David Vagi submitted these additional biographical notes on Vernon Jepson. Thank you!
Vernon M. Jepson's First American Coin Collector medal
The information in the two previous issues of The E-Sylum was both useful and interesting, offering a peek into the collector's mind of Vernon Jepson. I have some to add.
But before we get there, I can report the number impressed on the edge of the medal issued to Jepson is 121 – so, at least that many were issued in copper.
On the Newman Numismatic Portal I got only one
hit for a Jepson with a first name beginning with a
V – an endorsement published at the bottom of page 1228 in the December, 1911 edition of The Philatelic West. It's reproduced here:
His testimonial reads:
V. Jepson, Mass.: Am collector over 68 years old and have been at it ever since I can remember and think WEST the best paper for collectors.
Fortunately, it all seems to add up – this glowing testimonial must have been written by our own Vernon Jepson. His medal is dated 1911 and so is his testimonial. For some reason his interest in sharing his love of collecting peaked in 1911.
The testimonial assures Vernon's link to Massachusetts in 1911, his birth in about 1843, and earmarks his enthusiastic, lifelong attachment to collecting. A document I found dated June 7, 1911 places Vernon in Lexington, MA to witness the second marriage of his widowed daughter Nellie Alberta Lyon Jepson. Thus, Vernon was present in Massachusetts in 1911 when he wrote his magazine testimonial.
In two documents I found, Vernon's middle name is given as Marshall – his birth record and the aforementioned marriage record. So, we may assign to him the full name Vernon Marshall Jepson.
Though The Philatelic West is primarily devoted to stamps, it has ample material about other kinds of collectibles, such as coins, fossils, Indian artifacts, etc. – something a collector of varied interests would have enjoyed. Indeed, it states on the cover of this monthly magazine:
The Largest and Oldest American – Collector's Magazine. Est. in 1895. Devoted to All Hobbies. But we know from the wonderful article that shows how Mr. Jepson had covered his wall with stamps that he was a devoted philatelist, making it easy to believe he would have heaped praise upon a philatelic publication.
Now, back to Mr. Jepson's identification. His Massachusetts connection and his birthdate of c.1843 matches perfectly with the Massachusetts civil war soldier Vernon M. Jepson. Indeed, it's the only possible match that turns up. Even his middle initial
M occurs on both his medal and his Civil War records.
Below is his biography from the 1917 work, A History & Genealogy of the Descendents of John Jepson of England and Boston, Mass Through His Son John's Two Sons William and Micah, 1610-1917.
Based on the work above and several other documents, I've assembled a biography:
A self-professed, lifelong collector, Vernon Marshall Jepson was born Dec.22, 1843 in Ware, MA to parents Thomas Jepson (b.1807 in Pownal, VT, d.1886 in North Dakota) and Betsey Houghton Jepson (b.1809 in Pownal, VT, d.1897 in Webster, MA). He lived primarily in Webster, MA until his later years.
As an 18-year-old high school student and farmer in Webster, MA, Vernon enlisted in Company G of the 51st Massachusetts infantry on Aug. 25, 1862. He saw action at Kinston, White Hall and Goldsboro before, on June 10, 1863, he transferred at New Berne, NC to Company A of the 2nd Massachusetts heavy artillery. From that regiment he was allowed a quick furlough to marry his first wife, Martha Chapman (1843-1907) in Westford, CT on the 4th of July, 1863 (during which time their first child was conceived). A few days after his wedding, Vernon helped quell the draft riot in Boston before returning to duty with his regiment in North Carolina. He remained with the 51st until he mustered out at the rank of Corporal on Sept. 3, 1865 in Wilmington, North Carolina.
His military record:
After the war, Vernon took up work as a carpenter, and eventually a florist. He and Martha had three further children, a daughter Nellie and two sons, Ulysses S. Grant and Elmer V. – both of whom died before reaching age ten. Later in life he was married a second time, in 1914, to Anna T. Benton.
In addition to being a voracious collector, Vernon was a patriot in the extreme. He signed up as a teenager to serve his country in the Civil War, was married on the 4th of July and he named his first son Ulysses S. Grant! Finally, in 1917, at age 73, he informed officials in Connecticut he was available to serve his nation in WW I.
Though a Massachusetts resident most of his life, in later years he moved around, including to Connecticut and New Jersey before retiring in Florida. The 1930 federal census records that Vernon was a widower and Civil War veteran living in a house he owned at 608 (not 606) Wyoming Ave. in St. Cloud, FL with Ms. Sarah Burlingame, a 34-year-old widow from Connecticut listed as a servant.
His house was built in 1910. Currently it is 3 bedrooms, one bath and 1,239 square feet. Since the original house still exists, one wonders if Vernon's massive wall of stamps still remains, even if under a layer of paint or wallpaper? A picture of the house in its current state is shown:
All told, Vernon Marshall Jepson must have been considered an eccentric old man during his final years in St. Cloud. He died in Osceola County, FL on March 10 or 12, 1932.
Thanks again - an interesting life!
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: FEBRUARY 27, 2022 : More on the First American Coin Collector Medal
MORE ON VERNON M. JEPSON
Wayne Homren, Editor
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