William Alexander Chilcote – My Great Great Grandfather
November 2, 1834 – September 11, 1902
Residence: 1122 Argyle Avenue Baltimore, Maryland 1902
It was a clear, cool September morning. The weather was reminiscent of autumn rather than a late Baltimore summer morning. The newspaper that day recommended wearing an overcoat. A northeasterly breeze was blowing and the humidity low. For most, it was going to be a fine day in Baltimore.
William Alexander Chilcote was the second son born to Richard Chilcote and Harriet Parks Chilcote on November 2, 1834 in Frederick, Maryland. I don’t know anything about his early life, my knowledge begins with his moving to Tennessee to operate mills for his father.
There, he met Kate Moore, the daughter of a farmer. They married on November 17, 1858 when he was 24 years old. They began their married life in Tennessee until just before the outbreak of the Civil War, when he family moved his family back to Frederick, Maryland.
He joined the Union Army on August 21, 1862, just before the battle of Antietam, which was close his home. According to his enlistment records, he stood 5’6” with dark hair and dark eyes. He enlisted for a three-year period in Company E, 8th Regiment Maryland and was a private. He mustered in September 21, 1862 near Hagerstown, Maryland, where he functioned as the company clerk until his discharge for kidney disease in April 1863 at Harpers Ferry – just seven months after his enlistment and less than 25 miles from his home.
His military service was short in miles but it was a journey that traveled with him for the rest of his life. He honored his brief service in the Union Army and became an active member in the Dushane Post of the Grand Army of the Republic in Baltimore.
The Chilcote family stayed in Frederick until between 1870 and 1880, when they moved to Baltimore City. According to various public records, he supported his family by being a grocer, a butcher, and working weaving woolens as he had done for most of his life.
It was on that cool September morning in West Baltimore that was to be his last. He came down the white marble steps of his home and walked to the streetcar two blocks away to go to work.
According to accounts of the accident, he boarded the streetcar at about 6:45 in the morning from the front of the car and began walking toward to back when he slipped or fell while on the footboard, falling backwards and fracturing his skull on Pennsylvania Avenue. Some witnesses think they saw a small basket he was carrying on his arm become caught and he lost his footing as a result.
He was taken to the corner drugstore, attended by a physician who determined his injuries to be fatal and was then carried home to die. He died the next day at 11:00 a.m.
Although the streetcar conductor Mr. Silas Shipley was arrested, it was found that the incident was an accident and was subsequently released without charges that September evening.
There is not much left of that old neighborhood. It doesn’t resemble what was known during his life there. But, his house is still standing and is currently for sale. The interior has been gutted but the marble steps remain. The middle of the row unit is now a corner house, waiting to become a home again. The surrounding vacant lots in the block are clean and well kept. Cats walk freely in the grass and over stones without fear about the neighborhood. So did I two Sunday mornings ago. I was luck enough to be able to stand on the same steps as my great great grandfather, who died over 100 years ago.