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Thomas Kesiah
2nd New York Veteran's Cavalry - Company K

Created Nov-2001

Thomas Kesiah's 1919 death certificate (Monroe, New York) lists his place of birth as St. Francis, Canada. It also lists his father as Anthony Kesiah and mother as Sarah Kesiah nee Newlet. Thomas married an Abenaki named Margaret Cherbott in Plattsburg, New York on August 29, 1863. See Thomas' obituary info that reports that they frequently conversed in the Indian dialect. Margaret is enumerated in the 1865 New York census as living in the household headed by Sallie Kesiah. From the census it is gauged that she was born about 1844. This is confirmed by the 1880 Federal Census for Paterson, New Jersey where her age is listed as forty-six and Thomas' Civil War pension affidavits. In 1880 she is listed in the household headed by her brother-in-law, John Singleton. Thomas and Margaret Kesiah had one child, Anne, who died in infancy.

Thomas Kesiah served in the Union Army during the Civil War. His enlistment was with Captain Christopher Dolan's Company K of the 2nd New York Veteran's Cavalry. The Second Regiment Veteran Cavalry, the Empire Light Cavalry, was organized at Saratoga Springs, New York where the companies mustered in the service of the United States for three years. The regiment left the State of New York in detachments between August and December 1863. The regiment served in the Department of Washington, D. C. and the Department of the Gulf from February 16, 1864. The regiment was discharged and mustered out November 8, 1865, at Talladega, Alabama.

The regiment, or portions of it, took part in the engagements in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida including the Red River campaign, Campti, Pleasant Hill, Sabine Cross Roads, Fort Jessup, Bayou Sallina, Yellow Bayou, Campti Bayou, below Cloutersville, Cane River Crossing, Bayou Roberts, Mansura, Bayou deGlaize, Simsport, Bayou Fordice, Atchafalaya River, Morganiza, Franklin, Maringuin, Rosedale, Gross Tete, McLeod's Mills, St. Francisville, Bayou Sarah, Fausse River, Clinton and Liberty Creek (Louisiana), State Line, Pascagoula River, College Hill (Mississippi) Pine Barren Creek, Cotton Creek, Bluff Springs (Florida); Pollard, Fort Blakely, Mt. Pleasant, and Whistler's Station (Alabama).

Records from the National Archive Trust Fund chronicle Thomas Kesiah's (the records also record the spelling as Kisiah, Kasiah, Keziah) Civil War military record. William H. Arlin was the enlistment officer on September 14, 1863 at Glen Falls, New York when Thomas Kesiah enlisted. Between his enlistment and when the Regiment mustered in, he was arrested as a deserter. He, Thomas Kezieh, (note fourth spelling variation of his last name) apparently deserted October 22, 1863 at Saratoga Springs and was arrested the same day, October 22, 1863, at Wilton, New York. A $30.00 reward was paid to Norman S. May.

The records show that he mustered in as a private with the 2nd Regiment New York Veteran Cavalry, Company K at Saratoga, New York on November 10, 1863 for a three-year enlistment. The Company's Descriptive Book describes him as 20 years old, dark complexion, black eyes and black hair. It states that he was born Queensbury, New York and his occupation was a laborer.

The first installment of the bounty and premium due him of $27.00 was recorded on the company rolls through the end of 1863. He was promoted to corporal on August 28, 1864 by order of Colonel Gusney. Note the promotion record spelling was "Kesiah." He was marked absent without leave on the Company Muster Roll for November and December 1864. It notes his absence was from December 28, 1864. He was present for January and February 1865. He was marked Absent Sick in the hospital at Blakely, Alabama for March and April 1865. Absent with Leave (furlough) since June 24, 1865. The Muster-out Roll shows he did so with his Company on November 8, 1865 at Talladega, Alabama. He was due $40.12. He owed the United States $3.00 for arms and equipment. He was paid a bounty of $25.00 and was due an additional $75.00.

The records further list the battles he was engaged in: Compti, Louisiana on April 4, 1864; Pleasant Hill on April 9, 1864; Cane River Crossing Marksville in April 1864; Yellow Bayou in May 1864; several skirmishes in Parish Cupee, Louisiana; Bluff Springs Alabama in March 1865 and (Fort) Blakley (Alabama) in April 1865.

The pension affidavits he submitted shed light on his travels after his military enlistment. Family oral history says that the family traveled with a circus and made baskets. Circus travel appears credible based on the various cities listed in Thomas' various pension affidavits.

In October 1905 Thomas Kesiah filed for an invalid pension due to age. He was awarded $6.00 per month. At all time when he was corresponding with the Pension Bureau, he lived at 90 Main Street, Peterson, New Jersey. In 1907 it was raised to $12.00 per month and 17.00 in 1912. In 1913 it was raised to $23.00 and $30.00 from August 1918.

