Update: Civil War Veteran Alexander Williams
~ by Beverly Baker, Chairperson of Rehoboth Cemetery Commission
Reverend George Tilton’s book, A History of Rehoboth MA, gave us our first hint that Alexander Williams, a “colored Civil War soldier” who once lived in Rehoboth is buried at Hix Cemetery, RHC #27. Town records show Alexander lived in Rehoboth and died at the Alms House on October 14, 1888. The Cemetery Commission found that Alexander Williams had no grave marker and no flag to honor his service. The Town’s Veterans Services Officer and Graves Officer applied for a grave marker based on the record of service provided by the National Archives. The records sent showed that Alexander Williams was part of the MA 54thCompany A. The stone was received and set at the cemetery in November 2018.
In doing further research on his widow, Catherine Mack, it was discovered the National Archives gave us the wrong records! Catherine applied for a Widow’s Pension shortly after her husband died. In her statement to the Navy, she describes her ordeal of taking care of Alexander at the Rehoboth Alms house every day up until he was dead and buried, and how he was in the navy assigned to the ship USS Mahaska from 1864 to 1867. She needed to prove her case to the powers that be. She sent them statements which included proof of their marriage, proof of her husband’s death, proof he was at the Alms House in Rehoboth, a statement from the Navy of his service, and statements of several ordinary citizens who had known her for years to be an honest person. It took her about a year to obtain the necessary documentation before she received her pension of $8 per month. By this time, 1890, she was in poor health herself. She died in Lakeville or Berkeley on December 1, 1894.
There are no Navy records found to date for Alexander Williams, other than those from Catherine’s Widow’s Pension application. His stone which was set in place last November, will be corrected to read “NAVY USS MAHASKA.” His service in the Civil War was as a sailor, just like George H. Tilton had written in his book.
As for the other Alexander Williams of the MA 54th, he died on July 5, 1911 in Boston and is buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Mattapan, MA. His grave is marked with a Veteran’s stone.