Memorial Day 2019 – My Ancestors Who Died in Uniform

Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor those who have given “their last full measure of devotion.”  My ancestors have died in several conflicts from the American Revolution to World War II.

These are my ancestors – the honored dead I have identified thus far:

Private Joseph Robins – Died Valley Forge, Pa May 1778

Private William Jones Cowan – died Goliad, Tx Mar 1836

Private Thomas B. Cowan – died Yorktown, Va Sep 1861

Private John Y. Cowan – died Manassas, Va Dec 1861

Private John D. Cowan – Sharpsburg, Md Sep 1862

2Lt. James Pinkney Cowan – died Chancellorsville, VA May 1863

2st Thomas Allison Cowan – died Gettysburg, Pa July 1863

Sergeant Nathan Hamilton – died Gettysburg, Pa July 1863

1st Sgt George W. Faucett – died Wilderness, Va May 1864

Corporal Daniel Fugate – died Point Lookout, Md July 1864

Corporal, Guy Wentworth Selden – Died St. Mihiel, France Sep 1918

1Lt. Robert Benjamin Fugate – died At Sea Jan 1945

William Webster Gunnell IV – Sometimes Stated Relationships Are Just Hints

I received an email stating my 8th great-grandfather, William Webster Gunnell IV, was born in England.

I was not familiar with this 8th Great-grandfather.

I clicked on the link to see HOW I am related to this individual.
I found that someone has extended my John Whitaker Standifird and Elizabeth Cofer line.

I have verified my relationship back to John Whitaker Standifird (1778-1845) and Elizabeth Cofer (1780-1838). They are my 4th great-grandparents.

From a previous hint, I have William Cofer and Esther ?? as possible parents to Elizabeth. This came from a public family tree. There was no source or documentation provided.

Now I have someone claiming that William Cofer (1752- July 1808) born and died in Bullitt county, Kentucky married in Nelson County, Kentucky in 1770 an Esther Thomas (1750-1808) from Bullitt County, Kentucky.

There is no documentation for this information.

My problem with this claim is that it continues on for three more generations – Catherine Gunnell (1775- deceased) (no documentation), Henry M. Gunnell (1705-1792) (a reference to a will), and finally William Webster Gunnell IV (1676-1760). There are 6 sources attached to William, four appear valid documents with two as family trees.

I always look at information like this as a CLUE.

This information could be accurate.

Too often I find relatives, friends and patrons who blindly accept public posted information as Absolute Proof.

I have found that in most instances this is not the case.

I caution everyone to check, verify, and if possible, re-check and re-verify the information provided as “hints” or “suggestion” or even “online proof”.  Too often individuals post online, information they “heard” or are passing down a “verified” family story.

As for me, I am looking forward to verifying the hints regarding the Cofer to Gunnell lines. I just might be related to William Webster Gunnell IV.

Who is Frances Ann’s Father?

I took a DNA test. My goal was to find additional cousins and expand my family tree.

One of the results says I have a cousin, Frances Ann Pierce the daughter of Richard Morgan Pierce and Lucinda S. H. Fugate.
This was exciting news, as I had never run across a Frances Ann Pierce in all of my family history research.

I found Frances Pierce, age 14, in the 1870 Federal Census in Schuyler County, Missouri. She is residing in the Caswell and Elizabeth Hamilton household.
Checking the 1860 Federal Census I find a Frances, age 4, listed as a daughter of Caswell and Elizabeth Hamilton. (I am assuming that this is the same Frances that appears in the 1870 Federal Census.)

Per the headstone in the Fugate Cemetery in Schuyler County, Missouri, Lucinda S. H. Pierce died 18 May 1857.

The headstone for Morgan Pierce states his death in 1851. However, I realized that the stone could have been misread and the date could be 1857.

