I want YOU to join the U.S. Army. But who is the real Uncle Sam behind the iconic recruitment poster? MyHeritage uncovered his fascinating story.
Samuel Wilson was born September 13, 1766, in Massachusetts, the 5th child in a family of 13 children. Samuel became a talented and successful entrepreneur. He moved to Troy, New York where he ran several businesses. He was a brick mason, a farmer, and he owned a distillery.
In 1793, he opened a very successful butcher shop where his 100+ employees nicknamed him Uncle Sam. About 20 years later, the War of 1812 broke out and the U.S. army was in dire need of supplies. Wilson was contracted to supply the army meat. The deliveries all had a U.S. stamped on the barrels indicating they were for the U.S. Army. Many of the soldiers had heard of Samuel Wilson as he was the recognized meat supplier in the area, so when they saw a U.S. stamped on the deliveries they would say jokingly that it is Uncle Sam’s meat. The name “Uncle Sam” caught on quickly and the legendary icon was born.
MyHeritage was able to trace Samuel Wilson’s descendants and discovered how his legacy of service lives on. The episode features the reflections of Wilson’s great-great-great-great-granddaughter, Helen Hauptmann Painter and her son Trey.
Source: My Heritage