Category: Diaries

Transcription – The Spanish American War Diary of William Dennis Matthews Sr.

The following is a transcription of the Spanish American War Diary of William Dennis Matthews Sr.

Anything of which I’m not sure is in [square brackets].

PLEASE NOTE: This post is an exact transcription of the original document and contains language some readers may find offensive.


1873 - Martha and Elam Dennis Matthews (married 10-26-73)

William Dennis Matthews Sr. and his wife on their wedding day.

W. D. Matthews, Private
Co. “E”
1st Infy Ills. Vols.
transferred to
Co. “A” Prov. Engr. Corps.

Diary of time spent in Army.

Sunday, April 24th ’98.
Went to church this morning and heard a first class war sermon. Came home and decided to go to war with the First Regiment, I, N.G.

Monday Apr. 25 ’98
Bip, Fred, White and I went down to the armory this evening The Governor’s (Tanner) order, for all Illinois regiments to move to Springfield was read and great applause followed. Came home about 9 o’clock and packed up my belongings.

Tuesday Apr. 26
Spent most of the day at the armory. The whole town was stirred up, over the order to move and the armory and streets were packed with friends of the the boys. We marched to the Central Station (I.C.) about 6:30 P.M. and took the train for Springfield.
People were gathered at every station to bid us farewell.

Wednesday 4/27/98.
Arrived in Springfield about 6 o’clock this morning. Unloaded at the State Fair Grounds and took up quarters in Machinery Hall. All the Illinois troops are mobilized at this point.
The camp is known as Camp Tanner.

April 27th to May 18th.
In Camp at Springfield.

Excerpt from a Spanish American War Diary

Transcription – The Spanish American War Diary of William Dennis Matthews Sr.

Wednesday May 11th
Examination of volunteers held in the Senate Chamber at the Capitol Building. The exam was very severe but I came through with flying colors.

Friday May 13th ’98
First Reg’t was mustered into the U.S. service by Major Roberts of the U.S. Army.
We were mustered in by companies and afterward had the company picture taken by Watterman of Chicago.

Saturday, May 14th
Vaccinated by regiment physicians. Quite a few tumbled over.

Sunday May 15th.
Large crowd down from Chi.
Met Lan [worthy] of Armou[r]
Worked on muster rolls most of the morning.
At 11 oclock AM, Col. Turner read the order commanding him to report his regiment to General Brooke at Chickamauga at once.
Everybody cheers.

Monday, May 16th.
Sign muster rolls for an enlistment of two years unless sooner discharged.

Wednesday May 18th.
Break camp and start for Chickamauga on the I.C.
Patriotic demonstration at every station.
Reach E. St. Louis about 5 P.M. Every steam whistle within hearing seems to be blowing. Cross the Ohio River at Cairo, Ill about midnight.

Thursday May 19th.
Through Kentucky and into Tennessee. Reach Martin, Tenn. about 7 am, and transfer to the Chattanooga Nashville and St. Louis Ry.
Boys of Co “I” steal a razor back.
On to Nashville.
Fine scenery along the road.
Cross the Tenn. River – a very pretty stream. Large stock farms as we approach Nashville. Arrive in Nashville at 1 oclock P.M.
Entire regiment unloads and marches to Capitol Building (about 3/4 mile) where the Gov. of Tenn., delivers an address of welcome.
Inspect the building for a short time and return to depot. Day is very warm and some of the boys fall out. Leave Nashville for Chattanooga about 3 P.M. Pass through Murfreesboro – first evidence of late war.
Glimpse of the National Cemetery where the union soldiers are buried.
Young lady stands in cemetery and waves the stars and stripes.
See large stretches of country once in plantations – now cut up into little fields.
All stone fences and little log cabins from which all kinds of piccaninies emerge as train passes. Little coons and big coons in numbers ranging from 8 to 20 spill out of old cabins which in the north would do service for about four pigs – if they weren’t too large.

Friday May 20 ’98.
Arrived in Chattanooga very early this morning and staid in the switch yards until about 12 o’clock [M].
During the morning we got up on top of the coaches and took a look at Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, which is distant about 3 miles. There is a railroad up the side of the mountain and near the top is a hotel.
At noon we left for Chickamauga.
Unload at Lytle Station and march to the 15th Wisc. Cavalry monument. Rest for half an hour and take up the march to camp grounds. Four miles through the worst dust I ever saw, with the hot sun pouring down upon us. A large number of the boys fall out. Pitch our camp at the junction of the Alexander Road and the Jays’ Mill Road near the Alexander House and about 1/2 mile from Chickamauga Creek.
This is Camp Thomas. Regiments about us in the near vicinity are these.

On the East.
12th Minn.
9th Penn.
2nd Missouri
3rd Virginia
3rd Tennessee

On the North.
5th Ohio
157th Indiana
21st Kansas

Sunday, May 22
Chapel under the trees.

May 23rd to 27th
Extended order drill every day.

Saturday May 28
Monthly inspection by Major Tolman of the second battalion.

Sunday May 29th
Met Bennie Greer, formerly an Armour boy, later of Dartsmouth, this afternoon and had quite a chat.
At 7 o’clock the company leaves on detached duty. Capt. Sturges reports his command to the Brig. Gen’l and we are stationed at Alexander Bridge to gaurd a spring which according to reports was poisoned by Spanish sympathizers before our arrival in camp.

Monday May 30th
Had my arm dressed by “Doc” Meese this morning.
Sid’s arm plays havoc with him so that he is excused from duty. He goes sketching – falls by the wayside – picked up by a farmer and gets a good meal out of it.
Return to camp at 7 o’clock. P.M.

Tuesday May 31st
Preparing to move.

Thursday June 2
Breakfast at 5 am. Leave camp for Ringgold, Ga., at 7:30 am. Escorted out of camp by the 12th Minn. band. March fourteen miles through sand and heat. Several creeks and one nice spring on the way.
The heat is so intense that about 1/2 the regiment falls out and marches in their leisure. (I was one of them.)
Arrive at Ringgold about 5:30 PM.
Supper on beans, hard tack and coffee.
Board special train at 9 o’clock and start for Tampa.
Pass through some God-forsaken country. See large forests of pine. Saw mills at most every station in Florida.
All kinds of melon and sweet potato vines.

Saturday June 4
Traveled all day in Florida. Arrive at Tampa about 5 P.M. Coons and cubans to burn. Arrived in Port Tampa City at 6 o’clock. Unload and march about 1/2 mile south west. Camp on Tampa Bay.
Bathing is fine. Breezes from the sea cool the atmosphere which otherwise would be suffocating.

Thursday June 9th
Leonard and I went over to Port Tampa and got a hotel dinner.

Saturday June 11th
Pack up at 6 PM and march S-W 1 1/2 miles to Picnic Island, which for camping purposes is the best place that we have yet struck. Here we have lots of shade and good bathing facilities.

Sunday June 12th
On guard at the coal docks. Loaded guns with ball cartridges – first time since entering the service.

