In Search of Color-Sergeant Middleton

A great challenge for the genealogical or historical researcher can be attempting to identify the individual in an otherwise unidentified period or historical photograph. Naturally, if the person in question is notable of famous in their own right much of the challenge can often be mitigated. On the other hand, if the pictured person in more or less unknown today the prospect of actually identifying the can be daunting, to say the least. The following is something of a case study in the latter process.

The photograph in question (pictured below) is a cabinet photograph (often styled cabinet card) of a uniformed soldier taken in Toronto, Canada. Based on the finely embossed card mount and the image’s matte, finely grained grayscale image I could easily place its creation date to the very late 1890s or early 1900s. A circa 1900 date seemed a good starting point.

Color Sergeant Middleton

Above: The unidentified cabinet photograph of a Canadain color-sergeant that is the focus of the investigation. Photographer: Shorey’s New Studio, Toronto. Source: Collection of

The next step I took was to attempt identification of the soldier’s rank, regiment or branch of service. Based on the assumed date and known Canadian location, there is little doubt that the man in question was a member of the Canadian Militia (the Canadian Army would not become known as such until 1940). His rank was quickly evident to me as being that of color-sergeant.* During the latter part of the Victorian era, color-sergeants of infantry wore rank insignia that consisted of three inverted gold chevrons with crossed Union Jack flags topped off with a crown. Examining this sergeant’s chevrons quickly told me that he was wearing pre-1902 rank insignia. The crown device told the story.

During the reign of Queen Victoria almost all military rank insignia that contained a crown that stylistically is referred to as a Queen’s Crown. After the coronation of Edward VII, this part of the emblems was changed to the so-called King’s Crown. (See below). This sergeant’s rank device in clearly of the earlier variety.

Color Sergeant Rank

Above: Two examples of the British style infantry color-sergeant rank insignia. That on the left is the Victorian-era variety with the Queen’s Crown. After 1902 the crown emblem changed to the King’s Crown (right). The differences are subtle but important in dating photographs like the one in this investigation.

Next came putting a name to his battalion/regiment. Canadian infantry (rifle battalions differed) units at the time generally wore the same pattern tunic which appears to have been based in large part on the 1877-79 British tunic. His cap and collar badges were of the “bursting grenade” type that in infantry context denoted membership in a fusilier of grenadier battalion/regiment. Generally, Canadian militia units were raised locally so the search for a Toronto fusilier or grenadier unit was on.

Looking through various print and online sources I was unable to find any Toronto based units designated fusiliers. On the other hand, I was able to identify one styled as grenadiers – the 10th Regiment (Royal Grenadiers). Thus far we had a Canadian Militia color-sergeant, probably a member of the 10th Regiment (Royal Grenadiers) who was photographed sometime around 1900 at Toronto.


Above: Identifying our subject’s regimental affiliation was greatly helped by locating a digital copy of The Royal Grenadiers: A Regimental History of the 10th Infantry Regiment of the Active Militia of Canada. At left is a detail of our subject photograph and at right in that of Color-Sergeant D. McHugh of the 10/Royal Grenadiers. The uniforms appear to be a spot-on match. McHugh wears the Edward VII Coronation Medal, which fits with the book’s 1904 publication date.

Looking over the details of the image one’s eyes are quickly drawn to the sergeant’s single medal. Medals can provide a wealth of information if enough detail can be made out. There were several distinct categories of medalic awards that can be seen in period photographs. Orders and decorations presented for valor or distinguished service, campaign medals for participation in various wars and conflicts, jubilee or coronation medals for taking part in those royal celebrations. Quite often the specific medal in a given photograph is too indistinct to positively identify with any great certainty. Fortunately, this was not the case in this instance.

Under 8x magnification, the sergeant’s medal was easy to make out and a quick thumb through my dogged-eared copy of Medal Yearbook showed it to be Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (1897). This seemingly small detail would provide the key to bringing all the other hints together.

Jubilee Medal

Above: At left is a close-up detail of the medal pictured in our subject photograph. At right is a modern photograph of the 1897 Victorian Diamond Jubilee Medal.

The Diamond Jubilee Medal was awarded to military personnel from throughout the British Empire who in 1897 took part in events commemorating Queen Victoria’s sixtieth year on the throne. Imperial military contingents which took part in the Jubilee were usually made up of officers and non-commissioned officers from various units who had exemplary records of service. These contingents would normally be made up of men from a number of different units. Canada’s selection was no different.

As specified in Special General Order 59 (12 May 1897), Canada’s contingent would consist of 157 officers and non-commissioned officers from at least forty separate units. The specific copy of the General Order I referenced listed all of the officers by name and rank but only supplied the number of NCOs from each named unit. Even so, it told me that four NCOs from the10th Regiment (Royal Grenadiers) took part in the Jubilee. The window of possibilities was narrowing indeed.

