Monday, March 31, 2014

John Fouenty

The New York Times
March 12, 1864
A Chinaman from Rebeldom.
A young man named John Fouenty, a native of Hong Kong, China recently arrived in this City, having made his escape from Savannah, Ga., where he was conscripted. John speaks but little English. His story, which is undoubtedly true, is somewhat interesting. He says his people are quite “well to do in China, but owing to some arrangement which he could never exactly understand, he found himself at seven years of age shipped as a coolie on board a vessel bound for Cuba. His term of “apprenticeship” being out at the expiration of four years, he was furnished with money to pay his passage home. He made an arrangement with the captain of a bark which was, as he was informed, to sail direct for China. He paid $30 for his passage, and in four or five days afterward was surprised to find himself in St. Augustine, Florida. The captain explained the matter by saying his passenger shipped under a mistake, and that his vessel was going no further. This was in 1862. Some kind gentlemen, residents of St. Augustine, hearing John’s story, took him in charge and sent him to school for a year, when he moved to Savannah. There he learned the cigar-maker’s trade. At the breaking out of the rebellion, he was induced to join the rebel army, in which he served for a year. He was then mustered out, being under age. The last rebel Conscription Act brought John under the rule, and he was accordingly notified. Determined not to fight any more under the rebel flag, he seized the first favorable opportunity to make his escape to St. Augustine. The Provost-Marshal of that place kindly furnished him with transportation to New-York. John is now trying to get passage to China, hoping to see his people once more, His news is not of a very late date. He says that before he left Savannah Jeff Davis came there and addressed the people. He was asked the question. "When will the war be over?" Jeff, replied, “Don’t, for Heaven’s sake, ask me such a question. Not until the Yankees give up.” In the latter part of January, there were but three regiments in the city and the fortifications surrounding it. There are but two forts on the river, but the channel has been obstructed in several places, the obstructions extending seven or eight miles below the city. When he left Savannah, flour was $120 per bbl.; beef, $100 do.; boots, $150 a pair; Havana cigars, $2 a piece; board at hotels, $15 per day; mixed drinks, $3 each.

North & South, April 1999, page 38

Although Fouenty is not mentioned in the National Park Service book, Asians and Pacific Islanders and the Civil War, the book has profiles of many men of Asian descent who served.

(Next post: John Earl)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

John Tomney

Union Army
Private, Company D
70th Regiment, New York Infantry
Promoted to full Corporal

Killed in action July 2, 1863 at Gettysburg

National Park Service

The Gettysburg Experience
May 2010
Diana Loski
“…He was part of the Excelsior Brigade, Humphreys’ Division, in Dan Sickles’ Third Corps. After a narrow escape of running into a sizeable Confederate force at Black Horse Tavern upon their arrival at Gettysburg very early in the morning of July 2, the Excelsiors were deployed with the rest of their division in the Peach Orchard, near the Emmitsburg Road. Because the ground was well suited for artillery but ill favored for infantry, the men were subjected to a horrendous barrage of cannon fire from Longstreet’s Confederate line. Several shells exploded in the vicinity of the 70th New York, killing and desperately wounding many in the ranks….”


The death of Tomney, whose surname became Tommy in the newspapers, was widely reported, in Union states, after the battle at Gettysburg. Twenty-five years later, in 1888, Tomney’s death was reported again.


The Adams Sentinel
(Gettysburg, Pennsylvania)
June 30, 1863
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman known as John Tommy.  He was attached to the first regiment Excelsior Brigade, Capt. Price’s company. In the engagements at Fredericksburg, Chancellorville [sic], and last at Gettysburg, John Tommy was one of the bravest soldiers in that bravest of brigades, the Excelsior. He seemed not to know what fear was, and was the universal favorite of all his fellow soldiers. He had not been wounded unto Gettysburg but in Friday’s fight he was struck by a shell which tore off both legs at the thighs and he shortly bled to death.

Boston Daily Advertiser
(Massachusetts)
July 10, 1863
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to the First Regiment Excelsior brigade, Capt. Prince’s company. John Tommy was the only representative of the Central Flowery Kingdom in the Army of the Potomac, and was widely known.

Courrier des Etats-Unis
(New York, New York)
July 10, 1863






































Springfield Republican
(Massachusetts)
July 10, 1863
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to Gen. Sickles’ brigade and was a great favorite. The company he was in went into the action with 28 men and lost 20 in killed and wounded. Tommy’s case was peculiar, as he was the only representative of the empire of China in the finest army on the planet.

The Sun
(Baltimore, Maryland)
July 10, 1863
China at Gettysburg.
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to the First regiment Excelsior brigade, Capt. Price’s company. In the engagements at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and last at Gettysburg, John Tommy was one of the bravest soldiers in that bravest of brigades, the Excelsior. He seemed not to know what fear was, and was the universal favorite of all his fellow soldiers. He had not been wounded up to Gettysburg but in Friday’s fight he was struck by a shell which tore off both legs at the thighs, and he shortly bled to death.

Troy Daily Times
(New York)
July 11, 1863
A Chinaman called John Tommy fought in Sickles’ old brigade at Gettysburg, and was one of eight men in his company who escaped injury. Probably John Tommy is the only representative of the celestial empire in the finest army on the planet.

The New York Times
July 12, 1863
China at Gettysburg.
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to the First regiment Excelsior brigade, Capt. Price’s company. John Tommy was the only representative of the Central Flowery Kingdom in the Army of the Potomac, and was widely known both from that circumstances and certain peculiarities of his own. John Tommy came to this country immediately after the breaking out of the war, and was induced to enlist in Gen. Sickles’ brigade, at that time being raised in this city. He was then a mere lad, entirely ignorant of our language. Being bright, smart and honest, he soon become a favorite at Red Hook, Staten Island, and was at once the butt and the wit of the whole regiment. Before he became located on the Maryland shore of the Potomac opposite Aquia Creek, in one of the reconnaissances on the south side of the river, Tommy was taken prisoner and soon become a lion in the rebel camp. He was brought before Gen. Magruder, who surprised at his appearance and color, asked him was he a mulatto Indian or what? When Tommy told him he was from China, Magruder was very much amused, and asked him how much he would take to join the Confederate army. “Not unless you would make me a Brigadier-General,” said Tommy, to the great delight of the secesh officers who treated him very kindly and sent him to Fredericksburgh. Here Tommy become a great lion, and his picture was published in the Fredericksburgh papers. Subsequently he was sent to the Libby Prison, Richmond, where he met his captain, Benjamin Price, who had been taken prisoner at Williamsburgh. After his parole Tommy came to New York City, where he employed his time in attending upon his sick and wounded comrades. He was the kindest of nurses and spent his little means in providing delicacies for a sick fellow-soldiers. In the subsequent engagements at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and last at Gettysburg, John Tommy was one of the bravest soldiers in that bravest of brigade, the Excelsior. He seemed not to know what fear was and was the universal favorite of all his fellow soldiers. He had not been wounded up to Gettysburg, but in Friday’s night he was wounded by a shell, which tore off both legs at the thighs, and he shortly bled to death. The company he was in went into the action with twenty eight men and lost twenty in killed and wounded. Tommy’s case is peculiar as he was the only representative of the Empire of China in the finest army on the planet. — World.

