Friday, February 20, 2015

Corporal Wilhelm William Moegling

The Biography of Corporal Wilhelm "William" Moegling is a work in progress. Most of the words are here, but
sometimes just in the wrong order. Reader comments
and suggestions are encouraged and welcome.
He is the paternal grandfather of our Grandmother Elizabeth Rosella (Moegling) Paul.  Otherwise stated, he is a Second Great Grandfather of our family's living senior generation.  Wilhelm “William” Moegling's age is variously reported in official records, including an immigrant ship manifest, federal and state census records, Zion Lutheran Church records, and U.S. Army Military Service Records.  These several records indicate his year-of-birth range from 1805-1816. Also, there are at least six different spellings of the Moegling surname. Moegling is his correct surname spelling, but other surname spellings written in official records include: Mougling, Mogling, Moeglin, Maegling, Maglin, and Magling.  Sloppy handwriting by clerks, officers, and census takers is no doubt somewhat responsible for recording errors.  Perhaps in other cases the root source of record error is Corporal Moegling's marginal command of written English.  That U.S. Army Combat Veteran Corporal Wilhelm "William" Moegling lived, prayed, worked, and died in downtown Utica, Oneida County, New York is certain and a matter of official record.  And proof that Wilhelm held some command of written English is copied here from his Mexican War enlistment papers.

Wilhelm "William" Moegling was born in Stuttgart, Wurttemberg, Germany on June 10, 1810. The life and times of Wilhelm's mother and father Mr. and Mrs. Moegling are presently unknown, but logic dictates his parents lived and died in the Stuttgart, Germany area. Wilhelm's June 10, 1810 date-of-birth (DOB) is taken from Zion Evangelical German Lutheran Church Funeral Records, now renamed Zion Lutheran Church and relocated to the corner of French and Burrstone Roads, New Hartford, NY, USA. No formal birth certificate is found. This church record birthday seems creditable, falling near the mid-point of his cited birth year range.  Little is known about Wilhelm's life in Germany, or why he decided to remove to the United States. Logic suggests his near thirty-five early years in Germany must have produced some interesting facts that are presently left to imagination.  Perhaps there is a first marriage in Germany as suggested by the 1865 record of New York State Enumeration of Inhabitants.  If this census is correct, no record is found that cites where the marriage was performed or naming his first wife. Wilhelm's siblings, if he has any, also likely remained in Germany.  Related facts about Wilhelm's early life outside the United States might certainly kindle an interesting and yet undiscovered family story.  Wilhelm arrived June 9, 1847 in New York City, NY aboard the immigrant ship SS Burgundy, sailing several days earlier from Le Havre, France. The ship manifest cites Wilhelm's age at 42 and he evidently traveled alone.  His given name in this manifest is recorded as "Wilhelm.” A common trait among arriving U.S. immigrants is to "Americanize" their given and family surnames. By family tradition, many first-generation families held a compelling desire to be rapidly viewed as American. No case is found where he ever again uses the German form given name Wilhelm.  And after all, the English translation of German language name Wilhelm is William.  This biography will hereafter use William as the subject's preferred given name.

A phone conversation with genealogical researchers at the National Archives in Washington DC confirms that U.S. Army recruiters manned recruitment offices very near the immigrant ship piers in New York City. This done for the purpose of recruiting poor immigrant men as enlisted soldiers to fight America's latest approved land-grab – the infamous Mexican War (1846-1848). William soon found his way to Philadelphia, PA, and on July 31, 1847 enlisted as a volunteer Private Soldier in the Army of the United States of America. Signed enlistment documents are held as received from the National Archives showing William Moegling, age 34, occupation "dyer," of Wirteinburg [Sic], Germany. William received an initial enlistment bounty of $6.00 (about $150.00 in 2014 inflation adjusted funds), received a clean uniform, and was then assigned to U.S. Army Company H of the 2nd Infantry Regiment. Presumably a few days of very basic military training was typically provided new Mexican War recruits. William eventually makes his way to Mexico with the U.S. Army, where he was discharged early in 1848 at "City of Mexico" (location is now renamed Mexico City). No combat record exist, but William was perhaps engaged in late 1847 fighting. Very few personal written records were kept during this short duration war, a common occurrence in particular for activities of enlisted soldiers. Military generals usually receive their acclaim, but acts of the cannon-fodder enlisted soldiers usually go unrecognized. One other record regarding William's enlistment provides positive proof of his U.S. Army Veteran service during The Mexican War.
Reference: see Mexican War Enlistments

