Trivia Question 1-8-19 Who Am I?

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Trivia Master

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#1
I came to the US as an orphan at eight years old to be educated. Instead, I became a household slave for a woman in Baltimore. At 15, I escaped and joined a Pennsylvania infantry regiment. Disease took its toll: I lost much of my eyesight. After Gettysburg, I was discharged but joined a New York regiment as a paid substitute.
I was wounded captured and spent nine months in Andersonville Prison. At war's end, I settled in Pennsylvania, where I married twice, had three children and enjoyed the company of my fellow GAR members. Sadly, I suffered an early death at age 46.
Who am I?
What makes my story so remarkable?

credit: @WJC
 

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#2
Thomas Sylvanus of Co D 81st Pennsylvania Volunteers. Ruthanne McCunn wrote the book Chinese Yankee: A True Story from the U.S. Civil War about him. He was the first person from China to become a naturalized citizen. He died in poverty.

Edit - Correct, Iowa Miss. Welcome to the trivia game.

Hope you'll come back and play again.

hoosier
 
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DBF

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#4
You Are: Thomas Sylvanus
You Were: According to my 1st source - he was the only “Chinese Yankee” among Indiana’s Civil War Veterans and according to my 2nd source - “he claims the distinction of being the only Chinaman in the United States who saw service, draws a pension”, (at the close of the war he was naturalized as an American citizen in United States court at Pittsburg, the records showing he was the first Chinaman to throw off allegiance to the Chinese emperor) and thereby - “votes”.
https://triblive.com/news/indiana/7135595-74/mccunn-sylvanus-chinese
http://bluegraychinese.blogspot.com/2014/03/thomas-sylvanus.html
 
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#6
1) You are describing Thomas Sylvanus, born in Hong Kong as Aw Yee Way, who was brought to America to "become educated" during the time of the Civil War (tsk tsk), though he was kept as a slave in the Duvall household of Baltimore. He ran away, joined the 81st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry at age fifteen, where a disease (measles?) blinded him. With limited vision, her reenlisted twice, once as a paid substitute for George Dearborn, who was buying his way out of the draft (tsk tsk). Sylvanus was captured and sent to Andersonville for nine months, and survived to be discharged, had two wives, and lived the remainder of his life in Indiana.

2) Sylvanus is claimed to be the only Chinese person to fight in the Civil War, though this is debated.

This information comes from a book titled, Chinese Yankee by Ruthann McCunn.
 
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#8
Thomas Sylvanus-
Born: July 4, 1845, Hong Kong
Died: June 15, 1891, Indiana, Pennsylvania
Enlisted August 30, 1861
Private , Company D
Eighty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers
"Claims the distinction of being the only [first] Chinaman in the United States who saw service, draws a pension, and votes. “Tom” is somewhat between forty and fifty years old, and came to this country at the age of nine.
He enlisted in the Eighty-first Pennsylvania, and during an engagement received injuries to his eyes for which he draws a pension of $12/month."

source: http://bluegraychinese.blogspot.com/2014/03/thomas-sylvanus.html
 

lelliott19

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#10
Thomas Sylvanus (Pvt D/81st PA)
He was Chinese; born in Hong Kong on July 4, as Aw Yee Way. There are a number of claims about him that might be considered "remarkable."
1. ...The first Chinaman ever naturalized in America [Gettysburg Compiler (Pennsylvania), April 5, 1882.]
2. ......besides being the only Chinaman in that [his] county, claims the distinction of being the only Chinaman in the United States who saw service, draws a pension, and votes. [Albany Times (New York), December 12, 1884.]
3. ....the first of his race to receive a pension from the United States Government, and also the first Chinese Grand Army man. ["A Chinese Pensioner." The National Tribune (Washington, DC), May 24, 1888.]
4. ....the first Chinaman who was enrolled in the war. [The Cambria Freeman (Ebensburg, Pennsylvania), June 19, 1891.]
5. And this one, which is evidently not true: An examination of the records discloses the fact that Sylvanus was the only Chinese in the late war ... ["A Fighting Chinese." Burlington Weekly Free Press (Vermont), July 21, 1898.] http://bluegraychinese.blogspot.com/2014/03/thomas-sylvanus.html

Interestingly, disproving #5, this article states that "at least 58 Chinese Americans fought in the Civil War..." http://werehistory.org/veterans-to-remember/
 

luinrina

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#11
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#14
I guess you are Ah Yee Way aka Thomas Sylvanus
Your story is so remarkable because you are the only Chinese Civil War soldier to receive a US war pension for disability.

