I had hoped to bring more of this story to you on Monday, then Wednesday but some of the information was just not known. Today, still with so many unknows, I will try and bring you what I have on this hero.
If you were to turn to the usual places to learn more about Noil you will discovered the date of his deed and the date of the award, the vessel served on and that he enlisted at NewYork City. Sometimes the materials give a date of enlistment.
Without access to the files, and with so little known about Noil, you are left with a tidbit that he was a hero and that for ten minutes in his life on such and such a date he did whatever... and then that's the extent of what is so often written about so many of these heroes.
Wishing to discover where in Nova Scotia Noil came from I used the Fold 3 wonderful resource and located an enlistment document that tells me he was indeed enlisted at NY,NY for a three year term of service and gives the date of 18 December 1871, 142 years ago next Wednesday. The document also shows that he was 30 years old but gave no further clues about where in the province he came from.
Fold 3 also produced a second enlistment dated 29 December 1874, and that Noil had signed up for a further 3 years of service. He was then listed as being 33 yrs old. This same source also showed a third enlistment dated 13 Feb 1878, and yet another 3 yr. stint with the navy to be served. These later two documents shed no light on where he was from in NS. The later now says he is 39 yrs old. There must have been a fourth enlistment, or properly stated... re-enlistment, yet to be located signing him up for a further term because he was in the service still in 1881 and 2.
So from these documents, and the final missing one, it is evident Joseph served in the US navy from 1871 to 1882.
But there's more!
On the 1871 document there is a space where the question is asked... do you have any previous service? His answer was... yes ... and that he served for 2 years but didn't say which 2 years. I cannot find any further enlistments for him pre 1871, and post 1881. The 1871 enlistment also notes his rank was that of a seaman. A rank that is usually only assigned to sailors TRAINED AT SEA. Had he actually been a recruit joining for the first time his rank more than likely would have been LANDSMAN. (yet to be trained at sea.)
But this case gets even more curious!
I think I have found those 2 years previous service. But it is under a slightly different name. It is under the name Joseph B. LOIL... instead of NOIL. It does not say what the B stand for, while the above files have the name listed 3 ways..one has Joseph B Noil, one has Joseph Ben. Noil and one has Joseph Benjamin Noil.
But now for the LOIL... Joseph B LOIL... his enlistment also took place at NY NY, and he signed up for 2 years with starting age of 25 in 1864. He was also from Nova Scotia. His file produced also from Fold3 also fails to say from where in that province. But a similar file found through the soldier and sailor lookup data at the US Parks Service has all the above re LOIL but adds that he was from Halifax.
While the ages are slightly off, it seems as though it is quite possible that both of these files are from the same person..and that a slip up somewhere caused the surname NOIL to become LOIL. If so, our hero served for just over a dozen years, if not then at least a decade of service in the US Navy. By the way, both men were men of colour... and both were 5' 6"... just 2 more coincidences! HMMMM!
Noil served on at least six different war vessels before taking ill in June 1881. He was struck with some form of paralysis and sent to the naval hospital at Norfolk Va. but soom transeferred to the massive medical facilities of St Elizabeths Hospital at Washington DC.
More of Friday.