No record is found documenting William's early 1850's activity in the United States following his discharge from service in The Mexican War. He evidently is not counted in the 1850 U.S. Census. No records seem to exist until William finds the young lady Rosella "Rosa or Rose" Jaekel in Utica, NY. The couple subsequently marry in about 1856 (no formal church record has been found to document their marriage). The year of marriage is a logical assumption based on the arrival of their first child Sophia, born 12 Apr 1858 in Utica, NY. Genealogy experts agree that the first child born in this era to a capable child-bearing couple typically arrives about eleven months following a marriage.  William's young wife Rosella (b. 14 Feb 1839 in Switzerland) was only about age 17 when they marry, William being over twenty-five years her senior. No photos are known to exist giving the family some idea of how William and Rosella appeared.  The couple's introduction was likely made via Zion Evangelical German Lutheran Church social circles, a German language Church they both regularly attended then located on Fay and Cooper Streets in downtown Utica, NY, USA.

William and Rosella "Rosa" (Jaekel) Moegling had three children, all born in Oneida County, NY, USA:
  • Sophia Moegling, b. 12 Apr 1858 in Utica, NY, d. 31 Mar 1913, m. Jacob Looft (1847-1917) abt 1874 in Utica, they had three children: William (b. 1875), Frederick (b.1878) and Ella Looft (b. 1885).
  • Edward William Moegling, b. 23 Apr 1860 in Utica, NY, d. 23 Apr 1921, m. Effie Julia Odell (1862-1924) 4 Jul 1889 in Utica, they had two children: Edna Mae (b. 1893) and Elizabeth Rosella (b. 1896).
  • Louise Moegling, b. 10 Feb 1862 in Stittville, NY, d. 26 Dec 1922, m. Herman Carl Frederick Peter (1859-1941) 1883 in Utica, they had three children: Bertha Helen (b. 1884), Lillian Louise (b. 1886), and Leona Adelaide (b. 1903).
The New York State Census dated June 16, 1865 records an age 49 William, his age 26 wife Rosella with their three minor children age 6 Sophia, age 4 Edward and age 3 Louisa resident in the 2nd Ward, Utica, Oneida County, NY.  This census further reports William was married twice, is a naturalized citizen of the USA, a U.S. Army Veteran, and his occupation is "dyer."  An interesting family observation is that William and Rosella had no additional children following William's Civil War military service, strongly suggesting his service-connected war injuries had a disabling impact on their family married life. Wife Rosella was a relatively young woman just past her thirtieth birthday when William died. And Rosella later gave birth to three more children with her second husband Mr. W.H. Stressel.

William Moegling Volunteers For Civil War Military Service
In late 1861 William felt moved to answer President Lincoln's call for men to help preserve the Union. The majority of the 97th Infantry Regiment of New York State Volunteers (a/k/a: "The Third Oneida" or "The Conkling Rifles") was recruited from areas located in northern Oneida County Townships, with Company H recruited in the city of Utica, NY. A few companies in the 97th New York were also recruited from townships in neighboring Herkimer County. From the official record unit roster, 97th Infantry Regiment of New York State Volunteers, American Civil War:
Reference see:  97th New York Roster

“MOEGLIN, WILLIAM—Age, 43 years. Enlisted, November 30, 1861, at Utica, to serve three years; mustered in as corporal, Co. H, December 11, 1861; returned to ranks, no date; discharged for disability, June 11, 1863, at hospital, as Moegling.”

Zion Evangelical German Lutheran Church records are assumed valid, from these records it is concluded that Corporal William Moegling was age 51, not 43 as reported in his Civil War enlistment record. This is just one more case where William's age was incorrectly reported, or he may have intentionally misstated his age at enlistment. Our travels to Sharpsburg, MD in mid-September 2012 for the 150th anniversary activities of the Battle of Antietam (17 Sep 1862) were highly instructive. That fateful day near Antietam Creek, Sharpsburg, Maryland remains the bloodiest single day in American history. Several presentations were viewed, and early Monday morning 17 Sep 2012, we walked with thousands of visitors around "The Bloody Cornfield" where the 97th Infantry Regiment of New York State Volunteers fought that foggy early morning. We know from official regimental and company attendance records that Corporal William Moegling was present and assigned to the 97th New York on 17 Sep 1862, but we may never know with absolute certainty if Corporal William Moegling was actually on the field that awful morning. Just over 200 of the 500+ 97th Regimental Soldiers were actually engaged this day. It was common that many members of Civil War regiments would be detailed for other battle support duties (e.g., duty with ambulance wagons, field hospitals or ammunition & supply wagons), or themselves previously incapacitated resulting from a forced march and/or some common soldier sickness or wounds. By this mid-September 1862 time at the Battle of Antietam, many of our Upstate New York union soldiers had already been killed, wounded or captured, and many others were in hospital recovering from various sicknesses contracted as part of a soldier's life. We know William was released from an Army Hospital near Belle Plains Landing, Virginia and discharged from the Army for some service-connected disability on 11 June 1863. One of these official records cites his gunshot wound received during the Battle of Antietam and another official record states that part of a leg was amputated. Scanned copies of the many documents received from the National Archives in Washington DC relating to William's Mexican War and American Civil War military service are uploaded to the public "DJ Paul Family Tree."