The next obvious task was to find the names and ranks of those four Royal Grenadiers. I was able to find a complete online copy of The Royal Grenadiers: A Regimental History of the 10th Infantry Regiment of the Active Militia of Canada by Captain Ernest J. Chambers, Toronto, 1904 via google books and the sought after names were included in the text. A total of five members of the regiment took part in the Jubilee: Lieut.-Col. Mason, Color-Sergeant Middleton, Sergeants Hall, and Noble, and Corporal Clarke. As for the subject of the photograph Lieut.-Col. Mason could be quickly ruled out. That leaves four possibilities, Color-Sergeant Middleton, Sergeants Hall and Noble, and Corporal Clarke. Sergeant Noble is pictured in The Royal Grenadiers: A Regimental History of the 10th Infantry Regiment of the Active Militia of Canada (by then promoted Machine-Gun Sergeant) and was clearly not the man in our photograph so he could also be ruled out.

At this point, I should probably digress as to the possible reason this photograph was taken in the first place. At the time photography had become quite a commonplace and accessible to a very wide cross-section of society. At the same time though by no means as ubiquitous as it is in our selfie-obsessed world today. While no longer the novelty it once was, having one’s photograph taken in a studio setting was still usually reserved to commemorate some singular or special event. For a soldier, this might include commemorating his enlistment, a recent promotion, an overseas deployment or being presented with a medal or similar distinction.

Based on the above, my guess at this point was that the casus belli behind this particular photograph was the subject’s return home and receipt of the jubilee medal in 1897. This coupled with the fact that neither of the above mentioned Sergeant Hall or Corporal Clarke are mentioned as ever being promoted color-sergeant in The Royal Grenadiers seems to narrow down the identity of our soldier to that of Color-Sergeant Middleton.

To clinch the identity I need to find a confirmed photograph of Middleton for comparison but so far one has eluded me.  While he is mentioned several times in the text of The Royal Grenadiers, no photos of him were included.

Color-Sergeant Middleton – actually Henry James Middleton – had a long and very distinguished military career in the Canadian forces that spanned two wars. This part of his story will be covered in a future posting.

*Having conducted similar research for more than twenty years there was no need for me to look this up. For those less familiar with the subject of British and Common Wealth rank insignia there is a wealth of information available both in print and online describing the myriad of enlisted rank insignia worn at the time.

Tragedy at the Fallelie Canal*


Above: Private No. 4533 Arthur Ponder of the 2nd Battalion, The Suffolk Regiment who drowned at the Fallelie Canal* in Hyderabad on 20 June 1902. Photo: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/

Cabinet Photograph
Unknown Photographer
Hyderabad,  India
c. 1902

As noted on the printed captions pasted to the lower part of the above photograph’s mounts, No. 4479 Private Alfred Richardson drowned at Hyderabad while attempting to save the life of No. 4533 Arthur Ponder who had somehow become distressed in the same canal. While I have been unable to locate the service records – in many cases service records for men who died while in service no longer exist – for either of these two soldiers but I did obtain certified copies the death certificates for both men which established to which regiment – 2/Suffolk – they both belonged, the exact location where the accident occurred – the Fallelie Canal, as well as their ages – both 23 8/12 years old.

How the tragedy unfolded is lost to history but had Richardson been successful he could quite possibly have been awarded a lifesaving medal such as those issued for such actions by the Royal Humane Society. Had his action been successful and had it taken place while on active duty in the face of the enemy he may have been recommended for the Victoria Cross as Private Samuel Wassall of the 80th Regiment was in the aftermath of the disaster at Isandlwana during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.

While it is possible that an account of this event made still be found in a regimental history, these two photographs may well be the only reminders of this long ago and all but forgotten episode of tragedy and courage.

Even though Richardson’s and Ponder’s actual service records are no longer extant, some details of the military careers and family life can be gleaned from the Army Registers of Deceased Soldiers’ Effects 1901-1929. These ledgers were compiled mainly to settle the financial accounts of deceased soldiers but also contain such information and place of birth, next of kin, date of enlistment, regimental number, civilian occupation and date, and place of death.

Ponder Richardson Effects

Above: Ponder’s and Richardson’s entries in the Record of Deceased Soldiers’ Effects. These entries provide valuable links to additional information on these two unfortunate soldiers. Source: National Army Museum; Chelsea, London.

Private Arthur Ponder was born about 1879 at Great Cornard, Sudbury, the youngest of three children of David and Ellen Ponder. The younger Ponder attested with the 2nd Suffolks on 28 December 1896. After his untimely death, Private Arthur Ponder’s army account was settled for a total of £9-18-10d with £6 of that being what appears to have been a death gratuity. His father David was listed as the beneficiary.

Private Alfred Richardson was born about 1879 at Sawston, Cambridgeshire to George and Amelia Richardson. In the 1881 Census for Sawston Alfred is shown with a middle or nickname of “Willie”. He had attested with the 2nd Suffolks on 28 October 1896 and left his father George a total of £9-18-7d


Above: No. 4479 Private Alfred Richardson of the 2/Suffolk Regiment who died while attempting to save the life of Private Arthur Ponder. Photo: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/

Cabinet Photograph
Unknown Photographer
Hyderabad, India
c. 1902

*The correct placename spelling of Fallelie Canal is uncertain. The spelling appears as such in Ponder’s and Richardson’s death certificates but a transcription error may have worked its way into these documents. An online search for the location of their deaths under this placename had negative results.