Tuesday June 14th
Went to Tampa with Sid and Ray Chambers.
Got two good meals and took in the Tampa Bay Hotel.
The hotel is quite an extensive concern. It is run by the Plant System and is one of Florida’s best winter resorts. It has accomodation for about four thousand guests. In connection with the hotel is a casino, with a nice swimming pool. The lawns are kept up in good shape and are covered with palms, orange trees, floers, ferns and etc. Two green houses filled with ferns and palms. Trains leaving for and arriving from Port Tampa run into the hotel grounds, where passengers may get on or off.

Sunday June 19th
On guard at the division hospital.
Returned to camp in the evening and found that first serg’t Chas. F. Leech and junior duty sergeant Jacob Judson had been reduced to the ranks for allowing private R. Porter Clarke to eat canned peaches when he was sick.

Saturday June 25
I was transferred to the Provisional Engr. Corps today.

Monday June 27th
Excused from duty. Slightly under the weather.

Tuesday June 28th
Orderly to Major Sackett of Engr. Corps.

Wednesday June 29
Pay day today. Great rejoicing in camp. Canteen closed up so that the boys could save their money.

Thursday June 30th
Regiment leaves for Key West on boats “City of Macon” and “Gate City”. Boys left behind felt pretty bad to see the others leaving them behind.

Sunday, July 3
On guard.

Monday July 4th
No work today.
Tonight we all gathered in the pavillion where the officers had prepared a little spread for us. We had lemonade, cakes, cookies and cigars.
Major Sackett, Capt. Brown, Capt. Looker, Lieut-Adj’t. Laramie, Lieut. Curran and Lieut. Smith made short speeches or told stories. Some of the privates including Hagarty of “A” and Stilson told stories and sung. A couple coons came in and gave us a few rags, after which we sang “America” and then retired. We had a very enjoyable time and all appreciated the kindness of the officers.

Tuesday July 5th
Private Howe and myself went to Tampa and Ybor City. Conductor on the up trip put a wench off the train because she persisted in riding in the first class coach and wouldn’t surrender her ticket for a ride in the second class.

Wednesday July 6th
Had pontoon and flotilla still this morning.
The mosquitoes have been eating us up alive today.

Thursday July 7th
Company received a dozen new tents this morning and we moved the company street. Have a swell place now with four in a tent.
Received orders tonight to report in Santiago de Cuba as soon as possible.

Sunday July 10 ’98
On guard, Company has been busy packing and loading. All hands went on board the [Lampasas] tonight. Got paid this afternoon.

Monday July 11 ’98
Went over to the Island this morning to police the company street and got dripping wet. The D.C. boys got paid today and the majority of them are on the bum.

Tuesday July 12
Finished loading the boat this morning and left Port Tampa about 12 o’clock. The sea is very rough and we are anchored at the mouth of the Gulf.

Thursday July 14th
We arrived in Key West harbor about 10 o’clock this morning. Find several war vessels including monitors, battleships, torpedo boats and torpedo boat destroyers anchored here together with any number of sailing vessels.
Saw five Spanish ships with prisoners pulling out for New York this evening.

Friday July 15 ’98
We all went ashore this morning and had rifle practice. Saw Fort Taylor and a new fort in course of construction also the old Spanish fort. Saw some [eveon] nut trees with green nuts on for the first time. This is the most like civilization of any place that I have seen in Florida so far. Took on board a slough of mail for Santiago tonight. Had a short talk on discipline by the Colonel this evening.

Saturday July 16
Left Key West about 6:30 this morning in company with the auxiliary cruiser “Hawk” and the transport “Nueces”. Tonight we are sailing without a light on ship and have strict orders against lighting matches for any purpose whatever.
This is to prevent any Spanish vessel from sighting us.

Sunday July 17th
We all went to church this morning and Capt. Brown officiated. Sighted the Flagship “San Francisco” this evening.

Monday July 18th
Have been sailing down the eastern coast of Cuba all day. We are close enough in toward shore so that we can see the mountains. There seems to be a chain of them extending the whole length of the island. Tonight about 9 o’clock we turned about Cape Maysi and are now sailing in a south westerly direction. The little “Hawk” chases everything that comes in sight.

Tuesday July 19th
Arrived in Santiago harbor about 1030 this a.m. passed in by Morro Castle, whose guns are now silenced and saw the American flag floating on high. Saw the Merrimac (sunk in channel by Lieut. Hobson) also a Spanish gunboat sunk in action.
Santiago (what we could see of it) is a very warm looking place. Houses are mostly wooden with roofing of spanish tile. Very few trees and most of those, some variety of palm. City is surrounded by hills. Vegetation scant. Didn’t get a chance to leave the boat. Left Santiago this afternoon at two o’clock and sailed east about 50 miles to Guantanamo Bay where we are anchored tonight. There are a large number of battle ships here and a few transports, but the most of the latter are at Santiago. Gen’l Miles is here on board the “Yale”.

Wednesday July 20 ’98
Got out this morning at 4 oclock and built a ponton bridge to shore for the purpose of landing the mules. The bridge is situated a very few rods from the place where the Marine Corps made their landing a few weeks ago and had scrimmage with the Spaniards. There is a cemetery at the end of the bridge and only a few feet from the waters’ edge Spanish soldiers of the twelve years war are buried here. There has been a stone wall surrounding it until a few days ago when the men in the “Marblehead” demolished it. The “New York”, Adm’l Sampsons flag ship came in this morning and anchored near us. Tonight at about time for taps we got orders to fall in and dismantle the bridge. We worked until 12 o’clock and got it up along side of ship but didn’t take it to pieces.

Thursday July 21 ’98
Got up at 4 and got orders to pur the bridge back in place. We did so and had most of the stock unloaded when the wind changed on us and pulled the bridge away from shore. Got it fixed this evening, loaded the stock and pontons and are already to sad away. I got an inscription off one of the crosses in the cemetery to carry back with me.

Friday July 22 ’98
Slipped anchor about 7 oclock this morning and started for Puerto Rico. Have been sailing along within sight of the coast of Haiti this afternoon.

Saturday, July 23
We caught up with the fleet, which left Guantanamo Bay Thursday evening, this forenoon. There are fourteen vessels transports, and one tug boat. We were issued machetes this morning. The whole fleet stopped this morning, while a funeral was being held on board the “Yale”.

Monday July 25 ’98
Made a landing at 10 o’clock this morning. The Gloucester threw a few shells up the street of Port Guanica then the marines made a landing followed by the engineer corps. When the cannonading began the citizens closed their houses up tight and got out. We formed a skirmish line on the beach and moved out about a mile. Serg’t Rutherford, private Patten and myself were sent out to protect the right flank. We found a house with a lot of bread and fresh milk. Took five prisoners. So soon as the regulars could get unloaded we were relieved and sent back to build a bridge. I am standing guard tonight over our rifles which were left on shore this morning. The signal corps has a line in operation for five miles out into the country. There is considerable firing going on at the outposts and the Red Cross people have gone out to attend to the wounded.

Tuesday July 26th
Moved our goods from the “Lampasas” to the “Comanche” this afternoon. The Red Cross people have monopolized the former boat, and it is filling up with wounded. Doing sentinel duty tonight on top of the big hill, to the west of the port. We have orders to shoot when we think necessary and there is lots of firing going on. Its reported that there are three Spanish Scouts in the woods to our rear. The Sixth Ill. boys are on a line at right angles to ours and to the left.

Wednesday July 17th
Unloading the boat today.

