91st PA: William H Roberts

William H Roberts

Before the war

He was born in September 1843, in New York, New York. [sources: place: 5, 9, 10, 11. date: 5 (17 in 1861), 9 (22 in 1870), 10 (32 in 1880), 11]

When he enlisted, he was a farmer. According to a later story, he was living with his sister Elizabeth in New York City. Elizabeth had a dress-making shop. [sources: 5, 8]

Description

When he enlisted, he was 5 feet 5 inches tall, and had a light complexion, blue eyes, and light hair. [source: 5]

During the war

He enlisted and was mustered into service 16 November 1861. He was enlisted by Lieutenant [?] Black, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was mustered in as a private in company H. He had rifle number 81. [sources: 1, 5, 7, 14]

He fought at the Battle of Gettysburg. He was wounded, having been struck by a ball in his right hand, and he was taken to a hospital in Philadelphia. His sister visited him there. [sources: 6, 8]

On 8 August 1863, he was reported gained from missing in action. [source: 2]

He was discharged at US General Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 20 November 1863 on surgeon's certificate of disability, because of wounds. He was a private, in company H. On 20 December 1863, the regiment reported that he had died of wounds received in battle. [source: 1, 3 (22 [?] Nov), 4, 5, 7, 14]

After the war

On 7 December 1863, he applied successfully for a pension. [source: 7]

In 1870, he was living in Elsinboro, Salem County, New Jersey. He was living with his wife Emma and daughter Nellie. He was a farm laborer. [source: 9]

In 1880, he was living in Washington Township, Taylor County, Iowa. He was living with his wife Emma, and children Nellie, William, Leslie, Gracie, and George. He was a farmer. [source: 10]

In 1900, he was living in Washington Township, Taylor County, Iowa. He was a grocery salesman, and had been out of work for 5 months in the previous year. He was living with his children George, Mary, and Lily. [source: 11]

In 1905, he regained contact with his sister, Elizabeth Watson, who was living in Saginaw, Michigan. [source: 8]

He was buried in Washington Cemetery, Gravity, Taylor County, Iowa. He was apparently buried with Emily J, who lived from 1847 to 5 March 1890. [source: 12, 13]

Sources

1 Bates, Samuel Penniman. History of Pennsylvania volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg: B. Singerly, state printer, 1869-71. 5 volumes. 'Ninety-first regiment', volume 3, pages 186-233. (In the roster) (William H Roberts)

2 consolidated morning report, 91st PA, 8 August 1863 (Wm H Roberts)

3 consolidated morning report, 91st PA, 20 December 1863 (Private Robert)

4 company H, register of men discharged, #40 (William H Roberts)

5 company H, descriptive roll, #66 (William Roberts)

6 Pennsylvania Memorial, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (W H Roberts)

7 pension index, by regiment, 91st PA Infantry, company H (William H Roberts)

8 'After an absence of nearly forty years', Saginaw [Michigan] News, Monday 6 February 1905, page 1

9 1870 US census, New Jersey, Salem County, Elsinboro (post office: Salem), microfilm series M593, film 887, page 3 = 5 handwritten

10 1880 US census, Iowa, Taylor County, Washington Twp, supervisor's district 3, enumeration district 214, microfilm series T8, film 366, page 55 = 4 D handwritten

11 1900 US census, Iowa, Taylor County, Washington Township, supervisor's district 8, enumeration district 129, microfilm series T623, film 461, page 213 = 13 A handwritten

12 Find a grave, memorial 51,702,619, added 27 April 2010 by Cindy Baldogo, accessed 2 October 2011 [identity is confirmed by reference to his service in the 91st; unfortunately, it has no dates] (Wm H Roberts)

13 WPA 1930's Iowa grave registration survey (accessed 2 October 2011) [identity is confirmed by source 12] (Wm H Roberts)

14 index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania (William H Roberts)

