Wednesday, Jul. 17, 2019

Stephen Hamnet Shakespeare: Professor of Elocution at the Mt. Tamalpais Military Academy

By Cathy Gowdy · September 09, 2013

Mt. Tamalpais Military Academy, Mounted Artillery, San Rafael, c.1902 <span>&copy; Anne T. Kent Rm </span>

Mt. Tamalpais Military Academy, Mounted Artillery, San Rafael, c.1902


Civil War Registration for Stephen Shakespeare <span>&copy;  </span>

Stephen Shakespeare died in San Rafael on Saturday morning, March 22nd, 1902, of pneumonia at age 67. A military service was held for him at the First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael on Monday afternoon after which his casket was taken to the Mt. Tamalpais Cemetery on a caisson drawn by four horses and draped in the flag of the United States. Shakespeare was escorted by cadets from the Mt. Tamalpais Military Academy to the cemetery where a bugler sounded taps and a firing squad fired a salute over his grave. His obituary describes him as well-known and highly respected in the county; it also says he was quiet and unassuming and ready to help others (Marin Journal, 3/27/1902, page 1).

In fact, Shakespeare was held in such high esteem by his friends and colleagues that approximately one year after his death a monument is dedicated to him at the Mt. Tamalpais Cemetery (Marin County Tocsin, April 25, 1903).

Research has proved Stephen Shakespeare elusive and I have been unable to locate him on the 1850 Federal Census.

I find the first trace of Shakespeare when he enlisted in the Civil War in Bourbon County, Kentucky in July of 1863. That record lists him as being 35 years old, single, born in the state of Delaware; occupation: druggist. The same Civil War register also lists B[enjamin]. A. Shakespeare. age 34, also of Delaware and also a druggist; further research has confirmed Benjamin to be Stephen's brother.

In 1869, following the Civil War, I find Stephen in New York, New York, enlisting in the U.S. Army. Here he again reports that he is a druggist, born in Delaware. This records clarifies that his place of birth was Newcastle, Delaware. Subsequently, Stephen was stationed at Camp Reynolds on Angel Island, California, where military returns for him begin in November, 1869 and show that he was working as a hospital steward at Camp Reynolds.

In 1870, he shows up on the Marin County census where he is listed as a soldier serving on Angel Island. In February, 1871, he is discharged from the Army but remains in California.

In the late 1870s, Voter’s Registers show him in Sonoma County in 1872 working as an artist; in Suisun in 1877 also listed as an artist; in Mendocino in 1879, now listed as a teacher. He does not appear on the index to the 1880 federal census. I next locate him in San Mateo in 1890 where he is working as a teacher and by 1892 he appears in the Marin County Voter’s Registers. From 1892 on, Stephen Shakespeare spent the rest of his life teaching in Marin at the Mt. Tamalpais Military Academy where he was known as Colonel Shakespeare. In fact, the 1900 census says he was a teacher of elocution. The 1892 Voter Register describes his physical appearance: 5’8” tall, grey eyes, brown hair, medium complexion.

I have been unable to tie Stephen Shakespeare of Marin with the famous 16th-Century playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It appears that no direct descendants of William Shakespeare are alive today. Apparently Wm. Shakespeare had no brothers from whom Stephen could have descended. Only one sister of Wm. Shakespeare has a lineage which has continued to the present day. However, Stephen Shakespeare does share his middle name -Hamnet- with William Shakespeare's only son's who died in 1596 at the age of 11.

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