Boston Evening Transcript
(Massachusetts)
July 14, 1863
The only Chinaman in the army was killed at Gettysburg. He was called John Tommy, and was attached to the 1st Excelsior regiment, having joined it when it was first raised.

Daily Citizen and News
(Lowell, Massachusetts)
July 14, 1863
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to Gen. Sickles’ brigade and was a great favorite. The company he was in went into the action with 28 men and lost 20 in killed and wounded.

Hartford Daily Courant
(Connecticut)
July 14, 1863
The only Chinaman in the army was killed at Gettysburg. He was called John Tommy, and was attached to the 1st Excelsior regiment, having joined it when it was first raised.

New York Herald Tribune
July 14, 1863
John Tommy, the only Chinaman in the United States Army, was slain at Gettysburg. The brave little fellow belonged to the 1st Excelsior Regiment, which he joined at its organization. He was a kind, unpretending, clever fellow, much beloved by his comrades, and noted for his attention to the sick and wounded.

Roman Citizen
(Rome, New York)
July 17, 1863
John Tommy, the only Chinaman in the United States Army, was slain at Gettysburg. The brave little fellow belonged to the 1st Excelsior Regiment, which he joined at its organization. He was a kind, unpretending, clever fellow, much beloved by his comrades, and noted for his attention to the sick and wounded.

Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph
(Gloucester, Massachusetts)
July 18, 1863
The only Chinaman in the army was killed at Gettysburg. He was called John Tommy, and was attached to the 1st Excelsior regiment.

Havana Journal
(New York)
July 18, 1863
The only Chinaman in the war was killed at Gettysburg. He was called John Tommy, and was attached to the 1st Excelsior regiment, having joined it when it was first raised.

Public Ledger
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
July 20, 1863
China at Gettysburg.
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to the First Regiment Excelsior brigade, Capt. Price’s company. John Tommy was the only representative of the Central Flowery Kingdom in the Army of the Potomac, and was widely known both from that circumstance and certain peculiarities of his own. John Tommy came to this country immediately after the breaking out of the war, and was induced to enlist in Gen. Sickles’ brigade, at that time being raised in this city. He was then a mere lad, entirely ignorant of our language. Being bright, smart and honest, he soon become a favorite at Red Hook, Staten Island, and was at once the butt and the wit of the whole regiment. Before he became located on the Maryland shore of the Potomac opposite Aquia Creek, in one of the reconnaissances on the south side of the river, Tommy was taken prisoner and soon become a lion in the rebel camp. He was brought before Gen. Magruder, who surprised at his appearance and color, asked him was he a mulatto Indian or what? When Tommy told him he was from China, Magruder was very much amused, and asked him how much he would take to join the Confederate army. “Not unless you would make me a Brigadier-General,” said Tommy, to the great delight of the secesh officers who treated him very kindly and sent him to Fredericksburg. Here Tommy become a great lion, and his picture was published in the Fredericksburg papers. Subsequently he was sent to the Libby Prison, Richmond, where he met his captain, Benjamin Price, who had been taken prisoner at Williamsburg. After his parole Tommy came to New York City, where he employed his time in attending upon his sick and wounded comrades. He was the kindest of nurses and spent his little means in providing delicacies for a sick fellow-soldiers. In the subsequent engagements at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and last at Gettysburg, John Tommy was one of the bravest soldiers in that bravest of brigade, the Excelsior. He seemed not to know what fear was and was the universal favorite of all his fellow soldiers. He had not been wounded up to Gettysburg, but in Friday’s night he was wounded by a shell, which tore off both legs at the thighs, and he shortly bled to death. The company he was in went into the action with twenty-eight men and lost twenty in killed and wounded. Tommy’s case is peculiar as he was the only representative of the empire of China in the finest army on the planet.

Salem Register
(Massachusetts)
July 20, 1863
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman, known as John Tommy. He was attached to the First Regiment Excelsior brigade, Capt. Prince’s company. John Tommy was the only representative of the Central Flowery Kingdom in the Army of the Potomac, and was widely known.

The Daily True Delta
(New Orleans, Louisiana)
July 23, 1863
p1 c5: Among the killed was a young Chinaman known as John Tommy. He was attached to the first regiment Excelsior Brigade, Capt. Price’s company. In the engagements Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and last at Gettysburg, John Tommy was one of the bravest soldiers in that bravest of brigades, the Excelsior. He seemed not to know what fear was, and was the universal favorite of all his fellow soldiers. He had not been wounded up to Gettysburg, but in Friday’s fight he was struck by a shell which tore off both legs at the thighs, and he shortly bled to death.

Cleveland Leader
(Ohio)
July 28, 1863
The only Chinaman in the war was killed at Gettysburg. He was called John Tommy, and was attached to the 1st Excelsior regiment, having joined it when it was first raised.

San Francisco Bulletin
(California)
August 1, 1863
John Tommy, the Chinaman Killed at Gettysburg.—An Eastern paper says:
(see Public Ledger text above)

The Daily Constitutionalist
(Augusta, Georgia)
August 2, 1863
John Tommy, the only Chinaman in the United States army, was slain at Gettysburg.

The Macon Daily Telegraph
(Georgia)
August 4, 1863
John Tommy, the only Chinaman in the United States army, was slain at Gettysburg.

Robinson Constitution
(Illinois)
October 24, 1888
A Chinaman, supposed to be a member of the Seventieth New York, was killed at Gettysburg. (scroll down column to “Random Shots”)

Union Springs Advertiser
(New York)
October 25, 1888
The only representative of the Empire of China in the Army on the Potomac was John Tommy of the Excelsior brigade (Probably in the Seventeenth [sic] New York regiment). He was killed at Gettysburg.

The Angola Record
(New York)
October 25, 1888
The only representative of the Empire of China in the Army on the Potomac was John Tommy of the Excelsior brigade (Probably in the Seventeenth[sic]  New York regiment). He was killed at Gettysburg.