Thursday July 28th
Started a road up the hill this morning. I understand that a permanent fort is to be placed on top.

Friday, July 29th
The D.C. boys left the Comanche and this afternoon we pulled up anchor and came to Port Ponce. Have part of a a company of regular engineers with us now. Gen’l Miles came on board tonight and will make this boat his headquarters for awhile.

Saturday, July 31st
Working at the dock today arranging stores. The work consists chiefly in directing the Ponce fire men who have been hired by the gov’t to do stevedore work. They work very hard. Took a stroll around the port and saw the customs house and several of the consul’s headquarters. The houses here are small and almost bare within. The back streets are dirty and filthy, but are being cleaned since the Americans took possession. An American dollar is worth two of Spain today.

Monday, August 1st 98.
At the dock again today. Have been running around town most of the time. Got dinner and supper cost 50¢ and 35¢
in Spanish money. The coffee here is strong enuff to make a person bow legged. The boats crew went off and left us on shore. We got a ships’ crew to take us off, but found that the Comanche had moved so we had to row all over the bay to find it.

August 3rd Wednesday.
Went out to the place where we are going to camp, this afternoon. Its about 3/4 miles from Ponce near the road with a running creek and only a short distance from an ice factory.

Thursday, August 4th
Moved out to camp this evening.

Friday Aug 5th
Was up to Ponce today with a load of tools. Its quite a sight to see such a city. There is a railroad there, also a gas factory, electric light plant. Once sees such signs as this, “barber saloon”, “shaving and hair cutting saloon.”

Saturday Aug 6th
Twenty five of us with Capt. Brown and Col. Black started out this evening with tools for General Stone. We are camped about six miles from Ponce.

Sunday Aug 7th ’98
Started out early this morning and marched up hill all day except the last three miles.
Arrived at a town called Adjuntas at five o’clock. Came through a beautiful country. Camped tonight in the public plaza which is a regular garden of roses.

Monday Aug 8th
Resting in camp. Two companies of the 19th who had been camping here started for the front this morning.

Tuesday Aug 9th
Jones and McCoy who are sick started home with the wagons this morning accompanied by Colonel Black. We are waiting for orders.

Wednesday Aug 10th
Captain Brown got orders to proceed to Aricebo and report on the condition of the roads. We left Adjuntas this morning with pack animals carrying our goods. Sergeant Hooker, private Winsauer and myself were sent out as an advance guard. We took a different road from that of the company and had to retrace our steps part of the way so we arrived at camp about an hour later than the rest. Camp was pitched on the banks of the Rio Grande River just in the out skirts of Utuado.

Thursday Aug 11th.
Went down town this morning and looked around. Its quite a good sized little city and sports an electric light plant cathedral, public market & etc. The cathedral is situated on a slight knoll, across the street is a rose garden filled with the most beautiful roses I ever saw. From the garden one descends to the market which occupies a space of about 200 feet by 75 feet, and has a cement floor the level of which is about four feet above the street. To this market the natives come in the morning with their wares, such as fish, cheese, milk, bananas, plantains, candy, cakes & etc and there they stay until about noon. After dinner the place is swept and cleaned up and in the evening tables and chairs are brought in and coffee, wine, cigars & etc are the orders of the day. Eggs sell at 4 cents per (quatro centavos).
We left Utuado about 10 oclock this morning and have marched up hill all day, a greater part of the time through the rain. Camped tonight on a hill about 6 miles from our destination (Aricebo) and miles outside of our out posts. We were accompanied for a short distance this morning by a cavalry officer and three cavalry men, but word was received, where we stopped for dinner, that there werr 25 spaniards ahead of us lying in ambush and presto the regulars ducked – too dangerous.
The country through which we have passed simply defies description, an artist could find no better scenes for a stage setting than some of the mountains and valleys along the way, wiht the sparkling water dashing downward, the clouds hovering near, and the sun casting its mystic shades and shaddows. The natives treat us fine and we are living high on bananas, oranges, field corn etc while cigars are as plentiful as the falling drops of rain. Word has just arrived by courier from General Henry to Capt. Brown that 1500 Spaniards are returning from the coast and that they are marching in such a direction as to cut us off from any help unless we return at once. The whole company does outpost duty. I was posted in the road and had orders to stop every body and search them.

Fridday Aug 12th
Capt. Brown and six men went ahead to the first ford to ascertain its condition and immediately upon their return we started back. Got into Utuado about two o’clock. Went in bathing after dark tonight and the river rose so rapidly that I came near being carried away. Heavy rains in the mountains.

Saturday Aug 13th
Have been running around town most of the day. Visited the electric light plant which consists of two units of 120 volts and 75 amperes each, made in Germany (Berlin) by the Allgemeine-Elek’s. Geschallschaft. Have seen six corpses carried by today on shoulders of the natives. There is a cemetery just across the river from our camp. The bodies are buried about two feet under ground and when they have decayed sufficiently, the bones are dug up, thrown in one corner and another body takes its place. Quite a boneyard. The 6th Mass., General Henry and staff and some troops of the 1st US cavalry came in this afternoon. Was down to the plaza tonight and met a NY newspaper man who was throwing himself to some extent. News was received tonight that peace has been declared and Capt. Brown confirms the report.

Aug 14th Sunday
Chasing around waiting for orders. Climbed up on a big hill. Spaniards had dug up quite a hole on the top for placing a cannon. Its as good a place for fortifications as I ever saw, as it commands a view of every road leading into town.

Monday Aug 15th
Been digging sinks today in ground that was “Sanco” On guard tonight.

Tuesday Aug 16th
Packed up this morning and started back to the company. Roads were in terrible condition on account of heavy rains. Had nothing to eat from breakfast until 6:30 except two hard tacks. Capt. Brown bought us a supper at the restaurant, and to ssay that we enjoyed it after our hard days walk would be putting it very mild. Five of us pushed ahead of the company this afternoon and got in about an hour earlier. We were drenched with perspiration. Adjuntas looks about the same except some soldiers have gone and others came in. We are sleeping in an old building once occupied by spanish soldiers. The floor is the hardest that I ever had the misfortune to sleep on.

Wednesday Aug 17th
Started for Ponce at 7:30 this morning after attending mass held for one of the 19th boys who died yesterday. It rained nearly all the way but we pushed ahead and made the 24 miles in 7 3/4 hours. Great rejoicing in camp tonight over our return. The boys are telling their friends how it happened.

Thursday Aug 18th
Was up in Ponce today working on a road which we are constructing up a hill where a hospital is to be built.

Friday Aug 19th
Night. Guard at docks.

Saturday Aug 20
Got mail from home and a letter from Fred (dated July 10th). Was up to Ponce this evening. It looks very pretty by electric light.

Sunday Aug 21st
Wrote some letters today and laid around in the shade.

Monday, Aug 22nd
A whole day of rest. The first in many moons. Many rumors about going home, getting paide etc.

Tuesday Aug 23
Spent the day at the docks, supposedly to work, but didnt find much to do.

Wednesday Aug 24
On guard at the docks. Gathered a lot of shells on the sea shore this afternoon. Artificer Pyburn was arrested tonight for stealing and selling government supplies. Quartermaster Sergt. Buckley fired yesterday for indifference and Serg’t Wye put in his place.

