Thursday, August 15, 2013

Our Grandfather Corporal William Moegling

My four-year search for the remains of 2nd Great Grandfather Wilhelm “William” Moegling is continuing. But the discovery of new firm and valid related data relating to Potter Street Cemetery seems unlikely.  This Utica, NY municipal cemetery was unfortunately sometimes called “Potter’s Field,” so named to acknowledge the original Potter Family property owners who conveyed the three plots of land that became this city municipal cemetery.  The cemetery was not a burial ground reserved exclusively for the poor, as the name potter's field usually implies.  Many prominent early citizens of the Utica, NY area were interred at Potter Street Cemetery over the 122 year span of active use.  According to researchers with Saint Agnes Catholic Church in Utica, NY, as many as 10,000 persons were likely interred at Potter Street Cemetery.

It seems highly likely that Potter Street Cemetery was Grandpa Moegling's logical and probable temporary resting place. Further, it is probable his grave marker, if any, was a wooden marker design (as many there were), and by 1916 was lost, decayed and/or vandalized when the 1916 destruction of Utica's Potter Street Cemetery took place. We know from Corporal William Moegling's Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR), as received from National Archives and Records Administration that Grandpa did not receive his earned government-furnished headstone following his untimely 1869 death.  And about 80% of the several thousand late 1916 exhumed souls at Potter Street Cemetery were classified as unidentified persons, several skeletons grouped together in a single small boxes for "cost savings" and taken to Forest Hill Cemetery on Oneida Street, Utica, NY.  Most of Grandpa's remains were likely placed in one or more of these small containers with the remains of other unidentified persons and unceremoniously reburied in a 100' x 100' hollow purchased by the city of Utica as a mass grave site for unidentified Potter Street Cemetery souls. This Forest Hill Cemetery mass grave burial site is now defined as Section 58B (a/k/a: "City of Utica Public Burial Grounds"), a site purchased by the Utica city authorities in 1916. Any bureaucratic suggestion that absolutely none of the unidentified persons exhumed in 1916 from this 122-year old Potter Street Cemetery were U.S. Military Veterans of the Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The Mexican War, The American Civil War or even the Spanish-American War simply won’t pass a smell test. My Grandpa, Corporal Wilhelm “William” Moegling was a Military Veteran of both The Mexican War and The American Civil War.

Grandpa Moegling and his wife Rosella ("Grandma Rosa") Moegling had three minor kids at Grandpa’s death in late November 1869, they were financially not prosperous (perhaps considered today as working poor), they lived in rented housing on the corner of Varick and Fayette Streets in downtown Utica, NY, they attended the original Zion German Evangelical Lutheran Church at Fay and Cooper Streets in downtown Utica, and Grandpa was working in his lifelong occupation as a "dyer" at Mrs. A. McClean's Scourer and Dyer Shop on 26 Hotel Street in downtown Utica. His home, his Church and his workplace essentially border the 1869 city-owned Potter Street Cemetery (all within a half mile radius). Grandpa had submitted a Military Disability Pension application in July 1863, this following his U.S. Army Civil War Discharge For Disability in early 1863. Official papers from the National Archives in Washington DC document he suffered several war-related disabilities including a gunshot wound received during the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862. His veteran's invalid pension application also states he has a service-connected double hernia. Strong evidence is that Grandpa's Civil War Army Veteran Disability Pension application had not yet been approved by his death 23 Nov 1869.

There is a spot in Forest Hill Cemetery nearly centered between cemetery Section 58 and 58A roadside signs on the lower southern perimeter road that Forest Hill Cemetery Superintendent Gerard Waterman called Section 58B (but there was no observed 58B signage here). Section 58B (a/k/a: "City of Utica Public Burial Grounds") is directly south from the small roadside gravestone of Mary M. (d. 1937) and Edward R. Stramm Sr. (d. 1926), the Stramm gravestone no more than five feet from the south side of this perimeter road, and has a couple large trees surrounding. Furthermore, Section 58B essentially borders the Forest Hill Cemetery heavy gage wire south perimeter fence. Superintendent Waterman told me his crew was digging a grave near this 1916 city purchased 100'x100' site and several bones were unintentionally dug up, causing him to research and discover that this location is where the bones of unknown souls from Potter Street Cemetery were re-buried in a mass grave. No honorary markers are present to flag Section 58B as the location for mass re-burials of those several thousand "Unknown Souls" exhumed from Potter Street Cemetery. This unmarked mass burial ground for the several thousand Potter Street Cemetery unknown disinterred is a colossal disgrace. Some form of significant memorial monument is required here to formally mark this ground. Section 58B is the same location where the majority of the identifiable disinterred Potter Street Cemetery skeletons were re-buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in a place between two other public burial grounds called “The Tiers."

The contempt we presently hold for our post Civil War federal government -- delay and more delay for those Civil War disability pension applications -- so therefore perhaps the pension applicant will die first as Grandpa did. And a contempt is growing for those period leaders of the City of Utica who allowed the city's first municipal burial ground Potter Street Cemetery at Potter and Water Streets to fall victim to the natural and unnatural ravage of time. 

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