Pvt. William Town, USA

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Pvt. William Town, USA's Geni Profile

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William T. Town

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Dorset, Bennington, Vermont, United States
Death: Died in Manchester, Bennington, Vermont, United States
Place of Burial: Factory Point Cemetery, Manchester, Bennington, Vermont, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of J. Warner Town and Patience Town
Husband of Julia Ann Town
Father of Florence Lenora Ballou; Dulcina Elizabeth Starks; Alphonso Town; William C. Town; Sally P. Town and 3 others

Managed by: Ashley Odell
Last Updated:

About William T. Town

William Town was the husband of Julia Ann (Moore) Town and the father of at least 8 children. He was also a Civil War veteran who was stationed in Florida and New Orleans, after which he received a military discharge.

Personal

William was born c. 1826 in Dorset, Bennington County, Vermont to Jerome Warner Town (1800 - 1875), who went by his middle name, and Patience Reed Town (b. 1795). His father was from New York and his mother was from Rhode Island.

Based on his death record from the Manchester, Bennington County, Vermont town clerk's office, which states that William was "67 years, 7 months, and 4 days" at his death, that puts his birth date at or around March 29, 1826.

On June 6, 1849, at the age of 23, William married Julia Ann Moore in Dorset. The marriage was performed by Philander Lackey. Together, they had at least eight, and possibly nine, children:

  1. Florence (Town) Ballou, b. July 28, 1851 in Dorset
  2. Dulcina or Delcina (Town) Starks, b. January 25, 1853 in Sandgate, Bennington County, Vermont
  3. Alphonso Town, b. 1858 in Vermont
  4. William C. Town, b. December 15, 1859 in Dorset
  5. Sally Town, b. 1863 in Vermont
  6. Lorane (Town) Tifft, b. April 1866 in Vermont
  7. Henry Town, b. 1871 in Vermont
  8. Julia Town, b. 1875 in Vermont

There is a mention in one of Julia Ann Town's widow's pension affidavits that she had six children before the war and three after, but no other record of the child has been found.

At the time of the Civil War, William was described as being 6' tall, of light complexion, with blue eyes and brown hair. He was described in affidavits associated with his pension as being one of the "ruggedest" men in Manchester before the war.

William worked as a carpenter by trade. Carpentry remained a chief trade for male Town descendants for at least two more generations.

Locations Lived

  • William, who was almost certainly born in 1826, consistently gave his place of birth as Dorset, Bennington County, Vermont.
  • In the 1850 Census of Dorset, Bennington Co., Vermont, 23-year-old William Town was living with Julia Ann (spelled "Juliann") Town (18). He listed his birthplace as Vermont. His calculated birth year was 1827.
  • Daughter Dulcina or Delcina (Town) Starks was born on January 25, 1853 in Sandgate.
  • A birth record for William Jr. from December 15, 1860 places William and "Julia Anna" in Danby, Rutland County, Vermont.
  • On his December 30, 1863 military application, William gave his birth place as Dorset and said that he was 37 years old at the time. He was living in Pawlet, Rutland County, Vermont when he signed on.
  • William spent most of 1864 on the barrier islands of extreme northwest Florida, part of what is now the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
  • William spent almost the entirety of (at least) February through May 31, 1865 stationed at New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • In the 1870 Census of Pawlet, Rutland Co., William (42) was a farmer/laborer and living with his family: Julia Ann (38; spelled "Julian"); Florence (18), Dulcina (16), Alphonse (12), William (10), Sally (7), and Lorane (4). At the same address, his new son-in-law, Edward Stark (21; married to Dulcina), was also residing.
  • It is likely that he was the William Town in the 1880 Census of Rupert, Bennington Co. who gave a birth year of 1826 and was, although married, living in the household of William Perkins and working as a laborer. That William Town gave his father's birthplace as Massachusetts and his mother's birthplace as Rhode Island. Our William Town's father was born in New York, but his mother was born in Rhode Island. According to pension files, he was indeed living in West Rupert on June 21, 1880.
  • In the 1900 Census (after William's death), Dulcina (or Delcina) listed her father's birthplace as Massachusetts; however, in the 1870 Census, he himself listed his birthplace as Vermont.

Civil War Service

On December 30, 1863, William enlisted in the United States Army at Pawlet. He was a bounty soldier, or one who was promised $300 in exchange for joining, either to fill a richer man's draft position or to help the community meet its required target number of soldiers. He was paid $25 upfront for enlisting.

He mustered out of Brattleboro on January 4, 1864 and arrived at Fort Pickens, Florida around February 14, 1864, as a private in Company K (Danby) of the Vermont 7th Infantry. Fort Pickens was a pentagonal U.S. military fort on Santa Rosa Island off Pensacola, Florida, within sight of the Alabama border. The largest fort designed to protect Pensacola Harbor, Fort Pickens also supplemented the smaller surrounding forts of Barrancas and McRee as well as the Navy Yard.