Sunday Aug 28
Everything is very quiet here lately. The river rose so high and rapidly last Friday night that it carried the foot bridge, over which we pass in going to Ponce, away.
Col. Black has transferred our tools and engineering apparatus to the 1st Regt US Vol. Engr’s and has left us, so I think that we will be ordered home in the near future. I understand that the 6th Ill. has been ordered aboard transports. Have been writing some letters today.  Came off guard this morning. Had to guard the prisoners, Pyburn and Moore. Moore was arrested for refusing to roll up the 1st Sergt’s tent.
Tuesday Aug 30th
Down to the dock today on a working detail but didn’t do a stroke of work all day.
Was in swimming last evening. Monkeyed around on the bank so long that Serg’t Hooker got disgusted and pushed me in. I sank, came up and was pulled down again by the current. Scared the pants off the fellows on shore and put myself in a mild state of agitation. Finally reached the opposite shore and suffered no bad results.

Wednesday Aug 31st
Went on guard this morn. Being the last day of the month we were mustered and inspected. Had my hair cut and my beard trimmed by Comrade Patten. At Eleven thirty, Capt. Brown called the company together and read an order from Major Gen’l Miles to Brig. Gen’l Wilson commanding that the provisional battalion of engineers be sent to New York at the earliest opportunity for the purpose of being mustered out of the service; this news was followed by the greatest shout that ever went out from the company.

Thursday Sept 1st
Capt. Brown lined us up today and gave us fifty cents apiece. The D.C. company came in this afternoon, so I think we are soon to get out of this place.

Friday Sept 2
Nothing but rumors about going home.

Saturday Sept 3
On guard at the dox. I understand that we are to go home on the Alamo, now unloading in the harbor.

Sunday Sept. 4th 98
Had a great supper tonight. We all put two centavos into the mess and got banana dumplings and limeade. Lieut. Laramie presented us with five quarts – this added to the ade made it rather fine. We are putting our souveniers into a company box and will send them with the comissary.

Monday Sept 5 98
We got hold of a box of stuff belonging to the Iron Colonel (as Col. Turner terms himself). Found some hams, boxes of jelly, condensed milk, coffee, and a few other delicacies such as wine and lime juice. Strange that the Colonel fared so badly at Santiago if he lived on such things.

Tuesday Sept 6th
Got orders today to go aboard the “Alamo” tomorrow. Was up town tonight and had a dish of ice cream, just like home.

Wednesday Sept 7th
Broke camp this morning and came on board the Alamo about one oclock. We are quartered in the hold. I think we will be pretty badly crowded this trip, but as we are going home I guess we can stand it.

Thursday, Sept. 8th
The last of the troops came aboard this morning and at 5:45 oclock this evening we pulled out of the harbor accompanied by the “Concha”. We have aboard this ship three companies making about 700 men all told. We also have a couple young Ricans who the officers are taking home with them.

Friday, Sept 9th
The “Concha” left us early this morning, – she is a much faster boat than this. I have been sick all day as have the majority of the men on board.

Wednesday Sept 14
Have been moving along slowly, battling with the wind and trying to pass the time away. Pipes have been plentiful even on board ship and we are all wondering when we will get in and what will be done with us.

Thursday Sept 15.
Began to sight lights along shore about 630. Passed Barnegat light house shortly after supper. Got a good view of Sandy Hook revolving light.

Friday Sept 16
Quarantine officers came aboard this morning and allowed us to go. There was a heavy fog so we didnt get a very good view of the harbor. Passed quite close to the statue of liberty. Got a very hearty reception from the boats in harbor. Tied up to the Penn. docks about 10 o’clock. Went into train after a very short delay. Went to dinner at the Taylor Hotel and had a fine meal.
Left Jersey City at 6 o’clock in Pullmans over the P.R.R. Got coffee at Philadelphia.

Saturday Sept 17.
Stopped at Pittsburg for breakfast. Have been feeling very bad today.
Arrived in Chicago about 10:15 P.M. Fred, White, Bip, Sid and Gordon were at depot.
I’m staying at Bip’s tonight 3035 Prairie Avenue.

Sunday Sept. 18th 1898
We are now on a 60 day furlough. Bip and I were over to the club this morning. Everything torn up for house cleaning.

Sept 20th – Nov 2nd 1898
Hahnemann Hospital. Was brought to the hospital Tuesday Sept. 20th and put in the soldier’s ward. My case developed into typhoid fever and for a numb er of days I was dead to the world. Three weeks without any solid food caused me to get a trifle hungry. Had the best of care and attention. Many friends come to visit me, among which was my father. Had one relapse; nothing serious however.

Wednesday, Nov. 2nd
I pack my clothes and leave for fke house.

Wednesday, Nov 2nd – Nov 14th
Recuperating and copying last years’ notes.

Nov 14th 1898.
Start into school at A.I.T. My last year.

Nov 20th 1898
Report at Armory and sign pay rolls and health certificate. Meet comrades, officers and men of Co “A” Engineer Battalion.
Major J.W. Sackett, St. Augistine, Fla.
Capt. Taylor E. Brown, 6504 Ingleside Ave.
1st Lieut. F.B. Laramie, Windsor Park
2nd Lieut. John M,Curran, 112 Hartford Bvld.
Sergt. Bruce H. Summers, 747 – 63 St.
Jos. A. Nye, 185 Lincoln Ave.
Edwin S. Hooker, 283 Flournoy St.
J.E. Buckbee, Winnetka, Ill.
Sam’l A. Rutherford, 1605 Washington St., Kansas City Mo.
Edward G. Hodgkins, 84 LaSalle St.
Corp. H.J. Mickelson, Park Ridge, Ill.
Jos. W. Burns, 802 Larrabee St.
Chas. L. Wagner, 253 Bissell St.
Chas. Mueller Jr., 1635 N. Halstead St.
Archie E. Kinney, 7146 Lexington Ave.
Frank A. McCarthy, 1638 N. Halstead St.
Chester B. Reed, 4130 Lake Ave.
Martin E. Mayer, 3866 Lake Ave.
W.E. Isbester, 1711 – 90th Place.
Louis Rupplein, Metamora, Ill.
William H. Stuben, 68 Keenon St.
Noel E. Alspaugh, Naperville, Ill.
J.A. Reed, 6428 Parnell Ave.
W. C. Dayton Jr., 232 Hawkden Court.
R. Hartman, 268 S. State St.
H.L. Friedlander, 1241 S. State St.
Peter Perry, 963 Craig St., Montreal
R.R. Runciman, 667 W. Madison St.
Harry Bierma, 405 W. Erie St.
Samuel T. Patten, 111 S. Franklin St., Hotel Pleasants.
Stanley Guyton, Saratoga Hotel
C.B. Kleppe, Maywood Ill., c/o Norton Bros.
Clyde R. McCoy, 9017 Com’l Ave. So. Chgo.
Joseph M. Murphy, Maywood, Ill.
Ferdinand McDermid, 4032 Ellis Ave.
Fred. S. Bradley, 1326 Lice Ave.
Benj Franklin, 199 Bowen Ave.
Louis M. Winsauer, 113 Walton Pl.
Chas. S. Eakins, 6106 Butler St.
Alfred B. Chandler, 337 Washington Bvd.
Jos. A. Walrath, 1454 Michigan Ave.
John W. Briggs, 456 N. Clark St.
Jerome K. Grace, 709 Madison St., Topeka, Kans.
A.M. Reed, Oak Park, Ill.
Geo. A. Reding, 190 – 37th St.
Thos. Hanson, 30 Cherry Place
Burt F. Martin, 11 Oak Place.
Edward J Kelly, 126 – W. 67th St.
John W. Morrison, 32 S. Western Ave.
Elisha Morgan, 7042 Webster Ave.
Hugo Arnold, 340 Hawkden Court
F.L. Heckman, 56-94 La Salle St.
Ralph Howe, 5817 Emerald Ave., c/o A.N. Bollam.
Geo. S. Boyer, Reddick, Ill.
Frank N. Campbell, 197 – 47th St.
Frank Buck Bell, 327  – N 6th St.,  St. Jos. Mo.
Robt. K. Carver, Highland Park, 1st Nat’l Bank.
Louis Z. Marks, 2619 Lafayette Ave., St. Louis
W.S. Holderness, 417 S. Waller Ave., Austin, Ill.
W.A. Moore, 209 E. Ohio St.
James A. Wright, 2214 Wabash Ave.
Otho A. Fox, 5114 Jefferson Ave.
W.M. Maxwell, 162 N. State St.
C.H. Thorburn, 609 Rialto Bldg. 3728 Wabash Ave.
Wm. Babcock, 113 – W 39 St., Rock Falls, Ills.
Jno. A. Dignon, 2319 Dearborn St.
H.G. Lozier, U. of C.
J.A. Arnold, Maywood, Ills.
J.E. Vrooman, 9375 Burnside Ave.
Oscar L. Scallborn, 7030 Yale Ave.
H. Pyburn, 3346 Dearborn St.
Dwight D. Tallman, 8830 Eliz. St.


