Joseph Ignatius (some sources spell it "Ignacious") Markey was born April 15, 1868 in Chillicothe, Missouri to Peter Markey (1825-1889) and Margaret (1838-1925). Peter Markey was born in Dublin, Ireland and when he came to the US, settled in Chillicothe, Missouri. Peter was a civil engineer by trade. Some sources say that Margaret was born in Ireland, others say Michigan, still others Mississippi. Eventually she ended up in Chillicothe, Missouri with Peter.
Peter and Margaret Markey were blessed with four children: Mary T. (1857-1932), Francis (1859-????), James A. (1861-1943) and Joseph Ignatius (1868-1930).
At some point in his youth, Joseph Markey left his home and family in Chillicothe, Missouri and moved to Red Oak, Iowa - about 150 miles as the crow flies. Young Joseph had always been interested in writing, so after completing his schooling, he started submitting stories as a roving reported for the Red Oak newspaper - called the Red Oak Express. The newspaper was not really interested in the concept of a roving reporter, but circumstances far from Iowa would soon change that.
On February 15, 1898 the battleship USS Maine sank in the harbor of Havana, Cuba. The United States, outraged, immediately demanded that Spain surrender control of Cuba. After diplomatic efforts failed, Spain declared war on the US on April 23, 1898. Joseph Markey, caught up in the patriotic fervor, enlisted in the US Army on May 9, 1898, and was mustered on May 30, 1898. Now the Red Oak Express was more than interested in Markey's services as a roving reporter - he would be their war correspondent, writing periodic letters to the editor of the paper.
Markey joined what became Company M of the 51st Iowa Infantry. In preparation for being shipped to the Philippines, Company M was shipped to San Francisco, California.
By early May 1898, trains began arriving in Oakland with young men from Pennsylvania and Colorado, Oregon and Kansas---all coming to form a 20,000-man expeditionary force headed by General Wesley Merritt. Welcoming parties of the Red Cross Society met the units at the San Francisco Ferry Building with food and flowers. The mostly-volunteer infantries, feted and cheered along the way, would then march up Market Street to their campsites.
Early arrivals were put up at the Presidio, but it soon became apparent that there was not enough fresh water there for the number of troops which increased exponentially as the days passed.
A second camp was established on land provided by the Crocker Estate Company. They offered the government use of the defunct Bay District Race Track land, situated between the Presidio and Golden Gate Park. The site had enough space for 10,000 troops, with nearby city water mains available. The Army gratefully accepted, and starting on May 18, 1898 rows of white tents lined the sandy lots between today's Geary Boulevard, Fulton Street, Arguello Street and Sixth Avenue. An eventful summer for the Richmond district was about to begin.
Markey's letters from the front were eagerly awaited each week by readers of the Red Oak Express and accounts were clipped from the paper and mailed all over the country as anxious families waited for word of their loved ones half a world away.
Joseph Markey's writing proved so popular that he decided to publish them in a book form. In 1900 the Thomas D. Murphy Company of Red Oak Iowa published From Iowa to the Philippines - A History of Company M, Fifty-First Iowa Infantry Volunteers by Joseph I. Markey. I was lucky enough a few years ago to be able to purchase an autographed copy:
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