Research Project – Company Sergeant Major Walter Anniss

My research projects almost always begin with an old photograph, medal or document. Gleaning what I can from the image or object, I attempt to build on the limited information and bring its hidden story back to life.

Walter Anniss was born at Balham, Surrey on 26 February 1876 the son of Robert and Elizabeth Anniss. He received his education at Church School at Isleworth.

He enlisted as No. 3692 in the 1st Battalion the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment for twelve years on 30 January 1893. At the time of his enlistment, he was described as being 5 feet 5 3/4 inches tall, weighing 117 pounds with hazel eyes and dark brown hair. He was also described as having a diamond tattoo on his right forearm and a cross & anchor tattoo on his left forearm.

Promotions were as follows:

Corporal – 15 May 1895

Lance Sergeant – 19 November 1895

Sergeant – 17 April 1897

When his term expired he re-enlisted to complete 12 years of service on 8 July 1902 while still in the Transvaal.

Colour-Sergeant – 1 February 1908

Retired – 29 January 1914

Sergeant Major Walter Anniss

Above: Then Colour Sergeant Walter Anniss of the 1st Battalion the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment photographed in India around 1904. Looking very regimental in his white summer service uniform, he wears the Queen’s and King’s South Africa medals for his service in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. Image source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/

During his initial 21 years with the colours, Anniss saw active service with his battalion during the Anglo-Boer War. He was entitled to the Queen’s South Africa Medal with the clasps “Paardeberg“, “Driefontein”, “Relief of Kimberley” and “Transvaal” and the King’s South Africa Medal with the clasps “1901” and “1902”.

After South Africa Anniss deployed to India with his battalion and finished out his enlistment of 21 years, being discharged at the Lahore Cantonment on 29 January 1914. His discharge papers stated that he was entitled the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal as well as the 1911 Delhi Durbar Medal. He was also in possession of a 1st Class Education Certificate, a 1st Class Certificate of Gymnastics, a Certificate of Musketry and a Sobriety Certificate.

During his 21 years with the colours, Anniss had only one entry on the regimental defaulter’s book and that was for neglect of duty while on guard while stationed on Malta – 11 November 1896 for which he was “severely reprimanded”.

According to his service papers, Anniss married Emily Annie Bolton on 5 August 1911 with the ceremony taking -place in Isleworth, Middlesex. This was while Anniss was still stationed in India so he must have received approval for leave to return to England to get married. In any event his first child – a son named Robert – was born in Ambala, India on 23 May 1912. He would also have one daughter Annie Evelyn who was born in England on 7 May 1914.

Sergeant Major Walter Anniss Reverse

Above: The reverse of Walter Anniss’ photograph showing the inscription to his brother and sister. Various pencil notations made by others over the years can also be seen. Residue from a modern price tag/label can be seen in the upper right-hand corner. The remains of perforated paper tape on the right and left sides of the card were probably placed there to hold a protective paper cover over the face of the photograph prior to Anniss posting it home to his family from India in 1904. Image Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/

Less than a year would pass between Walter Anniss’ retirement and the outbreak of World War One. He volunteered and joined the 6th (service) Battalion of the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment at his former rank with the regimental number G/1207. He deployed to France with the Expeditionary Force on 1 June 1915. His battalion took over a relatively quiet sector of the line beginning at Ploegsteert Wood and eventually extending some 7000 yards south to Armentieres. Even here the battalion was to suffer over 500 casualties in July. Walter Anniss was one of those being wounded on 25 July 1915. He died the following day.

At the time of his death, Anniss held the rank of Company Sergeant-Major. His medal index card states that he was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal.

Anniss Medal Group

Above: A reconstruction of Walter Anniss’ medal group as it would have appeared had he survived to wear it. From left to right: the George V Army Long Service &Good Conduct Medal, the Queen’s South Africa Medal with the clasps “Paardeberg”, “Driefontein”, “Relief of Kimberley” and “Transvaal” and the King’s South Africa Medal with the  clasps “1901” and “1902”, the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal, the British WWI Victory Medal and the 1911 Delhi Durbar Medal.

Company Sergeant-Major Walter Anniss was buried at the Bailleul Communal Cemetery and Extension in Bailleul, France.

This photograph was taken in 1904 and inscribed on the reverse by Walter Annis – “To Sister & Brother, Pat & Will. From Wal, Sitapur, 30. 12. 04.”