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

Transcription – War Diary of the 73rd Canadian Infantry Battalion for the Vimy Ridge Disaster of March 1-3, 1917.

War Diary of the 73rd Canadian Infantry Battalion

War diary of the 73rd Canadian Infantry Battalion at Vimy Ridge.

The following is my full transcription of photocopies of the handwritten pages of the war diary of the 73rd Canadian Infantry Battalion for the Vimy Ridge Disaster of March 1-3, 1917, during which my great uncle Joseph Philias Albert Emery went missing in action.


Vol. VIII, Page I

  • March 1st

Battalion in the lines on its regular frontage.
At 12.05 AM code message was received from the 12th Canadian Infantry Brigade to the effect that the Gas Attack and consequent Infantry Attack, which had been postponed for several days, would take place that morning. This was immediately communicated to the Companies also in code, and preparation for the assembly commenced. At 2.00 am Battalion Headquarters moved to Advanced Battalion Headquarters off UHLAN C.T. where comunication was established with Advanced Brigade Headquarters, and with both points of assembly. “B” and “D” Companies moved up from ARRAS ALLEY and asembled in dugouts in LIME STREET, dugouts on TUNNELLERS RIDGE, and in COBURG NO I TUNNEL, Major Brown 2nd in Command, being in charge of these two Companies which occupied the left half of the Battalion frontage. “A” and “C” Companies, forming the right half of the attack, moved out of the front line to the right where they assembled in BLUE BULL TUNNEL, Major H [P] Stanley being in charge of these two Companies for assembly. The dispositions for the attack were as follows :-
Right Half 1st Wave “A” Coy under Captain B. Simpson and Lieut D. H. Farnori.
Left Half 1st Wave “B” Coy under Captain H H Patch, and Lieuts G.H.H. Eadie and P.G. Hawkins.


  • March 1st

2nd Wave, “C” Coy under Lieut G. S. McLennan, Major Munroe and Lieut J. Norsworthy.

No. 1 Patrol, 1 Platoon of “D” Coy under Lieut. Griffiths.
No. 2 Patrol, 1 Platoon of “D” Coy under Lieut. Lester.
No. 3 Patrol, 1 Platoon of “B” Coy under Lieut Hutchinson.

At 2.55 a.m. messages were received from all Companies that they were in position.
At 3 am the first gas cloud, known as the “White Star Gas” was released. Within a few minutes after the release of the gas very heavy rifles and machine gun fires opened upo from the German front and support lines, and the sky was lit upo by hundreds of flares sent up by the Boche; this fire and the sending up of the flares continued for 36 minutes, showing that the gas was not effective. At about 3.06 am the Germans opened heavy Artillery fire across our whole front, which continued tunil 4.00 am at which time it died down and shortly afterwards the situation became almost normal. Soon after 4 o’clock the direction of the wind commenced to change, and by 5 am, which was the time for liberation of the 2nd Gas Wave, it was coming from almost due [North], so that it was decided


  • March 1st

that the gas could not be let off. The Infantry Attack was to commence at 5.40 AM. About 5.20 a message was received from Advanced Brigade Headquarters to the effect that there remained considerable gas in our front line trench for a distance extending 300 yard north of [C]RANBY C.T. This interfered with the assembly of our right attacking parties and instructions were immediately sent to Major Stanley to have “A” and “C” Companies assemble in front and behind the front line trench, and to proceed overland instead of assembling in the trench; this complicated the assembly of these two Companies very much, but the situation was admirably handled by Major Stanley. At 5.32 a.m. while the assembly across our whole front was in progress, heavy artillery fire was opened on our front and support lines and on ZOUAVE VALLEY by the Germans. It transpired that the Brigade on our right had commenced to get out over the parapet and form a line in front of our wire at 5.30 instead of waiting for our barrage which was to commence at 5.40 am; this was noticed by the Germans, who immediately sent up their “S.O.S.” with the foregoing result. This meant that the last 5 minutes of the assembly of our parties had to be completed under fire, and a number of casualties occurred before our men got out of our own trenches. On the righ casualties began to come into BLUE BULL


  • March 1st

TUNNEL before much more than half of our attacking parties were out of the Tunnels. A few men were affected by gas on this front. Promptly at 5.40 AM our barrage opened up, and our attacking parties got over the parapet and went forward. On our extreme left our barrage was short, and some casualties were caused to our men by our own fire particularly among the party going out by way of Sap B6. A full account of the action of all attacking paties and the results obtained is attached hereto. Casualties soon began to come back to our lines, about 6.20 Lieut. Eadie reached Advanced Battalion Headquarters and about 6.50 Captain Patch also returned, both wounded slightly. Wounded came in steadily but it was a considerable time before it was possible to even approximately check up casualties. By 8 a.m. the situation had quieted down, except that several of our wounded accompanied by Lieut Hutchison were still out in shellholes beyond Sap B6. The artillery was called upon for a barrage on the German front line to enable these men to be got in, their fire however was short, and word was sent to have it stopped. During this fire Battalion Headquarters moved to the normal position in ZOUAVE VALEY and our own shells lit jut behind the personnel of Battalion Headquarters while moving down UHLAN C.T. It was for a time thought the Germans would counter attack, and this impression was increased by the fact that a German


  • March 1st

aeroplane made several flights along our line net over 100 yards in the air, evidently observing the number of men in our line and their movements; all precautions were taken to beat off a counter attack, and it did not develope. During the day there continued a certain amount of enemy artillery activity, which, however, did not do any particular harm. That night it was decided to keep the whole Battalion on the eastern side of ZOUAVE VALLEY in case of attack, and the men of the Support Companies were accomodated in tunnels and dugouts on the Wester slope of the Ridge. The night, however, passed quietly. Many individual cases of outstanding bravery were noted during the action, especially Sgt. Millar and Sgt Holmden. During the attack 22 prisoners were taken by this Battalion, 19 of them being taken by Sgt Hannaford and Pte McLachlan. Officers and men without exception fought magnificently. Casualties during the action were as follow :-

Lieuts H P MacGregor, J W Lester, D A Farnori and [P] G Hawkins, Missing
Lieut J W. Griffiths – Died of Wounds
Capt. B Simpson, Capt. H H Patch and Lieuts G H H Eadie and G S McLennan – Wounded
26 OR Killed, 99 OR Wounded 27 OR Missing Total Casualties 161.

