Frank Wilkeson (March 8, 1848 – April 22, 1913) was an American journalist, soldier, farmer and explorer. He wrote several books, including an autobiography of his service in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was among the first white men to explore and map the Cascade Pass in the state of Washington.
Wilkeson was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1848 to a prominent and wealthy family. He was the youngest son of famed journalist Samuel Wilkeson (1817–1889) and Catherine Cady, a sister of social activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Their next door neighbor was President Millard Fillmore. One of his older brothers, Bayard Wilkeson, would be killed during the Civil War at the Battle of Gettysburg while commanding an artillery battery on what became known as Barlow's Knoll. Frank was educated at New London, Connecticut, and in New Hampshire.
Their father, Samuel Wilkeson, was a newspaper correspondent who covered the Civil War for the New York Times and was present at Gettysburg during the battle in which 19-year-old Bayard was killed. A year later, 14-year-old Frank ran away from home and on March 26, 1864, joined the Union Army. Claiming he was an 18-year-old farmer, young Wilkeson enlisted in the 11th Battery of the New York Light Artillery.
Wilkeson was sent to serve in the Army of the Potomac in Northern Virginia, where he took part in the Overland Campaign of General Ulysses S. Grant. He fought in the Battle of the Wilderness in May and then took part in the Siege of Petersburg. On June 21, 1864, Wilkeson was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Artillery. He was sent to help man the defenses of Washington, D.C.. Later in the war, Wilkeson led a unit guarding prisoners at Elmira Prison in Upstate New York. Wilkeson left the army in March 1866.
Wilkeson subsequently worked as a mining engineer in Pennsylvania and, after marrying Mary Crouse in 1869, the couple settled in Johnstown. In 1871 they moved to Gypsum, Kansas, where they managed a large cattle ranch and wheat farm.
In the 1880s Wilkeson wrote for several newspapers including the New York Times, as well as contributing articles to periodicals such as Harper's Weekly. A book on his military experiences, Turned Inside Out: Recollections of a Private Soldier, was published in 1887.
Frank Wilkeson died from complications of diabetes at a hotel in Chelan, Washington, on April 22, 1913. He was buried in Gypsum, Kansas.
The town of Wilkeson, Washington, was named in his honor.
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- Skagit River Journal Retrieved on 2008-10-08