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A United States Civil War Soldier Whose Son Is Still Living Today

Updated on December 19, 2017
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Through his travels and reading, Chris gathers information and writes about historical events and concepts that are often overlooked.

Fredrick Upham

Follow the lnk to the National Geographic article.
Follow the lnk to the National Geographic article. | Source

Fred Upham is a 93 year old gentleman who lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He was born in 1921 in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Fred had a brother, William, who died in 2009 at the age of 93.

Fred is one of 35 people still living (as of the writing of this article on November 20, 2014) whose fathers fought in the United States Civil War nearly 150 years ago. Although he was only 3 years old when his father died in 1924, Fred says he remembers his father and their home in Wisconsin.

Here are some of the details of the life of Fred’s father, William Upham Sr.

William H. Upham Sr.


In 1861, William enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Company F of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment called the Belle City Rifles. He had not been in the military long, when his regiment fought at the First Battle of Bull Run in Virginia. William was shot and severely wounded when a musket ball passed through the shoulder strap of his cartridge box, close to his scapula. The surgeon of his company operated and saved his life, but Captain Strong, William’s commanding officer, had witnessed him being shot and was not aware that William had survived. He sent word to the Upham family that he had been killed. His family and community back in Racine, Wisconsin held a community funeral for him.

While at the field hospital at Bull Run, William was captured by the Confederate Army and held in Libby Prison, a converted tobacco barn in Richmond, Virginia. In May of 1862, there was a prisoner exchange between the North and South, and William was released. He continued to serve in the army until 1869. During this period, he was Officer of the Guard at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia where he temporarily oversaw Jefferson Davis, the imprisoned President of the Confederate States of America. William said that he and Davis usually passed the hours until after midnight in conversation and added that, "Mr. Davis was very pleasant and social ... full of reminiscences ... familiar with all parts of Wisconsin, he could tell me the meanings of all the Indian names of the [state].”

President Lincoln on the Battlefield

Abraham Lincoln, Allan Pinkerton and John Alexander McClernand, visiting the Antietam battlefield, October 3, 1862. Photograph By Alexander Gardner
Abraham Lincoln, Allan Pinkerton and John Alexander McClernand, visiting the Antietam battlefield, October 3, 1862. Photograph By Alexander Gardner | Source

During his military service, William had the opportunity to meet President Abraham Lincoln. The meeting at the White House was arranged by Wisconsin Senator, James Doolittle. The President inquired about William’s injury, asking to see the wound. Lincoln personally appointed William to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, from which William graduated in 1866.

In 1895, William was elected Governor of Wisconsin. He served one term and chose to not seek re-election.

William’s first wife, Mary Kelly passed away in 1912. Two years later, at age 73, he went on an extended sailing trip along the east coast. A violent storm forced him to seek shelter at Beaufort, North Carolina. While there, he met a woman, much younger than he, by the name of Grace Mason. William and Grace were married, and she bore two sons, William Jr. in 1916 and Fredrick in 1921.

William H. Upham Jr. passed away on August 20, 2009. As of the writing of this article on November 20, 2014, Fredrick M. Upham was still living at 93 years of age.

Yes, if you cared to make the trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado you could visit with Fred Upham and talk to him about his father, the man who fought in the Union Army and shook hands with President Abraham Lincoln.

Other Living Children of U.S. Civil War Soldiers

  • Iris Lee Gay Jordan, 92-Georgia, daughter of Southern soldier, Lewis F. Gay.
  • Clifford Hamm, son of Southern soldier, John Hamm.
  • John, Garland, and William Pool, and their sister, Florence Wilson (All still alive) are the children of Union soldier, Charles Parker Pool.
  • Hazel Jeter, daughter of Silas D. Mason, a Union soldier from Maine


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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I must make a correction to my prevuious comment. I made the mistake of assuming the film on the prison was a Wisconsin story as but on watching it agaian I found it actually about a Camp Lawton in Georgia.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      5 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Pretty cool stuff, isn't it, Ed? Thank for reading.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I had no idea and I just love this history ! Thanks for sharing this !......Ed

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      5 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      A civil war prison that far north? Very interesting. And buried too. There must be a story there someplace.

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      5 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      This is a very interesting article, Chris. I love delving into history and writing about it. It really is incredible that there are surviving children of Civil War veterans. Thank you for this informative hub.

      Voted Up, U, I and shared.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I have written a little on Wisconsin history and am researching more ofit. Some interesting things. The Civil War involvement is new to me but I recently saw something on Wisconsin Public Television about the discovery of a Civil War prison in Wisconsin. Whatever remains of it is still buried.