The St. Lawrence Plaindealer
(New York)
February 13, 1889
The only representative of the Empire of China in the Army on the Potomac was John Tommy of the Excelsior brigade (Probably in the Seventeenth [sic] New York regiment). He was killed at Gettysburg.

Boone County Recorder
(Burlington, Kentucky)
June 26, 1889
The only representative of the Empire of China in the Army on the Potomac was John Tommy of the Excelsior brigade (Probably in the Seventeenth [sic] New York regiment). He was killed at Gettysburg.

The Gettysburg Times
(Pennsylvania)
June 29, 1963
Among the killed at Gettysburg was a young Chinaman known as John Tommy. He was attached to the first regiment Excelsior Brigade, Capt. Price’s company. In the engagements at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and last at Gettysburg, John Tommy was one of the bravest soldiers in that bravest of brigades, the Excelsior. He seemed not to know what fear was, and was the universal favorite of all his fellow soldiers. He had not been wounded up to Gettysburg, but in Friday’s fight he was struck by a shell which tore off both legs at the thighs and he shortly bled to death.


Links
Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York (1902)
Tomney, John.—Enlisted, May 15, 1861, at New York city, to serve three years; mustered in as private, Co. D, June 21, 1861; promoted corporal, no date; killed in action, July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pa.; also borne as Tommy.
The Gettysburg Death Roster: The Federal Dead at Gettysburg (1990)

North & South, April 1999, page 37

Chinese Soldiers Fought in U.S. Civil War

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

(Updated February 26, 2015; next post: John Fouenty)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chinese Union Soldier, 1862 POW

The Campaign from Texas to Maryland
Rev. Nicholas A. Davis
Presbyterian Committee of Publications of the Confederate States, 1863
...March 13 [1862]—A detail was made from each Texas Regiment of one Lieutenant and fifteen men, who were ordered to return to the vicinity of Dumfries, to watch the movements of the enemy. They captured prisoners daily, and on the 18th, at Glasscock’s Hill, they saw a brigade cross the Potomac, pass up to Dumfries, back to Evansport, and recross the river. On the next day they captured a Yankee Chinaman, who being committed to the care of Barker, (of Co. G, 4th Texas,) and proving a little stubborn, that practical frontiersman quietly placed the Celestial across his lap, and with his leathern belt administered such a chastisement as that “ruthless invader” had probably not received since childhood.
The Daily Dispatch
(Richmond, Virginia)
March 24, 1862
An Adventure 
On Monday, a small party of Federals came to Dr. —’s house in the upper part of Stafford, and after getting something to eat left. Soon after leaving, they overtook a cart of the Dr’s loaded with bacon, which he was sending off. They seized this, together with the cart and horse, as booty, but the negro boy who was driving escaped. 
After this party had left Dr. —’s, he was surprised by the sudden appearance before him, in his room, of a Federal soldier, a picket, armed with a musket, who called out — “You are my prisoner!” The Dr. sprang at the man and wrested the gun from his hand, coolly answering — “No, sir, you are my prisoner.” The Dr. started the fellow before him, but before they had gone far, the soldier said he would go no further. Dr. — told him he would shoot him if he did not, but the fellow said he would as soon be as be taken prisoner. Fortunately at this juncture some of our scouts came in sight, and the prisoner [didn’t] seem to be at all disposed to die, as the Texans were willing to accommodate him. He was forwarded to Richmond on Wednesday. 
The fellow is a Chinaman; so if seems the United States are hiring of all nations their refuse people, to subjugate the independent people of the South.

























Early research at the Association to commemorate the Chinese serving in the American Civil War believed that the unnamed Chinese soldier was John Tomney. Further research in Asians and Pacific Islanders and the Civil War confirmed that it was John Tomney.

The Sun
(New York)
June 16, 1862
“A Yankee Chinaman”
Did these three words refer to the captured John Tomney?


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

(Next post: John Tomney)


Friday, March 28, 2014

Antonio Dardelle

Born: 1845
Died: January 18, 1933, Connecticut
Naturalized October 22, 1880

Union Army
Enlisted August 23, 1862
Private, Company A
27th Regiment, Connecticut Infantry


Catalogue of Connecticut Volunteer Regiments, from the Fourteenth to the Twenty-eighth Inclusive, and Second Light Battery
1862
Twenty-seven Regiment Connecticut Volunteers.
Infantry Company A.
Dardelle, Antonio

The Weekly Courant
(Hartford, Connecticut)
January 31, 1863
Soldiers in Hospital in Rhode Island.—
The following Connecticut soldiers were in hospital at Portsmouth Grove, R.I., on the 24th inst. The list is furnished us by one of the officers of the hospital:
27th Regiment—…Antonio Dardell, Co. A…contusion or injury by shell…

Catalogue of Connecticut Volunteer Organizations, with Additional Enlistments and Casualties
1864
Twenty-seven Regiment Connecticut Volunteers.
Infantry Company A.
Dardelle, Antonio

The “Twenty-seventh”
A Regimental History
Winthrop D. Sheldon, A.M.
Morris & Benham, 1866
Catalogue of Enlisted Men.
Infantry Company A.
Dardelle, Antonio

Doud–Dowd and Allied Families
Oscar L. Doud
Dowd Association, 1976
4730. Mary C. Payne, b. 1845, m. 1868, Antonio Dardell.

Greenough, Jones & Co’s New Directory of the Inhabitants, Institutions, Manufacturing Establishments, Business, Societies, Business Firms, etc. etc. in the City and Town of New Haven for 1874–’75
Greenough, Jones & Co., Compilers and Publishers, 1874
Dardell Antonio, tinsmith, house 108 Dixwell avenue

The New York Times
March 17, 1882
The city of New-Haven Conn., contains one naturalized Chinaman, Antonio Dordelle [sic] by name. He was naturalized in the Court of Common Pleas in that city Oct. 22, 1880, and had not been obliged to “declare his intentions,” the papers which certified to his enlistment in the Twenty-seventh Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers, Oct. 22, 1862, and to his honorable discharge from the United States Army July 25, 1863, being accepted, under the United States statute, as an equivalent to the taking out of first papers.

The Weekly Statement
Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York
June 23, 1886
Antonio Dardell

New Haven Register
(Connecticut)
August 8, 1888
Co. A on Pot Island.
Sail in Barnes’ Naphtha Launch.
Veterans of When New Haven Has Ever Reason to Be Proud—Gen. Sloat, president of the Association, Comes Up From New York to Attend the Twenty-First Reunion.

