How to Find Naval Records?

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Fritz1255

Cadet
Joined
Apr 20, 2005
Trying to find two sailors in the US Navy during the Civil War. William Frye was from Machiasport, ME, and was born in about 1838. He supposedly died during the war, although some of the Ancestry.com family tree data shows him as having died at Gettysburg, which makes very little sense. Ancestry.com shows that he enlisted in Boston in 1861.

Charles H Wickens was born in 1842, and died in 1917. Ancestry.com has an almost unreadable pension card for him that was apparently filed after he died. He was actually a Canadian citizen who also went to Boston to enlist, or that's what the family story says. Charles is the only direct ancestor of mine that I am aware of who was in the Civil War; William Frye is a relative of mine from another branch of the family.

It is my understanding that Naval records are much harder to fund than Army records. So how would I find these?
 
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Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
Trying to find two sailors in the US Navy during the Civil War. William Frye was from Machiasport, ME, and was born in about 1838. He supposedly died during the war, although some of the Ancestry.com family tree data shows him as having died at Gettysburg, which makes very little sense. Ancestry.com shows that he enlisted in Boston in 1861.

Charles H Wickens was born in 1842 and died in 1917. Ancestry.com has an almost unreadable pension card for him that was apparently filed after he died. He was actually a Canadian citizen who also went to Boston to enlist, or that's what the family story says. Charles is the only direct ancestor of mine that I am aware of who was in the Civil War; William Frye is a relative of mine from another branch of the family.

It is my understanding that Naval records are much harder to fund than Army records. So how would I find these?
Don't know if this is your man? He would have been born about 1837:

Screenshot (77).png


Is this Charles' Find-A-Grave page?

 
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Fritz1255

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Apr 20, 2005

Fairfield

Corporal
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Naval records were harder for me too! However, there are naval historians and history buffs who have both published and who also have a web presence. GOOGLE is your friend here! Also, go to entries of Wikipedia, then check its bibliography.

The Adjutant General's Report for Maine (1863 edition) for Maine 6th, Co. G. says that (in 1863) Charles was promoted to Sergeant. It states that it was John Frye (brother?) who died in 1863--but on 17 January. One of the standard sources for Gettysburg is "Maine at Gettysburg" by the Maine Gettysburg Commission and you could check there--but a January date is too soon for that battle. It looks like he died of disease, possibly back in Maine (because he was discharged from Portland, ME). According to the service cards of the Fryes (I posted them elsewhere), it was John who was the sailor--and that was before the war; Charles is listed as having been a carpenter.

A useful source, also, are the Naval Enlistments (on both FamilySearch and Ancestry). Machiasport Historical Society may be a good bet. BTW, there are websites regarding Canadians in ACW.

Since I am in Maine and working on a project on my town's ACW soldier (so I have a lot of source material at hand), let me dig around a bit for you.
 
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Fairfield

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Dec 5, 2019
On Google Books: "Ship Registers & Enlistments of Machias, Maine, 1780-1930 (National Archives)

Charles Fry/Frye: 1860 Census: Machiasport, ME---in household of Benjamin Frye; also William Frye (abt. 22 years)
He is not in Benjamin's household in 1850. He doesn't reappear in Maine until the 1900 census in household of brother Benjamin jr.;
1920 Census: he's gone to Dry Creek, Sacramento, CA; 1926-California Death Index: died in Sacramento, CA (shaved off a few years);
Applied for an Invalid Pension in September of 1864

William Frye: HDS: enlisted in Boston* (1863--credited to Cambridge, Mass.); served aboard USS Ohio, USS Powhatan, USS National
Guard, USS Rhode Island and USS Ohio (again); discharged from the Ohio on 4/27/1864; signed up for Draft on 1 July 1863;
1860 census in Machiasport: in household of Benjamin Frye;
If he was discharged in 1864, he couldn't have been killed in 1863. You're right: Gettysburg makes no sense. You haven't been on the
Ancestry Trees, have you? If so: tsk, tsk!

*the 1861 enlistment seems to be for someone else

Charles Wickens: you're right, the pension card is difficult! He served as a seaman aboard the Pacer, the North Carolina and several other
ships. Applied for an invalid pension in 1883 and his widow Jane applied for a widows pension in 1917 (scribble on bottom says he
died in Nova Scotia. Looks like you're going to have to start pulling up Canadian records!

a Civil War Buff site: https://civilwarnavy150.blogspot.com
 

Fritz1255

Cadet
Joined
Apr 20, 2005
William Frye: HDS: enlisted in Boston* (1863--credited to Cambridge, Mass.); served aboard USS Ohio, USS Powhatan, USS National
Guard, USS Rhode Island and USS Ohio (again); discharged from the Ohio on 4/27/1864; signed up for Draft on 1 July 1863;
1860 census in Machiasport: in household of Benjamin Frye;
If he was discharged in 1864, he couldn't have been killed in 1863. You're right: Gettysburg makes no sense. You haven't been on the
Ancestry Trees, have you? If so: tsk, tsk!

