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Unable to document Civil War service

I'm still trying to document the Civil War service of my ancestor Uriah Wise who is listed in the 1890 Veterans Census: Uriah Wise, US Soldier, House #308, Chambersburg, Franklin, PA.

I've been unable to connect my ancestor with certainty to a specific Civil War military record, although at least six men with the same or similar name (Uria/Urias/Uriah Wise) were documented Civil War soldiers, and at least four men (including Uriah Wise of Chambersburg) were counted as veterans in the 1890 census fragment. My letters to NARA and to the Veterans Administration have yielded no further information. It's also been difficult to search for my ancestor in two known Chambersburg-area GAR organizations he might have joined: #309 Lt. Colonel Peter B. Housum Post or #494 Maj. Martin R. Delany Post. I've found lists of GAR organizations by state, but no membership lists for these two Pennsylvania GAR posts. During a visit to Chambersburg's historical society and public library I was able to find an obituary for Uriah's widow, Hannah Wise; but nothing on Uriah himself. He's not even named in Hannah's obituary. The records that exist for Civil War soldiers named Uriah Wise are all with white regiments. Not one is listed as a USCT soldier or veteran.

My ancestor Uriah Wise of Chambersburg, Franklin, PA appears to be the only African American with this name in the Federal Census 1850-1930. My branch of the family has no photographs, letters, or other documents (other than marriage, census, and tax records) pertaining to Uriah; but according to family oral history, he was a mixed-race person with a pale complexion. Because of this, it has occurred to me that he could have fought in a white regiment and therefore he might be one of the veterans I had previously eliminated. Of several men with this name, my ancestor also appears to be the only one born in Virginia. All of the documented Civil War soldiers named "Uriah Wise" served in the Union Army. There are no Confederate soldiers in the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System and no slave holders in the census (1850 or 1860 Slave Schedule) with the name "Uriah Wise."

My ancestor Uriah Wise most likely was born into slavery c. 1840 in VA (parents Alfed and Eliza). He is counted in the census in Fauquier County, VA (1870) and Franklin County, PA (1880-1900). My ancestor Uriah married his second wife, a widow named Hannah (Strange) Berry, in 1867 in Fauquier County, VA. (The name of Uriah's first wife is unknown. Hannah's first husband, William Berry, died during the Civil War. He fathered her children Alfred, Henry, Celia, Charles, Fenton, and Frank. Uriah is the father of Hannah's children Laura, Nancy/Anna, Julia, and Hattie.) Uriah died c. 1900-10 in Chambersburg and most likely was buried without a marker in Mt. Lebanon Cemetery. His widow Hannah Wise died on 8 Oct. 1925 and was buried at Mt. Lebanon Cemetery. My ancestor Uriah apparently was counted twice in 1880: as a VA-born black household head in Chambersburg; and also as a VA-born white hired laborer in Guilford, five miles from Chambersburg. Uriah Wise, US soldier, a resident of Chambersburg, is included in the 1890 Veterans Schedule. In 1899 Uriah Wise appears as a freeholder (property owner) in Chambersburg tax rolls; in subsequent years his wife/widow Hannah Wise is listed as a Chambersburg freeholder at 278 Miller Street.

For more information on Uriah Wise in census and military records, see my post in the AfriGeneas forum for research on the States. There I've tried to identify each of ten men, numbered 1-10 with this name who could have been among the documented Civil War veterans. I've also included possibly related men with this name who were too old or too young to serve in the Civil War. They are listed A-G.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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