Sources checked unsuccessfully

1850 US census
checked FamilySearch index (Oct 2011)--too many candidates; I couldn't find one in New York living with a sister Elizabeth running a dress shop
1860 US census
checked FamilySearch index (Oct 2011)--too many candidates; I couldn't find one in New York living with a sister Elizabeth running a dress shop
1890 US census, veterans' schedules
checked Ancestry index, 20 Oct 2011
1910 US census
HeritageQuest index (accessed 3 October 2011)
1920 US census
HeritageQuest index (accessed 3 October 2011)
1930 US census
Fold3 index (accessed 3 October 2011)

'After an absence of nearly forty years'

['After an absence of nearly forty years', Saginaw [Michigan] News, Monday 6 February 1905, page 1]
[transcribed from GenealogyBank, 29 September 2011]
[for Elizabeth Watson, see the 1900 US census, Michigan, Saginaw County, Saginaw City ward 6, s.d.3, e.d. 53 [?] p. 203 = 2 B handwritten. This has her born in 1847, in New York, with five children, four living, and living with Harry Jr., who was born in July 1875, in Michigan]

AFTER AN ABSENCE OF NEARLY FORTY YEARS
Mrs. Elizabeth Watson of This City Hears From Her Brother William H. Roberts of Gravity, Ia.
Mrs. Watson Went On the Stage and Her Brother Went to Sea and Lost Traces of Each Other--He Will Come Here to See Her.

After believing her brother, William H. Roberts, to be dead for the past forty years, Mrs. Elizabeth Watson, 324 Emerson street was delighted to receive a letter from him Saturday, saying that he was located at Gravity, Iowa, and was well on the road to prosperity.

Mrs. Watson is perhaps one of the most generally known women of this city. Thirty years ago she was a prominent personage of the stage and, although she is only known to the present Saginaw in a quiet way, she is remembered very generally throughout the country by old-time theater goers. There was no happier person in Saginaw, Saturday afternoon, when a reporter called upon her at her home and listened to her romantic story of the finding of the lost brother.

When the civil war broke out, Mrs. Watson, then Miss Elizabeth Roberts, was keeping a dress-making establishment in New York City, and with her was an only brother William. In '63, when only sixteen years of age, he took it into his head to enter the army and, against the will of his sister enlisted in the Company "H," of the 91st Pennsylvania regiment. For several months following his enlistment, nothing was heard of or from the boy-soldier. One day the anxious sister picked up a newspaper and, in reading an account of the battle of Gettysburg, saw that he had been wounded and taken to a hospital in Philadelphia. To that city she hastened. The tears sprang to her eyes as she related to The News man the anxieties of that far-distant day when she entered the great hospital and walking slowly up the long aisle of white cots looked into the painful countenances of hundreds of sick and wounded, seeking her brother's boyish face.

Finally she found him. A ball had pierced his right hand but the wound had been neglected and the doctors said that the whole arm would have to be amputated. She sought the surgeon alone and implored him not to sever the arm if it was possible to save it. Petition was granted and in a few weeks the patient was able to visit her. In the meantime however she had given up dress-making and was winning success on the stage in dramatic work. She soon married and traveled the country with her company. Mrs. Watson saw her brother a few years later in Camden, N.J. but since that day, about 37 years ago, the two have never met and the only missive that has passed between them in all those years was that received Saturday. As she traveled, Mrs. Watson inquired at every city for her brother but never once heard of him. She spent large sums in seeking for him, but in vain. And when, after writing time and again to him at places where he was accustomed to board, only to receive no answer, she finally gave him up for dead.

But Mrs. Watson with her love for her brother did not forget the soldier boy. In her gentle motherly way she told the reporter how she had sung "Soldier Willie," a popular melody of the war times, to many an audience with tears on her cheeks. But her last appearance was made a good many years ago and for the last thirty years she has been a resident of this city. Some time ago the idea came to her, that if her brother was living, he must be receiving a pension for his shattered hand. She hastened to write to the pension bureau and in a few days received word that an old soldier of the same name was living at Gravity, Iowa.