For 21 years the survivors of Co. A, Twenty-seventh regiment, Connecticut Volunteers, have met on the second Wednesday in August. To-day the reunion was held at Pot Island.

…Company A was recruited almost entirely from the New Haven Grays, going into field wearing the uniform of the Grays. It was officered entirely of Grays, and furnished Grays as officers for the entire regiment with but a few exceptions.

…The man whom everybody shook hands most cordially with is the only native of the Chinese Empire who has earned and become a citizen of the United States by virtue of having served in the Union army. This gentleman is Antonio Dardell, the College street tinsmith. Mr. Dardell enlisted in Company A at the outset, and fought all the way through. At the battle of Chickamauga he was scratched by a rebel bullet. Captain Sloat says Antonio looked very threateningly at the rebel lines and vowing to pay it back he kept up a volley, forgetting his wound in his desire to even the score. He was captured with the company at Chancellorsville and went to Libby prison.

The National Tribune
(Washington, DC)
October 30, 1890
J.E. Standard, Co. G, 14th Conn., Welaka, Fla., having seen the mention of genuine Chinamen in the army, says he know Joe Pierce as a true soldier. There was another Chinaman in the 27th Conn, named Antonio Dardell, who was brought from China by a Capt. White when quite young. Dardell served his time with credit, and now lives in New Haven.

New Haven Register
September 5, 1894
Republican Delegates Chosen.
Republican Caucuses were held last night as follows:
Third ward—State convention…Antonio Dardell…

New Haven Register
August 7, 1896
New Haven Caucuses.
Election of Delegates to the Republican Town Convention.
Republican caucuses were held in the Third and Sixth Wards last night. The delegates elected go to the Town Convention at which are elected the delegates to the various State, Senatorial, Congressional, Representative, etc., Conventions. in the Third Ward these delegates were chosen:
Congressional—…Antonio Dardell…

New Haven Register
November 23, 1897
Delegates Chosen.
At the Third Ward Republican caucus held last night the following delegates to the town convention were elected: …Antonio Dardell…

New Haven Register
September 2, 1898
Backers of Porter Win
New Haven Delegation Will Favor McKinley’s Secretary.
The results of the Republican caucuses held in the city last night indicate that the New Haven delegation to the State Convention will put up in the interests of John Addison Porter, candidate for Governor….

The several delegates chosen are as follows:
Third Ward.
Senatorial—Antonio Dardell…

New Haven Register
June 1, 1899
Dewell Faction Triumphs
Farnsworth Crowd Defeated at Eighth Ward Republican Caucus

A handful of Republicans met in the Third Ward and chose the following named committees: …Antonio Dardell...

New Haven Directory 1899
No. 60
Price & Lee Company, Publishers, 1899
Dardell Antonio, tinner, also stoves and ranges 292 George, h do.

Boston Evening Transcript
(Massachusetts)
June 30, 1913
Old Soldiers Leave New Haven
Delegation Numbering 600 Accompanied by Governor Baldwin—One Veteran a Chinaman
…In the New Haven delegation was Antonio Gardell [sic], a Chinaman, who served with the Twenty-Seventh Connecticut Volunteers.

The New England Business Directory and Gazetteer for 1922
Sampson & Murdock Company
Dardell Antonio

The Boston Herald
(Massachusetts)
January 25, 1933
$80,000 Left by Chinese Who Served in Civil War
[Special Dispatch to The Herald]
New Haven, Jan. 24.—Antonio Dardell, said to have been the only Chinese who fought in the civil war and who died here last week at 91, left an estate of $80,000. His wealth was invested in Connecticut securities which suffered little depreciation in the last three years. His will directed that the income of the estate go to his three daughters and other death to Wooster lodge of Freemasons of this city.


Links
Association to commemorate the Chinese serving in the American Civil War has two profiles of Dardelle by Ruthanne Lum McCunn and Dr. Qingsong Zhang, and a photograph, possibly, of Dardelle.

Chinese in the Civil War: Ten Who Served” by Ruthanne Lum McCunn

National Park Service

North & South, April 1999, page 36

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

(Next post: Chinese Union Soldier)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thomas Sylvanus

Born: July 4, 1845, Hong Kong
Died: June 15, 1891, Indiana, Pennsylvania

Union
Enlisted August 30, 1861
Private , Company D
Eighty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers

Enlisted July 11, 1863
Corporal, Company D, Color Guard
Forty-second New York Volunteers


In the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Thomas Sylvanus was a member of the Duvall household in Baltimore, Maryland. His name was recorded as “Thos. Selvanies”. The fifteen-year-old servant was born in China.

Sylvanus’s name was spelled “Sylvannes” in the 1870 census which said he lived in White Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania. The head of the household, Martin Earhart, was a hotel keeper. Sylvanus’ occupation was hostler.

The 1880 census listed Sylvanus (spelled “Sylvanis”) in Indiana, Pennsylvania. He was married to Matilda and they had two daughters: Sadie, age 3, and Ellen, age 1. Sylvanus was a laborer.

In 1890, a Special Schedule.—Surviving Soldiers, Sailers, and Marines, and Widows, etc. was conducted. According to the document, Sylvanus’s home was Indiana, Pennsylvania, and his rank was private in Company D of the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry. He enlisted August 30, 1861 and was discharged May 28, 1865, having served three years, six months and 28 days.


Gettysburg Compiler
(Pennsylvania)
April 5, 1882
A Little of Everything.
The first Chinaman ever naturalized in America, lives in Indiana, Pa. He is perhaps the only one of his race who carried a musket throughout the civil war. He is now on the pension list and drawing a pension for injuries received during the war, and has been a voter for nearly years.
(click link and scroll halfway down column)

The Indiana Weekly Messenger
(Pennsylvania)
October 3, 1883
Thomas Sylvanis [sic] has organized a package express company and is prepared to deliver packages in any part of the town at a small compensation.

Albany Times
(New York)
December 12, 1884
Thomas Sylvanus, of Indiana, Pa., besides being the only Chinaman in that county, claims the distinction of being the only Chinaman in the United States who saw service, draws a pension, and votes. “Tom” is somewhat between forty and fifty years old, and came to this country at the age of nine [sic]. He enlisted in the Eighty-first Pennsylvania, and during an engagement received injuries to his eyes for which he draws a pension of $12 a month.

Madison Observer
(Morrisville, New York)
December 24, 1884
—Thomas Sylvanus, of Indiana, Pa., besides being the only Chinaman in that county, claims the distinction of being the only Chinaman in the United States who saw service, draws a pension, and votes. “Tom” is somewhat between forty and fifty years old, and came to this country at the age of nine. He enlisted in the 81st Pennsylvania, and during an engagement received injuries to his eyes for which he draws a pension of $12 a month.