My first question was one of relationship. Lucinda S. H. Fugate Pierce is the sister of Elbert Mitchell Fugate. Elbert’s wife is Nancy Clarinda Hollcroft.  Caswell Hamilton married Elizabeth Hollcroft, sister of Nancy Clarinda Hollcroft.

I appears that after Lucinda died her brother Elbert’s wife’s sister Elizabeth Hollcroft Hamilton is raising the orphan daughter of Lucinda and Morgan Pierce.

EXCEPT, Lucinda S. Pierce and her father John Fugate are appointed administers of the the estate of Morgan Pierce on 25 November 1851. Security was put up by Thos. S. Jeffries and John W. Minor.

Morgan Pierce, Lucinda’s husband, died in 1851. (NOT 1857)

I am confident that Richard Morgan Pierce is NOT Frances’ father.

Who is Frances Ann Pierce’s father?  She was born in 1856. Lucinda S.H. Fugate Pierce died 18 May 1857.

During my latest visit to the Schuyler County, Missouri courthouse I discovered the probate record of Lucinda S. H. Pierce. The document lists three children – John R. Pierce, Susan Pierce and Frances Ann Pierce.

An additional visit to the Schuyler County, Missouri courthouse is in order.

Is there GUARDIANSHIP for the children of Morgan and Lucinda? (In the 1860 Federal Census John R. Pierce age 12 and Susan Pierce age 9 are living with their grandfather, John Fugate.)
Is there any type of birth record for Frances Ann Pierce, born in 1855 or 1856?
Perhaps the marriage record of Frances Ann to William Worth Hale in 1872-1873 would indicate her parents.

One possibility – Lucinda was raising Frances because Frances’ birth mother had died during childbirth or shortly thereafter. (Not at all uncommon during the 1800s.)

I must now expand my research into the Pierce family. Perhaps Morgan had a brother that was the birth father of Frances.

More investigative work remains to resolve this issue!


Question: What do you do when you are a genealogist, reading for pleasure and discover a possible ancestor?

Answer: You treat it as a lead and follow through.

I previously discovered a relative, Corporal Robert T. Fugate, who survived as a Japanese prisoner of war through World War II. He was a U.S. Marine in the Philippines stationed on Corregidor. He suffered through four years as a Japanese prisoner of war.

I recently read a book about the Bataan Death March. I was seeking any reference or anecdote about Corporal Fugate. I did not find either, however I did find something else.

At the end of the book was an Appendix. This was a list of 1607 servicemen with whom the author had served, suffered and/or survived. One of the names – First Lieutenant Robert B. Fugate .

The first thing I did was verify that this was NOT the same person being misidentified. (The U.S. military has occasionally made errors when notifying Next Of Kin.)

Corporal Robert Tebo Fugate was born in Nebraska in 1921 to Frank and Mae (Tebo) Fugate. He was the only son, with three older sisters – Lucille, Roberta and Leota. Robert T. Fugate entered the United States Marine Corps on 16 Jan 1940 and completed his basic training at San Diego, California on 29 February 1940. Sometime prior to December of 1941 he was transferred to the 4th Marine Regiment in Shanghai, China. Subsequently, he was transferred to Corregidor, Philippines when the unit was removed from China.

We both descend from John Fugate. John Fugate was born in Russell County, Virginia in 1795. He moved to Missouri about 1844. He died in 1878 in Schuyler County, Missouri.

I started searching to determine if (or how) I have a relationship to Lt. Robert B. Fugate. Was he also a descendant of John Fugate? If not, how are we related?

Robert Benjamin Fugate was born Aug 1919 in Brazil, Clay County, Indiana to Benjamin Franklin “Ben” and Lillian B. (Walker) Fugate. He was the second child and first son. He had an elder sister, Dorothy L. Fugate and a younger brother, Norman Fugate.

Robert B. Fugate attended Purdue University and graduated in 1940 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.