As a result of the operation two Officers were recommended for the D.S.O. four Officers for the M.C.


  • March 1st

…four OR’s for the D.C.M. and twelve OR’s for the M.M.
Notice received from Brigade that Lieuts. H [S] MacGregor and J H Christie ahd been awarded the Military Cross for their work in connection with the previous raid.

  • March 2nd

During the night a number of parties were sent out into “NO MAN’S LAND” to bring in dead and wounded, and a number of bodies were recovered, these were all sent out and buried in VILLERS and BOIS Cemetery.
The day was fairly quiet, only the usual artillery and trench mortor activity. Large parties of men were employed carrying out empty gas cylinders, as well as those full ones which had not been let off on the 1st Mar. A great deal of work was also necessary, and was sone on those trenches which had been damaged by the enemy’s fire on the 1st. In the afternoon word was received that Hunt Griffiths had died of his wounds, and arrangements were made for representatives of the Battalion to attend his funeral on the 3rd.

  • March 3rd

The early hours of the morning passed fairly quietly, but at 3 am the enemy opened up a heavy artillery and trench mortar fire on our front and support lines, doiing considerable damage. Our artillery retaliation was both slow and ineffective. The German fire caused no casualties, on OR Killed and one OR Wounded by our own Artillery.


More posts about WWI.

WWI War Stories
What We Don’t Hear About Vimy Ridge
UK National Archives treasures: WWI war diaries now online


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.


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Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky

Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky is the grandson of the original immigrant from Wales, Evan (Dhu) Shelby (Selby), who is eighth great grandfather to my children, Erin and Stuart; the son of Brigadier General Evan Shelby, who is the son of Evan (Dhu) and seventh great granduncle to my children; and is therefore first cousin eight times removed from my children.

Although not a direct ancestor of my husband, Marshall Mark (Mark) Blythe or our children, Isaac Shelby is of great interest to us for a couple of reasons. First, he was renowned for and distinguished himself for his actions in battle against United Empire Loyalists in Canada in the War of 1812, ultimately defeating Loyalist forces at the Battle of the Thames in southern Ontario. We are also related to and are descended from Loyalists who settled in this area. For a lengthy period of time, we lived in Trenton, Ontario which is located in the area of Loyalist activities and battles against American forces. This area is steeped in this history and it is still considered to be an honor to be from a Loyalist lineage.

Marshall Matthews Blythe

Marshall Matthews Blythe

Portrait of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky.

Portrait of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky.

Second, because Isaac Shelby is so revered in history, there are accurate portraits of him during the latter period of his life available. Upon comparing portraits of him with recent pictures of my father-in-law, Marshall Matthews Blythe (father to my husband Mark and grand-father to my children Erin and Stuart), the resemblance between them is quite remarkable. For clarification, Isaac is first cousin six times removed to my father-in-law.

Isaac Shelby (December 11, 1750 – July 18, 1826) was a revered and decorated soldier and the first Governor of Kentucky.

The son of Brigadier General Evan and Letitia (Cox) Shelby, Isaac was born December 11, 1750 near North Mountain, Frederick (now Washington) County, Maryland.

Having been raised with the use of arms, he became proficient at an early age and was very familiar with and accustomed to the hardships and stresses of frontier life. Isaac worked on his father’s plantation. However, having received an education, he was occasionally employed as a surveyor and also as Deputy Sheriff.

About 1773, the Shelby family moved to the Holston region of Southwest Virginia, now East Tennessee, where they established a new home. A timeline of Isaac Shelby’s military and political career thereafter is as follows:


  • Isaac Shelby served at the Battle of Point Pleasant as a Lieutenant under his father, Brigadier General Evan Shelby, in the Fincastle Company on October 10.
  • Second in command of the garrison of Fort Blair (until July 1775), which was built on the site of the battle. An uprising of the Shawnee and Delaware Indians compelled Isaac to take up arms and he served as a Lieutenant under his father Brigadier Evan Shelby in the Battle of Point Pleasant in West Virginia.
  • He fought in the Battle of Kenhawa of 10 October. This was believed to be the most severely contested campaign ever fought with the north-western Indians.


  • After July of 1775, he visited Kentucky and surveyed lands for the Transylvania Company.
  • After returning to Kentucky due to failing health, he became involved in the Battle of Long Island Flats.
  • At the first onset of the Indians, the American lines were broken and Shelby, who was there only as a volunteer Private, seized command, reformed the troops, and severely defeated the Indians.


  • In July he was appointed by the Virginia Committee of Safety to the position of Captain of a company of minute men. However, he was not called into service.


  • Governor Patrick Henry promoted Shelby to Captain and made him Commissary-General of the Virginia forces.
  • He attended the Long Island Treaty with the Cherokees, which was finalized at Fort Patrick Henry on July 20, 1777, at which his father was one of the Virginia commissioners.


  • Helped to provide supplies for the Continental Army and for the expedition projected by General McIntosh against Detroit and the Ohio Indians.


  • Provided boats for Clark’s Illinois campaign and collected and provided supplies upon his own personal credit for the successful campaign waged about the same time against the Chickamauga Indians.
  • In the spring he was elected as a member for Washington County of the Virginia legislature.
  • In the fall, Governor Thomas Jefferson made him a Major in the escort of guards for the commissioners appointed to run the western boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina. By the extension of that line, his residence was found to be within the limits of North Carolina.
  • He resigned his commission, but was at once appointed Colonel of Sullivan County by Governor Caswell.


  • Upon receiving news of the fall of Charleston on May 12th, he returned home to an urgent summons for help from Colonel Charles McDowell.
  • He organized a force and about July 25, he joined McDowell at the Cherokee Ford, South Carolina.
  • On July 30, Shelby captured the major Loyalist stronghold, Thicketty Fort (Fort Anderson), at the head of the Pacolet River. On August 8, his command successfully repulsed a party sent by Major Ferguson at the second Battle of Cedar Springs.
  • Upon receipt of the report of General Gates’ defeat at Camden on August 16, operations under McDowell and Shelby were halted.
  • On August 18, he was largely responsible for the victory at Battle of Musgrove’s Mill on the north side of the Enoree River.
  • As a result of a threatening message dispatched by Ferguson, Shelby held even greater resentment and determination and in consequence, with the assistance of John Sevier and others, he organized and conducted the expedition against Ferguson.
  • On October 7, they overwhelmingly defeated Ferguson’s combined Provincial and Loyalist force in the Battle of King’s Mountain.


