Wednesday, January 5, 2011

William W. Scott, March, 1839 - April 3, 1875

[Picture taken by Kari Petersen, 2010]

When he died, William W. Scott was older than the city in which he was living. But 36 years, even in the 1870s was still considered the prime of life. Tuberculosis was indiscriminate about age or any other socio-economic factor.1

Still, he had lived a successful life in the time he had. As a student of psychology, I would love to more about where he was from and who is parents were, but I may never know. The earliest he shows up in the records are through his service records. He enlisted in the 77th Ohio Infantry in October 1861. It was not long into his career that he was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant. He was later promoted to regimental Quartermaster, then to Captain towards the end of his service in 1864. He was mustered out in 1865 having served almost the entire war.2

This may not seem like much of an anomaly, but due to high rates of both casualties and disease, it was fairly common for a soldier to serve only a few months during the war before being discharged. Instead, Capt. Scott survived through the battle of Shiloh, service in the west and, later, the surrender of Mobile, AL.3 Of note was that his regiment as a whole did not have a very high casualty rate, and after the initial period of enlistment most of the men re-enlisted reclassifying the 77th Ohio Infantry as the 77th Ohio Veteran Volunteers.

His pension records show that he was living in Ohio in 1869,4 but he did not stay there long. By 1873, Capt. Scott was living and working in Oakland. He worked as an engineer for the Central Pacific Railroad Co.5 The railroad had two different types of positions with the title of engineer. However, the most likely job he held was that of the conductor who drove the train.

It seems somewhat fitting that one of the earlier veterans to be buried in the GAR plot would be a railroad man. The railroads were integral in the growth and expansion of Oakland as a city and it was a major employer. But did he come to Oakland to work for the railroad, or did he find work here after he moved? There is a strong possibility that he may have moved to Oakland for its temperate weather, something that drew many afflicted with tuberculosis.

His pension records show that he was married to a woman named Sarah and that they had at least one child, although until I can request pension records the name and gender of the child is unknown.6 He was also active in the community as a Mason and his funeral was held at the Masonic Hall in Oakland of the time.7

1 Mountain View Cemetery Records Book 1, pg. 18.

2 Historical Data Systems, comp.. U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.

3 "77th Ohio Infantry" compiled by Larry Stevens, online , data downloaded January 2, 2011.

4 National Archives and Records Administration. Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000.

5 Henry G. Langley, editor, A Directory of the City of Oakland and the Town of Brooklyn, for the Year Ending June 30th, 1873 (Oakland: Henry G. Langley, 1872), pg. 217.

6 Historical Data Systems, comp.. U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.

7 W. W. Scott obituary, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, CA, 4 April 1875, pg. 8.

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