The handwriting on the records of his service during this time are very difficult to make out, which makes sorting out the chronology all the more difficult. What is clear is that he was repeatedly moving between Fort Pickens and Fort Barrancas during 1864. By June 10, he was at Fort Barrancas. He was either still there or there again in September and/or October. It appears that he may have left Fort Pickens on November 21, 1864.

He next appears in New Orleans, Louisiana in a Hospital Muster Roll record for January and February 1865. The Battle of New Orleans had occurred in early January; it is not clear if he fought in the battle or was brought to New Orleans following it. What is clear is that he was being treated in Ward 14 of the Barracks Hospital since February 5, 1865 for smallpox. He was also still due $240, having received his last payment on August 31. He received another payment on February 28, leaving him with $120 still owed. On the March and April Hospital Muster Roll, he was listed as still being in Ward 13/14 of the Barracks Hospital.

On May 31, 1865, William received a medical discharge from U.S. Army. A surgeon's certificate verified his as having a disability as a result of his service. He is noted as having been discharged "in obedience." Company K finally mustered out of Brownsville, Texas on March 14, 1866, but based on William's daughter Lorane's date of birth (April 1866), he had already returned home.

Medical Problems

Prior to the Civil War, William was in good health.

Around June 10, 1864, while stationed at Fort Barrancas, he developed scurvy (scrobutus). As a result of the scurvy, he lost his bottom incisors, all of his bottom left teeth except for his canines, all of his upper bicuspids, and some of his upper molars. His joints and limbs swelled and he had great pain in his extremities and gums.

After being discharged and returning to Vermont, he continued to have hip pain and swelling of his legs due to the scurvy. His gums badly receded. This lasted until his death and impaired his ability to work, causing the family to go into severe financial decline. He also suffered from rheumatism, though this was found by doctors to not be caused by scurvy, only aggravated by it. His legs were often lame for extended periods of time.

Doctors around southern and central Vermont, as well as the Albany area, repeatedly confirmed the scurvy diagnosis and sent medical documentation to the government explaining why William should receive an increase to his pension on the basis of disability. William, Julia, and many friends, neighbors, and business associates sent dozens of affidavits attesting to his disability.

The government continued to deny an increase to his pension on the grounds that they could find no evidence of him having scurvy while in the military. However, a record from the War Department's Surgeon General's Office, dated April 15, 1882, clearly shows a transcription of hospital records from Fort Pickens showing the following hospitalizations for William:

  1. July 14, 1864 for constipation
  2. August 15, 1864 for "acute diarrhoea"
  3. September 9, 1864 for "scrobutus" (scurvy)
  4. October 15, 1864 for asthma

Combined with his own assertion that the scurvy started on or around June 10, 1864, this would mean that William was infirm every month except for December and January between June 1864 and his discharge in May 1865.

William's final cause of death was paralysis of the heart, attributed by the examiner to the long-term effects of scurvy. Neither he nor his widow ever received a disability pension increase.

Death & Burial

Pvt. William Town died on November 2, 1893 in Manchester, Bennington County, Vermont. He was buried in the Civil War paupers' section of Factory Point Cemetery in Manchester. His grave overlooks both the valley and the mountains.

Notes

  • Fourth-great-granddaughter Ashley Odell has digital copies of his entire Compiled Military Service Record and all of his and Julia's pension files, totaling more than 200 pages. If you are also a descendant, please feel free to contact her directly to obtain these digital copies instead of costing yourself a lot of money and time to get the National Archives to send you duplicates.
  • The Manchester town clerk's office has a few local vital record index cards related to William, specifically related to his death and burial.
  • No exact date of birth has been found yet. 1826 is the most commonly used approximation.
  • Many Civil War websites give his date of death as 1930. This is because they are confusing him with his grandson by the same name, who died in Cambridge, New York, but whose death is also recorded in Manchester.
  • His middle initial may have been "F." Even accounting for similarities between "F" and "T" in cursive, it appears various records alternate between the letters. "T" is used on this profile because that is what appears on his death index card at the Manchester town clerk's office.
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Pvt. William Town, USA's Timeline

1826
March 29, 1826
Dorset, Bennington, Vermont, United States
1849
June 6, 1849
Age 23
Dorset, Bennington, Vermont, United States

Married by Philander Lackey.

1851
July 28, 1851
Age 25
Dorset, Bennington, Vermont, United States
1853
January 25, 1853
Age 26
Sandgate, Bennington, Vermont, United States
1858
1858
Age 31
Vermont, United States
1859
December 15, 1859
Age 33
Dorset, Bennington, Vermont, United States
1863
August 13, 1863
Age 37
Rupert, Bennington, Vermont, United States
1866
April 1866
Age 40
Vermont, United States
1871
1871
Age 44
Vermont, United States
1875
1875
Age 48
Vermont, United States