My Middle Namesake: Dr. Chauncey Lee Sheldon, Surgeon, War of 1812

The War of 1812 reportedly began the 18 of June 1812. “Reportedly” because I am waiting to attend a program at the Local Historical Society entitled “What Year Did the War of 1812 Start?” This overlooked war has a few surprises for folks when looked into, such as the birth of the Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key.

My primary interest war right now, however, is because of Dr. Chauncey Lee Sheldon, my 4th great grandfather.  I discovered him (like most of my ancestors) through family history research (genealogy).  He was unknown to my family until I discovered him.  As my mother’s mother’s father’s mother’s father’s father,  I hardly knew him, however we share a common middle name – Lee.

My daughter, Megan Lee Stills, shares our middle name.  My wife and I gave her that name after much compromise and discussion.  I wanted to name her Michael Lee Stills, Jr. but Tracey was having none of that!  Besides, she wanted to give our daughter an Irish name in honor of her heritage.  I saw the name Megan after watching some movie credits and we quickly settled on Megan Lee Stills.  Yes, we have great family naming traditions. On the night of her birth we briefly considered Megan Noel Stills because she was born on Christmas Eve but Megan Lee Stills was enough Irish for Tracey and Megan and I get to share the initials MLS.  My mother is also MLS, middle name Louise however.

I received the middle name Lee after my Mother’s brother,  Nelson Lee Culp or Uncle Bud as I knew him. Interestingly, Nelson was their mother’s maiden name and follows a common naming tradition of using the mother’s maiden name as a child’s first name.  For example, Kal-el known to many as Superman was given the name Clark Kent, his surname  from his adopting father Jonathan Kent and Clark from his mother Martha Clark. But where did Uncle Bud get his middle name?

Thus far, searching the family tree,  I have found no other relatives in this family line with the middle name of Lee until we reach Dr. Sheldon.  Uncle Bud’s mother, my Grandmother was Hazel Evangeline Nelson and Dr. Sheldon was her Great Grandfather. Unfortunately this does not support a tradition of sharing of the middle name Lee. So, like the War of 1812 he has a few surprises when looked into.

Dr. Sheldon moved to Warsaw, NY with his wife in 1908, not long after when the town of Warsaw was established.  He was the town’s first Physician and first Post Master, he also served as Justice of the Peace, and Town Clerk where he processed many Revolutionary War Pensions for his fellow citizens who served. He started a Drug Store and helped start a Library.  Some how he found time to father thirteen children and be very active in his local Presbyterian Church as a Mason and serving as the Society Clerk.

Dr. Chauncey Lee Sheldon served as a Surgeon and Surgeon’s Mate during the War of 1812.  What that meant, I hope to learn at the Historial Society’s program. Much of what I have uncovered can be found in the book, “History of the town of Warsaw, New York, from its first settlement to the present time; (1869).” He was 29 during the war and already had fathered eight children.  Three would die by the time the war started. He accomplished a lot during his short but remarkable life and it is no wonder why the town of Warsaw considered him a “popular” man.  Ironically, he himself died at the young age of 45 in 1828 from an unknown illness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *