My Grandfather, James Hoey, joined the Marine Corps on December 13, 1899 at the age of eighteen, although his enlistment papers show his age as twenty-one (the minimum age for enlistment at this time). According to his military records he served aboard the USS Monocacy from August 5, 1900 until September 30, 1903. While he was stationed aboard, the Monocacy was sent to China during the Boxer Rebellion.
The following is the text of one of his letters home (as he wrote it, errors and all):
Fong ku China
March 31, 1901
I take pleasure in writing thes few lines to you. I received you *** and welcom letter and was glad to here from you. I wrote to Uncle James but got no answer yet. I get no papers from Patrick or now from you for 2 too Month. I was sorry to here that Mullens and Caseys or going to move. I was glad to heare that you got that money I sent you for Christmas as I though it was lost I sent it in Sept. and got no word of it till 28 of this Month there was a ship lost on there way over to the states with a lot of male on board. I was up to Pekin last week 11 of us Marines to represent the USMC there where 7 Marine that where killed in Pekin last June and July that they or going to take home for burial with Captain Rylley (sp?) and 37 solders we marched around Pekin with the Bodys there where about 30,000 men in line of all Nathions we came next to the corps with General Schffy (sp?) fowlling us on horse back the Marines will be sent Home to day. After the paraid I whent to all the diferent citys and saw them but the secret city no one could get in there but I saw it from a wall a bout 40 feat high over looking the secret city. I got sword out of a China store room where thay kept them. and I got a lot of shot and busted shel that was stuck in the wall. We stad there 3 days there we stoped with the 9 inf. but we took 2 days rashans with us when we left the ship but we eat them before we got to Pekin it took Hours to get up to Pekin there where more People in Pekin than there or in United States to my esmation there or millens of them there that the worlds does not now of you can see more People in 2 minunts then you could see in 2 years in Pittsburg. We leve the dock on Weday but we do not know weather we or going to stay here or go Shanghia. Well I will Close hopping you all will have good luck. Tell Mrs Anderson ******* Salley Mrs Mullen Miss Harris Mrs casey and family and all the girls Uncle James and family. tell Kate Donnely I was asking for her give my best regards to all those at ask for me. Mama what is ******* Bell Quinn adress if she is in *** do you see Maggie Quinn any more. What part of Irland is Papa from. Do you know any one from Cork that comes to our house if you do tell me.
James N. Hoey
James N. Hoey, Letter to Rose (Quinn) Hoey, (Fonk Ku, China, 31 Mar 1901). Original in the possession of James N. Hoey.
United States Marine Corps, Miltary Service Records - James N. Hoey, (Washington, D.C.). Obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration.