Santa Cruz County History - People

Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson

AMNER, THOMAS (1841-1885)

US Census 1880

Photograph of Thomas Amner
Thomas Amner
 Age Race OccupationBirthplace Father's BirthplaceMother's Birthplace
Thomas Amner39WMMFoundry OwnerEnglandEnglandEngland
Georgie27WFM MaineMaineMaine
Harry1WM CaliforniaEnglandMaine

Evergreen Cemetery Records

Children: Edgar Reid (Baby)

Owned Foundry (Old S.C. Cup Modern Scrap Books [Ruth Baldwin] Page 37). "Beyond the gas works (end of School St. and waterfall, against chalk Rock banks) was the old 2 story Thomas Amner Foundry and machine shop which turned out types of stoves. The [left blank] of the fiery stream of melted irons into the molds was always of interest."

Santa Cruz Sentinel (March 22, 1873)

Santa Cruz Foundry

This foundry has just started again having commenced operations Wednesday last under the firm name of Amner Morton Co. Mr. Morton, the former partner will have charge of moulding while the plating (planing?) machines and lathes will be run by Mr. Amner.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (January 27, 1885)

A surprise party was given to Thomas Amner and his wife Saturday evening by their friends. The occasion being their crystal (15th) wedding anniversary. Refreshments, games and dancing were the program. Mr. and Mrs. Amner were the recipients of many gifts.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (February 15, 1885)

A Fatal Accident
Thomas Amner Killed by the Accidental Discharge of a Rifle
Testimony at the Coroner's Inquest- The Last Rites on Monday Afternoon

The whole community was shocked Saturday at the announcement of the accidental killing of Thomas Amner in the rear of his foundry at twenty minutes before two o'clock. William Woods, who was the only eye witness, said that the deceased had fired one shot at a gopher, and Woods came out to get a stick of timber, and the deceased said "Look out Billy, you'll scare my gopher," and prepared to put a cartridge in the rifle. Woods replied that he guessed "he wouldn't scare" the gopher, and started to get a plank, which was a few yards away. Woods thinks he warned the unfortunate man to look out, as the rifle was cocked, and Amner stood with one hand over the barrel, and the rifle was leaning against his left side. Woods got the piece of lumber, carried it into the moulding room, and then returned to where Amner was, and seated himself on a barrel ten yards away. He sat talking with the deceased a few moments, and then heard the report of the gun. Woods ran to where Amner was standing in the door of the boiler shop, and saw he was wounded. He then went into the machine shop and told Frank Bartlett, a brother in law of the deceased, that Amner was shot. A doctor was immediately sent for, but it was of no use, as Amner was killed instantly. There is a step of eight inches high that leads out of the back door of the boiler shop, and it is supposed that he had the gun resting on the step, and while putting his left foot on the step forced the hammer back, and it not catching, caused the rifle to go off. An examination of the wound showed that the bullet had entered the lower part of the heart on the left side, ranged upwards and came out at the right shoulder, struck a patter in the rafters, and glanced up into the roof. The cartridge was a Winchester, No 44 calibre.

In the morning the deceased remarked to an employee that the rifle had gone off without warning once before, and that he was going to get it in order, and it was while experimenting with it by shooting at the gopher on the bank in the afternoon that it went off.

The news of the accident quickly spread and a large crowd gathered at the foundry.

Tom Amner, as he was familiarly called, was a native of England and came to this city from San Francisco twelve years ago. He was about 44 years of age. He leaves a widow and five children. He was a good citizen, and took a prominent part in all public affairs. During the late presidential campaign he acted as Grand Marshal for all the Republican processions. He was a Past Master of Santa Cruz Lodge, No. 38 F. and A.M.; a Past High Priest of Santa Cruz Chapter, No. 38, R.A.M.; a Past Worthy Patron of Idlewild Chapter , No. 19, O.E.S., and was the first Commander of W.H.L. Wallace Post, No. 32 G.A.R., having served through the war. He was a member of Santa Cruz lodge, No. 46 A.O.U.W., and had been a Councilman.

On Friday week he was asked to take a policy for $3000 in the Home Benefit Association, and the agent filled out the application and asked the deceased to sign it. He said he wanted time to think over the matter until the following day (Saturday). The agent intended to call at the foundry in the afternoon, and have the application signed.

The deceased was insured in the Masonic Aid Association for $4,000. The Workmen will pay his heirs $2,000.

An inquest as held by Deputy Coroner Davenport Saturday afternoon. The following gentlemen acted as jurors. B.C. Gadsby, P.V. Wilkins, L. Schwartz, T.D. Sargent, L. Dodero, W.T. Cope, J. Werner and A. Bedell.

After hearing the foregoing testimony the jury rendered a verdict to the effect that the deceased came to his death on 14th day of February, 1885, and that his death was caused by a gunshot wound accidentally inflicted by himself.

