Simeon Bishop Anstey, a member of the Devonport Ansteys, was born in 1832 in Knackers Knowle, Devonport, Devon to parents James Anstey and Ann Wills. He was the youngest of fifteen children (two of his brothers were William Lake Anstey and John Saunders Anstey) and he eventually became an an American Anstey Pioneer and patriarch of the Brown, Kansas Ansteys.
Simeon joined the Royal Navy on 19 July 1849 (Service Number: 12080); he gave his date of birth as 14 January 1830, probably because he was too young to sign up at the time – he described himself as 5’ 6” tall, with light brown hair and grey eyes. He served on HMS Conflict until 4 June 1852; then on HMS Trincomalee until 4 April 1855 (working as part of the Pacific Squadron on the west coast of America); and finally on HMS Virago until 30 June 1855, when he disembarked in America.
Simeon was then sent to Whitehall (most likely New York) on 25 September 1855. His service records indicate that he was expected to serve just under seven more years to finish the ten year period for which he had signed up for service (however another source states that in 1855 he was entitled to a Royal Navy pension of 9s 4d “for two years“).
However, for whatever reason, he moved to Brown County, Kansas and became a farmer, where in 1858 he married Catherine Eva Weiss (born September 28, 1843 in Pike County Ohio, so she was only 15 at the time of the marriage).
[Note: Family stories say Simeon and two brothers were working as seamen and jumped ship when they arrived in America. One brother stayed on the East coast, another went to Canada, while Simeon headed West, eventually making his home in rural Brown County, Kansas].
After the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861-1865), Simeon enlisted in the US Army, joining the 13th Regiment, Kansas Infantry on the Union side as a Private on 18 August 1862. Given the movements of his regiment, we can conclude that Simeon must have fought at the Battle of Prairie Grove on 7 December 1862, and been badly injured after a “forced march” (see below). He was then taken to Federal Hospital in nearby Fayetteville, Arkansas, by which time he had been promoted to Corporal.
There exists a letter from a Mr Scott to Simeon’s widow detailing Simeon’s last weeks in hospital [letter]. According to the letter, Simeon was “convalescent in Federal Hospital, Ward D, Fayetteville, Arkansas until about 10 January 1863 [when] he was taken ill and appeared to suffer extremely with a pain in right side“. His health deteriorated over the following weeks and he “deceased on February 11 , at 11:00 A.M“, leaving his widow Catherine and their two year old son, John Frederick Anstey, living on their farm in Brown County, Kansas.
A few months later, in June 1863, Catherine remarried to David S. Bradford – her obituary in ‘The Ellsworth‘ newspaper in 1906 stated that her first husband “Simeon Anstey enlisted during the Civil War and served in the 13th Kansas Infantry. He died on the 11 of February, 1863, at Fayetteville, Arkansas from the effects of a forced March.“
It is assumed that Simeon is buried at Fayetteville National Cemetery, though there is no official record of this.
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