The Carbon Advocate
(Lehighton, Pennsylvania)
December 27, 1884
Thomas Sylvanus, of Indiana, claims to be the only Chinaman in this country who served in the army, draws a pension, and votes. He enlisted in the 81st Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, from Philadelphia.

The National Tribune
(Washington, DC)
May 24, 1888
A Chinese Pensioner.
Editor National Tribune: The following has been going the rounds of the papers:
…I will now claim for another Chinaman the honor of being the first of his race to receive a pension from the United States Government, and also the first Chinese Grand Army man. When the writer had the honor being Department Commander of the G.A.R. of Pennsylvania, and while on an official visit to the Posts of Indiana County, May 19, 1885, two recruits were mustered into Post 28, of Indiana, one of whom was a Chinaman, who had enlisted in Co. D, 81st Pa., and served until disabled by disease and wounds. He has been receiving a pension of $8 per month since date of disability. His name is Thomas Sylvanus, and under that name he served in the army. His name might have been at one time Ah-Lin, Ah-Sin, or an other Chinese name. He is a citizen of the United States, having been naturalized, but whether before or after the war the writer does not know. He is married to an American woman, and resided in Indiana County, Pa., at the time above mentioned, and was respected by all who knew him.—Austin Curtin, Roland, Pa.

Saginaw News
(Michigan)
April 2, 1891
A Chinaman Who Can vote.
There is at least one Chinaman in the United States who has a right to vote. He is named Thomas Sylvanus, and he lives at Indiana, Pa. When he came to America years ago he determined to make the country his home. So he learned the language and took out naturalization papers. When the war began he enlisted in the federal army and served for four years. He is a member in good standing of the G.A.R. and receives a pension from the government. The other day he learned that because of an informality in his marriage to Matilda Askins, a white woman, soon after the close of the war, she could not be recognized by the authorities as the widow of a veteran in case of his death. Thomas promptly remedied matters by calling in a clergyman who tied the knot “for keeps.”

The Salt Lake Herald
(Salt Lake City [Utah)
April 5, 1891
A Chinaman Who Can Vote.
There is at least one Chinaman in the United States who has a right to vote. He is named Thomas Sylvanus, and he lives at Indiana, Pa. When he came to America years ago he determined to make the country his home. So he learned the language and took out naturalization papers. When the war began he enlisted in the federal army and served four years. He is a member in good standing of the G.A.R. and receives a pension from the government. The other day he learned that because of an informality in his marriage to Matilda Askins, a white woman, soon after the close of the war, she could not be recognized by the authorities as the widow of a veteran in case of his death. Thomas promptly remedied matters by calling in a clergyman who tied the knot “for keeps.”

The Wichita Daily Eagle
(Kansas)
April 9, 1891
A Chinaman Who Can Vote.

The Cambria Freeman
(Ebensburg, Pennsylvania)
June 19, 1891
Thomas Sylvanus, better known as “Tom Chinaman,” died at Indiana on Monday. He was born in Hong Kong in 1845, and came to this country in 1857. He enlisted in the Eighty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers in 1861, and the first Chinaman who was enrolled in the war. He participated in a number of battles, and was captured at Petersburg and confined in Andersonville. At the close of the war he was naturalized as an American citizen in United States court at Pittsburg, the records showing he was the first Chinaman to throw off allegiance to the Chinese emperor. He then went to Indiana and married an American girl, and at the time of his death was the father of three children, all of whom have the almond-shaped eyes and the peculiar bronze complexion of the Chinese heathen.

The New York Times
June 21, 1891
Our Chinese Soldier Buried
The Singular Career of Thomas Sylvanus Ended.
Indiana, Penn., June 20. — When the grizzled veterans of Indiana Post, No. 28, G.A.R., on Tuesday laid to rest their comrade Thomas Sylvanus, they buried a soldier whose life had been of more than passing interest.

Sylvanus was a full-blooded Chinaman about forty-six years of age. He was born in Hong-kong, singularly enough, on the Fourth of July. In 1857 a Presbyterian missionary brought him to Philadelphia and taught him the English language. When the war broke out, “Tom Chinaman,” as he was popularly known, went to the front as a private in the Eighty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers. He made a good soldier, but ill health compelled his discharge late 1862.

Nine months later he had so far recovered that he re-enlisted in Company D, Forty-second New-York. With this command he fought gallantly in the seven days’ battle before Richmond, and did his part in the Wilderness and at Spottsylvania, and in the series of engagements in format of Petersburg. He was a Corporal of the Color Guards at Cold Harbor. When the breastworks were charged, all the others detailed to hold up the flag fell, but the plucky Chinaman waved the Stars and Stripes defiantly and survived. During the assault on Petersburg Tom fell into Confederate hands, and until the war closed he spent his days in the prisons of Andersonville and Jacksonville.

Tom early became a Christian. For nearly twenty years he had been living here and was a devout member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He took out naturalization papers at Pittsburg in 1870, and is said to have been the first Chinaman to take that step. Soon after that he married an American girl, by whom he had three children. Sylvanus was granted a pension eight years ago on account of disability, and only a few days before his death the department, and only a few days before his death the department granted him an increase. He is said to have been the only Chinese pensioner on the rolls.

The Patriot
(Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)
June 18, 1891
A Chinese Pensioner.
Death of a Celestial Who Fought in the Union Army.
[Exclusively to The Patriot by Associated Press over our Own Wires.]
Indiana, Penna., June 17.—Thomas Sylvanus, better known as “Tom Chinaman,” died here yesterday. He was born in Hong Kong in 1845, and came to this country in 1857. He enlisted in the Eighty-first Pennsylvania volunteers in 1861, and was the first Chinaman who was enrolled in the war. He participated in a number of battles, and was captured at Petersburg and confined in the Andersonville. At the close of the war he was naturalized as an American citizen in the United States Court at Pittsburg, the records showing that he the first to throw off the allegiance to the Chinese emperor. He then came here and married an American girl, and at the time of his death was the father of three children, all of whom have the almond-shaped eyes and the peculiar bronze complexion of the Chinese heathen. Tom professed Christianity and was a member of the M.E. church.

Tom was granted a pension some years ago on account of disability incurred in the service and was the only Chinese pensioner on the government rolls. He was buried to-day with the honors of war by his comrades of Indiana post No. 28, G.A.R.

