Thursday, September 10, 2009 | By: Rudi Butt

Consul From the Dixieland

Last Updated on November 15, 2011

Frederick Busch [1] arrived in Hong Kong in 1843 and opened the US Consulate in his capacity as the first American Consul. This is the same year when Henry Pottinger took up office as the first governor. Not much information on Busch surfaced to this point, except that he complained time and again that very few American ships had stopped in Hong Kong and all the business was in China and Shanghai. In fact, American merchants in Canton in those days described Hong Kong as a "dog's hole" where no business was transacted.

Then, 35 years after the opening of the consulate, a Civil War legend took up the Consul position and stayed here in Hong Kong for seven years and, his name is John Mosby, or “Gray Ghost” Mosby.

John Singleton Mosby (b.1833-d.1916) was born in Powhatan County, Virginia, and grew up on a farm near Charlottesville in the Virginia Piedmont. After studying at the University of Virginia, and reading law while serving a jail sentence for shooting a fellow student, he was admitted to the Virginia Bar in 1854. In the election of 1860 he was a Douglas Democrat and a supporter of the Union, but upon the secession of Virginia he entered the Confederate military service under cavalry Colonel J.E.B. Stuart. With the consent of Stuart and R.E. Lee he subsequently formed an independent cavalry unit – the 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry, Partisan Rangers - which operated behind Union lines in Loudoun and Fauquier Counties, which region became known as "Mosby's Confederacy." The unit was noted for its lightning quick raids, partisan or ranger-like tactics and Mosby's ability to successfully elude his Union Army pursuers and disappear with his men, blending in with local farmers and townspeople, hence the “Gray Ghost” nickname.

The history of his war experiences in found in the Memoirs, finished near the end of his life and published in 1917. Always of an individualist temperament, Mosby became a friend of Ulysses Grant after the War, and a Republican. He had several U.S. Government posts, including a consulship in Hong Kong. He died in Washington, D.C. in 1916.

Mosby and his men carried out the Greenback Raid and attacked Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan's wagon train at Berryville in 1863.


Reference Books:
  • The Memoirs of John Singleton Mosby, by John Singleton Mosby, edited by Charles W. Russell
  • Rebel: The Life and Times of John Singleton Mosby, by Kevin H. Siepel/ Peter A. Brown (INT)/ Benjamin F. Cooling (INT)/ Eugene McCarthy (FRW)
  • Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby by James Ramage
[1] Not be mistaken with America’s most prolific writers of fiction long and short under the same name. Frederick Busch, the writer, was born more than a century later than the diplomat Busch and is the father of Major Benjamin Busch, US Marine. The young Busch is famous for his portrayal of Anthony Colicchio on the HBO original series 'The Wire'.

The notes put forward by the Great-Great Grandchild of Frederick Busch, whom I have mistaken as the first US Consul stationed in Hong Kong, had me working again on the matters relating to the early US diplomatic agents sent to Hong Kong. Here are some updates:

Thomas Westbrook Waldron (b. May 21, 1814, New Hampshire - d. September 18, 1844, Macau) was indeed the US Consul in Hong Kong in 1843. He was tabled as Consul in Hong Kong in the 1843 “Register of All Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in The Service of the United States”, prepared by the Department of States. There was, however, no mention of his place of birth in the table. It was further remarked that he was to be paid by “fee” (meaning reimbursement of expenses he incurred on consular affairs) rather than a fixed salary. This is what I interpreted: Waldron, a ship captain’s clerk in his own right, happened to be in Hong Kong right at the time a Consul was needed. The appointment was most probably a marriage of convenience. As can be seen in a story carried in the Friend of China of February 3, 1844, Waldron arrived in Hong Kong without the official diplomatic credentials.

We notice the arrival in Hong Kong of Thomas W Waldron, U S Government Agent, with stores for the U S Squadron.
We understand he is to be Consul in Hong Kong and only awaits the arrival of his credentials to take up the office.