On his U.S. Selective Service Registration form, dated 16 October 1940, he is noted as single, white, height 5-8, weight 167, hair black, eyes brown, complexion dark with an appendicitis scar. On 30 June 1941 he was activated into the United States Army and assigned to the 400th Field Artillery. Once he arrived in the Philippines he was assigned to the 88th Field Artillery Regiment, Philippine Scouts.

1LT Robert Benjamin Fugate, MSGT Robert Tebo Fugate and I all descend from Martin Fugate.

1LT Robert Benjamin Fugate descends from Martin’s son William.

MSGT Robert Tebo Fugate and I both descend from Martin through his son Colbert, John Fugate’s father.

1LT Robert Benjamin Fugate is my fifth cousin, once removed.

MSGT Robert Tebo Fugate is my third cousin, once removed.

Having determined my relations to each of these soldiers, I then sought information to see if they could have had any contact with or known each other during their ordeal.

The two men served in different units, in separate services and in different locations. Corporal Robert T. Fugate served with the 4th Marine Regiment. The Fourth Marine Regiment was stationed and defended the island of Corregidor, Philippines.

First Lieutenant Robert B. Fugate served in the 88th Field Artillery, Philippine Scouts. The 88th Field Artillery was stationed and defended the Bataan, Philippines peninsula.

1LT Robert B. Fugate, as part of the 88th Field Artillery soldiers, endured The Bataan Death March. (A detachment of the 4th Marine Regiment was also stationed on Bataan and endured the Death March.) The Bataan Death March occurred 9-12 April 1942. The march ended when the prisoners arrived and were incarcerated at Camp O’Donnell .

CPL Robert T. Fugate most likely did not participate in the Death March. All accounts I found indicate CPL Fugate was stationed on Corregidor. The forces on Corregidor fought through April and surrendered on 6 May 1942. After the surrender, the forces on Corregidor  were shipped across Manila bay to Bilibid prison .

Prisoners at each location were grouped by rank: commissioned officers separated from non-commissioned and enlisted soldiers. 1Lt. Robert B. Fugate was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. Cpl. Robert T. Fugate was a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Marines.

So far I have not found any information indicate they could have met or known each other while prisoners of war.

Corporal Robert T. Fugate, USMC, survived the war and continued active military service. He retired a Master Sergeant, USMC. He died in 1993 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia .

First Lieutenant Robert B. Fugate did not survive the war. He was wounded on board a ship while being moved from the Philippines to Japan. He died of his wounds and was buried at sea. 1LT Robert B. Fugate’s name is listed on the Wall of the Missing, Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Capital District, National Capital Region, Philippines.

Reading and the studying the experiences of these relatives, what they endured during their combat and captivity, has increased my gratitude for their sacrifice. I feel extremely privileged to have discovered evidence of their service.

May their service and sacrifice is always remembered.

For More Information See:

Some Survived: An Eyewitness Account of the Bataan Death March and the Men Who Lived Through It by Manny Lawton

The United States Marine Corps in World War II compiled and edited by S.E. Smith

The Fugate Family of Russell County Virginia by David Faris

“7 Lieutenants Ordered to Duty,” The Indianapolis Star Indianapolis, Indiana, 30 June 1941, Lt. Robert B. Fugate ordered to duty with 400th Field Artillery;

“Prisoner of Japanese,” The Indianapolis News Indianapolis, Indiana, 19 December 1942, 1LT. Robert B. Fugate held as prisoner of war; online image,

Death March – The Survivors of Bataan by Donald Knox

Various Occupations in the Family Tree

Have you ever taken the time to really look at the various occupations in your family Tree?

I was thinking of my own career progression – 20-year career soldier, 10 years in telecommunications, and currently 18 years in public service in the city library.

My father was a salesman, realtor, house parent at a church orphanage and on staff in the Missouri State Prison system. My mother was a school library assistant, bank keypunch operator, and realtor. She worked for the F.B.I. in the fingerprint division between high school and college.