The Buffalo Courier
(New York)
June 19, 1891
Thomas Sylvanus, a Chinaman who died at Indiana, Pa., Monday, was a Federal soldier nearly throughout the War. At Cold Harbor he was corporal in the color guard, and when the breastworks were mounted he alone survived to hold aloft the flag. He was captured by the Confederates in the assault on Petersburg and sent to Andersonville. He was buried with the honors of war by bis comrades of a G.A.R post. He was the only Chinaman on the pension rolls.

Buffalo Morning Express
(New York)
June 22, 1891
Our Chinese Soldier.
Tom Silvanus Who Held Up the Stars and Stripes at Cold Harbor.
(see The New York Times)

Juniata Sentinel and Republican
(Mifflintown, Pennsylvania)
June 24, 1891
First Citizen Chinese.
Indiana, Pa., June 16.—The first naturalized Chinese citizen of the United States, Tom Chinaman, whose legal name is Thomas Sylvanus, is dead at the age of 46 years. He was also the only Chinese pensioner on Uncle Sam’s great roll, and was a G.A.R., comrade. He served four years in the Union army during the war, participating in several noteworthy engagements. He was Corporal of the color guard at Cold Harbor, and alone survived to hold up the flag when the breastworks were mounted. He was an ardent Methodist. His wife, an American girl, survives with three children.

The Cultivator & Country Gentleman
June 25, 1891
Thomas Sylvanus, our first Chinese naturalized citizen, at Indiana, Pa., June 16, aged 46. He was the only Chinese pensioner on the rolls, having serve four years in the Union army. He was corporal of the color-guard at Cold Harbor and the only survivor.

The News and Courier
(Charleston, South Carolina)
June 25, 1891
Old Chinese Soldier Buried.
(see The New York Times)

Idaho Statesman
(Boise, Idaho)
July 5, 1891
There was one Chinaman on the United States pension rolls for service during the late war. He lived in Pennsylvania and died recently. He was known as Tom Chinaman at his home. He was not one of the ordinary washee washee, yellow skinned importations however. When he was twelve years old a Presbyterian missionary brought him to America. When he was only sixteen, in 1861, he loved his adopted country well enough to enlist in the Union army. He was soon discharged, however, because it was thought he was not physically strong enough for a soldier’s duties. Nothing daunted, he tried it again enlisting a second time in the New York regiment, the Forty-second. At Cold Harbor he was the soldier who planted the flag upon the breastworks, all the rest of the color guard having been killed or disabled. Tom was captured at Petersburg, and kept a prisoner by the Confederates till the close of the war. There was no braver or better soldier than this Chinese citizen. For he was a citizen, the first Chinaman naturalized by the government. His American name was Thomas Sylvanus. He had an American wife and three children. Just after the United States had granted him an increase of pension he already enjoyed, poor Tom went out of this world to the American heaven, it is to be hoped, for he loved the United States as well as any man native born.

The Pittsburg Dispatch
(Pennsylvania)
January 1, 1892
Necrology.
June 17, 1891—…Thomas Silvanius [sic], only Chinese soldier in War of Rebellion, died in Indiana, Pa.

The Indiana Weekly Messenger
(Pennsylvania)
October 11, 1893
The widow of the late Thomas Sylvanis [sic] has gone to Johnstown, where she will make her future home.

The Evening Times
(Trenton, New Jersey)
June 7, 1898
Up to date, one Chinaman has enlisted in the volunteer army to help free Cuba and wipe out the Dons. He hails from California and his comrades and officers say he will make a first rate soldier. He is known in the army as Thomas Sylvanus, and Thomas, so the reports aver, is a very brave man. There is one great advantage which Thomas’ regiment possesses over all others in Uncle Sam’s service, and that is the “boys in blue” stand a fair chance of having their apparel washed occasionally. This regiment is considering doing away with the motto “Remember the Maine” and putting in its place, on the regimental banner, “No checkee, no washee.”

The Pittsburgh Press
(Pennsylvania)
June 11, 1898
Chinamen as Soldiers.

Daily Journal
(Syracuse, New York)
June 27, 1898
One Chinaman in the Army
Washington Post.
The enlistment of a Chinaman in the volunteer army in California the other day recalls the fact that there was but one Celestial in the war of the rebellion. His Chinese name is unknown, but the name under which he enlisted was Thomas Sylvanus. He was born in Baltimore [sic] about eighteen years before the outbreak of the war. When only a child he was taken to Pittsburg [sic], where he acted as a servant for a wealthy family in that city. When the war broke out Thomas ran away and enlisted in the army. He served Uncle Sam until the close of the war, shortly after which he turned up in Indiana, Pa., where he resided until his death, which occurred a few years ago.

While in the service of the United States Sylvanus contracted a disease of the eyes, from which he almost went blind. In 1880 he applied for and was granted a pension of $12 per month. He also secured several hundred dollars back pension. An examination of the records discloses the fact that Sylvanus was the only Chinaman in the late war, and consequently the only one of his race who drew a pension. At last accounts his widow and children were still living in Indiana, Pa.

The Sun
(New York)
June 28, 1898
The One Chinaman in the Union Army.
(see Daily Journal)

The Saint Paul Globe
(Minnesota)
July 11, 1898
Two Chinese Soldiers.
The enlistment of a Chinaman in the volunteer army in California the other day recalls the fact that there was but one Celestial in the War of the Rebellion. His Chinese name is unknown, but the name under which he enlisted was Thomas Sylvanus. He was born in Baltimore [sic] about eighteen years before the outbreak of the war.

Burlington Weekly Free Press
(Vermont)
July 21, 1898
A Fighting Chinese.
The enlistment of a Chinese in the volunteer army in California the other day recalls the fact that there was but one Celestial in the civil war. His Chinese name is unknown, but the name under which he enlisted was Thomas Sylvanus. He was born in Baltimore [sic] about eighteen years before the outbreak of the war. When only a child, he was taken to Pittsburg [sic], where he acted as a servant for a wealthy family in that city. When the war broke out, Thomas ran away and enlisted in the army. He served Uncle Sam until the close of the war, shortly after which he turned up in Indiana, Pa., where he resided until his death, which occurred a few years ago.

While in the service of the United States Sylvanus contracted a disease of the eyes from which he almost went blind. In 1880 he applied for and was granted a pension of $12 per month. He also secured several hundred dollars back pension. An examination of the records discloses the fact that Sylvanus was the only Chinese in the late war and consequently the only one of his race who drew a pension. At last accounts his widow and children were still living in Indiana, Pa.

