Brig. Gen. Albert James Myer

Male20 September 1829–24 August 1880

Brief Life History of Albert James

MYER, Albert James, scientist, was born in Newburgh, N.Y., Sept. 20, 1827; son of Henry Beekman and Elinor Pope (McClanahan) Myer; grandson of Simon Johnson and Cornelia (Thorn) Myer and of Robert and Elinor (Baird) McClanahan, and a descendant of Jan Dircksen and Tryntje Andriesse (Grevenraet) Myer, who emigrated from Amsterdam to New Amsterdam previous to 1652. He was graduated at Hobart college, A.B., 1847, A.M., 1850, and at Buffalo Medical college in 1851. He entered the U.S. army as an assistant surgeon, Sept. 18, 1854, and served in Texas, 1854-57. He was married, Aug. 24, 1857, to Catherine, daughter of Judge Ebenezer and Susan (Marvin) Walden. He was on special signal service duty, 1858-60, when he devised a system for signaling messages with accuracy and rapidity for many miles, by the use of flags during the day and torches at night. He was promoted major and signal officer of the U.S. army, June 27, 1860; served on the department staff, June to October, 1860, and in the department of New Mexico until May, 1861, when he engaged in expeditions against the Navajo Indians. He was signal officer on the staff of General Butler; organized and commanded the signal camp at Fort Monroe, Va.; served as aide-de-camp to General McDowell, and was engaged in the first battle of Bull Run. He was chief signal officer on the staff of General McClellan, established camps of instruction, organized signal parties and introduced the system of signaling at the U.S. Naval Academy. He commanded the signal corps of the Army of the Potomac, participated in the advance on Manassas, the siege of Yorktown and the battles of Williamsburg, West Point, Hanover Court House, Seven Pines, Fair Oaks, Mechanicsville, Gaines's Mill, Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, South Mountain and Antietam. He was brevetted lieutenant-colonel, May 27, 1862, and colonel, July 2, 1862, for gallant and meritorious services at Hanover Court House and Malvern Hill, Va. He had charge of the signal office at Washington, D.C. from March to November 1863; was promoted colonel, March 3, 1863; introduced the study of military signals into the U.S. Military academy in that year, and was a member of the central board of examination for admittance to the U.S. signal corps. He served on reconnaissance of the Mississippi river between Cairo, Ill., and Memphis, Tenn., December, 1863, to May, 1864; was chief signal officer of the military division of West Mississippi from May, 1864, to the close of the war; served on the staff of General Canby, and participated in the capture of Fort Gaines. He was brevetted brigadier-general of the U.S. army, March 13, 1865, for distinguished services in organizing, instructing and commanding the signal corps of the army and for its special service, Oct. 5, 1864, when the post and provision at Allatoona, Ga., were saved from capture through the aid of signals. He was promoted chief signal officer with the rank of colonel, July 28, 1866, and on Nov. 1, 1870, having been entrusted with the experiments in telegraphing and signaling the approach and force of storms, made his first observations which were received at twenty-four stations at twenty-five minutes of eight in the morning and on November 8, telegraphed his first storm warning to the stations on the Great Lakes. He represented the United States at the international congress of meteorological congress at Rome in 1879. He was promoted brigadier-general by congress, June 16, 1880, as a reward for his services. In 1875 he established a daily international chart in connection with the signal service bureau; a system of day and night signals for navigation, and a system of reports for the benefit of interior commerce and for farmers. Hobart conferred upon him the degree of LL.D. in 1872 and Union that of Ph.D. in 1875. He is the author of Manual of Signals for the U.S. Army and Navy (1868). He died in Buffalo, N.Y. Aug. 24, 1880. (Source: THE TWENTIETH CENTURY BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF NOTABLE AMERICANS. Vol 3, Publ. 1904. Transcribed by Richard Ramos)

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Family Time Line

Brig. Gen. Albert James Myer
Catherine Walden
Catharine Walden Myer
Helen Walden Myer
Albert James Myer II
Viola Walden Myer
Rev. Walden Myer
Gertrude Walden Myer

Sources (7)

  • Albert J Myer, "United States Census, 1880"
  • Albert James Myer, "Find A Grave Index"
  • Gen Albert Myers, "United States, GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries, 1815-2011"

Spouse and Children

Children (6)

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Parents and Siblings

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World Events (8)


Age 1

Historical Boundaries: 1830: Elkhart, Indiana, United States

1836 · The Massive Internal Improvements Act

Age 7

The Massive Internal Improvements Act of 1836 loaned Indiana $10,000,000 to create infrastructure such as canals, railroads, and roads across the state. The act was signed by Whig Governor Noah Noble and passed by the Indiana General Assembly. However, the financial crisis known as the Panic of 1837 thwarted these plans as costs ballooned. Construction on the infrastructure was not completed and the state debt rapidly increased.

1848 · Cornerstone of the Washington Monument

Age 19

President James K. Polk laid the cornerstone for the Washington Monument on July 4, 1848. Afterwards, each of the existing states are welcomed to do the same.

Name Meaning

English, of Norman French origin: occupational name from Old French mire ‘physician’ (Latinized as medicus). Compare Mayer and Mee .

English: topographic name from Middle English mire ‘marsh’ (Old Norse mýrr), denoting a person who lived at or near a marsh.

Americanized form of German Meyer , Mayer , or Maier .

Dictionary of American Family Names © Patrick Hanks 2003, 2006.

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