one of the thousands of Chinese boys who scampered through the streets or played along the wharfs of that ancient city. Transportation, as he then knew it, consisted of being carried on a coolie’s back, or a mandarin’s palanquin being carried by four runners, or the river sampans or the occasionally seen foreign ships which anchored in the harbor.

Engaged as Cabin Boy.

Fate had chosen Sing-Loo as one of the few of his race and generation to become, an enthusiastic automobilist. The lad was 8 years old when fate’s first move was made through Captain Sergeant [sic] S. Day, master of one of the last Gloucester square, riggers that sailed around the horn to the free ports of China. Captain Day took to the lad, engaged him as cabin boy and on his arrival, in Gloucester, adopted him under the name of Edward Day Cahota.

In New England Cahota saw the early development of the steam age. Then came the outbreak of the Civil War and he enlisted in Company I, 23rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. At the close of the war he reenlisted in the U.S. regular army and served until 1904 when he was retired. According to the National Tribune, official organ of the G.A.R., he was the only Chinese to serve in the Civil War and the only one of his nationality to enlist in the U.S. Regular Army up to the time of the World War.

Is Ardent Autoist.

During his years of service in the army, while mostly attached to frontier posts, Cahota saw electricity supersede steam and then gasoline enter the race for supremacy.

Though long past the allotted four score years and ten, Cahota has become an ardent automobilist. During the first six months he owned his present Oldsmobile he drove more than 11,000 miles, including a 4,000-mile tour last summer. His only criticism of his Oldsmobile is that it is so easy to drive that he does not get his accustomed exercise.

Cahota now lives in the Battle Mountain Sanatarium near Hot Springs, South Dakota.

Binghamton Press
(New York)
April 9, 1929
Only Chinese Veteran of Civil War, 86, Takes Long Tours in Oldsmobile

Syracuse Journal
(New York)
April 10, 1929
Chinese Vet, at 86, Goes on Tour

Evening Tribune
(San Diego, California)
April 20, 1929
Chinese Veteran Enjoys Car’s Ease

San Diego Union
April 21, 1929
Chinese Veteran Enjoys Car’s Ease

The Springfield Republican
April 21, 1929
Chinese G.A.R. Veteran Enjoys His Car

Cohota is profiled in the National Park Service book, Asians and Pacific Islanders and the Civil War.

(Next post: Edward Day Cohota, 1931 and 1935)

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