Monday, April 11, 2011

Civil War Ancestor? A New Mystery!

Yesterday when viewing my latest newsletter from Ancestry I noted an article regarding the Civil War and the upcoming 150th anniversary of this US historical event. Not having any ancestors that served in the Civil War, I quickly discounted the article and went on with the remainder of the newsletter. Though I have been an active genealogist since the 70's (1970's that is!) I never have studied, researched or otherwise been involved with seeking out Civil War data.

However, though I ignored the article on the Civil War, a little bird was whispering in my ear throughout the day. I suddenly remembered the box of war medals that my paternal grandmother Schulte had grudgingly given me in the 1980's. I was the only granddaughter but none of my male cousins, nor my brother, had any interest in these medals and I finally managed to get my grandmother to let me take them. There were medals from my great-grandfather, Rudolph Schulte, who served in the Spanish American War and medals from my grandfather, Elmer Schulte, who had served in WWI. I created some shadow boxes and these medals are now displayed in my home.

Somehow the thought kept coming to me that there were some other medals in that box that my grandmother kept and these had the wording of "The Grand Army of the Republic". I did learn that this organization was a fraternal organization comprised of veterans of the Union Army who had served in the Civil War.
I asked my grandmother at the time where these medals had originated and she stated she didn't remember. I will confess that my grandmother was not totally immersed in my family quests, and while she did help me some, more times than not she gave me inaccurate information. When I would later uncover the accurate facts and ask her about them, she would confess that she had not told me the truth because she wanted me to "let sleeping dogs lie".

The majority of my ancestors did not arrive in the US until after 1870, long after the end of the Civil War. However, my Feucht ancestors WERE in the US in the mid-1850's though I just assumed that my second great-grandfather, Jacob Feucht, never would have served in the Civil War as he was married with several children at that time. That may have been a mistake because we should never assume anything in doing research!

Yesterday my thoughts started to expand and I decided to go on Ancestry and search the Civil War draft registers on a whim to see if my Jacob Feucht would be listed. Imagine my surprise when I found the following entry:

There definitely is an entry for a Jacob Feucht. The information contained in the draft register is mainly of a general nature, and while the data does match up with MY Jacob Feucht, I wonder if I can definitely say this is my ancestor.

My second great-grandfather Johann Jacob Feucht (known as Jacob) was born August 11, 1826 in Tamm, Ludwigsburg, Wuerttemberg, Germany. He came to the US in the mid-1850's and on February 20, 1859 married Magdalena Helena Bauer (known as Helena) at Trinity Lutheran Church in Detroit, MI (now Historic Trinity Lutheran Church).

The draft registration does match, basically, with my Jacob. It does show an 1863 draft in Hillsdale, MI (near to Detroit) of a 34 year old white male who is married and who was born in Germany and who is listed as a laborer. My Jacob Feucht was 34/35 at that time, married, born in Germany and the 1870 census shows Jacob listed as a laborer. Neither the 1870 or 1880 US census records from Detroit show any information on former military service so those census records do not assist a genealogist in determining whether an ancestor did serve.

I am inclined to believe this record is my Jacob Feucht. Jacob's daughter, Julie Feucht, married Rudolph Schulte and following her death, Rudolph married her sister, Elizabeth Feucht, which could explain the Grand Army of the Republic medals in my grandmother Schulte's safekeeping.

I am also wondering, though, whether Jacob Feucht actually served in this War. I searched the other Ancestry records on the Civil War and Jacob's name does not appear though there are two Jacob's listed with a surname that could be considered a variant of Feucht (the name has been massacred greatly in the records I have searched) and those entries show service from Ohio and Pennsylvania. Not having previously researched in any way Civil War records, I am not knowledgeable as to whether individuals could have registered for the draft in Michigan but been assigned to regiments in nearby Ohio or Pennsylvania.

To add to my mystery, Jacob and Helena Feucht had 10 children during the years 1860-1881. The years of birth were 1860, 1861, 1864, 1866, 1868, 1870, 1872, 1875, 1877 and 1881. I noted with interest the frequency with which their children were born BUT there is a 3 year gap from the time daughter, Elizabeth, was born in 1861 and daughter, Rosa, was born in 1864. Could it be that father, Jacob, had been serving in the Civil War during that period?

Can I claim a Civil War ancestor? I will need to begin researching this event in US history in more depth to see what further records I can uncover.


Apple said...

In 1894 Michigan had a census of War Veterans. I have also seen chapters on the Civil War in some of the Michigan County histories. You could try these two sites:

Cheryl said...

Thanks, Apple, for the information. Hope you are doing well.

Bill West said...

Interesting post, Cheryl. Keep digging, and thanks for taqking part in the Challenge!

Cheryl said...

Thanks, Bill, for opening up this Civil War challenge.