An affidavit to establish his age in August 1905 listed his place of birth as Queensbury, Warren County, New York. In October 1913 he filed an affidavit attesting to his being seventy years old and his belief that he was born August 14, 1843, but no public, church or a family bible record exists. The 1913 affidavit states that he lived with his widowed mother at Glen Falls, New York during the years 1850 and 1860. His mother's name was Sarah Kesiah and his father was Anthony Kesiah.

A 1907 Declaration for Pension states that he enrolled at Saratoga Springs, New York on September 14, 1863 as a corporal in Company K. He was honorable discharged at Tallagega, Alabama on November 8, 1865. It describes him as 5 feet 7 inches tall with a dark complexion and black eyes and hair. It states that he was born August 14, 1843 at Queensbury, New York. A 1915 statement by Thomas Kesiah states he was born at St. Albans, Vermont.

The various declarations he filed list where he lived after leaving the Union Army. He lived in Glen Falls, New York (1866-1867); Saratoga Springs, New York (1867); Trenton Falls (1868); Fonda, New York (1869-1870); New York City, New York (1869-1870); Pittsfield, Massachusetts (1870-1871); Brattleboro, Vermont (1871); Kean, New Hampshire (1872-1873); Willinansett, Massachusetts (or Connecticut) (1874); Far Rockaway, Long Island, New York (1882), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (unknown date); Montreal Canada (unknown date); Greenwood Lake and Warwick, New York (1888-1890) and Paterson, New Jersey (1884 and to date of pension applications).

The pension records confirm that he was married on August 29, 1863 (1862) in Plattsburg, New York by the Rev. (W.)( E.) Watson, a Methodist Minister. His wife Margaret's maiden name was Cherbott. A child, Annie Kesiah, was born in January 1864, but she died in June 1864. He had no other children.

The 1900 federal census enumeration further confirms the Paterson connection. It lists Thomas and Margaret Kesiah living at 80 Arch Street, Paterson, Passaic County, New Jersey. It states that Thomas was born in Canada in August 1843 and is not a citizen and Margaret was born in New York in September 1844.

The Paterson City Directory for 1904 and 1905 lists Thomas Kesiah, occupation painter, as the head of household residing at 127 North Main (Street). Kesiah & Alyea, 88 North Main Street, is listed in the 1911 Paterson City Directory under the business heading "Grocers." The 1913 directory continues to show Thomas Kesiah at 88 North Main (Street). The 1914 Directory has Thomas Kesiah at 90 North Main Street.

Thomas Kesiah died on February 5, 1919. He is buried in the Monroe Cemetery, New York. The informant for his death certificate was Mrs. Joseph Coddington (i.e., his niece's, Minnie Clark-Wolfe-Ball, daughter, Margaret Ball Coddington).

 

Obituary

Thomas Kesiah died at the home of his niece, Mrs. J.C. Coddington on Prospect Street at 12:35 o'clock Wednesday morning, February 5, of general disability, aged seventy-five years, five months and two days. Mr. Kesiah belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic, having fought in the war of 1863. Deceased was born at St. Frances, Canada, and for many years conducted a store in Paterson, N.J. His health failing, he retired from business and went west, but the climate there not agreeing with him, he returned to the East and made his home with his niece, Mrs. Coddington. The Funeral services will be held at two o'clock on Friday afternoon, Rev. George Dumbell of Grace Episcopal Church, officiating. The internment will be in Monroe Cemetery, under the direction of Mr. Merritt, funeral director.

Mr. Thomas Kesiah, the Indian survivor of his generation, of Benekee [sic Abenaki] tribe of Canada, has passed to his long home. A soldier and pensioner of the war of the rebellion, his Grand Army badge and flag draped casket bore testimony to his faithful Americanism. His romantic life in camp at many places in this state; as a traveler on the Mississippi River, an expert weaver of Indian baskets at many summer resorts (Saranac Lake, Saratoga Springs, Glen falls, Catskill Mountains and Greenwood Lake and other places) made for him a life rich in remembrances. Perhaps the climax of romance was reached when his wife, Margaret Kesiah, dressed in mens clothes, stealthfully accompanied him to the front, in the war of the rebellion, where, after discovery of the ruse, she remained and assisted in nursing sick and wounded soldiers. He understood and used the Indian dialect fluently when conversing with Mrs. Kesiah. He was fond of music, a good singer, most kindly and sympathetic and gentle in his home. He will be long remembered and cherished by those so fortunate as to have known him intimately. He made his home for some time past with Joseph Coddington of Monroe, N.Y., whose wife was a grand niece and a daughter of his niece, Mrs. David Ball of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., who with her children Thomas, Fred, George, Harold, Minnetta and Emmett are his surviving relatives.

Biography Written & Contributed by: Kevin M. Wolfe, Nov-2001
Obituary Contributed by: Kevin M. Wolfe, Jul-1999
Source: Monroe Gazette, February 7, 1919

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