Sunday, June 12, 2011
James A Chase, 1834 - December 12, 1877
As previously discussed, there are times when there is almost nothing that I can prove about a veteran. James A. Chase is another of these gentlemen. The earlier gravestones are different from later veteran stones, and it is unclear to me if they were paid for by the GAR, the deceased's family or money that was in the estate of the deceased.
In later burials, the veteran's service info, if known, is on the stone, and often I can confirm that there was a veteran's stone for said gentleman who was interred on a specific date. But if the government did not provide the stones, as they did later, my first lead into finding information on the veteran is gone. Indeed, if I had not found the Mountain View Cemetery record books at my local Family History Center, I would know only that James A. Chase had died on December 12, 1877, aged 43 years.1
Having found his information in the Mountain View records, I was able to confirm his date of death, and learned that he was born in Maine and died in Oakland.2 I also learned the cause of his death, but I'll get to that later.
When I have a regimental history, I can usually find the veteran's service record, and, if one was filed, a index card for the pension. That index card is a door to another level of information, if the widow applied for pension after her husband's death. This assumes a widow, of course. If she exists, it is much more likely that I can confirm that a possible veteran found in a census record is actually who I think he might be. Later census records can confirm the address of a residence in a City Directory listing, which may confirm the job listed on the census. All these can be reinforced by any newspaper articles or biographies.
One link broken can mean that all other information which your gut tells you is about your veteran may be, by necessity, left in the realm of speculation.
So I will speculate, a bit. There is a James A. Chase who enlisted in Company F of the 1st Maine Cavalry on October 19, 1861 in Freeport, Maine. He was born about the right time, so I'm not just spitting against the wind, entirely. During the course of his service he was promoted twice, attaining the rank of Full Sergeant before being discharged June 20, 1865.3
This speculation is strengthened by an article about his death in the Oakland Daily Evening Tribune, which reports that he was a cavalry soldier in the "late war."4 There is another James Chase living in Oakland at this time, and I had previously wondered if they were the same, but this one was working as a carpenter when he died and the other was a grocer.
I don't have to speculate about cause of death: anemia.5 Even the cause of death is a little unclear to me since there is no elaboration in the cemetery records about the cause of the anemia (or even how it might have been determined), and I have been unable to locate a death certificate for Mr. Chase. The article about his death only states that he "fell suddenly ill and died a few moments afterward."6
With some veteran's, I have the luxury of trying to verify all of this by looking into getting the pension records, but since it does not appear that James applied for one, even that avenue is closed and I may be left with this mystery.
1 Jas A. Chase headstone, GAR plot, Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland.
2 Mountain View Cemetery Record Book 1, pg. 76.
3 Historical Data Systems, comp.. U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.
4 Oakland Daily Evening Tribune, December 13, 1877.
5 Mountain View Cemetery Record Book 1, pg. 76.
6 Oakland Daily Evening Tribune, December 13, 1877.