    • Randy Horizon profile image

      Randy Horizon 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      Great hub and very well written! I've always been interested in the civil war and did not know there were still people alive today who's father's fought in it.

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      Very informative and eye opening. I see where you got the part in your fireplace story about her father shaking the hand of President Lincoln. Very cool indeed!

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Deb, thanks for reading this little story. I'm glad I could surprise you.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This was very enlightening,. I had no idea that there was such an important man living so close to me whose father was involved in the Civil War. Great work!

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Hi Ron, glad you found your way here to this hub. I am amazed that this is possible. But your are right. It just wasn't that long ago in the big picture of history. Thanks for visiting my hub today.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      6 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      These children of Civil War veterans are reminders that in terms of the life of a nation, the Civil War wasn't really that long ago. I've often reflected on the fact that in my own life, it would have been possible for me to have shaken the hand of someone who shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Mary, Thanks for reading this article. I certainly never thought that this was a possibility.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      How very interesting. We so need to keep history alive so we can remember the bad as well as the good. Having Frederick Upham to actually tell us history is more than we can ask for. God bless him and thank you for writing about him.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Hi Ruby. Thank you for that very nice compliment. I feel like a teacher now. :) Actually my late wife was the teacher and she made it (science) interesting as well. I must have learned something. It's always nice to run into you, Ruby. Have a wonderful rest of your weekend.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I really enjoyed reading this. It is amazing that a man is alive today that had a father who fought in the civil war. I find your hubs are both interesting and educational. Thank you Cam...

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      alancaster, it is a fascinating story, isn't it? I'm glad to see you really enjoyed it. Nice to see you here on my hub today.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Christine, thanks for sharing that story. I love hearing about those who have lived through so much and have such rich lives. Thanks for being here.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Ann, thanks for stopping in. Yes, a fascinating story. I'm glad I could share it with you.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Eric, Wow is plenty. Says it all. Have a great weekend.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Jo, nice to see you here. I'm glad you enjoyed the article. This is the kind of thing that really gets me pumped up. I'm such a nerd. :) Thanks for stopping by.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      6 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      A colourful past, Chris., fighting in the Civil War, being taken prisoner, meeting up with Confederate and Union statesmen.

      That Wm. Upham Snr should marry at the age of 73 is rare enough - having that much 'pep' left in him at that age is wonder enough - but his sons wouldn't have seen much of him when they needed him (in their teens).

      There are probably many other men who've been 'written off' and survived, returned home only to find their wives remarried, with new families. Wm. Snr saved himself that much, going and setting up anew.

    • profile image


      6 years ago


      Beautiful account. Beautiful lifespan. I am glad you took the time to note it. Last winter I was able to , in home health aide work help a 105 year old man who assisted in the beginning roots of Interlochen Music Camp.

      He was amazing, wanted to do his own laundry in the facility which now

      Became his homeplace, took two spoonfuls of organic apple cider vinegar with his meals, and his room held his desire to talk about his rich life. Whether in person or in writing, it is always pleasant to see, hear and read these legendary figures- it keeps alive the beauty of longetivity. Thank you,


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      6 years ago from SW England

      What a story and what a life his father had! I find biographies like this fascinating. It's so apt at the moment with the commemorations of WW1 here in Britain. All those people were so brave and committed. Not a bad innings for Frederick, 93!

      Thanks for a fascinating read, Chris.


    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Extremely interesting. Wow is all I can say to this remarkable story.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      A fascinating story, the face in that first picture have certainly lived. The past is never far away, I love the idea of shaking hands with a direct link to such an important era in your country's history. Excellent work, very interesting. Voting up and more.

    • cam8510 profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Mills 

      6 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Frank and Alastar, welcome. Glad you were both able to read this. It is on the very edge of unbelievable as far as I'm concerned. I first heard the story a few days ago on NPR, then I looked up the article in National Geographic. I'm going to go back and put a couple of sources in the story. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      That is incredible there are still that many son's of CW vets still around. Good going with this hub, cam8510. Got an idea for a new story on hubs somewhat related to this one, Frank my friend. In the meantime, and this is not a promo, you can find some new history one's of mine @ Once Upon a History weebly. Love to see you enjoy 'em again like old times, bro.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      6 years ago from Shelton

      I love history tid-bits and researched articles.. one hubber use to do it all the time and they were so informative educational.. and food for the brain.. Alastar Packer is his name and this one is just as good bless you bro


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