Among the veteran operatives of the navy yard now living retired at Vallejo, there are few who have a wider and
better acquaintance than William Fraser, a veteran of the Civil war and also a veteran of the government service
at the navy yard, forty five years of his life having been spent in this latter service. Though a Canadian by birth,
Mr. Fraser seems always to have been American in his sympathies and aspirations and as a boy came over the line
and rendered service as a soldier during the time of the struggle to preserve the Union. He was born in the province
of Nova Scotia, in the Dominion of Canada, January 1, 1847, and is a son of Thomas and Mary (McKay) Fraser, native
Nova Scotians and of old Scottish stock, who were substantial farming people in that province, living not far from
the coast, where they spent their last days.
Reared within sight of the sea, William Fraser became a sailor when but a lad and was thus employed when the Civil
war in the United States broke out in the spring of 1861. Though but fourteen years of age at that time, he realized
enough of the causes underlying that war to have his sympathies thoroughly aroused in behalf of the Union cause
and he presently determined to enlist his services as a soldier in that behalf. Coming across the line, he got
into service, despite his youth, and went to the front as a member of Company C of the Second Regiment, New Hampshire
Volunteer Infantry, and with that command rendered service in the Army of the Potomac, under General Grant. With
that army he was present before Richmond when that capital of the Confederacy was evacuated by the rebels on April
2, 1865, and with the victorious army he marched into the abandoned capital on the following day, this event marking
the virtual downfall of the Confederacy, rendered complete by the surrender of Lee with his army at Appomattox
six days later. Mr. Fraser then was eighteen years of age and his boyish exhilaration over the victory of the grand
army to which he voluntarily was attached created an impression on his mind and imagination that never has been
effaced, though: more than sixty years have elapsed since then.
In 1866, the year following the completion of his army service, William Fraser came to California, his youthful
spirit of adventure still being dominant, and settled in Marin county. Trained to the sea, his natural impulse
prompted him to continue in the service of the sea on this coast and not long after his arrival here he bought
a schooner and got into the merchant service on the bay. Presently he sold that schooner to advantage and was thereafter
for some time variously employed in marine service, for a time a pilot in the McGuire ferry service, for a time
running government tugs and schooners, and then he took service at the Mare Island navy yard, presently was made
a stationary engineer there, and continued in that service for forty five years, or until his retirement in 1920,
since which time he has been living quietly retired at his home in Vallejo, in residence at 203 Sacramento street,
where he is very comfortably and very pleasantly situated.
In 1877, at San Francisco, William Fraser was united in marriage to Miss Margaret Bews, who was born in Canada,
and who died in 1913 at the age of sixty six years. Mr. Fraser has four children, two daughters, Dr. Mary L. Fraser,
who is a member of the medical staff of the Battle Creek Sanitarium at Battle Creek, Michigan, and who in 1925
made a comprehensive tour of Europe; and Miss Janet Fraser, who remains at home with her father; and two sons,
Thomas Douglas and Dr. Donald A. Fraser, the latter of whom is a physician in San Francisco. Thomas Douglas Fraser,
who has long been connected with the operations of the Mare Island navy yard, is an artist of more than merely
local note and some of his paintings have been highly praised in competent art circles. The Frasers are republicans.
Since 1875 William Fraser has been a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and is the oldest surviving
noble grand of the local lodge of that order at Vallejo, in recognition of which fact his lodge some time ago presented
him with a handsome medal carrying an attestation of his long and useful service in behalf of Odd Fellowship.
History of Solano County, California
BY: Marguerite Hune
Napa County, California
BY: Harry Lawrence Gunn
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Solano County, CA
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