Grandfather Glenn Coleman worked in his father-in-law’s (great-grandfather Henry S. Smiley) general store prior to running his own Coleman Plumbing and Heating business. Grandfather Glen Fugate worked in a chicken hatchery before owning his own Fugate’s Grocery store. His brother, Bill Fugate owned and operated Fugate’s Hatchery all his working life. Uncle (James) Ora Fugate was at various times a schoolteacher, postmaster, and then ran his own home repair shop.

Great-grandfather Will Coleman was a third generation well-digger. Uncle Lloyd Coleman continued the business. Great-grandfather Robert Fugate worked on the railroad, as did one of his brothers (Uncle Will Fugate).

I find that I have a banker, a barber, a carpet layer, a medical doctor, an innkeeper, a jeweler, several lawyers, a funeral director, and a Congressman – Speaker of the House of Representatives – Galusha Aaron Grow, in my family tree.

I traced various lines for my grandson, and he has two distant cousins that were West Point graduates – General U.S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee.

I was not surprised to find several farmers turned soldier during American conflicts – American Revolution, War of 1812, Texas Independence, both Union and Confederate soldiers during the War Between the States, World Wars I & II.

I was a bit surprised in the number of preachers in my tree. I find, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints scattered throughout the tree. More than a few changed careers to become Ministers of the Gospel.

There are seamstresses, wheelwrights, bartenders, blacksmiths, waggoneers, boatmen, nurses, sheriffs, tax collectors, and cabinetmakers.

The vast majority of my ancestors were farmers. Today I find only two cousins working their respective family farms.

As you seek out your kindred dead, take a few minutes and review / discover what they did as an occupation. You may find that some of your family trades (or traits or hobbies) coincide with occupations of your ancestors.

William and Martha Cowan Christy Robbins

My 2 great-grandfather, William Robbins, was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania on 24 June 1834 to William Robbins and Mary Agnes (Nancy) Sloan. He traveled across the United States as a young man. According to family history, he signed on, herded cattle across the plains to California and then sailed back to Pennsylvania. During this trip to California, as the story goes, Will was so taken by Linn County, Missouri that he vowed to settle there and raise his family.

Martha Cowan Christy was born in McKeesport, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on 17 June 1836 to Andrew Christy and Eliza Elizabeth Ekin . When Martha first heard of the idea to move to Missouri, she said she would not move west until the railroad was built.
Will Robbins married Martha Christy on 4 February 1858 in McKeesport, Allegheny, Pennsylvania.
Will and Martha took off for Missouri shortly after their wedding. They traveled by barge down the Ohio river and up the Mississippi to St. Louis. They then traveled by wagon to Linn County, Missouri. Their first child, Elizabeth, was born 17 November 1858 near Meadville, Linn County, Missouri. Will and Martha had eight children – Elizabeth E., Nancy, Charles Francis, a son who died shortly after birth, Margaret Christy, William Christy, Ida M. (Bird), and Willetta.

When war broke out Will signed on to serve with the Union forces. William Robbins served as a 2nd Lt. in Company F, 62nd Regt. E.M.M. from 28 July 1862 to 7 November 1862 under Captain Forman. He served again from 25 August 1864 to 1 October 1864 under Captain E.J. Crandall. On 6 October 1864, he again served in Captain Forman’s company. During Will’s absence, Martha ran the farm while raising four infant children. Upon his release from duty on 20 December 1864, Will returned home.

In October 1868 he was tending to a horse when the horse kicked him in the head. On 31 October 1868 He died from this injury. He was buried in the Meadville Cemetery. Their daughter, Willetta, was born barely six weeks later on 11 December 1868. Willetta died three months shy of her fifth birthday. The headstone now reflects William, his wife Martha, and their daughter Willetta.

Following Will’s death, Martha’s parents encouraged her to sell the farm and move back to Pennsylvania with them. Martha chose to stay in Missouri. Martha C. Robbins was the administratrix of William Robbins estate. She saw six of her children grow to adults, marry, and raise their own families.
Martha Cowan Christy Robbins never remarried. She suffered the loss of two children, one when she was a recent widow. William Christy Robbins, her youngest son, died in April of 1914.