The average Union soldier in the Civil War was 25.8 years old, and it is believed the maximum recruitment age for an enlisted soldier in 1861/1862 was about age 45. But it is likely a recruit's age was not proved by a legal birth certificate, so the military recruiter would typically simply take the stated sworn word of a recruit's age. And William's enlistment paper age is likely intentionally misstated, he was a service volunteer who wanted to serve. Most townships in New York State election districts would also pay a significant recruitment "bounty" to men enlisted for military service, what today is commonly called a recruitment bonus. This cash bounty acts as a very significant enlistment motivation to recent immigrants and dirt-poor farm boys. Reference: See “For Cause & Comrades: Why Men Fought In The Civil War” – by James M. McPherson. Oxford University Press, New York. 1997.

Civil War Activities of 97th Infantry Regiment
of New York State Volunteers
Note: This portion is a collage from various sources including, but not limited to, various Antietam Battlefield publications, the written works of a favored author the famed Civil War authority James M. McPherson, and many public web sites including (American Civil War), (The History Channel), (NY State Department of Military and Naval Affairs), (Antietam on the Web), (Civil War Trust), and several other web sites easily discovered by Google search.  The 97th New York Regiment was engaged in the follow major Civil War battles while Corporal Wilhelm "William" Moegling was attached:
  • Battle of Cedar Mountain (9 Aug 1862)
  • Gen Pope's Virginia Campaign-Rappahannock, etc. (16 Aug 1862 – 2 Sep 1862)
  • Battle of Second Bull Run (28-30 Aug 1862)
  • Battle of South Mountain (14 Sep 1862)
  • Battle of Antietam (17 Sep 1862)
97th New York Infantry Regiment was assigned in Brigadier General Abram Duryea's (a/k/a Duryee) 2nd Brigade of Major General Ricketts 2nd Division in General Hooker's First Corps, Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Antietam, 17 Sep 1862.  Here the regiment suffered injuries more severely than in any other war engagement. More than one half of the regiment were killed and wounded in less than a half hour, just after the sunrise engagement as they commenced moving south over the "Bloody Cornfield." Yet men never displayed more coolness and determination. Not a man was captured; and, when relieved, though under a galling fire, the Regiment retired in good order. A map displayed at link that follows shows the 97th New York position at 7:00 a.m.  (note: this is EST, since no daylight savings existed in 1862).
A second map at 7:20 a.m. does not show the regiment on the field, so an assumption can be made the regiment has already withdrawn and sent to the rear to reorganize.

A summary of General Duryea's Brigade Battle of Antietam action on 17 Sep 1862 follows (personally copied from signage located at the Antietam Battlefield):
"Early in the morning Duryea's Brigade moved from its bivouac in the Poffenberger Woods, on the Smoketown Road. Forming in column of Divisions it obliques right until near J. Poffenberger's when it marched south through the North Woods, passed the right of Hartsuff's Brigade and between Pennsylvania Light Battery F (Matthews') and Pennsylvania Light Battery C (Thompson's), in position on the high ground between D. R. Miller's and the East Woods. Arriving at the Cornfield fence the Brigade deployed and moved through the Cornfield to its south edge (75 yards distant) when it encountered the Confederate line, which was about 145 to 160 yards south of this. In less than a half hour the left of the Brigade was withdrawn, the right remained a few minutes longer when it fell back. Portions of the Brigade rallied and made another advance part way through the Cornfield, but fell back as Hartsuff's Brigade came into action."