*the 1861 enlistment seems to be for someone else
Here is what I found for William Frye, downloaded from Ancestry. The first two seem to show him enlisting at Boston in 1861, then failing to report in New York? Am I reading this right? I think this is the same person, since the age is correct (born 1838), and his residence is listed as "Custer, ME", which I assume is Cutler, the next town over from Machiasport. The documents are described on Ancestry as "US Nany Enlistment Rendevous, 1855-1891" The third document is described as "US Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865", and he is shown as "Dead" under the remarks column. His brother Charles is shown directly below. I pieced a couple of pages together for clarity.
Wm Frye Navy Boston1.jpg
Wm Frye Navy NY1.jpg
Frye Draft Records3.jpg
 

Fairfield

Corporal
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Here is what I found for William Frye, downloaded from Ancestry. The first two seem to show him enlisting at Boston in 1861, then failing to report in New York? Am I reading this right? I think this is the same person, since the age is correct (born 1838), and his residence is listed as "Custer, ME", which I assume is Cutler, the next town over from Machiasport. The documents are described on Ancestry as "US Nany Enlistment Rendevous, 1855-1891" The third document is described as "US Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865", and he is shown as "Dead" under the remarks column. His brother Charles is shown directly below. I pieced a couple of pages together for clarity.
Yes, thank you. I have Ancestry also and have been able to see those documents. The 1861 naval entry is for a William Frye who was born in Cutler (Cutler is less than 20 miles away from Machiasport by land, less by sea). The 1860 census for William Frye--who is in the household of Benjamin Frye in Machiasport--was born in New Brunswick. So I did a census search for anyone with that name who lived in Washington County and turned up several. I hate that: multiple people with the same name who are near contemporaries ☹. This is why I keep pushing the Machiasport Historical Society: when you run into this situation, it is best to have someone on the spot.

The two men on the draft registration form are most likely your's. The "Dead" comment was subsequent (surely Charles did not show up with the corpse of his deceased brother!). Unfortunately, William didn't complete his registration and information is missing. Incidentally, there may be a problem with Charles and dates as well: he was still in the infantry in November of 1863 when he was wounded in Virginia.

If Benjamin Fry/Frye was father to Charles and William, and if the dates of birth of the Fry/Frye children are pretty close, he and Elizabeth didn't come over from Canada until 1840-1 which leads reinforcement to the idea that William was born in New Brunswick.

If William was alive when he was discharged in 1864, he certainly wasn't killed at Gettysburg. If he was alive in 1864, the notation on the registration form was added sometime after that as well. There were no enlistment papers, army entry on HDS, or service card for William in the Maine State Archives which may mean that he never enlisted in the army--all of which makes a death sometime around late 1864 plausible (or he may simply have returned to Canada).

Both Benjamin jr. and James Frye lived on in Maine: you can pick up more information on the family by following their documentation.

Another naval source: http://www.navsource.org/ (for ships, not men). I should also mention the Maine Maritime Museum which has a good research collection (I believe the catalogue is online).
 
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Fritz1255

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Yes, thank you. I have Ancestry also and have been able to see those documents. The 1861 naval entry is for a William Frye who was born in Cutler (Cutler is less than 20 miles away from Machiasport by land, less by sea). The 1860 census for William Frye--who is in the household of Benjamin Frye in Machiasport--was born in New Brunswick. So I did a census search for anyone with that name who lived in Washington County and turned up several. I hate that: multiple people with the same name who are near contemporaries ☹. This is why I keep pushing the Machiasport Historical Society: when you run into this situation, it is best to have someone on the spot.
The Fryes are, or at least were a HUGE family in Maine. Many of the families had in excess of ten children. The three Frye brothers (William, Charles, and John Jr) were sons of John Frye. William and Charles were born on Grand Manan Island, while John Jr was born in Cutler, ME, which is where the family was living at the time. John had something like 17 children with two wives, so it is possible that the house was so crowded that some of the older brothers were sent to stay with their uncle Benjamin. Near as I can tell from an 1881 atlas, the two houses were within shouting distance. I am fairly confident about the genealogy. In addition to the family tree data on Ancestry (yeah, I know, not always accurate), I have a somewhat incomplete genealogy written by a relative in about 1904 that confirms much of the Ancestry data.

The point of this rambling paragraph was that the 1861 enlistment may well have been another William Frye - there were many members of the family living in Maine. On the other hand, the family did live in Cutler at one point, so there is a connection there. Not sure that we will ever know, but I don't think it much matters, because the enlistment was apparently never completed.

I just received a book that I ordered entitled "No Rich Mens' Sons; the Sixth Maine Volunteer Infantry". The book confirms the history on Charles and John Jr, but nothing about William, of course.

In any case, thanks much for your help, and please let me know if you find anything else!
 

Fairfield

Corporal
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
please let me know if you find anything else!
I surely will! One of the local soldiers that I am tracking was Frank K. Frye--who knows: I may find myself heading up to Machiasport after all. One last thought: how about contacting the Trescott Historical Society? I've had online dealings with it and found them to be extremely helpful and kind (my contact was a woman named "Bonnie"--and there wasn't much that she didn't know about the NB-ME area because she was researching with the folks on Grand Manan}.
 
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Fritz1255

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Apr 20, 2005
Okay, an update on William Frye (maybe). In the pension file for his brother who died of disease (the pension was collected by his father), there is a deposition from his father. His father states that William "died in a Rebel prison". Is there any way to verify this?
 

Fairfield

Corporal
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Okay, an update on William Frye (maybe). In the pension file for his brother who died of disease (the pension was collected by his father), there is a deposition from his father. His father states that William "died in a Rebel prison". Is there any way to verify this?
The records of the time were often muddled. HDS states that he was discharged from the Ohio on 27 April 1864; it also states that his service was credited to Cambridge, Mass.
The Ohio was a receiving ship, stationed off Boston.
If he didn't survive the war, he may be one of those cases in which the military discharged a dying man.

Assuming that you have gone through the records on Fold3, I'd check:
Massachusetts Adjutant General Office: Massachusetts Sailors & Marines in the Civil War (1937). You might also hit the newspapers (for Machiasport and for Boston/Cambridge). And the Machiasport Historical Society.
 
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