Martha enjoyed her family of six children and over a dozen grandchildren. During her life, the nation grew from 13 states in 1838 to 48 states and several territories. Horse and buggy transportation had given way to the automobile and aircraft. Telephones, tractors, and mechanical machinery had made life much easier. She witnessed and experienced, The War Between the States, the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, and World War I. With the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Martha was able to vote for presidential candidates in 1920 and 1924.

Martha Cowan Christy Robbins died 20 October 1926 at the age of 90 years, 4 months and 3 days.
The farm that Will and Martha started, grew and remained in the family. The farm passed from their son William Christy to their granddaughter’s (Martha Christy Robbins Taylor) family and on to their great-grandson Jay Robert Taylor. The Taylors were working and residing on the homestead as late as June 1976.

My references:
1) The History of Linn County, Missouri: An Encyclopedia of Useful Information, pg 732.
2)Headstone, Meadville Cemetery, Meadville, Linn, Missouri
3) “The Robbins Came by Barge,” Brookfield, Missouri Daily News-Bulletin, 17 June 1976, story on pages 1 & 3. history of Will and Martha Christy Cowan Robbins.
4) 1850 Federal Census, PA, Allegheny County, Versailles Twnshp, Pg 223.
5) History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania : Including its early settlement and progress to the present time…also, portr Bowie, Md: Heritage Books, Inc., 1993, Volume II, Part Two, pages 700-701 – Bio of John R. Christy
6) 1860 Federal Census, MO, Linn County, pg 132, family #874
Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, Tuesday, November 16, 1948, page 1
7) Kenneth E. Weant, Civil War Records – Missouri State Officers: Enrolled Missouri Militia, Home Guard, Provisional, Volunteer, Etc. (Jefferson City, Missouri: Missouri State Archives, 2013), Vol. 1, pg 148.
8) Kenneth E. Weant, compiler, Civil War Records – Union Troops: Enrolled Missouri Militia (6951 Names), 8 Volumes (Jefferson City, Missouri: Missouri State Archives, 2007), volume 2, page 83.
9) Linn County, Missouri State Archives, Certificate of War Service, file: “Crandall’s E. M.M., Co.,” , Robbins, William, 2nd Lt., Comd’g Capt. E. J. Crandall, 1 October 1864; Union Army Militia, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, Missouri.
10), 42802014.
11) Judy Jacobson, History for Genealogists: Using Chronological Time Lines to Find and Understand Your Ancestors (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009), pages 14 & 180.
12) Death Certificate, Missouri, 13101.
13) Death Certificate, Missouri, 32145.

Murder in Memphis Missouri

I walk through cemeteries. I view headstones, markers, and read the various inscriptions. Occasionally I will pause and wonder, “Why did he/she have such a short life?” or “Is this area a family plot?”

My mother’s grave is in the Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church Cemetery. It is located just north of Memphis, Scotland County, Missouri. Walking through the cemetery one day, I saw a stone that indicated a male and female, yet nothing about the stone indicated they were husband and wife. The headstone read:


BARNETT                      ELIZA M.

Nov. 16, 1896                Jan. 29, 1887

Aug.  18, 1930               July 26, 1942

I started searching for information on Barnett Baxter. I found his death certificate on the Missouri Archives website.

Barnett Baxter, male, white divorced, Date of Death: August 18, 1930. The cause of death is stated as “Gunshot .22 by persons unknown[i].”

I began my search.

Barnett was born on the family farm in Scotland County, Missouri in 1896 to David and Sarah Baxter. The 1900 Federal Census indicated that Eliza M. was the older sister of Barnett[ii].

Barnett was working on the farm in 1910[iii]. He registered for the WWI draft[iv]. On January 20, 1919 Barnett married Lila (last name unknown) in Scotland County, Missouri[v]. They were living with his father and Barnett was working on the farm on January 10, 1920[vi].