The 97th Infantry Regiment of NY State Volunteers at the Battle of First Fredericksburg (13 Dec 1862): It is believed that Corporal Moegling remained assigned to the 97th New York, but was likely in an army field hospital on 13 Dec 1862, so he was likely not engaged at the Battle of First Fredericksburg. Since Corporal William Moegling was discharged from an Army hospital on 11 June 1863, the presumption is he was wounded during one or more the battles cited above (most likely at the Battle of Antietam). Two National Archives documents state he suffered a gunshot would at Antietam, and another official document states that William had part of a leg amputated. There is also a significant chance that he contracted one of the serious sicknesses of unsanitary soldier's life and was unable to continue the duties of an enlisted soldier. William applied for an Invalid Disability Pension on 18 Jul 1863, but it appears the pension application had not been granted by his untimely death in Nov 1869. Strangely, his remarried wife Rosella (now Mrs. “Rosa” Stressel) also files for a widow's pension in 1879 under her remarried surname as Rosa Stressel. Federal legislation enacted about 1879 allowed widows to claim the retroactive pensions of Civil War Veterans, apparently even if the woman had remarried. No proof has been found that either of these disability pension applications (William's invalid or Rosa's Widow pension) was ever approved or received.

From Utica City Directories, Joseph Arnott, Publisher, it is recorded that William Moegling lived in Utica, NY, appearing in three different City Directories as follows:
  • 1865 - living at 129 Water Street in rented housing, a location that is presently just northeast of Utica Memorial Auditorium.
  • 1866 - Occupation is listed as "Dyer at McLean's." Home is at 129 Water Street, Utica, NY
  • 1869 – Residence on corner of Fayette and Varick Streets. Occupation "dyer." Also named in Business Directory of this volume under "Scourers and Dyers" as Wm. Moegling, corner Fayette and  Varick Streets.
William Moegling's Utica, NY employer as listed in ad published in 1869 City and Business Directory:
Mrs. A McLean's
26 Hotel St., Utica, N.Y.
"All Kinds of Goods Dyed and Dressed to look equal to New."
"Ladies' Crape, Broche and Paisley Shawls Cleaned."

William Moegling died on 23 Nov 1869 of "Lung Congestion." This is reported in Schedule 2, p 120, line 2, of 1870 US Census, Mortality Schedule of those persons who died in the year prior to 1 Jun 1870. This Mortality Schedule referenced Schedule 1, Family 21, page 3 of 1870 US Census, Ninth Ward, City of Utica, Oneida County, NY. Family 21 is found on lines 7 through 13 of Schedule 1, and lists Henry Stressel, Rosa Stressel, Sophia Moegling, Edward Moegling, Louise Moegling, Bertha Stressel and Charles Stressel. This census confirms that Henry and Rosa married in April 1870. Census further confirms Henry Stressel and his two children Bertha and Charles from his prior marriage moved in to the same home where William resided on his untimely death. Indeed, an interesting twist about a century before the famed "The Brady Bunch" story.  It is strongly suspected the introductions of Henry and Rosa were through the Zion Evangelical German Lutheran Church. Following William's death, Rosa needed support for her and their three minor kids.  And new husband Henry Stressel, an apparent 1866 immigrant from Germany, needed a caregiver for his two minor kids while he was at work. A probable arranged marriage by the Zion Lutheran Church Pastor Andrew Wetzel, a marriage of perhaps great necessity for both Henry and Rosa Moegling Stressel. There were few public safety nets to assist a family in need in these earlier days.

The Funeral Records of Zion Evangelical German Lutheran Church, Utica, NY (now Zion Lutheran Church, New Hartford, NY) report the William's death on 23 Nov 1869, with funeral service following on 25 Nov 1869. The church record is handwritten written in German Script as entered by Church Pastor The Rev. Andrew Wetzel. The date 25 Nov 1869 is also mentioned, probably the date of burial.  Unfortunately, it was the practice of Pastor Wetzel to not record the burial location.  An accurate English translation of the Church funeral record remains needed.

Interment was logically at Potter Street Cemetery (a/k/a: Utica's city-owned municipal cemetery), but currently no positive proof of this burial location exists. Interment at Potter Street Cemetery is a strong circumstantial probability, really a strong hypothesis that awaits someone to disprove. Potter Street Cemetery was a municipal burial site and Utica's first cemetery, then located at Potter and  Water Streets, and on the northern side of the city of Utica just south from the Mohawk River. For many years the city of Utica Administration allowed Potter Street Cemetery to go unattended -- perhaps for decades -- exposed to the ravage of time both natural and unnatural.  Then in 1916 using the disagreeable state of the cemetery as justification to completely exhume and remove Potter Street Cemetery. Thousands of burials at Potter Street Cemetery were exhumed starting in late 1916, some removed and  reburied at the direction of family to other area cemeteries.  However, the vast majority of these exhumed skeletons taken to Forest Hill Cemetery. Less than nine hundred of these near 5,000 skeletons were identified, with over 4,000 thousand skeletons simply listed as unknown persons. The bones of known and unknown persons were packed in small two-foot basswood boxes and taken to Forest Hill Cemetery for reburial in a mass grave, frequently with multiple skeletons in a single box as a stated project cost saving measure.