A letter was soon on its way to that address asking the recipient to kindly forward facts concerning his disablement and discharge. What was her surprise and delight to receive an answer last Saturday afternoon, telling about the wound in the hand, the visit of the sister to the hospital as told above and finally, that she had been missing to him ever since. The writer said that, after he had seen his sister in New York, he had suddenly gone to sea and had not returned for several years, but then it was too late to find her. This fact explains the long separation.

The many friends of Mrs. Watson will be greatly pleased to know of her good fortune. She was nearly overcome by the happy tidings as she had given up all hope long ago of ever seeing him alive again.

Mrs. Watson is now anxiously looking forward to a promised visit from her brother in the near future.

1870 census

[1870 US census, New Jersey, Salem County, Elsinboro (post office: Salem), microfilm series M593, film 887, page 3 = 5 handwritten]
[confirmed by the overlap with the 1880 census transcribed below]
line202122
Dwelling-house number29  
Family number30  
NameRoberts Wm" Emma" Nellie
Age22201
SexMFF
ColorWWW
OccupationFarm LaborerK House 
Real estate value   
Personal estate value   
BirthplaceNY"NJ
Father foreign born   
Mother foreign born   
Birth month if born within year   
Marriage month if married within year   
Attended school past year   
Can't read   
Can't write   
Deaf, dumb, blind, etc.   
Male US citizen at least 21 years old1  
Male US citizen at least 21 years old who can't vote ...   

1880 census

[1880 US census, Iowa, Taylor County, Washington Twp, supervisor's district 3, enumeration district 214, microfilm series T8, film 366, page 55 = 4 D handwritten]
[confirmed by the information in 'After an absence of nearly forty years', transcribed above; note also George in the 1900 census transcribed below]
line40414243444546
street name       
house number       
dwelling visit #38      
family visit #38      
nameRoberts W. H" Emma" Nellie" William" Leslie" Gracie" George
colorWWWWWWW
sexMFFMMFM
age3229128638/12
month born if born in year       
relationship wifeDauSonSonDauSon
single       
married11     
widowed/divorced       
married during year       
occupationfarmerHousekeeperAt home    
months unemployed       
currently ill?       
blind       
deaf/dumb       
idiotic       
insane       
disabled       
school this year  111 [?]  
can't read       
can't write       
birthplaceN.Y.N.Y.N. JerseyN.Y.N.Y.N.Y.Iowa
father's birthplaceEnglandEnglandN.Y.N.Y.N.Y.N.Y.N.Y.
mother's birthplaceN.YorkN.YorkN.Y.N.Y.N.Y.N.Y.N.Y.

1900 census

[1900 US census, Iowa, Taylor County, Washington Township, supervisor's district 8, enumeration district 129, microfilm series T623, film 461, page 213 = 13 A handwritten]
[confirmed by the information in 'After an absence of nearly forty years', transcribed above]
line41424344
street    
house number    
dwelling number268   
family number276   
nameRoberts William H- George H- Mary J [?]- Lily T [?]
relationshipHeadSonDaughterDaughter
colorWWWW
sexMMFF
birth dateSept 1843 [?]Oct 1879 [?]Mar 1882Dec 1886
age56201813
married?WdSSS
# years married    
mother of how many children?    
# of children living    
birthplaceNew YorkIowaIowaIowa
father's birthplaceEnglandNew YorkNew YorkNew York
mother's birthplaceNew YorkNew YorkNew YorkNew York
immigration year    
# years in USA    
naturalized citizen?    
occupationSalesman groceriesFarm labor At school
# months not employed50  
# months in school  09
can readyesyesyesyes
can writeyesyesyesyes
speaks Englishyesyesyesyes
owned/rentedO   
free or mortgagedF   
farm/houseH   
# of farm schedule    

index to compiled service records

[index to compiled service records of volunteer Union soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Pennsylvania]
[transcribed 15 March 2015, from Fold3]


Roberts, William H
Co. H, 91 Pennsylvania Inf.
Pvt | Pvt
See also [blank]

GENERAL INDEX CARD.

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revised 16 Mar 15
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