Waldron died on September 18, 1844 after contracting cholera in Macau where he was said to travel to on official business. Considering that he had not had his official papers in February that same year, his short-lived tenure as US Consul lasted no more than six months. Son of Nathaniel Sheafe Waldron and Virginia Riggs, Thomas W. came from an old New Hampshire family. His Great-Great-Great-Grandfather Col. Richard Waldron (b.1650-d.1730) of the New Hampshire militia married Hannah Cutt, daughter of John Cutt, the first President of the royal Province of New Hampshire. Cutt married the daughter of  Dr. Comfort Starr, a founder of the Harvard University.

Here are information on some of the US Consuls and Consul Generals appointed to Hong Kong up until the collapse of the Qing China.

May 24, 1853- January 22, 1862 James Keenan
1862-1865 Horace N. Congar (b.1817 - d.1893)
1869 - Col. C.N. Goulding
1871 - David H. Baily
1879 - John S. Mosby
1886 - R.E. Withers
1890 - Oliver H. Simons
1893 - William E. Hunt
1897 - Rounsevelle Wildman, Consul General
1901 - William A. Rublee, Consul General
1902 - Edward S. Bragg, Consul General
1906 - Amos P. Wilder
1909 - William A. Rublee, Consul General
1911 - George E. Anderson, Consul General


Anonymous said...

There is dispute that Frederick was the first consulate, but it is Thomas W. Waldron who died of cholera.

Frederick is my Great-Great Grandfather and I have a letter from Dept of State indicating that Frederick Busch was Consulate Hong Kong(8/25/1845-1/30/1852). His name is also listed in Boston records as Frederick T. Bush (last name spelling differs) from Bush & Company or Bush and Comstock (a Boston firm which traded with California and the Far East). Frederick's son was later Vice Consul Hankow, Frederick Dubois Bush (2/26/1876-12/1877). Subsequent family used Bush for last name.

Info HK Consulate:
"Thomas W. Waldron was appointed as the first U.S. Consul to Hong Kong in 1843. He traveled to Macau on an official visit in September 1844, where he died of cholera."

Anonymous said...

Thomas W. Waldron was appointed as the first U.S. Consul to Hong Kong in 1843. He traveled to Macau on an official visit in September 1844, where he died of cholera.

Rudi Butt said...

Thank you for your notes and great information, Great-Great Grandchild of Frederick Busch. I am very very happy to be able to interact with descendants of history figures that have helped shape the history of Hong Kong.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rudi, thanks for this interesting blog. I've just written an article on "Weston's China Trader: Frederick Thomas Bush" for the Weston Historical Society Bulletin and you can find it in the Fall 2011 issue at Weston, Massachusetts (just outside Boston) is where Frederick and his wife Elizabeth DeBlois Bush bought a farm in 1856 and raised their 8 children after they returned from Hong Kong.

I hope that you and your readers enjoy the article and would appreciate any additional information on "Uncle Fred", his family and his descendants, including "Anonymous!" My husband Samuel Dacre Bush IV is his great, great, great nephew. I've done much genealogical research on this family, which came to America from England in the 1640's, and can say with certainty that the name was never spelled any other way but "Bush."

My name is Isabella but, due to technical difficulties, I'll have to post my comment as "Anonymous" also. Keep up the good work, Rudi!

Anonymous said...

I believe I, too, am a decendant of Frederick T. & Frederick Dubois Bush. My grandfather was Eldred Drummond Bush, married to Rosy Helen Jacobsen Bush 1919. If you have more info, I'd love to hear from you.

Rudi Butt said...

I found several entries, yours and others, in the message board, E.A., very interesting about Annie DeBlois married to Alexander Perceval. I will certainly keep my eyes and ears open. Thanks for the message.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to correct your post - Consul Thomas Westbrook Waldron was the son of Daniel Waldron of New Hampshire, not of Nathaniel (his brother, an early US Marine). If its okay to be a relative then I can mention that too - I'm descended from his older Canadian cousin of the very same name who was born in New Hampshire but died in New Brunswick, Canada, in about 1867. The consul then is a first cousin three times removed. Thanks for the posting about Consul Waldron.

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