More Details On Wilhelm “William” Moegling's Burial
A four-year search for 2nd Great Grandfather Wilhelm "William" Moegling is now suspended, this pending the highly unlikely discovery of new firm and valid related data. Potter Street Cemetery (a/k/a: Potter's Field) seems logical and likely as Grandpa Moegling's most probable temporary resting place. It is further likely his grave marker at Potter Street Cemetery, if any, was a wooden marker (as many there were). By the time of cemetery removal in 1916, the grave marker was lost, decayed and/or vandalized with this 1916 destruction of Utica's Potter Street Cemetery took place. And since about eighty percent of the unknown skeletons exhumed at the cemetery were taken in small basswood boxes to Forest Hill Cemetery, most of Grandpa's remains were likely boxed with other unknowns and disposed of in this 100' x 100' mass grave at Forest Hill Cemetery (Section 58B). This mass grave site was purchased by the city of Utica in 1916 for Potter Street Cemetery re-burials. Grandpa Wilhelm and his wife Rosella ("Grandma Rosa") Moegling had three minor kids at his untimely1869 death, were financially not well off (perhaps even considered working poor), lived in rented housing on the corner of Varick and Fayette Streets in downtown Utica, attended the original Zion Evangelical German Lutheran Church on Fay and Cooper Street in downtown Utica, and he was employed in his lifelong occupation as a "dyer" at Mrs. A. McClean's "City Steam & Dye Works" business on 26 Hotel Street, downtown Utica, NY. William's home, his Church & his workplace essentially border the city-owned municipal Potter Street Cemetery. Evidence is strong that Grandpa's Civil War Army Veteran Disability Invalid Pension application had not been approved at his untimely death 23 November 1869. He submitted this Military Disability Pension Application in July 1863, following his Civil War U.S. Army Discharge For Disability and U.S. Army release in early-to-mid 1863.

The mass grave at Forest Hill Cemetery where the bones from Potter Street Cemetery removal were re-interred is nearly centered between cemetery Section 58 and 58A roadside signs on the lower southern perimeter road. Forest Hill Cemetery Superintendent Mr. Gerard Waterman refers to this area as Section 58B, but no observed 58B signage appears here). Section 58B 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 tree surrounding. Further, Section 58B essentially borders Forest Hill Cemetery heavy gauge wire south perimeter fence. Superintendent Waterman explained his crew was once digging a grave near this 1916 city-owned 100'x100' mass grave site and several old bones were dug up, causing him to research and discover that this unmarked location is where the bones of mainly unknown persons from Potter Street Cemetery were placed. No honorary markers are present citing Section 58B as the re-burial ground for "Unknown Souls" removed from Potter Street Cemetery. This unmarked mass grave burial ground for several thousand early Utica residents is now a colossal disgrace that requires remedy. Some form of memorial monument is required here to formally mark this ground.

Some Recent Good News
The U.S. Veterans Administration, Memorial Programs Service at Nashville, TN has approved a Memorial Headstone for Corporal William Moegling.  VA Representatives explained in a phone conversation that this Memorial Headstone should be delivered to Forest Hill Cemetery about the first of April 2015. Superintendent Gerard Waterman of Forest Hill Cemetery will receive the Memorial Headstone and has agreed to place the stone in Forest Hill Cemetery Section 42, this being the burial grounds originally set aside for Civil War Veteran burials. Obviously, William's remains will not be buried in this location; whereas, the preponderance of research evidence and fundamental logic show that his remains were almost certainly exhumed as an unknown person when Potter Street Cemetery was removed as then located in downtown Utica at Water and Potter Streets. His exhumed remains almost certainly now rest at Forest Hill Cemetery Section 58B (a/k/a: "City of Utica Public Burial Grounds"), centered between two other public burial grounds called "The Tiers", re-buried there in late 1916 with the remains of nearly 5,000 other early Utica, New York residents.  About eighty percent of these re-burials were then classified as unidentified skeletons. This 100' x 100' mass grave-site was purchased earlier by the city of Utica as required in terms of Potter Street Cemetery removal authorization specified by a May 1916 Act of the New York State Legislature.

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