  • Shelby has also been credited with the plan for the attack, which led to the Battle of the Cowpens on January 17.
  • In February, the legislature of North Carolina adopted resolutions of thanks to Shelby and his compatriots for their services at King’s Mountain.
  • Similar resolutions were adopted by the Continental Congress on November 13.
  • As a result of repeated uprisings by Cherokee Indians during the first half of the year, it was impractical to send forces from there to assist.
  • A treaty with the Cherokees was negotiated on July 20.
  • In October, upon receipt of a delayed message of appeal, Shelby raised 500 mounted riflemen and was accompanied by Colonel John Sevier in command of 200 more.
  • He marched to join Greene, by whose order they reported to General Marion on the Santee.
  • The joint command of Shelby and Colonel Hezekiah Maham, of the Carolina dragoons, contributed greatly to the capture of a strong British post at Fair Lawn, near Monck’s Corner, South Carolina on November 27.
  • Meanwhile, having been elected a member of the North Carolina legislature and having obtained a leave of absence, he attended the sessions in December.


  • Reelected to the North Carolina Assembly, he attended the legislative sessions held at Hillsboro in April.
  • He was appointed one of three commissioners to superintend the laying off of the land south of the Cumberland River allotted by North Carolina for military service in the Revolution.


  • Completed the laying off of the land south of the Cumberland River.
  • He relocated to Kentucky, where he was married to Susannah Hart, daughter of Captain Nathaniel Hart, at Boonesborough on April 19, by whom he had eleven children.
  • Appointed a Trustee of Transylvania Seminary (later Transylvania University).
  • Chairman of the convention of militia officers held at Danville on Nov. 7-8 (was also a member 1787-1789).


  • In January 1791, he was appointed a member of the Board of War, which was created by Congress for the District of Kentucky, and was charged with providing for the defense of the frontier settlements mounting punitive expeditions against the Indians.
  • For several years he served as High Sheriff of Lincoln County.


  • Member of the convention (April 2-19) which framed the first constitution of Kentucky.
  • In May he was elected Governor, taking office on June 4 and serving four years.
  • During his administration many events of importance to the infant commonwealth occurred, not the least being the part it took, under Shelby, in supporting Wayne’s campaigns against the Indians in the Northwest Territory.


  • At the close of his term, he declined reelection.


  • Retired from service.


  • Elected Governor of Kentucky a second time in August.
  • He actively participated in the planning and preparation for war.


  • With a sword presented to him by Henry Clay as voted by the legislature of North Carolina for his gallantry at King’s Mountain 32 years before, Shelby assembled and personally led 4,000 Kentucky volunteers to join General Harrison in the Northwest for the invasion of Canada, resulting in the defeat of the Loyalists on October 5 at the Battle of the Thames.


  • He was given the portfolio of War in March by President Monroe, but declined due to his age.


  • Isaac Shelby was awarded a gold medal by Congress on April 4 in recognition of his patriotic and heroic services.
  • Shelby and General Andrew Jackson were commissioned to hold a treaty with the Chickasaw Indians for the purchase of their lands west of the Tennessee River.
  • He was President of the first Kentucky Agricultural Society, formed at Lexington in 1818.


  • He was Chairman of the first Board of Trustees of Center College, founded in 1819 at Danville, Kentucky.
Governor Isaac Shelby -  Traveler's Rest Burying Ground Plaque

Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky – Traveler’s Rest Burying Ground Plaque.


  • After his death on July 18, he was buried at his historic home, “Traveller’s Rest,” and a monument was erected over his grave by the state of Kentucky. Counties in nine states have been named Shelby in his honor. __________ An account of Governor Isaac Shelby by Samuel M. Wilson is as follows:


Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky - Grave Marker.

Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky – Grave Marker.

“In person, Shelby was of a sturdy and well-proportioned frame, slightly above medium height, with strongly marked features and florid complexion. He had a hardy constitution capable of enduring protracted labor, great privations, and the utmost fatigue. Habitually dignified and impressive in bearing, he was, however, affable and winning. A soldier born to command, he nevertheless evidenced a high degree of political sagacity and executive ability. Numerous difficulties confronted him during his first administration, when the new government was passing through its formative stage, and much depended on the choice of officials then made by the executive. Shelby exhibited rare selective intelligence and an extraordinary mastery both of men and measures. Kentucky at this time experienced constant dread of the occlusion by Spain of the Mississippi River, and use was made of this situation by designing men to promote speculative ventures and political schemes hostile to the true interests of both Kentucky and the Union. Through it all, Shelby pursued a wise and moderate course which baffled the plots of all conspirators and held Kentucky firmly to her federal moorings. During his second administration, the pressure of the war with Great Britain fell with extraordinary and unremitting severity upon the state, and he showed himself not only a prudent and farseeing counselor, but an active, resourceful, and patriotic leader. His energy, determination, and perseverance knew no bounds, and his devotion to duty was unflagging.”

You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site are available for free access and download.


