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Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 2. Biographies
by Major A. J. Roof. 1913
On a farm owned by his parents, near the historic village of Sacket Harbor, New York, in the month of January, 1853, Frederick Marsh, now a colonel in the United States army, was born. His parents, James and Sarah (Membery) Marsh, were natives of Devonshire, England, and soon after their marriage in 1832 they crossed the Atlantic with Mrs. Marsh's father, Amos Membery, a man of considerable means and noted as a mathematician, and with him settled on a farm in the new world. In his early manhood Amos Membery had been a sea captain. He owned extensive lands in Devonshire which he sold and left that beautiful country for the sake of his children, three sons and four daughters to each of whom he gave a good farm in America, free from all debt. To his son James he gave three hundred acres near Bath, Canada; to his son Giles a farm of two hundred acres adjoining Adolphustown, in the Dominion; while to the rest of his children he presented farms in Jefferson county, New York.
Frederick Marsh grew up on his father's farm and his early life was much the same as that of other farm boys. He had, however, a decided taste for reading, his interest running to such books as Homer's Poems, Plutarch's Lives, and works of history. He attended the public schools of Sacket Harbor and later the mathematical school conducted by Professor Otis at Adams Center. This he supplemented by a course in the Collegiate Institute at Adams, New York, where in addition to proficiency in mathematics he acquired a fair knowledge of Latin. To this in after years he added more than a reading acquaintance with the French, Spanish and German languages and became a widely read, cultured and well informed man. At the age of thirteen he had mastered Davies Bourdon's Algebra and could demonstrate on the blackboard the problems of Davies' Legendre in geometry. Having an ambition to become a journalist, he came at the age of fourteen to Chillicothe, Missouri, and obtained work on the Chillicothe Tribune, then owned by his brother, E. J. Marsh, and John De Sha. Here he became thoroughly familiar with the details of the printer's trade and advanced in it until he was made foreman of the office. In the summer of 1873, however, he won the appointment to West Point in competitive examination and was graduated from the military academy in 1877. He was commissioned to duty as second lieutenant in the Second Artillery, then stationed at Baltimore, Maryland, and thus began a long and honorable military career. He was later a student at the Artillery School at Fortress Monroe and after his graduation in 1886 was ordered to West Point as instructor in natural and experimental philosophy, in which position he served until 1888, when he became a member of the board to select the site for fortifications on the Pacific coast. The record of his military career is a story of cautioned progress and advancement and close identification with responsible and important affairs. He was made first lieutenant in 1884, captain in 1898 and in 1903 was advanced to the rank of major. He was next promoted to that of lieutenant colonel and in 1910 was made colonel, a rank which he now holds. While he was in command of the fort at St. Augustine, Florida, he was ordered in 1899 to the Philippine Islands and spent two years helping to suppress the rebellion there. At the close of hostilities he returned to his command at Fort Dupont, Delaware, and was later in command of Fort Strong on the Boston harbor. In 1910 he was placed in charge of all the fortifications at Charleston, South Carolina, and was later put in command of Fort Totten, New York harbor, where he served until he was promoted to the position of coast defence officer of the Pacific coast, when his headquarters became the Western Division, San Francisco, California. His duties consist of inspecting thoroughly all of the forts along the Pacific, from southern California to the northern boundary of the state of Washington and also those of the Sandwich Islands. In this connection it is interesting to know that the salary of a colonel in the United States army is five thousand dollars per year, that of brigadier general six thousand dollars, and all officers are retired at the age of sixty-four on three-fourths pay.
In 1892 Colonel Marsh was united in marriage to Miss Caroline Roberts, the daughter of a prominent merchant in Brooklyn, New York, and they have one son, Walter, who is now in his eighteenth year. The old home of this branch of the Roberts family is at Manchester, Vermont, and the line has furnished soldiers to every American war from the Revolution to the Spanish-American conflict, several of the members serving as general officers. Colonel Marsh's military service has been long, his loyalty incorruptible and his work important, influential and lasting. Throughout the entire course of his life he has adhered steadily to the highest principles of honorable and upright manhood, proving himself a courteous and worthy gentleman as well as a valorous and loyal soldier.