Robert Thomas Winike
Today my father Robert Thomas Winike would have been 86 years old. He died in 1970 when he was 41 from lung cancer. Click on the image to the left to enlarge. My father is on the far left, third row from the top. One of my goals this year was to find out more about dad’s father Frank. I have not been successful in my search for my grandfather’s story but I have uncovered some wonderful research about my father’s great grandfather. So today we celebrate a Civil War hero.
My second great grandfather, Charles Frey, was born in Germany in Jan 1842. He immigrated to Monroe, Wisconsin in 1854 at the age of 12. I don’t yet know who he traveled to the U.S. with or why he left his homeland.
Charles married Anna Rinehart in 1866 and they had a daughter named Matilda (Tillie) in 1880, my great grandmother. Tillie married Edward Norder on New Year’s day in 1902. They had a daughter named Grace in 1908, my grandmother. Grace married Frank Winike and they had a son named Robert in 1928, my father.
The photo above is Joe Rachor, my mother Corinne, and my father Robert. Dad’s mother Grace is sitting with my brother Bob. The photo below from left to right is my grandmother Grace, her second husband Joseph Rachor, Grace’s sister??, and my father. I don’t know the name of the child.
On 14 Oct 1861 at the age of 19 Charles enlisted in the civil war. His service was with the 2nd Battery Wisconsin Light Artillery. He volunteered for 3 years, then he re-enlisted and was discharged 10 Jul 1865. This is the first family member that I am able to document who served in the Civil War. This is a huge discovery for me. I have visited Fredericksburg and Gettysburg and can’t believe what these brave soldiers went through on the battle field. My 2nd great grandfather served for 3 years, 8 months and 26 days.
Click here (line 9) to read a pdf from the United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War 1890. This document was found at the FamilySearch website. The document states Charles was a corporal and served from 14 October 1861 to 10 July 1865. He was wounded when he was kicked by a horse in his left side (see lower section of document, line 9).
The image below left is the “Military Pension file for 1861-1934” for Charles. It shows his wife as Anna Frey. It was filed 24 Feb 1890 in Wisconsin and listed Charles as an invalid. He died on 17 May 1901 and his widow received the benefits. The first pension law for Union widows, orphans and disabled soldiers was enacted in 1862. Records indicate that only 12 men died in Charles Battery and the loss was due to disease. Click to enlarge the photos.
The image above right is a Civil War Military Pension Index for 1861-1917 from Fold3. It shows Charles served in Company 2, Wisconsin Light Artillery and is dated 24 Feb 1890. I believe the original documents are found on microfilm M559, Roll 10. We can obtain copies from NARA in person or by filling out a form online on this page. The cost is $80.00 for up to 100 pages. This record is whispering “buy me”. It’s tempting!
Click this NPS page to view another clue about Charles. His name was recorded as Carl Frey III. Now I can search for his father and grandfather under the names of Carl or Charles. This page confirms that he enlisted as a private and was discharged as a corporal. Click this NPS page to read where Charles unit served through out the war.
All Civil War Army pensions application files at NARA are in the “Civil War and Later” series in Record Group 15. The majority of these files are not microfilmed or digitized but some are at Fold3. A widow’s pension was $8.00 per month. I went to the section called “United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War, 1890” and typed in Charles name. His record did not come up but you can click here to read a pdf of a Declaration – Widow’s Army Pension that my great grandfather was a witness to. This document tells us so much. It’s dated 08 Jul 1864 from the county of Milwaukie, state of Wisconsin. Henrietta Schroeder Gessner is 37 years old and has two children. Her husband, Heinrich Gessner was killed in battle 19 Jun 1864. The document asks Henrietta to swear that the following facts are true: the name of Heinrich’s commander, the name of his company, that Heinrich was a private, and that he “was killed by a musket ball fired by the enemy near Marietta, GA.” She states that she was Heinrich’s wife and gives the date of the marriage, who married them and that she is still a widow and is asked to attach her marriage certificate. She provides two witnesses to attest that she is Heinrich’s widow and Charles Frey is one of them. Charles signed the document “Carl Frey”. Now we have a record of what his signature looked like, plus we have a clue we need for future searches, he went by the name of Charles and Carl.
Civil War Light Artillery Monument
In 1866 when he was 24 Charles married Anna Rinehart (born in 1848) and they had five children: Edward born 1866, George born 1872, Albert, Matilda (Tillie) born 1880, and Magdalena born 1887. The 1900 census lists Charles occupation as a carpenter living at 336 Main St in Monroe, Wisconsin. He owned his home free of a mortgage. Charles served almost the entire length of the Civil War. He passed away in Monroe Wisconsin on 17 May 1901 at the age of 59.
How did this wonderful story get lost in our family? I’m so grateful for paper trails that help us learn about our ancestors lives and where we came from so we can share their amazing stories with our children.