Walter Anniss Memorial Scroll

Above: A recreation of the Walter Anniss’ memorial scroll as it might have appeared after the war. Scrolls such as this were provided in the name of the King to the next of kin of each British and Empire service member who died or was killed in action while on active service in the field during the war. The scroll was always accompanied by a 12.1 cm circular bronze plaque bearing the deceased name. The current whereabouts of Anniss’ original scroll, plaque and medal group is unknown. As no record of their sale has been found, they may still reside with his family. Image Source: Edward T. Garcia/

Chief Operator Inez Ann Crittenden – Hello Girl

During World War One when American forces began to arrive in France in 1917 they found the French telephone service lacking in efficiency and the ability to effectively support the American Expeditionary Forces. To remedy the situation General John J. Pershing issued a call for experienced American telephone personnel to fill the void. While the actual construction of the new telephone system would be handled by U.S. Army engineering units. Pershing decided the vital switchboard operations would be handled by specially recruited female staff who would become known to posterity as the “Hello Girls”. They were also the first uniformed female members if the U.S. Army.

That women would be selected was not so much as the result of forward thinking, but simply out of one of expediency – the vast majority of experienced telephone operators in the U.S. were women. Besides technical proficiency, the women would also have to be able to speak French fluently. Ultimately some 7000 women would volunteer for service overseas and of those 450 were selected for training.

Crittenden Sunset 1918

Above: Chief Operator Inez Ann Murphy Crittenden as she appeared in the June 1917 issue of Sunset magazine. She wears the insignia of the U.S. Army Signal Corps on her uniform. Female members on the telephone units like Crittenden had to purchase their own uniforms. Source: Sunset Magazine/google books.

The selected volunteers received training in military protocol at Camp Franklin, Maryland and of these 223 would eventually deploy overseas to England and France two groups. Sworn into service with the U.S. Army Signal Corps they were to adhere to the same military regulations and protocols as their male counterparts. Organized into two units, the first fell under command of Chief Operator Grace Banker. Inez Ann Crittenden would be the Chief Operator of the second unit.

Inez was born in Oakland, California in September 1887 to T. P. Murphy and his wife Emily. At the very early age of 14, she had already found employment as a telephone operator. With her saved earnings she hired a private tutor to continue her education, learning French in the process. She married Nathaniel P. Crittenden in 1911 but the couple would divorce in 1917. By the time she entered service with the Signal Corps, she was the executive secretary to J. K. Armsby, the president of the California Packing Company. Already fluent in French, she passed the required Signal Corps exams and was appointed Chief Operator with the nominal rank of 1st lieutenant.

Sailing for France on board the RMS Carmania on March 29, 1918, Crittenden would soon impress her superiors overseas. She would be reassigned to the Committee for Public Information at the United States Embassy in Paris and later to a post in the Intelligence Department.


Above: A U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph showing “Hello Girls” performing their critical switchboard duties somewhere in France in 1917-1918. Source:  U.S. Army Signal Corps.

With the war rapidly drawing to its close, Inez Crittenden no doubt looked forward to returning home. This was no to be. In early November 1918, she contracted the Spanish Flu which was then spreading into a worldwide epidemic. On November 11, 1918 – the last day of the war – she died in Paris at the age of 31 and was laid to rest at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial.

Crittenden San Francisco Examiner

Above: A newspaper clipping from the November 29, 1918 edition of the San Francisco Examiner announcing the death in France of Chief Operator Inez Ann Crittenden. Source: San Francisco Examiner/

Other surviving “Hello Girls” returning stateside found their service now being considered in rather ambiguous terms. Although they served in uniform with the insignia of the U.S. Signal Corps, they were now considered to have been civilian employees of the army and therefore denied official veteran status and were refused honorable discharges and were never issued the World War One Victory Medal.

Grace Banker

Above: First Unit Chief Operator Grace D. Banker photographed after being awarded the Distinguished Service Medal at the end of the war. The much-deserved award of this medal Banker only added to the ambiguous nature of the female telephone operators status as soldiers. Banker wears the shoulder patch of the 3rd Army as well as three regulation gold U.S. Army overseas service chevrons on her lower sleeve denoting indicating between 18 and 23 months of foreign service. Given Inez Crittenden much lauded service as Second Unit Chief Operator as well as with the U.S. Embassy in Paris, one wonders if she might similarly have been presented with the Distinguished Service Medal had she not died on the last day of the war. Photo: National WWI Museum and Memorial.

Over the years a number of bills in Congress intended to rectify the disgrace died in committee. It was only through the tireless efforts of former Hello Girl Merle Egan Anderson that in 1979 the twenty surviving Signal Corps Operators were finally recognized with full veteran status and were presented with their much deserved honorable discharge certificates and World War One Victory Medals by President Jimmy Carter. Unjustly the recognition was not retroactive and those Hello Girls who had passed away prior to 1979, including Chief Operator Inez Ann Murphy Crittenden, are still not considered veterans by the nation they so willingly and actively served.


Above: Members of the Signal Corps telephone operators photographed soon after their arrival in Paris, France. The pictured male senior officers – all members of the Signal Corps – would never have their veteran status questioned after the war. Photo: U.S. Army Signal Corps. 

Brothers Reunited

About ten years ago while perusing a well-known online auction website I came across a pair of cabinet photographs depicting two brothers taken just prior to their departure for South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. The two young men, looking not many days out of their teens, were identified as Frederic William Piggin and Henry Arthur Piggin, were photograph identically uniformed and posed by photographer Bert Storer of Long Eaton, Derbyshire around 1900.

That the two photographs had remained together after more than a century was no small miracle but this was lost on the seller who posted the two images for sale separately – an all too common and very unfortunate occurrence. In spite of my best efforts, I was only able to secure the purchase of one of the photographs, that of Frederic William Piggin.

Needless to say, I was more than a little disappointed with the outcome of the sale, but there was nothing to be done about it. I was saddened by the loss of historical and familiar context that would result in what seemed to be the permanent separation of the pair of photographs.

Frederic William Piggin

Above: Frederic William Piggin wearing his khaki field uniform just prior to his departure for South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. Originally paired with an almost identical photograph of his younger brother Henry Arthur Piggin, the two photographs became separated when the previous owner listed them separately on an online auction site. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/

Fast forward to a few short weeks ago when I found myself rummaging through the same online auction site. I was performing one of my usual keyword searches when one of the results immediately caught my eye. Even after a decade, the long lost photograph of Henry Arthur Piggin was instantly recognized. This time I was determined to acquire the image and placed a maximum bid that would certainly guarantee my winning the auction this time around. It did.

I had researched the life and ultimately tragic military career of Frederic Piggin not long after purchasing his photograph. As one might expect I also uncovered a bit concerning his bother Henry – they both served in the same unit during the Anglo-Boer War and World War One so some of their records were found pretty much side by side. Below is that research along with some new additional information regarding the long lost Henry Arthur Piggin.

Frederic(k) William Piggin was born around 1877 in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, the son of Richard S. and Mary A. Piggin. The elder Piggin was a butcher and farmer of some 60 acres in and around Long Eaton. Younger brother Henry Arthur Piggin who was born about 1880 also in Long Eaton.

Both brothers served in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. I have found a ship’s manifest for the R.M.S. Kildonan Castle that lists Mr. F.W. Piggin age 24 and Mr. H. Piggin age 21 returning to England from South Africa in 1902. Both men are listed as members of the “Col. Defce. Force”. Examining the medal rolls for both the Queen’s and King’s South Africa Medal reveals that both Frederic and Henry served together in 1/Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts and 2/Branbant’s Horse. Frederic Piggin served as Quartermaster Sergeant in 2/Barabant’s Horse and Quartermaster Sergeant and Squadron Sergeant Major in 2/Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts. The Queen’s South Africa Medal roll shows him as being entitled to the clasps: “Wepener“, “Belfast”, “Wittebergen“, “Cape Colony“, “Orange Free State” and “Transvaal“. He was also entitled to King’s South Africa Medal with its two clasps: “1901” and “1902“. His brother Henry Arthur’s medal entitlements were exactly the same so one can assume that they remained together during their entire service in South Africa.

Frederic William Piggin was wounded twice during the Anglo-Boer War. At Jammersburg Drift (severely) on 9 April 1900 and at Lindley (lightly) on 31 December 1900.

Frederic is mentioned in the as being a butcher by trade in the September 13, 1910 edition of the London Gazette with his business being located at 24 High Street in Long Eaton while living in Hall Croft, Beeston, Nottingham.

The two Piggin brothers seem to show up again during World War I as members of Notts Yeomanry, T.F. (South Notts Hussars). Henry Arthur Piggin is shown as a 2nd lieutenant of the Nott’s Yeomanry, then a Lieutenant in the 1st North Midland Field Ambulance and finally as a captain in the Army Remount Service. His theater of operations is shown as France on his medal index card.

Henry Arthur Piggin

Above: The long lost photograph on Henry Arthur Piggin recently acquired online. Whether or not this is the exact same photographic print of Henry which became separated from that of his brother some ten years ago is impossible to say. It is quite possible that the Piggin brothers ordered multiple prints from Long Eaton photographer Bert Storer as keepsakes for loved ones on the eve of their departure for South Africa. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/

Frederic Piggin stayed in the 1/1st South Nottinghamshire Hussars (Yeomanry) during his entire World War I service. Serving in Salonica, Egypt, and Palestine he rose to the rank of captain and was awarded the Military Cross for actions mentioned in the 5 July 1918 edition of the London Gazette:

“Lt. [acting captain] Frederick William Piggin, Yeo. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He was in command of the leading squadron in an action and led his men with great skill. He advanced rapidly over very difficult country, driving back a superior force of the enemy. He cut the enemy’s line of retreat, capturing two field guns and some prisoners”

Frederic Piggin remained on active service in Egypt (his unit was transferred there from Salonika in June of 1917 and remained there as part of the Desert Mounted Corps until April 1918.

Additional information regarding Frederic Piggin and his death during World War I has been kindly provided by Mr. Jean-Baptiste Piggin of Hamburg. Frederic Piggin was drowned when the troop transport ship Leasowe Castle was torpedoed off Alexandria, Egypt on 27 May 1918 with a loss of 83 men, officers, and other ranks. His name is listed on the Chatby Memorial which is located in Chatby War Memorial Cemetery, Alexandria. Based on this it is probable that Piggin’s body was lost at sea during the sinking.

Frederic William Piggin’s promotions during World War One were as follows:


Squadron-Sergeant-Major, South Nottinghamshire Hussars – 1914

Second Lieutenant – 27 November 1914

Temporary Lieutenant – 12 November 1915

Temporary Captain – 1 August 1916

Lieutenant & Temporary Captain – 24th July 1917

Acting Captain (commanding Yeo. Squadron) – 15 December 1917

Lieutenant – 4th February 1918

Gazetted for the Military Cross – 4th February 1918

Drowned off Alexandria, Egypt- 27 May 1918

For his service during the Great Was Frederic William Piggin was entitled to the British War and Victory Medals along with the Military Cross. He appears to have never married and his medals were forwarded to his sister in Birkhamstead.

Henry Arthur Piggin was entitled to the 1914-15 Star and the British War and Victory Medals for service in France during the World War.

Henry survived the war which took his brother’s life and would marry Miss Kathleen Ida Cooper in September 1926. In 1931 Henry was still active as a riding instructor and dealer in horses at Repton, Derbyshire.  He passed away in Hampshire, England on 14 December 1961.

From the Far East to the Wild West

There are those rare instances when research into the identities of soldiers in an old photograph turns up far more than one would have guessed possible. This carte de visite of Private Clyde G. Wilson and Corporal Elmer Brick of M Company, 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry is an example of just such an occasion. As it turns out one of these men – Private Wilson to be specific – was a key protagonist in one of the Old West’s last “range wars”, the so-called Dewey-Berry Feud which was fought out in Wilson’s home state of Kansas in 1903.

Clyde Wilson and Elmer Brick

Above: Private Clyde G. Wilson (standing, left) and Corporal Elmer Brick (seated, right) of M Company, 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry in Manila during the so-called Philippine Insurrection. Carte de Visite, Centro Atrisico/Fotografia Espanola – Photographer
Manila, Philippine Islands. c. 1899

Photo Source: Edward T. Garcia/

Clyde G. Wilson was born on 5 December 1876 in Iowa the son of William Oliver Wilson and the former Clara Burk. The family had moved to Salina, Kansas sometime before Clyde Wilson, along with his younger brother Samuel enlisted in M Company of the 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry. At the time of his enlistment, Clyde Wilson stood 6 feet tall and weighed 178 pounds. He was said to have blue eyes.

The 20th Kansas deployed to the Philippines but arrived too late to see action against the Spanish but they did go into the field during the Philippine Insurrection. During his service in the Philippines, Wilson rose to the rank of sergeant but younger brother Samuel was not so fortunate, being killed in action on 29 March 1899 at Guiguinto River.

Clyde Wilson returned home with his regiment in October 1899 and in March 1900 stood for election as town marshal in his hometown of Salina, He ultimately lost his bid but was appointed to the town’s police force soon afterward. As will be seen Wilson like so many western personalities did not seem to see any undue conflict of interest in working both sides of the legal fence when the opportunity presented itself. By 1903 the afore mentioned Wild West was dying in fits at starts although a few of the old “habits” lingered – Butch Cassidy and his “Wild Bunch” had only recently still been active in Utah and Colorado – when Clyde Wilson was hired by the Chicago-born Kansas rancher Chauncey Dewey who owned a spread called Oak Ranch, which according to a June 9, 1903 article in the Chicago Tribune encompassed some 93,000 acres. The same article says that Dewey (who was often referred to in the press as a “millionaire”) obtained much of the property by taking over the defaulted mortgages of smaller farms and ranches, a practice which no doubt led to more ever growing animosities between the involved parties.

One such standing feud existed between Chauncey Dewey and Daniel Berry, a farmer and patriarch of a large family. The bad blood had arisen from the fact that members of the Berry family had refused to vacate property now owned the Dewey Cattle Company. As are many such cases it was a small spark that set off the final firestorm.

Daniel Berry had several bad debts against him and an auction of his property was held to help pay off his creditors. A five barrel stock tank was one of the items up for bid and it was purchased for five dollars by Sheriff Robert McCulloch of Cheyenne County on behalf of Chauncey Dewey. Two of Berry’s sons let it be known that if Dewey wanted to take possession of his purchase he needed“…to be damned sure to send the right kind of man after that tank…”

The following day Chauncey Dewey took the dare and headed over to the Berry spread with ten of his men to back up his claim. Amongst those ten was Clyde Wilson. Being an experienced former soldier had made Wilson one of Dewey’s right-hand men. Dewey also made sure that all of his men were well armed with Colt revolvers and Winchester rifles.

Arriving at the Berry farm Clyde Wilson and another Dewey cowboy began to load the tank in a wagon they had brought for the purpose and Daniel Berry decided to go tell Chauncy Dewey and “thing or two” his eldest son Alpheaus joining him. At the same time two more of Berry’s sons, Burchard, Beech and a cousin Roy rode up and dismounted. As is so many such cases no one really knows what really happened next or who fired the first shot. In moments Daniel, Alpheaus and Burchard Berry where all dead, Beech and Roy Berry wounded – the later having a portion of his jaw shot away.

Dewey and two of his men – Clyde Wilson and another former soldier by the name of William McBride – where charged with murder but only surrendered after a company of Kansas National Guard was called up to keep them from being lynched by members of the Berry faction, a group now swelled in numbers by outraged local ranchers and farmers. Dewey’s brother C. P. Dewey and two wealthy Topeka bankers posted the $100,000 bond for the three men. This was an immense sum by the day’s standards totaling over $3,000,000 in today’s dollars.

The March 1904 the trial must have been seen at the time as an event of the then new century with the defense and prosecution employing some fourteen lawyers between them. More sensationalism occurred when one of the prosecuting attorneys L. D. Hotchkiss met an untimely end in a “…sudden and shocking death by drowning…” as recounted in the Fourteenth Biennial Report of the Attorney General of Kansas.

During the trial Clyde Wilson testified on his own behalf as reported in the March 2, 1904 edition of the Kansas City Star:

“I came to Oak Ranch, October 7, 1902, and worked as a stenographer and bookkeeper. I went with Chauncey Dewey and his men June 3, 1903, to the Alpheus Berry place. I had a Winchester rifle and a six-shooter. When we arrived there I was standing close to Dewey when the Berry boys rode up. They dismounted and tied their horses to a wagon. They pulled their revolvers around in front of them and when they advanced three or four steps one of them said: ‘You will take nothing from here to-day.’ As he said this they all put their hands on their pistols. Dewey said to them: ‘Stop, stop where you are.’ They fired at us. Roy Berry fired directly at Dewey and Burch Berry fired at McBride. When they put their hands on their pistols, I put a cartridge into my Winchester. When the Berrys fired I saw a horse drop. Our men then fired. Two of the Berry boys fell. I saw Dewey shoot. I did not bring my gun to my shoulder until after the Berry boys fell.”

Clyde Wilson TrialAbove: Proceedings of Clyde Wilson’s, Chauncey Dewey’sand William McBride’s murder trial as it appeared in the February 20, 1904, edition of the Salina Sun. Source: Sun.

The trail ended as many probably thought it would with the well connected and equally well moneyed Dewey faction being freed after a verdict of not guilty was returned. Chauncey Dewey, Clyde Wilson, McBride, and the entire jury were burned in effigy by an irate mob outside the courthouse. The surviving Berry’s filed a wrongful death suit against Chauncey Dewey, Clyde Wilson and William McBride –  the other ex-soldier in Dewey’s service. That case dragged on for years before finally being resolved for some $15,000 in the late 1920s in favor of the Berrys.

In 1910 Clyde Wilson was ranch manager for one Albert Bretschye in Ashland Kansas. Working with him was another of his younger brothers, Trace Wilson. Clyde Wilson must have retained some of his ill-gotten local notoriety because in April of the same year he was reported in the Salina Evening Journal as being near death as the result of an automobile accident that occurred in Topeka. As if to prove that old associations died hard the same newspaper reported later in May that Wilson had recovered enough to finish his convalescence in Chicago but that he first planned to stop at the Dewey ranch and meet up with his former employer Chauncey Dewey, who was also planning to visit Chicago.

Wilson married sometime before 1915. He and his wife Hattie had one daughter named Ida Helen born in Colorado on 10 May 1915. A few years later with the U.S. entry into World War One, he re-enlisted in the army on 2 April 1918 joining the 9th Recruit Company at his old rank of Sergeant and seemingly spent the rest of that year training recruits at Fort Logan, Colorado. He received an honorable discharge on 27 December 1918. After the war, Wilson was in the oil and gas production business and by 1940 we were City Clerk in Fredonia, Kansas. He must have found that both professions were much better suited to a family man than his old gunslinging cowboy days were.

Clyde Wilson Medal Group

Above: A reconstruction of Clyde G. Wilson’s medal group as it would have appeared at the end of World War One.

The first medal from left is the Philippine Campaign Medal which Wilson was entitled to for service with the 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry from 1898 to 1899.

Second (center) is the U.S. version of the World War One Victory Medal which Wilson earned while serving with the 9th Recruit Company, General Service Infantry at Fort Logan, Colorado in 1918. His medal was issued without clasps since the duration of his service during the war took place within the borders of the United States.

Third (far left) is the 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry Spanish-American War service Badge issued to members of the 20th upon their return to Kansas in 1899. Originally intended to be a State of Kansas honor to her veterans, the Legislature failed to pass the required bill whereupon the Kansas Department of the Grand Army of the Republic stepped up and
produced the badge themselves for presentation to this younger generation of veterans. Photo Source: Edward T. Garcia/

In December 1927 Wilson applied for military pension benefits based upon his service with the 20th Kansas Volunteers. Wilson was still active in August 1945 when he served as a pallbearer for William Dillener one of his old comrades in arms in the 20th Kansas
Volunteers. Clyde G. Wilson died on 3 August 1958, probably with his boots off at the ripe old age of 80 and was buried with military honors at Gypsum Hill Cemetery in Salina, Kansas.

