Tuesday’s Tip – The United States Records of Headstones of Deceased Union Veterans, 1879-1903 Records Don’t Always Get the Death Date Right – The Case of Silas Thayer Shackford (Blog 339)

The United States Records of Headstones of Deceased Union Veterans lists Silas’s death date as May 8 1880 but we know this must be incorrect because the Eastport Sentinel reported his death on May 5, 1880 stating that Silas died of consumption in Asheville on April 29, 1880.

Gravestone record Silas T Shackford United States Records of Headstones of Deceased Union Veterans, 1879-1903Shackford Silas T
Pvt Co A 44″ Regt
Mass Infy
Cemetery Eastport
at Eastport
Date of Death May 8-1880 [Note:  Date is incorrect – death reported in Eastport Sentinel as April 29, 1880 on May 5, 1880, jsp, 5/10/2016]
Headstone supplied by
Gross Brothers
Lee, Mass
Contract date June 9, 1888

We’re pretty confident that Silas Thayer Shackford, the son of Charles W and Sophia Roberts (Thayer) Shackford, born August 3, 1880 was buried in Eastport or at least that a gravestone was erected in his honor in Eastport because we’ve seen a photo of his gravestone on FindAGrave.  The Gravestone inscription states

Aug 3 1843
Apr 26, 1880

Perhaps the date listed on the Records of Headstones document reflects the date that Silas’ body arrived in Maine?  Or perhaps it’s just an error.

We can’t find a primary source to verify Silas’ death date or death location.  We visited the Buncombe Courthouse in Asheville on May 6, 2016 and requested Silas’ death record but was told that there is no record available and learned that there was no requirement to report deaths in 1880.

We also visited the Asheville library’s North Carolina room on May 5, 2016 and read the microfilmed versions of the April 29 and May 6th Asheville Citizen April 29 and May 6th newspapers.  We didn’t see any mention of Silas’ death but could have missed an article in this newspaper were very difficult to read as they were very faint.

We’re pretty confident that Silas died in Asheville as his death was also reported in a May 1880 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer – we’re not sure of the exact date of the newspaper but the article states “Mr. S. T. Shackford, who died at Asheville, N.C., on Thursday last, was a cousin of Capt. J.W. Shackford, of the American Line steam ship Illinois.”  (Our genealogy software shows that he was John William’s first cousin, first removed.)

Since there is no death record, what other sources can we research to learn more about Silas’ death date or why he was in Asheville when he died?

On August 25, 1890, Silas’ mother, Sophia Shackford filed a request to receive his military pension – perhaps there are some more facts about Silas in this document.  Also there may have been a record of the movement of Silas’ body from Asheville to Eastport – we say may because we don’t know if a body was moved if someone died of consumption.

We’ve added both tasks to our Roots Magic Fact called Research Question for Silas Thayer Shackford who served in the Civil War but sadly only lived to age 36.

All posts on this website are a work in progress.  We’d love to learn of any corrections or additions to the information shared.  Also we’d love it if  you’d like the post here or at http://www.facebook.com/shackfordgenealogy) as that helps share the post with others. Thanks!


1850 United States Federal Census, Washington County, population schedule, Eastport, page 48? (penned), 244 (stamped), dwelling 271, family 359, Charles Shackford; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 June 2014).

The Adjutant General, Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, Vol. V (Norwood, Mass: Norwood Press, 1932), ; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 May 2016.

Find A Grave, Find A Grave, digital images (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 1 August 2014), Silas T Shackford, Find A Grave Memorial# 70637433.

Maine State of Maine, “Maine Births and Christenings, 1739-1900,” index,” database, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 29 August 2013), Silas Thayler Shackford b 3 Aug 1843 Eastport, Washington Maine.

“Miscellaneous,” The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennslyvania), May 1880; digital images, Fulton History (http://fultonhistory.com/ : accessed 5 January 2014).

“United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934,” digital image, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org : accessed 18 May 2014), Silas Shackford.

Wiley Kenneth L., editor, Vital Records from the Eastport Sentinel of Eastport, Maine 1818-1900: Note: Cover and title page of my hard copy edition are misspelled as “Eastport Sentinal” (Camen, Maine: Picton, Press, 1996), p. 333.

Copyright 2017 Joanne Shackford Parkes  (sharing a link to this post is appreciated but please do not copy this material and paste it elsewhere)