Otsego Farmer
(Cooperstown, New York)
August 12, 1898
(see Daily Journal)

Quaker Street Review
(Schenectady, New York)
August 18, 1898
Chinamen as Soldiers.
(see Daily Journal)

Kansas Agitator
(Garnett, Kansas)
August 26, 1898
The enlistment of a Chinaman in the volunteer army in California the other day recalls the fact that there was but one Celestial in the War of the Rebellion. His Chinese name is unknown, but the name under which he enlisted was Thomas Sylvanus. He was born in Baltimore [sic] about eighteen years before the outbreak of the war. When only a child, he was taken to Pittsburg [sic], where he acted as a servant for a wealthy family in that city. When the war broke out, Thomas ran away and enlisted in the army. He served Uncle Sam until the close of the war, shortly after which he turned up in Indiana, Pa., where he resided until his death, which occurred a few years ago.

While in the service of the United States Sylvanus contracted a disease of the eyes from which he went almost blind. In 1880 he applied for and was granted a pension of $12 per month. He also secured several hundred dollars back pension. An examination of the records discloses the fact that Sylvanus was the only Chinaman in the late war, and consequently the only one of his race who drew a pension. At last accounts his widow and children were still living in Indiana, Pa.—Washington Post.

Wisconsin Weekly Advocate
(Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
August 20, 1898
The One Chinaman in the Union Army
The enlistment of a Chinaman in the volunteer army in California recently recalls the fact that there was but one Celestial in the war of the rebellion. His Chinese name is unknown, but the name under which he enlisted was Thomas Sylvanus. He was born in Baltimore [sic] about eighteen years before the outbreak of the war. When only a child he was taken to Pittsburg [sic], where he acted as a servant for a wealthy family in that city. When the war broke out Thomas ran away and enlisted in the army. He served Uncle Sam until the close of the war, shortly after which he turned up in Indiana, Pa., where he resided until his death, which occurred a few years ago.

The Columbus Journal
(Nebraska)
August 31, 1898
Chinaman in the Civil War.
The enlistment of a Chinaman in the volunteer army in California reminds the Washington Post that there was but one Celestial in the war of the rebellion. His Chinese name is unknown, but the name under which he enlisted was Thomas Sylvanus. He was born in Baltimore [sic] about eighteen years before the outbreak of the war. When only a child, he was taken to Pittsburg [sic], where he acted as a servant for a wealthy family in that city. When the war broke out, Thomas ran away and enlisted in the army. He served Uncle Sam until the close of the war, shortly after which he turned up in Indiana, Pa., where he resided until his death, which occurred a few years ago.

While in the service of the United States Sylvanus contracted a disease of the eyes, from which he went almost blind. In 1880 he applied for and was granted a pension of $12 per month. He also secured several hundred dollars back pension. An examination of the records discloses the fact that Sylvanus was the only Chinaman in the late war, and consequently the only one of his race who drew a pension. At last accounts his widow and children were still living in Indiana, Pa.

The Kansas City Star
(Missouri)
November 8, 1898
America’s Chinese Pensioner.
He Is Said to Be the Only One of His Race on the Roll.
From the Baltimore American
An interesting story is told by Mrs. Duval of this city of a Chinaman who for several years was in her service and who later entered the army. He was honorably discharged and is the only member of his race who was pensioned by the United States government for army service. In the early 50s shortly after California had been admitted into the Union, Mr. Sylvanus Duvall, Mrs. M.J. Duvall’s son, had occasion to visit Canton, China. On his return trip the captain of the vessel upon which he sailed had a little Chinese child about 7 years old, whom he treated most cruelly. Mr. Duvall pitied the unfortunate little fellow and after repeated requests he was finally given possession of the child. When they arrived at San Francisco Mr. Duvall took the child to his home in that city and cared for him, but soon Mr. Duvall got married and came to Baltimore bringing the Chinese child with him. While he was staying with his mother in this city she became fond of the little child of the Flowery Kingdom, whose queue by this time attained a length of about five or six inches and protruded straight out from the top of his head. When Mr. Duvall returned again to San Francisco he left Towey, as the child was called, in charge of Mrs. Duvall. Towey soon grew to be a good-sized boy and acted as waiter and performed general housework for Mrs. Duvall. He also in time manifested a great desire to associate with the boys in the neighborhood which desire was granted. He was able to speak English fairly well.

When Colonel Moorehead’s regiment from the North encamped in the western section of the city, Towey, who had been given the name Tom Sylvanus by the boys of the neighborhood, visited it each evening and soon became a general favorite among the soldiers. This friendship grew and when the men left for the South, Towey accompanied them.

Nothing more was heard from him for several years when it was learned that he had returned to Pennsylvania and had enlisted in the Eighty-first Pennsylvania regiment and during an engagement had received injuries to his eyes. After the war he returned to Philadelphia where for a time he was in the employ of Dr. von Musien, an oculist, as coachman and general servant. He applied to the United States government for a pension of $12 a month through Mr. William ducal, a brother of Mr. Sylvanus Duvall, which was granted. Soon after getting his pension he moved to indiana, Pa., where he married and became the father of four children. All trace of him was again lost until a few days ago when Mr. Duvall met an old acquaintance who stated that she had visited an orphan asylum where three of Towey’s children were. One of them told her that her mother had died about five years ago and father later.

Beaver County Times
(Pennsylvania)
July 8, 2005
Civil War group honoring Chinese vet

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sons of Civil War veterans to honor Chinese war hero
July 9, 2005

Committee of 100
July 2005






















Chinese Yankee
A True Story from the Civil War
by Ruthanne Lum McCunn
Design Enterprises, 2014
978-0-932538-96-3

Links
Association to commemorate the Chinese serving in the American Civil War has profile and extensive information on Sylvanus.

Find a Grave

Indiana Gazette
(Pennsylvania)
March 31, 2008

New York State Military Museum
Rosters of the New York Infantry Regiments During the Civil War








Thomas Sylvanus’s Family

Sylvanus’s wife, Matilda or Tillie, was mentioned in the Indiana Weekly Messenger.
October 11, 1893: The widow of the late Thomas Sylvanis [sic] has gone to Johnstown, where she will make her future home. 
July 3, 1895: Mrs. Tillie Sylvanus and Les Cochran plead guilty to charge of larceny and were sent to jail. Tillie getting nine months and Les three. 
October 2, 1895: Mrs Tillie Sylvanus alias “Till Chinaman,” of this town, convicted last court of larceny and sentenced to nine months in jail, paid her costs and goes to attend, as she alleges, her sick relatives.
According to the Indiana Evening Gazette (Pennsylvania), July 10, 1895, Matilda shared a jail cell with Ada Corr, who was charged with infanticide.
…Mrs. Corr and Mrs. Matilda Sylvanus occupy the same quarters, and both were present at the interview. Mrs. Corr was shy at first, but Mrs. Sylvanus, upon being promised some carpet rags to while away time on, finally induced her to talk….
The series of articles are here; scroll down to the headline “Mrs. Corr Would Wed.”; see fourth paragraph.

