1890s New York State National Guard Paymaster General’s Uniform Grouping.


The group contains a full dress frock coat with rare knots; an undress coat similar to a British Patrol Jacket, with brigadier general’s straps and a super full dress general officer’s belt with NY plate, and his M1860 Field & Staff Sword with gold washed blade with his name on it.

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1890s New York State National Guard Paymaster General’s Uniform Grouping. I have narrowed down to the most likely original owner of this grouping.

First, the full dress coat is very similar to the pattern 1872, unchanged in army regulation through the 1899 regs. The maker of the coat is “W.D. STRYKER & CO. / 201 GRAND ST. / NEW YORK,” and the label is hand stitched inside on the lining just below the dark blue velvet collar.  Stryker & Co. is listed at this address from 1885 to 1887 (listed advertiser in the Army & Navy Journal from 1876 thru 1887), but perhaps a bit longer. The dark blue cuffs are three inches high with two buttons sewn on the velvet with the third sewn above the velvet (a similar trait of other known NYS general officers dress coats, and a slight departure from the U.S. regs). Sleeve linings are silk with dark and light blue stripes. Double breasted with 2 rows of New York State staff buttons (Albert NY 28-A, Scovill Mfg Co. New York State / Waterbury...)  Configuration of the buttons is correct for a brigadier general.  All buttons match, and complete.  The lining is a fine quality greenish-blue quilted cotton with one breast pocket, one each in the skirts.  The scarce aspect to his uniform is the use of non-regulation shoulder knots; regulation in every way except for the use of buff colored ground to which a bullion brigadier star and “PD” for Paymaster Department is applied. U.S. Army regulations called for a black ground to which rank and department insignia would be applied. These knots are made by “J.H. McKenney,”  In 1888, the McKenney firm became Ridabock & Co.  The coat is in Excellent condition with minimal wear.

A variant 1892 Pattern undress coat looks more like a British patrol jacket, but note that  some New York regiments’s uniforms were influenced by British patterns from the late 18th century through to the early 1900s, and then some. A regulation 1892 undress coat would have the mohair trim with loops on each end, where this coat uses mohair covered (none functioning) toggles, on the ends and at center of each row. Five rows of quatrefoil indicate rank on the sleeves as well as shoulder straps, for a brigadier general’s rank. The straps are held in place by the use of sewn loops that accept the corner hooks of the straps; one of which is broken on the front left corner on right shoulder. There is no maker label in the coat, nor on the underside of the straps. The lining is a dark greenish lining with white linen with pencil thin red and blue stripes.  The mohair trim shows several areas of were, as well as the quatrefoil, mostly on the right sleeve. I have photographed the rough areas that would be visible when displayed on manequin. This coat or jacket could preceed the U.S. 1892 undress coat.

The moroccan leather general officer’s dress sword belt is typical of the late Indian Wars era with the three gold bullion stripes. No maker hallmarks are found on the belt. The New York belt plate is finished in gilt, and has silvered “NY” and wreath. The belt plate and keeper are stamped with the number “43.” The number on the plate is hidden from view near the edge covered by the belt. The hangers have the earlier style two straps with swivel snaps. Gilt on the brass furniture is fine plus.  When the dress coat was on manequin, the belt went on perfectly without adjustment. A fabulous quality example.

The General’s sword, also sold by “J.H. McKenney & Co. N.Y.”  The gold washed /etched 30 inch blade, is personalized to “Genl’ Walter C. Stokes” on one side along with a panoply of arms and floral decorations; the other side is quite similar, having the “U.S.” The gold wash shows some wear overall, with area being greater or lesser (see photos). The blade has a few blemishes, but fine + overall.  The red felt washer is missing. The sword is a basic generic Model 1860 with upgrades for this general officer; there is some light chasing on the counter guard’s eagle wings. an acorn measuring 3/4 inches mounted the capstan rivet. The hilt’s grip boasts a silver grip with intertwined fancy gilt wire.  The other counter guard folds for wearing on belt. The scabbard is all standard, and in fine + condition with very light -minute bubbling to the nickel plating. The sword retains approximately 90 % gilt. The sword was discovered just days after purchasing the uniform, while doing some research. Now with this being another piece of this group originally purchased from McKenney, I am most certain of the owner.

Given the dating of the knots which don’t go beyond 1888 (J.H. McKenney), then the dress coat being made by a maker who does not advertise after 1887 (in the ANJ- Stryker), and another identical coat found in the New York Historical Society for another NYS officer dating 1889 – 1892,  named to Brigadier General Thomas H. Barbar, I believe the man who owned the coat was Walter C. Stokes.

Brigadier General Walter C Stokes was the New York National Guard Paymaster General from 1888 until 1891. His office as Paymaster General spanned the elected term of New York Governor David B. Hill. His National Guard position was a political appointment. General Stokes was a banker in civilian life. His country home “Woodside Hall” was in Cooperstown, New York. On January 1, 1892, Frederick R. Halsey was appointed the new paymaster general for the state. In my researching I found that General Stokes sword was sold at auction in 2019. The maker of the sword was J.H. McKenney.  Officer's dress coat




Brigadier General Thomas H. Barbar’s dress coat to the right is in the NY Historical Society.