There is no living witness that knows exactly what caused the discharge of the rifle that sent a bullet coursing through the body of Thomas Amner. In the absence of positive proof theories are advanced. One theory is as likely to be true as another. There are only two theories that seem to be reasonable and admit of little dispute. One is that the deceased accidentally struck the trigger with his foot, and the other is that he became tired of resting the rifle on the step and in taking it off struck the butt too hard on the ground, thus causing the hammer to do its deadly work. The weapon is the kind known as Sharp's cavalry carbine and a breechloader. It was purchased by Mr. Amner about eight years ago, and came from the Vallejo armory. The bullet was lodged so deep in the rafter that it was necessary to use a chisel and hammer to dig it out. Mr. Amner as a good shot, seldom missing any object he aimed at. He was a whole souled, genial man, with a pleasant smile and kind word for all he came in contact with. He was a member of the 15th Connecticut Volunteers (infantry), during the war. He enlisted in Co. E of the 15th Ct. Inf on July 16, 1862 as a private. He was taken as a Prisoner of War at Kinston NC on March 8, 1865 and was paroled on March 26, 1865.

The funeral, which occurred Monday afternoon, was one of the largest ever seen in this city, and was a worthy tribute to an honored citizen. At 2 P.M. the various orders to which the deceased belonged marched out of their meeting rooms to the deceased's late residence. After the casket was placed in the hearse the order formed in line as follows, and proceeded to the Episcopal Church; Pythian Band; W.H.L. Wallace Post, G.A.R., and a detachment of ten comrades from R.L. McCook Post, No. 26 of Watsonville. The flag of Wallace Post was draped in mourning, and over the top hung a wreath of lilies and evergreen; a firing party, with muskets reversed, marched with the Post. Then followed members of Alert House Co. and Hook and Ladder Co., in citizen's dress. The deceased, though not a member of any company, took an active interest in fire matters, and had acted as Judge for the Alerts at several tournaments. Next came Santa Cruz Lodge, No. 46, A.O.U.W, and was closely followed by Santa Cruz Lodge, No. 38 R.A.M., Santa Cruz Lodge, No. 38 F. and A&M., and Idlewild Chapter, No. 19 Order Eastern Star.

After the hearse came a long stretch of carriages. The casket was draped with the American flag, and covered with many beautiful floral tributes. Robt. Effey, Richard Thompson, H.E. Makinney, Bart Burke, Z.N. Goldsby, O.J. Lincoln and H. Randall acted as pallbearers. When the procession reached the church it was already filled to repletion. Rev. C.O. Tillotson read the service for the dead, and a choir sang several hymns, after which the procession was formed again, and to the mournful dirge of the band wended its way to Evergreen Cemetery, where the impressive Masonic ceremony was performed by Past Master F.W. Lucas.

Out of respect to the memory of the deceased the bell of Mission Hill School did not ring on Monday morning, as his late residence adjoins the school grounds.

The following members of R.L. McCook Post marched in line; Past Commanders Morey, Valentine and Kidder; Commander Osborn, Junior Vice Commander Renfro and Comrades Halleck, Linscott, Cleveland and Hatch.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (April 18, 1885)

It is customary when a member of the G.A.R. is buried that a firing party fire three volleys over the grave as a parting farewell. This was omitted at the burial of Thomas Amner Monday, out of consideration for the feelings of the widow, whose nerves could not bear the shock which the report of the muskets would give as it would too vividly bring to mind the manner by which the deceased lost his life.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (June 4, 1885)

EDITORIAL: In the address of Bart Burke, delivered on Memorial Day over the graves of fallen heroes, attention was called to the fact that Thomas Amner, whose flower covered grave was immediately in front of the speaker, was an Englishman by birth, a man of education and a master mechanic who arrived from Europe in 1862, during the Rebellion, and at once enlisted on the side of the Union, fighting for our country, not the country of his birth, until victory perched upon the stars and stripes. It can not be said that the deceased entered the army for the money paid men in the ranks, for his services as a mechanic were worth ten times as much as paid the soldier. We are led to dwell on this enlistment from the fact that the Argonaut has frequently published the statement that there are no patriots in this government but those born on American soil, and from which we dissent. No braver soldiers shouldered a musket than the natives of foreign lands. side by side they fought with the sons of America. They fought for a principle. They were in love with freedom for white and black, and fought for the Republic. At the time the war broke out there were few foreigners in the South. The people of the section, almost to a man, took up arms against their country. They were so narrow in their love of birthplace as to place their State above their Nation. Foreign sympathizers with the South went into the Confederate army. Foreign sympathizers with the Government enlisted in the ranks of the North. Nativity does not determine the broader political predilection. It is very largely a matter of like and dislike.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (February 17, 1885)

In San Francisco it is customary and also considered a mark of respect, and in fact a compulsory, for streetcar drivers to stop their cars while a funeral procession is passing. If we may judge from what we saw Monday while the funeral procession escorting the remains of Thomas Amner was passing, it is not considered so in this city, for the driver of a street car drove right up the avenue and crowded the teams to one side.

Editorial Notes from Robert L. Nelson

Amner's Son died in July of 1886. Amner's wife Georgie suffered from some unknown physical condition for a number of years following his death; however she was able to become active and serve as Secretary of the Reynolds Post WRC. In October of 1889 she moved to Oakland hoping that the change would improve her health.

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