Monday, August 16, 2010

Dillingham AK - Brandy Station VA

Today at Brandy Station: August 16, 2010

Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, an four others died as they were heading to a fishing expedition in western Alaska on August 9, 2010. The airport they were to land is located in Dillingham, Alaska. Believe it or not, there is a link between Dillingham, Alaska and Brandy Station, Virginia

Dillingham is named after William Paul Dillingham, a Texas Senator at the turn of the last century. Dillingham toured Alaska before it became a territory with his Senate subcommittee in 1903. The former post office (and United States Signal Corps weather station) at Nushagak was renamed Dillingham for the Senator. The subcommittee was investigating conditions following the Alaska Gold Rush of 1898. Dillingham was in Alaska before it became a territory.

So, what is the relationship with Dillingham Alaska and Brandy Station Virginia?

William Paul had an older brother. His name was Edwin. Edwin served in the 10th Vermont Infantry during the Civil War. In March and April of 1864, Edwin was in Brandy Station. He had just been paroled from the POW camp in Salisbury, North Carolina. After his return to the army, he was tasked to support the provost marshals in Brandy Station. One of the Provo's task -- process and escort the female (wives and family members) visitors to the camps where the army lay.

On the walls of the Graffiti House are a series of seven drawings, done by an unknown hand, probably a soldier from Vermont. One of the drawings depict two women with the notation "Turned over to Capt. Dillingham" Yes we are sure it is Edwin. There is other evidence in the room that confirms this fact. Edwin would rise to command the 1oth Vermont, and would die on the field near Winchester, in September 1864.

William Paul Dillingham, by the way, never set foot in Dillingham, Alaska.

My grateful thanks to my friend, Richard Deardoff, a history teacher at Kettle Run High School, Fauquier County, who posed the question to me if there was any link between the two. Thank you Richard.

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