Clyde Wilson Obituary

Above: Clyde Wilson’s obituary which appeared in the August 4 1958 edition of the Salina Journal. No mention of his part in the Dewey-Berry Feud is mentioned. Even as late as 1958 old animosities may very well have still lingered. Source: Journal.

Samuel Elmer Brick was born on 8 January 1878 at Browns Creek, Kansas the son of George W. Brick, a painter by trade and Mary Ann Clanin.

Brick enlisted in the 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry at the same time as Clyde Wilson in Saline, Kansas. Based upon the photograph it seems that Brick was the first of the two to receive a promotion – in this case to corporal. Brick was slightly wounded at Caloocan on 10 February. This wounding is mentioned in the regimental history but apparently never officially recorded.

After returning home his life took quite a different turn than that of his gunslinging friend Clyde Wilson. He returned to the family home and like so many young men in those days took up his father’s trade as a painter.  Brick married his wife Lillian BellePadgett sometime around 1906 and by 1910 had three children and now owned his own paint store – the Salina Paint & Paper Company. In 1920 his business is listed simply as a paint and paper store.

He seems to have had a certain business acumen since in 1919 he registered a trademark with the U.S. Patent Office for Nurex Adhesive Paste which based upon the nature of his business must have been a type of wallpaper paste. He held a patent (1920) for a type of bookbinding gum to be used for the making of pads of paper. Reading through his patent (No. 1,341,782) it is obvious that Brick had more than a casual grasp of chemistry. Two additional patents were also held for waterproof and bookbinding gums. (Nos. 1,389,574 and 1,384,575).

Elmer Brick Patent Drawing

Above: Elmer Brick’s drawing for his 1920 patent for improved book/pad binding gum (No. 1341782A). Brick would be granted at least three such patents. Source: Google Patents.

Brick also stayed active with his old military associates. While attending the 10th Annual Encampment of the United Spanish War Veterans in 1913 he was appointed Aide-de-Camp to the Commander-in-Chief.

During World War One Brick registered for the draft on 12 September 1918. I have found no record of him serving during the war but with the war coming to an end in November this is not all that surprising.

Samuel Elmer Brick died on 8 December 1920 at the age of 42 due to complications arising from Lymphatic Leukemia in Dallas, Texas. He was buried in his home town of Salina, Kansas. One wonders if his death had resulted from exposure to the numerous chemicals related to his chosen profession.

Clyde Wilson and Elmer Brick Reverse

Above: The reverse side of the above carte de visite showing the period inscription identifying the subjects of the photograph Clyde Wilson and Elmer Brick. Photo Source: Edward T. Garcia/

The Gunhand – or Who Was George Frensley?

This carte de visite formatted tintype is the latest addition to my collection of Old West photographs. The six-shooter armed subject is identified on the mount’s reverse side as George Frensley. The style of the mount places the creation of the image most likely sometime in the late 1870s.

george frensley matted

Above: Carte de Visite format tintype depicting a revolver armed George Frensley. If properly identified the photograph was probably taken in north Texas sometime in the 1870s. Source: Edward T. Garcia/ collection.

Frensley’s clothing also fits into that same time period. He wears his revolver on his left hip is cross draw fashion – a style affected by many gunfighters during the period. Although little of his sidearm is visible, the grips of the pistol seem to be those of a Colt. The fact that the revolver’s ejector rod housing has left its impression on the holster seems to confirm the revolver being of Colt manufacture. It could be a Colt Single Action Army which would date the image no earlier than 1873. His sidearm could also be a Colt cartridge conversion which also dated from the early 1870s.


Above: Frontier era Colt revolvers of the type George Frensley appears to be armed with. At the top is a nickel-plated Colt Richards-Mason type cartridge conversion revolver circa the early 1870s. At bottom is a Colt 1873 Single Action Army revolver. Photos – Rock Island Auctions.

After an exhaustive search of historical records, the evidence seems to indicate that George Frensley may, in fact, be George Washington Frensley who was born on April 3, 1855, at Water Valley, Kentucky to Charles Alfred Frensley and Letitia Susan Draper. The family relocated to Texas sometime after 1860 and by 1870 Charles Frensley had died. The family was living on a farm in Cooke County, Texas along the border of Indian Territory (today’s Oklahoma).

george frensley unmatted

Above: George Frensley’s tintype removed from its paper frame allowing the image to be viewed in its entirety. Source: Edward T. Garcia/ collection.

Frensley does not show up in the 1880 census and it is possible that he was employed as a roving cowhand. This photo seems indicative of that possibility. Little else regarding Frensley has come to light other than the fact that he died at Whitesborough (today’s Whitesboro) Texas on January 15, 1883. The town – also close by the border of Indian Territory – was so unruly in the 1870s that female residents were forbidden on the streets on weekend evenings due to the rampant random gunfire that plagued the frontier town.

Naturally, the question at hand is whether or not the George Frensley in the tintype is one and the same with George Washington Frensley. No definitive proof has been found indicating that they are the same man but at the same time no other suitable person by the same name has turned up in my repeated searches although the possibility of other likely candidates turning up cannot be discounted.