Friday, May 4, 2007

Case Closed. . .Solving the Mystery of Emerguildo Marquis

A many, many years' long mystery was solved this past week.
It all began simply enough. About a decade ago, I was searching the 1850 Census Records in an effort to learn more about the family of James Nagle. I found his household: James Nagle, Age 28, Painter; his wife Elizabeth, and their three children, Emma, George, and James W. Then, at the bottom of the list was Emerguildo Marquis: Age 11, Born in Mexico. My curiosity was picqued. Who was this kid? My immediate thought was this: since James served in the Mexican-American War, he "adopted" this child, and brought him back to Pottsville where he and his family raised him. But I wanted to find out for sure. Never did I think that this quest would span ten years!
I searched through all the records, but found little. I discovered that Emerguildo signed up to serve in the 6th Pennsylvania, a three-month regiment organized in April 1861, and commanded by Colonel James Nagle. I then contacted the National Archives and requested his service records. Weeks later, a copy of Emerguildo's file arrived at my door. It confirmed the fact that he did, indeed, serve in the 6th Pennsylvania, and it also disclosed that he reenlisted as a bugler in the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry, to serve a three-year enlistment. Also contained in the file was a letter written by James Nagle, now a Brigadier General, dated December 22, 1862. "I have the honor to make application to have Emerguildo Marquis, Bugler in Captain White's Company 3rd PA Cavalry, detailed as bugler and orderly, for these Hd. Qrs.," the letter began. "He is a Mexican Boy that I brought along from Mexico. He was with me in the three months service, after that he enlisted in the Cavalry, and he is now desirous of joining me in some capacity, and I only have three mounted orderlies, and need a bugler at Head Quarters to sound the General Calls." Nagle's request was granted and Emerguildo became a member of General Nagle's staff. I was struck by the fact that Emerguildo was a bugler. The Nagle family was very musically-inclined, with James's brothers Levi and Abraham serving as musicians in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. From here, however, the trail once again went cold.
Some time later I read through the cemetery records of the Pottsville Presbyterian Cemetery, the one for which I am currently developing a walking tour. I immediately headed up there to search for the grave. Perhaps it included a date a death, then I could look up his obituary in the Miners' Journal, but, alas, I couldn't find it. I talked to many people, and they told me he was, indeed, buried in the cemetery, but where? Once again the trail went cold.
Last summer, I thought I would at long last solve the mystery when I happened upon Nagle's diary from the Mexican-American War, held at Brown University and available online. I searched through all 174 pages, but once again found nothing. I couldn't believe it. Perhaps my original assumption was wrong.
By the start of 2007, I still hadn't solved the mystery that was Emerguildo Marquis. Then it all came together. This past week, a descendant of General Nagle visited the Antietam Battlefield. He and I had been in contact for years, but this was the first time we met. He brought along a number of old documents, letters, diaries, et cetera, related to James Nagle and I was simply blown away. In his collection was Emerguildo's discharge certificate. He was discharged on August 24, 1864, with his three-year term of enlistment coming to an end. The document also stated that Emerguildo was born in Mexico, was twenty-six years of age, stood 5'1" in height, had a dark complexion, black eyes, and black hair. His occupation: painter. Painter, just like General James Nagle.
In addition to this was a short description of James Nagle's service in Mexico, written by his daughter Kate. "It was a long sad time for folks at home," wrote Kate, "but great rejoicing when word came that the war was over and the Army was waiting for orders to move; and greater was the joy when a telegram came saying Come to Philadelphia with the children to meet us." "A number of the wives of the Soldiers went to Philadelphia to meet their husbands. When they met them, they saw three persons who were not Soldiers, but little Mexican boys about 9 or 10 years of age. They were very small, dark skin, no shoes. . . .They learned to love the Soldiers, and when they broke Camp the little boys followed them (stole their way, so to speak). When they were discovered the Army was miles out of the City of Mexico. They would not go back. They were little orphans, and the Officers took charge of them and landed them at home in Pottsville. Captain [James] Nagle, Lieut. Simon Nagle, and Lieut. Frank B. Kaercher, each took a little Mexican boy to their homes. The one Captain Nagle cared for was, by name, Emerigildo Marquis, known as 'Marium.' He was treated as one of the family. He was sent to school, sent to learn a trade, Jeweler. He was away from home to work, but never forgot the family; he came home very often over the week ends. He lived to be about 45, grew up with the family. He loved Father & Mother Nagle, and the Children all loved him. He died at the Nagle home, about the year 1877."
I could not believe what I was reading. . .Finally, after all these years, the mystery of Emerguildo Marquis was finally solved. And what a great story he was. I am still smiling from this discovery, but even more so after another discovery yesterday.

Yesterday was my 'Saturday,' so I took to trip to Schuylkill County to visit with my family and to get some more photographs of the Presbyterian Cemetery for my walking tour. I came across the grave site of Daniel & Mary Nagle, James's parents, plus his two sisters, Eleanor and Elizabeth. Two of these four stones were knocked over, and a third was severely leaning. (See photo below). I went home, waited for my dad to come home from work, and my sister from Lehigh University, and then, with my mom as well, we grabbed some pry bars and shovels and headed up to the cemetery to do some repair and restoration. We reset the stone that was leaning, lifted up and reset the two that had fallen down.
At the foot of one of Nagle's sister's grave was a stone that was sunken deep into the ground. My sister started to remove the dirt and grass that was covering the stone, and soon it struck us all. There, underneath years of dirt and grass was: "Emerguildo Marquis."
In one week, in a just a few days, rather, his mystery was solved AND I finally found his grave site. It's funny how some things work out this way.
Emerguildo, who died in 1880, was buried along with the rest of the Nagle family, another testimonial to the fact that he was, indeed, considered a part of the family. The pictures below show me and my family restoring the graves of the Nagle family in the Presbyterian Cemetery.
* * * * * * * * * *
The "Before" Picture. . .
This is what the Nagle family grave site looked like prior to our restoration.
(See the one at bottom right, buried in the ground?)
The Stone of Emerguildo Marquis
(Buried deep into the ground)

Mystery Solved

Resetting the Stone

A Good Days' Work

The "After" Picture

The Nagle Family's Grave Site Restored

(The tall stone in the background is the final resting place of General James Nagle)


Brian Downey said...

Congratulations to you - very exciting end to the chase. I know these moments can make a lot of work worthwhile.

Kudos to you and your family for caring for the Nagle stones and thanks for sharing the results.

Anonymous said...

One can only hope Senor Marquis is having one grand Cinco De Mayo in celebration of your discovery!

Tom Shay

Jim Beeghley said...

Ranger Hoptak,

I wanted to take a moment to say that it was great to meet you on Sunday.

I even uploaded some pictures of Sarah at the Clara Barton monument and with Ranger Mannie.


svengali said...

Just came across this post, very interesting! Thanks for sharing this, I'm the great grandson of a 48th pvt. stuck out here in Seattle away from all the wonderful history so it really has meaning to me.