Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Day Before Armistice Day

On this Veterans Day, I honor my great-grandfather J.T. Fairall.

On November 10, 1918, one day before Armistice Day, John Tyler Fairall, 1st Lieutenant, A.S.U.S.A. (Aviation Section, USA), a reconnaissance pilot and pilot instructor serving in France, wrote a letter to his mother.

Upon the front of the envelope:

In his writing:

November 10 1918

Dear Mother

I have just received my first mail at this post. Your letters of September 20th and 24th were in the lot. I suppose that by now every one knows that the German representatives are in France, and every one is waiting for the outcome of the conference. I surely hope that it will end so that I can get back. I am beginning to get tired of it all and will be glad to return to the U.S. There is quite a number here bemoaning the fact that they won’t get to the front. I can sympathise with them for it was an experience that I would not have missed for anything, but I am glad that it is all over but the shouting.

Paul Smith is evidently in the same fix as quite a lot more over there. It is new and having new experiences and is too busy to write. He is all right very likely.

I will write again in a day or so. This is all for this time.

As ever
Your loving son

J.T. Fairall 1st Lt. A.S.U.S.A.
St. Jean de Monts (Vender)

Thank you to all of our veterans serving us - past, present, and future.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Profiling Isaac Green Mask (1801-1877), Part I

Multitudes of my ancestors deserve a well-formed writing in memory of their lives.  A select few have left behind enough records, photographs, and/or property to an extent that I can dedicate a series of writings.

One such man, a fourth-great-grandfather of mine, is Isaac Green Mask.  According to his grave marker in the Reformed Graveyard in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, Isaac was born on October 11, 1801 and died on December 24, 1877.  Most federal census records confirm approximately his date of birth.  A daughter's death certificate and his obituary place his birth in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  An obituary in The Baltimore Sun backs up his date of death, additionally pointing out he died in a daughter's residence in Shepherdstown. 

Isaac led a busy life, and he nearly lost his life as a political prisoner during the Civil War.  A combination of letters that he and an acquaintance wrote (that are now in my possession), along with Department of State records, document his experiences during the war.

The first written record that I have found mentioning Isaac is an advertisement promising a $100 reward for Isaac's return.  The ad, placed in The Baltimore Sun on April 8, 1818, shows that William Lusby, a Baltimore tailor, was looking for his missing apprentice boy:

The 1818 ad reads: "ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS REWARD.  Ran away from the subscriber, living in Baltimore, on Sunday, the 5th instant, an apprentice boy to the Tailoring business, named ISAAC GREEN MASK, about five feet four or five inches high, between 16 and 17 years of age - he had on when he went away, an olive cloth coat, blue cassimere pantaloons, buff and cassimere vest - fair complexion, very light hair.  All masters of vessels and others are forwarned employing, or harboring, or carrying off the said apprentice, as they will be dealt with agreeably to law.  Whoever takes up the said apprentice and secures him in any jail so that I get him again, or give information to me, at No. 100 1/2 Market street, shall receive the above reward.  WILLIAM LUSBY.  The following papers will copy the above four times and forward their bills: - National Intelligencer, Alexandria Herald, Fredericktown Examiner, Hagerstown Gazette, Lancaster Journal, York Gazette, and Democratic Press, Philadelphia. april 7 - dit."

The above ad gives me the best physical description of Isaac of any records I've found.  You can visualize what he looked like and what he was wearing in his adolescent youth.  As an apprentice boy, he was probably contracted as an indentured servant to Mr. Lusby.  He must have been suspected of having the ability or connections to make his runaway trip to a variety of locations.  The $100 reward in 1818 would be the equivalent of $1,740 in 2009 (see MeasuringWorth inflation calculator).  Quite a reward!  By the way, the word "cassimere" is a variant of cashmere.  A well-dressed tailoring apprentice!

While I don't know if Isaac was returned to Mr. Lusby, Isaac did follow the tailoring trade throughout his adult life.  He also maintained his rebellious streak.  More to come...