However, on May 3, 1930 Barnett is divorced, living in Chicago, Illinois and employed as a locomotive fireman on the railroad[vii].

I searched for information on his death. Oh did I hit the jackpot!

Numerous newspaper accounts from August 19, 1930 to July 7, 1932 tell the story[viii].

Barnett was visiting his mother in Scotland County. While sitting at the table he suddenly slumped forward. When his mother raised his head she noticed he had been shot. His sister attempted to call police and found the telephone line dead. No one in the room heard the shot due to the wind and rain at the time.

The immediate thought was someone from Chicago had trailed Barnett to Missouri and then shot him for reasons unknown. An investigation was undertaken.

No shell casings were located. The telephone line to the mother’s home had been cut.

W.J. Shawley, a neighbor, was one of the first to respond to the calls for assistance following the shooting. The autopsy report determined death by a .22-caliber bullet. Examination of the bullet determined it had been fired from W.J. Shawley’s gun. Shawley stated he was at home at the time of the shooting and denied having a reason for Baxter’s death.

The investigation determined that Barnett had been seeing W.J. Shawley’s young daughter, Pauline. Pauline testified that she and Barnett were friends and not engaged to be married. During the trial, the State evidence showed Barnett and Pauline had been engaged to be married. The engagement had been broken. The engagement being broken off had angered W.J. Shawley.

W.J. Shawley was tried twice for the murder of Barnett Baxter. The first trial in 1931 resulted in a hung jury – six for acquittal and six for conviction. The second trial, June of 1932, resulted in W.J. Shawley being convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Barnett’s sister, Eliza M. was known as Minerva. She died on 25 July 1942 at her home at 402 N. Franklin, in Kirksville, Adair County, Missouri. She died of metastatic carcinoma[ix]. (I have not found any evidence she ever married.)

The headstone is for the brother and sister.

Every person has a story. We all are born, live and die. Often the gravestone, headstone or marker only states the name, birth and death dates. Searching for the life between the dates provides stories of joy and sadness; failure and accomplishment for celebrities, historical figures and relative unknown individuals.

Take the time to seek out your ancestors, their stories, accomplishments and failures. You will be amazed at the lives they led.

Good Hunting!

[i] Baxter, Barnett – Missouri State Death Certificate #28819, Date of Death 18 Aug 1930;

[ii] 1900 Federal Census, MO, Scotland County, Sheet 7B, SD 142, ED 145, family #149

[iii] 1910 Federal Census, MO, Scotland County, Sheet 7A, SD 1, ED 153, family #140

[iv] WWI Draft Registration Card, Registration #32, Baxter, Barnett, dated 6,5,18 Local Board, County of Scotland, State of MO., Memphis, MO.

[v] Missouri, Marriages, Scotland County, page 331, 20 January 1919

[vi] 1920 Federal Census, MO, Scotland County, Sheet 2B, SD 1, ED 153, family #61

[vii] 1930 Federal Census, IL, Cook County, Chicago, Sheet 20B, SD 7, ED 16-637, family #389

[viii] The following newspapers (dates indicated) reflect a partial list available. These are the ones from which I obtained my information:

Jefferson City Post Tribune (Jefferson City, MO) Aug 19 & 21, 1930; June 16 & 19, 1931

La Plata Home Press (La Plata, MO) Aug 21, 1930; July 7, 1932

Macon Chronicle Herald (Macon, MO) Aug 21, 1930; June 16 & 17, 1931; June 29 & July 2, 1932

Moberly Monitor Index (Moberly, MO) Oct 29, 1930

The Daily Capital News (Jefferson City, MO) June 19, 1931

The Leadwood Press (Leadwood, MO) Aug 29, 1930

[ix] Baxter, Minerva – Missouri State Death Certificate #23691 Date of Death 25 July 1942;