  1. Shelby, John Todd: KERR, C. ed. History of Kentucky, v. 3-5, 1922 #4.
  2. History of Michigan; Moore, C.; v. 2-4; 1915; Shelby, William Read.
  3. Family Data Collection – Births; Shelby, Alfred, 1765.
  4. Family Data Collection – Individual Records; Shelby, Nancy, 1792.
  5. 1860 US Census; Shelby, John Warren, b. 1835; PO Lexington; Roll M653_365; Pg 0.
  6. Shelby, Isaac Flournoy: KERR, C. ed. History of Kentucky, v. 3-5, 1922.
  7. The Pioneer Mothers of America 1; Shelby, Susannah Hart; Green, H.C. and M.W.; 3 v., 1912.
  8. American Biographical and Historical Dictionary; Shelby, Isaac; Allen (W); 1832.
  9. Military Heroes of the War of 1812; Shelby, Evan; Peterson, C.J.; 1848.
  10. Eminent Americans; Shelby, Isaac; Lossing, B.J.; 1857.
  11. National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans; Shelby, Isaac; 4v.; 1865.
  12. Dictionary of American Biography; Shelby, Isaac; Drake, F.S.; 1870.
  13. Biographical Annals of the Civil Government of the US…; Shelby, Isaac; Lanman, C.; 1876.
  14. Biographical Encyclopaedia of Kentucky; Shelby, Isaac; 1878.
  15. National Cyclopaedia of American Biography; Shelby, Isaac; v.1-13; 1898, 1893-1909.
  16. Harper’s Encyclopaedia of American History; Shelby, Isaac; 10v.; 1902.
  17. Century Cyclopedia of Names; Shelby, Isaac; 1904.
  18. Herringshaw’s National Library of American Biography; Shelby, Isaac; Herringshaw, T.W.; 5v.; 1909-14.
  19. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army…; Shelby, Isaac; 1775, to… 1783; new, rev. & enl. ed. 1914.
  20. History of Kentucky; Shelby, Isaac; Kerr, C. ed.; v.3-5; 1922.
  21. An American Biographical and Historical Dictionaryy; Shelby, Isaac; Allen, W.; 2nd ed.; 1832.
  22. US Army Historical Register; Shelby, Isaac; 1789-1903; Vol. 1.
  23. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography; Shelby, Evan; 6 vol.; 1888.
  24. 1820 US Census; Shelby, Isaac; 1750; Roll No. M33_25; Pg 59; Image No. 38.
  25. Passenger and Immigration Lists, 1500s-1900s; Shelby, Isaac.
  26. Settlers of Maryland 1679 – 1783; Consolidated Edition; Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc.; 2002; Pg 597.
  27. Kentucky Land Grants, Shelby, Isaac; Jillson, Willard Rouse; The Kentucky Land Grants, Vol. I-II, Louisville, KY: Filson Club Publications, 1925.
  28. US and International Marriage Record; Shelby, Isaac b 1750; 1560-1900.
  29. Shelby, Isaac; KY Historical Society: KW-N-399-3.
  30. Dictionary of American Biography; Shelby, Isaac.
  31. DAR; Mrs. Maria Shelby Tevis Field; DAR ID Number 7785; National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; Vol. 8; Pg 265.
  32. DAR; Anna Stein Shelby (Annie Shelby Darbishire); National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; DAR ID Number; Vol. 11; Pg 182.
  33. DAR; Mrs. Alice McDowell Shelby Riddle; National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; DAR ID Number 16130; Vol. 17, Pg 51.
  34. DAR; Mrs. Katherine Shelby Scott; National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; DAR ID Number 18004; Vol. 19; Pg 3.
  35. DAR; Miss Katharine Shelby Todd; National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; DAR ID Number 25234; Vol. 26; Pg 83.
  36. DAR; Mrs. Laura Shelby Fisher; National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; DAR ID Number; Vol. 42; Pg 154.
  37. DAR; Mrs. Mary P. Shelby Napton; National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; DAR ID Number 62264; Vol. 63, Pg 87.
  38. DAR; Miss Christine Shelby; National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; DAR ID Number 68811; Vol. 69; Pg 291.
  39. DAR; Miss Shelby Walker Patton; National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; DAR ID Number 83679; Vol. 84; Pg 263.
  40. DAR; Miss Susan Shelby Taylor; National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; DAR ID Number 85134; Vol. 86; Pg 51.
  41. DAR; Mrs. Ann Shelby Magoffin Austin; National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; DAR ID Number; Vol. 114; Pg 141.
  42. “Soldiers of the American Revolution from Franklin County,”  database,; extracted from  (N.p.:n.p.n.d.).Revolutionary Soldiers in Kentucky p. 174.74.
  43. Shelby Historical Data (Chronology for Evan Shelby, Jr. and Letitia Cox), online, accessed.

Translating French words for genealogy research can be tricky.

In researching genealogy, translating French words as well as words from other languages can be troublesome and mistakes can easily be made. Getting one term wrong can mean taking your research off in the wrong direction based on the interpretation of that word.

Translating french words to English in obituary for Paul Henri Boily

Translating French words to English for obituaries can be problematic.

While researching my French Canadian, Acadian and French Canadian ancestors, I frequently came across terms that needed translation. From past experience, I knew it was important to not make a snap judgment of the meaning of a term based on its similarity to another French word, an English word, or words in any other language.

The most obvious example that comes to mind is ‘journalier.’ Upon first impression, I thought this might mean ‘journalist’ but after checking into it further, I discovered it meant a ‘day laborer.’

Here is my list of the French terms for occupations that are encountered most frequently in vital documents and records.

à la retraiteretired
agriculteurfarmer, husbandman
aide de sous commishelper to asst clerk
apprêteur(euse)tanner, dresser of skins
arpenteur, arpentierland surveyor
arquebusiermatchlock gunsmith
aumonierarmy chaplain
avocat, avocatelawyer, barrister
bedeauchurch sexton
bédeau beadle
blanchisseur(eusse)laundryman, woman
bourgeois(e)privileged person
cabaretier(ère)saloon keeper
calfat caulker
camionneurtruck driver
cannoniergunner (canon)
capitaine de milicecaptain of the militia
capitaine de navireship captain
capitaine de portport captain
capitaine de vaisseauship captain
capitaine des troupestroup captain
chapelier(èr)hatter, hatmaker
charbonnier(ère)coal merchant
charpentier carpenter, framer
charpentier de naviresshipwright
charron cartwright, wheelwright
chaudronniercoppersmith, tinsmith
chaufournierfurnace tender
chevalierhorseman, calvary
cloutiernail-maker, dealer
cochercoachman, driver
commissaire d’artilleriearms stewart
commissaire de la marineship’s purser
comptableaccountant, bookkeeper
conciergejanitor, caretaker
conseilleurcounsellor, advisor
contremaîtreoverseer, foreman
cordonnier cobbler, shoemaker
corroyeurcurier, leatherdresser
courriercourier, messenger
courvreur en ardoiseslate roofer
couteliercutlery maker
couturier(ère)tailor, dressmaker
couvreur en bardeau roofer who roofs with shingles
cuisinier en chefchef
défricheurclearer (of forest)
docteur doctor
domestiqueindentured servant, farmhand
douanier(ère)custom officer
drapierclothmaker, clothier
ébenistecabinet maker
éleveur(euse)animal breeder
engagé ouesthired to trap furs out west
enseigne de vaisseauship’s sub-lieutenant
ferblantier tinsmith
fermier agricultural worker
fonctionnairecivil servant
forgeron smith, blacksmith
huissier sheriff
journalier(ère)day laborer
maçon mason, bricklayer
marchand merchant
mendiant beggar
menuisier carpenter
meunier miller
maître d’écoleschool master, headmaster, principal
maîtresse d’écoleschool mistress, headmistress, principal
navigateur sailor
notaire lawyer, solicitor
ouvrier worker
pecheur fisherman
peintre painter
pilote ship’s pilot, harbor pilot
potier potter
prêtre priest
rentier retiree
scieur sawyer
seigneur land owner, landlord
sellier saddler
tailleur tailor
tanneur tanner
tonnellier cooper (barrel-maker)
vicaire vicar

What We Don’t Hear About Vimy Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought largely by Canadian troops consisting of all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) from April 9 to 12, 1917, with the objective of gaining control of the German held high ground, ensuring that the southern flank of the forces could advance without the threat of German fire.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the catalyst for a newly born nationalistic pride for Canadians and their achievements as part of the British forces.

Gas Attacks in March 1917 at Vimy Ridge

Gas Attacks in March 1917 at Vimy Ridge

What we don’t hear much about, however, is the disastrous actions taken previously in preparation for the battle.

As described in my previous post ‘War Stories‘, my own great granduncle (brother to my grandmother) was Pte. Joseph Phillias Albert Emery, a soldier with the 73rd Battalion Canadian Infantry, Black Watch. He took part in operations in preparation for the advance on Vimy Ridge and was reported missing on March 1, 1917.

The majority of the losses during this operation were the result of mismanagement by the senior officers. As a result of poor planning, the gas canisters were deployed despite the winds blowing back onto the Canadians, causing mass casualties from the gas.

Below are the six pages of the war diary for the 73rd Battalion on the day my ancestor went missing.

War Diary for the 73rd Battalion