The Cambria Freeman (Ebensburg, Pennsylvania), May 14, 1897, reported the sad condition of Tillie’s second husband, Charles King.

********

Sylvanus’s daughter, Ellen, was born January 11, 1879, in Indiana, Pennsylvania. She was recorded in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. In the 1900 census Ellen was “May King” who was married to “C. Porter King.” They had a two-year-old daughter, Violet J. King, and resided in Cherry Tree, Pennsylvania. According to her death certificate, Ellen passed away July 6, 1906, in Montgomery, Pennsylvania. The 1910 census said King remarried, to Sara, and Violet was not part of the household, which was in Cherry Tree.























Violet has not been found in the 1910 and 1920 censuses. She was recorded, in the 1930 census, as “Violet Stott” who was married to Matt. They had a ten-year-old daughter, Verdun, and resided in Clymer, Pennsylvania. The 1940 census said Violet completed the second year of high school. Verdun, an only child, was part of the household. Violet’s obituary was published in The Indiana Gazette (Pennsylvania), on November 16, 1972:
Mrs. Violet Jule Stott, 73, Clymer, died Wednesday, Nov. 15, 1972 at her home. She was born at Cherry Tree on Oct. 23, 1899. Surviving is a daughter, Verdun, at home. She was preceded in death by her husband Matthew. Friends will be received from 7 to 10 p.m. today at the Bence Funeral Home, Clymer, where services will be held Friday at 11 a.m. The Rev. Randall Luther will officiate. Interment will be made in Greenwood Cemetery [link has a photograph of Violet], Indiana.
According to the Social Security Death Index, Verdun’s married name was McCoy and born January 7, 1920. She was president of Local 637 of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and frequently mentioned in the Indiana Gazette newspaper. A photograph of Verdun with two men appeared in the March 6, 1958 issue.

Verdun passed away August 6, 1999. An obituary appeared the next day in the Indiana Gazette.
Verdun A. Stott McCoy, 79, Clyner, died Friday, Aug. 6, 1999, at St. Andrews Village, Indiana. 
The daughter of Matt and Violet Jule King Stott, she was born Jun. 7, 1920, in Indiana County. 
Mrs. McCoy was a graduate of Clymer High School. She was a homemaker and employee at Musser Nurseries and Indiana Sportswear Co. 
She was preceded in death by her parents. 
Friends will be received Monday at the Harry J. Benice Funeral Home, Clymer, from noon to 2 p.m., the time of services. Pastor David Butler will officiate. interment will follow in the Garden of Devotions at the Greenwood Cemetery, Indiana.
She was buried with her parents.

********

Sylvanus’s son John, had a troubled life. His demise was reported in the Indiana Evening Gazette, December 30, 1905.
Death Ends Divorce Case of Mrs. Sylvanus
Woman Who Sues Husband Learns That He Is Dead at Cincinnati
Filed Suit in Blair County
Defendant Was Son of a Former Well Known Indiana Character
Left Town to Avoid Arrest 
Altoona, Pa., Dec. 29—Divorce proceedings instituted by Mrs. Myrtle Sylvanus, against her husband, John, were ended by the death of the latter in Cincinnati, O. Coroner Otis Cameron, at Cincinnati, asked the local police to look up Sylvanus’ relatives here and they carried the first news of his death to his wife. 
Sylvanus deserted his family in Indiana a year ago to escape arrest, after getting into trouble. 
The man referred to was raised in Indiana, being a son of “Tom” and Tillie Sylvanus. His father was a Chinaman and enjoyed the distinction of being the only regularly enlisted Chinaman in the Union army during the Civil war, and the only Chinese member of the Grand Army of the Republic. 
About a year ago John Sylvanus was charged, along with another man, of holding up and robbing a third party at the P.R.R. depot in this place. He left town during the night and has not been in Indiana since. 
Mrs. Mrytle Sylvanus is a daughter of Christopher Smith, at one time a resident of town.
John had two daughters:

Sadie Helen, October 8, 1901, Vandergrift, Pennsylvania
Mildred J., May 19, 1904, Altoona, Pennsylvania


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

(Updated November 11, 2014; next post: Antonio Dardelle)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Edward Day Cohota, 1931 and 1935

The World-Herald
(Omaha, Nebraska)
October 11, 1931
China-Born Veteran of Civil War Living
Special Dispatch to The World-Herald.
Parmalee, S.D., Oct. 10.—Edward Day Cohota, 89, civil war veteran living here, is believed to be the only Chinese who served in the union army during that conflict. He was brought to this country from Shanghai when about 5 years old by a sea captain.

He does not recall any knowledge of the Chinese Language. He talks, in fact, with a Boston accent.

Find a Grave
Edward Day Cohota passed away November 18, 1935.

Chinese Digest
December 27, 1935
Sole Chinese Civil War Veteran Dies
A 92-year-old Chinese died recently in Pierre, South Dakota. His name was Edward Day May Cahota; and, according to many of his neighbors who had known him for several decades, was said to be the only Chinese who served in the Union army during the American civil war.

There is no record of where Cahota was born, but he said to have come to this country at the age of four, in 1847—the same year that the first Chinese student, Yung Wing, came to study in this country—in the company of the captain of a trading ship. He remained with the family of this captain until his twenty-first birthday, when he enlisted on the Union army in 1864.

At the close of the civil war Cahota has honorably discharged from the army. However, he enlisted again and served the regular army for several years.

Cahota married a woman of Norwegian descent, who died while he was stationed in Nebraska, leaving several children to his care. It was in the home of one of his daughters that Cahota died.







































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

(Next post: Thomas Sylvanus)

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
(California)
May 25, 1928
Chinese Veteran of Civil War Now 85 Years Old

Akron Beacon Journal
(Ohio)
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
(Pennsylvania)
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)

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

Springfield Republican
(Massachusetts)
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
(Illinois)
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
(Indiana)
April 7, 1929
Chinese Veteran Enjoys Oldsmobile

Seattle Daily Times
(Washington)
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
(California)
April 21, 1929
Chinese Veteran Enjoys Car’s Ease

The Springfield Republican
(Massachusetts)
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)