"Ah Yee Way was born in Hong Kong in 1845 and taken to America by a missionary when he was about eight years old.
Ah Yee Way said [to fellow soldiers and regimental historians] he was brought to America as a boy of seven or nine by a Mrs McClintock [although] a very thorough search of missionary listings from that period showed nobody by that name," says McCunn.
The plan had been to educate the boy and return him to China to be employed in the evangelical cause of converting the heathen Chinese to the joys of Western-style Christianity.
It seems, though, that young Thomas was less than enthusiastic about this career plan and following a chance meeting with a Dr Sylvanus in California, he ended up in Baltimore with Sylvanus' sister, Mrs Duvall.
Unlike with his comrade Pierce, though, there is no ambiguity regarding Sylvanus' motivation for joining the combat.
"For Ah Yee Way, the cause was not in the least remote. At the outbreak of war, he was a 16-year-old enslaved in Baltimore, and he ran north to Philadelphia, where he enlisted," explains McCunn.
There is no doubting his dedication to the cause. Sylvanus was discharged after 18 months due to an eye injury that left him partially blind - but he re-enlisted twice more. He fought in many of the major battles and survived nine months' incarceration in the notorious Andersonville prisoner-of-war camp, and was involved at Gettysburg.
"[His regiment] was responsible for burying the dead, gathering and guarding military material left on the field and guarding the massive tent-hospital of 5,000 [men who were] too seriously wounded to be moved," says McCunn.
Sylvanus would become the only Chinese civil war soldier to receive a US war pension for disability. So highly regarded was he that on June 21, 1892, his funeral was reported in The New York Times in an article, headlined "Our Chinese soldier is buried", that compliments the "good soldier" for his bravery: "He was a corporal of the color guards at [the 1864 Battle of] Cold Harbour. When the breastworks were charged, all the others detailed to hold up the flag fell but the plucky Chinaman waved the Stars and Stripes defiantly and survived."


https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/article/1270170/gettysburg-redress

Thomas Sylvanus

Born: July 4, 1845, Hong Kong
Died: June 15, 1891, Indiana, Pennsylvania

Union
Enlisted August 30, 1861
Private , Company D
Eighty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers

Enlisted July 11, 1863
Corporal, Company D, Color Guard
Forty-second New York Volunteers


http://bluegraychinese.blogspot.com/2014/03/thomas-sylvanus.html
 
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#15
It appears that "I" am Ching Lee, whose American name was Thomas Sylvanus. He was of Chinese ethnicity, born in Hong Kong. [This itself is unusual.] Per one of the accounts in this source (they differ somewhat as to details), he was the only prisoner of Chinese ethnicity at Andersonville.
https://sites.google.com/site/accsacw/Home/sylvanus
It took considerable searching to find this information, but it is certainly interesting! It requires reading through the rather lengthy series of articles in this reference to come up with all the pieces.

This is useful information for anyone of Chinese descent who is interested in reenacting!

Plus this reminds me of my newest grandson, whose mother is of Chinese descent, and whose name is also Thomas. He just turned 7 months and has the most wonderful smile and chortling laugh! Makes Grandma melt every time!
 
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#18
He should be Ah Yee Way. Aka Thomas Sylvanus Aka Ching Lee.

This guy had a remarkable life but despite burying Gettysburg dead and surviving charges at Cold Harbour I would say that being the only Chinese civil war soldier to receive a US war pension for disability is quite remarkable ( many buried dead at Gettysburg and survived charges).

So highly regarded was he that on June 21, 1892, his funeral was reported in The New York Times in an article, headlined "Our Chinese soldier is buried", that compliments the "good soldier" for his bravery: "He was a corporal of the color guards at [the 1864 Battle of] Cold Harbour. When the breastworks were charged, all the others detailed to hold up the flag fell but the plucky Chinaman waved the Stars and Stripes defiantly and survived."

https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/article/1270170/gettysburg-redress
https://sites.google.com/site/accsacw/Home/sylvanus
 

SWMODave

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#19
This one was tough because there are so many different versions of this guys life - if I even have the right guy. I am going with Thomas Sylvanus, who claimed to be the only Chinese American veteran (he wasnt) and the first person from China to be naturalized. Either way, as an emigrant from Hong Kong, his service for a country that was not welcoming to oriental immigrants, was remarkable.
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