Sherman was born on September 27, 1845 in Liverpool,
England and moved with his parents to United in 1846.
Illinois archival records reveal the family was residing
in Chicago, Illinois from 1846 through 1872 and against
his parents wishes, under the assumed name of Thomas
Haynes, James enlisted as a seaman in the U.S. Navy on
June 28, 1864 at Cincinnati, Ohio; three months before
turning 19 years of age. His enlistment it seems was
spent aboard the USS “Grampus”. The USS “Grampus” was a
side-wheel steamer 180 feet long, 27 feet wide and the
second ship of the
United States Navy to bear that name.
Originally named the “Ion”, she was purchased by Rear
Admiral D.D. Porter for the U.S. Navy on
Cincinnati, Ohio, for (US) $9,750 and was
Cincinnati, Ohio; used as a receiving ship
for the Mississippi Squadron. By
1863, with Acting Master Elijah Sells in
command, she was recognized as a "nice little receiving
vessel in first-rate order," but contained no
furnishings or weapons other than ten
revolvers. With Acting Ensign C.W. Litherbury
in command, Grampus remained at
Cincinnati, Ohio, assisting in the stripping
of ships for conversion to
gunboats and effecting their delivery to
fleet staging points for the Mississippi Squadron;
Cairo, Illinois, and
Mound City, Illinois.
From records of the Department of the
Navy, provided to the U.S. Pension Board some years
later however, it appears James used his alias Thomas
Haynes to cover his lying about his age; which he gave
as being 23 at the time of his enlistment.
Sherman served on the U.S.S. “Grampus” as
a seaman, until June 30, 1864, later serving aboard the
U.S.S. “Great Western”, another receiving ship, where he
remained until April 30, 1865. It was during his stay
aboard the “Great Western” that he was promoted to a
Paymasters Steward. It is said he once claimed to have
also served aboard the USS “Siren”, but there are no
records to substantiate that. James was discharged
at Cairo, Illinois on August 2, 1865 and after the
war returned to Chicago, Illinois where he joined
the “Grand Army of the Republic” in 1867.
Records reveal in 1875 he was
living in New York, then served in the merchant
marine for a couple of years, ending up in England;
from where he sailed to Australia, in 1876. Arriving in the state of Victoria,
Australia, James settled down in Sale, Victoria
where he met Margaret Doyle, who also lived in Sale.
They got on well together and on August 6, 1884 they
were married at Warragul, Victoria. They had one child in 1885 who
died at a very young age, then had 2 sons and a
daughter; John Lincoln who was born in 1887, Allan
born in 1894 and Cesarea Helen Marie born in 1902.
James’s marriage certificate recorded that James
declared he was a widower and earned a living as a
commercial traveler; what we today would call a
traveling salesman. Sherman
applied for and was granted a disability pension of
$12 a month, which was increased to $20 a month in
1912 when he as living in Mirboo North, Gippsland,
Victoria. At that time James was a gold
prospector. He finally left the goldfields and took
employment as a watchman, due largely to his age and
James Abner Sherman died in the
Melbourne hospital in Victoria at the age of 71, on
January 15, 1916 and was laid to rest in the Coburg
Cemetery, in the Roman Catholic section, Compartment
E, Grave No. 330; on January 17, 1916. In 1992 a bronze plaque was supplied
by the American Veterans Administration in
Washington D.C. and placed on his grave to
commemorate his military service to the United
States. After his death, his wife Helen
was awarded a Widow’s Pension, which she received
until her death in 1947.
Birth, Marriage and Death Records,
Coburg Cemetery Records
Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C.
“Dictionary of American Naval Fighting
Grand Army of the Republic, Illinois
National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Sons of Union Veterans, Illinois
U.S. Pension documents, Washington, D.C.