New York, USA
|Death: ||Aug. 16, 1905|
William P. A. Hughes, the only son of John M. Hughes and Mary Braisted, both born in New York, was also born in New York City in the United States, according to some genealogical records, in April 1843; but his death certificate indicates he was born in 1847; which is more likely. For a time after growing up, William worked in New York as a market gardener and later worked in a merchant's office.
After the American Civil War broke out William left his vocation, according to his service record, at 19 years of age, and though he was of a small stature on February 3, 1864 he enlisted as a Private at Rochester, New York into Battery "L" of the New York 1st Light Artillery. If born in 1847 as Hughes stated, he would have only been 17 years of age then and would have had to lie about his age to enlist; explaining why his service record says he was 19. A New Zealand news article related Hughes shouldered a rifle and marched into Richmond, Virginia with the victorious northern armies. It was while skirmishing in the country around Richmond that Hughes related that his small stature saved his life. He said that one morning while his company was on the march, a tall comrade was making sarcastic remarks about his difficulty in keeping up with the marching troops; and upon reaching the firing line the two men took up a position behind a stone wall. A rifle ball from the first volley of gunfire from the Confederate lines knocked Hughes's hat from his head and upon turning to recover from his close call, Hughes said he saw that another Confederate rifle ball had passed through the throat of his tall comrade; who lay dead beside him.
"Say Pete", another soldier called out from his position behind a fallen log, "I guess the joke's on Jake now!"
Campaigns in which Hughes certainly would have participated with Battery "L" included the Campaign from the Rapidan to the James from May 3-June 15; the Battle of the Wilderness from May 5-7; at Laurel Hill on May 8; at Spottsylvania from May 8-12; at the assault on the Salient on May 12; at the North Anna River from May 23-26; at Jericho Ford on May 23; On line of the Pamunkey from May 26-28; at Cold Harbor from June 1-12; at Bethesda Church from June 1-3; at Petersburg from June 16-18.; at the Weldon Railroad from August 18-21, 1864; at Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Run from February 5-7, 1865; in the Appomattox Campaign from March 28-April 9; in the assault on and fall of Petersburg on April 2; and in the pursuit of Lee from April 3-9. On May 23rd his battery moved to Washington, D. C. where it participated in the Grand Review; mustering out June 17, 1865.
Hughes was said in a newspaper obituary to have participated in the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, but records show he did not enlist until February 3, 1864 and was mustered out of service on June 17, 1865 at Elmira, New York after the Grand Review in Washington, D.C. After receiving a discharge Hughes returned to his vocation in commerce, but only for a short time. He soon went into the theatre where he remained throughout his entire life either performing or managing. William joined the stage in 1865 under the aegis of Jarrett and Palmer, well known managers of that period. He travelled throughout the United States on many occasions and even managed the theatrical tour of Mr. George Rignold when he played "Henry V". William was known to all worldwide, simply as "Pete".
In 1869 Hughes met Mr. John F. Sheriden at Tammany Hall in New York. Mr. Jarrett, his manager, had once promoted Mr. Sheriden's career when he played the ‘Widow O'Brien' in ‘Fun on the Bristol'. Mr. Jarrett had managed Sheriden until after 1882, when he heard a manager was needed for William Hughes in Australia, and he immediately sailed for Australia in advance of Hughes, met him and became his new manager; the beginning of a 21 year career with William Hughes. ‘Fun on the Bristol' was first produced in Australia in 1884. Hughes also made trips to New Zealand giving performances 20 to 30 times and traveled through Central Queensland so many times he lost count. In 1903 William again returned to the United States for a visit. At one time, in New Zealand, William and a man named Frank Musgrove became partners in the ownership of the famous Criterion Theatre.
In early 1905 William again returned to America seeking treatment due to health problems. Shortly before William passed away he had been in New Zealand managing the tour of the ‘Van Biene Company', producing ‘The Broken Melody'; and it was apparent then that his health was suffering badly. His last performance in New Zealand was at the Opera House in Wellington. Upon returning to Australia William almost immediately entered a private hospital.
William Hughes had been in failing health for a considerable period of time and on August 16, 1905 he died of dropsy; a condition characterized by an accumulation of watery fluid in the tissues causing congestive heart failure, at the Hotel Arcadia in Sydney, New South Wales. William Hughes was 62 years of age, but his death certificate register's his age as being 58. He was buried in the Waverley Cemetery near Sydney, New South Wales in Section 16, Row 21, Grave Number 2848 2849. When his death was recorded it was mistakenly registered under the name William F. A. Hughes, instead of William P. A. Hughes. William Hughes was survived by his wife who returned to New York, where she opened her own merchant shop.
His funeral, conducted by Rev. G North Ash and was attended by well known personalities throughout the theatrical industry from the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Old play-goers always remembered William Hughes as the dapper little gentleman in his irreproachable dress suit, with a red silk handkerchief and a little opera hat always cocked at a confident angle. His cheery disposition made William a host of friends wherever he went.
New South Wales, Australia
Plot: Section 16, Row 21, Grave Number 2848 2849
Created by: James Gray
Record added: Apr 11, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 50958999