Friday, June 12, 2015

George C Watson: Suffered & Died Far From Home (#15 of 52 Ancestors)

Yellow fever did not recur; one either died or survived. It came in mysterious, vicious waves, killing anywhere from 12 to 70 percent of its victims. It started with shivering, high fever, insatiable thirst, savage headaches, and severe back and leg pains. In a day or so, the restless patient would become jaundiced and turn yellow. In the terminal stages, the patient would spit up mouthfuls of dark blood, the terrifying "black vomit" (vomito negro), the body temperature would drop, the pulse fade, and the comatose patient, cold to the touch, would die in about 8 to 10 hours. So great was the terror, that the victims would be buried as quickly as possible. 
[George L Chapel in "Gorrie's Fridge", http://www.phys.ufl.edu/~ihas/gorrie/fridge.htm]


George C Watson's remains were moved to Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida
Find A Grave Memorial - photo by Chuck Cummins, 2013
George Correy Watson was about 39 years old when he enlisted in as a private in the Pennsylvania 47th Infantry Regiment on September 2nd, 1861, less than 5 months after the firing on Fort Sumter. Both of his parents, my 4th great grandparents, were deceased and he had most likely never married or had children. The year before, in 1860, he was living with one of his unmarried sisters, Nancy, and a married sister, Phebe (Watson) Vincent and her family.

By the end of September, the 47th was in Washington, D. C. to assist in defending the capital. By late January or February of 1862, they were stationed at Fort Taylor in Key West, Florida.
[Information from "Pennsylvania Volunteers of the Civil War http://www. pacivilwar.com/regiment/47th.html]

Memorial to Company C, 47th PA Veteran Volunteers plaque erected 2004
Sunbury Cemetery, Sunbury, Northumberland Co, PA
Photo by Tiffany Stuck posted at Find A Grave 2012


At the start of the Civil War, Fort Taylor had been seized by Union soldiers and remained in their possession throughout the war. The primary purpose of this island fort was to prevent Confederate supply ships from getting to ports in the Gulf of Mexico.

From the time construction began on the fort in 1845, the men had been plagued with yellow fever. Sadly, George C Watson was another victim of "yellow jack" who suffered without his mom, a wife, or even a sister to care for him.

Memorial to Company C, 47th PA Veteran Volunteers erected in 1866
Sunbury Cemetery, Sunbury, Northumberland Co, PA
Photo by Tiffany Stuck posted at Find A Grave in 2012
A local newspaper posted letters from a member of the 47th. In a letter dated May 3, 1863, the author, H. D. W., addresses George's burial:

To rear a slab of marble in respect to the memory of a departed friend is always the first care at home - so with Capt. Gobin in the case of one of our comrades who died here last summer of yellow fever. It is gratifying to the friends to know that the last resting place of a brother or relative is marked; - so I will give it to you the fact of a monument being erected over the grave of George C. Watson, of Watsontown, Pa, that his friends may know it. The monument is of Italian marble, set in a Granite base, and bears the inscription - 
"In memory of
GEO. C. WATSON
Co. C., 47th Reg't., Pa. Vols.
& resident of North'd County, Pa.
Died, Aug. 26, 1862.

My Line of Descent
  • George Watson (1783-1856) m Elizabeth "Betsy" Vincent (1789-1846) 
  • George C Watson (1822-1862) is a brother of Sarah Jane Watson (1826-1853) m John Quiggle Stewart (1825-1922) 
  • Alexander Stewart (1852-1922) m Catharine Jane McClintock (1852-1929) 
  • Andrew "Andy" McClinock Stewart (1882-1954) m. Bessie Waldron Merrill (1879-1959) 
  • James Edward Stewart (1910-1972) m. Hazel Lucille Peters (1910-1975) (my paternal grandparents) 
Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or write me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net

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